11 activities

Vietnam is a country brimming with history and culture. Whilst the country name is synonymous with war, in reality there is little left of the Vietnam war past a few emotional museums and a famous sights in the South. What you will find is two major cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh decorated in colonial architecture, full of hidden cafes, endless streams of motorbikes and delicious food fresh from street stalls.

The beaches may not compare to others in Southeast Asia, but they still have charm and the smaller towns along the coast, such as Hoi An and Hue, are true oriental gems. Vietnam has lots to offer tourists, from cycling, caving and national parks to temples, museums and even driving north to south by motorcycle. Did we mention that the clothes tailors are some of the best in the world?

The best time to visit Vietnam depends on where in the country you’re headed. In Northern Vietnam, it is warm and sunny from October to December. Temperatures climb to around 40°C between May and August - which is also the rainy season when flooding is a threat - though in Hanoi temperatures generally hover around 30°C.

In Southern Vietnam, brief afternoon downpours occur almost daily from May through November. It is dry from December to April, but March, April, and May are the hottest months, where the mercury can hit 40°C.

While the central highlands follow this same pattern, things are a bit different on the central coast, which is susceptible to typhoons (which usually occur from August to November). And there are some outliers: in the central city of Nha Trang, it rains in November and December, while in Hué and Da Nang, rains last from September to February.

Low Season

April — June
September – November

Average temperature 88-75 °F
29–23 °C

Average number of rainy days 18


December – March

Average temperature 72-59 °F
24–19 °C

Average number of rainy days 9–14

High Season

July — August

Average temperature 90-79 °F
32–26 °C

Average number of rainy days 18

Average temperature

Average number of rainy days


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Available activities11

City walking11 items

Exploring Vietnam can hardly be done without visiting the chaotic capital Hanoi, energetic and eclectic Ho Chi Minh and other smaller, charming and authentic towns like Da Lat, Sapa, Hoi An and Hue.

Lots of amazing activities await you there: enjoying some of the best Asian cuisine, wandering through vibrant streets with old colonial architecture, watching tai chi sessions at the Hoan Kiem Lake and choreographed military drills in Lenin’s park, exploring the immersive tunnel network of Cu Chi and Vinh Moc, getting lost in the ancient tombs and temples, chatting with local bohemian artists and performers, going for a refreshing stroll in the surrounding parks and gardens and, of course, greeting locals with friendly smiles.

As Vietnam lies in the equatorial area, heat and humidity will be your regular company, so it’s best to have some things with you to make your walking easier and more comfortable!

  1. Good daypack

  2. Sunglasses

  3. Face sunblock

  4. Body sunblock

  5. Hats

  6. Camera (portraits and city views)

  7. Portable battery charger (for your phone and camera)

  8. Facial cleansing wipes

  9. Baby powder (good for absorbing sweat in your face and neck)

  10. Hand wipes

  11. Travel umbrella

Beaching10 items

Vietnam has what are quite possibly the most spectacular beaches in the entire region. One of the most famous beaching paradises you can find is Halong Bay, which features lots of picturesque limestone karsts and islands of varying shapes and sizes.

Other destinations for beach relaxation are Nha Trang Bay (famous for its nightlife and scuba diving), Lang Co Bay (famous for its crystal-clear lagoon and long beach), the largest island of Phu Quoc (famous for beautiful beaches and fantastic underwater activities), the archipelago Con Dao (famous for scenic sandy beaches shaded by old Eagle trees) and charming Co To and Cham islands (also famous for smooth, white sand and underwater attractions).

No matter where you are going to chill and relax, don’t forget to protect yourself from the brutal sun!

  1. Body sunblock

  2. Face sunblock

  3. Sun oil

  4. After sun care

  5. Moisturizing spray

  6. Sunglasses

  7. Hats

  8. Hand wipes

  9. UV protection shirts

Snorkeling6 items

Besides simply relaxing at the beach, you can snorkel or go scuba diving. Honestly speaking, Vietnam is not the top destination for these underwater activities, as there aren’t so many sites there and where there are, it’s sometimes a bit overpriced compared to other Southeast Asian countries. Nevertheless, if you are at the beach and want to have some underwater fun, opt for the spots in Nha Trang, Whale Island, Hoi An and, of course, Phu Quoc Island.

At almost every beach you can rent snorkeling equipment, but sometimes it’s really overpriced and of a poor quality. You can also opt for buying it right at the place, but it’s still overpriced! And, unfortunately, in Vietnam you cannot return the items you have bought, nor can you exchange them. Thus, it is really recommended to bring your own equipment for a better, stress-free experience.

You can rent snorkeling equipment at almost every beach, but sometimes it’s really overpriced and of a poor quality. You can also opt for buying it right at the place, but it’s still overpriced! And, unfortunately, in Thailand you cannot return the items you have bought, nor can you exchange them. Thus, it is really recommended to bring your own equipment for a better, stress-free experience.

  1. Snorkeling set: fins, mask, tube

  2. UV protection shirts

  3. GoPro camera

  4. GoPro LCD display

  5. Hand buoy

  6. Anti fog pads

Surfing10 items

Right at the beach you will find some other entertaining activities. One of them is surfing. If you’re just a beginner, then the incredibly beautiful 30-km beach stretching from Da Nang’s Son Tra to Hoi An is the right place for you! But this isn’t the only place you can find your swell; check out Cue Dai, Lang Co, My Khe, Vung Tau and Mui Ne beaches for an equally great surfing experience.

The locals usually surf at dawn and dusk to avoid the daytime heat, since the sun is really brutal. Thus, it’s important to bring enough sunblock with you, along with some of the following useful items!

  1. UV protection shirts

  2. Face sunblock

  3. Body sunblock

  4. Waterproof bandage

  5. Antiseptic wipes (if you have some small wounds, scratches)

  6. Universal injury relief ointment

  7. After sun care

  8. Quadcopter with camera

  9. GoPro camera

  10. Quadcopter for GoPro

Kitesurfing21 items

Vietnam is a prime destination for kitesurfing! To partake in this one-of-a-kind adventure, go to Mui Ne, known as the kitesurfing paradise! If this will be your first experience, then be sure to find instructor/guide and take a few lessons.

If you are going spend a week or so, then prepare to pay about $400-500 for a full set of renting equipment, excluding the price of lessons. It probably makes sense to rent most of the main equipment (e.g. kite, board and etc) at the place and bring some (personal items like helmet, pfd, wetsuit) with you.

  1. Kite

    Each kite is constructed to work in a particular wind range. There are mainly three types of kites: hybrid or SLE (supported leading edge) kites, bow or flat kites and C-shaped kites. Average price is $1200-$1500.

  2. Board

    Your choice will depend on what type of kite style you are going to use. Average price is $600-$800.

  3. Foot straps

    Fix your feet on the board. Position vary depending on your riding style. Average price is $60-$80.

  4. Harness

    Connects you to the kite and allows your body to keep down the kite’s power. Average price is $150-$200.

  5. Control bar

    You need it to maneuver with your kite. Average price is $300-$400.

  6. Bar throw

    Controls the power of your bar.

  7. Kite lines

    You need them to control your kite. Average price is $150-$200.

  8. Safety release

    You need them to disconnect yourself from the kite easily.

  9. Helmet

  10. Impact vest or personal flotation device (PFD) for better buoyancy and protection

  11. UV protection shirts

  12. Face sunblock

  13. Body sunblock

  14. Waterproof bandage

  15. Antiseptic wipes (if you have some small wounds, scratches)

  16. Universal injury relief ointment

  17. After sun care

  18. Quadcopter with camera

  19. GoPro camera

  20. GoPro Helmet Front Mount

  21. Quadcopter for GoPro

Mount hiking21 items

Lying close to the charming town of Sapa, Fansipan is Vietnam’s tallest (3143 m) mountain. The area around the mountain is covered with lush green forests, and to complete a beautiful trek through the valleys and jungles, you’ll need 1 (a real challenge) or 2 days. As is typical for a rainforest setting, you’ll see a plethora wildlife, birds, and some local people living in nearby villages.

If you want to opt for a less challenging experience, try hiking Bach Moc Luong Tu, Phou Xai Lai Leng and Lang Bian Mountains (famous for their volcanic peaks). Since these mountains are located in different parts of Vietnam, check the weather conditions, as they may vary significantly.

  1. Good daypack

  2. Good hiking boots

  3. Jungle boots

  4. Long hiking pants

  5. Long sleeve shirt

  6. Trekking socks

  7. Jungle rain poncho

  8. Torch and headlamp

  9. Extra torch batteries

  10. Softshell jacket

  11. Anti leech socks (if rain season)

  12. Face sunblock

  13. Antiseptic wipes

  14. Waterproof bandage

  15. Lighter

  16. Knife

  17. Good binocular

  18. Travel towel

  19. Swimsuit

  20. Light sleeping bag

  21. First aid kit

    Pack all the essentials and extra items you might need as in the jungle you cannot get any help, so it’s extremely important to be prepared.

Jungle trekking24 items

Regardless of which part of Vietnam you are in at a certain time, you’ll always be able to find a national park nearby. There, you can explore the exotic flora and fauna of the rainforest and enjoy both short (1-day) and long (up to few days) hikes. Cat Ba Na National Park - one of the most stunning national parks in Southeast Asia - offers you the Ngu Lam Mount, the Trung Trung Cave, and the Frod Lake. Cuc Phuong National Park is the best place for bird watching, and there you can enjoy picturesque limestone formations. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a must for cave lovers. As you can see, you’ll definitely be able to find a place that fits your preferences in Vietnam!

Don’t forget that the rainforest is a huge ecosystem and every creature, even if it’s very tiny, can protect itself well! For example, leeches are not something you’d want to mess with. While leeches are not the absolute worst experience you could have, they’re still highly unpleasant.

Also, your typical hiking boots are not the best option in the tropical rainforest due its very high humidity. Since normal hiking boots are made of leather, some organisms could find them attractive and move in there. If this happens, then after only a few days of trekking, you’ll basically need to throw them away. When I was preparing for my first jungle experience, I searched far and wide to find the type of boots which would be the best for me. Then, I recalled that the US army had created jungle boots specifically for its soldiers when there was a war in Vietnam. I googled this and ended up buying a pair of these boots. After I did few treks in them, I realized that I had made a very smart choice. The boots are made with an artificial fabric and materials which get dry much quicker than normal hiking boots (which is ideal, considering humidity). They also have very good ankle support and they are tall, so you can wear your leech socks and you won’t be afraid of getting bitten. But of course, light trekking boots with synthetic material would be also a good option, especially if the trek is short.

Other items mentioned below are also musts for jungle trekking. Garbage bags, for example, could be very useful when you have a boat ride somewhere in the depths of the jungle. If you put all your bags in separate garbage bags and seal them with a sealing tape, it keeps them from getting wet if it’s raining. I usually use 2-3 garbage bags for each of my bags - a solution which costs much less than a raincover for your bags. Additionally, considering how heavy the rain in the jungles can be, a raincover won’t really help you at all!

  1. Good daypack

  2. Waterproof bag (might be even better option for rainy season)

  3. Anti leech socks (extremely important for rainy season)

  4. Jungle boots

  5. Light hiking boots

  6. Long hiking pants

  7. Jungle rain poncho

  8. Waterproof bags for camera and documents

  9. Good binocular

  10. Whistle

  11. Torch and headlamp

  12. Extra torch batteries

  13. Lighter

  14. Jungle knife

  15. Sealing tape

  16. Plastic bags

  17. Rope

  18. Adjustment to vertical peeing for girls

  19. GoPro camera

  20. Insect head hat

  21. High DEET insect repellent

  22. Antiseptic wipes

  23. Universal injury relief ointment

  24. Waterproof bandage

Meeting locals3 items

Vietnam is multiethnic country featuring more than 50 different ethnic groups. If you explore the mountains of Vietnam, there’s a good chance you’ll meet ethnic minority who make the highlands their home. These people are called the Degar, also known as the Montagnard people, and the locals simply call them “moi”.

There will be lots of kids, so it’s always nice to have small presents for them as well as for the adults, to forge a friendly connection. This is especially true if you are staying for more than a few hours. Don’t forget to wear proper clothing (long sleeve shirts are better than tanks) to show respect to the people. If you stay overnight, it might be a good idea to bring some food and drinks, like alcohol and cigarettes; regarding this issue, you should consult with your guide before you go.

  1. Good camera (portraits, object, landscapes)

  2. "Polaroid"-type camera

    Polaroid-type camera makes immediate pictures to present them as well. This camera is small, relatively cheap and allows you to produce photos immediately. One of the greatest options is by Fuji, as they recently issued a very good Instax model for shooting and getting images immediately.

  3. Small presents

Caving11 items

Vietnam is home to the world’s largest cave, the incredible Hang Son Doong. A solutional cave discovered in 2009, it is a part of an underground maze which connects over 150 caves! It’s a fantastic sight, but it’s not the only cave worth visiting.

If you’re exploring Cat Ba National Park, don’t forget to visit the multi-chambered and easily accessible Hang Trung Trang cave. To make your experience easier and more comfortable, bring some useful items with you!

  1. Rubber boots

    The cave route is usually pretty slippery, so you won’t want to wear your running or hiking shoes or trekking sandals. None of these will help you. Instead, a pair of rubber slippers is the best option to crawl through the caves.

  2. Good socks

  3. Waterproof bag

  4. Grip gloves

    You’ll need them. Some parts of the route are equipped with a rope, and since it’s very humid and dirty in the cave, your hands will be wet and grimy. It’s always safer to have grip gloves when sliding on a rope.

  5. Torch and headlamp

  6. Extra torch batteries

  7. Lighter

  8. Knife

  9. Sealing tape

  10. GoPro camera

  11. Swimsuit

Cycling15 items

If you enjoy cycling and consider yourself a bike-bound explorer, then Vietnam has a lot to offer you. Plenty of tours exist, ranging from a few days to few weeks, spanning the entire country and including extra activities on the way. You may find some of the following items useful for your biking adventure!

  1. Cycling gloves

  2. Cycling sunglasses

  3. Cycling shoes

  4. Cycling padded shorts

  5. Cycling helmet

  6. Cycling jerseys

  7. Cycling softbag

  8. Cycling softshell

  9. Cycling waterproof jacket

  10. Cycling pedals

  11. Waterproof bag

  12. Face sunblock

  13. GoPro camera

  14. GoPro chest mount

  15. First aid kit

    Pack all the essentials and extra items you might need as in the jungle you cannot get any help, so it’s extremely important to be prepared.

Motorbiking35 items

If you’re down for a real adventure and or want to ride the Top Gear Vietnam special route, then you should consider a very popular activity: motorbiking! Lots of operators offer you various routes and loops across the country with breathtaking views and comfortable overnight accommodation.

Check with your guide about the particular gear and equipment you’ll need to have with you, but some of the following items would be wise to bring. Of course, some of the items can be bought at the starting point (which is usually a big city), but don’t forget about potential quality issues and overpricing.

  1. Motorbike riding jacket

  2. Helmet

  3. Gloves

  4. Riding boots

  5. Biking jersey or turtleneck shirt

  6. Biking pants

  7. Balaclava

  8. Bandana and dust mask

  9. Leather chaps

  10. Motorcycle glasses

  11. Ear plugs

  12. Bum bag

  13. Flip-flops (for evening in the village)

  14. Rubber boots (for rainy season)

  15. Waterproof bags for camera and documents

  16. Torch and headlamp

  17. Extra torch batteries

  18. High DEET insect repellent

  19. Antiseptic wipes

  20. Facial cleansing wipes

  21. Hand wipes

  22. Face sunblock

  23. Body sunblock

  24. Travel towel

  25. Basic toiletries

  26. Plastic bags

  27. Sealing tape

  28. Bungee cords

  29. Knife

  30. First aid kit

    Pack all the essentials and extra items you might need as in the jungle you cannot get any help, so it’s extremely important to be prepared.

  31. Universal injury relief ointment

  32. Portable battery charger (for your phone and camera)

  33. GoPro camera

  34. GoPro chest mount

  35. GoPro Helmet Front Mount

Vaccination6 items

Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

  1. Hepatitis A

  2. Typhoid

  3. Japanese Encephalitis

  4. Hepatitis B

  5. Malaria

  6. Rabies

  7. Yellow fever

First Aid Kit6 items

Of course, Vietnam is a country where you can have some qualified help. However, in some remote areas it will take a while to get proper treatment. Sometimes, not you but some of your traveling buddies might need help. Make sure you have something in advance against the following symptoms:

  1. Wounds, traumas, cuts

  2. Gastro problems like poisoning or heartburn

  3. Allergic reactions on sun burn, bites of insects, unusual food

  4. Fever and cold

  5. Motion sickness

  6. Strong painkillers

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