What to do and see

What to do and see

Vietnam is a large country and you probably will not have enough time to see it all at once. So to best use the time you do have, do a little homework beforehand and then let our partner travel agency plan and book the ideal itinerary. Click here to visit their website.

Advisory note

Please be advised that you may not be able to take part in certain activities immediately after receiving your medical treatment. For example, dancing and prolonged walking are not appropriate for those who have recently undergone joint replacement surgery. Your doctor will advise you of any recommended restrictions on your activities before discharge.

Ho Chi Minh City

The business and financial capital of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as it is popularly referred to) boasts 300 years of tradition and achievements which are to be discovered and enjoyed. French influence can be seen in the wide boulevards and in freshly baked baguettes. The architecture is by and large modern. There are restaurants to suit everyone’s taste, including dinner river cruises, and also plenty of shopping opportunities, from fashion to handicrafts.

‘Must see’ attractions

Reunification Palace / Independence Palace, the War Museum, the Town Hall, the Post Office, the History Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Ho Chi Minh Museum, the Municipal Theatre (sometimes, wrongly referred to as the Opera House), Ben Thanh Market, Cholon (Chinatown), Antique Street. The half-day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Cao Dai Temple is very rewarding.

Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta shimmers with colour, the patchwork greens of the rice paddies, the gaudily painted buildings, the throng of school children along the roadsides, the never-ending avenues of canals and waterways, together with the constant bustle of traffic. Once part of the Khmer Kingdom, the Delta was the last region to be settled by the Vietnamese. Day trips or overnight stays can easily be arranged.

‘Must see’ attractions

Take a boat journey along the many canals and waterways around My Tho and Ben Tho; explore the floating markets near Can Tho, marvel at the mighty Mekong (it has nine estuary mouths); stop off at the River Boa at Chau Doc on the way along the Mekong, either on the way to or from Cambodia; relax on the white sandy beaches of the Phu Quoc island resort.

Vung Tau

As the weekend get-away retreat for many citizens of HCMC, Vung Tau nestles on a peninsular bordered by the Saigon River estuary and the South China Sea. The long sandy beaches and balmy sea breezes have been a favourite since colonial days. Vung Tau is a 128-kilometre trip from HCMC or an hour-long trip down the river by hydrofoil. There are restaurants of all kinds, the better seafood restaurants being worth investigating. The nightlife is lively and varied. Hotels and guesthouses abound.

‘Must see’ attractions

Although Vung Tau is more a place for relaxation, there are some worthwhile sights: the giant Jesus statue (not dissimilar to the one in Rio) atop the Nui Nho (Small Mountain), the 360 degree view from the top of the cape lighthouse, the sunrise from Hon Ba Pagoda’ located just off-shore and, believe it or not, greyhound racing.

Dalat

Described as the jewel of the Central Highlands, Da Lat is a patchwork of lakes, waterfalls, gardens and pine forests. The climate is temperate, often chilly at night and quite cold in the mornings, which is not surprising as the altitude is 1,500 metres. The city surrounds Xuan Huong Lake; with the colonial villas and pine forests, you can easily imagine that you are in northern Italy. The terrain is hilly but walking is easier in the cooler air. Cuisine includes a choice of Vietnamese, Chinese and Western dishes: be sure to take the stairway down from Duong Nguyen Thi Minh Khai to the big food stall area (from the late afternoon onwards).

‘Must see’ attractions

Reaching many of the sights requires a short bus or motorbike ride: the mini Eiffel Tower; the Hotel Sofitel Dalat Palace (once the Summer Palace of the last Mandarin, Bao Dai); the art deco railway station (no longer in use); the Flower Garden; and Dalat Cathedral.  There are also many pagodas worth a visit – the best are Lam Ty Ni, Linh Son and Thien Vuong: the Cable Ca,; the Lake of Sighs and the Valley of Love and finally the Night Market.

Hanoi

The capital of Vietnam is a city of timeless grace, a wonderful blend of traditional Vietnamese, Chinese and French architecture, with well over a thousand years of history. Hanoi is a superb example of a French colonial city. A city of lakes and parks, broad tree-lined streets, and over 600 pagodas and temples. Hanoi has many fine art galleries displaying the works of contemporary artists. There is an international choice of restaurants with excellent Vietnamese, French and Chinese influenced cuisines.

‘Must see’ attractions

A walk around the back streets of the old quarter; the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex; Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution; the One Pillar Pagoda; the Temple Of Literature (founded in 1039); Hao Lo Prison Museum (“The Hanoi Hilton”); the Opera House, Hoan Kiem Lake and the Ngoc Son Temple (at the northern end of the lake) and the Water Puppets as well as the Fine Arts Museum.

Hue

The imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty for almost 250 years up until 1945 is located on the Perfume River, in the middle of Vietnam. Despite the ravages of war, Hue is endowed with many wonderful examples of Vietnamese architecture; fortunately, some of the sites have been, or are in the process of being, restored. Hue is also home to the culinary treat, Hue spicy noodles. There are many good restaurants offering all manner of Western and Oriental cuisines.

‘Must see’ attractions

The moated and walled Imperial City, a World Heritage site (also known as the Citadel, the area is huge and a proper look will take most of the morning); the Fine Arts Museum; the seven tombs of the Nguyen emperors, including Emperor Khai Dinh’s Tomb; the Perfume River at dusk; and, of the many nightspots to visit, the DMZ Bar is an absolute must.

Hoi An

The city is a living museum and was once a key trading port for the Islamic world and Europe to Japan and China. The mixed architecture reflects the many influences Hoi An has experienced over the centuries. Interspersed along the way are hundreds of shops selling silk textiles, clothes, leatherwear and shoes. A local culinary treat awaiting you is cao lau (flat, doughy noodles with greens and pork slices).

‘Must see’ attractions

The Japanese Quarter and the 400-year-old Japanese Bridge; the Chinese Quarter with the newer Chinese Bridge; as well as the small walkways crammed with shops. This is a town in which you’ll love to shop.

For those with extended stays

These two vacation spots are excellent if you wish to enjoy the beach life. Nha Trang boasts a number of beautiful islands and scuba diving while Mui Ne has its signature sand dunes and is the kite-surfing capital of the region. Relax and enjoy the comforts of beachside resorts with spas, pools and fine cuisines.

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