Why visit Vietnam we hear many of you asking…well, with Vietnam now truly establishing itself on the tourist map, more and more culture-hungry visitors have been flocking to the country.
From stunning UNESCO heritage sites to vibrant cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam has something to offer almost everybody (and seriously, if you’re not tempted by some of the amazing things to do in Vietnam, we have a feeling you might be in need of a new brain!).
Years of Chinese and subsequently French occupation have left an indelible mark on both the country’s culture and architecture, but the people remain friendly and welcoming to visitors, wherever you might be from. Modern cities and traditional ways of life coexist in the aftermath of what can only be described as a turbulent period in Vietnam’s history and those who visit are drawn back time and again.
Here we highlight 5 of the most excellent reasons why you too should make Vietnam your next travel destination.
1. Several stunning UNESCO sites
Thanks to Vietnam’s rich heritage and history, there are a number of stunning attractions that have been listed by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as world heritage sites worthy of protection. From the ancient town of Hoi An and the imperial city of Hue to Halong Bay, these sites will have you thanking the UN for actually doing something fairly decent with all those funds swishing around in their coffers!
Other sites that might just knock your socks off and that are also UNESCO protected include the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and My Son, and yep there are also a few more stunners on the nomination list that we can expect to soon see join the ranks of Vietnam’s true wonders.
2. Beer for less than one US dollar
If you like good cheap beer and mixing it with the locals (yes, yes, yes, guilty as charged!), you will love Vietnam. The local “Bia Hoi” Vietnamese draft beer is actually extremely refreshing and it comes in fairly lightweight, at 4% alcohol – meaning you can probably squeeze in another one or two before calling it a night!
If there’s one place that kinda sums up the beer vibe in Vietnam it is probably the aptly named Bia Hoi Junction in Hanoi. Here you’ll find a vibrant nightlife culture and street-front bars where this local brew can be purchased for as little as one US dollar or less. We highly recommend pulling up one of those small plastic stools and ordering some Bia and then just connecting with the locals (and don’t forget to learn how to say Cheers in Vietnamese!). You’ll have a great night out and yep, it’s not gonna break the bank!
And don’t worry if the local beer isn’t your thing because there are plenty of places that sell soft drinks and popular imported beers – and if coffee is your poison, then you might just fall in love with the local brew (see more below).
3. Cheap and delicious Vietnamese food
Perhaps the refreshing Vietnamese beer goes down so well because it often follows the equally cheap and fabulously tasty local food. The Vietnamese diet is usually cooked in blends of aromatic herbs and fresh greens making it both tasty and highly nutritious. And yep, you’ll find plenty of fish sauce too!
Top of the “must try” food list (and check out our compilation of the absolute must try Vietnamese dishes right here) is Vietnamese fish, vegetables, and rice noodle soup (known as pho, which is pronounced as Fah) which is undoubtedly one of the most popular dishes among the Vietnamese, after sticky rice – it’s literally everywhere and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a version that doesn’t do wonders for your taste-buds!
4. Stunning, diverse natural landscape
There aren’t too many countries that can offer as diverse a landscape as Vietnam does. The south of the country enjoys a mainly tropical climate, while the rest of the country is punctuated by dense lush forests, truly great beaches, and mountain slopes. If you head up to the far north, you can be knocked for six by the stunning vistas of traditional rice fields.
What makes it all the sweeter is that since Vietnam is still relatively new to tourism, there are huge stretches of unspoilt beaches, tropical forests, and towering mist covered mountains waiting to be explored. Vietnam is also home to many indigenous species of wildlife and the world’s largest cave.
Adventure seekers won’t be disappointed either, especially if they visit the sand dunes of Mui Ne for a range of white-knuckle activities including sand-boarding and quad biking, take a motorbike tour (many rent / buy bikes to tour the whole of Vietnam, from north to south or vice versa, or try short 3-4 day tours of the stunning HaGiang Loop), or explore some of the 200-odd caves at the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which attracts visitors from all over the globe.
5. Oh mama, the Vietnamese coffee!!!
The Vietnamese love for coffee – which they inherited from the French – is nothing short of an obsession and this has led to an explosion of coffee shops. But seriously, expect to be wowed, especially by the local brew; by using a special filter called a phin and swapping cream for condensed milk the Vietnamese have created their unique twist on coffee drinking. The resultant hot, strong, and sweet blend is drunk all over the city. A variant on the hugely popular hot version is iced coffee, called ca phe sua da, which also has its groupies. Both hot and cold versions are relatively cheap to buy.
Whether you prefer your coffee out on the street or in a top-notch air-conditioned establishment (plenty of which are popping up all over the place), there are always plenty of venues to choose from wherever your travels take you.