Vietnam is one of the most diverse and vibrant countries of the world with a mix of thriving nightlife, areas of unspoilt mountain regions, beaches and national parks to explore.
Throughout Vietnam, you will find places that you can hire bicycles to explore independently during any time at leisure you have in your itinerary. Some hotels offer free bicycle hire or if not, they will be able to recommend a good local hire shop nearby. Remember to always check the condition of the bicycle you are hiring before heading off and if needs be, request for the seat to be adjusted and the tyres to be pumped up!
Vietnamese food is wonderful so why not learn how to cook some of our favourite dishes by taking a cooking class with a local chef. Hue or Hoi An are both great places to do a cookery class and many hotels and restaurants now offer either shared or private cookery classes. A couple of schools that that we have experienced, and know to be well run, are:
- The Red Bridge Cookery School, Hoi An – shared classes in a stylish restaurant next to the Hoi An River. visithoian.com/redbridge
- Ms Vy’s Cooking School, Hoi An – create your own Vietnamese street food with an expert chef. Ms Vy’s shared classes used to take place at the Morning Glory Restaurant but are now at her new restaurant ‘The Market’. msvy-tastevietnam.com
- Ancient Hue Cookery Class, Hue – shared cooking, or vegetable carving, classes take place in the atmospheric grounds of this palatial Vietnamese restaurant which is famous for its imperial cuisine. ancienthue.com.vn
Beaches & watersports
Vietnam has about 3500km of coastline and there are many good beaches in central and southern Vietnam, as well as on some of the islands such as Phu Quoc and Con Dao. A wide range of watersports can be arranged locally, including diving. Nha Trang is the traditional home of diving in Vietnam but there are also good diving areas off Con Dao and Phu Quoc islands and also off Cham Island, which is a boat ride away from Hoi An or Danang. Surfing is also growing in popularity in Vietnam – with the coast close to Danang, and Vung Tao, boasting some good surf. Mui Ne is fast becoming a hot spot for kite surfers.
We have also outlined a few suggestions for evening entertainment. Your guide will be on hand to assist with making the any bookings and advising on transportation to the venue.
Water puppets (Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City)
Hanoi is the best place to catch a performance of the ancient art of water puppetry, although should you not get time in the capital there is also a decent water puppet theatre in Ho Chi Minh City. Water puppet shows originated in the Red River Delta area surrounding Hanoi and have been performed since the 11th Century. Shows last just under an hour and run several times per day, but they do sell out so ask in advance if you would like this to be booked.
Hanoi’s 100-year old Opera House is something of a landmark in the city, and is located on the southern edge of the Old Quarter in the famous August Revolution Square. Performances of classical music, dance, and opera are held on most evenings – advanced listings can be found at ticketvn.com.
AO Show (Ho Chi Minh City)
A very impressive mix of dance, acrobatics, and circus held in the Saigon Opera House usually 3 or 4 nights per week – performance days are irregular so it’s worth checking the website in advance – aoshowsaigon.com – for exact dates. Performances last around one hour and make an exciting, modern contrast to the water puppet or traditional dance shows.
As with much of Southeast Asia, night markets are a fundamental part of city life and will always be worth a visit. Hanoi’s Dong Xuan Market takes place on Friday, Saturday, Sunday evenings in the heart of the Old Quarter; Dalat has its infamous ‘shouting market’ (vendors are especially boisterous), while Hue has a picturesque market stretching along the banks of the Perfume River. Phu Quoc also has an excellent night market in Duong Dong where you can find cheap souvenirs and excellent street food.
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