If you asked me if I would ever quit travel blogging, the answer was probably yes. A few months ago, I slowly stopped blogging on my own site, meaning not to produce any content of good quality, gradually switching to travel writing on different companies’ websites, simply to make money, which was a big motivation back then as I needed money to travel. Being constantly on the road makes it such a huge challenge to keep the blog updated.
Till now, it took me quite awhile to get my writings back on track. Plus I was never close to a tech person, making it brutally difficult for me to run a blog, whilst maintaining my presence on social media. After launching the ‘Go Explore Vietnam’ Project, traveling throughout my home country for a month, which was initially to find out if travel blogging was really for me, as a surprise, I found out how much I was into arts and cultures while traveling instead of running blogging businesses and keeping the site commercial.
So here’s my list of the top destinations to seek arts in Vietnam. And I mean really cool arts, music and cultures!
1. Hoi An – the top-rated art hub
I love slow and peaceful vibe in Hoi An. Suddenly after few hours train ride from Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi, you are completely taken aback away from the noises, crowds and traffic jam, all of sudden surrounded with lots and lots of art galleries, old vintage coffee shops, ancient French and Japanese architecture, authentic design and craft shops. Rehahn’s fine art photography gallery – COULEURS D’ASIE is one of its kind. His award-winning portrait photography style will take your breath away.
Hoi An is also famous for the 3 craft villages, specializing in producing local pottery, silk, and wood. These traditional products are amazing authentic souvenirs, convenient to carry around. You can see, and even learn how to make our own product there.
2. Tam Thanh – the beautiful mural village
Situated in a rural area, only about an hour bus ride away from Hoi An, Tam Thanh is another must-see art hub, famed for its mural village created by the Korea-Vietnam joint project – Art for a better community. For some reason, the Koreans have discovered the isolated town of Tam Thanh and probably loved the village so much that they dedicated a massive amount of stunning artworks on the walls surrounding the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the quality of the paint was deteriorating so bad due to the weather that some of the walls were forced to crash down.
3. Hue – the ancient art capital
The peaceful and quiet town of Hue may look a bit boring at first glance, nevertheless wakes up at night as the Imperial city is lightened up with tons of musical and performing activities. You can even play traditional Vietnamese games with the local students at the main yard of the Imperial City. Make sure to arrive on time between 7PM and 10PM in order not to miss any arranged show. If you have already visited the Imperial city during the day time, keep in mind to get the 50% discount by night.
4. Hanoi – the communist-influenced capital
Tons of friends asked me if Vietnam is still in communism regime, or simply assume such fact since there’s only one party in the government. Yet we are a socialist country, living with the diverse culture strongly influenced by a mixture of the East and West, of the past communists and present westerners. You’d be either excited or surprised to see many propaganda stores on Ly Quoc Su street in the old quarter of Hanoi, lying beside plenty of fine art galleries. What I love most about Hanoi is probably the vibe from entering the 36 old streets of Hanoi, which was recently turned into a pedestrian area every weekend, nowadays filled with a bunch of performing and playful activities at night.
5. Phan Thiet – the impressive Fisherman show
The one and only fisherman show happening every evening in Phan Thiet is breath-taking and soul-stirring. The story-telling theatrical acts of the local performers are well combined with a water show and a wide range of international artists are great values for money.
6. Da Lat – the place to rest your soul with art
XQ Su Quan Art Gallery is famous not only for its handmade sewing fabrics and artworks, but also the culturally unique arrangement of outdoor space and architecture style. The way local culture is presented with different artistic spaces here is one of its kind.
7. Ho Chi Minh – the chaotic & dynamic art hub
Despite living in the most dynamic and fast-growing city in Vietnam, strongly affected by the Western culture, the people in Ho Chi Minh (a.k.a. Sai Gon) has their own way to show the love for arts. À Ố Show is one of the best performing acts in Ho Chi Minh city, embracing Vietnamese culture with a strong combination Live Music By Folk Instruments, Acrobatics, and Bamboo Cirque. A must-see theatrical show in Ho Chi Minh.
Despite being located in South East Asia, which is well-known for cheap travel, getting around Vietnam to genuinely explore arts and culture could be expensive due to high accommodation fare during peak season, high tax and service fee for airlines, overpriced entrance fee to tourist sights. I’d highly recommend booking your flights at least 4 weeks prior to your departure in and around Vietnam via Traveloka, as they offer incredibly tempting discounts from time to time. Accommodations can be booked few days in advance via Agoda, Booking or Airbnb.