13 Things to do at Vietnam. I went to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh in October 2009 with my wife, weather was just nice, not hot or humid. Vietnam is a country in Southeast Asia, located at the eastern edge of the Indochinese Peninsula, and is divided into 58 provinces and five municipalities, covering 331,699 square kilometers, slightly bigger than Malaysia (330,803 km2) but with a population of over 96 million inhabitants, ( 3 times Malaysia) making it the world’s sixteenth-most populous country. Vietnam shares borders with China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, whilst maintaining maritime borders with Thailand through the Gulf of Thailand, and the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia through the South China Sea. Its capital is Hanoi and its largest city is Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
Hanoi is the bustling heartbeat of the nation and a place that confused travelers as much as it charms them. The city motorbike frenzy, pollution, and constant clamor of street vendors can get too much for many travelers, but if you want to explore Vietnamese city life, Hanoi is the place to do it. The old town quarter has plenty of rundown buildings to be seen, while history fans should make a beeline here simply to see the bundle of excellent museums. Planning to come here, check airfare, train or ship here 12go.Asia
The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and Vietnam Fine Art Museum are both brilliant introductions to the diverse artistry of the country,
Water Puppet Show
Water puppetry is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. Today’s Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation on the ancient Asian puppet tradition.
The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large bamboo rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control them. Thus the puppets appear to be moving over the water. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play. Aside from the general admission fee of VND 100,000, (Rm18/US$4.5) there’s an additional camera or video fee if you wish to photograph or film the show.
Once you touch down at the airport and arrived in the city, you are bound to see thousand of these bikes horning here and there, coming from all directions. They are 45 million bikes and scooters registered in Vietnam, streaming down avenues, weaving, wending, intertwining their way across town and performing hair’s breadth manoeuvers at every cross-road. There is a technique to crossing the road and I’ve got to admit the first time I did it was terrifying, but if you waited for a break in the traffic you would have waited all day. So when you’ve mustered the courage, pick your moment and step off the pavement and cross at a slow, steady pace until you reach the other side. Motorcyclists will try to avoid pedestrians as long as you don’t step backward, stop or make any unexpected movements.
Ha Long Bay
Another place you shouldn’t miss or rather the top of the list is Ha Long Bay It’s just 2 and half hours from Hanoi (170km). is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination here. The name Hạ Long means “descending dragon”. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes. With the bay’s scenery best seen by boat, this is prime cruising territory. You should explore for at least an overnight tour on a junk boat to see Ha Long Bay’s iconic views as a day trip doesn’t do it justice. There are plenty of caves in the bay that can be entered including the Hang Sung Sot, with three mammoth caverns, and the Hang Dao Go, with superbly weird stalagmites and stalactites.
There are many junk boat hotels here which you can spend a night or two. Your cruise to nowhere or cruise to everywhere as Hạ Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2 (600 sq mi), including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 (129 sq mi) with a high density of 775 islets. The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate.
The junk boat have between 20 – 30 rooms, some bigger one have more, lowest deck is the rooms, upper deck is the restaurant and the top deck is where you can enjoy the spectacular scenery and fresh air (like below picture). The cruise includes breakfast, lunch and dinner so you just hop on and relax.
There are many caves in Ha Long Bay which you can visit, 8 of the best one are
- Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave.
- Tien Ong Cave.
- Thien Cung (Heaven) Cave.
- Dau Go (Wooden Stakes) Cave.
- Luon (Tunnel) Cave.
- Dark and Bright Cave.
- Me Cung (Maze) Cave.
- Trinh Nu (Virgin) Cave.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum serves as the resting place of Vietnamese Revolutionary leader & President Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi. It is a large building located in the center of Ba Dinh Square, where Ho becomes a chairman from 1951 until his death in 1969, read the Declaration of Independence on 2 September 1945, establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Construction work of the mausoleum began on September 2, 1973, and was formally inaugurated on August 29, 1975.
There are many other places of interest in Vietnam, here are
- Hue – One of Vietnam’s most historic towns, Hue is packed to the brim with relics from the reign of the 19th-century Nguyen emperors. One of the best ways of visiting a collection of outlying sites is by taking a riverboat cruise on the Perfume River. A day cruise can take you to visit several royal tombs along with some pagodas.
- Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park – One of the best places to visit in Vietnam for caving, World Heritage-listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a dramatic karst mountain formation honeycombed with huge caverns, which are home to superb stalactite and stalagmite displays.
- My Son – My Son is a ruined Cham era temple city that dates from the 4th century which is surrounded by lush jungle-covered mountains. There are around 20 temple structures here, all built of brick or sandstone blocks and showing interesting influences from various Asian empires, including Indian and Malay.
- Hoi An – This is an old town quarter to explore, packed to the brim with well-preserved merchant houses that portrait to Hoi An’s trading center heyday of the 15th century, when the town was a major meeting point for Japanese and Chinese merchants who flocked here for the local silks.
- Sapa Countryside – Vietnam’s most beautiful rural vistas. with verdant rice field countryside surrounding Sapa, bordered by the jagged peaks of the Hoang Lien Mountains (often still known by their French colonial era name of the Tonkinese Alps) This is the top trekking destination in Vietnam, with many options to trek or day hike between small villages and experience the staggering mountain views.
- Nha Trang – is a well-maintained beach that runs for six kilometers along the shoreline of central Nha Trang city and during summer is jam-packed with local families on vacation, as well as foreign visitors. Beside sunbathing, you can visit the ancient Po Nagar Cham Towers are just to the north across the Xom Bong Bridge and have been used as a place of worship here.
- Cu Chi Tunnels – fascinating experience for all travelers with an extensive more than 250 kilometers tunnel network that during the Vietnam war, allowing VC troops to operate and communicate in the area surrounding Ho Chi Minh City. You can visit here with a guide who’ll take you down into the narrow unlit confines, which definitely are not for claustrophobia sufferers. You will literally be crawling on your hands and knees and some points.
- Ba Be National Park – is one of the most peaceful place with 3 interlinked Ba Be Lakes. You can take a quiet boat trips or kayaking and the same time explore the stalactites and stalagmites caves. You could spend a night here in their traditional stilt-house accommodation along the lake shore to have a feel of the rural life.
- Mekong Delta – located south of Vietnam, it flows to the sea in a maze of waterways crisscross the floodplain. This delta is one of most interesting itinerary for a travelers to explore with chaotic floating markets (explore by boat), paddy field vistas and mangroves. Can Tho is a town close to the floating markets of Phong Dien and Cai Rang while you can also take a boat trip at Ca Mau to visit Cau Mau Nature Reserve or U Minh Mangrove Forest.
- Mui Né – a beautiful beach resort town and a hot destination for windsurfing, sailing and kitesurfing. One of most unique attraction here is the natural Red Sand Dunes nearby where visitor can try sand-sledding or rent a buggy for more exciting experience
Popular Vietnam food
- Pho (noodle soup) – a staple dish. This noodle soup is often eaten at breakfast but can be eaten at any time of day It a national dish now, originated in the north of the country consists of a light beef or chicken broth flavoured with ginger and coriander, to which are added broad, flat rice noodles and spring onions. Meat-wise, slivers of chicken, pork or beef are then added while Tofu is the main vegetarian option.
- Goi Cuon (spring rolls) – is a translucent spring rolls stuffed with vegies, coriander and minced pork or shrimp. There is also a southern variation packed with barbecued strips of pork wrapped up with green banana and star fruit, dip with rich peanut sauce.
- Banh mi (Vietnamese/Saigon sandwich) – was born during French colonial rule during the 19th century, uses French baguette filled with greens and pork or other meat fillings include beef, chicken, liver and tofu. It is one of the most popular street foods, a must try if you are here.
- Banh xeo (sizzling pancakes) – this Vietnam pancakes comes with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and egg fried and wrapped in rice paper with greens and dunked in a fish sauce before eaten.
- Bun Cha (grilled meatballs) – is Hanoi popular street food, barbecue pork on an open charcoal brazier and served on a bed of cold rice noodle with assorted foliage and a broth
Planning to come here for holiday, check airfare, train,ferry and bus ticket here
In light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak, Vietnam has imposed several travel restrictions on those entering the country. As of August 4, 2021, Vietnam had confirmed 174,461 cases of COVID-19 with 2,071 deaths, though 50,831 of the patients had recovered.
Those planning to travel to Vietnam should be aware of the latest restrictions currently in place:
Vietnam has suspended the entry of all foreigners since March 22, 2020, until further notice to limit the spread of COVID-19. The measure will not apply to diplomats, officials, foreign investors, experts, and skilled workers.