Vietnam’s effortless charm is courtesy of its natural marvels, emerging economy, rich culture, well-preserved history, and the friendliest locals you will come across. Despite the country’s inevitable development and modernization, a number of places here have retained its enigma and tradition. With lesser tourists’ arrivals compared to Thailand, the country still remains untainted by westernization and definitely serves a cultural treat for anyone who visits. If Vietnam is not yet in your travel plans this year, start writing it down as we got you covered with the top five most interesting places and things you can see in this enthralling country.
Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
The first thing that pops into mind when one talks about Vietnam would possibly be the endlessly enchanting Ha Long Bay. One of the best things to do in Ha Long Bay is to board one of the oriental wooden boats docked by the ferry for an overnight cruise. There’s a reason why cruising amidst the tall and majestic limestone towers is popular among every visitors; there’s no better way to intimately discover the place than by sailing across its labyrinths.
This world-famous UNESCO heritage site has captivated travelers of all ages and kind. It is easily accessible from the country’s capital of Hanoi and be fully experienced with an overnight cruise. Start your morning driving away from the entertaining traffic of Hanoi and set sail towards endless karst, lagoons, and caves. The activities offered in these cruises satisfy both the young and old with choices of kayaking adventures, indulging in traditional massages, learning how to cook Vietnamese cuisine, sunbathe all day long, or joining in tai-chi classes. Night falls and the boat cuts through the black blanket that is the ocean. If you are fortunate enough to be favored with good weather, you may find yourself gazing at a freckled sky. Wake up to the sound of the waves crashing your boat and witness how locals farm in their fishing villages. Get to know them and their lifestyle, and possibly their stories too. After this immersive experience, don’t forget to breathe in the fresh air of the ocean and maybe you’d be lucky to hear the million years old secrets of the bay before you head back to the city.
Explore the World’s Largest Cave Passage Cross-Section
Out-of-this-world. This is how people who have been inside Hang Son Doong describe the world’s largest cave. Do not be fooled by this since the mystical cave can just be found in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh Province. One does not need a rocket ship to explore the cave but it is also not the easiest and cheapest thing you would desire to tick off your bucket list. More people have reached the summit of Mount Everest than those who have seen the inside of this secretive cave. There is only one tour operator granted permission to conduct cave exploration with tourists. This is to limit the number of visitors in the cave thus ensuring the preservation of this behemoth.
Video credit: Georgy Tarasov
Just how big really is Hang Son Doong? It is said that a 747 could easily fit into its largest cavern. It has its own jungles and even a localized weather system. Hang Son Doong is a world on its own. Not for the faint-hearted as spelunking all over the area can last from four to six days. You must be physically fit and able to endure long-distance treks for you to be able to join the expedition. If you meet all the physical requirements set by Oxalis and decide to join their tour, be prepared and patient enough since the waiting list can be for two years in advance. Ample time to get fit and gather USD$3,000 (yes, quite pricey but worth it for a once-in-lifetime experience) while waiting for your turn to join this unique adventure.
Voyage the trans-boundary Mekong River in the iconic Mekong Delta
Mekong River is an acclaimed body of water spanning six countries such as China, Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Bursting from the Tibetan Himalaya, Mekong River gradually calms down upon reaching the lands of Vietnam. Visiting the Mekong Delta’s diverse scenes of local life would definitely be a memorable trip for anyone. Towns such as My Tho and Can Tho serve as the cradles of the river’s history. For the locals, the river provides them livelihood and venturing to the local markets around the area will give you a glimpse of the old Vietnam.
Age-old Tradition Pottery Making in Hanoi’s Suburbs
Who would have thought that a forty minute bus ride from Hanoi will bring you to this ancient village? Be in touch with your artistic side by visiting the ceramic village of Bat Trang. Get your hands dirty while creating your own pieces with the help of a master craftsman. Learn the basics of pottery and appreciate this age-old tradition of making decorative and household objects. After an introduction to the history of or ceramic and pottery making, you get to witness how these beautiful pieces of arts are made using traditional wood burners instead of modern gas stoves.
Aside from learning all about the tedious process, you also get to tour around the village. Once you get to know of the local’s way of living, it is time to test the knowledge you have just absorbed. It may look complex but it will be easy as you will be guided through the whole pottery making steps. Create your own memento and personalize it with your choice of colors. It will then be heated in a wood burning kiln as traditionally practiced. End the day with a cup of tea with the locals while you’re waiting for your own magnum opus to be ready. Now, you have a keepsake you can show off back home as proof that you have learned a new skill in Vietnam.
Listen to the Royal Court Music in Hue
Located in the central part of Vietnam, Hue boasts of rich and noble history as it was once the imperial capital. The last Vietnamese dynasty, Nguyen dynasty, has established Hue as the cultural and religious center until 1945. With its very recent abdication, remnants of its regal past are still clearly evident once you visit this place. With the Perfume River snaking its way through the temples, citadels, and tombs of the city; it definitely adds more beauty and meaning to the site. The modern Hue is now a mandatory stop for everyone who travels from south to north (or vice versa) of Vietnam. Those who would love to walk through the noble grounds of the grand palaces make sure they don’t skip the city.
Video credit: Hidden Land Travel
Apart from visually soaking in the grandeur of nobility, did you know you can also listen to the music the royals once enjoyed? Recognized by UNESCO as “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in 2003; immerse yourself in refined music by to Nghinh Luong Temple at the weekends to behold this spectacle. The best part of channeling your inner aristocracy is that this performance is free. You do not have to break your bank just to listen to music royals once revel in. Complete your monarchical experience by wearing the traditional Ao Dai of Hue, rich in beauty and brimming with cultural significance. Relive the splendor and grandeur of the past by imbibing the aristocracy surrounding you, and get a feel on how it is like to be a Crazy Rich Asian for a day. Olli Maatta Womens Jersey Jimmy Garoppolo Jersey