TOP 5 Once-in-Lifetime Adventures you Should Try in Vietnam

Are you planning a trip to Vietnam and you are confused in what to include in your itinerary?

In this article I would like to share with you 5 Memorable Experiences I personally tried while backpacking my way through this tiny South-East Asia Country 🙂

 

top things to do in vietnam - travel guide

“Affordable, Chaotic, and Magical,

Vietnam is a Land of Haunting Beauty

where Adventure is always just behind the Corner!

 

Nestled in Southeast Asia, Vietnam boasts a diverse landscape that captivates the soul.

From the emerald-green paddy fields of the Mekong Delta to the unique limestone cliffs of Halong Bay, and from the bustling streets of Hanoi to the vibrant lantern-lit alleys of Hoi An, Vietnam offers a feast for the senses at every turn.

Whether you’re seeking natural wonders, cultural immersion, mouth-watering strange food, or thrilling outdoor activities, Vietnam has it all.

After traveling through Vietnam for over a month on a backpacking trip through South-East Asia, I have to say that this tiny yet mighty country is packed with adventures and marvels!

In this brief article, I will show what I think are the 5 most epic experiences you can live in Vietnam (choosing was pretty hard! ;D) to help you plan your travel itinerary! 🙂

Let’s dive right in!

 

Let’s get started!

1. Take a Boat Tour in Ha Long Bay

take a boat and visit halong bay

Ha, Long Bay is one of those places that you believe exist only in dreams until you see it in first person.

Located not too far from the Capital of Vietnam Hanoi (you can come to visit it on a day trip!), Ha, Long Bay is an emerald archipelago that counts over 1600 limestone islands and islets.

According to an ancient Vietnamese legend, all the rock formations in the bay are the emerald teeth of a dragon that, sent by gods, came to defend the harbors against invaders and left his teeth to discourage future aggressors from trying. Curious enough, the name Ha Long Bay in English means “Descending Dragon” (such an inspiring story! 😉 ).

We don’t know if the dragon truly existed, but what is undeniable is that nowadays the bay remains as one of the most incredible natural places on Earth! I also inserted it in my list of the 10 Natural Wonders you Should See in your Lifetime!

The best way to reach the bay is surely from Hanoi by bus or with your vehicle (which in Vietnam mostly means “Scooter” 😉 ), while for visiting the bay you can hop on one of the many boats organizing tours every day of the year!

All in all, Ha Long Bay is a must-see wonder that you absolutely cannot miss if you are traveling in Vietnam, and thus it makes the top of the list of the best things to do in Vietnam (although, as you will see in this article, Vietnam is pretty awesome wherever you go! 😉 ).

 

BRIEF INFO FOR YOUR VISIT

Best Months to Visit: October to December! These are the months where normally it’s sunnier and warmer (and thus the most chosen by tourists also!)

Best Way to Get There: Organised Day-Tours start every day from the Vietnamese Capital of Hanoi and take care of every detail (transportation, boat, entrances to attractions, etc.). There are also regular buses if you wish to stay more days or Halong Bay Overnight Cruises if you wish to experience the bay during the Night and be already there for watching the sunrise from a privileged position.

Hotspots Nearby:  Hang Sung Sot Cave, Cat Ba Island, Me Cung Cave, Virgin Cave, Cat Ba National Park, Hanoi, Lan Ha Bay, Hospital Cave, Cat Ba Town

2. Ride a Motorbike on the Ha Giang Loop

Do the Ha Giang Loop in Motorbike

Located in the northern part of Vietnam, close to the border with China, the Ha Giang region is a less-touristy destination that still manages to fly outside the mass tourism radar.

Rice terraces, forests so green that hurt the eyes, incredible river valleys, and the spiky Karst mountain formations make the Ha Giang region a paradise for nature lovers and for everyone who is looking for that true feeling of adventure and discovery.

The best way to explore this unbelievable region, as with most of Vietnam in general, is by motorbike. To see all the views that Ha Giang has to offer and be sure not to miss out on anything, the easiest way is driving around the Ha Giang Motorbike Loop which goes through all the Vietnamese sceneries of the region.

The Loop can be done by self-driving for more adrenaline and a sense of adventure or by joining a tour for more safety and comfort. Whatever you will choose, be sure to check out this fantastic corner of Vietnam and don’t make the mistake most travelers do of skipping it because out of the beaten path.

3. Cross Vietnam on an Authentic Night Train

travel vietnam by train - night train ride how to

Vietnam is a relatively narrow country (barely 50km wide in some points), but boy, it’s a surprisingly long country too!

From North to South, Vietnam indeed stretches for almost 2000km (which is about double the length of Italy!), and that means that traveling through the whole country might take a while.

There are few highways, but nothing compared to what you might be used to seeing in other Western countries. Because of that, people with limited time normally move between places either by internal flights or…by train!

Vietnam Railways offers one of the most scenic (and weird!) sleeper train ride experiences in the world: 6 different accommodation possibilities, from “hard chairs” to “soft beds”, and a journey through the fields and mountains of Vietnam.

On our journey, we decided to take a ride with an old overnight train from Hanoi to Hue and well, it was an adventure, to say the least.

The train was bouncing up and down, toilets were a mess, sleepers were shared with other travelers snoring like crazy, but hey: on those trains, they were also selling cheap beers and we had time to talk for hours with other travelers and locals on the same journey, discovering curiosities about Vietnam as well as enjoying the views.

All in all, if you’re planning to travel through all of Vietnam, a night train is an experience that you cannot miss!

 

BRIEF INFO FOR YOUR TAKING A SLEEPER TRAIN RIDE IN VIETNAM

You can find all info you need about the Vietnam Sleep Train in this Complete Guide by my travel blogger colleague Tasha Amy, which did an impressive job putting all the many useful info together! ;D

 

4. Explore the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

and Live the Dark Cave Adventure

dark cave experience in vietnam Phong Nha- Ke Bang National Park

This is an experience we found on our way almost by chance…and it was one of the most epic ones too!

The Dark Cave, located in the Phong Nha national park, is one of the largest caves in the world and as its name suggests, it’s completely dark!

To visit the cave, you need to join an expedition from the tourist office just in front of the cave: they will give you a helmet with a torchlight, a life vest and instructions on what comes next.

After the introductory video is when the adventure starts: first, to reach the cave you will have to fly over a river from a tower using a zipline. Once there, it will be time for kayaking to the cave. Once there with the group, it will be time to switch on the lights and explore the inside of the cave.

I visited plenty of caves during my journeys, but I have to say that the Dark Cave was an experience on its own exactly because of its unique feature: darkness! Walking in the dark, with nothing but the light on your head, is something too cool to describe (or frightening for some too 😉 ). The cave is humongous, and without guide, it would be easy to get lost.

The tour lasts for about 2 hours, and along the way, you can also immerse yourself in a pool of mud, and bathing like it was chocolate! Maybe doesn’t sound so cool to read it, but I believe we had more fun than we should have in there ahah 🙂

The tour ends with swimming outside the cave and with a Tibetan bridge and swings from which you can dive right back to the river. If you like exploring and you don’t mind some adrenaline, this is one of the top things you don’t want to miss on your journey through Vietnam!

 

5. Discover the True Face of War

at the War Remnants Museum

war remnant museum in ho chi minh

The War Remnant Museum in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) is not for impressionable people.

In this unbelievable museum, which I also inserted in my article 7 World-Class Museums You Never Heard Of, you can see war.

Nude and crude. As ugly and horrible as it is. No censure, no filter.

The War Remnant Museum is an exposition of photos, witnesses, and stories of the Vietnam War that plagued the country between 1955-1975.

The exposition is crafted from a Vietnamese perspective, which often conflicts with what you might have read in history books in your home country.

During our tour, I felt more than on one occasion like crying, but also like puking and striking in the deepest layers of my soul.

This museum showcases the suffering, pain and destruction of war without filters, and as a human being, I believe that anybody that would enter this museum would come out of it as a vital war opposer.

If you’re looking for an impactful experience while traveling through Vietnam, and you’re ready for a “heavy” couple of hours, you don’t want to miss this place.

 

BRIEF INFO FOR YOUR VISIT

Ticket Price: 40.000VND

Opening Times: 07.30-17.30 Everyday

Official Museum Website

 

BONUS: Walk the Bà Nà Hill Golden Bridge

hands of god in vietnam

Opened in June 2018, the Golden Bridge of Bà Nà Hill is a piece of art whose photos traveled all over the world.

Not far from the cities of Da Nang and Hue, this bridge became a tourist hotspot the moment it opened! The monument consists of two hands holding a circular bridge, which from some perspective it looks like a giant impersonification of Mother Nature sustaining the path.

A curious installation, definitely worth the visit if you’re traveling in the area!

 

Conclusion

guys stop during motorbike ride through vietnam - best things to do in vietnam

And here we are at the end of the article!

These were the 5 most awesome experiences that I believe you should not miss on your journey through Vietnam!

Choosing just 5 of them hasn’t been easy at all: rice fields, restaurants, cities, markets, temples, rivers, jungles… Vietnam is such a diverse and culturally rich country that to breathe it in fully the only way you can is to experiment with it first person 🙂

 

So, now I ask you: what do you think about this list? Did you try any of the mentioned experiences? Do you have an experience that you believe we should add to this list yes or yes?

If yes, then let me know in the comments below! (I always like chatting and meeting new people!).

 

Thanks for reading, and I wish you a happy life!

See you in the following article 🙂

 

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