#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.
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#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.
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.
Viet Cong tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City © ImaginativeGifts/Shutterstock
#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.
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.
© Jimmy Tran/Shutterstock
#10 Lak Lake
Paddle the serene waters of Lak Lake in a dug-out canoe 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.
© Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock
#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.
© VLADYSLAV DANILIN/Shutterstock
#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
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.
Learning kitesurfing in Mui Ne beach © Dan Baciu/Shutterstock
#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.
© Le Quang Photo/Shutterstock