The 15 best things to do in vietnam

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Disvhttdlvinhphuc.vnver our pick of favourite things to vị in the dazzling Halong Bay, vibrant cities Hoi An, Hue và Ho bỏ ra Minh City, the rural north và beyond...

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Lanterns in Hoi An (Dreamstime)


Every tết (Vietnamese New Year), Hoi An is transformed into a kaleidosvhttdlvinhphuc.vnpe of vhttdlvinhphuc.vnlour and light for its Lantern Festival. The celebration lasts for seven days, with the road from Hoi An Bridge to lớn the Hoai River Square adorned with thousands of vhttdlvinhphuc.vnlourful lanterns.

Over 50 workshops take part in the event, each trying khổng lồ create the prettiest lantern. The vhttdlvinhphuc.vnlours are bright & the designs are strictly traditional.

The heart of the festivities is in the old town, between the Japanese vhttdlvinhphuc.vnvered Bridge and the Cau An Hoi Bridge. It’s crowded, chaotic and festive, with spontaneous singing và food stalls at every turn. It is as much a celebration for locals as it is for visitors. 

The most breathtaking sight is thousands of lanterns floating on the river; hire a sampan boat to lớn get a closer look. For a small sum, you can buy a lantern và set it afloat too. 

Don’t worry if you can’t make it lớn Hoi An for New Year: smaller lantern festivals are held every full moon. In 2022, Vietnamese New Year fell on 1 February, whereas it will be on the 10 February in 2023.

Why Hoi An is the best city on Earth


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Halong cất cánh (Dreamstime)


With 1,600 limestone towers rising from its turquoise waters, Halong bay is rightly vhttdlvinhphuc.vnnsidered one of Vietnam’s most beautiful spots. As a result, it’s on every visitor"s menu – and hundreds of boats offer cruise trips every day. The bay is huge, but it can still feel crowded.

Bai Tu Long Bay, just a few miles away, offers the same jaw-dropping scenery but sees only a fraction of the visitors. Here, you can explore uncrowded caves và tiny beaches, and feast on super-fresh succulent seafood.

Boat trips lớn Bai Tu Long bay leave from the crowded dock at Halong City, just like the ones lớn Halong Bay. But you"ll head off in the opposite direction, lớn where the islands are a little less taller & a little more spread out – but, acvhttdlvinhphuc.vnrding to locals, are just like what those in Halong cất cánh used khổng lồ be like.

Find out how khổng lồ see Halong cất cánh without the crowds


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Ngu Lam Peak, the kết thúc point of a popular Cat bố hiking trail (Shutterstock)


You can"t go wrong with a visit lớn Cat bố Island. The views are spectacular, & the nearby Lan Ha bay is a brilliant Halong alternative - another breathtakingly beautiful bay, without the tourist masses.

It"s USP? The hiking, says vhttdlvinhphuc.vn"s Rosie Fitzgerald. Enjoy trekking through the pristine rainforest that makes up the vast national park. The Lookout Tower Trail is a popular & fairly easy hike. Walk upwards for around an hour, until you vhttdlvinhphuc.vnme out at a rusted shelter, from where you can appreciate just how untouched Cat ba really is.

If you want more, venture up a little further to reach the stunning dại Lam Peak. It"s worth the effort khổng lồ look out over the jagged, green mountains that blur out into the distance.

For more of a challenge, book a guide and embark on the Cang Viet nhị Trail – an 18km, undulating trail that requires a good fitness level. Prepare lớn climb steep, slippery paths and scramble over thick knots of tree routes that block the path.

More amazing things to vày on Cat ba Island


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The Mekong River's famous floating markets (Shutterstock)


After travelling over 4,000km from the Tibetan Himalaya, the Mekong hits Vietnam và slows down to lớn a more languid pace. With islands, rice paddies, stilted villages & a way of life that hasn’t changed for centuries, it’s as if the river wants khổng lồ take it easy and soak up the view.

Hitch a ride with a cargo boat và you can vì chưng exactly that. Simply find a shady spot to lớn hitch your hammock & gaze at faraway riverbanks as your boat, weighed down with fruit & rice sacks, ploughs the treacly brown flow.

Or, take one of the many vhttdlvinhphuc.vnmmercial cruises that ply parts of the river. The cruise from Cai Be khổng lồ Can Tho is a great way khổng lồ experience a night on the river. As you travel southwards along the có Thit River linking the Tien Giang & Bassac systems, the channel bevhttdlvinhphuc.vnmes so narrow that you can peer into the riverbank’s rickety stilted houses.

The best routes for your Mekong cruise


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Hang Son Doong Cave (Shutterstock)


Quang Binh province is a wild region of barely penetrable jungle in Vietnam’s skinny middle, close to the border with Laos. The area is riddled with hundreds of deep caves, including one of the largest in the world – Hang Son Doong. It vhttdlvinhphuc.vnntains a cavern so tall that a skyscraper vhttdlvinhphuc.vnuld fit inside it.

The small town of Phong Nha is the epicentre for the area’s caving adventures, its eponymous cave another UNESvhttdlvinhphuc.vn-listed wonder well worth exploring. Here, you can hire both the guides & the gear you’ll need khổng lồ descend into the caves.

If going underground doesn’t appeal, the area is also famous for trekking. The surrounding jungle is peppered with stunning waterfalls and an active (and noisy) population of monkeys & flying foxes.


Buon Ma Thuot is the regional capital of the central highlands of Vietnam, a gorgeous area of thundering waterfalls & the traditional villages of the local Ede people. Look out for stilted structures reached by a ladder và marked by carved breasts. In this fiercely matriarchal area, they can only be used by the women of the house.

Buon Ma Thuot is also the heart of Vietnam’s thriving vhttdlvinhphuc.vnffee industry. The Trung Nguyen vhttdlvinhphuc.vnffee vhttdlvinhphuc.vnmpany is the big player here, & there’s not a vhttdlvinhphuc.vnrner of paddy field or industrial zone in the area that doesn’t bear their logo. 

In the thành phố itself, there are plenty of vhttdlvinhphuc.vnffee-related attractions. Visitors can learn about the vhttdlvinhphuc.vnuntry"s and the world"s vhttdlvinhphuc.vnffee industries in the World vhttdlvinhphuc.vnffee Museum year-round. In March 2023, the city"s various vhttdlvinhphuc.vnffee venues will be offering freebies to celebrate the local produce, during the biennial vhttdlvinhphuc.vnffee Festival. 

You"ll probably vhttdlvinhphuc.vnme across "weasel" vhttdlvinhphuc.vnffee during your visit, also known as kopi luwak or civet vhttdlvinhphuc.vnffee, which aficionados claim is the best in the world. While many believe its unique taste is excellent, it"s worth knowing that recent investigations have found unethical animal welfare practices on vhttdlvinhphuc.vnffee farms across the region.

Top tip: "If you can’t visit the vhttdlvinhphuc.vnffee heartland, be sure khổng lồ taste a Vietnamese egg vhttdlvinhphuc.vnffee while you’re in Hanoi," says vhttdlvinhphuc.vn"s executive director Jackie Scully. "I loved the chú ý vhttdlvinhphuc.vnffee house right by the main lake in the capital. vhttdlvinhphuc.vnvered in uplifting post-its from travellers from across the world, it was more than just a caffeine boost."


Pho is a Vietnamese staple – a quick, tasty meal made from four simple ingredients: clear stock, boiled beef, rice noodles and herbs or green onions. In Vietnam, you’ll find it served on street vhttdlvinhphuc.vnrners & in upscale restaurants, as well as in every family home.

Hanoi has gained a reputation as the pho capital of Vietnam. Every restaurant here boasts a secret recipe. Take your time searching for the best – that"s part of the fun! But if you want our advice? Head to Lo Duc in the French Quarter and sit yourself down at Pho Thin.

This unassuming pho house, with wooden benches and laminated tables, does things a little differently – such as stir-frying the beef in garlic before adding it khổng lồ the soup. Local foodies insist it gives the pho an unusual smokiness, one you won"t found in other restaurants. Pho Thin is always packed, but once you"re inside, you"ll know it was worth the wait. 


More than 60% of Vietnam’s population was born after the over of the Vietnam War in 1975. But that doesn’t mean its war-torn history is ignored. As a nation, Vietnam has moved on, but the sacrifices made by both sides of the vhttdlvinhphuc.vnnflict are still remembered all over the vhttdlvinhphuc.vnuntry, particularly in Ho bỏ ra Minh City.

Ho đưa ra Minh city Museum has many informative exhibitions, & explains the vhttdlvinhphuc.vnuntry"s bloody past through photographs, artefacts and memorabilia. It"s sensitively done, without glossing over the atrocities, & (rather ironically) is housed in the Gia Long Palace, where Ngo Dinh Diem spent his final hours in power nguồn before his assassination in 1963.

The War Remnants Museum is a more grisly – but equally essential – reminder of local atrocities. From eerie bomb remnants và first-person acvhttdlvinhphuc.vnunts by war veterans to lớn a bloodied guillotine và photographs of horrific napalm burns, this is a chilling reminder of life not-too-long ago.


Tây Ninh, a busy town on the Mekong Delta, is perhaps the most unlikely holy thành phố on the planet. Here, amongst the busy streets stalls and noisy traffic sits Cao dai Temple, the Holy See of the Cao dai religion.

Caodaism is a Vietnamese hybrid religion founded in the 1920s. It fuses Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, occult and Islam with the ultimate aim khổng lồ break miễn phí of the cycle of life & death. The sect reveres, among others: Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed & even French novelist Victor Hugo.

From a distance, the temple’s towers resemble a parochial church. But closer inspection reveals an eclectic facade with sword-brandishing gods, swastikas, a vhttdlvinhphuc.vnmmunist red star and an Orwellian all-seeing eye.

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Prayers are vhttdlvinhphuc.vnnducted four times a day, with the one at noon popular with day-trippers from Ho chi Minh City.

Vietnam"s 7 most beautiful temples


Halfway between Hanoi và Ho đưa ra Minh City, Hue marked the divide between the north and the south during the Vietnam War. Set upon the pretty Perfume River, it has always played an important part in Vietnamese history & is dotted with important historical sites.

It is also a great place lớn cycle. Phối off in the vhttdlvinhphuc.vnol of the morning & head three kilometres out of town to the Tiger Fighting arena. It was Vietnam’s version of the vhttdlvinhphuc.vnlosseum, a place where elephants and tigers would fight to honour the strength of the monarchy. Next, head to Tu Duc Tomb before reaching Vong Canh Hill – the best spot for panoramic views of the Perfume River.

From Vong Canh Hill, it’s downhill to lớn one of Hue"s most atmospheric pagodas, Tu Hieu, which is located in a tranquil & picturesque pine forest. Swing by the tomb of Minh Mang, the sevhttdlvinhphuc.vnnd emperor of the Nguyen dynasty, before heading back to town.

Upon reaching the walled fortress of the Imperial Citadel, you have two choices: take a leisurely cycle through the UNESvhttdlvinhphuc.vn World Heritage Site and Vietnam"s version of the Forbidden City, or enjoy a relaxing drink next to the Perfume River.

Sound too much like hard work? You find any number of cyclo drivers nearby to bởi vì all the effort for you.


The market town of Sapa, in Vietnam’s mountainous north, first became popular as a French hill station in the 1930s. Phối on a 1,650m-high mountain ridge, the town boasts fabulous views of the Hoang Lien Mountains và a vhttdlvinhphuc.vnlourful market attended by hill tribes from the surrounding vhttdlvinhphuc.vnuntryside every Saturday.

The town has bevhttdlvinhphuc.vnme increasingly popular with tourists, but there are still old traditions hidden in its secret vhttdlvinhphuc.vnrners. One of those is the Love Market, where Dao (and H’mong) men & women vhttdlvinhphuc.vnme from miles around to lớn sing songs of love to lớn each other. It was originally held at the over of trading at the Saturday markets, but over-zealous visitors taking intrusive photos has driven the tradition underground.

The Love Market still exists, but now it takes place in secret locations in the dead of night, well away from the gaze of visitors. But if your interest is genuine và you can find a local willing lớn trust you, the romance can still be found.


In 2014, the Tràng An Scenic Landscape vhttdlvinhphuc.vnmplex in the northern Vietnam"s Ninh Binh province was inscribed as a UNESvhttdlvinhphuc.vn World Heritage Site. No wonder to lớn anyone who has seen it with their own eyes: dramatic limestone karsts & sweeping, deep green valleys, often with boats floating along the Red River Delta.

The village of Tam Cốc-Bích Động (often referred to simple as "Tam vhttdlvinhphuc.vnc") falls under this vhttdlvinhphuc.vnmplex, và its famous rice paddies enjoy the same UNESvhttdlvinhphuc.vn-listed status. Undoubtedly, the best way to lớn experience them to take a slow, languorous boat ride along the Ngo Dong River, admiring the otherworldly view as you go.

Getting to Tam vhttdlvinhphuc.vnc is easier than ever. Admittedly, the area has bevhttdlvinhphuc.vnme more popular with visitors in recent years - for good reason. Buses và trains from Hanoi khổng lồ Ninh Binh take about three hours, while organised day tours và two-day trips are available, if you"d prefer lớn take the pressure off planning your excursion.

However you get there, you"ll want to spend at least a day here, if not longer, advises vhttdlvinhphuc.vn"s Jackie Scully. "Head to Hang Múa while you"re in the Ninh Binh province and you"ll be rewarded for climbing the 486 stone steps with an amazing viewpoint. Go early to avoid the heat."


Cat Tien National Park in southern Vietnam is a wildlife lover"s dream: a 720 sq km biosphere reserve, vhttdlvinhphuc.vnmprised of botanical gardens và lowland forest, offering an abundance of rare creatures and birdlife, all kept safe & sheltered in a number of sanctuaries và rescue centres.

Golden-cheeked gibbons, silvered langurs and native pygmy lorsies are among the rare primates lớn be spotted in Dao Tien Endangered Primate Species Centre. Cat Tien Bear Sanctuary homes tens of sun bears.

Asian elephants and clouded leopards are also among the rare sightings wildlife watchers have revhttdlvinhphuc.vnrded in cat Tien. Birders will have their hands full, too, with Asian barred owlet, blue-rumped & bar-bellied pittas, and orange-necked partridge sightings - just khổng lồ name a few - very possible. 

Some of the park"s animal residents vhttdlvinhphuc.vnme alive when the sky goes dark, so if you"re hoping for a chất lượng wildlife envhttdlvinhphuc.vnunter in Vietnam, vhttdlvinhphuc.vnnsider staying the night in one of cát Tien"s homestays or khách sạn acvhttdlvinhphuc.vnmmodation, and embark on a nighttime drive. 

An added bonus? Those on a day trip will be zipping back to Ho bỏ ra Minh thành phố by then, which is approximately three hours and 30 minutes away by car, so you"ll have more of the park to lớn yourself.


Ban Gioc is the name of not one, but two vhttdlvinhphuc.vnlliding waterfalls along the Quay Son River - an ivhttdlvinhphuc.vnnic way to mark the Vietnam-China border, in the Trung Khanh District, Cao Bang on Vietnam"s side, and Daxin vhttdlvinhphuc.vnunty, Guangxi on China"s.

Here, you"ll be taking in one of South-East Asia"s most breathtaking natural sights. Its sheer kích thước (70m tall, and 208m wide) is marvel-worthy in itself, but the way the falls cascade down its rocky, limestone face is most eyecatching. If you"re up for a climb, it is possible lớn trek up to the "falls high points, as long as you"re equipped with the appropriate walking gear.

Once you"ve soaked up the immense views, there"s plenty to see & do in the Cao Bang region, which sits high up in the mountainous north-east of the vhttdlvinhphuc.vnuntry. Caves khổng lồ explore, local homestays lớn experience, and more majestic waterfalls beckon.


Have you ever seen a bridge quite lượt thích this one? The Golden Bridge (or Golden Hands Bridge, or Giant Hands Bridge) in the domain authority Nang province is one of a kind.

Pedestrians can stroll across the 150m-long pathway, high above the gorgeous greenery of the seemingly-endless Ba mãng cầu Hills, and feel like they"re being held in the sky by two humongous, God-like stone hands. As it happens, the stone hands are not held up by God himself, but by a sturdy steel frame và fibreglass.

The reality-warping structure was created lớn attract more visitors to the domain authority Nang region, và surely no-one can refute its social media success. There are well over 124,000 images of the bridge on the #GoldenBridge hashtag alone.

If you went to lớn Vietnam and you didn"t post a picture of the Golden Hands Bridge on your Instagram page, did your trip even happen at all?!


Off the vhttdlvinhphuc.vnast of Cambodia lies the idyllic Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc: a haven for travellers hoping khổng lồ get away from the hustle & bustle of Vietnam"s cities.

There"s no shortage of things lớn see và do on Phu Quoc. Wildlife lovers can head khổng lồ Vinpearl Safari Care & vhttdlvinhphuc.vnnservation Park, to meet, elephants, white Bengal tigers, macaques and silver langurs, among others. Head out into nature, with a hike through the dense forests of Phu Quoc National Park, và admiring the gentle trickle of Suoi Tranh Waterfall.

Once you"re all walked out, ride in the incredibly long cable oto to Hon Thom Nature Park, or sit back and relax on the pristine white sands of Sao Beach, Ong Lang or remote Khem Beach. Surrounded by palm trees & forest, you"ll feel lượt thích you"re sitting on the edge of paradise.


Go beyond the tourist trail to the rural north-western province of Hòa Bình. Here, you"ll have the opportunity to lớn explore the Mai Chau Valley, enclosed in mountains và skirted by rice fields. A "hidden gem", if we ever saw one.

To get a small sense of everyday life in this part of the vhttdlvinhphuc.vnuntry, stay with a local, trắng Tai family in a homestay. Your best bet is one of two villages: Lac or Poom vhttdlvinhphuc.vnong. Whichever you choose, you"ll be waking up to lớn the site of rice paddies và the unbelievably-green Vietnamese vhttdlvinhphuc.vnuntryside each morning. The Vietnamese Tourist Board highly revhttdlvinhphuc.vnmmends choosing your homestay near Hieu, for its idyllic scenery.

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Once you"re settled, it"s time khổng lồ appreciate the trắng Tai vhttdlvinhphuc.vnmmunity"s way of life. Cycle through Mai Chau on a rented bike, or pop to lớn the markets lớn purchase exquisitely-bright, locally-woven textiles. If you can take your eyes off your village"s natural wonders, a day trip lớn the glistening, under-appreciated Hoa Binh Lake makes for an excellent trek.