Wanderlust Magazine shares top 10 activities to do in Vietnam
Set in the stunning South East Asia, Vietnam is filled with wondrous sights, interesting constructions and unique attractions. In order to give holidaymakers a broader spectrum of possibilities, Wanderlust Magazine recently published a list of the top ten things to do whilst in Vietnam; from exploring enormous caves and long rivers to tasting delicious pho and weasel coffee.
After recovering from the tragic decade-long war, Vietnam has flourished as one of the most coveted tourist destinations in South East Asia and around the world. With impressive natural sites including majestic hills and lush plains, swift rivers and untouched wildlife as well as a rich cultural identity and gastronomic traditions, this country offers something for every type of traveller. Looking to inform future visitors, Wanderlust Travel Magazine offered detailed advice on what to do whilst in Vietnam during their trip. The top ten activities this magazine published on their website include all kinds of attractions.
1. Lantern festival in Hoi An
One of Vietnam’s most unique and colourful traditions, the lantern festival in Hoi An is an amazing event that lights up the city for seven nights every Tet (Lunar New Year). Heading down to the old town is the best way to experience this amazing festivity, which is popular among locals and visitors alike.
From the Japanese Covered Bridge to the Cau An Hoi Bridge, reaching the surrounding streets and river bank which are filled with food stands, the explosion of light and colour attracts the crowd. Visitors can join in on the action by purchasing their own lantern and setting it free, as they watch it disappear over the water. Whether travellers are able to make it for the Lunar New Year or not, Hoi An hosts smaller lantern festivals every full moon.
2. Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay
One of Vietnam’s most popular tourist spots, Halong Bay is truly a stunning sight to see. 1,600 limestone karts line the ample emerald waters of this large bay, which is visited by hundreds of people daily. Those who prefer a more intimate experience away from big crowds, will adore cruising the nearby Bai Tu Long Bay; just as breath-taking but more tranquil. During the trip, visitors can explore small caves and secluded beaches as well as set foot in small fishing villages and sample the fresh local seafood.
3. Navigating over the Mekong Delta
Cruising over the long Mekong River is an experience no visitor should deprive themselves from whilst in Vietnam. Taking a commercial cruise through this iconic river from Cai Be to Cai Tho is a great way to travel through and get a glimpse of the stilted houses that hover over the river. For a more authentic feel, hitching a ride with a cargo boat is also an exciting way to cross the Mekong, travellers unwind feeling the lazy breeze as they gaze out on to the verdant nature.
4. Hang Son Doong – the world’s largest cave
Departing from the small town of Phong Na, travellers from all over the world come to see the wild and majestic flora and fauna of Quanq Binh, home to hundreds of deep caves and particularly to Hang Son Doong, the world’s tallest cave. After underground exploring, nature lovers can continue their adventure in the nearby jungle, which boasts beautiful waterfalls and a large population of monkeys and flying foxes.
5. Buon Ma Thuot and weasel coffee
The heart of Vietnam’s flourishing coffee industry, Buon Ma Thuot is the best place to sample the country’s unique weasel coffee. The beverage is prepared with the help of small weasel-like creatures called civets that eat the coffee berries, pass them quickly and instil them with a special bitter taste. Even those who are not coffee lovers can find an interesting cultural panorama of the matriarchal highlands, where visitors can find houses with ladders marked by carved breasts that can only be used by the women of the house.
6. Delicious Pho recipes in Hanoi
A basic yet delectable dish in Vietnamese cuisine, Pho comprises four main ingredients: clear stock, quickly boiled beef, rice noodles and herbs or green onions. There is no better place to enjoy this meal than in Hanoi, where every restaurant and street food stand offers a different version, with their own special touch. Pho Thin in the historic French Quarter is one of the tourist favourites; their version consists of stir frying the beef in garlic before adding it to the soup for an extra smoky flavour.
7. Historic treasures in Ho Chi Minh City
The Vietnamese War marked the nation’s history and its bloody past is still painfully remembered in Ho Chi Minh City. A visit to the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, housed in the Gia Long Palace, will give travellers insight into this conflict with photographs, war artefacts and memorabilia. An even more eye-opening and crude portrait of the war can be found at the War Remnants Museum which exposes rather gruesome articles, including bomb remnants, a bloodied guillotine and photographs of horrific napalm burns.
8. Caodaism in Vietnam
A hybrid religion that took form in Vietnam during the 1920s, Caodaism fuses Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, occult and Islam with the ultimate aim to break free of the cycle of life and death. Those who wish to discover this peculiar practice can visit the Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh, a busy town on the Mekong Delta. Resembling a French parochial church in structure, the temple boasts an eclectic facade with local gods, swastikas, a Communist red star and an Orwellian all-seeing eye.
9. Cycling tours in Hue
Set beside the cool waters of the Perfume River, Hue is a beautiful city to discover whilst striding on a bicycle. Once marking the divide between the north and the south during the Vietnamese war, this region is home to the Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourists can take their bike and ride through the Tiger Fighting arena, Vietnam’s version of the coliseum, where elephants and tigers would fight to honour the strength of the monarchy, or hire a cycle driver to take them through Hue whilst they unwind and enjoy the views.
10. Hill tribe romances at Sapa’s Love Market
Situated on a 1,650m high mountain ridge, Sapa is a small town boasting breath-taking vistas of the Hoang Lien Mountains and a colourful market attended by hill tribes from the surrounding countryside. Traditionally, Dao (and H’mong) men and women would come from miles around to sing each other love songs at the so-called Love Market on Saturdays. However, tourists’ intrusive attitude during these intimate moments has made this tradition much more secret nowadays. Couples pick remote locations at night for more privacy; with some luck, visitors may see some of this romantic tradition if they are respectful.
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