Places - September 22, 2023 | 09:08 pm PT

Check out 10 of the best travel options in Vietnam

With Vietnam entering the peak tourism season, here are 10 ideal ways to explore its culture, cuisine and landscapes ranging from motorbike and jeep tours to cooking classes as voted by Tripadvisor readers.

Hanoi jeep tour

Foreign tourists on a jeep in Hanoi. Photo courtesy of Hanoi Backstreet Tours

The Hanoi jeep tour, offered by Hanoi Backstreet Tours, allows visitors to see a mix of city highlights and hidden gems in the capital from a Soviet-era GAZ-69 jeep.

Tourists are picked up from their hotels if they stay in and around the old quarter.

They are taken to the Hai Ba Trung (Trung Sisters) Temple, where sisters Trung Trac and Trung Nhi are worshipped. They were Vietnamese military leaders who ruled for three years after rebelling in 40 CE against the first Chinese overlords of Vietnam, and are regarded as national heroines.

They then pass through Hanoi Train Street, famous for its coffee shops situated within touching distance of railroad tracks. Though it was cordoned off last year for safety reasons, foreign tourists are ignoring the ban and flocking to it every day.

En route, visitors can admire Long Bien Bridge, have street food and drink at a rooftop bar.

The tour lasts four and a half hours and costs US$55.

Saigon street food tour

A bowl of Hue-style beef noodle soup in HCMC. Photo by Di Vy

Run by HCMC-based tour operator Saigon Back Alley Tours, the four-hour private food tour on motorbikes takes visitors to explore the street food scene in the southern metropolis.

Visitors get to try some of the city's popular street foods like bun bo Hue (Hue-style beef noodle soup), BBQ pork with rice noodles, banh mi, the delicious Vietnamese sandwich staple, sugarcane juice, grilled banana with coconut milk, banh xeo (Vietnamese crispy pancake), and sweet soup dessert.

The tour costs from $40 per adult, and includes beverages, food tasting, dinner, snacks, and hotel pickup and drop-off.

Motorbike tour across Hai Van Pass

Foreign tourists drive motorbikes through Hue and Da Nang. Photo courtesy of Lefamily Riders

Organized by Lefamily Riders, the motorbike tour, which departs from the former imperial capital, Hue, takes visitors to some of the town's popular tourist attractions such as Elephant Spring and Lang Co Beach before climbing Hai Van Pass to reach Da Nang City.

In Da Nang, tourists are taken to Marble Mountains with its network of caves, tunnels, towers, and pagodas built by Mahayana Buddhists and the Nguyen Dynasty Kings before continuing their journey to Hoi An.

Tourists are picked up from any hotel in Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An and returned to the starting point at the end of the tour.

The tour costing $74.77 covers lunch, bottled water, private transportation, and all fees and taxes.

Boat tour in Lan Ha, Ha Long bays

Cat Ba Island with limestone karst mountains. Photo by Vu Cuc Phuong

Run by Hai Phong-based tour operator Cat Ba Ventures, a one-day boat tour takes visitors into Lan Ha and Ha Long bays, famous heritage sites in the north famous for limestone karst mountains rising out of emerald waters.

The nine-hour tour costs $38.45 per adult.

They will visit a fishing village, kayak through rock arches to explore lagoons and caves and stop at two beautiful beaches, including Ba Trai Dao.

Ninh Binh exploration

Mua (Dancing) Cave in Ninh Binh. Photo by Shutterstock

Around 90 kilometers south of Hanoi is Ninh Binh, home to Hoa Lu (the capital of Vietnam during the reign of the Dinh Dynasty, 968-980), started shining on the global stage after the Hollywood movie "Kong: Skull Island" was filmed there in 2016.

Run by Aloha Vietnam Travel & Guide, the 11-hour tour to the place costs $83 per person.

Visitors are taken to Hoa Lu, explore the Mua Cave and take in views from the mountain above, take a boat tour through Tam Coc caves, and cycle through mountain fields to the Bich Dong Pagoda cave temples.

Cu Chi Tunnels

Foreign tourists climb into the underground network during a tour to Cu Chi Tunnels in HCMC. Photo by AFP

Organized by Kim Travel, the one-day Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta tour lasts 10 hours and costs $56 per person.

It takes visitors to the Cu Chi Tunnels, around 60 kilometers from downtown HCMC, which were used by Vietnamese soldiers as hiding spots and communications and supply routes during the war against the U.S.

They learn how to get into the tunnels through a secret trap door camouflaged with leaves.

They continue on to My Tho City in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang to sail in a sampan along canals, try exotic tropical fruits and visit a honey farm.

Locals perform live music for them.

Hoi An lantern-making class

Foreigners learn to make lanterns in Hoi An. Photo courtesy of Hoi An Handicraft Tours

Organized by private travel agency Hoi An Handicraft Tours, the lantern-making class costs $15.4 per person.

The two-hour class teaches you how to make a foldable lantern from silk and bamboo in shapes such as lotus and diamond.

There is a tea break during the class.

Lanterns are a symbol of Hoi An, where a festival is held on the 14th day of every lunar month with all electric lights switched off.

Hanoi motorbike tour

Tour guides carry foreign tourists to explore Hanoi on vintage motorbikes. Photo courtesy of Hanoi Backstreet Tours

Costing $55 per person, a four-hour vintage motorbike tour in Hanoi includes stops at tourist attractions such as Long Bien Bridge and the Presidential Palace Historical Site.

The tour starts at Hidden Gem Coffee at 3B Hang Tre Street in Hoan Kiem Street.

En route, visitors can try some of the city's best street foods.

Hanoi cooking class

Fried spring rolls and Vietnamese fried pancake. Photo courtesy of Apron Up Cooking Class

Apron Up Cooking Class is a private cooking class in Hanoi that costs $34 per person.

When you register for the class, you will accompany an instructor to Dong Xuan Market to select fresh ingredients and learn how to cook traditional dishes such as bun cha (grilled pork with rice noodles), fried spring rolls and banh xeo (Vietnamese fried pancake).

Organized by Apron Up Cooking Class on Hang Bac Street in the old quarter, the experience lasts more than three hours.

Hanoi - Ninh Binh tour

Tourists sit boats along Ngo Dong River in Tam Coc, Ninh Binh. Photo by Le Hoang

A small group tour offered by Hanoi Backstreet Tours - Ninh Binh Backroad Tours takes visitors around Hanoi’s old quarter for 25 minutes before leaving for Ninh Binh for a two-hour boat tour down the Ngo Dong River through the limestone karst landscape of Tam Coc.

After having lunch at a local restaurant, visitors ride on the back of motorcycles through the countryside to Mua (Dancing) Caves, which looks like a giant overturned bell at the foot of Mount Mua.

Visitors also drop by Thai Vi Temple and Bich Dong Pagoda, one of the oldest spiritual sites in Ninh Binh.

The tour costs $81 per person.

Story by Hoang Phong