Vietnam is a gorgeous destination to explore its vibrant street life, the delicious and exquisite food, and not to mention the epic landscapes that are just so marvelous to look at. A nation on the move, Vietnam balances the cool urban culture with deeply rotted traditional values. It is both exotic and compelling.
It has proven that the country’s cuisine is the amongst the healthiest in the world – featuring fresh herbs, naturally grown vegetables and delicious delicacies combined with traditional cooking techniques, avoiding frying and oils in their food, are just plainly trustworthy enough to digest. In the country side, life still follows the rhythms of the rice harvest, and there’s always time for a coffee on the sidewalk.
In traditional Vietnamese culture, elders are treated with great deference and respect – it is always a good idea to show politeness and restraint towards those who look older than you. The people dressed modestly and conservatively, covering shoulders and knees, and by doing so, you earn a lot more respect from the locals.
As a budget destination, the country welcomed over 12.9 million visitors in 2017 making Vietnam as of the fastest growing tourist destination in recent years. The country is a home to 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and historically, the Vietnam War was one of the longest in the world’s history, lasting from 1954-1975.
POPULAR PLACE TO VISIT IN VIETNAM
- HO CHI MINH CITY – formerly known as Saigon, is the economic heart of Vietnam and the main hub of the Southern region. It’s also known for its French colonial landmarks, including the Notre Dame Cathedral, made entirely of materials imported from France and the 19th centry old Central Post Office. Food stalls line the city’s streets. Especially around bustling Ben Thanh Market.
- HA NOI – the capital city of Vietnam, known for its influences with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French, to its architecture and culture. However, today’s Hanoi is about much more than the past. The city is being invigorated with modern cafes, world class restaurants, and cool are galleries.
- DA NANG – a coastal city known for its sandy beaches, fantastic street food, and its French colonial port. Here the hillside Hai Van Pass has views of the Da Nang Bay and the Marble Mountains. Travelers love the city because of its well know My Khe beach, Lang Co Beach Hoi An and My Son.
- MEKONG DELTA – is a vast maze of rivers, swamps and islands, home to floating markets, pagodas and villages surrounded by rice paddies. Life moves much more slowly on this city. The River of Nine Dragons, as locals know the area, is where the Mekong splinters into nine separate branches, crisscrossing low landscapes before reaching the sea.
- HA LONG - a jumping off point for Ha Long Bay, a broad inlet of dramatic, often mist-covered limestone island. Cruises lazily sail emerald green waters among thousands of rugged islands and islets, stopping at some of the most spectacular caves through which visitors can wander, viewing impressive, centuries old formation.
BEST TIME TO VISIT VIETNAM
The best time to visit Vietnam is spring (February to April) and autumn (August to October). The temperatures are more moderate and rainfall is lighter. In spring, March and April have the lowest rainfall across all destinations and temperatures are pleasant, though still cool in the far north.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN VIETNAM
- Take the Mekong River Cruise – the Mekong water has numerous tributaries and rivers which forms a huge network of canals. These canals then linked to rice farms and towns, creating an adventure maze that is a joy to explore by boat. The place is surrounded by floating communities with an abundance of tropical fruits, buffalo wallowing in paddy fields, and mangroves rich with birdlife.
- Visit the TEMPLES, at least 3 of them – Temples are among the most popular attractions where travellers can marvel at intricate carvings and well-preserved architectures donning local cultures. Top on the list is the Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest in Hanoi; the Cao Dai Temple in Ho Chi Minh City, is a technicolored religious sites dated 1930s; and the Bai Dinh Pagoda in Nin Binh province, with a complex of several Buddhist temples where locals are visiting frequently to pay their respect and have their fortune told the resident monks.
- Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels – located in Ho Chi Minh City, it is an immense network of connecting underground tunnels (used by Viet Cong soldiers), where you can gain insight into the remarkable history of the 124-mile (200km) labyrinth. So, you have the experience to crawl through some of the safer areas of the tunnels.
- Enter the Magical Paradise Cave in Quang Binh – considerably, a masterpiece of nature with myriads of thousand year old stalactites hidden deep in ground, is a must see attraction of Quang Binh. It was firstly discovered in 2005 by a local man, a door to enter the cave is a very small space, and just fit for one person to get through, one at a time, among huge stone blocks laid on one another, you will surely be amazed by the spacious and magical scenes inside the cave.
- Walk through the GOLDEN BRIDGE – a spectacular bridge, 150m long and 5m wide, supported by two gigantic hands looks like something out of a fantasy universe, is located 18 miles west of Da Nang. The giant hands supporting the bridge symbolize something divine, mythical or godlike – which the goal of the design is to “invoke the sensation of walking along a thread stretching through the hands of God”.
- Watch the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater Show – one of the Vietnam’s oldest curiosities, the water puppetry is performed across the country, and the most famous location is at Hanoi – the Thang Long Municipal Theatre. The puppeteers stand waist deep in the water behind a screen and operate the puppets on large rods to give the impression that the figures are moving across the water.
- Don’t be scared to visit the SNAKE VILLAGE – this tiny Vietnamese village is known for eating snakes and serving their still-beating hearts in shots of vodka. Got the adrenaline for that?! After you choose the size and type of snake, the living specimen is presented to you and the heart is removed, dropped instantly into a shot of blood and vodka. After that still-beating amuse-bouche, another sicky shot is created using the snake’s bile. Then the fresh corpse is taken to the kitchen and introduced into ten different dishes, including crisped snake skin and crushed-bone poppadoms.