Known for its wartime history, as much as it is for its stunning landscapes, and hectic traffic, Vietnam is a cultural phenomenon that absolutely must be explored.
There is no short history of Vietnam, though the story is magnificently rich – Vietnam was a major military and cultural power from the 11th to the 18th centuries. In the 19th century, the French invaded and Vietnam became “French Indochina” and many of the cultural experiences today are a blend of these histories. From the 1940s, through to the 1970s, Vietnam regained much of their national identity, and with the Vietnam War also gained some American influence into their culture.
Today, you can visit, see or participate in a range of amazing cultural experiences in Vietnam.
Dining: If you can find it (not many coffee shops sell it), egg coffee is a speciality in Vietnam with an interesting taste and texture. Seafood is abundant along Vietnam’s coastline, and is best enjoyed sitting in view of the older traditional boats that went out and caught your meal. If you’re in Hanoi, visit the Mojito Bar and Lounge. They have taken the traditional Vietnamese ‘pho’ (noodle soup) and turned it into tasty and unique cocktail.
Also make sure you try some of the dishes you may already know, as the food in Vietnam is definitely better in its country of origin.
Sightseeing and Experiences:
There are several places in Vietnam that absolutely must be visited and each will give you a different sense of the country’s culture and history.
Floating markets are well worth visiting while you’re in Vietnam and are located all over the Mekong Delta.
If you’re more into riding a train and looking out the window, then the Reunification Express is for you. This 30-hour journey is best broken down into a week or more, stopping and seeing some of the cities along the 1,700 kilometers of railway track.
Halong Bay is a popular place for a 2 or 3 night cruise on a traditional Vietnamese junk boat, however for the purist wanting to explore the beautiful limestone islands, consider a kayak trip for a more up close and personal experience.
In Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) take the opportunity to explore the Cu Chi tunnels, the hideouts used by the Republic of Vietnam soldiers against the South Vietnamese and U.S./Australian forces in the Vietnam War.
If the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City are getting to you, then a visit to Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve is in order. These mangroves and wetlands are stunning and not far at all from the busyness of the city.
Often referred to as the "Angkor Wat" of Vietnam, the ruins at My Son are well worth the journey from Hoi An needed to reach them. Like many things in Vietnam, the journey is part of the experience – and an experience in itself.
One of the most beautiful cities in the world is Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. Whether you’re exploring the antique and colonial architecture or finding your way through the traditional handicraft villages or visiting some of the 600 temples and pagodas in the city, you’re sure to find something amazing in Hanoi.