#01 Ethnic Markets

Spectacular traditional dress and a lively atmosphere make the ethnic minority markets a must – especially those in Bac Ha and Can Cau.

#02 Temples and Pagodas

Vietnamese temples and pagodas reflect the country’s diverse range of religions: Long Son Pagoda in Nha Trang is a good example.

#03 Tet

The most important festival in the Vietnamese calendar, Tet sees the New Year ushered in with colourful flower markets, spectacular fireworks and exuberant dragon dances.

#04 Cu Chi tunnels

Look out for the spiked booby traps that Vietnamese guides reveal for visitors to the Cu Chi tunnels.

#05 Bia Hoi

Bia hoi bars are fun, friendly, cheap and a great way to mingle with the locals. Order a bia hoi (lager-like draught) in any of the back lanes in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.

#06 The Citadel, Hué

The former capital’s historic citadel, mausoleums and gardens are idiosyncratic enough to impress even the most jaded traveller.

#07 Water-puppets

Enjoy a performance of mua roi nuoc, an art form developed in the Red River Delta around Hanoi.

#08 Express Silk Tailoring

Visit one of the many Hoi An tailors who can rustle up a made-to-measure silk dress or suit in just a few hours.

#09 Trekking around Sa Pa

Trek in the northern mountains around Sa Pa – a small market town perched on a plateau facing Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest peak.

#10 Lak Lake

Paddle the serene waters of Lak Lake in a dug-out canoe, ride on an elephant or take a guided trek into the surrounding forests before a sunset feast overlooking the water.

#11 Hoi An

With its rich cultural heritage, beautifully preserved merchants’ houses and slow pace of life, Hoi An is a captivating place to spend a few days.

#12 The Red River Delta

Slow the pace down with a trip to the countryside and experience a lifestyle little changed in centuries. For more information, see the section on Far North.

#13 The Mekong Delta

Putter through this fertile farming region, surrounded by classic Vietnamese scenery.

#14 Take a Cyclo Ride

The quintessential Vietnamese mode of transport gives you an up-close view of street life. For more information, see the section on local transport.

#15 A boat trip in Ha Long Bay

The thousands of limestone islands jutting out of these silent waters have been dubbed the eighth natural wonder of the world.

#16 Chill out on Phu Quoc

Unspoilt beaches lined with coconut trees circle the island. You can also sail south to the unspoilt An Thoi islands for fine snorkelling.

#17 Ride the Reunification Express

Load your bike on, then sit back and relax as the train slowly chugs its way between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

#18 Colonial architecture

The legacy of French rule can be found in the impressive examples of colonial architecture, such as Hanoi’s Opera House.

#19 Traditional music

Music is the most important of all Vietnam’s performing arts and a traditional performance should feature on every itinerary. For more information, see the section on music and theatre.

#20 Browse the markets

Markets such as Binh Tay are good grazing grounds for snacks. Have a soup, spring roll, sticky rice cake – or even a baguette filled with pâte–to keep you going while you shop.

#21 Adventure sports

Rock-climbing, kitesurfing, kayaking and mountain biking are just a few of the heart-pumping activities awaiting thrill-seekers.

#22 Cao Dai Cathedral

Vietnam’s most charismatic indigenous religion goes in for exuberant architecture and ceremonies.

#23 Bahnar villages

Spend the night in a communal house (rong) where timeless ceremonies are performed and village decisions made.

#24 Street food

Soak up the atmosphere at a street kitchen and have your plate piled high with a selection of fresh food for next to nothing. For more information, see the section on street food.

#25 Nha Trang

Take a snorkelling trip in the emerald waters of the outlying islands around Nha Trang, or simply chill out on the beach.

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