Rich in culture and natural landmarks, Vietnam is a delight to visit with things to do year-round in each region. There are tons of fun vacation activities to add to your itinerary, so many, it can be difficult deciding what makes the cut. The limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay are among the most sought-after destinations, with local activities ranging from cruises to snorkeling.
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Things to do and see in Vietnam
Vietnam is a vast country with a wide array of activities for the tourist to try. From visiting sandy beaches and tall peaks to delighting your taste buds with the local street food, Vietnam has something for everyone. Discover some remarkable things to do below.
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Guide to Activities in Vietnam
It’s without a doubt that Vietnam is considered one of the top destinations in Southeast Asia, full of fun things to do and see year-round. This exotic and culturally rich tourist haven has a lot to offer whether you’re an affluent traveler or a budget-conscious backpacker.
From pristine white beaches to majestic terraced rice paddies Vietnam is a country that packs a lot of punch and diversity into its land. No matter what sort of activities appeal to you, Vietnam has something for everyone to enjoy.
Before joining the other millions of tourists and making the trip to Vietnam, take some time to consider what sort of trip you’d like to experience.
- National Parks
- Public Parks
- Historical Sites
- Performing Arts
Browse the best things to do by city/province
The beaches along the Vietnamese coastline have been likened to the Mediterranean with all the white sand, clear teal waters, and lush tropical trees. Many hotels, resorts, and other lodging have direct beach access, making it easy to participate in water activities or just some relaxation in the sun.
If you happen to make a reservation at one of the luxury hotels or resorts in a coastal Vietnam city, tours and activities can often be booked through the customer service desk. Popular activities to do at the beaches in Vietnam include snorkeling, swimming, canoeing, fishing, surfing, scuba diving, and sunbathing.
Some of the most visited cities for a beach vacation are:
- Mui Ne – a southeastern city with palm-covered beaches and a hub for watersports.
- Nha Trang – a southern resort town known for its beaches, watersports, and offshore islands.
- Da Nang – a central coastal city with French colonial history and proximity to the Marble Mountains.
- Hoi An – home to the famous An Bang Beach and the city’s Ancient Town in central Vietnam.
- Vung Tau – a port city, a coastal resort area, and former French colonial town in southern Vietnam.
Sometimes you have to level up your beach vacation with an upgrade to an entire island for the ultimate tropical retreat. While the Vietnamese coast offers plenty of immaculate white sands and access to the ocean, an island vacation provides even more exclusive experiences. Some islands are connected with roadways, while others like Can Dao can only be reached using a boat or plane.
Popular activities on Vietnamese islands include swimming, snorkeling, diving, golfing, sunbathing, indulging in fresh seafood, and boating. The top destinations for an island getaway in Vietnam are:
- Con Dao – an idyllic place to snorkel and admire colorful corals, Can Dao has been said to have the cleanest beaches and bluest waters in Vietnam.
- Phu Quoc – a favorite island of locals and ex-pats, Phu Quoc is a hot spot for sandy beaches, teal waters, and resorts.
- Nam Du – located southwest of Phu Quoc, this island is still a hidden gem with a charming fishing village and incredibly fresh seafood.
- Cat Ba – surrounded by jetting rocks into the water and fascinating local culture, the scenery on this island unbeatable.
- Cham Islands – located near Hoi An, these islands are ideal for diving, snorkeling, and viewing coral reefs.
Stepping away from the coast, Vietnam’s inland views are just as picturesque as the ones by the ocean. Visiting a few of the mountain villages and towns in the country will transport you to an entirely different atmosphere, some of which are at higher climates, and get unique weather systems.
In Vietnam, the most famous and tallest mountain, Fansipan, is a must-see for anyone looking to tackle some hiking or take in the views by riding the cable car to the top. Many mountain cities like Sapa or smaller nearby villages are great for exploring and sampling local foods and culture.
Popular activities to do in the mountainous areas of Vietnam include biking, ziplining, hiking, motor scootering, walking tours, and bicycle tours. Several hotels and other accommodations offer a bicycle rental service for free or a small extra fee.
Cities to visit for a mountain retreat vacation:
- Sapa – one of the most picturesque mountain areas in the country, nestled in terraced rice fields overlooking the Muong Hoa Valley and nearby Fansipan.
- Hanoi – Vietnam’s capital near some of the most impressive mountains for a getaway, including Ham Lon Mountain, Ba Vi Mountain, and Tram Mountain.
- Da Lat – developed initially as a French resort town in the early 1900s, and it features Vietnam’s central highlands and a lake.
- Bana Hills – resort destination and hill station town in central Vietnam.
- Cat Tien National Park – a massive forested area with centuries-old trees, plants, botanical gardens, and trails.
City life in Vietnam has a lot to offer tourists, happy hour enthusiasts, and lovers of shopping and eating. Just about every big city and smaller town in Vietnam has exciting attractions and holds a lot of entertainment value, many of which are within walking distance from downtown areas and nearby accommodations.
Rooftop bars and coffee shops are some of the most popular establishments for socializing, while several historical sites showcase a blend of local culture and their connection to French influence. Many luxury hotels in the bigger cities have extensive amenities like on-site spas, multiple restaurants, and stunning panoramic views.
Popular activities to do in cities around Vietnam include visiting attractions, historical sites, dining at a rooftop terrace, happy hour on a rooftop bar, nightclubs, shopping, riding bicycles in the city, riding scooters around town, indulging in pampering at a spa, and sampling the local cuisine.
Locations that offer fantastic city vacations:
- Hanoi – known as the “city of peace” and boasts many arts, history, and cultural attractions.
- Ho Chi Minh City – HCMC is one of the most visited cities in Vietnam and has vibrant nightlife and many areas for shopping and sightseeing.
- Hoi An – a small city, packed with a lot of history and known for its lantern-lit streets at night.
- Ha Long Bay – a UNESCO heritage site and one of the most visited cities in the country for its scenery and city life.
- Da Nang – “the city of bridges” with fantastic architecture and a light, fire, and water show every weekend night.
Vacations for History Buffs
Vietnam is a country with a rich history that is sure to appease anyone with a deep interest in world events and culture. With a connection to the Vietnam War, the French colonial period, and ties to Chinese dynasties, there is no shortage of historical sites to visit.
Many Vietnamese cities offer a diverse selection of attractions, but travelers focusing on artifacts and museums won’t have much trouble planning a vacation around them. Popular attractions for history buffs include museums, pagodas, ancient streets in town, temples, prisons, cathedrals, world heritage sites, and bridges.
Cities that have some of the most famous historical attractions include:
- Nha Trang – location of the Long Son Pagoda, the largest outdoor sculpture in Vietnam
- Hue – home to sites like the Imperial City and tombs of former emperors.
- Ho Chi Minh City – where several memorials and museums related to the US-Vietnam war are.
- Hanoi – the Old Quarter and Hoa Lo Prison are both frequently visited attractions in the city.
- Hoi An – a melting pot of impressive architecture based on Chinese and French colonial influence.
Other Popular Vietnam Destinations
There are a few other places worth mentioning that don’t necessarily fit the previously listed categories. All three locations provide guests with plenty of activities as long as they are willing to make the journey.
Ha Long Bay – The Ha Long area is one of the most-visited parts of Vietnam and home to almost 800 islets in the region’s core, with several hundred more on its outskirts. This world heritage site offers tourists many unique experiences like exploring the Thien Cung grotto and floating fishing villages.
Tourists with an appreciation for ancient history will enjoy visiting and learning about how the area was inhabited by prehistoric human beings thousands of years ago.
The most popular points of interest in the Ha Long Bay area include:
- Bai Tu Long Bay
- Sung Sot Cave
- Dong Thien Cung
- Dau Go Cave
- Pont Bai Chay
Mekong Delta – The Mekong Delta is an area with extensive rivers, floating markets, swamps, islands, and ancient pagodas. Many of the iconic views of Vietnam are associated with the Mekong Delta area, which is what makes it a popular place for tourists to put on their itineraries.
Since boats are the primary source of transportation in the delta, tours of the region can be easily arranged by visitors staying in nearby cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho.
The most popular activities and sights in the Mekong Delta region include:
- The Cai Rang Floating Market
- Sam Mountain
- Ong Temple
- Ninh Kieu Wharf
- Tours of the Mekong Delta and Cu Chi Tunnels
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park – Those adventurous at heart shouldn’t look past a trip to the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a region full of underground rivers, caves, and grottos. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this national park draws in visitors worldwide to see the unique environment like the limestone areas.
Staying near the park allows tourists with a thirst for the outdoors to book specialty tours that explore the underground caves and showcase some of the region’s tropical and lush natural beauty.
The most popular must-see attractions and activities in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park area include:
- Phong Nha Caves
- Exploring Caves with Ziplines
- Jungle Trekking Tours
- Son Doong Cave
- Motorbike Tours
No matter where you end up visiting or what activities you do, Vietnam provides visitors with every experience they could possibly imagine. Whether you prefer a calm, quiet vacation in the mountains or the hustle and bustle of the city, try to see as much as this beautiful country while visiting.
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