Vietnam is a world-renowned destination, especially if you are travelling on a budget. Backpacking beginners and intrepid travellers alike will be captured by the culture and spirit of the country. The history of Vietnam stays alive in the buzz of a modern, vibrant society. Despite the pain of recent history, for the most part, travellers experience tolerance and kindness.
There are only a few things required when travelling to Vietnam. Firstly, you will need travel insurance in case you experience an emergency such as becoming sick or injured, having your belongings stolen or if your travel plans are cancelled. It is also a good idea to get travel insurance that can assist you while you’re overseas if you do experience a medical emergency. For example, Fast Cover provides access to the Allianz Global Assistance team. Secondly, you will need a bag you can secure your passport and some money which is small enough to keep with you wherever you go.
And of course, you will need your itinerary. Let’s get you started!
Top Ten Things to Do in Vietnam
Ha Long Bay
There is one word that captures Ha Long Bay: sublime. Legend claims the place was carved out by a dragon. The water is a stunning emerald green with thousands of limestone islands dotting the landscape. Take a junk boat tour or kayak around the islands. You can dodge the tourist-filled Ha long City and instead opt for Cat Ba Town.
Hoi An used to be a port and is now known as Vietnam’s quaintest town. The preserved Old Town features preserved Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples and ancient tea warehouses. Set by the riverside, Hoi An is a place to relax on the beach or explore the countryside. The city is also famed for its low-cost tailors and shoe-makers, making it a shopper’s dream. You can get a custom made outfit for less than what you buy off the rack at home and it’ll be made incredibly fast.
Cu Chi Tunnel
The Cu Chi Tunnels are a war museum that gives you insight into the strategies of the Viet Cong soldiers. The tunnel systems once stretched from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cambodia border, with more than 250 kilometres of tunnels underground in the Cu Chi region.
War Remnants Museum
A visit to this museum can be emotional, as you look at the remnants documenting the brutality of the Vietnam War. Opened in 1975, the Museum is filled with graphic photographs from the war as well as the weapons used by America against the Vietnamese.
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh was one of Vietnam’s most popular leaders, honoured for his role in liberating the Vietnamese from colonialism. Inside the monumental building is a glass sarcophagus containing the preserved body of Ho Chi Minh, which tourists and Vietnamese people file past under the eyes of several guards.
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
This ancient site was the political centre of Vietnam for 13 centuries and the capital of Vietnam for eight centuries. The site has been rebuilt many times over the centuries, but you can still delve into history by viewing archaeological digs and photo exhibits. You can also walk through House D67, a communist base during the Vietnam War.
My Son Sanctuary
My Son was the religious centre of the kingdom of Champa, with temples constructed between the 4th and 14th centuries. It was rediscovered in the late 19th century by the French. The American bombing destroyed much of the complex with only 20 structures surviving. Despite this many tourists still choose to visit the site and get a glimpse into history.
The complex of Hue Monuments
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in the city of Hue in central Vietnam. It was the capital of Vietnam in 1802 and the political, cultural and religious centre during the Nguyen Dynasty. It is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of Vietnam.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
This National Park contains the oldest karst mountains in Asia which were formed about 400 million years ago. The site contains hundreds of cave systems and beautiful underground rivers, stalagmites and stalactites. Above ground, the mountainous area is a mostly untouched jungle.
The Sand Dunes of Mui Ne
These sand dunes are impressive, but not as peaceful as you might expect. The dunes range in colour, from white to red. You can have some fun riding the dunes in quad bikes and dune buggies. The plastic sledges for hire are also an option, though they require a bit more skill.