The Marble Mountains
The Marble Mountains offer several caves to explore, but the main interest is the main cave, where a carved Buddha sits in a stream of daylight. There are plenty of pagodas and grottos throughout the area, as well as a large number of vendors. You can take a lift up or climb the many stairs to reach the caves, just outside of Da Nang.
The Marble Mountains tend to have a large number of tours streaming through them, so you’re better off going at dawn or later in the day. The site is open throughout daylight hours, but most tourists head up later in the morning and afternoon.
Hoan Kiem Lake
The heart of Hanoi is built around Hoan Kiem Lake. This body of water has been a special part of the city’s past and is a unique color that is not found easily in other Vietnamese lakes. The lake is also full of tortoises, which are considered to be sacred animals. You may even be lucky enough to check out one of the huge creatures in the water. Thanks to their presence, Hoan Kiem Lake is considered a sacred place.
Viet Hai Village
For those adventurers interested in getting a closer look at Vietnam’s more rural lifestyle, a trip to Viet Hai Village is a must. It’s not easy to get to, but the village has only been exposed to the outside world for a handful of years. The villagers here still live a very self- sufficient life and it is worth the long hike and boat trip through the jungle to find this little piece of heaven. To get there, you take a boat from Catba to Viet Hai Harbor. From there, you can walk or cycle down a dirt road to the community, which is roughly six kilometers from the harbor.
Once you arrive, you’ll find yourself surrounded by thatch cottages, with people tending their crops in the fields. It’s a peaceful atmosphere and there are plenty of hiking trails around the area.
Near the Vietnam-China border in the northwestern part of the country, you’ll find Sapa, a community based on farming. However, since the terrain here is so steep, the rice is grown on terraces cut into the mountain, rather than flat paddies.
You can tour the area and check out the impressive terracing, where corn and other vegetables are also cultivated, apart from the rice. For anyone interested in agriculture in Vietnam, this is a fascinating place to visit. At 1,500 feet above sea level, Sapa is surrounded by mountains, including the tallest peak in Vietnam, Fansipan. While the area is quickly becoming better known, it’s still well worth a visit to take a look at the area, do some hiking and meet the friendly people of the hill tribes.
Due to the altitude and mountains, expect some rain while you’re in Sapa. It often cycles through several types of weather in a day, making it impossible to predict when you will need a rain poncho or boots.
Rice farming is a way of life outside the bustling cities and if alternatively, visitors will find rice paddies are a charming place to relax. Head to the Mekong Delta to take a ferry over to My Hoa Hung islet where you can enjoy a homestay and visit the rice paddies for yourself. Visitors are encouraged to participate in the daily life of the area, farming alongside the locals and sharing meals with their hosts.
Rice paddy tours are available in Hoi An, as well as other areas where rice farming is prolific. These include a guide and transportation. You’ll also be introduced to the farmers that work the paddies.
Farming may be found inland, but there is plenty of activity on the coast, as well. Anyone who enjoys fishing wall enjoy the coast of Vietnam. You don’t need a fishing permit here and you can just arrange with a local fisherman to go out on the ocean. Most fishing takes place with traditional equipment such as nets and handmade poles, so if you want anything else, you’ll have to book a tour or bring your own.
Sea fishing is best between Phan Tiet and Quy Nhon, near the center of the country’s coastline. There are a number of small resort towns in this stretch of coast and tour companies abound. You can also head out on the Mekong Delta and join a mud-fishing tour if you want to try catching fish by hand.
A relaxing way to see more of the country is on a cruise. You can take a short day trip around Ha Long Bay, or enjoy a 2-3 day cruise on a larger boat. Travel companies offer a range of options for the interested traveler. If you take a smaller boat, you can rent it just for your group.
Mud baths are said to rejuvenate your entire body and help you look young again. Take a taxi from Nha Trang if you want to experience the messy fun for yourself. For less than $20, you can get a premium ticket that gives you 20 minutes in an egg shaped mud bath and unlimited access to the Jacuzzi, spa and sauna.
100 Egg Mud Baths is more than just mud and water, though. You can explore the beautiful grounds, have a cookout or hang out at one of several cafes and restaurants on the grounds. There’s even rock climbing and massages available, so it makes a good activity for a day trip.
If you’re interested in taking some of the local culture home with you, taking a cooking class is a great way to do just that. You can find cooking classes throughout Vietnam, so there will be one in the area you are visiting.
Hanoi Cooking Centre, in Hanoi, is a well-regarded place to learn if you are in the area. The center offers local cooking classes, as well as international ones. There’s even a class for kids if you’re traveling with family.
Hoi An has the Morning Glorv Cooking School, which serves as a restaurant, as well as a school. In Ho Chi Minh City, you can attend one of several different classes at the Vietnam Cookery Center. They offer tourist programs, extended programs and even chef classes.
There’s no shortage of fun to be hand in this beautiful country, but if you are ready for a little more excitement, let’s move on.