This time last year I was packing for a four week adventure to Vietnam, one of the most alive countries on the globe. Everything about this South-East Asian escape was wonderfully overwhelming from the drool-worthy local cuisine to the astonishing green landscapes. These encounters will make sure that you experience the best of Vietnam on your next holiday there (how about you book today?)
Take a boat trip down the Mekong
If you’re visiting Saigon and the south of the country then a visit to the Mekong Delta, the ‘rice bowl of Vietnam’, is a must. Here you can explore an extensive maze of rivers, swamps and floating markets. A popular option is to take a 2 day boat tour and disembark along the way at points of interest. The best part of the experience is sitting back with the tropical breeze caressing your cheeks, witnessing the unique way of life on the river and admiring the charismatic shanties and the jewel green landscape. Jump on board fresh produce boats at Cai Rang Floating Market to try some of the freshest fruit on offer in the world – the pineapple comes highly recommended.
Learn about the fine art of Vietnamese cooking in Hoi An
Hoi An may just be one of the most scenic destinations on earth and it’s practically a rite of passage for anyone setting foot on the shores of Vietnam. This perfectly formed and chaotic ancient town offers a myriad of delicious ‘foodie’ opportunities including local cooking classes that teach you the fine-art of purchasing the best produce, preparing it and throwing it all together to create a masterpiece. Most tours start with a trip to the local market where you will be overwhelmed by what is on offer (if you have a quesy stomach then this may not be for you!) Purchase the finest local seafood and ingredients and then catch a boat to your cooking school destination. For the best cooking classes in Hoi An, try Red Bridge Cooking School, Thuan Tinh Island Cooking Tour or complete a cooking class through Morning Glory, the town’s most famous restaurant.
Walk among the rice terraces
The image of Vietnam is synonymous with shimmering green rice terraces and locals toiling tirelessly to harvest them in traditional straw hats. You will find rice fields and terraces dotted around the country but for an unbeatable experience, head north from Hanoi on the train to the region of Sapa, known for its lush rice fields at every turn. Book a hiking tour in advance and spend 2-3 days exploring the region. Along the way you will meet some of the most amazing ethnic minority groups, each with their own traditional garb and rich beliefs as well as local water buffalo and farm animals.
Drink the coffee
It may not be the first place you think of when considering the best coffee in the world but thanks to its French history, Vietnamese coffee is a must try. Any of the major cities or small rural towns have options aplenty. Just have a chat to the locals to find out where to go. The local coffee is famously sweet due to it being combined with condensed milk. For a unique coffee experience, find yourself an ‘egg coffee’ – coffee made of egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk and coffee – delicious!
Kick back by the water
One of the most alluring aspects of visiting Vietnam is the chance to lap up the tropical climate by the beach. The country is home to vast resorts offering everything in the way of affordable luxury. Some of the best beach side places to visit include Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc Island and Con Dao Island. Enjoy!
Take in the history
If there’s one thing for certain it’s that Vietnam has more history than childhood sweethearts. When you arrive in Saigon, don’t miss a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a network of underground tunnels that were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War. Gain insight into the life of the Viet Cong fighters and experience the tunnels yourselves to find out exactly how confined the conditions were. For more ancient history, discover a cluster of abandoned Hindu temples outside of Hoi An at My Son constructed between the 4th and 14th century AD or visit Hue, originally the national capital from 1802 – 1945 and home to the Imperial Palace.
So what are you waiting for? Now is the time! Find yourself a flight and start planning for your Vietnamese adventure today. You only live once!