Vietnam is a scenic, culturally rich country that attracts adventure seekers, nature lovers, history buffs, and every curious wanderer in between. Whether you’re interested in drifting down a winding river past verdant rice paddies, riding a rickshaw through energetic cities, or snorkeling alongside prismatic tropical fish, you can experience it all when you join us on one of our Vietnam tours.
We recently named Vietnam one of seven adventure destinations in Asia to have on your travel radar, and even dubbed it one of the best countries to visit in Asia for a bit of everything. If you’re interested in traveling to Vietnam on a high-activity tour but are wondering where to start, look no further. Below is our list of the best things to do in Vietnam—and you can experience them all when you join us on our new Highlights of Vietnam: Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay & Hô Chi Minh City tour.
1. Ride through Hanoi on a bicycle rickshaw
One of our favorite things to do in Vietnam is boarding a cyclo—a bicycle rickshaw—and zipping through Hanoi’s narrow streets like a local. You’ll gain a new perspective on Vietnamese culture as you explore the bustling heart of the city. In addition to being an eco-friendly mode of transportation, the passenger seat of a cyclo is the perfect vantage from which to snap photos of the elegant architecture of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. When you join us on our Highlights of Vietnam: Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay & Hô Chi Minh City tour, we’ll take you through some of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods via cyclo—and you may even find yourself hailing the convenient transportation for your own free-time exploration.
2. Discover the genuine soul of the local cuisine
One of the best things to do in Vietnam is enjoy the local cuisine, and when you join us on one of our tours of the country, you’ll find many ways to taste and explore it. Join our Vietnamese Home-Hosted Dinner excursion to visit the home of a Hanoi local, where you’ll learn about their day-to-day life and sit down to a meal of authentic regional specialties. “The highlight of the tour was the optional dinner in a private home,” said traveler Suzan after returning from our Vietnam & Angkor Wat tour. “(It was) a real insight into the life of a Hanoi family.”
To further immerse yourself in Vietnamese cuisine, join us on the Hôi An Vietnamese Cooking Class & Dinner excursion offered on our Highlights of Vietnam: Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay & Hô Chi Minh City tour. This is your chance to get a hands-on lesson on how to prepare traditional dishes like shrimp rolls. “The cooking class in Vietnam was another highlight,” said staffer Lori when recounting her mother-daughter trip to Vietnam. “First, we walked through the local markets, which was an experience in itself, and had a chance to see the daily life of Vietnamese people. After the market visit, we had the chance to try our hand at making spring rolls, Vietnamese pancakes, and some other specialties. It was a fun way to learn about Vietnamese culture and cuisine, and even more fun to taste what we made after!”
3. Wind through rice paddies on a river tour of Ninh Bình
Wondering what to do in Vietnam when you venture beyond its cities? Why not immerse yourself in the serenity of peaceful waters and lush landscapes by joining us on the A Day in Ninh Bình excursion available on some of our tours of the country? on our Highlights of Vietnam: Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay & Hô Chi Minh City tour or our Grand Tour of Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia & Thailand? Board a rowboat and cruise along a meandering river, past cascading rice paddies painted in shades of chartreuse and emerald. Towering limestone cliffs, known as karsts, dominate the landscape, creating an otherworldly scene. Make your way to Bich Dong, the Green Pearl Grotto, where three ancient pagodas are nestled into a verdant mountainside. Ha Pagoda, the lowest of the three, is surrounded by lotus flowers that burst into bloom during the summer months.
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4. Reflect on Vietnam’s wartime history and its journey toward peace
A chance to learn about the Vietnam War up close is one of the top things to do in the country if you’re a history buff, but it can be a rewarding experience no matter your interests. “For all of my adult life, when I thought of ‘Vietnam,’ the next word to immediately follow was ‘war,’” said traveler Sandra after returning from our Vietnam & Angkor Wat tour. “Now, all that has changed. The words that follow ‘Vietnam’ now are ‘peace’ and ‘prosperity.’ ... These people do not resent Americans, but choose to proudly display their country’s unity, prosperity, and progress. From the sandy, resort-speckled beaches of China Bay to the density of its ancient cities, in Vietnam, the peace sign is flashed everywhere.”
When you join us on a tour of Vietnam, you’ll visit the former site of Hoa Lò Prison, once known as the “Hanoi Hilton,” which now houses a museum detailing the experiences of prisoners of war—including late U.S. Senator John McCain. Join us on our Highlights of Vietnam: Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay & Hô Chi Minh City tour to visit the RENEW Mine Action Visitor Center and learn about local efforts to remove concealed land mines from the Vietnamese countryside. You’ll also take a self-guided tour of the War Remnants Museum in Hô Chi Minh City and visit the vast network of winding underground tunnels at Cu Chi, which was used during the war. “The War Remnants Museum had a sobering effect that brought back childhood memories,” said traveler Jerry. “We were honored to have two Vietnam veterans in our tour group that gave an honest opinion about the perils of war.”
5. Take an overnight cruise through Hạ Long Bay
Ha Long Bay in Northern Vietnam is one of the most visually stunning places in the country. Thousands of soaring limestone karsts jut out of the bay’s emerald-green water and are reflected in its placid surface. “The unexpected highlight was Ha Long Bay in Vietnam,” said traveler Holly after returning from our Vietnam & Angkor Wat tour. “It was beautiful.” Explore every angle of this UNESCO World Heritage Site by boat when you board an overnight cruise on one of our trips to Vietnam. “The cruise in Ha Long Bay was wonderful and activity-filled,” said traveler Tyson, who also took our Vietnam & Angkor Wat tour. “We went kayaking, spent some time on the beach, went squid fishing, did tai chi at sunrise, and went hiking through an amazing cave.” One of our best Vietnam travel tips: Don’t miss the hike up Ti Top Island for panoramic views of the bay.
6. Peruse the markets
Wondering what to do in your free time on our Highlights of Vietnam: Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay & Hô Chi Minh City tour? You can never go wrong with a market visit. Whether you’re shopping for textiles at Dong Xuân Market in Hanoi, snacking on street foods at a night market in Hôi An, or treasure hunting for antiques at Ben Thành Market in Hô Chi Minh City, wandering through Vietnam’s many bazaars is an excellent way to experience the local culture. Plus, it’s the perfect opportunity to snag a souvenir or two to commemorate your trip to Vietnam.
7. Learn how rice and pearls are farmed
Rice is a staple of Vietnamese cuisine and one of the country’s major exports. When you join us on our Highlights of Vietnam: Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay & Hô Chi Minh City tour, you’ll visit a rice paddy to chat with a farmer and learn how the crop is produced. You’ll gain a new perspective on agricultural practices and the local community, all while watching water buffalo plow the tranquil, terraced fields.
You’ll also pay a visit to Tung Sau Pearl Farm to learn about another way in which local communities support themselves. See how pearls are grown using a mix of traditional Vietnamese methods and new Japanese technology. Even in perfect conditions, it takes around five years to grow a single pearl, and you’ll learn about every step of the process.
8. Snorkel among vibrant coral reefs
Join us on the extension of our Highlights of Vietnam: Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay & Hô Chi Minh City tour to visit the tropical island paradise of Phú Quoc. The warm waters surrounding the island are teeming with colorful coral and diverse marine life like clownfish, ribbon eels, and sea turtles. View them up close when you join our Phú Quoc Snorkeling Cruise & Lunch excursion or spend your free time lounging on one of Phú Quoc’s pristine beaches. If the tropical climate has you seeking refreshment, sip some locally produced sim wine—a unique varietal made from rose myrtle fruit.
Discover the best of Vietnam when you join our new **Highlights of Vietnam: Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay & Hô Chi Minh City tour!**