Vietnam is a land of unique and eclectic attractions ranging from amazing caves and historic sites to creepy theme parks. The country’s architecture and landscape are all worthy to see. In fact, many of the hotels in Vietnam showcase an exquisite marriage of Asian and French influences. All year long, the country attracts throngs of visitors. All of them wanting to get a taste of authentic Vietnamese lifestyle, particularly its gastronomic cuisines.
Explore a myriad of adventures with our handy guide.
Located close to the Vietnam-Laos border, the Han Son Doong cave is the world’s largest cave discovered in 1991. Its size is five times bigger than the Phong Nha, which used to be the largest cave in Vietnam. It is so huge that many believe it can accommodate several skyscrapers inside. British researchers who explored the cave claimed that the biggest chamber of the cave measures more than five kilometres in length and about 200 metres in height!
The cave has its own jungle, which formed as a result of a collapsed cavern roof that allowed sunlight to creep in the cave. As vegetation flourished, the cave is now home to exotic flora and fauna.
While most are used to visiting brightly coloured and noisy theme parks, Vietnam offers tourists a different kind of theme park. The now abandoned Hồ Thuỷ Tiên water park opened in 2004 and offered both adults and kids an avenue for fun. The major draw of the park was its three-story dragon aquarium, which rose from the lake at the centre of the park. Sharks and manta rays line the interior staircase walls that made it look like a rib cage of a dragon. Inside the aquariums were live fishes and crocodiles.
But since the water park opened when it was not yet completely finished, it eventually closed. Still, many tourists wanted to explore the now “hard-to-find” park. The water park is about eight to ten kilometres from the town. Those who want to explore the park should be ready in tipping the “guard” to gain entrance.
Located about 15 kilometres south of Ho Chi Minh is a theme park dedicated to Buddhism. Suoi Tien, meaning “the fairy stream” is the first of its kind in the world. It follows the animistic Buddhism, which can be seen all through the park. Suoi Tien has sacred animals in the form of unicorns, phoenix, dragon, and tortoise.
Upon reaching the park, one can see and feel the Vietnamese history and folklore through the Buddha. The park has a huge golden dragon with a neon haloed Buddha shrine on its mouth. The park also features a facade of dragons surrounding a swimming pool, elephant tusk-designed pillars along the avenues, and a giant rotating frog sculpture at its entry point. One would also find the 12-story Buddhist face with water slides from its beards. Other attractions of the park include Palace of Unicorns, a pond with 1,500 live crocodiles, and turtle or dog-shaped boat rides.
Keep in mind, though, this is not Disneyland. Upkeep and maintenance may need some improvement. The theme park is only a 20 minute drive from Saigon. It is also accessible via the subway station.
Illuminated with 2,500 LED lights, the bridge measures 1,864 feet and has a metallic dragon that breathes fire through its mouth. The bridge was built to commemorate the 38th year of the recovery of Da Nang port at the end of the Vietnam War.
Tourists may find it scary and exciting at the same time to watch as the dragon breathes out fire while stuck in traffic. Sometimes, the dragon spits water from its mouth.
Head to Old Quarter to get a view of the train street. Watch the residential neighbourhood move in unison and perfect grace as they usher kids indoors, clear hanging clothes, and stash away their things inside the houses as the speeding train passes through the narrow streets of Old Quarter. Be amazed at how residents will nonchalantly go back to their activities as soon as the train has passed. To see this activity, be there at around 3 in the afternoon and 7 in the evening.
The “train street” occupies the area between Kham Tien street and Le Duan. The lane is called the 224 Le Duan. Old Quarter is regarded as the heart and commercial centre of Hanoi. It can be a real maze to explore with its narrow alleys dotted with bars and tiny canteens.
The great thing about visiting Vietnam is the availability of things to do at a minimal cost. Here are things you can enjoy in Vietnam at an affordable price.
The great Ho Chi Minh wanted his remains cremated and scattered throughout the country. Instead of honouring the revolutionary leader’s wish, the government preserved his body and placed it in a huge mausoleum. Visit the Father of modern Vietnam in the middle of the Ba Dinh Square, the same place where Uncle Ho read the Declaration of Independence.
paying homage to Uncle Ho is free but visitors must follow rules including proper dress code and no photography. Before going, check if the body is there since it is sometimes sent to Russia for some preventive maintenance.
While in the area, be sure to visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum. The museum was also built to honour the former leader. it has more than 120,000 films, documents, and artifacts that detail the life and work of the late Ho Chi Minh. Visitors can get a historic journey of Vietnam through its extensive collection.
The museum is open from 8 am to 12 pm daily, from 2 pm to 4:30 pm from Tuesday to Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. There is an admission fee of 40,000 dongs.
Water puppetry is a huge part of Vietnam’s art and culture. This type of puppetry gained traction in the countryside, as it is mostly performed during religious ceremonies and at the end of the harvest season. When you watch the Thang Long Water Puppet Show in Hanoi, you will see varied aspects of Vietnam’s subcultures.
Entrance tickets sell for 60,000 to 100,000 dong.
West Lake is Hanoi’s largest lake. It used to belong to the Red River and legend says that the river originated from the battle of a nine-tailed fox spirit and Vietnam’s first true king and father of Vietnamese people, Lac Long Quan.
Walk around the lake as you admire the amazing structures that border the lake. This includes one of Hanoi’s four sacred temples, Quan Thanh Temple and Vietnam’s oldest pagoda, the Tran Quoc.
Go to Mui Ne, Vietnam’s sports capital. It boasts of pristine sand dunes where one can practice rolling and surfing. For the best sandboarding experience, head out before sunrise so it isn’t too hot.
Mui Ne has top-rated coastal resorts along its gorgeous beach. It is best explored from December to April when its beach has blue waters, the sand is yellow, and the skies are clear. Other popular activities to do here include wind and kite surfing.
One of the best things to do in Vietnam is conquering Mount Fansipan, the country’s highest peak. The hike may take three days with the mountain’s steep climbs and rough terrain. While it is challenging to conquer, the breathtaking view at the top is enough reward.
Kayaking is another must-do activity while in Vietnam. The best place to do it is in Ha Long Bay. The bay offers majestic views with stunning limestone islands jutting off the waters. It can be a bit touristy sometimes but there hidden areas where adventurous can head to. Other places to do it include Dalat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Phu Quoc Island.
One unique thing to do in Vietnam is marble mountain rappelling, which also includes exploration of temple and caves. This activity is best done in Hoi An. Just imagine dangling over steep cliffs and going down on dark caves with only a rope to support you.
It may not sound much but once you are in Vietnam, you will realize that the mere crossing of the road in Vietnam is already a risky thing to do. If you are looking for excitement, get a motorbike and drive it from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh and explore the country in a very unusual and entertaining way.
Vietnam has amazing caves. It would be a sin not to explore them. One should not miss out on touring the largest cave in the world – the Hang Son Doong located in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in the Quang Binh Province.