Vietnam is becoming Asia’s latest hotspot and has just about everything that Millennials crave: low cost of living, amazing food, cool hotels, fascinating culture, a great nightlife, unique adventures, and did we mention amazing food? According to Sarah and Danielle, the founders of Guided MissDirection, a female-led travel company in Vietnam, there is always something to do and somewhere to explore. They’ve highlighted the top 5 places you must visit in Vietnam and together we’ve created a guide just for you:
The ancient capital city of Vietnam is their favorite place in the country; they even decided to make it their home! Hanoi was founded over 1,000 years ago and its history and compelling charm make it their number one place to be.
- Go on a motorbike tour if you think you can keep up with the locals
- Visit the Women’s Museum and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where you can walk past Uncle Ho’s embalmed resting body
- Get lost in the maze of streets of the Old Quarter of Hanoi where every street is known for something different
- Street food tour because who doesn’t love street food?
- Grab a drink on a rooftop during sunset near the main roundabout and enjoy the smells, sounds, and sights of Hanoi
- Bun Cha, rice vermicelli noodles that you dip into a sweet and spicy broth with delicious barbequed pork
- Pho is a traditional noodle soup dish that can come with beef or chicken and is made a bit differently in each area that you visit. Did you know that it’s most commonly eaten by the Vietnamese for breakfast? What the Pho!
- Banh Xeo, a pancake-like dish with shrimp and beef that you roll into rice paper and dip into a delicious fish sauce… are you drooling yet?
Just an overnight cruise away from Hanoi is another must-see of Vietnam: the UNESCO site Halong Bay. You might have seen it already in the newly released King Kong movie, Kong: Skull Island, but Sarah and Danielle claim that nothing beats waking up to the granite islands and emerald waters of the bay in person. They also say that Halong Bay is one of the most beautiful places to visit and if you are on a tight budget it is the best place to “treat yo-self” so, uh, let’s do what they say!
How to Treat Yo-Self:
- Wake up early and greet the day with Tai Chi on the upper deck of the boat
- Have a local row you in a traditional bamboo boat to get a closer look at granite islands and maybe even spot some monkeys
- Hike to the top of Titov Island for stunning panoramic views of the Bay and for the Insta, of course
- Take a mini cooking class at sunset onboard the cruise and enjoy good food and the views
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Saigon is unlike any other city Sarah and Danielle have visited. With over 7.4 million motorbikes, Saigon is nothing short of a sensory overload. Their favorite parts of Saigon are the museums, the bustling nightlife, and, of course, the food.
- A walking tour with a local student
- Try Banh Mi – a sandwich consisting of a french bread roll stuffed with pickled vegetables, cilantro, a fried egg and/or grilled pork, and topped with a spicy sauce
- Grab a drink in the backpacking district and people watch
- Bargain your way through the Ben Thanh Market
- Miss out on the War Remnants Museum and the Chu Chi Tunnels. Saigon is rich in history with the Vietnam-American conflict and you don’t want to miss out on getting cultured, do you?
Hoi An, a World Heritage Site, lays is in the central area of Vietnam and is as picturesque as can be. It’s a travel bloggers dream filled with colorful lanterns, boats, and beautiful landscapes. The best and most popular way to enjoy this romantic city is by bicycles, which are available to use for free at most hotels and home-stays.
More about Hoi An’s Full-Moon Lantern Festivals:
- The Full Moon Lantern festival takes place on the 14th day of each lunar month. The town turns off its fluorescent lights and hangs colorful, glowing lanterns all over the town and along the sparkling river. The tradition is to make a wish for good fortune before letting them float away in the water. Sarah and Danielle recommend you hang around the Old Town of Hoi An to watch the magic happen.
Last, but most definitely not least, Sarah and Danielle say you must visit Sapa while in the north of Vietnam. Why? Because Sapa has wonderous mountains and terraces of rice AND it is a great place to hike. Sapa is home to many local minorities, such as Hmong, Giay, and Red Dao, so it is a great place to go and learn about all of the different cultures in Vietnam.
Traveling to Sapa:
- The night train to Sapa from Hanoi is quite the experience. You get on the train and the first question the train operator asks you is “Do you want a beer?” If this sounds like your kind of travel, it’s worth the experience. But if you want a solid night of rest, take the day bus, the Sapa Express. For Guided MissDirection tours, they take the night train there and the bus back… best of both worlds!
If you have any more questions on where to travel, what to do, or even what to eat, feel free to contact Sarah and Danielle at firstname.lastname@example.org.