11 Best Vietnam Experiences to Try a Multicolor Vietnam

Must-Have Travel Experiences in Vietnam from North to South

Rachel Tran
Rachel Tran | Published: October 9, 2019

Each region in Vietnam has its own culture and history, which can make tourists confused since if they merely have a certain amount of time, it would be difficult to totally discover this beautiful country’s signature. To find out solutions for this problem, tourists can check out these 11 suggestions of the best Vietnam experiences to try a multicolor Vietnam below!

1. Shopping on The Water at Cai Rang Floating Market

Shop at Cai Rang floating market
Locals trading on boats at Cai Rang floating market (Source: huepostcard)

While traveling to the Southern part of Vietnam, it would be a huge omission if tourists miss the chance of going to Cai Rang Floating Market (Chợ Nổi Cái Răng), one of the most worth visiting markets in Vietnam.

As it is named, this floating market is located on Cai Rang River, roughly 6 kilometers far from the center of Can Tho City. In the past, it was formed due to the initial needs of local people as traveling by road was such a daunting challenge at that time! However, as time flies, even though nowadays the road traffic system has developed conveniently, this special market is still in operation thanks to its economic, cultural as well as tourism values. Cai Rang Floating Market has become an integral signature of Mekong Delta today.

Plus, Cai Rang Floating Market is absolutely a spectacular place to try Vietnamese traditional food such as Banh Mi, Hu Tieu or so on. It is because there are a number of floating restaurants here, with 30 -40-year-experience Chefs being always ready to serve the most delicious dishes. 

Cai Rang market Can Tho
Reverse sweep boats filled with commodities

For the first time visiting this unique market, tourists will be surprised by its scale. There are thousands of wooden rowboats in various sizes and shapes here. Moreover, what definitely will take the visitors’ breath away is that they seem to purchase every food which can be found in the Mekong Delta, ranging from fresh fruits to processed specialties. Each rowboat specializes in one kind of food. You can see rowboats selling pills of watermelons, pineapples or even durians – such a pungent fruit that rarely can people see them being gathered in large quantities. 

Traveling guide:

To start a journey at Cai Rang Floating Market as well as to be able to fully enjoy the bustling trading scene here, visitors are highly recommended to buy a boat ticket ($2-$4) or hire a boat ($30 – $60). Moreover, because vendors seldom have large bills, travelers should remember to bring small bills so that they can conveniently buy food in this special market.

Travelers are suggested to get there between 6 a.m and 8 a.m in order to see the whole trading scene of the market. Visit there in the dry season if you want to try a variety of tropical fruits and be there in cool season if you are not a good heat-bearing person.

Location: 46 Hai Ba Trung, Le Binh, Cai Rang River, Can Tho, Vietnam

2. Trying the Hill Tribe Family’s Life in Sapa

Hill tribe in Sapa
Smiles of children of ethnic minorities in Sapa

Going to Vietnam, tourists are way too similar to its popularity of various historical destinations, traditional food or breathtaking beaches as well as limestones. However, when it comes to Vietnam, it would be imperfect, not to mention the North West mountainous areas (especially Sapa), where travelers can enjoy a less touristy Vietnam, a Vietnam with basic life, simple people and colorful stuff.

Sapa is home to various Vietnamese ethnic minorities (most commonly you will find Hmong people, Jarai, Bahnar, Dzao or Thai peoples), each of which has its own language, signature handwoven costume (all of them are absolutely incredible!) as well as specific custom. Visiting hill tribe families in Sapa, travelers can not only observe their living areas (mostly stilted houses but in different architectures and structures, depending on specific ethnicity) but also immerse in their daily life.

Traveling guide:

Sapa can satisfy roughly all kinds of travelers, ranging from cultural-minded ones to adventurous ones. If you are the type of person who pays more attention to discover cultural differences, the specific lifestyle of various ethnicities here would undeniably satisfy you. 

Sapa town in the mist
Sapa town in the mist

By meeting rice farmers who work on high terraces, you learn about their agriculture lifestyle; by visiting weavers and silversmiths, you know about their customs and costume; by listening to their traditional poetry, songs, and music, you discover their history and culture; and by simply trekking through majestic mountains, you enjoy the scenery of the places they call home.

Even if you are an adventure-addicted person, the experience of visiting hill tribes in Sapa can also meet your expectations. As the traffic system here is just in its infancy, the two only ways to get to the villages as well as to go sightseeing around are by bike and on foot. Adventurous tourists can enjoy the hiking experience, together with the risky feelings whenever having to transport from villages to villages of locals here. Surely, it will be an unforgettable experience!

For ones who want to book a homestay so that you can have the most genuine insight into the tribes’ lives, there would be women friendly accosting you after you reach Sapa for helping you do that. However, there are also some things to note for homestay. You have to keep in mind that: going on a homestay with ethnic people sometimes means you will have to eat simple or even local food (most of them have strange taste), use an outdoor bathroom with cold water or sleep on such a thin mattress. But, this is how most ethnic people live for years and only by trying those experiences you can totally immerse in their lives.

3. Kayaking through Halong Bay

Kayaking through Halong Bay - Best Vietnam experiences
 Kayaking – a perfect way to explore any corner of Halong Bay 

Everyone knows Halong Bay is a breathtaking place recognized by UNESCO as one of seven World Natural Heritages. But, does anyone know that the best way to explore Halong is kayaking? Let us explore this brand-new experience!

Hiring a kayak offers travelers priceless chance of freely discovering Halong Bay’s spectacular systems of caves and calamities, as well as observing this monumental bay’s picturesque scenery in the most genuine way. Tourists can create their own journey, which allows them to go to wherever they can sail to, which no professional tour can offer them.

There are two kinds of kayaks: recreational one and sit-on-top one. The former is famous for its stability, which is suitable for tourists who has tried this for the first time, photographers or ordinary boatmen. The latter, though offers more convenient seats which is easier for travelers to step on and off, is larger in size and therefore would understandably bring beginners a bit of difficulty.

Traveling guide:

Visitors can hire a kayak with such a reasonable price of VND 40,000-50,000 (~$2) in a number of Wharfs in Halong, from Bai Chay Wharf, Hung Thang Wharf to Hong Ha Wharf and so on.

4. Riding on a Cyclo

Riding a cyclo - a must try experience in Vietnam
Cyclo ride in Hanoi will ease your bearings and bring you close to the city

A cyclo is a specific combination of bicycle and taxi, which means you would be able to enjoy the taxi’s comfortable seats, together with the cycle’s open view of observing the city. You can find this special means of transportation in some big cities or tourist attractions, for instance: Hanoi, Hoi An,…

Because cyclo drivers are mostly native people who have lived in the city for years, going on a cyclo will provide you with a chance of listening to the city’s most authentic introduction from locals. Moreover, if you are too tired of walking but still want to explore places, Cyclo is undeniably the best choice for you. This is definitely the unique one among the best Vietnam experiences tourists should have.

5. Explore Cu Chi Tunnels

In the past, it was said that: “if Cu Chi Tunnels stand, then Vietnam will win; if Cu Chi Tunnels fell, Vietnam will fell, too.” How can these tunnels play such a vital part in Vietnamese wars against French and American? It is because these tunnels served not only as a food storage place but also as numerous bunkers, booby traps as well as bomb shelters. Visiting these places, people would have the most genuine view of Vietnamese wars in the past as Cu Chi Tunnels are such enormous War Remnants Museums.

Located about 60 kilometers away to the NorthWest of Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi Tunnels’ initial construction was said to begin in 1948 by Viet Minh soldiers in the resistance against French. During war periods, these Tunnels served as the only and integral means of communication between places and places, the only “peaceful” places for hospitals, schools as well as kitchens. Roughly all daily activities of soldiers and residents were conducted here. What’s more surprising, these places were also utilized as an unpredictable way of infiltrating Saigon for Vietnamese sabotage teams and agents in the warring time, which certainly contributed to Vietnamese’s victory.

Traveling guide:

In the modern days, regrettably, tourists are merely allowed to go into two sets of Cu Chi Tunnels, which are named Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc.

Ben Dinh - Cu Chi tunnels
Ben Dinh

Ben Dinh, which used to be the base of the Cu Chi District Party Committee, is located approximately 50 kilometers away from Ho Chi Minh City. Thanks to its near proximity to Ho Chi Minh City, this place would understandably be the most convenient choice for travelers having such a short time traveling. However, it is also because of this convenience, this place nowadays has sadly become a bit more like a tourist trap, which does take tourists away from the most authentic experience.

Visiting Ben Duoc at Cu Chi tunnels
Ben Duoc (Source: hanatourist)

Ben Duoc; however, would be more highly recommended to visitors if they have enough time for discovering. Ben Duoc is much larger than Ben Dinh and used to be the base of the Party Committee as well as the Headquarters of Saigon – Cho Lon – Gia Dinh and military zone. This place is situated roughly 70 kilometers away from Ho Chi Minh City and still retains its peaceful rural scenery. By visiting this place, tourists would be sure to find out a more authentic feeling of how Vietnamese life in the past was, together with enjoying less touristy experiences.

Opening hours: every day from 8 a.m to 5 p.m every day

Entrance Fee:

  • Ben Dinh: 110,000 VND (~$5)
  • Ben Duoc: 90,000 VND (~$4)

6. Checking out Bui Vien Street / Beers at Bia Hoi Junction in Hanoi

Bui Vien street in Ho Chi Minh City
Bui Vien walking street at night

Bui Vien Street – Street for Backpackers and Foreigners. Visitors can find mostly everything here, from foreign cuisine to Vietnamese cuisine, from the most affordable prices to the most expensive one. This is such a hustling area! If you want to have a busy night enjoying the modern days’ energetic atmosphere as well as to make friends from roughly every walks of life, this is definitely a place for you.

Bia Hoi Junction
A corner of Bia Hoi Ta Hien

Going to Bui Vien (or Vietnam on a large scale), Bia Hoi (fresh beer) is a must-try for tourists. In Vietnam, you can try the most inexpensive Bia Hoi in the world with the highest quality. Bia Hoi Junction has been widely considered as a quintessential spot for nightlife people, where everyone can have a pint of Bia Hoi from a mere VND 5,000 ($0.2). Buying some snacks from a number of makeshift stalls nearby and then you can freely chit-chat or even make new friends.

7. Crossing the Street (yeah, you did not read it wrong)

Crossing street in Vietnam (Matthew Nolan)
Crossing the street in Vietnam like the locals is challenging (source: Matthew Nolan)

Trying to avoid crossing the street in the peak hours, honestly, but if you have already gone out, then please do not worry, you are just going to enjoy Vietnam’s one of the most chaotic (sadly) and unique specialty.

In Vietnam, people’s most common means of transportation is the motorbike; therefore, sometimes crossing the street (or getting around Vietnam cities) would also mean you will have to cope with hundreds (yeah, you are right, HUNDREDS) motorbikes coming closer and closer to you. In this case, tourists had better find a group of locals to stick to, try to go at a gradual pace, and pray!

8. Cycle around the Mekong Delta

Cycle around mekong delta vietnam
Experience rich local traditions, picturesque scenery and tasty specialties on the back of a bike (source: excursionvietnam)

Hearing this for the first time, many people would be surprised but honestly, this experience would offer you numerous other experiences that are unforgettable, too. Mekong Delta Region contains a tremendous number of quiet roads, peaceful paddy fields as well as friendly native people, which are truly all the core factors of forming a perfect cycling area.

Moreover, by traveling on your own and following your own schedule, visitors can have a closer view of locals’ daily working life. Also, this type of traveling allows tourists to stop by and try the freshest fruits being harvested from the nearby gardens. Therefore, if you a peace-hunter, this experience is undeniably suitable for you.

9. Eat Your Way through Hanoi Old Quarter

Definitely, this is a huge topic. As you may know, Hanoi is famous for a wide variety of delicious cuisine, which can satisfy even the hardest tourist. Therefore, it is really a daunting challenge to introduce Food in the Old Quarter just by a few words. However, let us have an overview of what you should try here:

9.1. Bún Chả

Bun Cha
Bún Chả – Grilled Pork With Noodles (Source: Kristan Lieb)

Grilled Pork With Noodles: the most famous cuisine together with Pho, was tried by Barack Obama and absolutely will blow your mind.

Recommended restaurant: Dac Kim Restaurant, 1 Hang Manh Street.

9.2. Phở

Pho -Beef noodles - a must try Vietnam experience
Phở Bò – Beef noodles (@lightscape)

Phở is Vietnamese Special Noodles, which was tried by Gordon Ramsay and was brought by him to American Masterchef Chef. Preparing to be overwhelmed by its spectacular broth, which is made from dozens of ingredients.

Recommended restaurants:

  • Pho Thin (Very very highly recommended: Pho Bo – Beef Noodle): 13 Lo Duc, Ngo Thi Nham, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi
  • Pho Bat Dan (Should try Beef Noodle): 49 Bat Dan, Cua Dong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.

9.3. Cháo sườn

Eating Chao suon - rewarding Vietnam experience
Cháo sườn – Ice porridge with pork spare ribs

Ice porridge with pork spare ribs:  Perfect Breakfast for a peaceful day.

Recommended Restaurant:

  • (No name restaurant) 43 Huyen Lane, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

9.4. Cà phê trứng (Egg coffee)

Egg coffee - Ca phe trung
Cà phê trứng – Egg coffee

This Vietnamese specialty provides a strange but interesting taste even for ones claiming themselves as coffee-haters.

Recommended Restaurants:

Giang Coffee Location 1: 39 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

9.5. Bánh Mì

Banh Mi Vietnam
Bánh Mì – Vietnamese sandwich (souce: kenh14)

The Greatest Vietnamese Sandwich which has been listed as one of the most delicious street foods all over the world.

And so many other delicious cuisines.

10. Experiencing the Mystical Magic of Ninh Binh Landscape

Landscapes of Ninh Binh
Landscapes of Ninh Binh at Trang An (@kylethacker)

Ninh Binh is a province located in the south of Hanoi, in the Red River Delta. Choosing Ninh Binh as a destination, visitors have a chance to discover various things, ranging from historical ones to cultural ones. Going to Ninh Binh, tourists should check out:

  • Tam Coc Bich Dong: an overwhelming karstic complex, has also known for the name: “Terrestrial Halong Bay or “The Second Nicest Cave of Vietnam
  • Bai Dinh Pagoda: a huge spiritual construction, well known for a variety of Regional as well as World Record
  • Hoa Lu Old Citadel: an outdoor historical museum, guides visitors to Vietnam’s one part of history through priceless relics.
  • and so on.

Ninh Binh has also been famous for being the filming location of Hollywood blockbuster “Kong: Skull Island”.

11. Trek through the Jungles And Villages Of Dalat

Ta Nang - Phan Dung trekking
Ta Nang Phan Dung – the most beautiful trekking trail in Vietnam

For peace-hunters and for tourists looking for a place for resting, Dalat, which has been called: “the City of Thousands Flowers” would be a good choice. For the first time visiting Dalat, people would definitely be surprised by the locals’ hospitality, which makes this place no longer like a touristy area but just like a relaxing destination. After a hard-working period, people want to escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life, they come there and find what they desire.

trek in Ta Nang Phan Dung
Self-challenging with trekking (source: Nguyen Truong Giang)

Natural Green Scenery here provides visitors perfect areas for trekking. Immersing themselves in Dalat’s Jungles and peaceful villages’ scenery, visitors are highly likely to find their own peace.

Vietnam is a magical country that can satisfy roughly all kinds of travelers, ranging from food-lovers, cultural-minded people to adventurous ones. Going to Vietnam, tourists will be able to experience its multi-color beauty, being sure to bring them a lot of different feelings.

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