Vietnam is reputed for its breathtaking natural landscapes and hospitable tropical climate, which is an earthly paradise for those wishing to shake off all stresses and strains in the head and on the body. Meanwhile, if you are an adventurous traveler seeking an extreme vacation, Vietnam is also full of exotic experiences waiting to be explored. No matter if this is your first time to Vietnam or you are coming back to the country for more excitement, do check out our Vietnam’s bucket list to make sure that you will not miss any fun on your journey.
Vietnam’s Bucket List: Travel Like a Local
Vietnamese traveling culture is motorbike culture, so the utmost thing to tick off your Vietnam’s bucket list is finding a motorbike tour for yourself and exploring Vietnam like a true local. Common public transportation such as tour buses or taxis are available, but why spend money on such an ordinary experience? Large vehicles cannot go into every nook and cranny, not to mention the struggles of finding sufficient parking spaces. If you are visiting a big city like Ho Chi Minh City, choose an exclusive motorbike tour to range through the hidden alleys that would normally be unreachable for large vehicles and see more than just the metropolitan’s hustle and bustle.
Motorbike tours in Vietnam
In the midst of fast-flowing city traffic, sitting on a leisurely-moving cyclo evokes nostalgia for Vietnam’s old days. Cyclo, or rickshaw, is a three-wheeled vehicle with a carriage at the front and was a “signature brand” of Vietnam in its heyday. In the 40s, cyclos could be seen in almost every big city and were one of the main forms of transportation for everyone, regardless of social class. Sadly, the carriage gradually became obsolete due to the rapid development of motorized transportation, but you can still look for a cyclo sightseeing tour in certain cities such as Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi. If you are seeking a nostalgic vibe, then it is a must to include a cyclo tour in your Vietnam’s bucket list, but do pay attention to cyclo’s scams for your safety.
Sightseeing on a cyclo
If visiting the Mekong Delta is on your Vietnam’s bucket list, make sure to take a sampan river cruise into the wild yet extremely serene mangrove swamps. Mekong Delta is reputed for the intertwining rivers and canals, so a sampan – a type of narrow-bottomed boat – is super helpful to travel in the narrow waters. During the excursion, the sampan lady usually sings a sweet and beautiful melody while she is rowing. Besides that, you can ask to try paddling the sampan on your own, but be careful; it is not as easy and graceful as it seems on the sampan lady. On the whole, traveling on a sampan will bring you the one and only Western Vietnam’s cultural experience.
Must-do in Vietnam: taking a sampan trip
Top Places to Go on Vietnam’s Bucket List
Hanoi and the Craft Villages
As one of the oldest land in Vietnam, the city of Hanoi is extremely rich in culture, and there are hundred-year-old craft villages in Hanoi that are impossible to leave out of your Vietnam’s bucket list. One of the most must-do things in Vietnam is getting yourself a piece of souvenir, obviously, and what better place to obtain the finest handicrafts than Hanoi.
Explore the unique mix of antiques and modernity in Hanoi
Bat Trang Pottery Village in Hanoi, whose fame has been unshakeable for the last 1,000 years, produces the highest quality ceramic products. Van Phuc Silk Village also has been at the height of its fame over the last millennium. The village used to make costumes for the Nguyen’s emperors and their exquisite silk is now being exported to many Eastern European countries. There are dozens more to Hanoi’s traditional craft villages, so make sure to spare some time and pay a visit for the one and only cultural experience.
An exhibition of Dong Ho – a traditional Vietnamese painting technique
Halong Bay – The Magic Artwork of Mother Nature
“Halong” means “The Landing Dragon” in Vietnamese, and yes, the place is as magical as its name. The gorgeous turquoise bay is made of thousands of islets in varied shapes and sizes, and the innumerable limestone pillars erecting straight up to the sky from the emerald-blue waters. The entire area holds the ancient trace of Vietnamese geological formation, which has become the magnificent work of Mother Nature over time.
Ha Long Bay apparently has earned itself recognition as one of the World Heritage recognized by UNESCO for several times. Put “Ha Long Bay” on your Vietnam’s bucket list immediately to have an experience that will definitely go beyond your imagination.
Get discounted tickets to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay:
Hue – The Ancient Citadel
Hue is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites thanks to its outstanding historical values. The city used to be chosen as the capital of the Nguyen dynasty – the last feudal dynasty ever existed in Vietnam’s history. Apparently, Hue holds an impressive amount of historic monuments and the heart of which lies in Hue Citadel. Hue Imperial is the great wall built within The Citadel, primarily constructed to protect prominent palaces, shrines, and The Forbidden City. Though the many years of Vietnam wars have torn most of The Forbidden City down, you can still visit the remnants of which inside the citadel and let the remaining vestiges tell you the story of the past.
Da Lat and Extreme Sport
Annually, millions of people flock to Da Lat – “Vietnam’s Little Paris” – for some leisure time. However, Da Lat has much more to offer: the cool climate, the evergreen hillsides, and the magnificent waterfalls are absolutely ideal for extreme outdoor activities.
Canyoning adventure in Da Lat
If you have a penchant for adventure, why not add “Canyoning in Da Lat” to your Vietnam’s bucket list? You will have a professional tour guide accompany you along the whole journey to ensure safety and give training with a little trekking to warm up before committing to climbing up jagged rocks, going up against the current, and finally, abseiling down the waterfall.
Nha Trang and Its Stunning Beaches
Hon Tam beach in Nha Trang
Looking for some fresh sea breezes and sun-drenched beaches? Then Nha Trang should be on top of your Vietnam’s bucket list. Vinpearl Land Nha Trang is a giant amusement park for anyone looking for entertainment activities like cable car rides across the sea, high-tech 4D movie theatres, and ultra amusement ride area. After having fun, have your empty stomachs filled or grab a drink at the food village. On the contrary, Hon Tam Beach on Hon Tam Island is incredibly peaceful and perfect for leisure travel. You can either sunbathe on the pristine sand or sip a drink at a nearby bar without being bothered by any hassles in the world.
Check prices and reviews of top hotels in Vietnam:
Ho Chi Minh – The Never-sleep City
Nightlife in Ho Chi Minh
If you think you have had enough of Ho Chi Minh City, wait until you go for a night out. The nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City is definitely worth a highlight on your Vietnam’s bucket list since it gets even more alive than the mornings. Quench your thirst at sky bars in the city, featuring a panoramic view and live acoustic music. Or if you are on a smaller budget, take a spontaneous food tour and try out the late-night snacks in the street of Ho Chi Minh, which is guaranteed to satisfy each and every one of your taste buds.
Find out more about Ho Chi Minh’s nightlife here.
|To have fun trips in Ho Chi Minh City, check out our authentic motorbike tours with professional local guides!|
Mekong Delta and the Floating Markets
The Mekong Delta is covered with such a complex network of rivers and canals that the locals have come up with the idea of establishing markets right on the waters. The floating markets have now become one of the most special cultural experience for foreign visitors. The vendors mostly sell fresh fruits in the floating market, but there is also some food such as bun rieu sold on the sampans.
A corner of Mekong Delta’s floating market
The market is exceptionally bustling, and trying bargaining with the seller is pretty good fun. It is something you should do in any market anyway, so it is best to fully participate in the excitement of the locals’ lifestyle. Book a Mekong Delta tour now for an opportunity of a lifetime.
Must-eat Foods in Vietnam
A mouth-watering bowl of pho
Need we say more about pho? The culinary delight is Vietnam’s internationally most recognized dish, and many tourists make their way to Vietnam in search of the best pho in the country. News flash: there is none! Pho has a vast variant throughout the country, depending on the regional appetite. For example, pho in Hanoi – which is supposedly the birthplace of pho – mostly has simple ingredients like slices of beef, onions and green onions, while in Southern Vietnam, the components are extended to herbs, bean sprouts, etc.
Vietnam’s signature bun cha
Bun cha is a striking example of Hanoi’s charming cuisine, which captivated President Obama’s appetite during his visit to Vietnam in 2016, so make sure to add this to your Vietnam’s bucket list. Bun is Vietnam’s rice vermicelli, and cha is grilled pork inside a bowl of broth. The broth is the dipping sauce and is the determinant of a good bun cha. It is a mix of fish sauce, vinegar, and a bit of sugar, creating a unique sweet and sour taste. While eating bun cha, definitely do not forget to add some vegetables and herbs to prevent getting too full from the pork.
Banh mi – a perfect drunk food
Banh mi is commonly known for a quick grab of breakfast, but what most food reviewers forget to tell you that it is also a fulfilling drunk food. A loaf of banh mi is rich in protein but not so heavy, which will help your stomach a great deal and prevent you from bloating the next day. There is a plethora of ingredients inside a banh mi, including a variety of meat slices, some butter, paté, and some herbs, all of which harmonize just like a fiesta in your mouth. Banh mi can be easily found literally at any street corner at the most economical price.
King of fruit: durian
Why should you add the stinkiest fruit on earth to your Vietnam’s bucket list you may ask? Well, there is a reason that durian is named “King of fruits” by South-East Asians. The taste of durian is super sweet, silky, and creamy. But the most recognizable about durian is its strong and allegedly repulsive smell, which does not bother some people and is even loved for that remarkable aroma. However, enough basic descriptions, why don’t you have a taste of this “skeptical fruit” and decide for yourself?
More on Vietnam’s Smelly Foods
Ca phe sua da (iced coffee with condensed milk)
Condensed milk and strong coffee: a match made in heaven
Any coffee-holics should never skip a chance to drink ca phe sua da once you have a chance to visit Vietnam. Ca phe sua da uses sweetened condensed milk, which helps deliver a caramel-y, creamy, and luxurious taste. The most interesting (and most therapeutic) part of drinking ca phe sua da is watching the coffee extracts dripping onto the condensed milk from the aluminum filter right in front of your eyes. Vietnamese likes their coffee to be super strong a bitter, so be careful if you are susceptible to caffeine. You can find ca phe sua da at any Vietnamese coffee shops, from fancy coffee chains to small shops on the street.
Summary of Vietnam’s Bucket List
It is almost impossible to explore every specialty of Vietnam in just one limited vacation, so hopefully, this list provides helpful information to plan your dream Vietnam itinerary. Find out more about what to do in a day to make the best use of your holiday.