6 Unmissable Experiences for your Vietnam holiday!
Each country around the world has its own iconic experiences that will stay with you a lot longer than the sun-tan. Be it the first time you try a street Pad Thai on Khao San Road, Bangkok, the first time you come face to face with the famous Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia or diving at the Great Barrier Reef. When travelling from country to country there are times that you should definitely use the phrase – ‘when in Rome’ and these are some of those for your Vietnam holiday…
1. Northern Vietnam is home to great diversity of natural beauty. As a counter-balance to the eastern Halong Bay, the west is home to Sapa. The beautiful town of Sapa is flanked by valleys of cascading rice terraces that the area has become famous for. The area is home to the H’mong and Red Dao hill tribes that are renowned for their strong traditions and equally friendly nature towards visitors. For many of the people who have been on a Sapa trip, it always features highly on their ‘favourites’ list.
2. For a country with such lovely, laid back and friendly people, it’s surprising that one does take one’s life into their hands when it comes to crossing the road in Vietnam. On par with running with bulls in Pamplona or skydiving in New Zealand, simply crossing the road can be very nerve-wracking and somewhat difficult to master. The secret is to walk slowly, confidently and at a steady pace. A ‘sitting duck’ does come to mind but you just need to dig deep and walk tall.
3. Enjoying a meal whilst perched on a foot-high blue plastic chair wouldn’t whet most people’s appetites, but it really is a surreal and memorable experience. Not only is it an interesting snapshot of local life, but the food is some of the tastiest and yet best value you will ever be served. The sights and smells that accompany eating street food in Vietnam will inflame the senses and really give you some stories to match the photos!
4. The city of Hoi An became a major player in Vietnam as an international port. Now that it’s shipping days are well behind it, there are many other reasons to visit including: the international influences left over from years gone by, the Japanese-covered bridge, Cua Dai beach, the nearby temple site of My Son and of course the tailors. Having a garment tailor-made in Hoi An is an experience not to miss in Vietnam. Tailor-made suits, shirts, blouses and skirts are all available at very reasonable prices. I would advise you to go in on your first free day so you have plenty of time for alterations to make sure you get your money’s worth. Speaking of money, as with many things in life you do get what you pay for. Shops in Hoi An have nearly tripled since 2002 so it’s important not to be lured by the low prices. A 2 piece suit should cost somewhere between $80-250 and dresses should be around $20 and up.
5. Something that features on most travellers’ bucket lists- is to watch the sunset in Halong Bay. This is certainly one of those ‘once in a lifetime experiences’ that would be criminal not to include on your Vietnam holiday. I went in February when it was a little cooler and thousands of mini-islands are peppered by a light mist which made the whole experience even more mystical.
6. The Mekong River touches 6 countries and stretches for nearly 5000 kilometres from the South China Sea up into Tibet. Its geography means that where ever you travel in SE Asia you are likely to bump into it. Floating down the Mekong Delta, be it on a quick day tour or as a route to Can Tho is an eye-opening experience. To witness how people function in this area is a world away from European luxuries and its being present at the Cai Rang floating market that rounds off your Vietnam holiday perfectly.
Inspired to find out how you could create your own Vietnam holiday? Take a look at our bite-sized Vietnam tours.