To answer the question "what to do in Vietnam?” the answer is obvious: take a cruise in Halong Bay! Aboard a traditional junk or a more modern boat with high-end comfort, the choice is yours according to your travel standards. Another of our favourite things to do in Vietnam is explore the mythical Mekong River and its waterways which extend, creating a huge fertile area home to millions of inhabitants. The best way to discover this magical region is definitely on its waterways aboard a sampan (a traditional boat), following the course of the peaceful life of the delta in the same manner as the locals. A truly wonderful and unique experience, these multiple islands and islets create spectacular landscapes and offer unforgettable cruising experiences.
In Vietnam and especially in the cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Hoi An, it is in the alleys that meals are cooked, and children play - in short, the most authentic and teeming life takes place right in front of your eyes. Let yourself be charmed by the rhythm of the saucepans, and the old ladies in the conical hat selling all kinds of objects while ensuring that their street corner stays clean by sweeping at all times!
In Hanoi, north of Hoan Kiem Lake, a must-visit is the 36 Streets District. It is an intertwining of streets and sometimes very narrow alleys, where the swarming activity is made up of shops categorized by lane: for example the street "Hang Gai" is the silk street, or the street "Hang Bac" is that of silver. Venture out, get lost! And you will return to the soul of the capital.
Hoi An, a former fishing village, has more than 800 buildings classified as historic monuments. Its charming town centre and the enchanting atmosphere is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. One of our favourite things to do in Vietnam is to walk along the alleys and stroll through the tastefully decorated shops illuminated by a myriad of colourful lanterns.
Finally in Ho Chi Minh City, the economic lung of Vietnam, we encourage you to wander among vestiges of the past and the ultra-modern luxury boutiques of the Dong Khoi District. It is indeed a city strongly marked by its colonial past where many buildings in the city centre are an obvious reminder of the French presence. For example, the Central Post Office is an incredible work of architecture built by Gustave Eiffel. Not far away, the elegant Notre Dame Cathedral built from red bricks is also a testimony to the French influence.
One of the best things to do in Vietnam is discovering the country’s beautiful landscapes by foot or on a bicycle. North Vietnam, in particular, is full of wonders. Whether you are a keen athlete or nature-lover eager for authentic encounters, this is definitely the place where you should spend at least 2 to 3 days. You will find there are many possibilities for cycling excursions and treks of different levels, all with the common goal of being in the heart of stunning panoramas. You will cross valleys dotted with villages and traditional houses and get the chance to meet many ethnic groups, all recognizable by their very particular traditional outfits and shimmering colours.
Traveling to Vietnam is an excellent opportunity to live as close as possible to the locals by experiencing a night in their traditional house on stilts. Take an excursion to the mountain ethnic groups in the north of the country or to the territory of the White Thai ethnic group in Mai Chau, a valley with karst reliefs crossed by many rivers amidst a verdant backdrop of vegetation. Here, you get the chance to immerse yourself in the life of the valley by spending a night in one of the many houses on stilts with the locals, one of the most adventurous and immersive things to do in Vietnam. Enjoy the delicious meals cooked by the whole family with locally-harvested ingredients and learn more about their unique way of life. Your hosts will be happy to welcome you and share with you their way of life by giving you a taste of rice alcohol and a demonstration of folk dances with a small musical group using traditional instruments.
Vietnamese cuisine is undoubtedly one of the most renowned for delighting your taste buds. It is diverse, fine and, what's more, healthy and balanced. Fine cuisine and trendy restaurants are easy to find in Vietnam, but it is often in the street that we make the most delightful discoveries. One of the easiest things to do in Vietnam is to lose yourself in the small kiosks that invade the streets at all hours of the day and night to stir up fragrant dishes.
You certainly know the "pho", Vietnam's national breakfast - so popular that it can be enjoyed all day. Its finesse and unique flavours have brought it beyond borders, and nowadays you can find it in speciality restaurants all over the world. But have you tasted this dish on the sidewalk, sitting on plastic stools, surrounded by locals? This experience is definitely something to try if you are curious to share an authentic moment in the daily life of the Vietnamese while delighting your tastebuds. Choose between beef ("pho bo") or chicken ("pho ga") rice noodles that are dipped in a subtle broth of cinnamon, spring onion and star anise. Savoured in this context and cooked with the know-how of a street cook, it is the ultimate street-food in Vietnam. The popularity of these street kiosks is usually such that everything is very fresh – our tip: find a stall that is popular with the locals. This experience is one of our favourite things to do in Vietnam, and will undoubtedly be an opportunity to meet the locals!