Vietnam should be high on most people's travel lists. Vietnam will thrill all with its pulsating energy, epic food, fascinating history and dramatic landscapes.
There are plenty of reasons to visit a city like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, or travel the entire length of the country. Here are ten reasons why you want to explore this fascinating country:
Street food scene
A great way to experience the local cuisine is to taste the Vietnamese street food. Whether it is the iconic pho (pronounced fuh, fyi) or other noodle soups, or bun cha (rice noodles with char-grilled pork, herbs and dipping sauce), the street food is something that must be experienced. Beyond the great tasting food, this also gives one of the most accessible and exciting ways to really experience daily life in Vietnam. Even on a two or three week Vietnam holiday it is possible to travel the country without having to eat the same noodle soup twice.
Vietnam is the 2nd biggest coffee producer in the world and certainly knows a thing or two about brewing a perfect beverage. Most of the local coffee is served with sweetened condensed milk, although there are plenty of variations to try. Coffee is an integral part of the local culture and widely available on the streets and cafes.
The Mekong Delta is a rich area of swamplands, paddy fields and orchards, and located in the southwest of Vietnam. A visit to the largest city in the area, Can Tho is well worth the experience, and gives a perfect opportunity to fully appreciate the country’s rural life. Touring the vast maze of rivers is the best way to experience the Mekong Delta and visitors are certain to appreciate the floating markets and getting to meet the friendly locals in the region.
Vietnam has mammoth caves that literally hold entire lakes and jungles inside. The biggest cave in the world is located in Vietnam; Son Doong Cave was first discovered and explored in 2009. Even though a trip to Son Doong is limited, expensive and highly controlled, there are plenty of other more accessible cave networks to be explored in the country.
Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park is home to Paradise Cave, which is a great alternative. This cave system is nearly 19 miles across and gives plenty of opportunities to sign up for a tour to explore its interior. Tours range in difficulty and perfect for both the complete beginner to the more adventurous. For the treks that pass the boardwalk, nerves and headlamps are required. Watch: Paradis cave, Phong Nha cave
Markets in Vietnam are a great place to get lost and explore rows of stalls for hours. The markets sell everything from dried baby shrimp to fabrics for clothing. Most of the markets get the most foot traffic early in the day and in the evening. This is the time the temperature cools and is the most pleasant time for shopping.
A great section of the markets in Vietnam is the food section that consists of fresh seafood, meat and fruits and vegetables. Fresh seafood can include freshly caught prawns, crabs, snails and fish. The fruit is super fresh and includes the familiar, like watermelons, bananas and pineapples to the lesser known like rambutan, dragon fruit and durian. Read more: Vietnam's Best Street Markets
Halong Bay is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site with its spectacular seascape to explore and among of the best places to visit in Vietnam. It is located in the Gulf of Tonkin and within a 4 hour drive from the capital city, Hanoi. The dramatic landscape has over 1,600 islands that rise from the emerald water. Halong Bay is best experienced on an overnight trip on board a traditional junk-styled boat. Watch Halong Bay.
Sapa is a beautiful region of Vietnam and its rich and dramatic mountain peaks and rice terraces are well worth the effort to see after making the short trip from Hanoi. This former hill station is a popular choice on the tour itinerary and easily organized via a local Vietnam travel agent and reached via an overnight train from the capital.
The history of Vietnam is complex and tumultuous with plenty of colonial influences that have impacted everything from the food and the coffee to the architecture. Vietnam’s past is fascinating to learn with a great number of monuments and museums dedicated to the Vietnam War, and other conflicts that had taken place in the past. Read more: Vietnamese History
With a coastline that stretches nearly 3260 km, Vietnam boasts plenty of spectacular beaches with white sandy beaches and clear waters that easier rival those of close neighbours like Thailand and Cambodia. Popular beach towns include Mui Ne, Phu Quoc and Nha Trang, but there also real treasures like Doc Let which is a lot less-travelled. Plus, there are tropical islands ringed with the most stunning beaches and provides an idyllic Vietnam travel destination. Read more: Beaches
Hoi An is one of the most lovely, picturesque places to visit on the Vietnam travel guide. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is centrally located and close to the coastal city of Danang. Ancient and peaceful, this little town has the ability to cater to travellers of all tastes, and is comparatively warm for the entire year. The mix of international residents – from French and Japan to the Chinese – during its early port years has lead to a varied cuisine with plenty of local specialities. White Rose Dumplings and Cao Lau are great dishes to taste in this ancient town. Plus, there is the well-preserved colonial French architecture and canal-side setting to create a favourite national treasure. Watch Hoi An.