Going Underground

As the world’s largest and third-largest caves respectively, Hang Son Doong and Hang En loom large on Asia’s adventure tourism circuit. But don’t let them overshadow central Vietnam’s other underground dominions. Here are six other caves worth discovering, all of which you can only visit with a licensed company that provides guides, food, water, safety equipment and headtorches. For multi-day expeditions you’ll stay in outdoor campsites in paradisal surroundings. Some are perched on riverbends

Vietnam's Best Outdoor Activities

Take a walk on the wild side in Vietnam, a country overflowing with outdoor adventures. Go kitesurfing off the rugged coastline, scale mountains for spectacular views, or burrow inside the world’s largest caves -- so much awaits you in Vietnam’s wonderful outdoors. Here’s the “what, where, and how” on seven must-try experiences across the country. Did you know Vietnam is one of the world’s top caving destinations? Phong Nha is a rising adventure tourism destination and is home to the biggest ca

The Best Sport and Adventure Holidays in Vietnam

Magnificent mountains. Cavernous caves. Bewitching bays. Vietnam’s mind-boggling geography lends itself to an extraordinary collection of sport and adventure holidays. Swim from island to island, hike a circuit of remote villages, camp within the largest caves on the planet, weave your way on a bike through highlands and coastline. Here are four adventurous holiday ideas for your next trip to Vietnam. It’s easy to think the highlands surrounding Sapa in Lao Cai were created for eye-popping hiki

In Phong Nha, the Adventure of a Lifetime

What do drooping dragon claws and bulging broccoli sprigs have in common? You’ll find formations resembling both in the Tu Lan cave system, one of Vietnam’s most diverse subterranean kingdoms. Son Doong, crowned the biggest cave on the planet in 2009, continues to steal headlines. But that doesn’t mean it deserves all the attention. Phong Nha offers every caving experience imaginable. The Tu Lan cave system is woven together by a network of streams that carve up the countryside. This took place


Vietnam’s Ghosts Are Hungry for iPhones

It’s 8pm in Hanoi’s labyrinthine Old Quarter and shop-owner Tran Thu Hien places her last $100 bill on the crackling street-side fire. I’ve watched her burn through thousands of dollars, but it’s still not enough. Hien, crouched over the blaze and dripping with sweat, has exhausted the cash. So she unpacks a box of personal items, pre-prepared for incineration: a gold Rolex, a pair of designer sunglasses, a pack of Cuban cigars and an iPhone X. Finally, Hien turns to a black Toyota Camry. The ca

Vietnam’s New Biophilic Architecture Is Going Wild

Picture architecture in Vietnam and you might imagine ancient temples buried down countryside lanes or faded colonial buildings lining the city streets. But spurred by unprecedented economic growth, this Southeast Asian country of almost 100 million is revamping its traditional image – and architecture is part of the overhaul. After decades spent trying to keep Vietnam’s unrelenting jungles out of the cities, visionary architects now harness th

Making Sense of Vietnam's Ethnic Diversity

Vietnam is home to a vibrant collage of ethnic groups. There are 54 recognised ethnicities that filter into hundreds of subgroups. Wondering where to start? The best way to understand Vietnam’s ethnic makeup is through hands-on experiences. From mountain homestays to medicinal herbs, encounters with ethnic culture are a highlight of any trip to Vietnam. Here are five easy ways to get to know the Yao, Hmong, Tay, Bahnar, and Khmer ethnic groups. The Yao (often spelt Dao or Dzao) have been in Vie

3 Hidden Gems in Hanoi to Discover

Located in the same refurbished building as Hien Van, this café serves a unique blend of Vietnamese coffee with cinnamon. Don’t forget to try the egg coffee, a Hanoi speciality. On the opposite side of the tracks from Zo is this charming café and bar. Their menu includes ginger- infused cocktails and a selection of local craft beers. Around the corner from aN Store, this Hanoi institution features upcycled interiors and a Japanese-led menu, which includes Tadioto’s own line of craft beer: Nhan

All The Rage: What the Vietnamese Are Burning

Some Vietnamese people believe that life after death isn’t that different from life before it. Like the rest of us, the dead need cash, shelter and creature comforts. Families have long burned paper replicas of money and other necessities, partly to wish their ancestors good fortune in the afterlife. But houses and bicycles are now passé: these days the dead want modern tech. A replica iPhone will set devout relatives back about 20,000 Vietnamese dong, or $1. A paper-thin iPad is double that. Who would have guessed that pricey gadgets were so much more affordable on the other side?
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Restaurants - Cafes - Nightlife - Shopping

Fantastic Coffees and Where to Find Them

Vietnamese coffee is the rocket fuel that keeps the country buzzing. You’ll find cafes on every street in every city, from trendy cafes molded by the creative class, to retro institutions that have evolved over decades, to pavement cafes draped around and across the cities. In each one you’ll be enveloped by nattering locals nursing their favourite brew. Traditional Vietnamese coffee is made from Robusta beans, which have a strong, bitter taste. For decades, resourceful café owners have dreamt

5 Local Hanoi Brands to Discover on Your Next Trip

Discover the lakeside area of Lang Yen Phu, and you’ll uncover Gian Don, which translates as “simple”. This shop crafts clothes and bags that are affordably priced, ethically crafted and use natural materials. “Beautiful clothes don’t have to cost the planet or break the bank,” founder Dieu Giap says. Items here also take into account Hanoi’s tropical location. The linen clothing, for example, is suited to its sticky summers.

Cang Tin 109: Escape the Old Quarter

Hop over the train tracks, skirt around the adjacent lake, and head down a rabbit warren of alleyways to find this hole-in-the-wall Hideaway. It was well-hidden, youth-run and resourcefully-decorated places like this that inspired Hanoi Hideaway in the first place. Căng Tin 109 (Canteen 109) is simple, scruffy, friendly and intimate, with loyal customers and hip serving staff. A fair distance from the Old Quarter means you’re a world away from the chaos: this quiet neighborhood affords a glimps

To Chim Xanh: Bluebird's Nest

Tổ Chim Xanh, Vietnamese for ‘Bluebird’s Nest,’ is every bit as cute as it sounds, with a cozy little library, a corner for live music performances, and a fantastic rooftop terrace. The city’s newest cutsie cafe is tucked down a characteristically faded Hanoian alleyway just a stone’s throw from the old citadel gate. Downstairs is industrial-chic meets Vietnamese fluff, with a raised platform to accommodate a snug reading corner and a little section for intimate evenings of live music. This is

Xoan: A Diamond in the Rough

A sparkling diamond within the urban rough, Xoan is an exceptional coffee house with a lovely leafy garden. A little out of the way, unless of course for some dreadful reason you need to venture into nearby Royal City, Cafe Xoan is testament to the fact that many of Hanoi’s greatest spots are found in the most unlikely places. Don’t be fooled by the Xoan on the main road – you need to go down the alley to the right to find this golden treasure. Enter through one of two holes in the wall to a se
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