It has been 8 years since I featured AQUAKNOX, a restaurant in Makati that offers delicious Vietnamese cuisine. Too bad it already closed down. There are other restaurants in the metro where you can still get a taste of Vietnamese cuisine like Phở Hōa and Ba Noi. But you know what?, a better idea is to actually visit Vietnam. Not only will you be able to try out “authentic” Vietnamese cuisine, but you will also enjoy these five unique experiences:
Try out canyoning in Dalat
Many visit Dalat to see its picturesque view. But if you want to go thrill-seeking, Culture Trip recommends that you try canyoning in this southern Vietnamese city. That means abseiling down breathtaking cliffs and waterfalls, sliding down natural water slides, and hiking challenging ravines. The experience is a certified adventure, especially if you summon the courage to take a wild trust fall from the so-called “washing machine” and into a torrent of gushing water.
Spend time at a traditional home stay
Travel blogger Janet Newenham describes this as a highlight of one of her Vietnam trips, and an experience unlike any other. In a traditional home stay, you get to spend some quality time with locals rather than in a hotel. More importantly, it can give you a firsthand glimpse of Vietnamese culture as lived by your hosts. Newenham sums up the experience of staying in a traditional home stay best:
“Seeing how the locals live, eating the food that they cook, and just appreciating the beauty of the landscape with no interruptions was by far one of the highlights of my entire trip to Vietnam.”
You can arrange your own home stay by getting in touch with companies like Vietnam Backpacker’s Hostel.
Ride a cyclo
The cyclo is a traditional Vietnamese vehicle introduced in Vietnam during the French colonial period. It has since been replaced by more modern modes of transportation, but there are still tourists spots in the country where you can hitch a ride on a cyclo. Most notable of these destinations is Hội An Old Town, which once was a thriving trading post in the 16th and 17th centuries. Today, it is a UNESCO Heritage site, and a popular tourist attraction in Vietnam. Here, you can get around town on-board a cyclo, and see various Chinese temples, traditional markets, French colonial ancestral homes, old canals, and even a Japanese-designed bridge.
Visit a casino
A Vietnam Insider article about the casino boom in Southeast Asia reports that there is a recent rise in casino investment in Vietnam, including the Ho Tram Strip project. When completed, it will be a worthy addition to the various casinos already operational across the country. An ExpatBets guide to Vietnam’s casino industry details how the country has over 30 land-based establishments exclusive to foreigners. They offer the usual gaming options, plus a lot more. Aristo International, for instance, has world-class spas, while Palazzo Club boasts a pulsating nightspot and wine bar called Level 23. Club Royale, on the other hand, offers the best in-house entertainment by way of the Faces Lounge and Music Lounge. You can also chill at Liquid Sky Bar, or sing your heart out at private karaoke suites.
Crawl through the Viet Cong Secret Tunnels
The Củ Chi Tunnels are fascinating remnants of the Vietnam War. But as the feature ‘Vietnam’s Cu Chi Tunnels: A Wartime Legacy’ notes the 250-mile network of underground trenches are a testament to the ingenuity of the Vietnamese. Crawling through these tunnels is like revisiting the country’s wartime past, all while getting a close look at the resourcefulness of the locals. You can arrange for daytime tours of this historical site, which houses trapdoors, living quarters, kitchens, armories, command centers, and hospitals.
Are you excited now to go to Vietnam? Try all of these activities and get that “Authentic” vietnamese travel experience!