Organized tours are a great way to experience Vietnamese culture, sights, food and surroundings. Vietnam’s tourism industry is still rapidly developing and tours allow foreigners to learn unique and interesting things from local residents. We have compiled a list of tours in Vietnam that offer unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences.
Best Vietnam Walking Food Tour
This amazing food tour is run by Australian expat Neville Dean who is quite the personality! Not only is this tour fun and impeccably organized, it is also fortunate to be located in Hoi An where the food is already so diverse and the town is extremely walkable. This tour allows you to taste some of these street food delicacies in a safe environment. You will surely eat dishes on this tour that you typically would not eat on your own.
Best Vietnam Cooking School
This cooking school is the highest rated in the country. Unlike many cooking classes which only offer 4-5 dishes to choose from, Van, the owner and teacher at Green Bamboo, gives each of her guests a list of over 50 dishes they can learn to make, while keeping things simple and accessible. On top of that, you get to shop for your ingredients at the market before you begin cooking. A truly local experience!
Best Vietnam Bicycle Tour
Vietnam Bike Tours is possibly one of the most experienced bike tour companies in Vietnam, and they offer tours throughout the country. You can customize your own tour based on your own travel schedule, so you have the added bonus of flexibility. Rest assured that should anything go wrong during your trip, a relief van follows you the entire way! On top of being bike enthusiasts, the guides are very well versed in the local landscape and culture. As is the case with many other companies in Vietnam, they also organize the occasional charity bike ride so it’s a good way to give back during if your trip if the schedules align.
Best Vietnam Photography Tour
This company operates mainly in Northern Vietnam, where there are so many varied landscapes and unique cultures. It’s a small scale operation and they only have tours during designated times of the year. This is also because the weather at certain times of the year will give you the best photographs in a particular region. From a philanthropic standpoint, this company donates part of their proceeds to a local charity which is beneficial to the region where the company operates.
Hoi An is one of the most unique places in Vietnam, both culturally and architecturally. It is definitely on many tourists’ agendas when traveling to Vietnam and one of the most fun places to photograph, from the yellow walled houses to the lanterns at night. This company is run by two expat photographers who have extensive photography experience and knowledge. You travel in small groups and go to places within Hoi An that offer the best vantage points for unique photography in the area.
Best Vietnam Free Tour
Hanoi Kids is a volunteer organization that is very similar to Boys and Girls Clubs in other countries. The volunteers at Hanoi Kids are youth in Hanoi who are very enthusiastic about teaching foreigners about their home city and Vietnamese culture. The members of this organization lead the tours for free and any money that people wish to donate to them goes directly into supporting the organization. What’s more, the members have a chance to connect with each other and build camaraderie.
Best Vietnam Art Tour
Sophie is a Southeast Asian art history expert from England who has worked as a manager in galleries in Ho Chi Minh City. She started this tour several years ago as a means to educate people on the diverse art repertoire, from North to South. This tour is an incredibly insightful experience into the lives of the artists and their environment at the times the paintings were created. Not only is this tour unique and one of a kind, it is an excellent way to delve into the culture of Vietnam.
Best Halong Bay Tour
This cruise line is slightly different than all the other cruises in Halong Bay because it actually covers both Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay. Halong bay can get quite crowded with all the different companies operating in the area – sometimes it can be quite difficult to get a photograph of the bay without another boat in it. Bai Tu Long bay is considerably less crowded and more peaceful.
Au Co is a step above in service and luxury in comparison to the other operators in Halong Bay. You will see a marked difference in the esthetics of the boat, the quality of the food preparation and the sizes of the rooms. Au Co is definitely a luxurious (and expensive) way to go if that is what you are looking for.
Best Vietnam Mekong Delta Tour
If you are a fan of cycling, you can actually cycle from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta with Saigon Cycles! It is a very unique way of spending 6 days in the South of Vietnam because the tour takes a very rustic and less-travelled route to the delta. You also get to take a very intimate look at the lives of farmers and labourers who live in the area.
Best Vietnam Cave Tour
Vietnam is home to the largest cave in the world, the Son Doong Cave system! It was only recently discovered and the first public tours within the caves start next year. Only a handful of people are allowed to visit the caves per year and Oxalis is the only company permitted to lead expeditions in the cave. Although it is quite the unique experience, it also comes at a very hefty price! If this cave is out of your reach, fear not! Vietnam is also home to other very unique caves within the Phong Nha Ke Bang national park, and the cavers at Oxalis are definitely experienced enough to show you around.
Best Vietnam Canyoneering Tour
If any of you are familiar with the TV personality Bear Grillz and his adventurous antics, you may remember an episode of Man vs Wild that he filmed in the Highland jungles of Vietnam. Although you don’t see Bear’s tour operator in the episode, his name is Khanh and he is the primary tour guide at Phat Tire! We can’t guarantee that you will get Khanh as your guide but it speaks for the calibre of expertise at Phat Tire. Canyoneering in this area of Vietnam can be a thrilling, and sometimes scary, adventure so having experienced and safe guides is a must!
We hope that this list of great Vietnam Tours helps make your time in Vietnam more memorable! We didn’t add our own XO Tours to the list, however we are proud to offer some of the highest rated tours in the country. If you are ever in the Ho Chi Minh City area, please check out all the tours we offer.
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** Please note that we have no vested interest in any of the companies running the tours listed above and did not consult them when writing this blog post. We are just offering our honest opinions on what we feel are some of the best and most unique tours in Vietnam **