Adventure in Vietnam

Though Vietnam was slow to develop its huge potential as an outdoor adventure destination, things have really changed in the last few years. Apart from trekking in the mountainous north, visitors can now also go rock–climbing, canyoning, sea kayaking or kitesurfing, among other activities. Da Lat has emerged as Vietnam’s adventure sports capital and Mui Ne its surf city, though some sports like mountain biking can be done throughout the country. Scuba Diving along the central coast is gorgeous while exploring the nooks and crannies of Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi.



Kayaking can be done in many spots throughout the country. Some of the better-known areas are to be found in the picturesque Halong Bay area though some other coastal and riverine areas also offer this gentle waterborne activity. It’s a great way to see coastal fauna and flora and all but the smallest family members will enjoy a day out on the water in a canoe.


Windsurfing & Kite Surfing in  Mui Ne is by far the most popular place in Vietnam for those travelers who enjoy windsurfing activities. The resort also hosts an annual kite surfing competition. Some beaches in the area have more than 200 days of strong wind a year.


Caving enthusiasts may head for the spectacular Pong Nha river caves, northwest of Dong Hoi or other mountainous areas around the country. It is advised that one doesn’t venture into a cave without a guide as many are not properly monitored and it’s not unknown for intrepid explorers to get lost and never return. Ask at a local tour centre for more information on this activity.


Fan Si Pan, the highest mountain in Vietnam and Indochina, 3 150 m / 10 330 feet, is the most popular destination for mountain climbing in the region. The mountain is located close to Sapa. Many travel operators in Sapa offer a two-three day guided climbing adventure. The best time for mountain climbing is the dry season, October to November, and March to April, when the temperatures are higher than in winter.


Mountain biking is becoming increasingly popular in Vietnam. The classic ride is from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, a journey of between two and three weeks. Previously, this would have taken you along Highway 1, battling with trucks and buses, but now the more switched-on tour companies are offering excursions down the Ho Chi Minh Highway which runs along the western Truong Son mountain chain, and is so far thankfully free of heavy traffic.


There are dozens of destinations in Vietnam, where you can spend a day (or more) on a locally guided trekking tour. The most popular are Sapa, Cao Bang and Mai Chau in the north of Vietnam, and Buon Ma Thuot, Kontum and Pleiku in Central Highlands. One of the most exciting experiences on a hiking trip is the opportunity to visit an ethnic minority village. Many national parks around the country offer organized hiking adventure – Cat Ba and Ba Be National Parks in the North, Cat Tien and Yok Don in the South, and many others.


Roller Skating can be done in a number of the larger cities where this sport is increasing in popularity. Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Dalat have skating venues as does Nam Ninh. Ask your hotel’s concierge for more information on arrival.


Ten Pin Bowling can be done at many establishments in Vietnam. Saigon has a huge one with 32 lanes called the Saigon Superbowl, but there are many others scattered around the country such as in Hanoi. Ask at your hotel or the local information centre for more details.


Water Puppets are not only entertaining for children but those that are young at heart will also enjoy watching the performances put on by skilled puppeteers. Most cities and even some of the smaller villages have water-puppet shows that the whole family can enjoy.


Cat Ba in Halong Bay is a starting point of rock climbing adventure trips. Most climbing spots are located on the eastern side of Cat Ba island among nearby limestone cliffs. The difficulty of climbing varies from the beginner level to advanced. It is possible to take a two-day option with an overnight on a cruise boat. The activity can be combined with cruising and kayaking around Halong Bay.


Horse Riding is a perfect activity for the entire family and even the youngest will enjoy being led around while sitting astride one of these animals. In fact the country has its own special breed called the Vietnamese Hmong Horse which is interesting enough even if you don’t fancy getting onto one of them and going for a leisurely stroll (or a rapid gallop). There are many places that rent out animals either to go on short out-rides along a beach or through the local countryside or on long treks through rugged mountain ranges.


These are particularly popular in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam’s southernmost region, which consists of an intricate network of rice paddies, swamps and forests interlaced with canals and rivers. River cruises also operate on the Saigon River (a good way to see Saigon) or the Perfume River (near Hue). Children love being out on the water and this is one activity the whole family can partake in.


Most popular destination for diving and snorkeling activities in Vietnam is Nha Trang. The coral reefs on the nearby islands in Nha Trang Bay, as well on Whale island host a variety of tropical fish species and provide two dozens of excellent diving locations.

However other resort destinations in South Vietnam are quickly catching up with Nha Trang in popularity. In addition to Nha Trang, there are organized diving tours in Cham Island (next to Hoi An), Phu Quoc and Co Dao islands.


Although Vietnam does not have any world-famous surfing destinations, there are several places in Vietnam that are popular among surfers. The most popular place to enjoy this activity is China Beach in Da Nang, Central Vietnam. Other popular places include Mui Ne and Vung Tau, both in South Central Coast region.


Zoo can be found in many towns and even some of the smaller villages in Vietnam. Not all are of a high standard but if you are prepared to turn a blind eye in some instances and are aware that improvements are being made (as hard as it may be to believe) you can still have a reasonably enjoyable outing. It will also be a good ‘learning adventure’ for your children as you can teach them a little bit about animal care while you are about it. Do be aware that some cages in the smaller less well run establishments leave much to be desired and it’s advised that one doesn’t get too close. Hanoi Zoo is probably one of the better zoos in the country though and it is here that some of the best improvements are already underway. The Hanoi zoo is trying its best to breed animals such as the rare Owston’s Palm Civet and so far has been successful.


Beach Volleyball is rapidly increasing in popularity and Ho Chi Minh City is the place where the National tournament is held. If you want to join in, most beaches in and around the cities will have games going on, especially in the late afternoons…and many teams are only too happy to let visitors join in for a game or two.


Many national parks in Vietnam have organized wildlife watching tours. Cuc Phuong National Park, and Cat Ba National Park are the most popular and most accessible destinations for wildlife watching in the North of Vietnam.Cat Tien National Park, north of Ho Chi Minh City is the most popular destination for wildlife watching in the South of Vietnam.


Vietnam is a multi-cultural society, and exploring the life of ethnic minorities can be an exciting travel activity.There are more than 50 minority groups in the country, and each has their own language, culture, traditions and even a style of clothes. You can visit a local village to see everyday life of hill tribes on a hiking trip from Sapa in the North, or Central Highlands. Visitors can also enjoy a visit to a traditional market, where you can buy products made by skilled local craftspeople.


If you aren’t near a beach there are a number of public swimming pools located in most of the bigger towns or at the hotels and resorts. If your hotel doesn’t have one, ask at a hotel nearby as some let the general public in for a nominal fee or ask the concierge at your hotel where a public pool is.


Vietnam has centuries-old traditional culture and Vietnamese people are keen on following their traditions and rules that form the basis of social life in Vietnam.

Visitors can enjoy traditional Vietnamese classical theater performance, or see a unique water puppet show in Hanoi. There are so many colorful traditional festivals, that most visitors do not see on their visit to Vietnam. Vietnam has temples and shrines in Red River Delta region, that are at least a thousand years old. There are many examples of European colonial architecture in Vietnam.


Elephant Riding can be done in Dalat at Tuyen Lake and is a wonderful way to view the surrounding scenery. This is definitely an activity that the whole family can enjoy and if the real tots are a little wary of these grey giants, buying a few bananas before you visit will always be welcomed by the elephants and feeding them by hand is usually one activity ALL kids enjoy.


Vietnam, until recently, has not been a popular golfing destination. In the last few years, however, a number of new golf resorts were build, primarily catering for the local customers.

All the newly built resorts have world-class facilities, and many new are under construction at the moment. The most popular golf destinations in Vietnam include Tam Dao Resort near Hanoi, Phan Thiet in South Central Coast region, Dalat in Central Highlands, and Ho Chi Minh City. There are also smaller golf resorts near Nha Trang and Haiphong, close to Halong Bay.



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