Australian lonely planet Magazine Recommend 15 top travel experiences to discover Vietnam’s culture, food and hidden gems.
Taste Hue‘Court Cuisine
Once the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, the last royal family that ruled the country from 1802 to 1945, Hue is famous for its royal tomb complex with unique architecture. The ancient castle is known for its diverse culinary scene, with more than 1,700 dishes, many of which come from the royal palace’s dining room.
except its signature Wen Boshun You can find it on every street corner in Hue (Hue Beef Noodles), leopard ball (steamed rice cakes), banh ram it (fried dumplings) and banh bot place (Cassava dumplings) is a must-try specialty in Hue.
That (Sweet soup) used to be an indispensable dessert for kings and royals during the Nguyen Dynasty, loved for its freshness and nutritional value.
It’s not hard to find sweet soup stalls in Hue where you can taste a variety of desserts such as what hat sen (lotus seeds), Chen Renhan Zhongyin Hasen (Longan Stuffed with Lotus Seeds), and cover potatoes (Taro Sweet Soup). These specialties are sure to whet your sweet tooth.
See rare monkeys at Son Tra Peninsula
About 10 kilometers from downtown Da Nang, Son Tra Peninsula covers more than 4,400 hectares (10,880 acres) of long stretches of beautiful beaches and virgin forests.
As a natural barrier of the coastal city, there are 300-400 red-footed langurs living on the peninsula, which are strictly protected.
Red-legged Duke is a rare and endemic species in Vietnam. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has placed the primate on its list of animals in need of unconditional protection.
Over the past few years, this peninsula has become well known as a place where tourists can view and take beautiful photos of the langur monkeys.
However, visitors are advised not to feed the monkeys, as it could spoil their eating habits and the health of the crowd.
explore a Hindu temple complex protected by UNESCO
“Many visit the UNESCO-protected ancient town of Hoi An, but few venture inland to another UNESCO site – the My Son Sanctuary, a cluster of Hindu temple ruins surrounded by jungle and protect the mountains of the sacred Thu Bon River,’ lonely planet explain.
My Son Temple is a complex of abandoned and partially destroyed Hindu temple towers, built between the 4th and 14th centuries during the reign of the Champa Kingdom.
Last year, the local authority launched a new tourism product, a Cham dance performance with light effects, to attract foreign tourists.
Visit Kodaiji Temple
The Cao Dai Holy See in the southern Tay Ninh province, about 70 kilometers east of Ho Chi Minh City, was founded in 1926 and has a temple, residences for officials and followers, and a herbal hospital that draws many patients, especially from the South.
From a distance, the building looks like a European-style church with two bell towers in front.
The main symbol of Cao Dai is an eye, which emits light representing the Supreme God. Cao Dai also worships other deities such as Buddha, Jesus, Confucius and Guan Yin. Their portraits can be seen in many places in the Holy See.
Worshipers gather at the Holy See every day at midnight, 6am, noon and 6pm to pray. Tourists are allowed to observe them.
jump on the motorcycle
“Motorcycles offer total freedom to explore the country,” says lonely planettravelers are advised to try motorbike tours of this S-shaped country from Ho Chi Minh City, passing through the green rice fields of the Mekong Delta, the stunning beaches along Vietnam’s central coastline or the mountains in the north.
Probably the most popular road trip in Vietnam, riding a motorcycle from Saigon to Hanoi is without a doubt one of the best ways to experience the country.
The road passes through forested limestone mountains, along rivers, and through rice fields, allowing travelers to explore popular destinations such as Binh Thuan, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hue, and Quang Quang.
International driving permits are becoming more and more necessary, so make sure you have a valid motorcycle license.
Conquer Banjok Waterfall
Ban Gioc Waterfall straddles the Chinese border, 30 kilometers away from the Central Market in Trung Khanh District, Gaoping City. It is the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia and the fourth largest waterfall in the world after Iguazu, Victoria and Niagara.
The waterfall is 53 meters high and 300 meters wide, divided into three small waterfalls.
A small ramp leads to the waterfall. Buses with a capacity of 25 people or less can travel along this road, while larger buses drop off passengers at parking lots at Vietnamese border stations. Visitors can walk to the falls from there.
The Thai minority community often brings their horses here for 20,000 Vietnamese dong (85 cents) each time they are photographed.
A breath of fresh air in Da Lat
Da Lat is known as “Little Paris” because of its history as a summer resort for French colonial officials, who built villas on the hills to escape the heat and humidity of the lowlands.
The Australian magazine urges visitors to explore the town’s French-influenced heritage through a series of old villas inhabited by the French 100 years ago, or visit the Hang Nga Crazy House, known for its extraordinary appearance, which resembles a giant banyan tree .
The highland town is cool all year round, and the dense pine forest makes it one of the freshest tourist destinations in Vietnam.
Visit a coffee plantation in Dak Lak
Dak Lak is Vietnam’s largest coffee-growing province, accounting for a third of the country’s coffee production, with 476,200 tonnes of coffee produced in 2019-20, official data showed.
The best time to visit Dak Lak is from September to the end of December, which coincides with the harvest season, giving visitors the chance to see farmers harvesting different types of coffee such as Arabica, Robusta and Liberia.
The region is famous for many coffee brands, which are not only well-known domestically, but also exported to more than 80 countries and regions around the world.
Quy Nhon has emerged on the global tourism map in recent years. Previously, the international media called it a “perfect resort” with long sandy beaches and clear waters.
“Its long stretches of beautiful white beaches backed by mountains have earned Quy Nhon the nickname ‘Vietnam’s Maldives,'” Lonely Planet describes.
Ky Co is Quy Nhon’s most popular beach thanks to its two-colored water, strikingly different shades of green and blue.
Renting a motorbike is the most convenient way to get to Ky Co. This service is available online or at hotels. Some people also choose to book a Ky Co tour, which usually includes a boat trip to the island, meals and diving, and the price is about VND350,000-VND400,000 per person.
brave sun dong largest cave in the world
Located in the Phong Nha-Kabung National Park in the central province of Quang Binh, Han Son has garnered international attention since it opened to tourists in 2013.
The four-day, three-night caving tour costs VND69.8 million (US$3,000), and visitors need to be physically and mentally prepared to conquer the world’s largest cave due to the complex terrain.
Hikers are escorted by experts through unique subterranean rainforests, kayak above and below ground rivers, and use ropes and ladders to climb the 90-meter-high wall known as the “Great Wall of Vietnam.”
Learn about Vietnam’war history
For many Westerners, the Saigon War Remnants Museum on Vo Van Tan Street in District 3 of Ho Chi Minh City piques their curiosity as it houses more than 20,000 artifacts, images and documentaries recreating the atrocities of war, including War crimes committed by imperial and colonial powers. To this day, millions of Vietnamese are still suffering the consequences of the war.
Established in 1975, the museum is about a five-minute drive from Ben Thanh Market.
“The War Remnants Museum relentlessly details war atrocities, napalm incendiaries, unexploded ordnance and beautifully preserved American tanks,” lonely planet explain.
cruise along the bay
A cruise is the best way to explore World Heritage Halong Bay, dotted with karst limestone mountains rising from emerald waters.
For those looking for a luxury stay overnight in Halong Bay to watch the sun come up, Heritage Cruises, Indochine Cruise, Paradise Cruise and Stellar of the Seas are worth considering.
All five-star cruise ships in Halong Bay are equipped with luxurious cabins and modern facilities, such as bars, swimming pools, golf clubs, gyms and spas.
They also offer outdoor adventure activities such as kayaking, caving, onboard cooking classes, night squid fishing and floating village tours.
If Ha Long Bay is crowded, its sister Bai Tu Long Bay is another option that is still less touristy.
Explore the floating markets of the Mekong Delta
For centuries, the Mekong Delta has been the rice basket of Vietnam. Today, it is famous for its unique floating market, where local produce is sold on board.
Lonely Planet recommends that tourists explore Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Tho, the largest market of its kind in the Mekong Delta.
The 40-minute boat ride is the best way to discover life on the waterway as it passes houses on stilts above the water and boats of all sizes, shapes and colors moored to the shore.
Get lost in the golden rice harvest season
Mu Cang Chai, a rural area in northern Ambai province where most of the population lives mainly from agriculture, is known for its terraced fields that are dyed golden yellow during the rice harvest season from September to October.
Mu Cang Chai is about a 7-hour drive northwest of Hanoi. It is located at the foot of the Hoang Lien Mountain range, at an altitude of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet).
Due to its growing popularity, ethnic minorities here have started turning their homes into friendly homestays to accommodate tourists.
Take the Ha Giang Ring
The 350-meter Ha Giang Loop in the northern mountains has long been a favorite of foreign backpackers who want to conquer one of Vietnam’s toughest routes.
The journey takes three to five days, depending on the weather, but is not easy for amateur travelers to conquer due to its twists and turns, narrow roads and dangerous mountain passes.
Meandering through the Ha Giang Loop, travelers will have the opportunity to explore the cultural identities of at least 10 ethnic minority groups, including the Hmong, Thai and Thai.
As part of the journey, visitors will pass through Mapi Ridge, one of the most dangerous mountain passes in the country, with the emerald green waters of the Nho Que below it, a popular spot for boat trips.
Ha Giang has recently seen a tourism boom, and many motorcycle rental services have popped up in the province. Foreigners only need to leave their passports and pay about 150,000 VND per day to rent a motorcycle.
Nguyen Quyen’s Story