Travel in Vietnam

01 Ethnic Markets

Spectacular traditional dress and a lively atmosphere make the ethnic minority markets a must – especially those in Bac Ha and Can Cau.

#01 Ethnic Markets

02 Temples and Pagodas

Vietnamese temples and pagodas reflect the country’s diverse range of religions: Long Son Pagoda in Nha Trang is a good example.

#02 Temples and Pagodas

03 Tet

The most important festival in the Vietnamese calendar, Tet sees the New Year ushered in with colourful flower markets, spectacular fireworks and exuberant dragon dances.

#03 Tet

04 Cu Chi tunnels

Look out for the spiked booby traps that Vietnamese guides reveal for visitors to the Cu Chi tunnels.

#04 Cu Chi tunnels

05 Bia Hoi

Bia hoi bars are fun, friendly, cheap and a great way to mingle with the locals. Order a bia hoi (lager-like draught) in any of the back lanes in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.

#05 Bia Hoi

06 The Citadel, Hue

The former capital’s historic citadel, mausoleums and gardens are idiosyncratic enough to impress even the most jaded traveller.

#06 The Citadel, Hué

07 Water-puppets

Enjoy a performance of mua roi nuoc, an art form developed in the Red River Delta around Hanoi.

#07 Water-puppets

08 Express Silk Tailoring

Visit one of the many Hoi An tailors who can rustle up a made-to-measure silk dress or suit in just a few hours.

#08 Express Silk Tailoring

09 Trekking around Sa Pa

Trek in the northern mountains around Sa Pa – a small market town perched on a plateau facing Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest peak.

#09 Trekking around Sa Pa

10 Lak Lake

Paddle the serene waters of Lak Lake in a dug-out canoe, ride on an elephant or take a guided trek into the surrounding forests before a sunset feast overlooking the water.

#10 Lak Lake

11 Hoi An

With its rich cultural heritage, beautifully preserved merchants’ houses and slow pace of life, Hoi An is a captivating place to spend a few days.

#11 Hoi An

12 The Red River Delta

Slow the pace down with a trip to the countryside and experience a lifestyle little changed in centuries. For more information, see the section on Far North.

#12 The Red River Delta

13 The Mekong Delta

Putter through this fertile farming region, surrounded by classic Vietnamese scenery.

#13 The Mekong Delta

14 Take a Cyclo Ride

The quintessential Vietnamese mode of transport gives you an up-close view of street life. For more information, see the section on local transport.

#14 Take a Cyclo Ride

15 A boat trip in Ha Long Bay

The thousands of limestone islands jutting out of these silent waters have been dubbed the eighth natural wonder of the world.

#15 A boat trip in Ha Long Bay

16 Chill out on Phu Quoc

Unspoilt beaches lined with coconut trees circle the island. You can also sail south to the unspoilt An Thoi islands for fine snorkelling.

#16 Chill out on Phu Quoc

17 Ride the Reunification Express

Load your bike on, then sit back and relax as the train slowly chugs its way between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

#17 Ride the Reunification Express

18 Colonial architecture

The legacy of French rule can be found in the impressive examples of colonial architecture, such as Hanoi’s Opera House.

#18 Colonial architecture

19 Traditional music

Music is the most important of all Vietnam’s performing arts and a traditional performance should feature on every itinerary. For more information, see the section on music and theatre.

#19 Traditional music

20 Browse the markets

Markets such as Binh Tay are good grazing grounds for snacks. Have a soup, spring roll, sticky rice cake – or even a baguette filled with pâte–to keep you going while you shop.

#20 Browse the markets

21 Adventure sports

Rock-climbing, kitesurfing, kayaking and mountain biking are just a few of the heart-pumping activities awaiting thrill-seekers.

#21 Adventure sports

22 Cao Dai Cathedral

Vietnam’s most charismatic indigenous religion goes in for exuberant architecture and ceremonies.

#22 Cao Dai Cathedral

23 Bahnar villages

Spend the night in a communal house (rong) where timeless ceremonies are performed and village decisions made.

#23 Bahnar villages

24 Street food

Soak up the atmosphere at a street kitchen and have your plate piled high with a selection of fresh food for next to nothing. For more information, see the section on street food.

#24 Street food

25 Nha Trang

Take a snorkelling trip in the emerald waters of the outlying islands around Nha Trang, or simply chill out on the beach.

#25 Nha Trang

From Roughguides