Slava Frantsishko
January 03, 2018

5 things to do in Vietnam

  • United States
  • United Kingdom


My first impression here was that french architecture is very unexpectedly combined with chinese and soviet elements, catholic and buddhist statues are coexisting peacefully everywhere.

This is what all the Vietnam is about - unexpected combinations of exotic and ordinary things. So here is my top-5 things to do and to see in Vietnam.

1. Go on a wooden ship cruise in Ha Long Bay

They are also called the “junk boats”, but I prefer thinking of them as wooden ships. They seem like they have survived centuries, so unlike modern glass and stainless steel monsters.

You will see floating villages - floating houses and and even floating school. I personally couldn’t live there, I’d get sea sick very soon.

2. Taste Banh-Tan-Bi

This adorable wormlike noodles deserve coming back for them. Some pork, some pickled vegetables and the coconut sauce to enhance the flavor. I am drooling as I write. In fact, there is so much more to taste in Vietnam, that it could take a separate trip for getting acquainted with the local menu itself. But Banh-Tan-Bi is a landmark to my taste (if a dish could be a landmark).

3. Enjoy folk Quan-ho singing

It sounds like a dialogue between choirs. As it was explained to me later, the main topic of most of the Quan-ho songs is all the sentimental stuff including the unrequited love. But as long as you don’t understand a word, you can enjoy the melody and the performance.

4. Buy a conic hat

Because if you don’t, no one is going to believe you’ve actually been to Vietnam. Selfie is a must.

5. Go sightseeing in Hanoi at night

That’s right, at night. Hanoi is one of the safest cities in the world, so no worries. At the same time the sightseeing after dark has its peculiar charm. Not to mention the air is much better at night during the hot season. And don’t forget to visit the puppet show - it’s taking place directly on the water surface.

Things to keep in mind

When you plan your trip, it wouldn’t better be spring - at this period of time it’s hot and dry. If you have a priviledge of planning your vacation in advance, I personally advise January. The weather will be just fine, and you’ll also be around during the Oriental New Year celebrations. Though, the climate varies hugely in different parts of the country, so check thoroughly where you’re going and when.

Don’t forget to declare all your laptops, phones, cameras, iPods and other electronic stuff. If you don’t, you may have difficulties getting it back home through the customs control. It would be impossible to prove you had it when you came, so declare everything with no exceptions.

Be ready that there is a whole industry of dishonest people. You will be offered to pay for a non-existing parking spot, your hotel bill bottom line can turn twice as much as you expected while booking, and you’ll definitely have to pay a lot more on the local markets. So try to do as many transactions as possible officially.