VIETNAM TRAVEL BLOG | 10 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO (P2)
10. Visit Hoi An – everyone’s favorite
Despite the damage caused by the turbulent past of Vietnam, many ancient structures have managed to remain intact. Take Hoi An Old Town, one of the best places to visit in Vietnam for example. This ancient commercial river town with well-preserved buildings and temples dating back to the 17th century was initially home to Chinese merchants. Today, the descendants of Chinese merchants continue to sell their products. Hoi An is illuminated by multiple colored lanterns in the streets at night. Loads of backpackers tend to get stuck here and the great thing is that the beach is only 10 minutes away by bike.
Head to the My Son temple complex, a fantastic day trip from Hoi An. My son, which means “beautiful mountain” was mostly destroyed during the American attacks in the Vietnam war. It is still worth going because some temples have survived the bombing and are well preserved. The complex was a place of worship for the Champa and was built between the fourth and thirteenth centuries. Visiting My Son is one of the best travel tips in Vietnam I found among Vietnam’s blogs.
11. Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park
You will surely be impressed by the natural wonders of Vietnam. Vietnam is for example the home of the largest cave in the world – the Son Doong cave located in the heart of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. It can be explored through a cave expedition, but only with an official tour operator. In 2018 I visited the province of Quang Binh and some of the caves, it is among my highlights in Vietnam. When looking for interesting things to do in Vietnam, think about caving in this national park, so it’s worth it.
12. Halong Bay
When around no one should miss Halong Bay, one of the wonders of the natural world. There are about 1,600 limestone islands and islets scattered in emerald waters, a must see when traveling in Vietnam. There are also enchanting islands and deserted beaches where you can stay overnight or spend more days cruising on an old wooden ship. The Halong Bay area is obviously one of the best places to see in Vietnam.
13. Magic Sapa rice fields
Tourists can opt for trekking in the Sapa mountain region near the Chinese border. Although terraced rice fields are man-made, the natural environment makes the experience wonderful. An opportunity to experience life as a local is possible with the local ethnic tribes that offer homestay to available guests. Trust me when you travel to Vietnam, this is a must. On my second trip to Vietnam I did it for 3 days and I loved it. During the day you walk through the rice fields up and down on the edge of these terraces and through the woods. We stayed overnight in local homes. Help them prepare dinner at night (free cooking classes), cool off in the river, learn about their culture and drink rice wine (very strong shot) until you fall on the chair. This experience is one of the best value tours in Vietnam and so fun. I always wanted to write a travel blog about separate Vietnam, but it was already in 2013 when I did it.
14. Festival in Vietnam
While maintaining a religious meaning and absorbed by tradition, festivals in Vietnam offer an authentic Vietnam experience. The Vietnamese know how to celebrate, believe me, I’ve lived it many times. Their hospitality is enormous, especially when they are drunk and not so shy! 🙂
Vietnamese New Year
The most important festival in Vietnam is the Tet Nguyen Dan or the lunar new year as a result of a country with Buddhism as the predominant religion. Equivalent to the Chinese new year, the Vietnamese welcome the new year, creating noises either by simply beating drums, lighting firecrackers or pushing dogs to bark. The morning is characterized by honoring the ancestors, visiting the temples and distributing flowers as part of the ritual. Meanwhile, evenings get really crazy because of all the celebrations and of course alcohol. The Vietnamese New Year is always around the end of January or beginning of February.
Unfortunately I’ve never experienced this festival but I’ve heard so much about it that it’s on my list of things to do in Vietnam. If you love the arts, go to Hue City, the capital of Thua Thien Hue province in central Vietnam. It is the only place where the Festival of tonality is celebrated every two years. The traditional costumes practiced during the Nguyen dynasty are revived through different showcases and activities. Expect street performances, film screenings, art exhibitions, Ao Dai Fashion Show, Hue Poetry Festival and Dialogue of Drums and Percussions. For sports activities, there are kites, boat races and human chess.
Hoi An Lantern Festival
This festival attracts large numbers of visitors and is a very popular festival among Vietnamese and tourists. Every fourteenth day of the lunar month in which the full moon is, every establishment in the Ancient City turns off all the lights. They use multicolored lanterns illuminated with candles for lighting and are also positioned on the river for a good omen. You can choose to see lanterns on the water from the river bank or organize a local boat tour. Trust me when you’re out and about this is one of the best Vietnam travel tips I’ve had along my travels. You will love it!
As for regional differences in cuisines, food in North Vietnam tends to be less spicy because it prefers to use black pepper instead of hot pepper. Famous dishes in the northern region include Bun Cha, Pho and Thang Rice Noodle.
Southern Vietnamese cuisine is tastier and more aromatic due to the liberal use of herbs and spices in the kitchen (yes, I learned everything from Luke Nguyen). Popular dishes in the southern region are Long Xuyen Raw Neem, My Tho Noodles and Mam Hotpot.
For food in central Vietnam, spicy flavor blends characterize the dishes. You’ll find delicious Nem Lui, Khoai Cake, Banh Beo and Hue Beef Vermicelli.
There is also a French influence in Vietnamese cuisine that is particularly visible to Bah Mi, a sandwich with the crust of a French baguette. The filling depends on where you buy it, but the shredded chicken with a fish sauce is common street food in Vietnam.
When you visit Vietnam, don’t miss the chance to taste the street food. The street food scene is as lively as ever and the single-portion stalls serve a dish with a recipe handed down from generation to generation. The variety of dishes sold are numerous, so there is something for everyone.
19. Vietnamese coffee
After doing my barista class when I lived in Sydney, I am very demanding about coffee. But on your trip to Vietnam you should try traditional coffee. Vietnamese coffee is often sweetened with condensed milk, so if this is not your problem, tell them in advance. Their black coffee is strong, but very tasty. A good way to wake up and start the day full of adventures. After all, Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world.
20. Vietnam is for every budget
The affordable cost of major travel expenses, such as lodging, public transport and food, is also a reason that makes traveling to Vietnam so attractive. Therefore, if you have a higher budget for your trip to Vietnam, you can easily experience a fabulous luxury. The luxury 5-star hotels are very affordable in this country.
Regardless of the type of accommodation you choose to stay in, traveling to Vietnam allows you to stretch your budget and leave more space for a more enjoyable tour.
Overall, with all the travel tips from Vietnam, reasons to go, things to do and places to see, I hope this blog was useful for your next trip to Vietnam. Let me know if you have any questions about traveling in Vietnam and I’m more than happy to help you. Leave a comment below.
Thank you for being aware of Traveltomtom and if this blog has helped you, consider helping me in exchange by sharing this blog’s link on social media or elsewhere on the Internet. Every tweet, pin or share on Facebook is greatly appreciated.