With incredible natural beauty, bustling cities, fascinating historic sites and one of the world’s tastiest cuisines, Vietnam has plenty to offer our adventurous volunteers. The VVCD Vietnam program is based in the capital city, there is no shortage of things to see and do in your free time within this intriguing country. We've listed below some of the popular sites and cities that past VVCD volunteers have experienced while on the VVCD program.
IN AND AROUND HANOI
Explore the oldest area in town, making your way through the maze of nearly 40 streets to discover street vendors and shops selling everything from silk shirts to stuffed toys. Each street is named after the goods sold in them, so you’re never short of selection!
Temple of Literature
Built in 1076 to honour the Chinese philosopher Confucius, this temple is the oldest university in Vietnam and a must-see for visitors to Hanoi. With five courtyards boasting beautiful gardens divided by walls inscribed with the names of scholars, several altars and a small museum, the large complex makes for a peaceful sanctuary to explore and escape the hustle and bustle of Hanoi life.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Visit the very spot where Vietnam leader Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence on September 2, 1945 and where the embalmed body of the respected leader now rests. There are two guardsmen dressed in white uniforms standing at the main entrance every day, along with thousands queuing to visit the mausoleum, so be sure to schedule an early visit.
Hoan Kiem Lake
At the heart of Hanoi, lies the Hoan Kiem Lake (or Lake of the Restored Sword). The lake takes its name from ancient legend, in which Emperor Ky Thai To returned a magical sword to the Golden Turtle God who resided in the lake. Today, a small pagoda sits at the centre of the lake and is known as Turtle Tower (or Thap Rua) in honour of the sword's return. From daylight to dusk, you’ll catch plenty of people around the lake, from street vendors, to men playing chess, to joggers and locals practicing Tai Chi.
While volunteering in Vietnam, many volunteers take advantage of the opportunity to travel further afield to see more of what the country has to offer. We've highlighted a couple of popular weekend destinations, but our local staff are always willing to share with you the many other locations well worth exploring when you arrive in country.
Ha Long Bay
Boasting thousands of limestone karsts and isles of various sizes and shapes along the 120 kilometer coastline of Bai Chay Beach, it’s no wonder Ha Long Bay ranks among one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders. This unique UNESCO World Heritage Site is a popular spot for tourists to explore the many natural spectacles the Bay has to offer.
Often referred to as Vietnam’s rice basket, the Mekong Delta, is the biggest rice growing region in the country and the ideal destination to discover more of the Vietnamese culture. Take a lazy river cruise and venture into a world of floating villages to observe the local lifestyle and sample fresh fruits from the boats loaded with produce from nearby orchards.
Sapa (or Sa Pa) is a little village perched on a hillside valley, away up in the North-West of Vietnam. If you're into hiking, then this is the place for you! Orignially a hill-station built by the french in the early part of the 20th century, the colonial buildings fell into disrepair, but are now being rebuilt as Sa Pa experiences a tourist boom. Hire a local guide and trek to other villages in the area for a truly authentic Vietnamese experience.
If you would like more details on any of these locations or activities, our supportive team can assist you once you are registered onto the VVCD Vietnam program.