My love for the far east continues with the help of some of my amazing guest bloggers, including Leila Dorari, a freelance writer from Sydney who is passionate about self-growth through travel, cheap deals and living better lives by exploring as much of what Earth has to offer as possible. Read on to find out one of my top bucket-list spots – Vietnam!
Since the ‘90s, Vietnam became one of the hottest tourist spots, and nowadays it has more than 3 million tourists since 2009. Its beautiful and enchanting nature together with cultural diversity makes it one of the most sought out exotic destination among the travellers, especially millennials and backpackers. It has everything, from the urban, city excitements to the rural sceneries with mountains and greenery, meaning that it’s suitable for any type of young tourist no matter if you’re looking for outdoor activities or taste of the exotic cuisine.
This country with the population of 94 million is also an interesting destination you should visit with a backpack on. Being equipped with a travel rucksack and a flexible itinerary is all you need to start the exploration of Vietnam at your own pace. Here are some ideas to spark your wanderlust.
Hanoi is probably the best-known place in Vietnam, being the capital city and ancient location over 1,000 years old. This is the place the travellers are drawn to because of its museums, temples, historical monuments and clash of cultures, but also for modern and urban commodities like restaurants and nightlife. The charm of Hanoi is in its old town where culture-aware millennials can enjoy the cultural heritage left by the ancestors, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and Fine Art Museum, as well as Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Should you wish to visit Hanoi off the beaten path – consider visiting Snake Village (Le Mat Village) where you can enjoy the traditional local cuisine that features snakes in almost every dish.
Ha Long Bay
Ho Long Bay is a cluster of over 1,600 islands 130 km (80 miles) east of Hanoi. Islands are made of limestone and consist of jungles with beautiful caves and beaches which are usually the main attraction to the many visitors that come here every year. Even though some argue that Ha Long Bay is just a tourist trap, due to it’s unique beauty it has been added to the UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites and is a must see spot. You can take an organized cruise by the traditional wooden ships from which you can swim or canoe to the shore of one of the islands. They also call this area the Bay of Descending Dragons because of the mist that tends to cover them and create a ghostly atmosphere.
Ho Chi Minh
Lying on the Saigon River, not too far away from the Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City is another gorgeous mix of traditional and modern Vietnam. Named after the founding father of the contemporary Vietnam, this city also known as Saigon has a dense cultural background and can be a perfect place for millennials wanting to add some relaxing times into their explorations. The street food here on the Ben Thanh market is widely famous and the offer of Vietnamese products is usually overpriced but can be negotiated. Cu Chi Tunnels used during the Vietnamese war give tourists a chance to witness how the villagers escaped the enemy forces, while the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre will let you experience the traditional Vietnamese form of entertainment. What you shouldn’t miss in Saigon city are widely-famous rooftop bars that overlook busy streets and offer a chance to enjoy the sunset with some of the best views in town.
My Son is a cluster of Hindu temples from the 4th century surrounded by the jungles which eventually started overrunning it in the 13th century when it was abandoned. It consists of over 20 temples made of sandstone blocks or brick and its architecture is a great display of the Indian and Malay combination of influences. Make sure to use booking services like 1000 trees to find a hotel and settle in the nearby Hoi An since the natural beauties and historical testimonials will keep you in the area for days. My Son is recognized as the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.
Originally the fishing village, Mui Ne is today is called the Vietnamese Hawaii with a beach attracting surfers, kitesurfers and windsurfers with its famous winds. Regardless if you’re a pro in these sports or are just a curious beginner, you can rent a kitesurf almost anywhere along the beach and take advantage of the amazing natural conditions. This beach started developing 15 years ago and today is one of the main attractions for millennials traveling through Vietnam. The most interesting thing about this area is the sand dunes in the north of the village and the opportunity to experience both sunset and sunrise on the same beach.
Sa Pa Terraces
Sa Pa Terrace is the cluster rice fields in the Muong Hoa valley where locals grow their crops. Situated in the northwest Vietnam and close to the border with China, this area feeds several ethnic minorities such as Hmong, Giay and Dao. In 1993 Sa Pa was completely turned into a tourist destination and today it is in the full economic rebirth due to the opening of its trekking trails between the surrounding villages. Be aware that hiring a local tour guide is almost mandatory, but he will supply you with all the insider information needed, direct you when and where to wait for the herd of water buffaloes to cross and what kind of food the locals are offering to you.
All in all
There are numerous other places to visit in Vietnam besides these, and it’s gaining more and more popularity for its diverse and emerging tourist values rather than just being in the centre of attention for the Vietnamese War. If you want to experience a rich culture preferably with a backpack on your back, then visiting Vietnam should certainly be one of the destinations on your list.