Peterpans Travel Expert and our personal pal Emma Manning recently returned from an incredible, eye-opening adventure through Vietnam. After covering the country from bottom to top, here are Emma’s top 5 ‘must do’ experiences that you simply cannot miss:
1. Learn to paddle a round boat – Bai Xep
Bai Xep is paradise, with white sandy beaches that stretch for miles. We stayed at The Haven, a place that is really off the beaten track. It’s so peaceful and I am so glad we were shown this place to relax in! There were very few Westerners in most locations I visited, and the locals were always so friendly and helpful. You absolutely must try the ‘round boats’ here — $10 and it’s an experience you will never forget!
2. Cruise under hidden caves to find floating temples – Ninh Binh
I’ll always remember the cruise under the caves in Ninh Binh. It is a hidden secret, and rowing under the caves involved actually laying in the boat to squeeze through 2 meters of space – I was laughing uncontrollably! But it was a very unexpected experience and beyond beautiful. I’ll always remember standing by the floating temples surrounded by limestone trying to take it all in!
Possibly one of the most incredibly educational, beautiful and FUN days I have ever had. We were able to ride (or be a passenger) on a scooter for the day and head to local coffee bean farms, learning how the Vietnamese coffee is made and trying various types – even the expensive “weasel poo” coffee! We also went to a rice wine factory (one sip of a shot is enough…that stuff blows your mind), learnt how they make incense sticks, and a silk worm farm. Riding through endless fields after strong black coffee and rice wine – well – it’s a MUST!
4. Discover the ‘Dark Cave’ – Phong Nha
The best activity in Vietnam! Do not miss this – where else can you zipline off a platform across the river next to a cave, then swim into the cave and explore through mud up to your waist? You literally have to get onto your belly and crawl – imagine a cave filled with melting caramel – and your whole group falling, laughing, rolling in this mud. INSANE!
5. Take an overnight cruise in Halong Bay – near Hanoi
Not far from Hanoi, you can discover beautiful limestone islands and emerald green waters in Halong Bay. An overnight cruise (like Stray’s Halong Bay Boat Adventure) is the best way to go. Words don’t do it justice and it’s an epic way to finish your time in Vietnam.
As a travel expert from Peterpans Adventure Travel in Queenstown, New Zealand, Emma Manning knows what she’s talking about when it comes to making the most of any trip! If you want to see and do everything she mentioned (and more!) check out the Dong pass, one of Stray’s hop-on, hop-off travel passes that takes you both on and off the beaten track through Vietnam.