Vietnam is a country of natural beauty and cultural authenticity, making it a great place for you to enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities. From classic outdoor activities like caving, biking, boating, and hiking to more off-the-beaten-track experiences – so much awaits you in a wonderful, fun and exciting trip!
You’re feeling your blood pumping and excited to know what there to discover? Sit back, we got you covered with our top list of 15 best fun and authentic Vietnam outdoor activities.
North Vietnam has almost everything to offer for an amazing outdoor adventure: it has bustling urban life in Hanoi, ethnic culture in Pu Luong and Sapa and beautiful landscapes in Ninh Binh. Here are our best 5 outdoor activities in North Vietnam for you:
1. Good morning Hanoi – Hanoi morning city tour
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, also one of the best destinations where you can enjoy a wide variety of activities. The most authentic and fun of things to do in Hanoi is an early morning city tour. Visit Hanoi during this time, you’ll be amazed by a different side of the city. Two main spots for an early morning city tour are Long Bien market and Quang Ba Flower market:
Long Bien Market
Located near Long Bien Bridge and behind Tran Nhat Duat street, Long Bien market is the second-largest market after Dong Xuan market. The market is active during such a very unusual and inconvenient time – from 1 AM to 6 AM – yet it also makes the unique charm of the place.
All you can find at the market is a lot of fruits, insight into the daily busy market life of Vietnamese people, an atmosphere of people rushing and trying to buy the freshest ingredients before their business’s opening hour.
Quang Ba Flower Market
Quang Ba Flower Market
Nested on the side of Au Co road, very near to many flower gardens in Nhat Tan and Quang An communes, Quang Ba market has 2 sessions: one from 2AM to 4AM for wholesalers and another from 4AM to midday for retailers. On holidays, especially Women’s Day, Teacher’s Day or Lunar New Year, this market is the busiest place in the capital. On a normal day, a walk around this beautiful market is an interesting way to enjoy the night.
2. Explore Duong Lam Ancient Village
Duong Lam ancient village is located about 50km to the west of city center, at Son Tay town. With a half-day tour to the village, you can see almost everything. Duong Lam is most suitable for either walking or bicycling.
Duong Lam is also the first village to be granted as historical and cultural national heritage with an intact and unique gate, 956 traditional houses, one pagoda, two temples, five communal houses and many more other relics. Duong Lam is a common name of 9 smaller villages including Mong Phu – the center village. Duong Lam is also the home village to 2 great kings and national heroes – Ngo Quyen and Phung Hung who are worshiped at two temples. Mia Pagoda is one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam, and is home to nearly 300 art statues. Mia pagoda has some spectacular towers and beautiful settings.
Traditional houses in Duong Lam are mostly made of wood while the fence walls are made with laterite. Tourists coming to Duong Lam can visit and take photos of some famous houses here to see that the Vietnamese way of life was so different in the past compared to now and appreciate even more the fact that these houses are not in some museums but real houses and occupied by real families.
3. Visit Conical Hat Making Chuong Village
The conical hat is an iconic fashion symbol in Vietnamese culture, as well as a beautiful souvenir for tourists to bring home. Making conical hats is a traditional craft that has been practiced more than 300 years in Chuong village – a village in suburban Hanoi, about 30km away from the city center. Visiting the village will give you more insights into the culture and tradition of Vietnamese people.
To make a conical hat, skills, experience, and patience of the craftsmen are all required. Materials such as silk threats, palm leaves and bamboo from many other parts of the country are gathered and brought here. The bamboo will be broken up into small, skinny sticks, dried then submerged in the water. The palm leaves will have to be cleaned by sand and dried in the sun. Once the materials are ready, the craftsmen start making a frame and sewing the leaves into a conical shape. This process can take from 3 hours or days depending on the skills of the craftsmen.
4. Hiking in Pu Luong – discover the culture of ethnic minorities
Pu Luong is one of the top places in the list of Vietnam outdoor activities. Pu Luong is a great place for activities like trekking, hiking, rafting, and biking, but it is most famous for hiking to local communities which are mainly made of Thai villages.
Kho Muong must be the most well-known village in Pu Luong to foreign tourists for its peaceful, quiet atmosphere and the friendliness of the people. Located deep in a valley, surrounded by limestone hills and green forests, the ripe colours of the terraced rice fields bring so much beauty when the time is right. Kho Muong is a village of White Thai people and their life is rather simple. Kho Muong is also an ideal starting point for your treks.
Hieu village (Ban Hieu) shouldn’t be missed on your trip to Pu Luong. On the way to this village, you will see many large-scale water wheels made by bamboo along the stream. The waterfall in Ban Hieu is quite famous for its unique setting – all the layers are limestone and even the trees’ roots on the streambed were calcified. In the rainy season, a great volume of water will flow through this fall, creating a great scene of nature.
Pho Don fair market is available on Thursday and Sunday, an interesting cultural activity of Thai people. Pho Don has its history back to the period of French colonists, where Viet, Muong and Thai people in the area came to trade goods. The sellers are mostly farmers, selling what they have so you can expect the goods to be not good looking but healthy and cheap.
5. Discover the beauty of Van Long, Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh is famous for being a double heritage Trang An complex and the classic destination Tam Coc, a perfect place for outdoor activities in Vietnam. During peak season, these two places are always crowded with visitors. If you’re more interested in discovering a hidden gem in Ninh Binh, Van Long Nature Reserve is what you’re looking for.
Bird watching is the most famous feature of Van Long Nature Reserve. With several bird species, even rare ones, spotted here, a boat ride around the wetland is a wonderful experience to bring you closer to nature. Van Long also is home to an endangered Delacour’s langur but they’re harder to spot, but you can try your luck in the early morning.
A boat ride in Van Long lasts around 90 minutes with a maximum number of 2 people per boat. An entrance ticket costs 20,000VND and a boat ticket is 60,000VND.
Central Vietnam has stunning natural landscapes from underground caves in Phong Nha to pristine islands and beaches in Nha Trang and Quy Nhon. Popular outdoor activities in Vietnamhere are focused on enjoying the natural beauty and learning about the ethnic culture. Here are the top 5 recommendations:
6. Caving in Phong Nha Ke Bang
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is located at Quang Binh province of Central Vietnam, listed as a world heritage site in 2003. The karst formation of Phong Nha – Ke Bang is measured to have its beginning from about 400 million years ago; therefore, it makes Phong Nha – Ke Bang the oldest karst area of Asia.
The national park is also claimed to be one of the world’s largest karst regions with more than 300 caves and grottos, ecosystems and limestone forests with one of which is the largest cave on earth just discovered in 2009 and made well known recently – Son Doong Cave.
The total length of the cave system is about 126km and there is more of it yet to be explored. The longest river system underground is believed to belong to Chay and Son rivers of Phong Nha- Ke Bang as well. Not to mention the renounced Paradise and Phong Nha Caves are also parts of this wonderful park. The diversity and richness of fauna and flora of the region are one of its charms.
7.Enjoy the natural beauty of Dam Mon Island, Nha Trang
Nha Trang is another great place for outdoor activities in Vietnam. You’re probably rolling your eyes, thinking ‘Nha Trang is too crowded’. Well, what if we can show you a place so pristine with fewer people where you can have all the glorious blue beaches, winds, and sandbanks to yourself?
Dam Mon Island is that place. Located about 80km away from Nha Trang city appears with the dreamy wild seaside lying next to a local fishing village. A perfect place for those who wish to get away from the busy cities.
Come to Dam Mon you will have a chance to visit: Dam Mon village, Dam Mon Thuong with a high sand dune overlooking the sea, Xuan Dung village, home to an ethnic community and 20 islands and islets nearby with an incredible diversity of an ecosystem on land and underwater…
8. Discover the natural beauty of Ky Co – Eo Gio, Quy Nhon
Quy Nhon has been known as a hidden gem in Central Vietnam for its beautiful beaches, coastal routes and peaceful daily life. Two spots you should check out when visiting Quy Nhon is Ky Co beach and Eo Gio.
Cross over the Thi Nai bridge to reach the other side then reach the furthest eastern land of the city, you will find Eo Gio or The Cape of Wind. It has a scenic setting of natural rocks and a small clean and blue beach. Come to Eo Gio you’ll have a chance to walk on one of the most beautiful coastal trails in Vietnam.
Ky Co is just right next to Eo Gio, just 10 kilometers away to the south. Ky Co is a typical beach in central Vietnam with blue water and white, wide sandbank. You will have a really fun time camping here.
9. Explore Dong Giang Village and Co Tu Ethnic Minority Village – Quang Nam
Dong Giang area is home to the Co Tu minority with a population of 43,000 living along the Kon river. The main villages of Dong Giang Area are Bho Hoong village, Ta Vac village and Dhroong village. Discovering the unique way of life and culture of the Co Tu minority will be an unforgettable experience for your trip to Vietnam.
The peaceful Bho Hoong village lies at the foot of Truong Son mountain range, with more than 300 Co Tu people living here. More than half of the people are making a living by weaving brocade fabric, knitting bamboo, and rattan. The center of Bho Hoong village lies a large Guol house with 5 Moong houses surrounding, creating a closed space, similar to the appearance of an ancient village of Co Tu people.
Dong Giang Area is about 70 kilometers from Hoi An town, and would make a wonderful day trip with meaningful outdoor activities in Vietnam.
10.Discover Fresco Arts on Nha Lang Slopes – Da Lat
Da Lat is usually known for its beautiful landscapes and dreamy atmosphere created by colorful flowers and classy French architecture. And Da Lat is also a destination for outdoor activities. One of the interesting off-the-beaten-track things to do in Da Lat is to visit Nha Lang Slopes – a 200m long mural street filled with colorful fresco art.
About 30 murals, totaling approximately 2,000 square meters, spreading across the wall, window frames and boxes will make you feel like walking in a fairytale world. The paintings convey the beauty, stories and images of Da Lat city.
Come to South Vietnam, it’s about the unique way of life of people along the Mekong River, the Cham community and great food adventures. Check out top 5 Vietnam outdoor activitiesin the South:
11. Food adventure at night in Ho Chi Minh city
Visiting Ho Chi City without making a street food tour at night would take half of the fun away. Ho Chi Minh is known for being a hub of Vietnamese cuisine in the south where you can find all the best Vietnamese dishes such as Bun Bo Hue, Pho, Spring Rolls, Hu Tieu, Com Tam, etc.
The best way to experience a street food tour in Ho Chi Minh city at night is to ride a scooter. You’ll have the chance to be submerged in the incredible atmosphere of the city at night, going with the flow of the traffic, while enjoying all the sounds, smell and colors of the busiest, most dynamic city in Vietnam.
If you don’t have the time to arrange a street food tour by yourself, book a half-day food tour with a local guide. You just have to sit at the back and enjoy the ride. The local guide will take you to all the hidden spots in local alleys and markets that only local people know about.
12. Explore Bung Binh Thien Lake – An Giang
Bung Binh Thien Lake (or ‘The Lake from the Sky) is a wonderful place to enjoy the breath-taking beauty of nature and uniqueness of ethnic culture, a place for those who wish to get away from busy urban life for a while.
The lake is about 35 kilometers from the capital city of An Giang, Chau Doc and the largest fresh-water lake in Mekong Delta. The best time to visit Bung Binh Tien is between July and October which is the flooding season. During this time, you can enjoy the true beauty of the lake.
4 ethnic minority groups are living around Bung Binh Tien of which the Cham makes up the majority of the population. Cham community follows a Vietnamese version of Islam, and still preserves their traditional customs and live in stilt houses. You will see some of them wearing traditional costumes on the road.
Come to Bung Binh Tien, you’ll have a chance to take a boat trip on the lake, join local people in their daily life activities like fish-catching, flower harvesting, and experience the Cham specialties….
13.Visit Ta Pa Rice Field – An Giang
Known as one of the most beautiful rice fields in Vietnam, Ta Pa Rice field makes a great option for an outdoor trip in the Mekong Delta. During harvest season (between August and November), you can take in the magnificent view of the field colored with lush green and yellow, even more vivid under the sunlight.
The thing that make Ta Pa Rice Field different than other fields in North and Central Vietnam is the palmyra trees. When the sun sets on the field, the palmyra trees on the background of the green rice field makes the whole scene even more surreal. Palmyra trees on rice fields are considered the iconic image of Mekong Delta.
Come to Ta Pa Rice Field, you’ll have a chance to enjoy the landscape, learn about the cultivating culture of Cham people, join harvesting palmyra fruits with locals and explore Sdach Toth pagoda.
14.Biking in Mekong Delta
Among many outdoor activities you can do in Vietnam, biking is of the best activity – it’s fun, good for your health, cheap, and you can interact with local people easily (seating in a car wouldn’t give you this same experience).
Mekong Delta is the best place in Vietnam for bicycling thanks to its quiet back roads, stunning landscape and friendly people. With the route along the Mekong river, you’ll see the extensive lush rice fields, mangroves, fruit plantations, palmyra and coconut trees. The pace of life through the narrow waterway is slow and peaceful, making us forget all of our worries.
There are some biking routes in Mekong Delta you can choose from: Sai Gon to My tho (82km); My Tho to Tra Vinh (65km); Tra Vinh to Can Tho (77km);
15.Enjoy a boat trip to Cai Rang Floating Market
Mekong Delta has been known for its special way of life compared to other regions of the country – a way of life intertwined deeply with the mighty river Mekong. The floating market is the most outstanding feature of that culture.
Cai Rang floating market perhaps is best known as the largest, oldest and most interesting floating market in the region. Located just 5km from Can Tho city, it only takes you 30 minutes to get to the market from Ninh Kieu Wharf by boat.
Opening early every morning, the local people come to Cai Rang market to sell agriculture products such as fresh fruits harvested right out of orchards, food for breakfast like noodle soups, cold soup, coffee, snacks and the like.
Are you excited for an amazing trip of unique outdoor activities in Vietnam with our recommendations? Or do you have other ideas in mind? Let our travel consultants know by contacting us now. We offer customized tours with real and authentic experiences. That’s what makes us different!