Art Galleries can be found in all the main centres in the country and there are some very worthwhile pieces being produced as well as some pieces from old Vietnamese masters on display in many of the bigger cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Entertainment Vietnam is not the place to go for the latest in nightspots, but a number of large hotels have nightclubs and dance halls. Bars are fairly easy to find, even in smaller hotels. Try asking the locals for the current popular spots.
Beach Volleyball is rapidly increasing in popularity and Ho Chi Minh City is the place where the National tournament is held. If you want to join in, most beaches in and around the cities will have games going on, especially in the late afternoons...and many teams are only too happy to let visitors join in for a game or two.
Bowling (Ho Chi Minh City) Saigon Superbowl located at 43A Truong Son, Tan Binh District is the place to go for this excellent family entertainment Give them a call on: 84+8+885 0188 ext 20 or go there or visit the Bowling Centre located at 285B Cach Mang Thang Tam, District 10. Their telephone number is: Tel : 84+8+864 3784
Boat Trips These are particularly popular in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam's southernmost region, which consists of an intricate network of rice paddies, swamps and forests interlaced with canals and rivers. River cruises also operate on the Saigon River (a good way to see Saigon) or the Perfume River (near Hue).
Billiards -"Bi Da"-is popular throughout the country and most hotels have at least one table but if not you'll discover venues scattered throughout every city and a few of the outlying villages. It's a pleasant way to get to meet the locals and they are always ready to take on newcomers for a challenging game.
Caving enthusiasts may head for the spectacular Pong Nha river caves, northwest of Dong Hoi or other mountainous areas around the country. It is advised that one doesn't venture into a cave without a guide as many are not properly monitored and it's not unknown for intrepid explorers to get lost and never return. Ask at a local tour centre for more information on this activity.
Cinemas Unless you speak the local language there are few films shown in English, but occasionally there are and these will have sub-titles in the local lingo. If you want to see a film, it's best to ask at the ticket counter, if the movie is in your preferred language.
Cycling Vietnam is ideal for long-distance cycling as much of the country is flat and the shortage of vehicles makes for light traffic. Caution is needed, however, especially on busier roads, as traffic can be very undisciplined. Bicycle hire is widely available.
Diving Vietnam is becoming an increasingly well-known diver's paradise. The number of resorts is increasing at a fast pace. By far the most popular at this point in time though are Danang and Nha Trang. Unfortunately though, due to the over-fishing of Vietnam’s waters you won’t see vast schools of fish but rather individuals or smaller numbers. The fish are there though. Wreck diving isn’t really available due to the value of metal in the country anything that sinks is soon salvaged and put to other uses on land. On the other hand the corals flourish and the colours and varieties of both soft and hard corals is spectacular.
Elephant Riding can be done in Dalat at Tuyen Lake and is a wonderful way to view the surrounding scenery.
Hash House Harriers If you like running (and drinking beer...though not at the same time) then join in one of the HHH fun runs. It's a great way to get to meet the locals and a good way to discover parts of Ho Chi Minh City that you didn't know existed. Contact John Bennet on 842 0594 or 845 7594 for more information on this social activity or go and meet them at the Caravelle Hotel every Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Golf is as popular in Vietnam as it is in many other countries around the world and there are a number located around the country. Dalat and Phan Thiet have some of the better-known courses. Many are designed by world internationally recognised golfers such as the Ocean Dunes Golf Club located in Phan Thiet which was designed by Nick Faldo.
Hiking There is good hiking in the beautiful countryside around Da Lat. Guides are recommended and can be hired locally. generally, the northwest is the best region for hiking. Other good destinations include Cuc Phuong National Park (near Hanoi); Bach Ma National Park; and Lang Bian Mountain (in Da Lat), where guides are compulsory. In the north, Cat Ba National Park on Cat Ba Island and Ba Be Lake National Park (which contains several lakes, waterfalls and caves) also offer beautiful scenery.
Horse Riding is a popular sport in Vietnam and in fact the country has its own special breed called the Vietnamese Hmong Horse. There are many places that rent out animals either to go on short out-rides along a beach or through the local countryside or on long treks through rugged mountain ranges.
Kayaking can be done in many spots throughout the country. Some of the better known sareas are to be found in the picturesque Halong Bay area though some other coatal and riverine areas also offer this gentle waterborne activity. It's a great way to see coastal fauna and flora and all but the smallest family members will enjoy a day out on the water in a canoe.
Martial Arts is one sport that every second person in Vietnam seems to enjoy, either being involved in the sport itself or watching. There are numerous varieties practiced here from Laido, Kendo, Karate, Judo, Tae Kwando, Jui Jitsu amongst many others. To either view these sports or partake in the activities, your best bet is to go to open parkland areas in either the early morning or evening when many folk practice in the open air or contact a local sports club or martial arts centre within the area you plan on visiting.
Museums abound in Vietnam and there is hardly a city or village that doesn't boast at least one such venue.
Opera and Theatre A visit to Vietnam is hardly a visit if one doesn't go to at least one stage production while here. All the cities have a theatre and it's best to ask the local tour information at your hotel for information on what productions are currently showing and the prices etc.
Parachuting is a great way to view the surrounding scenery where no one and nothing can interupt your view. There are a number of centres offering this activity such as Dalat, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Ask at your hotel or the local tourist information centre for more details.
Sailing is one way to escape the bustle of the city and enjoy the wind in your hair while relaxing on deck with the family. The Nha Trang Sailing Club offers boat trips and can be found at 72 Tran Phu St. Nha Trang. Give them a call on 84.058 826528 for more information. (Most sailing is done on motorised vessles not yachts as the latter are few and far between in Vietnam.)
Sepak Takraw is a relatively new sport in Vietnam though popular in countries such as Thailand. It involves kicking a ball, made of woven bamboo shoots (or more recently plastic), over a net. It is growing in popularity and is now part of the South East Asian (SEA) Games.
Swimming If you aren't near a beach there are a number of public swimming pools located in most of the bigger towns or at the hotels and resorts. If your hotel doesn't have one, ask at a hotel nearby as some let the general public in for a nominal fee or ask the concierge at your hotel where a public pool is.
Surfing is on the rise here and there are a number of places that rent out boards (though it's always better to bring your own). Nha Trang is a popular spot and boards can be rented in Tran Phu. Telephone 829100 (Hon Tam) for more information or call the Khanh Hoa Tourist Board besides the Vien Dong Hotel on 822753.
Ten Pin Bowling can be done at many establishments in Vietnam. Saigon has a huge one with 32 lanes called the Saigon Superbowl, but there are many others scattered around the country such as in Hanoi. Ask at your hotel or the local information centre for more details.
Trails and Trekking Visitors interested in the Vietnam War can walk part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a series of roads, trails and paths used as supply routes by the North Vietnamese during the war. It ran from North Vietnam southward through the Truong Son Mountains and into western Laos. The claustrophobic network of tunnels used by villagers and guerrillas during the war at Cu Chi (35km/22 miles from Saigon) and Vinh Moc can also be visited. There are numerous other trekking trails throughout Vietnam and your local tour office or hotel will be able to fill you in on this enjoyable pastime.
Watersports In total, Vietnam has 3260km (2021 miles) of coastline. The most popular beaches are Vung Tau, just north of the Mekong Delta; and Nha Trang, near Da Lat, where the clear, turquoise waters offer good snorkelling and scuba diving. Snorkelling and diving equipment can be hired at most beach resorts. Other good beaches can be found at Phan Thiet (south-central coast); Mui Ne (noted for its large sand dunes); and the magnificent Ha Long Bay, where some 3000 islands, covered in lush vegetation and dotted with beaches and grottos, rise out of the Gulf of Tonkin. Acces to the islands is by boats, which can be hired in Ha Long City.
Windsurfing is a great way to spend a day out on the ocean waves or on one of the larger lakes in the country. Phan Thiet is one of the more popular venues as is Nha Trang. Boards can be rented in a number of places and the Full Moon Beach Resort in Phan Thiet has a few for hire or can steer you in the right direction to a place closer to your location. Give them a call on (84) 62 847 008 for more information. Another reasonable spot is Vungtau but it's only real plus as a windsurfing spot is its proximity to Ho Chi Minh City.