A visit to Vietnam is a special and memorable experience. But, to enjoy the best of Vietnam, you need to escape the tourist crowds.
By going beyond the crowds, you’ll see Vietnam at its most authentic. Here are some of the best ways to see more of Vietnam’s spectacular charm:
– 1. Ho Chi Minh City for The Feast of Wandering Souls
In Vietnam, the Feast of Wandering Souls (Trung Nguyen) is the second-largest annual festival. It takes place in August, across the whole of Vietnam.
During this festival, the living say prayers for their dead. In doing so, they hope to release any loved ones that have been sent to hell. On Wandering Souls’ Day, 15th August, any released spirits are said to be sent away naked and hungry, and to fly home for food left on alters before continuing on their journey.
Many people leave food offerings for true Wandering Souls – those who do not have living loved ones to care or pray for them – on alters in public places. To truly experience this Vietnamese festival, it is best to respectfully visit a Buddhist shrine. The Jade Emperor Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City is a wonderful spot for observation.
– 2. Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park
This beautiful National Park is full of caves to explore. If you enjoy hiking, or want to find trails off the beaten track, then this is one of the best places to see in Vietnam. Two of the best caves to see are the Sơn Đoòng cave and Phong Nha cave. These can be explored by taking a small rowing boat inside.
– 3. Quy Nhơn
Despite being a coastal city, Quy Nhơn remains one of Vietnam’s hidden gems. It offers an authentic Vietnamese experience without the bustling tourist crowds, even in the warmest months. Here, many people make a living farming or fishing. The landscape is spectacular, and temperatures remain high throughout the whole year. A visit to the port and a stroll along the beach are to be enjoyed, whilst this university city also has many interesting buildings to visit.
– 4. Bach Ma Mountain
The trails up Bach Ma Mountain can be steep and dangerous. You’ll need to be something of an expert to traverse them. But, if you’re able, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. The summit of Bach Ma Mountain offers complete tranquillity, picturesque views and plenty of opportunities to get acquainted with local wildlife. If you do see other tour groups, they will typically be enjoying the peace and calmness as well. Many sit together to chat long into the night, before an overnight stay.
– Cần Thơ
With its wonderful floating market, Cần Thơ is not to be missed. Situated in the Mekong Delta, this floating market is an opportunity to buy fresh foods and Vietnamese goods. You will need to be up early to enjoy this experience, with the market opening before dawn at around 4am. Look out for the Cay Beo pillar at the front of every boat, with objects hanging from it to show what’s available to purchase.
There are so many different experiences in Vietnam, and everyone looks for something different. To go beyond the crowds, look out for local religious festivals and traditional towns and villages that others might not even be aware of.
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