Sitting in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is a complex and diverse culture where you’ll find ancient Chinese temples in the north and vibrant Hindu influences in the south. On top of Chinese and Hindu, Hanoi’s state buildings and boulevards represent the dramatic and beautiful French colonial period.
Start by discovering two countries in one with a relaxing 7-night Mekong River Cruise aboard AmaWaterways — an experience offered as a pit-stop prize on this year’s season of The Amazing Race. You will board the 124-passenger ship AmaDara in Kampong Cham – a short distance from Siem Reap, the capital of Cambodia and cruise along the Mekong River in luxury accommodations while experienced guides take you out on daily excursions at each port of call along your journey.
AmaWaterways will transport you back to another era, where village life along the river banks life moves slower and trishaws are still the dominant mode of transportation. When you disembark from your cruise in Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon), you will be so relaxed that you won’t want to finish the race. So, don’t. Head out and discover these 5 amazing Vietnam experiences.
Indulge Your Inner Foodie
Astoundingly subtle in its flavors and exceptional in its diversity, Vietnamese cooking is one of the country’s biggest drawing cards. It’s a culinary superpower that is best tasted through multiple street food tours and cooking classes in its major cities.
Here are two of my favorite amazing Vietnam food experiences:
The Hanoi Scooter Food Tour is an exhilarating ride to some of the more popular tourist attractions within the old quarter and plenty of stops for mouth-watering, traditional eats. It is the perfect mode of transportation for making your way around busy Hanoi and enjoying all the glorious food, including their famous egg coffee!
Similarly, I thoroughly enjoined a walking tour through Hoi An enjoying local delicacies while learning about the cultural significance of popular attractions; it’s an amazing Vietnamese experience you don’t want to miss.
Discover the Starlight Bridge
South of Saigon is Phu My Hung, the fancy part of Ho Chi Minh City. Here you’ll find the Ang Sao Bridge, more commonly referred to as Starlight Bridge.
The bridge spans across the Thay Tieu Canal featuring a cascading waterfall and illuminated by flashing rainbow-colored lights that spread across in a crescent-shaped form. It really does make the perfect romantic stroll, making it an amazing Vietnam experience.
Enjoy a Water Puppet Show
You can find traditional Vietnamese Water Puppet Shows in most cities across Vietnam. Water puppetry is a unique Vietnamese art form performed in a large pool using the water as a stage. It is accompanied by a Vietnamese orchestra playing ancient tunes on authentic instruments.
This performance is considered one of the most traditional and important parts of Vietnamese culture and its humorous plot twists offers the perfect way to learn more about Vietnamese folklore.
Ride a Cable Car to a French Theme Park
If it’s a piece of old French colonial you would like to see, then look no further than Ba Na Hills and its crazy mountain theme park.
Take the longest non-stop single-track cable car (and the world’s highest) past Toc Tie Waterfall to the top of the Truong Son Mountains. Founded by French colonists in 1919, a visit here will feel like you stepped into small provincial town, out of a Beauty & The Beast musical.
Tour the Cu Chi Tunnels
There is no doubt the Vietnam War played a significant part in Vietnam’s history and a tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels is an amazing Vietnam experience sure to give you a greater understanding of the country’s turbulent past.
An extensive network of tunnels run underneath the Cu Chi district, northwest of Saigon. Started in 1948 by Viet Cong, these tunnels now run for thousands of miles. Over the past 25 years, the tunnels transformed to include kitchens, storage, weapons factories and hospitals, becoming home to thousands of people. These people lived in the tunnels, entirely underground for years.
Some of the tunnels were destroyed during various wars, however, the tour allows you to crawl through some of the safer areas of the tunnels and view the command centers and booby traps. After your tour, head to the firing range and try your hand at firing an M16 or sample a traditional soldier meal.
Erin Holmes of Explore with Erin is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity.
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