Our brains are magnificent organs, complex and effective at what they do, but they do a lot of work day in and day out, and require a break every now and then. A holiday spent abroad allows your mind to relax, and as you stop worrying about your job and social life, you can focus on recharging your batteries, having fun, learning new things and broadening your horizons. It is good to travel as far away from home as possible, and really immerse yourself in a different culture.
As far as history, culture, nature, architecture, and fun activities go, Vietnam has a lot to offer. It can accommodate all types of travelers, from those looking for a relaxing beach holiday to hikers and adventurers, and provide you with an unforgettable experience. Let’s look at the seven main reasons for visiting Vietnam.
1. The majestic islands of Halong Bay are perfect for both adventurers and casual tourists
Halong Bay is probably the most popular tourist destination within Vietnam, and it is not that difficult to see why. There are a large number of small islands clustered around the bay, with sheer cliffs ideal for adventure-seeking climbers and beautiful sandy beaches, as well as tons of interesting activities such as kayaking and helicopter rides. The less adventurous folk can simply relax on lovely cruise boats with large sails (traditional sampan rig style). Adventure, natural beauty, and classy accommodations are what draw the crowd to Halong Bay.
2. Hiking through the hills of Sapa and experiencing the rich culture of local tribes
Sapa is a Vietnamese market town located in the Northwest. The area around it features beautiful hills and valleys, great hiking and trekking trails, and breathtaking terraced rice fields. Several ethnic minorities live in the area and tend to the fields, each with their own distinct culture and way of life.
Meeting the locals is an incredibly pleasant experience—they are quite hospitable and used to tourists visiting the area frequently. There is a lot to be seen, and a lot to be learned about the unique culture of the tribes residing in the hills of Sapa, making it a great place to spend a few days and explore in more detail.
3. Take in classic architecture and culture at the Temple of Literature
Vietnam has a large number of well-preserved temples that stand as witnesses to the highly developed culture spanning hundreds and hundreds of years. The Temple of Literature in Hanoi is devoted to Confucius and scholars in general. Built in 1070, it hosts Vietnam’s first national university.
A large number of stelae were raised to commemorate the achievements of great scholars throughout the years, and it is truly a sight to behold. It is a unique piece of history and a great example of the kind of culturally significant sites available for modern scholars and history enthusiasts to explore.
4. Explore the unique rainforest flora and fauna at the Cuc Phuong National Park
Vietnam’s oldest national park, Cuc Phuong, boasts some jaw-dropping scenery and diverse wildlife that you can explore for days on end. The Limestone Mountains and thick vegetation are home to over 2,000 plant species, more than 250 reptile and mammal species, and over 300 bird species, making it a prime location for naturalists and nature lovers. You can have a fairly long trek through the forest and get to see a myriad of different animals, and explore the caves where you’ll find the remains of people who lived in these parts over 7,000 years ago.
There are plenty of other curiosities like a reptile fossil that is over 200 million years old. The indigenous Muong tribe still resides there in stilt houses, living off the land and producing interesting garments using simple looms.
5. The unique marriage of Western and Eastern architecture (Vua Meo)
As Western countries strove to grow their colonial power, Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands conquered countries on different continents. Vietnam was under French rule from the late 19th century up until the First Indochina War in the mid-20th century.
At certain periods tensions were high, but during this time a unique blend of Western and Eastern architecture emerged, and one of the most beautiful examples of this is the Vua Meo villa built by the French for the leader of the Hmong people. Interestingly enough it was once dubbed “The Opium Palace”, as one of its cellars stored large amounts of opium, and the walls were decorated with poppy-seed and flower designs.
6. Plenty of opportunity to help a good cause by volunteering
For those who want a more active break from everyday life, and wish to help out others and make a difference in the world, there are several great volunteering opportunities in Vietnam. The great thing about helping a cause is that the trip and accommodations are fairly affordable, and you have an opportunity to meet lots of new people, delve deeper into the local culture, learn useful skills, and experience the pleasure of helping those in need.
Whether it is teaching the local youth, helping orphaned children, improving healthcare standards in rural areas, or working at a wildlife rescue center, you have a chance to make a big positive change.
7. A large number of beautiful sandy beaches
In the end, after all the excitement and exploration, some may just want get some sun on their skin, swim and have fun on a beach of fine sand. Well, as we’ve already mentioned, Halong Bay is an excellent place for both adventure and the traditional beach vacation, but there are a whole lot of other incredible beaches in Vietnam, like the quiet Long Beach in Phu Quoc, or the lovely City Beach in Nha Trang.
You can find the right place for yourself, depending on whether you want something more secluded, where you can be alone with a significant other, or want to be in an urban environment, but have the ability to get down to the beach for a quick swim in a matter of minutes.
If you are looking for an exotic location, with lots of fun and worthwhile things to do, Vietnam is definitely the place to visit. Even if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want out of your vacation, there’s something for everyone in this proud country.