Best things to do in Vietnam

Best things to do in Vietnam

Vietnam is a very tempting and characterful destination in Asia. The country has everything you may think about for a dream holiday from a fascinating ocean cruise over the islands listed in the Unesco Heritage sites, enchanting ancient towns, stunning beaches, or even the World's largest caves. Things to do in Vietnam therefore are plentiful and surely you`ll find something to satisfy your travel sense in this country. 
Here are some of the best picks for best things you should not miss in Vietnam

Photo: Eirik Skarstein

Uncover the charm of Hanoi

The bustling capital of Hanoi offers a unique blend of old and new. It is the place where you`ll find thousands of motorbikes snaking in the busy streets co-exist with timeless pagodas. For culture lovers, the city offers many museums along with the wealth of French colonial heritages as well as traditional cultural shows. If you come here to explore its food scene, you will not be disappointed by the number of mouth-watering dishes displayed. 
First-timers should spend time seeing the Old Quarter of Hanoi including its ancient houses and shophouses, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi Opera, and Temple of Literature. Our travel experts also recommend a full list of things to do in Hanoi for your reference.

Planning Tips

Hanoi is best for 2-3 days trip. This time frame allows you to soak up the iconic attractions as well a day to venture out on a day trip destination like Ninh Binh, Mai Chau or Halong Bay.
Suggested itinerary:
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi. Explore Hanoi Old Quarter, and try its street foods.
Day 2: Visit temple of literature, museum or Art, Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and night market.
Day 3: Museum of Ethnology or taking a day trip to Ninh Binh.

New experiences in Hanoi in 2024?

There are more chances to absorb Hanoi`s art in the evening. Some of Hanoi`s most famous sites like the Temple of Literature, Thang Long Citadel or Hoa Lo offer night shows which are worth seeing.

halong bay
Photo: Olivier Tassy

Cruise the waterways of Halong Bay / Bai Tu Long Bay

It is hard to plan a Vietnam Tour without adding Halong Bay to the itinerary. It is simply because this area is so captivating and seducing. The otherwordly seascape of Halong Bay is prompted on every travel blog about Vietnam. Having 2 days of navigating through its emerald waters, visiting the awe-inspiring caves, and kayaking through floating caves are the key experiences you should delve into in Halong Bay. 
Bai Tu Long is just a perfect alternative if you expect a similar experience but less touristic.

Best time to visit Halong

The best time to visit Halong Bay is from October to December and March to May. During these periods, the weather is relatively mild, and the skies are clear, providing optimal conditions for enjoying the stunning scenery and outdoor activities.

Planning Trips

To diversify your Halong experiences, here is the list you can opt for:
- Take a seaplane tour to delve into Halong`s panorama.
- Visit floating villages 
- Recommended cruises:  Indochina Sails, Athena Cruise, Orchid Cruise, and Paradise Cruise. 
- Private cruises for couples and families are also available for those who love luxury and comfort while cruising Halong Bay.

Photo: Florent Martin

Marvel at Ban Gioc Waterfall

Ban Gioc Waterfall straddles the border between Vietnam and China, adding a unique element to your visit. The waterfall itself is divided into two parts by the border, and you can witness the enchanting sight of the falls flowing between the two countries.
Beyond admiring the waterfall, the region offers opportunities for outdoor activities such as trekking, and motorbiking.

Getting to Ban Gioc Waterfall

It is a long drive directly from Hanoi to Ban Gioc Waterfall. Therefore, you should keep at least 2 days for travel to Ban Gioc. From Hanoi, you can take an overnight bus then a car trip or motorbike ride about 110km. 

Other travel sites to combine with

For 4 day itinerary, Ban Gioc waterfall is best combined with Ba Be National Park. Those who love trekking into the remoteness of Vietnam mountains can also get a guided tour for 2 to 3 days.
For a longer adventure, the Northest Vietnam Tour is a good choice combining: Ban Gioc Waterfall, Ha Giang, Lang Son, and Ha Long Bay. 

Ride a motorbike through the mountainside of Ha Giang

In Vietnam, the preferred mode of transportation is often two wheels, and exploring the hill country of the northwest is best experienced on a motorcycle. Although adapting to the driving conditions, unpredictable livestock, and winding roads requires some courage, it's undeniably the most enjoyable way to traverse the region. Secure a quality bike rental in Hanoi and opt for a more relaxing train journey to Lao Cai, sidestepping the nerve-jangling ride out of the capital.

What is the best route to take in Ha Giang?

Arguably, the Ha Giang loop is the most beautiful road that you should try. However, it is even better if you can keep 1 or 2 days to travel off the beaten track, riding over the 2-meter-long path amidst the mountain, reaching the remote villages. 

Planning Tips

You can book a private tour package from Hanoi or join directly with a local tour guide in Ha Giang. We recommend you to take a guided tour as you will benefit not only the local knowledge but also have better interaction with villagers.

Photo: Huy Nguyen

Capture the photogenic Mu Cang Chai

When you look at the most instagrammable sites in Vietnam, Mu Cang Chai probably pops up first. Nested in the remote province of Yen Bai, Mu Cang Chai boasts countless hills that are sculptured by rice terraces - the paradise for photographers.

Make it happen

Our Mu Cang Chai active trip is an immersive experience to capture and snap the rice terraces in autumn. Together with the popular shooting points, you`ll immerse in the true hospitality of Hmong and Thai people in the region.
Many avid travelers prepare a motorbike/ scooter trip for 4 days which gives you more time to enjoy the sceneries. 

Planning Tips

April to October is the main rice season which is perfect for any visit. Here comes the difference:
April to June is the watering time. It is good to get the reflection.
June to September: green season, also summer. The area turns green with a blue sky.
Late September to October: harvesting season. You`ll witness the change of color from green to yellow. 

hoi an lanterns

Travel back in time to Hoi An town

Hoi An, a charming town in central Vietnam, offers a wealth of cultural, historical, and culinary experiences. Make your time to marvel at its well-maintained architecture, traditional wooden houses, and lantern-lit streets. The town is particularly enchanting in the evening when the lanterns illuminate the area.
If your visit coincides with a full moon, experience Hoi An's monthly lantern festival. The town becomes even more magical as residents and visitors release lanterns into the river.

How to tour Hoi An?

Besides its sparkling town, Hoi An`s surroundings are also very attractive. Beach lovers will love sunbathing in Cua Dai or An Bang beach while culture enthusiasts can access the Unesco Heritage of My Son within 1 hour drive. Looking for more fun? try the basket tour. 

Other timeless destinations in Southeast Asia

Bagan, the former capital of Pagan Kingdom in Myanmar has some 2,200 pagodas and temples. It seems life has not changed here for centuries. If you fancy knowing a place that time stills then Bagan should be on your list.
Angkor Complex is another archeological site representing the highlights of Cambodian architecture and culture. 

Adventure at Phong Nha National Park

Listed as one of the best Vietnam National Parks, Phong Nha gained the spotlight as the premier destination for caving thanks to Son Doong - the world`s largest cave. However, that is not all. This mysterious area is also home to the lush forest where you spot hornbills and rare langurs. 
Though multi-day expeditions into the UNESCO-protected Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park can be costly, budget-friendly alternatives offer thrilling adventures in nearby caves. These excursions feature activities like hiking, camping, and swimming in underground caverns, providing a dose of excitement for adventure enthusiasts. 

Make it happen

Oxalis is a reputable adventure company that operates tours to Son Doong and many other caves in Phong Nha parks. Their packages range from 2 to 5 days with various budget options to choose from.
Planning Tips


Photo: Jet Dela Cruz

Unique things to do in Vietnam: train journeys

The Vietnam Reunification Express links Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, passing through many postcard-perfect cities and coastal lines. It brings both awe and inspiration. There is no better way to appreciate the panoramic sea view and rural landscapes than this way. 
The advantage of the rail journeys is you can stop in any big city like Da Nang, Nha Trang, or Ninh Binh to take a day excursion and then step on your next trip.

What train to take?

The Hanoi to Sapa overnight train is very comfortable with private, high-quality berths. 
The luxury Vintage train offers an unbeatable experience in central Vietnam. 
Hue to Danang Train exposes the beauty of Hai Van Pass. 

Find the best street foods

Vietnam's culinary scene varies beautifully from north to south. Once you land in any city, take your time to find the most authentic Noodles, Banh mi, or Spring Rolls ( Nem) if you have known them before. In 2023, Vietnam was recognized by Michelin Guide with many Bib-gourmand restaurants where you can try the delicious Pho for only $2. Mouth-watering dishes are available on almost every single street in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city. Get ready for good eats !

Photo: Basti

Photo: Victoria Cruise Mekong

Cruise Mekong River

The legendary Mekong Delta marks the end point of Southeast Asia’s longest river – a 4350km (2700 mile) monster, rising on the Tibetan plateau and emptying to the south of Ho Chi Minh City. This waterlogged wonderland is Vietnam’s rice bowl, nurturing a network of sleepy towns and stilt villages whose residents use the river as their primary artery for life and trade. For comfortable exploring, book an overnight cruise along the main channel near Can Tho or a cross-border trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia. For a less commercial experience, take a day trip to the backwaters near Ben Tre with Mango Cruises or make your arrangements with boat owners in Delta villages.

Planning Tips

Book a long day journey upstream from Can Tho or Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap. 

Photo: Jaromir Kavan

Understand Vietnamese Past in Ho Chi Minh City

The Ho Chi Minh City Museum stands as a testament to this remembrance, hosting numerous informative exhibitions that vividly depict the country's tumultuous past through a collection of photographs, artifacts, and memorabilia. The museum approaches the subject with sensitivity, providing a comprehensive account of historical events without glossing over the atrocities. Interestingly, the museum is situated in the Gia Long Palace, where Ngo Dinh Diem spent his final hours in power before his assassination in 1963.

Planning Tips

Make sure to get Cu Chi tunnels in your planning. Though our list of things to do in Vietnam has been changed for years Cu Chi tunnels are still on this list for certain reasons. 
The War Remnant Museum is another must-see if you are curious about Vietnamese history. 

Unique Experiences in Ho Chi Minh City

A Vespa or Motorbike tour is something exciting you should try in Ho Chi Minh City. This is arguably the most thrilling way to see parts of the life here. 

Photo: Marenviol

Soak up the sun-kissed beaches

The fame of Vietnam's coastal retreats began with the beaches of Phu Quoc Island and Danang, originally developed as recreational havens for GIs during the American War. Over time, both locations have evolved into vibrant resorts. For those seeking untouched stretches of sand, contemporary adventurers set their sights on the kitesurfing beaches near Mui Ne, the pristine island shores of the Con Dao archipelago, and the serene expanse of Hong Van Beach on Co To Island within Bai Tu Long Bay.
Read more: Vietnam Beaches.

Travel planning tip

The optimal time for a beach getaway varies across the country. In central Vietnam, the skies are at their brightest from January to August. Meanwhile, December to April is the prime beach window on the south coast, and northern Vietnam experiences plenty of dry days from October to April.

Hot travel trend 2024 - 2025

Con Dao Archipelago offers many choices to soak up its idyllic beaches. The new arrival of high-end resorts with various experiences makes the destination a wonderful spot to be. 

Best Things to Do in Vietnam for Adventurers

We have received many questions regarding Tours and travel with interest to Vietnam annually. To help you plan better your holiday, we have come up with some practical information that you may be interested.
Things to do in Vietnam for adventurers


Myanmar Travel Guide

Myanmar Visa On Arrival
Myanmar Travel Destinations
Myanmar 1 Week Itineraries
Visit Myanmar in 2 Weeks
Myanmar Road Trips

Insider Travel Tips 

myanmar travel expert
" For the first timer, Best of Myanmar would be the ideal choice. This iconic journey is now colourized with our special add on for local touches "
Zaw - Myanmar Tour Expert

Customize Your Holiday

Look no further for a life time holiday which fits your interests, budgets, etc...
Go now for : Tailor Made Tour
View all guide