Hanoi Central Circus
The Hanoi Central Circus is one of the city’s oldest attractions. A mixture of Cirque du Soleil and traditional arts and dance performances, the circus is open from Tuesday to Sunday each week. The two-hour family friendly show starts at 8pm. You will find it at 67 Tran Nhan Tong, Hai Ba Trung which is a 10-minute drive from Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
This is a Vietnamese tradition and one of the best cultural experiences on offer. The stage is usually a large pool (4m by 4m) of water and the stars are the intricate wooden puppets – complete with orchestra in the background – that act out stories from Vietnamese folklore and fables. In fact, it is believed that water puppetry started in the 11th Century in the villages of the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam.
Three puppetry shows worth visiting include: Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, Hanoi (the show lasts 50 minutes); Hoi An Theatre (the show lasts an hour); and Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre, Ho Chi Minh City (Show lasts 45 minutes).
The Cycling off the Beaten Track tour is an easy five-hour 25-kilometre ride through the Da Nang countryside. Run by Path Bikers this trip will take you south-west of Da Nang on quite flat terrain to first a fishing village and then a vegetable village. By lunchtime you will have arrived in Duy Vinh Village where you will be treated to lunch at a local home. In the village of Duy Vinh you will see traditional boat building in action. It is important to bring sunscreen, a camera and sport shoes.
Path Bikers tours will pick you up from your hotel. Prices vary according to how many people take the tour.
Viet Cong tunnels
The Viet Cong tunnels were a famous hiding place for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War that ended in 1975. These secret cellars have become a tourist attraction and a fascinating historical adventure. Dug by hand, the tunnels hid people and weapons for attacks on US bases.
An hour northwest of Ho Chi Minh City you will find the Cu Chi tunnel complex – 200km of subterranean tunnels, with thousands of hidden entrances.
Vietnam Adventure Tours run full-day Mekong Delta and Cu Chi tunnel tours. The trip includes hotel pick-up and drop-off from districts 1, 3 and 4.
Food glorious food
Food is an integral part of Vietnamese culture. And there is no better way to explore the delights of Vietnamese food than by signing up for a cooking class. Hidden Hanoi is run by Tran Hanh An, a former journalist, who says she teaches people to cook the kind of food a Vietnamese mother would teach her children to prepare. She offers six different classes – Bun Cha (street food), seafood, monsoon, village, vegetarian and I Love Pho (don’t we all). The secret to Vietnamese cuisine is simple – make many, many courses, and make sure the food is as fresh as possible.
Precious Heritage Museum
Opened in 2017 by the French photographer Réhahn, the Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum in Hoi An takes a photographic look at Vietnam’s ethnic groups. Réhahn spent eight years travelling to 53 of the country’s ethnic groups taking photos of villagers. The museum, in Hanoi’s French Quarter, is also a gallery for Réhahn’s portraits that you can buy for prices starting at $2.
On your bikes
Vietnam Vespa Adventures organise tours that take you to some of Ho Chi Minh City’s less frequented travel spots. You will be the pillion passenger, so you don’t have to navigate the traffic chaos, as a local guide takes you around the city. The Saigon (that’s the local name) After Dark tour shows you the best food, culture and nightlife that the city has to offer. VVA’s vespa tours run nightly from 6.30pm and last for about four-and-a-half hours on a vintage Vespa scooter.
The Rex Factor
The Rex Hotel (141 Nguyen Hue Boulevard; 84-8-3829 -2185;
www.rexhotelvietnam.com) during the Vietnam War was the home of the daily briefings the United States military gave the media. Originally built by the French in the 1920s, the palm-lined rooftop bar today provides the perfect view for sunsets over Ho Chi Minh City. It is a must-see destination for anyone familiar with scenes from the television coverage of the Vietnam War.
Shop, shop and shop some more
Vietnam is a haven for shopaholics. Here’s a sample of some of the best shopping Vietnam has to offer …. The Hanoi Street Night Market has almost 4000 stores and is the ultimate destination for bargain hunters. Located in the Old Quarter the markets are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 6.30pm. You will find the An Dong Market in Ho Chi Minh City in District 5. It is open from 7am – 6pm daily and specialises in fabrics and clothing. The Han Market in Da Nang is a sensory overload with the smells of fresh fruit and vegetables. The food court here is amazing.
Tam Quat is the traditional form of Vietnamese massage and it is a treatment that focuses on promoting healthy blood circulation by punching and clapping on treatment areas.
As the name implies, the Hoi An Silk Marina Resort & Spa is a great place to relax and unwind. The hotel’s Sundari Spa is highly regarded for its treatments, which combine modern techniques with ancient therapies. We suggest a soothing herbal bath before your treatment. The spa is open from 9am until 10pm. There’s also a great spa at the Boutique Hoi An Resort.
Halong Bay is one of Vietnam’s most beautiful spots. Hundreds of boat companies offer cruise trips every day. Talk to your Hoot Holidays expert about booking the right holiday to suit your needs. Designated a World Heritage site in 1994, Halong Bay is North Vietnam’s number one tourist destination. And it is not hard to see why, with towering limestone pillars rising out of the water to form one of the most picturesque scenes on the planet.
Now that you have a Vietnam to do list, it’s time to get your holiday booked! Learn about the many holiday package deals available by contacting Hoot Holidays today.