With its mouth-watering cuisine, beautiful landscapes, ancient traditions and amazing culture, it is no surprise that the country of Vietnam attracts travelers from all around the world. Its beaches, temples and bustling cities contrast one another to create an exciting experience for anyone who is visiting for the first time.
Though this Southeast Asian country is full of surprises, there are a few bucket list items you'll definitely want to cross off during your visit in order to get a feel for the region's beauty and depth.
1. STREET FOOD
Vietnam is known for its street food scene, filled with aromatic foods sizzling in food carts along the streets or in local markets. With so many amazing staple items to try, like Bánh mì (traditional Vietnamese sandwich), Cà Phê Trứng (egg coffee – delish!), Bún đậu mắm tôm (noodles with tofu and shrimp), Gỏi cuốn (spring rolls), and of course, a signature bowl of phở, you'll constantly be looking forward to your next meal.
Vietnam's culture is anchored in its rich spiritual history, and the temples, of course, are a major part of that. With hundreds of temples and tombs to see all across the country, you're bound to stumble upon many opportunities to experience and learn about the region's past through its well-preserved and stunning architecture. Some of these temples have been around for centuries, and others are relatively new, but they're all quite magnificent to experience.
3. HA LONG BAY's LIMESTONE CAVES
This amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site is one you shouldn't miss during your visit to Vietnam. Cruise through thousands of floating limestone islands that make up the region's iconic geography, and spend the day soaking up the sun and admiring the clear, turquoise waters. Then, hop off to explore any of its astounding caves, riddled with wildlife and beauty.
4. Hoi An
The ancient town of Hoi An is sprinkled with historic architecture and is truly charming in all of its well-preserved beauty. Located along the great river, this region used to be one of Southeast Asia's largest trading centers and today reflects a diversity of cultures. The area can only mostly be biked or walked, as cars have been banned to help maintain its beauty.
5. Cyclos or Scooters
Though many visitors choose to walk or take buses to get from one place to the next, riding on a cyclo or scooter is an experience that can totally add some fun to your visit. Either option can take you from point A to B relatively quickly and will give you a chance to take in the bustling scene of the town, or will help you navigate Vietnam's beautiful countryside.
Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, is vibrant with life: scooters zipping up and down the streets and merchants selling handicrafts and goods. The charming city is notable for its pristine colonial architecture, and unique melting pot culture of Southeast Asian, French, Chinese and Russian influences. This popular destination is a great place to experience the region's temples, markets, cuisine and vibrant nightlife.
Vietnam's cuisine is known for its freshness, and its seafood...is VERY fresh. (Like, was probably caught just a few hours before you ate it.) If you like seafood, you're definitely going to love selecting your fish and preparation style and watching your food cook to perfection right before your eyes.
8. T'AI CHI
Start your morning off with a peaceful experience before the bustling sounds of the world come to life. T'ai Chi is a meditation and flow practiced by many in Vietnam as a way to relax or awaken energy. You'll likely see locals practicing T'ai Chi in the morning, in the parks as they move carefully in synch with one another.
Nightlife in Vietnam is a ton of fun. There are clubs and bars in the major cities, and in the smaller ones, there are still lots of opportunities to go out and have a great time. Though there are cover fees on occasion, going to the club is still cheaper than going out pretty much anywhere else in the world. If you're looking for something that (maybe) doesn't include partying hard though, you can find plenty of cultural shows, live music, and lots of trendy restaurants that come to life at night.
So there you have it! If you're planning on visiting Vietnam any time soon, or want to join FTLO this year as we head out to experience this incredible region of the world, make sure to keep these experiences in mind.
Interested in going to Vietnam? You're in luck! FTLO is planning a number of trips to this major bucket list destination this year. Browse our trip dates here to see which dates work for you.