5 special experiences in Vietnam

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Vietnam has many special things that not everyone can try. Through a trip on Vietnam with a friend, I have summarized some special experiences you should try when coming to Vietnam.

>> Useful tips for Vietnam backpacking

A cycling trip to Vietnam bewitched former political reporter Barbara Adam so much that she chucked in her job, sold her car and moved there. Nearly 10 years later, the Aussie expat has made a new life – and family – in Ho Chi Minh City, running street food tours with her partner, Vu Vo, writing The Dropout Diaries blog, and contributing to guide books on various spots throughout Asia, including her own cross-cultural guide to her beloved adopted home. Here she gives us some of her more unusual travel tips for Vietnam.

Take a south-north route

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Highway 1 and the Reunification Express train line run from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City in the south, about 1,160 kilometres away, forming a well-worn tourist trail. “I personally recommend a south-north route, starting in Ho Chi Minh City and taking some time to dip down into the verdant Mekong Delta and/or take a relaxing break on Phu Quoc or Con Dao islands before heading north towards Hanoi,” Barbara says.

Visit Ho Chi Minh City in the rainy season

Visit Ho Chi Minh City in the rainy season

“The rain is warm, so getting wet is not such a big deal. It rains almost every day but it doesn’t rain all day. Most mornings you can set out under clear skies carrying a cheap rain poncho for when the heavens open. Whiling away a rain storm in a coffee shop can be quite fun.”

Taste the dragon’s eyeballs

Taste the dragons eyeballs

The quirky seaside city of Vung Tau, a 75-minute ferry ride from Ho Chi Minh City, is famous for its longan, “a fruit that tastes like a sherry flavoured lychee”, with June and July the best longan months. “Longans are also known as dragon’s eyeballs and once you remove the brown peel to uncover the glistening inner part of the fruit, you’ll see why”.

Avoid tomb fatigue

Avoid tomb fatigue

Along with the seaside town of Nha Trang, the former French hill station of Dalat, the city of Danang, and the ancient town of Hoi An, the former Imperial capital of Hue is one of the main stopping points along the way to Hanoi. And Hue is home to the tombs of the emperors, who built them while they were still alive.

“Attempting to visit all the tombs can bring on a bad case of tomb fatigue. I like the tomb of Tu Duc, who ruled from 1848 to 1883 … He had 100 wives and concubines yet no biological children (an adopted son assumed the throne after his death). Tu Duc used his tomb as a second home, reciting poetry in the lakeside pavilion and hunting for game on the small island at the centre of the lake … The sprawling grounds and various buildings of this tomb are great for exploring and imagining the romantic and extravagant life of Vietnam’s former ruling elite.”

Make time for the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Make time for the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Hanoi’s Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is a great place to take the kids, and it’s worth setting aside a whole day, Barbara says. “The museum, about seven kilometres from downtown Hanoi, has full-size replicas of traditional houses of various ethnic minority groups, which simply must be explored and clambered about by anyone still in touch with their inner child … as well as actual children. There’s a cute little training restaurant on the grounds, which is perfect for a refuelling stop.”

This is top 5 special experiences I have summarized from my trip to Vietnam. If you have any other, just leave your comments.