Of all the art forms that are unique to the country, perhaps the most exclusive one in Vietnam is water puppetry. The time when water puppetry first appeared is still debated among scholars who rely on different materials, from legends to historical documents and stone steles.
Some believe that water puppetry came into being in 225 B.C. Others assert the art appeared and evolved under the Ly Dynasty (1009-1225). The debate might never be resolved, but it is agreed that the villages of the Red River Delta that teem with lakes and ponds are the birthplace of water puppetry.
Visit Cuchi Tunnel
CU CHI, Vietnam -- The rattle and pop of automatic weapons greet a visitor. Young women in the black pajamas of the Vietcong flit through the woods. A man in green fatigues picks his way down a narrow trail, leading a small platoon of foreign tourists.
This is the site of the Cu Chi tunnels, one of the most famous battlegrounds of the Vietnam War. Today it is one of the country's prime tourist attractions, part of a new industry of war tourism. Sometimes, these spots seem to be memorials to wartime propaganda as much to the war itself.
Following the man in green fatigues, the tourists arrive at an open-sided hut, where the women in black show them to their seats. There, on a big-screen television set, the Vietnam War plays on: B-52's drop strings of bombs, villagers run for cover, communist guerrillas fight back.
Trek in Sapa
In Northwest Vietnam, lying close to the Chinese border, a frontier town and district known as SaPa is considered one of the major excursion routes from Hanoi because of its breathtaking landscapes, famous hiking destinations and quite interesting...
In Northwest Vietnam, lying close to the Chinese border, a frontier town and district known as SaPa is considered one of the major excursion routes from Hanoi because of its breathtaking landscapes, famous hiking destinations and quite interesting form of trade. The township of SaPa, better known as the “ Tonkin’s Alps” beautifully sits on a hill top at 1,600m above sea level, viewing over the Muong Hoa valley. SaPa is also the starting point for many climbers and discoverers who want to reach the top of Fansipan Mountain, the tallest peak in Vietnam.
Stay Overnight in Halong Bay (Ha Long Bay )
The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. The Ha Long bay, dotted with some 2000 limestone islets rising from emerald waters, is the best known natural wonder of Viet Nam. The islands were formed from limestone sediments deposited at the bottom of an ancient ocean. As the seas rose and fell over millennia, the soft limestone was easily shaped into the towering monoliths (geologists call them karst formations) as we see today. The forces of erosion also riddled the islands with caves, more than 20 of which are open to tourists. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by a human presence. The outstanding scenic beauty is complemented by its great biological interest. The islands feature endless numbers of beaches, grottoes, and caves. The bay is a sea islands in tropical wet with 2 seasons: hot and moist summer, dry and cold winter. Average temperature is from 15°C- 25°C. Annual rainfall is around 2000mm.
Visit Citadel in Hue
Hue here are sources claiming that the name of the city Huế comes from “Hoà” (harmony). This could be the reason for the Nguyễn dynasty to choose Huế to be their emperor city. Lying on the bench of the Perfume River (Hương Giang) and embedded between the mountains Huế still has the grandeur and the rest of the former glory, combined with a hard-to-describe atmosphere constituting somehow an emperor city. Over 100 years, from 1802 to 1945, Huế was the capital of Viet Nam and the domicile of the emperor, only thinkable together with its Citadel and the Forbidden City. A visit of Huế and the citadel is quite a must for a trip to central Viet Nam. Today the Citadel is chosen as a UNESCO world cultural heritage.
The citadel complex is built in the style of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The citadel has two walls: the Outer Wall (Ngoại Thành) and the Inner Wall (Nội Thành). The Citadel complex is surrounded by the impressive Outer Wall, which is built from 1805 to 1832, 11 km length, 6 m height, with 11 gates, 24 towers, as protection against all kinds of intruders and enemies. Inside the Outer Wall there was a city-inside-the-city, where the inner circle of the emperor and their families resided. The Outer Wall is encircled by a moat (23 m broad and 4 m deep) which is now mostly covered by water lotus. The whole expenditure however did not offer enough protection against fires (1945) and bombs during the several wars. A lot of damages are still visible.
Try Bia Hoi or Fresh Beer
Bia Hoi is a kind of beer in Saigon. It’s a thin homemade rice beer served in kegs and can be commonly found in the streets of the city. But ever since bottling companies and breweries came into existence and started taking over the beer industry, freshly-brewed, rice-based draft beer became hard to find.
That is what makes Dai ly bia hoi, a draft beer outlet, stand out from all the new bars and entertainment establishments around. It serves the hard-to-find rice beer, at a cheap price, at a place where you can be comfortable, almost feel right at home. Because unlike the new drinking spots in Saigon today which are on the so-called A-list, top-of-the-line, almost snobby level, Dai ly looks very simple, in fact ordinary and even run down.
Walk in The Old Quarter of Hanoi
As the oldest continuously developed area of Vietnam, Hanoi's Old Quarter has a history that spans 2,000 years and represents the eternal soul of the city. Located between the Lake of the Restored Sword, the Long Bien Bridge, a former city rampart, and a citadel wall, the Old Quarter started as a snake and alligator-infested swamp. It later evolved into a cluster of villages made up of houses on stilts, and was unified by Chinese administrators who built ramparts around their headquarters. The area was named "Dominated Annam" or "Protected South" by the Chinese.
The Old Quarter began to acquire its reputation as a crafts area when the Vietnamese attained independence in the 11th century and King Ly Thai To built his palace there. In the early 13th century, the collection of tiny workshop villages which clustered around the palace walls evolved into craft cooperatives, or guilds. Skilled craftsmen migrated to the Quarter, and artisan guilds were formed by craftsmen originating from the same village and performing similar services. Members of the guilds worked and lived together, creating a cooperative system for transporting merchandise to the designated streets in the business quarter.
Have morning coffee in Hoian
For visitors of Viet Nam with even the slightest interest in the national culture and history, Hội An is a must-see.
In ancient days Hội An was a major international port from the 15th to the 19th centuries. At that time, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Dutch settlers rubbed shoulders with the Vietnamese to produce a rich local culture, whose foreign influences are discernible to this day.
Having escaped the destruction of all the successive wars in Viet Nam, the old town of Hoi An was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO (in 1999) as a well-preserved example of an ancient Southeast Asian trade port. As a rapidly growing tourist spot, seated only less than five kilometres away from the beautiful Cua Dai Beach, there are plenty of best-value hotels in the heart of the town as well as nicely built beachfront hotels. Hoi An is the ideal starting point to gain an insight into Vietnam's fascinating past.
Take snorkeling trip in Nhatrang Nha Trang
Nha Trang, the country’s premier traditional seaside resort situated in Nha Trang Bay, surrounded on all three sides by mountains and widely considered as amongst the world's most beautiful bays, is well known for its pristine beaches as well as its variety of activities. With hot water springs, colourful fish and coral reefs underwater, the city is considered as one of the best spots for scuba diving and snorkelling. Nha Trang is located in Khanh Hoa Province, about 450km north of Sai Gon and about 1.200km South of Ha Noi. Nha Trang has an international airport (Cam Ranh Airport), which is about 40km from downtown. The best time for you to visit is from January to August when the weather is ideal to bath and relax.
The main strip of Nha Trang beaches runs along the North-South of the sea for about 4km. The site covers 405km2 including 19 small and large islands. Already being very popular with Vietnamese tourists, Nha Trang is fast becoming a popular destination for international tourists, attracting large numbers of backpackers, flash-packers as well as more affluent travellers. Visitor interested in history and culture of Champa, a kingdom that once controlled what is now central and southern Vietnam, can visit the famous Po Nagar Towers (Thap Ba), worship places built under the Cham between the 7th and 12th century. Another interesting sight is the central market starting in the early morning hours where nearly everything can be bought. The close-by Phan Boi Chau Street with its colonial buildings is the ideal place for a quiet breakfast after the market’s hustle and bustle.
Visit Bac Ha Market
Being a minority ethnic people market, the town of Bac Ha is famous for its Sunday market which is a trading centre and meeting place for couples, friends, and relatives every Sunday.
Every Sunday, Bac Ha hosts the biggest fair near the mountainous highlands and the Chinese border. It is the largest and most colourful market in the area and attracts throngs of villagers from the surrounding hill tribes. Some walk several hours for the weekly opportunity to trade and barter food, animals, clothes and household goods. 80km from Sapa, Bac Ha Market is not only the place for buying and selling, but also a place for cultural and sentiment exchanging. On the market days, right from the early morning, all paths and mountain roads are full of people and horses pouring to the market. People usually sit in groups around a soup pan ("thang co") eating and chatting.
Many different ethnic groups such as Flower H'mong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay and Nung minorities gather to buy and sell local products that cannot be found elsewhere. The market was very crowded, local products for sale or barter are carried on horseback. Besides the usual items like pigs, cows, chickens, and ducks, Bac Ha Market sold dogs. As dogs were available as cuts of meat, they were also available live, right next to the live pigs, chickens, and other livestock. There was a brisk trade at the market for everything from hand-embroidered skirts to all manner of 4-legged animals. The “fresh” meat section is not for the faint of heart and might steer more than a few visitors in the direction of strict vegetarianism.
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