An Expert Guide to The Best Treks & Hikes in Vietnam

I’ve been living in Vietnam on and off for 15 years, and I’ve spent most of that time writing travel stories, authoring guidebooks and working as a fixer for other visitors. So vast are the outdoors here that it seems I’m always writing about adventure travel in some form or another. Vietnam’s dramatic landscapes make hiking a worthwhile activity on its own, but unlike mainstream trekking destinations, it’s rarely the sole focus. For me, motorbike touring, caving, abseiling and swimming have all

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 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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Female Chefs in Vietnam Thrive in The Kitchen

8th March is International Women’s Day, and in Vietnam, it’s a big deal. Traditionally, the day has propelled children to buy flowers for their mothers and husbands to cook meals for their wives. It’s also a day for get-togethers, and it’s still common to see large groups of women dressed in colourful ao dai taking photos in parks, restaurants, and coffee shops. But in more recent years, International Women’s Day has also become an opportunity to rethink traditional gender roles in society.

Where to Eat and Stay in Hanoi's French Quarter

The French designed the French Quarter’s street plan over a century ago, but the Vietnamese have since made it their own. Motorbikes course through the streets, coffee shops spill onto the pavements, and parasite architecture abounds, adding a textured aesthetic to the orderly European blueprint. The French Quarter is also a culinary hub. Of the 48 restaurants listed in the MICHELIN Guide Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City 2023, around a third in Hanoi are in this part of the city. In recent years, t

I Spent The Day Exploring Ho Chi Minh City's Former Mafia Hot Spot and Recommend Other Tourists Do The Same

Two decades back, one of Vietnam's notorious mafia bosses was executed by a firing squad. Truong Van Cam, more commonly known as Nam Cam, or Vietnam's "Godfather," oversaw a vast criminal network that controlled much of Ho Chi Minh City's District 4. It was the ideal place for him to base his criminal activities: It's centrally located, buffered by waterways, and chock-full of clandestine networks of alleyways.

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
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