Vietnam’s vast range of nature and culture will not disappoint you if you’re a traveler who always searches for unique experiences in a country rather than the typical beaches, city architectures, historical landmarks, local markets, and provincial landscapes. From cuisines that are cringing rather than mouthwatering, to adventures that require tons of guts, try at least one of these exciting unique experiences that though strange, will earn you the bragging rights when you tell the story to your family and friends.
Brave the viper out and drink a shot or two of the snake wine
This might be one of the scariest yet unique experiences you will have in Vietnam. In Hanoi, find your way to the Snake Village where a live viper’s blood is the main dish. You get to pick a live snake, whether a King Cobra or a Forest Cobra among other options, and watch a local snake hunter lead it to its glorious end with some vodka and a set of dish. Since you will pay for the entire snake, you will be drinking and eating its blood, bile and heart, too. There are other restaurants on the same street that duplicates this experience but the one in 33 Le Mat, Viet Hung, Long Bien District is top-rated.
Unique experiences inside Son Doong cave, the largest cave system in the world.
Even if you are claustrophobic, the humongous space inside this geological formation that can fit a Boeing 747 will not bother you. Son Doong cave is nestled inside Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, which contains the oldest karst system in Asia. But the shocking thing about this experience is the amount you have to pay, and the crew that will go with you. You should book a year in advance for this $3000-worth of 4 days and 3 nights inside the sought-after cave and a 31-member crew to assist and serve you.
You might find this as one of the most expensive experiences in Vietnam and think that perhaps it is not really worth it; but do give it a try! Because money will be the last thing you think of after leaving this magnificent cave.
Observe Ethnic Love Birds in Sapa’s Love Market
Much like the ever popular tale of Romeo and Juliet, the ethnic minorities of Northern Vietnam have their own version of the story with a beautiful girl from Giay tribe and a boy from Nung tribe who shared a deep love for each other. Tribal war between their families caused them to separate but they promised to meet each other once a year – a tradition that led to the Love Market in Sapa. This was originally an annual event for local ethnic boys and girls to find a partner to get married.
Find your way there on a Saturday evening to see how the locals take advantage of the market to date and express affection to a partner.
“Wife stealing” custom of H’mong people
As spring comes to the northwestern regions of Vietnam, where live many ethnic minorities, it is the time for young H’mong men to carry out a strangely established custom called “Bắt vợ” or “Robbing/stealing a wife”. This resembles kidnapping in a way, but for the people of this tribe, it is a must-have event before any marriage.
The ritual is odd, even for most Vietnamese. First, the boy will arrange a so-call private meeting with the girl he loves in a secret spot. But lurking around them are friends or family members of the boy, ready to jump out, grab, and pull the girl back to his house, where she will stay for 3 days as a test to see if she can fit it with the family. Though the girl is deeply in love with the boy, without such “pulling” ritual, she would never come into her boyfriend’s house; no matter how much she loves him and that they have promised to spend the rest of their lives together. This is a sign of dignity.
Don’t be surprised of how hard the girl resists. H’mpng people believe that the more determinedly the girl is dragged, the happier the couple will be!
Conquer Vietnam Roads by Riding a Motorbike from South to North
Due to the geographic design of Vietnam, stretching thin and long beside the coast, driving it from North (Hanoi) to South (Saigon) or vice versa on a motorbike has become a bucket list to adventurous locals and foreigners. If you can endure at least 2 weeks on the road, then you will see a range of beautiful sceneries in the coasts and mountain back-roads at day, while sleeping on local home-stays at night.
No doubts that it’s going to be a rough trip so pack wisely and always keep your health in check, especially remember to drink lots of water to stay hydrated because the heat of Vietnam can shock you anytime.
The list doesn’t end there, though! Each province in Vietnam has something different to offer. You can try surfing the sand dunes in Mui Ne, exploring the bizarre Suoi Tien Buddhist theme park in Ho Chi Minh and hiking (or riding the cable car) to visit a pagoda at the summit of various mountains. All will definitely be unique experiences that will turn into fascinating stories to tell later on.