Vietnam is a traveller’s delight with amazing food, jaw dropping scenery and wallet friendly prices. Every direction you look there is something new to see; from the craziness of the cities to the tranquillity of the countryside. It is a lot to take in on just one holiday. So if you are planning a trip to Vietnam, here are 7 different ways to see the country that will help you gain a new perspective on life here.
In the country’s north east, the Halong Bay World Heritage site is a stunning destination of ragged limestone pillars that pierce straight up from the water to create a maze of tiny islands. The result is an other-worldly landscape dotted with boats, all out to explore the isles. The best way to appreciate the beauty of the bay is to climb on board one of the many traditional cruise boats and do a multi-day trip, spending the night amongst the towering rock faces.
You can visit year round. The busy season is May - August but November brings clear skies and smaller crowds, so this time could be a better choice for you.
If you want to experience rural Vietnam, the best way is on bicycle. You’ll be able to roll through farmlands and wave to the rice farmers as they work ankle deep in their paddies. Explore hidden temple ruins and enjoy traditional villages.
There are many bike tours to choose from across the country. Many will provide you with all your food, accommodation and bike hire needs. When choosing a tour, make sure you know what type of terrain you will be crossing and find one that suits your fitness level. The good news is that there are terraced rice fields on mountain sides if you’re looking for a physical challenge and there are flat rice fields through other parts of the country for a more leisurely ride.
Stand at any crossing in Hanoi’s city centre and you will see why crossing the road is an adventure all in its own. It is permanently rush hour and that isn’t helped by the fact that road rules aren’t really a thing. Instead there is a lot of honking, staying alert and committing to your path.
In fact, it is probably better to head out of town a little and explore the quieter, less travelled roads. You’ll see a more traditional side of city life and find some amazing street food. Just check your travel insurance policy first to see if riding a scooter is covered in your policy.
Vietnam is home to some of the world’s most incredible cave systems. In fact, the largest cave in the world, Son Doong Cave, was recently discovered there. Its biggest cavern is over 200 metres high and 5 kilometres long. The system is so large it has its own climate and jungle, complete with monkeys.
There are many cave tours to choose from to suit all abilities and budgets. You can head out for an easy 1 day adventure or go on a 6 day expedition and camp in the cave. Most good tour companies will provide all the gear you need along with porters to make it easier.
If you are planning on heading to Vietnam’s caves, make sure you check that your travel insurance covers caving. Most insurers won’t cover it as standard but others will have it available in their adventure option.
Internal fights in Vietnam aren’t too expensive but they will only get you to the big cities. Buses are cheap and readily available but they aren’t recommended for travel after dark. Trains though, especially the overnight train from Hanoi to Sapa, are a great adventure. Sapa is a gateway to beautiful hiking and touring country in Vietnam’s north and the best way to get there is by train. You can choose from a basic seat that will give you a great cultural experience with the traditional drop toilet, all the way up to a VIP private sleeper carriage. Either way it is a fun way to travel!
Cyclo’s are traditional bike taxis that you will find across Vietnam. The bike and driver sit at the back and there is a bench seat, usually with an awning, at the front for passengers. The seats are quite small on most cyclos. You would be able to fit two small people but it will be tight. If you have a group of more than two the best thing to do would be to organise a tour through your hotel or research and book in advance online. You can hail cyclos off the street but make sure you always agree on a price beforehand and make sure they know that you will only pay once you reach your destination. This is the perfect way to see the sights and experience the busy streets without having to drive yourself.
Anyway, enjoy your trip to Vietnam!