Things to do in Vietnam
- Cat Ba Island
Although the low-slung harbour town doesn’t have all that much – except location – to recommend it, the rest of the island is rocky and wild and begging to be explored. Half of Cat Ba is a verdant national park and it’s a paradise for travelers who come here to hike, climb and kayak (the waters and coral reefs are protected too). For jaw-dropping views across Ha Long Bay, head up to Cannon Fort.
- Ha Giang Province
Narrow ribbon roads with hair-raising bends meander the rugged peaks and green valleys of the very far northeast of Vietnam. Though poor infrastructure has traditionally meant fewer outsiders, more travelers are making the effort to visit this forgotten province of dramatic scenery and colorful minority villages.
- Ha Long Bay
Long on every traveler’s bucket list, Ha Long Bay has been a World Heritage Site since 1994. When the sun rises over the still emerald waters and the bay’s scattered islands, islets, and limestone pillars, the seascape is the most beautiful in the world – and even in the cooler off season the fog can add a touch of dreamy mysticism. An overnight cruise on a junk is an experience not to be missed.
It’s the dramatic site of the far north’s Sa Pa, rather than the bustling market town itself, that travelers rave about. If the mist hasn’t rolled in, viewpoints take in green terraces
and looming conical mountains, including Mount Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s tallest peak. Trekkers use Sa Pa as a base to visit nearby minority villages that still practice a traditional way of life.
- Hoi An
The central coast’s centuries-old ancient port has retained its charm despite the throngs of tourists drawn here by the heady mix of wooden-fronted merchant houses, graceful bridges, and ornate temples. At night, colorful lanterns are hung from every shop front and light up the narrow streets of the atmospheric old town, casting a romantic shimmer over the Thu Bon River.