Vietnam is one of the Asia’s favourite countries and the perfect destination for first timers and South East Asia veterans alike. Here are our favourite Vietnamese experiences.
1. Sunrise over Halong Bay
The iconic Halong Bay has been drawing people to northern Vietnam for decades. The myths behind the dragon backbone and stark limestone Karst make this a must visit and a fantastic experience all round. By far the best way of experiencing the bay is by staying on a traditional Junk. Watching the sunrise from your boat, as the world begins to wake up, is really special. The best luxury option on the bay is the Violet Junk – perfect for couples.
2. Trekking and visit the hill tribes in Sa Pa
Due to the Vietnamese weather, there is only a short window of time in which you can enjoy the rolling hills in Sa Pa in their full glory – mid-February to the end of May. If you can time your trip right, it is a real highlight for lovers of scenery and culture, and was a unanimous choice for inclusion in our list of unmissable experiences. You have a choice in how to get here, depending on your adventure levels! You can enjoy a leisurely journey by overnight train while staying in the charming French hill station at the luxury Victoria Sapa Resort. This is the perfect base for visiting hill tribes and enjoying the views of the rolling hills and rice terraces. The more adventurous will want to pack their walking boots and do some more serious trekking; the clear skies mean a hot day walking but it will cool down in the evenings. The Topas Eco Lodge is the perfect place to stay for people who enjoy being away from the crowds.
3. Drive from Hue to Hoi
For those who are more interested in scenery than history, the drive from Hue to Hoi An is a must – not so much a transfer, but more a scenic journey. Jeremy Clarkson (former Top Gear presenter) classed it as one of his favourite drives. The Ocean Cloud Pass (Hai Van Pass) is simply stunning; it is the highest road in Vietnam and offers spectacular views throughout.
4. Step on Sandy Beaches
A solid inclusion for the beach lovers in the team! The term ‘barefoot luxury’ has become very popular recently and Vietnam is no exception! There are two perfect places in which to enjoy this experience: either Con Dao or Ninh-Van Bay. Those in the team who have been lucky enough to stay at either of these cannot recommend them enough. Both resorts have stunning white sand beaches and are the perfect place to relax. The level of service at these resorts is exceptional and after a few days you’ll feel like your batteries have been recharged for sure.
5. Do a cooking course in Hoi An
Asia is renowned for its cuisine and our specialists are a team of food lovers, so taking a cooking course in Hoi An has gone down as a must. We believe visiting some local markets and learning a few recipes is a fantastic way to experience a culture. Hoi An is the perfect place to try your hand at making Vietnamese food and offers a few different courses. One of our favourites is the Redbridge Cooking School, where you get to enjoy a visit to the local market to learn about and select the ingredients, before enjoying a lovely cruise down the river to their restaurant to observe a cooking demonstration and enjoy having a go yourself.
6. Visit the ancient citadel at Hue
The citadel palace complex is located on the north bank of Huong River, inside Hue city. For history lovers, it is a great place to visit. For a more fulfilling experience, get a guide to take you around to explain the history of Vietnam before the infamous conflict. Previously the capital of Vietnam, Hue is surprisingly captivating and an often overlooked part of Vietnam.
7. Visit the Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is a real highlight in the south of the country and a very important trading point. Take in the stunning green scenery while cruising through the maze of canals. A visit to the Mekong Delta can be done as a day trip, but if you have the time, an overnight on a Sampan is the perfect way to view this stunning area. Staying overnight gives you the opportunity to take in a lovely sunset on the river and wake up in the morning when the market is at its best.