If you’re off on a Vietnam holiday it’s helpful to get some ideas of what to do when you get there before you leave. Where somewhere like the Costa del Sol is going to offer quite a one-purpose attraction – the beach, Vietnam is a diverse country rich in culture and beautiful and varied landscapes.
There are many things worth experiencing while you’re here. Here are some of the main attractions of Vietnam.
1. Train Trip
Vietnam has one of the world’s best and yet unsung train journeys that runs the length of the country. It is a sleeper train, and should you wish to make an overnight journey, the berths are comfortable and you’ll be provided with noodles on board. There’s a tap at the end of most carriages where you can get the boiling water to make them with. The train stops at most towns on the beaten track.
2. The Body of Ho Chi Minh
Saigon is now named Ho Chi Minh City after the man who rests in a mausoleum in Hanoi. The leader of Vietnam for many years, Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body lies in a glass case here. To get a glimpse of it you need to get there early, as there is a queue to see it, but it’s worth it, especially for those of the morbidly curious persuasion.
3. Motorbike Ride
If you start your Vietnamese experience in Hanoi, the first thing you’re likely to notice is the overwhelming amount of motorbikes in the city. It hums with the noise of millions of the things. While the highest concentration of bikes must be in Hanoi, they are one of the main modes of transport in the country. If you’ve not ridden before there are many people willing to take you where you want to go as a taxi, or if you have, there are plenty of places to hire them out. One of the best experiences is taking a tour of the Hanoi Temple of Literature by bike. Once you’ve seen the main bit, you’ll be taken to parts where there are few if no tourists at all.
4. Vietnamese water puppetry
It is not certain how many Vietnamese people would actually recommend this experience themselves, but it is certainly culturally interesting. Since a long, long time ago when the country’s expanse of rice paddies would flood during the rainy season, people working in them made puppets of people and dragons and took them to the water. Here they would create stories set to music to entertain those waiting for the water to subside. Nowadays you’ll be watching in a real theatre. The singing is memorable.
5. Beef Noodle Soup
Apologies if you’re vegetarian for this one, but beef noodle soup is a Vietnamese national specialty, and there are vegetarian alternatives. The dish is also known as pho – and you might have noticed Vietnamese restaurants back home with the word in the title. Made with onion, beef, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, chilli, star anise, lemon, fish sauce and of course, noodles, it is light, hot and tasty.