Vietnam is a small country with an abundance of beautiful sites from oceans to the vast jungle, from wide alluvial plains to majestic jagged mountains. If you only have a short time, be sure to read One Week in Vietnam to know about famous cities and explore the outstanding features of Vietnam. Keep reading the Guide to Vietnamese Culture and Language to understand more about the Vietnamese so you can integrate into local life.
Beside popular activities that all people can try, some activities stand out as spectacular from the others and as unique to their particular city. If you are an adventurous traveler and want to try new and exciting activities, read this article and create your own bucket-list for Vietnam. From my own experience as a local person traveling around Vietnam, trust me when I say these activities are worth trying.
Trekking in Sapa
Home to the majestic mountain ranges covered by thick clouds, Sapa is the best destination for trekking lovers in Vietnam. Go through the vast valleys, enjoy the beauty of paddy fields stretching along the mountain sides, and touch the cool water of rivers that descend into waterfalls. Next, stop at remote villages of a Vietnamese ethnic group, stay at their house, eat local food and explore their distinct culture. Then, hike to the high mountains, breathe the fresh air of nature, watch a few white puffs of clouds sail in the air, and be at one with nature.
You can choose to go by yourself or take a tour. If you have experience in trekking and have enough of the equipment, trekking by yourself is fine. In contrast, taking a tour is highly recommended. There are many levels from easy, medium to hard, depending on your experience and physical strength. Hiking to Fansipan, the highest mountain in Indochina, is the hardest level trek but the most rewarding for any traveler. Read our article about Sapa Trekking Guide to find out more detailed information.
Although spectacular scenery will surround you as you breathe hard to reach the top of Mount Fansipan, there are other trekking routes that explore the ethnic groups and the beauty of valleys such as Cat Cat – Y Linh Ho (H’Mong people), Lao Chai – Ta Van (H’mong and Giay people), and Ta Phin – Ma Tra (Dao people).
Ride a Motorbike Through the Ha Giang Loop
Ha Giang is also a mountain province like Sapa, but the most famous feature of this province is the zigzag mountain loop. This loop is primitive, some parts are wide but a few are very narrow. The slope of this loop changes unexpectedly, from low to high. Despite its difficulty, motorists are still eager to ride this road, one of the most beautiful mountain loops in Vietnam, at least once in their life. Riding motorbikes through Ha Giang Loop feels like flying in the middle of the sky. The beauty of the continuous mountain ranges and the danger of bottomless abyss create the remarkable attraction of this land.
Ma Pi Leng, Si Phai mountain pass, Chin Khoang, Pai Lung, Bac Sum, Tham Ma slope, and Bach Dich road are amazing loops on the way to Ha Giang. M-shaped roads lead to local experiences where you sleep in stilt homestays at night. If photography is your hobby, this destination is the heaven of amazing nature photos. I also recommend visiting Ha Giang during buckwheat flower season. Imagine this land dressed in robes of light pink!
Seaplane in Ha Long
Ha Long Bay is one of the most famous cities in Vietnam and millions of people travel here all year. However, getting to Ha Long by bus, boat, and airplane is too common. But getting there by seaplane is more exciting. It only takes 45 minutes from Ha Noi to Ha Long and 15 minutes for sightseeing. With a seaplane, you can observe the landscape of the Red River Delta, the reef, long beaches, the majestic bay, and fishing villages in Ha Long. You definitely will not forget the image of the white foam splashing through the window of the seaplane the moment the plane lands on the water.
Through the whole of Vietnam, Ha Long is the only city that is reachable by seaplane. Not many people in Vietnam travel to Ha Long this way. Fly it and you will have a unique experience that not many people will have tried. Check the website of Hai Au Aviation for more information about this kind of transportation.
Drink Egg Coffee in Hanoi
Vietnam is the second largest exporter of coffee in the world, behind Brazil. Coffee in Vietnam is mainly robusta, bitter, and tasty. Most of the foreigners traveling to Vietnam say that they like Vietnamese coffee. But what about egg coffee? Maybe you think that egg combined with coffee sounds disgusting. I had the same thought but boy was I wrong.
When I tasted egg coffee in Hanoi, this thought disappeared immediately. The bitterness of coffee combined with the smoothness and sweetness of egg create an incredible drink. In addition, the decorative top of egg coffee is beautiful, like a cup of cappuccino. A man in Hanoi is the inventor of this drink, so Ha Noi is home to egg coffee and not many cities offer the original taste. Therefore, overcome your fear in the beginning and try a cup of this incredible drink when you travel to Hanoi. Have a look at our article to know more about egg coffee.
Caving in Son Doong
Son Doong is a karst cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and the largest cave in the world. This cave is part of the underground system connecting more than 150 other caves in Vietnam near the border with Laos. It is believed to be between two and five million years old. The New York Times ranked Son Doong at number eight among 52 places on the list of places worth going in 2014. Even though time has passed, this cave is still worth your unending attention.
Oxalis is the only travel company providing a cave expedition of four days and three nights. Check their website for more information and have a look at our article for in-depth information about traveling there. This expedition is like a journey into the wild. Inside Son Doong cave is an extraordinary world of darkness, sparkling walls, and unique creatures. You will trek through the real jungle with a variety of flora, swim in the enormous river, climb to the high stone wall, and go camping inside the cave. A series of different terrains and landscapes appear in just one cave, taking your breath away and opening your mind to the earth’s splendor.
However, the adventure level of this expedition is difficult and only for physically active guests. If you have lower physical strength, Oxalis has other expeditions to smaller caves which are just as unforgettable and maybe even less crowded.
Kitesurf, Quad Bike, and Hot Air Balloon Ride in Mui Ne
Mui Ne, a coastal city, is home to two giant stretches of sand dunes: White Dunes (Doi Cat Trang) and Red Dunes (Doi Hong). The sand dunes in Mui Ne are like a mini Safari desert, so the best way to explore it is by quad bike. Ride a quad bike on the sloping dunes with a panoramic view of the majestic scenery.
Another way to explore the beauty of the sand dunes in Mui Ne is by hot air balloon ride. Fly through the sky, enjoy a glass of champagne, observe beautiful sand dunes and the vast ocean below, feel the wind blowing on your face, and breath the fresh air of a coastal city. This moment will be preserved in your memory forever. Check this website of Vietnam Balloons for more information.
Not only that, one of the best kitesurfing locations discovered in Asia is also Mui Ne. There are kitesurfing schools for beginners and many kitesurfing services here. Mui Ne has a few different bays to kite from, all offering a little something different. Therefore, both amateur and professional kitesurfers will have a great time here.
Scuba Diving in Nha Trang
As one of the most beautiful coral reefs in Vietnam, travelers coming to Nha Trang that skip diving cannot feel the full beauty of the ocean here. Not only that, scuba diving in Nha Trang is cheaper than in other countries nearby such as Thailand while the beauty of the ocean is just as comparable. With hundreds of islands around Nha Trang Bay that are far from land, the seawater is calm and clear, different schools of colored fish dart around, and beautiful coral reefs are within reach.
There are many diving levels for professional and international trainers. If you want a scuba diving certification, Nha Trang has international dive centers to teach you. Our article, Islands in Nha Trang, points out the most beautiful islands in Nha Trang. Read it and find your favorite islands to begin your scuba diving journey.
Canyoning in Da Lat
Home to magnificent waterfalls, Da Lat is a paradise for adventurous activities and the most famous activity is canyoning. You will be trained sequentially starting with an easy level and finishing with more difficult terrains. All the protective equipment is prepared and accompanied by professional adventurous tour guides that put your safety first.
Trek through the pine forest to reach the bluff, and then your tour guide will show you how to rappel down the slope by using the rope. After rappelling near to the water, you will jump down and feel the excitement of reaching the cooling pools after being up in the air. After finishing this challenge, higher waterfalls with jumps from the farther distances are awaiting your courage. Challenge your limits as much as possible. Despite being cold in the water for a long time, the feeling of excitement when you conquer your fear is greater than anything else in the world.
As a local of Vietnam, I can confidently say that these are my bucket-list items in Vietnam that adventurous travelers should try. What do you think? Is it exciting? If yes, start building up your physique and then knock them off one by one.