Things To Do And See For First Time in Vietnam

For first-timers in Vietnam, Hanoi is always a great base to start your trip in the north. Existing for more than 1000 years, Hanoi enchants its visitors with the charms of the old and the new. There are a lot to do and see in and around Hanoi. First-time visitors should spend your time in Hanoi to get the most out of your experience.

1. Explore Hanoi, the capital city
For first-timers in Vietnam, Hanoi is always a great base to start your trip in the north. Existing for more than 1000 years, Hanoi enchants its visitors with the charms of the old and the new. There are a lot to do and see in and around Hanoi. First-time visitors should spend your time in Hanoi to get the most out of your experience.
As one of the biggest cities in Vietnam, you can enjoy a lot of things during your trip; must things to do including Hanoi City Tour, joining cooking class, going on a food tour, visiting Long Bien market and morning market for a photo tour and day trip to the world’s wonder Ninh Binh.


First-timers Must-do Checklist:
- Hanoi City Tour around Old Quarter and Sword Lake
- Try the original Pho Noodle in Hanoi
- Pay a visit to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum
- Tran Quoc Pagoda
- Hanoi Street Food Tour

Train street in Hanoi

2. Trek hill tribe villages in Sapa
On the Northwest area of Vietnam, Sapa promises a wonderful trip even to first-timers to Vietnam. Every year, Sapa welcomes visitors from all around the world to come and appreciate the beauties of terraced rice fields, the ethnicity of tribal groups and the romantic atmosphere of the highland town.
Come to Sapa, it’s a shame not to take a trek to one of those ethnic villages to soak in the culture. Cat Cat, Ta Van and Muong Hoa Valley have some of the best trekking trails in North Vietnam. During the trek, you’ll chance to enjoy both cultural ethnicity and natural scenery.  

Exotic rice terraces in Sapa

- Cat Cat village
Cat Cat Trek offers both idyllic scenes of terraced rice fields cultivated by Hmong people and an insight into the life of local ethnic people. This is one of the most common trek trail in Sapa.

- Muong Hoa Valley
Muong Hoa Valley is home to several H’mong villages with Lao Chai and Ta Van villages are the worthiest treks with much less tourists than Cat Cat and even better scenery. Muong Hoa valley also challenges you with rocky slopes yet still manageable with inexperienced folks.

- Fansipan Peak
Requiring an even higher level of physical fitness, Fansipan Mountain can be a real challenge for those who want to claim the ‘roof of Indochina’. It’s best to book a trekking tour with a local tour operator for your own safety and better experience.

3. Cruise on Ha Long Bay
Halong Bay is the most popular destination in Vietnam and there is a reason for it. Designated by UNESCO as world heritage two times, the sight of thousands of limestone islets scattering on the green ocean of Halong won’t disappoint you.

The best way to enjoy the beauties of Ha Long is getting lost in bay. Booking Halong cruise tour with VietnamTour, you will enjoy these activities:

  • Visiting stunning limestone caves like Dau Go Cave, Surprising Cave, Virgin Cave
  • Watching sunset on the world’s wonder bay from the cruise's sundeck 
  • Taichi lesson on cruise to start a new day at the world's wonder
  • Cooking Vietnamese dishes with famous chef
  • Enjoy night deluxe Vietnamese and Western Buffet on cruise
  • Visiting Cua Van fishing village to see the daily life of local people adapting on water
  • Swimming, kayaking and many other activities
  • Exploring Tuan Chau island and Bai Tu Long Bay to enjoy the primitive nature beauties 


4. Get lost in Hoi An Old Quarter
Hoi An, located in Central Vietnam, is the ideal destination regardless of what you’re seeking for in Vietnam.
Lantern Festival on 14th night of every lunar month.
You’ll feel like you are in an Asian historical movie where time seems to stop flowing. If you have a chance to come to Hoi An, stay for at least one night to watch the town sparkle with the colorful lights of lanterns hanging in front of the old houses.

Visit spectacular architectures  

Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge which was built in 18th century by Japanese merchants of the time. The place is not only an outstanding architectural site but also have important cultural values.
Boat ride on the poetic Thu Bon River

Buy floating lanterns and rent a boat to send the lanterns on the Thu Bon River. It sure will be one touching moment to look forward to.
Have your new clothes tailor-made

Hoi An is famous for hundreds of tailor-made cloth shops, ranging from low-budget to high-quality products. If you are staying in Hanoi more than 2 days, it’s possible to have a vest or a simple Ao Dai done to your liking with at least two fittings.

5. Beach break in Nha Trang
The city of blue waves and sunlight – Nha Trang has everything you want for a beach break. One of the best thing you can do in Nha Trang is chilling on the golden sandy shore or booking a 4-island Nha Trang tour for even more wonderful seascape. Nha Trang also has delicious and various seafood for your dream BBQ party.
*Must-see in Nha Trang: Nha Trang Beach, Nha Trang Bay, Van Phong Bay, Ninh Van Bay, Hon Tre Island, Hon Mieu Island, Hon Mun Island, Hon Chong Promontory.

6. Sand slide at Mui Ne
Mui Ne has been known not only for its emerald sea but also for the beautiful sand white and red sand dunes. The most famous and cheapest activity to be enjoying in the sand dunes can be either sand sliding or riding jeep car.
White dunes: at Bau Trang, more suitable for jeep riding
Red dunes: smaller than white dunes, about 17km from Mui Ne Beach, best for sand sliding


7. Learn history in Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon
You can do many things in Ho Chi Minh City like trying Vietnamese coffee, shopping at Ben Thanh market, sightseeing Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral. However, the top thing to do at Ho Chi Minh is learning more about Vietnamese history at War Remnant Museum and Cu Chi Tunnels.
Visit War Remnant Museum

A trip to War Remnant Museum is one educational thing to do in Saigon if you want to get more insight into the history of the city. The museum offers a perspective of the Vietnam War on from the other side with powerful presentation through artifacts, photographs and documents.
Discover Cu Chi Tunnel
Chu Chi Tunnel, without exaggerating, is one of the reasons USA failed in Vietnam. It’s one of the country’s biggest underground systems to shelter, defense and store food during the war. To this day, the system is still kept intact and open for visiting. Visitors coming to Cu Chi also can try the guns once used in the war at Cu Chi Tunnel’s shooting range.
8. Get lost in Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta boasts richness in both nature and culture like nowhere else in Vietnam. The destination is iconic and a must-see, especially for first-timers to the country. Come to Mekong Delta, you can immerse yourself in unique and authentic floating local market. Nurtured by the mighty Mekong for ages, the delta is covered by the greenness from rice fields, wetland forests and orchards. Hire a boat and let yourself be surrounded by the wilderness.


Mekong First-time Checklist:

Floating markets: Cai Rang market in Can Tho city, Nga Bay/Phung Hiep market in Nga Bay District, Cai Be market in Tien Giang.
Ecological sites: Tan Phong Islet – Cai Be, Tra Su cajuput forests – An Giang, Tram Chim National Park.
Food to try: Fish noodles, Grilled snakehead, Mushroom Hotpot, Pia cake

9. Sun bath on Southern Islands’ Beaches
The southern islands of Vietnam can be your places to get a great tan before going home. Indeed, Vietnam is blessed with some of the most beautiful islands in SEA such as Phu Quoc, Con Dao, Ba Lua Archipelago and Nam Du Archipelago. All these islands are accessible and foreign travelers need no permission from local administration to visit. Phu Quoc deserves to be the top names for your island choice in Vietnam:
Phu Quoc is the most developed island in southern sea of Vietnam with range of modern constructions like Vinpearl Park, Safari Zoo, Hon Thom Cable Car, and Phu Quoc Casino.
For natural beauties, Phu Quoc has Sao Beach, Khem Beach, Ganh Dau Cape, Phu Quoc National Park, a number of surrounding islands for diving and snorkeling activities.
Phu Quoc is also known for its delicious seafood. You should check out Phu Quoc Prison – the most brutal prison run by the French and American.

*Must-do Phu Quoc Check-list:

Sao beach
Phu Quoc prison
Trek National park
Hon Thom cable car
Bai Khem
Safari Phu Quoc
Night market
Local temple

Practical Tips & Information For First Time In Vietnam

If it’s the first time you travel to Vietnam, it’s best to know some useful tips to make the best of your time. Generally, Vietnam is quite an easy destination except for some mild culture shocks you might encounter. Tourism in Vietnam is boosting like never before, preparing a few safety tips to stay away from tourist traps would make you much more confident while in Vietnam.
When is the best time for visiting Vietnam for the first time
Don't let weather to be the reason for your first time travel to Vietnam become uncompleted. To enjoy your first trip to Vietnam, get to know which time is the best to travel and what to expect in what month.

*Vietnam Climate:
The country is located in tropical area and divided into three distinctive climate zones:

North and North Central: With the influence of monsoon season, these two areas have four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
Central of Vietnam: Tropical Monsoon known as a tropical wet climate or a tropical monsoon and trade-wind littoral climate. 
South of Vietnam: Hot and humid for the whole year with only two seasons: Dry and Rainy seasons
All three regions can be affected by typhoons, floods and storms. North and Central Vietnam see the most number of storms hit on land annually. 
*Best time to visit Vietnam:

You can visit Vietnam almost for all year round. Yet each destination has its different months which are most worthy for tourism purposes. Check out our table to choose the best time to visit Vietnam for you. See more details here