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17 Best Places to Visit in Vietnam

Written by Jess Lee Updated Aug 30, 2023

Vietnam is an astonishing mix of natural highlights and cultural diversity.

The scenery ranges from jagged peaks seen from winding mountain passes down to verdant paddy fields painted every shade of green in the palette, while Vietnam's long history and multicultural population (with over 50 ethnic minority groups) make a trip here rich in heritage.

Outdoor lovers can get their teeth into the countryside within the numerous national parks, where hiking, biking, and kayaking are popular things to do, but Vietnam's most famous natural tourist attraction, the spectacular karst seascape of Halong Bay, is one natural sight that even the more slothful can experience up close on a cruise.

While the rural areas brim with lush panoramas, the big cities buzz with contemporary life and provide ample opportunities to get stuck into Vietnam's tasty culinary highlights.

This fascinating country is full of surprises and is one of Southeast Asia's most underrated destinations. Plan your sightseeing with our list of the best places to visit in Vietnam.

1. Halong Bay

2. ho chi minh city, 4. phong nha-ke bang national park, 7. sapa countryside, 9. nha trang, 10. cu chi tunnels, 11. ba be national park, 12. mekong delta, 13. cat ba island, 14. ha giang, 15. phu quoc island, 16. con dao islands, frequently asked questions, when is the best time to visit vietnam.

Halong Bay

The karst seascape of Halong Bay is one of the best places to visit in the world for spellbinding sea views and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Thousands of limestone islands sit within this bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, eroded into jagged pinnacles by wind and water action over millennia.

With the bay's scenery best seen by boat, this is prime cruising territory. Opt for at least an overnight tour to see Halong Bay's iconic views as a day trip doesn't do it justice.

There are plenty of caves in the bay that can be entered including the Hang Sung Sot, with three mammoth caverns, and the Hang Dao Go, with superbly weird stalagmites and stalactites. For most people though, the highlight is simply cruising amid the karsts and soaking up the changing scenery of pinnacles as you pass by.

There are plenty of different cruise tours to choose from. Check the different itineraries offered before booking as many travelers have left Halong Bay underwhelmed by their cruise.

Author's Tip: If possible, book a tour that takes in neighboring Lan Ha Bay as well as Halong Bay. The karst scenery is just as dramatic here but fewer cruise trips visit. And check if your cruise offers included activities such as guided kayaking (which allows you to experience an up-close view of the scenery).

Ho Chi Minh City Hall

For big city fans, no visit to Vietnam is really complete without a visit to Ho Chi Minh City, the buzzing commercial hub of the country.

The streets are an insane clog of motorbikes and cars, the restaurant and café scene is incredibly cosmopolitan, and the shopping is the best in the country.

At its center is Dong Khoi, a relatively small and easily navigable central district, which holds most of the city's sights.

Here, you'll find the HCMC Museum, with a brilliant collection of artifacts that weaves together the story of the city, and the grand Notre Dame Cathedral, built in the late 19th century.

Check out the old district of Da Kao nearby for some of the best surviving examples of the city's French colonial architecture and also to visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda with its dazzling array of Buddhist and Taoist religious iconography.

Afterwards, the History Museum is a must-do for history fans with stacks of relics on display from various archaeological sites.

For many visitors, the two big-hitter tourist attractions not to miss are just a little out of the center, along Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street. The Reunification Palace, then known as Independence Palace, was the residence for South Vietnam's president. It's chiefly famous as the spot where North Vietnam's tanks stopped on 30 April 1975, officially ending the war. It's a completely fascinating place to visit complete with 1960s furnishings still in situ.

Nearby is the War Remnants Museum, which although very obviously biased, paints a disturbing picture of the brutality of war and the many atrocities committed by US Forces during their Vietnam campaign.

Hue

One of Vietnam's most historic towns, Hue is packed to the brim with relics from the reign of the 19th-century Nguyen emperors.

Sitting along the banks of the gorgeous Perfume River, the Imperial Enclosure is a huge site set within walls that sprawl for 2.5 kilometers.

While touring the grounds check out the gorgeous Ngo Mon Gate, the Thai Hoa Palace with its finely lacquered interior detailing, the Dien Tho Residence where the Queen Mothers would live, and the Halls of Mandarins with its preserved ceiling murals.

A dazzling number of historic sites lie outside the Imperial Enclosure walls as well.

One of the nicest ways of visiting a collection of outlying sites is by taking a riverboat cruise on the Perfume River. A day cruise can take you to visit several royal tombs along with some pagodas.

If you're short on time, the best tomb to visit is the Tomb of Tu Doc and the most important pagoda in the area is the Thien Mu Pagoda, with its tower that soars for 21 meters high.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

One of the best places to visit in Vietnam for caving, World Heritage-listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a dramatic karst mountain formation honeycombed with huge caverns, which are home to superb stalactite and stalagmite displays.

It's best known for its caving activities , which range from multi-day hiking and caving tours for the more adventurous, to simpler half-day trips to caves with easy access provided by boat trips and modern boardwalks, but the national park also offers mountain biking and trekking activities.

The most popular destinations within the park are the Paradise Cave , which extends for a staggering 31 kilometers below ground, and the Phong Nha Cave, where the interior is accessed by boat. Half-day tours can be easily arranged once you're in the area.

The national park's most renowned caverns though are Son Doong Cave (the world's largest cave) , and the Tu Lan Cave with its cavern river system. Access to these, and to certain other caves in the park are restricted to organized tours (ranging from one-day to multi-day expeditions) which are all run by Phong Nha's expert adventure tour company Oxalis . It's well worth booking in advance to secure your spot.

To make the most of your time here, time your visit for outside the rainy season, which runs from October to December, when many of the national park's caves are closed to the public.

You can access Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park from Son Trach (also known as Phong Nha village).

Hindu temple ruins at My Son

Surrounded by lush jungle-covered mountains, My Son is a ruined Cham era temple city that dates from the 4th century.

This old Hindu religious center was still very much in use during the 7th to 10th centuries and only fell into complete decline and abandonment during the 13th century.

There are around 20 temple structures still standing here, all built of brick or sandstone blocks and showing interesting influences from various Asian empires, including Indian and Malay.

Note that the temples of Group B are the oldest, while Group A once contained the site's most important monument but was destroyed deliberately by US forces during the Vietnam War.

A good museum on-site houses plenty of information on the Cham.

Access to My Son is from Hoi An.

Hoi An

Beautiful Hoi An is the most atmospheric city in Vietnam, with bags of surviving historic architecture.

The old town quarter is a joy to explore, packed to the brim with well-preserved merchant houses that hark back to Hoi An's trading center heyday of the 15th century, when the town was a major meeting point for Japanese and Chinese merchants who flocked here for the local silks.

Plenty of the old merchant houses have been opened to the public, so you can get a taste of these times. The best is 17th-century Tan Ky House, with fascinating architectural and decorative elements.

Hoi An's major symbol is the delightful Japanese Bridge at the western end of Tran Phu Street, while nearby, the Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation is the old town's most highly decorated temple.

There are numerous small pagodas and museums dotted about town, but Hoi An's true charm is found in simply rambling the old town streets admiring the well-preserved facades.

Sapa Countryside

The verdant rice field countryside surrounding Sapa, bordered by the jagged peaks of the Hoang Lien Mountains (often still known by their French colonial era name of the Tonkinese Alps), are home to Vietnam's most beautiful rural vistas.

The deep valleys here are home to a diverse mix of the country's ethnic minorities, including the Hmong, Giay, and Red Dzao people, while the rippling hills are terraced with rice fields and overlooked by the country's tallest peak, Fansipan Mountain.

This is the top trekking destination in Vietnam with oodles of options to trek or day hike between tiny villages and experience the staggering mountain views.

Sapa itself is the main base here - an old hill station and now a bustling and forever growing tourist center that is a stark contrast to the sumptuous tranquil countryside right on its doorstep.

Author's Tip: Keen trekkers looking for more of northern Vietnam's lush mountain vistas may want to skip the busy Sapa scene completely and nudge further 95 kilometers northwest to Bac Ha , where the terraced hill views on hikes between hill villages are just as beautiful. Bac Ha's Sunday market is also a very popular day trip from Sapa.

Hanoi

Vietnam's capital is the frenetic heartbeat of the nation and a place that befuddles travelers as much as it charms them.

The motorbike frenzy, pollution, and constant clamor of street vendors can get too much for some travelers, but if you want to dive into Vietnamese city life, Hanoi is the place to do it.

The old town quarter has plenty of dilapidated charm on offer, while history fans should make a beeline here simply to see the bundle of excellent museums.

The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and Vietnam Fine Art Museum are both brilliant introductions to the diverse artistry of the country, while the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is an important tribute to the founder of modern Vietnam.

Author's Tip: It's well worth adding extra time into your itinerary to use Hanoi as a base for exploring the many sights within day tripping distance. In particular, the Tay Phuong and Thay Pagodas (30 kilometers west from the central city), Co Loa Citadel (24 kilometers northeast), and the Huong Pagoda (also known as the Perfume Pagoda; 60 kilometers southwest).

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Hanoi

Nha Trang

For sandy fun in Vietnam, Nha Trang is king. The well-maintained beach trundles for six kilometers along the shoreline of central Nha Trang city and during summer is jam-packed with local families on vacation, as well as foreign visitors.

There is excellent swimming here with designated swimming areas and manicured lounging areas that make this a great option for relaxing days soaking up the sun and sand.

If you do get bored of sunbathing, the ancient Po Nagar Cham Towers are just to the north across the Xom Bong Bridge and have been used as a place of worship here since at least the 7th century (with some historians saying the site itself has been a place of active worship since much earlier).

There is also an excellent museum dedicated to the work of Alexandre Yersin who discovered the cause of the bubonic plague and founded Nha Trang's Pasteur Institute (which still carries out vaccination programs in Vietnam today).

Cu Chi Tunnels

An absolutely fascinating experience for all travelers, not just those interested in Vietnam's modern military history, the Cu Chi Tunnels are an extensive tunnel network that during the war, stretched for more than 250 kilometers, allowing VC troops to operate and communicate in the area surrounding Ho Chi Minh City.

Two short sections of the network can be visited with a guide who'll take you down into the narrow unlit confines, which definitely are not for claustrophobia sufferers.

You will literally be crawling on your hands and knees and some points. You can access the tunnels at either Ben Dinh village (the more popular choice) or Ben Duoc village.

Ba Be National Park

Tranquil Ba Be National Park is absolutely stunning with the three interlinked Ba Be Lakes at its heart, rimmed by jagged karst peaks and thickly forested slopes.

Most visitors come here to take peaceful boat trips or kayak on the lake and explore the caves full of stalactites and stalagmites in the vicinity, but for the more active, there's also excellent hiking and trekking in the hills here between ethnic minority villages.

This is one of the most peaceful spots in Vietnam, and travelers who spend the night here sleep in traditional stilt-house homestay accommodation along the lakeshore, allowing an experience of simple rural life.

Mekong Delta

The far south of Vietnam is where the mighty Mekong River finally finds its way to the sea in a maze of waterways that crisscross the floodplain.

Incredibly lush, with paddy field vistas and mangroves, and full of local life, with chaotic floating markets to explore by boat, the delta is one of the most interesting regions for travelers to discover.

Can Tho is the most popular town to use as a base, as it's close to the floating markets of Phong Dien and Cai Rang, while boat trips from Ca Mau allow you to explore the U Minh Mangrove Forest and Cau Mau Nature Reserve.

This area of Vietnam is one of the best to visit for keen bird watchers and nature lovers , as it is home to both Tra Su Bird Sanctuary Forest and Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary.

View from the top of Cat Ba Island

One of Vietnam's major centers for activities and adventure travel attractions, Cat Ba Island sits on the western edge of Halong Bay.

This is the best place to visit if you want to organize cruises and kayaking trips in Lan Ha Bay, which lies off Cat Ba's southern coast. Lan Ha Bay is a less visited seascape of karst islets and outcrops that makes for a quieter alternative to Halong Bay.

Off the water, much of Cat Ba's dense jungle interior is part of Cat Ba National Park, where hikers can spot plentiful birdlife, as well as animals such as macaques.

For many visitors, though, Cat Ba is all about climbing opportunities. Climbing excursions here utilize both the island's limestone cliffs and Lan Ha Bay's outcrops, providing experiences to suit both complete climbing beginners and experienced climbers.

Scenery along the Mai Pi Leng Pass

The emerald-green karst mountain landscapes along Ha Giang's mountain passes make this far-north province prime territory for scenic road-tripping by either motorbike or car.

In particular, the twisty Quan Ba Pass between Ha Giang town and Tam Son provides panoramic vistas of the karst plateau and its jagged limestone outcrops, while the zigzagging Mai Pi Leng Pass between Dong Van and Meo Vac offers dizzying views of the lush mountain scenery and narrow valleys below.

Time your visit to coincide with one of the area's market days, when traders from the surrounding mountain villages pile into town. Dong Van's Sunday market is one of the best.

View of colorful fishing boats from the Phu Quoc cable-car

Sitting 45 kilometers off the southern coast of the country, in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc is a densely forested island, speckled by sweeps of white-sand beach that attract plenty of sunseekers during the winter dry season.

Dry season (November to May) is also when the island's underwater and on-the-water tourism attractions spring into action, with plenty of dive sites in the waters just offshore, as well as opportunities for snorkeling, kayaking, and boat trips.

Many of the main boat excursions head to the An Thoi Islands, just to the south of Phu Quoc, which is home to the best snorkeling in the area.

Off the water, the Phu Quoc cable-car provides bird's-eye views for eight kilometers, soaring over the seascape and islands, all the way from Phu Quoc to the island of Hon Thom in the An Thoi Islands.

Phu Quac is accessed by plane or regular ferries from the mainland towns of Rach Gia and Ha Tien. As Ha Tien lies very close to the southern border crossing with Cambodia, the island is a popular first (or last) stop-off in Vietnam for overland travelers.

An Hai Beach on Con Son Island

This remote island group lies around 160 kilometers offshore in the South China Sea and is renowned among divers as one of the best places to visit in the country, both for the variety of sea life and for the coral reefs.

Much of the Con Dao Islands, and the surrounding water, is a protected wilderness area, with the island shores home to nesting turtles, and dense forest still covering the island interiors.

The main island, and prime base for visitors with all the accommodation and things to do, is Con Son Island, which has sweeps of sand strung out across its coast that attract beachgoers looking for a relaxed sun-soaked getaway, as well as divers.

Even if you're here mostly for the beach, make sure to explore the historic sites of Con Son Town (the island's only settlement) including Phu Hai Prison, Bao Tang Con Dao Museum, and the prison known as the Tiger Cages, which document the dark history of this isolated island group.

Con Son's remote position led to the island being used to incarcerate political prisoners during the era Vietnam was occupied by French colonial forces, and later by both the South Vietnamese government and the occupying American forces.

Preserved sites including Phu Hai Prison and the prison cages used by the US forces, known as the Tiger Cages, along with Con Son Town's Bao Tang Con Dao Museum, do an excellent job of documenting this history for visitors.

Access to Con Son Island is either by flight from Ho Chi Minh City or by ferry from the coastal city of Vung Tau.

Fishing boats on the beach in Mui Ne

Once a sleepy coastal fishing town, Mui Né has developed into a beautiful beach resort town and a prime destination for windsurfing, sailing, and kitesurfing.

Compared to other beach destinations in Vietnam , however, Mui Né remains relatively unknown - and this means pristine beaches and a quiet retreat for most of the year.

Red cliffs and river in Mui Ne

One of Mui Né's most unique attractions is the natural Red Sand Dunes just outside town, where visitors can practice sand-sledding or rent dune buggies for a more adrenaline-charged experience.

Tucked away between nearby fishing villages and towering orange limestone formations, there's the fairy stream, a slow-moving warm stream that almost feels like a walkway because it's so shallow - follow it to the end to reach a waterfall.

For those wishing to explore beyond the coastline, there are also the ruins of the Po Shanu Cham Towers - remnants of the Cham Empire that dominated the area many centuries ago.

Vietnam experiences strong monsoon seasons, where heavy rains hit the cities and the countryside, often causing floods and mudslides. If you're planning to travel around, the best time to visit Vietnam is during the dry season, which lasts from December to February – but there are some exceptions.

The south of Vietnam – where Ho Chi Minh city is located – experiences a more tropical climate, with high temperatures and high humidity year-round. Visiting these areas in the cooler months means less humidity and temperatures in the high 20s rather than the high 30s and 40s, which makes it more comfortable to walk around.

In the north, however, many areas experience an actual winter. Hanoi sees temperatures in the mid- to high teens in December and January – and in the mountains of Sapa in the north, you'll even get to see some snow during these months.

If you're visiting Danang for some beach time or to travel through the ancient town of Hoi An, it's best to arrive between February and May, when water and air temperature are in the 20s – perfect beach weather for enjoying the sand or a dip in the water. The rainy season, and especially the months of September and October, see very heavy rains and often very strong wind storms on the coast, so it's better to stay away from Danang during this time.

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10 Most Beautiful Towns and Villages in Vietnam to Visit

  • Updated: April 23, 2024 Bich Ngoc in Beautiful Vietnam , Best of Vietnam 0 comment.

vietnam tourist town

1. Village of Cua Van

Most Beautiful Towns and Villages in Vietnam to Visit

Cua Van floating Village at Halong Bay, Vietnam

Cua Van is certainly one of the prettiest fishing villages in Vietnam . Located in the heart of Halong Bay – a natural heritage of the world, Quang Ninh province (North) – and with its breathtaking landscapes, Cua Van remains a destination of choice because of the primitive beauty of the surrounding nature.

Coming to the floating village of Cua Van, you can not only immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance, the beautiful natural landscape, but also have a chance to learn more about the daily life of fishermen in Halong Bay. Cua Van is home to more than 170 households that depend mainly on fishing for their livelihood. In addition to fishing, many families also offer homestays and participate in an environmental awareness campaign. In 2015, it became the most charming village in the world by the American online newspaper Huffington Post.

2. Cat Cat Village

Most Beautiful Towns and Villages in Vietnam to Visit

The gorgeous overview from above of Cat Cat Village

Nestled in a beautiful valley about three km from the village of Sa Pa, the village of Cat Cat is home to black H’ mong people with unique customs. The road to the village of Cat Cat is very interesting for trekking enthusiasts. The place is only a 20 to 30-minute walk from the center of Sa Pa.

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Many interesting activities await you in this village, for example: admire the beauty of the old houses of the village, try the customs of the local inhabitants, discover the process of making beautiful brocades, etc. It is truly an ideal place for those who want to be in harmony with nature and discover in-depth the ethical culture.

3. Duong Lam Village

Most Beautiful Towns and Villages in Vietnam to Visit

Peaceful and poetic view of Duong Lam ancient village

Located 50 km west of Hanoi, the village of Duong Lam is considered to be an ancient Viet village that has kept the cultural beauties of the Red River Delta for centuries until today. This village is one of the rare sites which have been able to preserve the characteristics of an ancient Viet village, notably with the banyan tree, the well, the common house, and the old laterite houses.

Besides, this village is also a land of “masterpieces of spirituality” – it is the birthplace of two popular Vietnamese kings – Phung Hung and Ngo Quyen. They fought wars of resistance against the invasion of the North and gained national independence. Therefore, it is also associated with many legendary stories as well as many tangible and intangible cultural relics in the region.

A walk among peaceful landscapes in the suburbs of Hanoi, for each person, will be an exceptional experience.

4. Bat Trang Village

Some elegant pottery products at Bat Trang ceramic village

Some elegant pottery products at Bat Trang ceramic village

Located 10 km from Hanoi, on the left bank of the Red River, the ceramic village of Bat Trang has become both a traditional craft and a very attractive tourist destination. It is also among top towns and villages in Vietnam to visit.

By visiting Bat Trang, you will have the opportunity to walk around the village, stop at the famous Bat Trang market and learn how to make ceramics with the locals. When you arrive at Bat Trang, you will discover a world of ceramics. In the streets, on the sidewalk, in houses, you will find porcelain products everywhere. Here, we make objects for everyday life such as bowls, dishes, pots, cups, statues, toys for children … as well as products of the upper class. You can take them home as souvenirs.

5. Village of Tho Ha

Traditional work on process of rice cake - a must-try specialty of Tho Ha village

Traditional work on process of rice cake – a must-try specialty of Tho Ha village

The traditional village of Tho Ha, about 50 km northwest of Hanoi in the province of Bac Giang, was from the 11th century a large center of ceramics, earthenware, pottery, and funeral urns.

Nowadays, the villagers of Tho Ha have turned to the making of large rice cakes, the whole process of which can be followed by visiting the village. As you wander the alleys of the village, you will see the villagers taking turns the dough, cooking the patties on large braziers and drying them in the sun on plaited bamboo boards. You will notice that some walls of the houses were built from old ceramics and terracotta.

6. Cam Thanh Village

Traditional work on process of rice cake - a must-try specialty of Tho Ha village

It is located about 5 km from the ancient city of Hoi An to the east. The village of Cam Thanh is isolated like a small peninsula, hidden in the immense green of the coconut forest of Bay Mau.

Entering the coconut village of Cam Thanh, you will get impressed the beauty of the rustic landscapes, the basket boat floating on the river and the coconut leaves stretched along the road like carpets after -midday. You can also have a great chance to better understand the traditional craftsmanship of this village – the making of chalet roofing sheets, which was formed over 200 years ago.

7. Village of Tra Que

A cooking class preparation in Tra Que village

A cooking class preparation in Tra Que village

Located 3 km from the center of Hoi An, you can easily get there by motorbike, bicycle or simply on foot. This village has a perfect location between the old town of Hoi An and An Bang beach. In Tra Que, you can participate in interesting activities at this one of most beautiful towns and villages in Vietnam to visit, such as:

  • Live a day with farmers.
  • Take photos of the rice field and vegetable village.
  • Enjoy a relaxing bike ride.
  • Find a magical place for a beautiful sunset/sunrise.
  • Cooking lessons.
  • Foot massage with the ingredients of Tra Que herbs.

8. Village of Cu Lao Gieng

Most Beautiful Towns and Villages in Vietnam to Visit

Fresh atmosphere in Cu Lao Gieng village

When referring to Cu Lao Gieng Island, you can hear about many historic attractions with ancient architecture such as Cu Lao Gieng Church, Thanh Hoa Tu (Dao Nam temple). However, few people know that there is also a special craft village on this island – Cu Lao Gieng, a village on the bank of the Mekong that specializes in boat building.

In recent years, ecotourism routes together with craft villages have an expansion to the islet of An Giang province. Therefore, craft boat making villages has become a new destination for domestic and foreign tourists on river cruises from Vietnam to Cambodia to visit and explore. In addition to enjoying the canoe and sampan manufacturing process, you can also buy mini-boats as souvenirs while visiting the village of Cu Lao Gieng.

9. Tan Quy Dong’s Flower Village, Sa Dec

A boat full of beautiful blossom flowers on the paddy fields where many kinds of flowers are planted in Sa Dec flower village

A boat full of beautiful blossom flowers on the paddy fields where many kinds of flowers are planted in Sa Dec flower village

The Mekong Delta is a suitable place for Vietnam family tours . The flower village of Tan Quy Dong is one of the main attractions in Dong Thap province. It is also one of the flower centers of South Vietnam and best towns and villages in Vietnam to visit. This village has many beautiful flowers such as the chrysanthemum, the marigold, the purslane with large flowers … and about 50 kinds of the exporting rose.

The best time to visit this picturesque city is before the Lunar New Year. However, at any time of the year, you can still admire the beauty of the colorful and aromatic flowers of many species. The unique setting of the garden will promise you the most romantic ride ever!

10. Chau Giang Village

The stunning Chau Giang village

The stunning Chau Giang village

Located in the hamlet of Phum Xoai, An Giang Province, the village of Chau Giang preserves and further develops the cultural beauty of the Cham people with the weaving of brocade. This is among top towns and villages in Vietnam to visit thanks to its gorgeous scenery and fresh atmosphere.

By visiting this village, you can witness the ultimate combination of traditional and modern beauty. You will also have a chance to discover the friendly and intimate atmosphere, as well as the ordinary and simple life of the locals. They create many unique, whimsical but extremely beautiful products. They are pareos, scarves, hats, coats or more sophisticated than bags, handbags, sandals … It is indeed a very good opportunity for those looking for places to shop in the Mekong Delta and exquisite craftsmanship.

Start planning your tailor-made Vietnam tour by contacting one of our specialists…

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As a true Vietnamese enthusiast of music, books and coffee, Bich Ngoc loves researching into those typical cultural characteristics of Vietnam as well as exploring further destinations in the country of thousand years of civilization.

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Vietnam is a beautiful and diverse country that offers something for everyone. Whether you are looking for breathtaking scenery, fascinating history, or vibrant culture, you will find it in Vietnam. In this article, we will show you the best places to visit in Vietnam, covering the most popular destinations as well as some hidden gems. You will also learn about the best places to visit in Vietnam for different types of travelers, such as honeymooners, families with kids, or history buffs. So read on and get ready to plan your dream trip to Vietnam.

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Vietnam is considered a great place to visit by many travelers. With everything from superb cuisine to stunning landscapes, this corner of Southeast Asia dazzles the senses. Peaceful paddy fields give way to frenetic urban centers like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, where the youthful population rushes to embrace the future. Boutiques fill the French colonial buildings in enchanting Hoi An; in the north, a world away, are Sapa’s ethnic markets. Around Vietnam, lush jungles and jagged karst peaks beckon adventurers. Absorb it all but take time to relax, perhaps on the long, alluring coastline with its world-class beaches.

It is a fascinating country with a rich culture, diverse landscapes, and friendly people. Whether you want to explore the bustling cities, the ancient temples, the stunning beaches, or the majestic mountains, you will find something to suit your taste and budget. Some of the most popular places to visit in Vietnam are Halong Bay, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, and Sapa. If you want to discover more about this amazing destination, check out our places to visit in Vietnam guide and plan your trip today. Here are some of the best places to visit in Vietnam:

The Temple of Literature is a must-see attraction in Ha Noi

Hanoi is the capital and cultural center of Vietnam

Ha Noi is the capital of Vietnam , with a booming population and economy. It’s an exhilarating blend of eastern and western culture. Exploring Ha Noi, you’ll see French colonialism visible through cuisine and architecture.

Ha Noi is packed with incredible temples. The standing ones are the 11th-century Temple of Literature and One-pillar Pagoda. One of the major attractions of Ha Noi is Uncle Ho’s mausoleum, a striking building from the exterior.

At night, Ha Noi shines its vibrant life that is young and crowded that worths any cost to join. It is time for fancy dinners or budget meals with reasonable drinks.

Hanoi:  The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is a bustling city with a rich history and culture. Here you can visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, and the Long Bien Bridge. You can also wander through the Old Quarter, where you’ll find traditional markets, shops, and restaurants. Read more : Things to do in Hanoi

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist destinations

Halong Bay is a must-visit destination in Vietnam with its stunning combination of karst limestone peaks and sheltered, shimmering seas . This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to over 1,600 limestone karst islands and islets. Visitors can explore the bay by boat, kayak, or even swimming. Ha Long has a reputation that is well-deserved for the true beauty of this place. The name of Ha Long means descending dragons, indicated in the silhouette of the limestone cliffs. A day cruise through these huge stones allows you to see the sublime of this otherworldly bay. Then, take a day swimming in the blue water and another day exploring caves or some of the more remote, uninhabited islands.

Recently there is huge investment on overnight cruise on the bay. There are more than 500 cruises with luxury furniture and spacy cabins for travelers. Visitor is advice to take 1night cruise or even 2 night cruise to enjoy the best that Halong has to offer and see all moment of Halong the top attraction of Vietnam.

It’s easy to book a cruise on this link at the best rate and instant support of Halong Cruise specialist.

Halong Bay:  This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit for any traveler to Vietnam. Its stunning karst islands and limestone formations rise up from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, creating a truly magical sight. CHECK RATE LUXURY HALONG CRUISES  Click

Recently, tourists yet have a new way to sight-see Ha Long from above. Sitting on a seaplane, Ha Long appears to be more salient. Prominent activities in Ha Long can count kayaking on the bay, cruising through caves and islands, climbing cliffs, visiting fishing villages, and more.

View of Sapa with green terraced fields and mountains

apa is a picturesque town in the highlands of northern Vietnam

Sapa is a small town located in Lao Cai, a province in the Northwestern region of Vietnam. It offers plenty of interesting things to do and places to see, including spectacular mountain landscapes, verdant rice terraces, and unique ethnic minority villages. Known locally as the “ town of clouds ,” Sapa effortlessly mesmerizes travelers with its beauty. Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities like trekking and biking or simply want to soak up the local culture, Sapa is a destination that should not be missed when traveling to Vietnam.

Sapa: This mountain town in northern Vietnam is a popular destination for hiking, trekking, and mountain biking. You can also visit the nearby Bac Ha Market, a traditional market where ethnic minority people from the surrounding area come to sell their produce. Planning your Sapa getaway and feeling overwhelmed? Worry not, as this list of top things to do in Sapa will ensure you have an amazing trip.

View of Ninh Binh with limestone cliffs and rice paddies

Ninh Binh is a scenic province that is often called the Halong Bay on land

Located in the Southeast of Ha Noi, Ninh Binh is a paradise that accommodates tons of unspoiled parts of the nation. It’s a jump-off destination for those who seek to get rid of dust and fume of urban life.

Notably, in Ninh Binh, Tam Coc features wondrous landscapes dotted with several limestone cliffs and rock formations amongst emerald green rice paddies. Seeing Tam Coc, in reality, is yet an exclusive experience. The best way to explore the place is to set up yourself on a boat and row along the green paddies between the cliffs. Along the way, there will be three tunnels that run through the mountains, which were carved over time by the river itself.

Ninh Binh is a province in northern Vietnam known for its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. The area is often referred to as ‘Halong Bay on land’ due to its limestone karsts and scenic waterways. Visitors to Ninh Binh can explore its many attractions, such as the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex and the ancient capital of Hoa Lu. With its breathtaking landscapes and fascinating history, Ninh Binh is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Vietnam. Seeking recommendations for your stay in Ninh Binh? Explore this carefully compiled list of exciting things to do in Ninh Binh and make the most of your visit.

Thien Mu Pagoda is a historic temple overlooking the Perfume River

Hue is the former imperial capital of Vietnam and a UNESCO World Heritage Site

There is no place more serene than Hue in Central Vietnam. Known as the imperial capital of the Nguyen dynasty. Today, the vestiges of this former glorious time are reflected in the city’s architecture, lifestyle, and dishes. To get the best out of a trip to Hue, visitors should not miss the Citadel, the sprawling complex of grand palaces, ornate temples, walls, and gates back in the days.

Another important landmark is the Thien Mu Pagoda, the city’s official symbol. This divine building carries history in a unique architecture reflecting the religious belief voraciously at that time of the royal family.

Hue is a city in central Vietnam that was once the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty. The city is known for its rich history and well-preserved architecture, including the Imperial City and the Thien Mu Pagoda. Visitors to Hue can explore its many historical landmarks, take a boat ride on the Perfume River, and sample its delicious cuisine. With its unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, Hue is a destination that should not be missed when traveling to Vietnam. For more information on what to see and do in Hue, check out this comprehensive Hue travel guide . Read more : Things to do in Hue

The Japanese Covered Bridge is a symbol of Hoi An

Hoi An Ancient Town is a charming and well-preserved historical site

The 2,000-year ancient town of Hoi An is a fantastic place to visit. It is not just a town with some old buildings, but it also is a historical site full of color and vitality. What makes Hoi An so different is architecture, tradition, culture, and food. Around the outskirt of Hoi An is a number of traditional villages following crafting, old-fashion farming, and fishery for hundreds of years. Those atmospheric places feature a sky of fresh air to inhale and release whatever burdens you in the common life.

Old-town Hoi An is a quarter filled with antique buildings of Japanese style. Inside those traditional wooden houses, the local set up shops for clothes, shoes, bags, textiles, souvenirs, and dining places.

Hoi An Ancient Town sits in Quang Nam Province, centrally located in Vietnam, nestled on the northern bank where the Thu Bon River meets the sea. This ancient trading town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-preserved examples of a traditional Vietnamese town. Its well-preserved architecture, including Chinese shophouses, Japanese merchant houses, and French colonial buildings, make it a fascinating place to explore. If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, be sure to check out this Hoi An travel guide  for ideas on what to do and see.

View of Nha Trang with sandy beach and blue sea

Nha Trang is a popular coastal city that offers sun, sand, and sea

Situated in one of the most beautiful bays off the coast in the South Central of Vietnam, Nha Trang offers a premium breeze by the beach. This seaside resort city is a favorite tourist spot with lush beaches, islands, and spectacular mountains. Besides, the place is adorned with resorts, palm trees, and crystal clear water. Not only that, but Vinpearl land is also a complex of amusement park and leisure check-in. It provides entertainment of all kinds from roller coasters, outdoor bar bars, swimming pools, to restaurants all situated on an isolated island.

Nha Trang is also a land of an interlaced culture of Champa and Viet people. The customs have been around for hundreds of years and keep showing off their uniqueness and pride. Don’t miss Ponaga temple when you visit Nha Trang.

This coastal city is a popular tourist destination with beautiful beaches, resorts, and restaurants. Nha Trang is not only a popular beach destination in Vietnam, but also a paradise for golf enthusiasts. You can find some of the best golf courses in the country here, such as Diamond Bay Golf & Villas, Vinpearl Golf Club, and KN Golf Links. You can also go diving or snorkeling in the clear waters off the coast. If you want to experience the ultimate golf vacation in Nha Trang, check out our golf tours in Vietnam and book your trip today. Not sure what to do during your stay in Hoi An? This list of  things to do in Nha Trang  has got you covered.

View of Da Lat with pine trees and flowers

Da Lat is a romantic hill station that is known as the city of eternal spring

For those who miss the chilling vibe but not freezing cold, Da Lat is a place of dream. The city of mist has year-round cool weather with idyllic scenery of valleys, pine trees, and vivid streets full of flowers. Da Lat is a hidden gem among the cities to visit in Vietnam. With its cool climate, stunning natural beauty, and charming French colonial architecture, it’s no wonder that Da Lat is considered by many to be the best city to visit in Vietnam. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, Da Lat has something for everyone.

Da Lat was a summer retreat of the royal family of the Nguyen dynasty and high-ranking officials of the French colonials. Today, this charming town is a tourist center with walkable streets, old buildings, pine tree forests, misty valleys, splendid lakes, and picturesque landscapes.

Savoring a BBQ dinner and some wine in a chilling night of Da Lat while viewing streams of people of the city live, work and trade will be an extraordinary joy. In Da Lat, tourists shouldn’t miss a cup of hot coffee in the morning and some soy milk sold on the street at night. Just sit and look at the spiraling smoke from the cup is such a relieving feeling that not many places on earth can offer.

Da Lat is a city located in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. It is famous for its countryside charm and cooler climate, which draws couples, wellness seekers, and outdoor enthusiasts. The city was once a summer getaway for the French, who left their mark in the European-inspired architecture and countless lakes. Da Lat is situated on a lake on the Lam Vien Plateau at 4,920 feet (1,500 meters) above sea level and sits among pine-covered hills with picturesque waterfalls nearby. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s landmarks, playing a round of golf, hiking, biking, or sampling the local coffee culture, Da Lat has something for everyone.

Bitexco Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is the largest and most dynamic city in Vietnam

In southern Vietnam, the most considerable capital of economy and population, Ho Chi Minh city, welcomes all visitors to its blend of historic and modern attractions. The city is formally known as Saigon, a respected name called by the citizens who live with the memories of the old time.

Vibrant Saigon is the city of a dynamic lifestyle where people can do all the shopping, dining, touring, and exploring the very distinctive life here. Wandering around city, not only the bustle you will see but also the poised-manner Saigon hidden in alleys and corners off the rushing streets.

Cuisine in Ho Chi Minh city is a mix of new and old. People of Saigon are genuinely creative in the way they cook and create new dishes. A food tour in Saigon will be a noteworthy experience for anyone, especially at an unbelievable price.

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam and a bustling metropolis with a rich history and culture. The city is known for its French colonial architecture, vibrant street food scene, and bustling markets. Visitors to Ho Chi Minh City can explore its many museums and historical landmarks, such as the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Palace. From exploring bustling markets to visiting historic landmarks, there are plenty of  Ho Chi Minh City activities to keep you busy. With its lively energy and endless things to see and do, travelers to Vietnam should make it a point to visit Ho Chi Minh City, an essential destination.

View of Mekong Delta with boats and palm trees

Mekong Delta is a rich and colorful region in southern Vietnam

The Mekong Delta is a region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River empties into the sea. Known as the “rice bowl” of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is a lush and fertile area with a rich agricultural heritage. Visitors to the Mekong Delta can explore its many waterways by boat, visit floating markets, and sample delicious local cuisine. With its unique culture and stunning natural beauty, the Mekong Delta is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Vietnam

The flagships of Mekong Delta are the colorful life on rivers, fruitful orchards, verdant paddies, and hospitable locals. This agricultural region, with a large portion of land fertile by the Mekong river, features a maze of canals and tributaries. It is not only rich in culture but also in the natural endowment.

Touring Mekong delta is ideally done on boats through branches to experience the serenity under shades of palm coconut trees on both sides. On the other hand, tourists can visit orchards and savor juicy fresh tropical fruits . Then, take a trip around the quaint villages on a bicycle and greet farmers laboring on the fields. That’ll make an unparalleled experience of a whole different world from anywhere on this globe.

Mekong Delta: This region is known for its lush rice paddies, floating markets, and traditional villages. You can explore the Mekong Delta by boat, bicycle, or even cyclo (a three-wheeled bicycle rickshaw). If you’re visiting the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, be sure to check out the  Mekong Delta floating markets for a unique shopping experience or if you’re looking for a relaxing and luxurious way to explore the Mekong Delta region, consider taking one of these  Mekong River cruises .

View of Phu Quoc Island with white sand beach and turquoise water

Phu Quoc Island is a tropical paradise that offers relaxation and adventure

If you are looking for some of the best places to visit in Vietnam for couples, you will be spoiled for choice. Vietnam is a wonderful destination for romance, with its stunning scenery, rich culture, delicious cuisine, and friendly people. Whether you want to relax on a tropical beach, cruise on a scenic bay, explore a charming town, or trek in the mountains, you will find something to suit your taste and budget. Here are some of the best places to visit in Vietnam for couples and how to get there:

  • Hoi An: Hoi An is one of the most romantic places in Vietnam, with its ancient town, lantern-lit streets, colorful markets, and serene river. You can stroll around the town, visit the temples and museums, shop for souvenirs and tailor-made clothes, and enjoy the local delicacies. You can also take a boat ride on the Thu Bon River, watch the sunset from the Japanese Bridge, or join a cooking class or lantern-making workshop. Hoi An is also close to some beautiful beaches, such as An Bang and Cua Dai, where you can relax and swim. To get to Hoi An, you can fly to Da Nang and take a taxi or bus for about 45 minutes.
  • Halong Bay: Halong Bay is one of the most iconic places in Vietnam, with its stunning combination of karst limestone peaks and sheltered, shimmering seas. It is also one of the most romantic places in Vietnam, especially if you book an overnight cruise and make time for your own special moments on this World Heritage wonder. You can rise early for an ethereal misty dawn, pilot a kayak into grottoes and lagoons, swim and snorkel in the clear water, or enjoy a candlelit dinner on board. To get to Halong Bay, you can take a bus or shuttle from Hanoi for about 4 hours.
  • Da Lat: Da Lat is known as the city of eternal spring, with its cool climate, green hills, flower-filled parks, and misty lakes. It is also known as the city of love, with its romantic atmosphere and attractions. You can visit the Valley of Love, where you can take a paddle boat or horse ride around the lake, admire the flower gardens and sculptures, or enjoy a picnic. You can also visit the Crazy House, a whimsical architectural wonder that resembles a fairy tale castle. You can also explore the waterfalls, coffee plantations, and strawberry farms around Da Lat. To get to Da Lat, you can fly from Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi for about an hour.
  • Da Nang: Enjoy a relaxing and fun-filled getaway in this seaside city, where you can sunbathe on the beach, catch some waves, or explore the Marble Mountains. You can also treat yourselves to romantic dinners and massages in Da Nang. To get to Da Nang, you can fly from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City for about an hour.
  • Nha Trang: Experience the ultimate beach vacation in this resort town, where you can swim and sunbathe on the sand. You can also have some adventure and romance by scuba diving, snorkeling, or hiking in the nearby mountains. To get to Nha Trang, you can fly from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City for about an hour and a half.
  • Phu Quoc:  Discover the beauty and charm of this island, where you can admire the stunning beaches, the green rainforests, and the tasty seafood. You can also relax on the beach, go hiking, or visit the Phu Quoc Prison. To get to Phu Quoc, you can fly from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City for about two hours

View of Golden Bridge on Ba Na Hills, Da Nang

Ba Na Hills is a fun and whimsical resort that features a theme park and a Golden Bridge

Vietnam is a great destination for families with kids, as it offers a variety of attractions and activities that are fun, educational, and affordable. Whether you want to enjoy the beach, the mountains, the city, or the countryside, you will find something to suit your family’s interests and preferences. Here are some of the best places to visit in Vietnam for families with kids and how to get there:

  • Sapa: Sapa is a mountain town in the north of Vietnam, known for its stunning scenery and ethnic minority villages. You can hike through the mountains, where you can see the terraced rice fields, waterfalls, and forests. You can also visit the Sapa Market, where you can buy handicrafts and souvenirs from the local people. You can also take a cooking class, where you can learn how to make some of the local dishes. To get to Sapa, you can take a train from Hanoi to Lao Cai for about 7h 55m and then take a bus or taxi to Sapa for about an hour.
  • Hanoi: Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and a lively city with a rich history and culture. You can explore the Old Quarter, where you can see the French colonial architecture, visit the temples and museums, and shop for souvenirs. You can also visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where you can see the embalmed body of the former leader. You can also watch a water puppet show, a traditional art form that uses puppets on water to tell stories. To get to Hanoi, you can fly from Ho Chi Minh City or Da Nang for about an hour and a half.
  • Hoi An: Hoi An is a charming ancient town that is full of culture, history, and beauty. You can wander around the lantern-lit streets, visit the temples and museums, shop for souvenirs and tailor-made clothes, and enjoy the local delicacies. You can also take a boat ride on the Thu Bon River, watch the sunset from the Japanese Bridge, or join a cooking class or lantern-making workshop. Hoi An is also close to some beautiful beaches, such as An Bang and Cua Dai, where you can relax and swim. To get to Hoi An, you can fly to Da Nang and take a taxi or bus for about 45 minutes.
  • Halong Bay: Halong Bay is one of the most iconic places in Vietnam, with its stunning combination of karst limestone peaks and sheltered, shimmering seas. It is also one of the most family-friendly places in Vietnam, especially if you book an overnight cruise that offers activities such as kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and visiting caves and islands. You can also enjoy a delicious seafood dinner on board and watch the stars at night. To get to Halong Bay, you can take a bus or shuttle from Hanoi for about 4 hours or a private car for about 3 hours.
  • Phu Quoc: Phu Quoc is an island paradise that is known for its beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and delicious seafood. Families can relax on the beach, go hiking in the national park, visit the Phu Quoc Prison museum, or enjoy the Vinpearl Land amusement park that has a zoo, a water park, an aquarium, and shows. To get to Phu Quoc, you can fly from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City for about 2 hours.
  • Da Nang: Da Nang is a coastal city that offers a mix of urban and natural attractions. You can enjoy the beach, go surfing, or visit the Marble Mountains that have caves and pagodas. You can also visit the Ba Na Hills resort that has a cable car, a French village replica, a fantasy park, and a golden bridge held by giant hands. You can also visit the Son Tra peninsula that has a giant Lady Buddha statue and a monkey reserve. To get to Da Nang, you can fly from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City for about an hour.
  • Nha Trang: Nha Trang is another beach resort town that has plenty of activities for families. You can swim and sunbathe on the sand, go scuba diving or snorkeling in the coral reefs, or take a boat trip to nearby islands. You can also visit the Vinpearl Land amusement park that has a cable car, a water park, an aquarium, and shows. You can also visit the Po Nagar Cham towers that are ancient Hindu temples. To get to Nha Trang, you can fly from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City for about an hour and a half.
  • Mekong Delta: Mekong Delta is a region in the south of Vietnam, known for its lush green rice paddies, floating markets, and traditional villages. You can take a boat trip on the Mekong River , where you can see the local life and culture. You can also visit the floating markets, where you can buy fruits and vegetables from the boats. You can also visit the traditional villages, where you can see the coconut candy factories, rice paper workshops, and fish farms. To get to Mekong Delta, you can take a bus or shuttle from Ho Chi Minh City for about 4 hours.

Traditional performing arts at My Son Sanctuary

My Son Sanctuary is an archaeological site that showcases the culture and history of the Champa Kingdom

Vietnam has a rich and diverse history that spans thousands of years, from ancient civilizations to colonial influences to modern conflicts. If you are a history buff, you will find plenty of places to visit in Vietnam that will satisfy your curiosity and inspire your imagination. Here are some of the best places to visit in Vietnam for history buffs:

  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex in Hanoi : This is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Vietnamese revolution. The complex also includes the Ho Chi Minh Museum, where you can learn about his life and achievements, and see his stilt house, where he lived and worked. Other historical attractions in Hanoi include the One Pillar Pagoda, a unique Buddhist temple; the Presidential Palace, a French colonial building; and the Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton, where many American prisoners of war were held during the Vietnam War.
  • War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City : This museum documents the Vietnam War, from its origins to its end. It houses a collection of war artifacts, photographs, and films that show the horrors and impacts of the war on the Vietnamese people. You can also see some of the military vehicles and weapons that were used during the war.
  • Cu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City : These tunnels were used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. They are a network of underground passages that stretch for miles. Visitors can go on a tour of the tunnels and learn about their history and function. You can also crawl through some of the tunnels and see how they lived and fought.
  • Imperial Citadel of Hue in Hue : This was the capital of Vietnam for centuries. It was the site of the Battle of Hue in 1968, one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. The citadel is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that preserves the architecture and art of the Nguyen Dynasty, the last feudal dynasty of Vietnam. You can also witness the scars of war at the citadel, which was heavily damaged during the battle.
  • My Son Sanctuary : My Son Sanctuary is an archaeological site that showcases the culture and history of the Champa Kingdom, a Hindu civilization that ruled central and southern Vietnam from the 4th to the 13th century. You can see the remains of more than 70 temples and towers that were built with brick and stone and decorated with sculptures and inscriptions. You can also learn about the religious and artistic traditions of the Cham people and their interactions with other cultures in Southeast Asia. My Son Sanctuary is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers a glimpse into the ancient and mysterious past of Vietnam.
  • Vietnam DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) between Hue and Da Nang: This was the dividing line between North and South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was a heavily fortified area that saw many fierce clashes and bombings. Visitors can take a tour of the DMZ and see some of the historical sites, such as the Vinh Moc Tunnels, where an entire village lived underground to escape the bombing; the Khe Sanh Combat Base, where a major siege took place in 1968; and the Hien Luong Bridge, which symbolized the division of Vietnam.
  • Vinh Moc Tunnels near Dong Ha: These tunnels were used by civilians during the Vietnam War to escape the fighting. The tunnels are located in a remote area near the DMZ, but they are worth the visit. You can see how an entire village lived underground for six years and survived the bombing. You can also learn about the history and culture of the local people and their resilience.
  • Mekong Delta: This region is home to a rich history and culture. Visitors can explore the floating markets, where they can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish from local vendors. They can also visit traditional villages, where they can see the rural life and customs of the people. They can also learn about the history of the region, which was once part of the Khmer Empire and later became a battleground during the Vietnam War.
  • Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi : This prison was used by the French and then by the Vietnamese to house political prisoners. It is now a museum that documents the history of the prison and its inmates. You can see some of the cells, torture devices, and artifacts that were used in the prison.
  • Ben Tre Museum in Ben Tre : This museum documents the Tet Offensive, which was a major turning point in the Vietnam War. The exhibits include photographs, weapons, and artifacts from the war. You can also learn about how Ben Tre was one of the first places to rise up against the South Vietnamese government during the war.

These are just some of the places to visit in Vietnam for history buffs. There are many more historical sites and museums that you can discover in this fascinating country. Whether you are interested in ancient civilizations, colonial influences, or modern conflicts, you will find something to suit your taste and interest in Vietnam.

View of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park with caves and mountains

Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is a natural wonderland that hosts the largest cave in the world

If you want to explore some amazing hidden gems in Vietnam that are off the beaten track, you have plenty of options. Vietnam is full of incredible places that most tourists don’t know about. From stunning waterfalls and caves to ancient ruins and islands, these places will make you fall in love with Vietnam’s natural beauty and cultural diversity. Here are some of the off-the-beaten-path places in vietnam that are also hidden gems that you might not know about:

  • Pu Luong Nature Reserve:  This beautiful reserve is located in the northeast of Vietnam, about 150 kilometers from Hanoi. It is home to stunning valleys, lush forests, and crystal-clear streams. There are also many opportunities for hiking, biking, and kayaking in the reserve.
  • Ha Giang:  This mountainous province in the north of Vietnam is known for its stunning scenery, including the Ha Giang Loop, a 300-kilometer motorbike route that takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of the province.
  • Yen Bai :  This province is home to the Mu Cang Chai rice terraces, which are considered to be some of the most beautiful in Vietnam. The terraces are particularly stunning during the harvest season, when they are awash in shades of green, yellow, and red.
  • Chau Doc:  This town in the Mekong Delta is a great place to experience the unique culture and cuisine of the region. You can visit floating markets, go on boat trips, and sample local delicacies such as snake wine and frog porridge.
  • Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park:  This province is home to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is home to some of the most spectacular caves in the world, including Hang Son Doong, the largest cave in the world by volume.
  • Cát Tiên National Park:  This park is located in the south of Vietnam and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including tigers, elephants, and rhinos. There are also many opportunities for hiking, biking, and camping in the park.
  • Mui Ne Dunes:  These towering sand dunes are located in the south of Vietnam and are a popular destination for sandboarding and hiking. You can also visit the nearby fishing village of Mui Ne, which is a great place to sample fresh seafood.
  • Cát Bà Island :  This island is located in the Gulf of Tonkin and is a popular destination for beach lovers. There are also many opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and scuba diving on the island.
  • Quy Nhon:  This coastal city in central Vietnam is a great place to relax and enjoy the beach. There are also many opportunities for exploring the surrounding countryside, which is home to stunning waterfalls, rice fields, and mountains.

These are just a few of the many hidden gems that can be found in Vietnam. With its diverse landscape and rich culture, Vietnam is a country that has something to offer everyone.

In conclusion, Vietnam has something for everyone, whether you are looking for a budget or a luxury tour. If you are a budget traveler, you can still enjoy the best of Vietnam’s scenery, culture, food, and activities. You can explore the natural beauty of Halong Bay, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, and Ban Gioc Waterfall. You can learn about the history and heritage of Cu Chi Tunnels, Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, and My Son Sanctuary. You can experience the urban and rural life of Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Hoi An. Some of the other places that are suitable for budget travelers are Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Da Lat, Mekong Delta, Danang, and Hue. These places are affordable, accessible, and enjoyable. You can find cheap and comfortable accommodation, transportation, and food. You can also benefit from the free or low-cost attractions and activities. You can visit museums and temples, hike or bike around nature, join a street food tour or a cooking class, or shop at local markets and shops. You can also save money by booking cheap tours and packages that can help you visit multiple places in one trip.

The S-shape land of Vietnam is a remarkable place for traveling that offers all kinds of experience from hiking in the mountains, trekking through trails, chilling in urban nightlight, resting on beaches, savoring gourmet food, and beyond. Every destination in Vietnam has a unique sense to make each trip an incredible one to keep in memories.

And it’s not just about 10 best places to visit in Vietnam above; this country has more waiting for you to discover along the way. Get well-prepared for the Vietnam trip and be ready for incoming surprises.

In conclusion, Vietnam is a country with a rich history and diverse culture that offers something for every traveler. From the bustling cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to the stunning natural beauty of Ha Long Bay and the Mekong Delta, there are countless places to explore and experiences to be had. Whether you’re interested in history, food, adventure, or relaxation, Vietnam has it all. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable journey through this beautiful country.

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1. TRAVELLING FROM AHMEDABAD-INDIA 2. 2 PERSON AGE 54 AND AGE 52 3 10 DAYS 3 START OR 4 STAR DONT KNOW 4 NO HISTORIC PLACES, NO TEMPLES, 5. ONLY EXOTIC TOP PLACES 6. SHOULD I FIRST GO TO CHI MINH AND THAN COME TO HANOI TO RETUN INDIA PL CLEAR THIS POINT.

I want to travel Vietnam as a tourist, pls send me details how to proceed & what will be the cost per person for 5 days & 6 nights

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15 Things to do in Vietnam + Tourist Spots

15 Things to do in Vietnam + Tourist Spots

Vietnam is most known for its turbulent wartime history, delicious food, and Ha Long Bay. Before arriving in the country and traveling around its countrysides, little did I know that it is also home to some of the most spectacular natural landscapes in Southeast Asia, and charming heritage sites that are worth a peek.

Vietnam’s tourist spots are broadly spread out in its northern, central, and southern regions. The country isn’t overwhelmingly massive, but unless you’re traveling long-term or plan to stick to just one or two regions, you will have to pick destinations to skip or prioritize.

To make it easy for you to decide on where to go, here’s a list of my favorite places to visit in Vietnam:

Vietnam travel essentials: (click below to view prices online)

Where to stay Tours + discounts Vietnam fares

Vietnam WIFI/SIM Card

See also :   Places to Visit in Vietnam  |  Ho Chi Minh Itinerary  |  Things to do in Hanoi  |  Indochina Travel Guide .

If you love visiting historic places, this heritage city in Central Vietnam is a must-visit. Hoi An is a riverside town with an old-world charm. It’s filled with vintage buildings influenced by Vietnamese, French, Chinese, and Japanese architectural styles. Delicious local food is also a major attraction here. The city’s magical atmosphere comes alive under the romantic sunset light and at night when the houses, temples, and shops are lit up.

Location : Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

How to go :

The most popular gateway to Hoi An is Da Nang in Central Vietnam. nearest major city. There are a lot of convenient transport options between the two cities. Travel time is only around 45 minutes.

Hoi An Travel Essentials

Where to stay Tours + discounts Check Fares

Top discounts

My Son & Hoi An Private Day Tour from Da Nang

Cham Islands day tour

Hoi An Private City Transfers for Da Nang, Hue & Ba Na Hills

vietnam tourist town

See more : Hoi An travel tips

15 Places To Visit in Hoi An

To help with your trip planning, I’ve added links to the locations on Google Maps. Feel free to click/tap on the links posted. Then, use the “save” feature on the Google Maps app for easy reference. I’ve also shared photos from my  Instagram feed . Use Instagram’s save feature for quick access to your travel/feed goals.

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There seems to be something interesting to discover at every street corner in historic Hanoi, especially in the old quarter of the city. It’s one of the best cities in Southeast Asia to explore on foot. Hanoi also has scenic lakes that are best viewed from rooftop restaurants or bars, while enjoying traditional Vietnamese coffee or a chilled bottle of Saigon beer.

Location : Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi, northern Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

Hanoi along with Ho Chi Minh is one of the major international gateways in Vietnam, so getting by air is very easy. Hanoi-Noi Bai International Airport found 45 minutes away from the city center serves frequent flights from Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Manila, Bangkok, Singapore, Taipei, Beijing. As well as major cities in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the Middle East and more. Major airlines include AirAsia, Jetstar, VietJet, Vietnam Airlines. From the Philippines, Manila-Hanoi flights are served by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. Flight duration is around 2.5 hours.

Hanoi Travel Essentials

Private Noi Bai Airport Transfers (HAN) for Hanoi City or Halong Bay

Hanoi Private Car Charter

Private City Transfers for Hanoi City and Surrounding Areas

vietnam tourist town

See more : Hanoi travel tips

12 Things to do in Hanoi + Tourist Spots

3. Ho Chi Minh

Bustling Ho Chi Minh, on its own, may pale as a travel destination compared to other cities in Southeast Asia, but it is a necessary transport hub if you plan to explore Southern Vietnam. In case you find yourself in Ho Chi Minh, the city center offers interesting cultural sights, urban experiences, Vietnamese food+coffee & cheap shopping, in addition to scenic day trips to the Mekong Delta.

Location : Ho Chi Minh City, southern Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

Ho Chi Minh’s International Airport is the busiest airport in Vietnam. Found 45 minutes away from the city center, this airport serves frequent flights from Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Manila, Bangkok, Singapore, Taipei, Beijing, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Melbourne & Sydney. As well as major cities in New Zealand, Europe, Middle East and more. Major airlines include AirAsia, Jetstar, VietJet & Vietnam Airlines. From the Philippines, Manila-Hanoi flights are served by Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Vietnam Airlines. Flight duration is around 2.5 hours.

Ho Chi Minh Travel Essentials

Full Day Mekong Delta Excursion from Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh City-Mekong Delta River Cruise

Ho Chi Minh City & Cu Chi Tunnels Full Day Tour

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See more : Ho Chi Minh travel tips

14 Places To Visit in Ho Chi Minh

Location : Phan Thiet, Bình Thuận Province, southern Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

Mui Ne Travel Essentials

Shared City Transfers between Da Lat and Mui Ne via Shuttle Bus

Mui Ne Private Jeep Tour

Da Lat to Mui Ne, Nha Trang or HCMC Car Transfer

vietnam tourist town

See more : Mui Ne travel tips

5 Things to do in Mui Ne + Tourist Spots

Location : Lâm Đồng Province, southern Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

Da Lat Travel Essentials

Da Lat Waterfalls Day Tour

Da Lat Private Car Charter

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See more : Da Lat travel tips

17 Places To Visit in Da Lat

Da Nang is one of the biggest surprises on my first visit to Central Vietnam. It’s a major tourist hub with its own set of attractions and convenient direct domestic and international flight connections. Da Nang is a great place to visit for travelers who aren’t ready to leave their urban comfort zones. This clean, modern, and laid-back city is bordered by a long white sand beach that is lined with top-notch resorts. The riverside area of the city center feels more like a huge outdoor theme park with well-maintained promenades, iconic bridges lit up at night, and the Sun Wheel (giant Ferris Wheel).

Location : Hải Châu District, Da Nang, central Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

After Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang’s airport is the next most well-connected international airport in Vietnam. Da Nang International Airport (DAD) serves direct flights from Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Siem Reap, Singapore, Taipei, and Tokyo-Narita. As well as flights from major domestic destinations including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Buon Ma Thuot, Hai Phong, Pleiku, Vinh, Can Tho, Da Lat & Nha Trang. Major airlines include AirAsia, Jetstar, China Eastern, Silk Air, Vietjet & Vietnam Airlines. Travel time by flight to Da Nang is around 1.5 hours from Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh.

Da Nang Travel Essentials

Ba Na Hills and Golden Bridge Day Tour

Da Nang Airport (DAD) Private Transfers for Da Nang, Ba Na Hills & more

Da Nang Private Car Charter

vietnam tourist town

See more : Da Nang travel tips

12 Places To Visit in Da Nang

Hue is central Vietnam was the seat of Nguyen Dynasty emperors and the national capital from 1802-1945. It is home to a massive royal citadel called the Forbidden Purple City, which admittedly sounds more interesting than the actual war-ravaged site. For travelers who love visiting heritage sites, a more tempting incentive to visit Hue are exquisite imperial tombs scattered around the outskirts of the city.

Location : Thua Thien Hue Province, central Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

Hue, in Central Vietnam, is located two hours north of Danang. The best way to get there is by train, which offers scenic coastal views along the Hai Van Pass. If you want to fly directly, Hue-Phu Bai Airport (HUI) serves flights from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Da Lat & Nha Trang. Airlines include Vietjet, Jetstar & Vietnam Airlines. Travel time to Hue-Phu Bai Airport takes around 1 hour from Hanoi and 1.5 hours from Ho Chi Minh.

Hue Travel Essentials

Hue Private Day Tour from Da Nang

Hue heritage sites join-in tour

Phong Nha Cave Exploration from Hue

vietnam tourist town

See more : Hue travel tips

14 Places To Visit in Hue

8. Phong Nha

If this is your first time to know about Phong Nha, join the club! Phong Nha–Kẻ Bàng National Park located in Central Vietnam might not be popular as other places featured on this list, but it has something special to offer that is unrivaled not only Vietnam, but all of Southeast Asia, and maybe even the World — it’s massive and insanely beautiful caves.

Location : Quang Binh Province, central Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

Phong Nga, in Central Vietnam, is 4–5 hours north of Hue by land or 7 hours north of Da Nang. If you are coming from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, consider a flight or train to Dong Hoi. Then, continue the 45-minute land trip to Phong Nha by shuttle. Flights are operated by Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific, and VietjetAir. Flight duration to Dong Hoi Airport (VDH) is around 1 hour from Hanoi (HAN), and 2 hours from Ho Chi Minh (SGN).

Phong Nha Travel Essentials

Phong Nha River Cruise Day Tour in Quang Binh

Phong Nha National Park and Paradise Cave Day Tour in Quang Binh

vietnam tourist town

See more : Phong Nha travel tips

5 Places To Visit in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

9. Ninh Binh

Touted as “Ha Long Bay on land,” Ninh Binh is filled with steep karst mountains soaring amidst tranquil rice paddies, meandering rivers, and dotted with temples and ancient settlements. The best way to explore the area is on a scenic boat ride that passes through the mountainscape or by following the riverside path by bicycle. Ninh Binh is two hours away from Hanoi in Northern Vietnam.

Ninh Binh is around 2 hours south of Hanoi by land. You can go on the bus from Giap Bat (Southern) Bus Terminal or a train on the Reunification Express. To get around Ninh Binh, you can either join an organized tour or go on a do-it-yourself (DIY) tour by bicycle/motorcycle.

Location : Ninh Bình Province, northern Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

Ninh Binh Travel Essentials

Hanoi-Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh Private Day Tour

Mua Cave and Trang An Tour from Hanoi

vietnam tourist town

See more : Ninh Binh travel tips

11 Places To Visit in Ninh Binh

10. Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay sunrise, Vietnam

No doubt Ha Long Bay is beautiful. With over 1,600 towering karst islands and islets, it’s a natural wonder worth a peek. However, if you’ve been to Krabi (Thailand) or El Nido (Philippines), do not expect too much with the quality of the water. The area that surrounds the bay is simply not as pristine, even under the bluest of skies. If you’re already traveling in Hanoi & Northern Vietnam, consider a trip to nearby Ha Long bay.

Location : Quảng Ninh Province, nothern Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

Ha Long City is the main jump-off point to the islands surrounding Ha Long Bay. The land journey from Hanoi takes around 3.5 to 4 hours. There are many shuttle/bus companies operating this route with pick-up directly from your hotel. You can easily book one at your hotel or by shopping around the travel agencies in Hanoi Old Quarter. To get around the bay, you have many options including sightseeing day trips to multi-day overnight cruises.

Ha Long Bay Travel Essentials

Where to stay Tours + discounts

11. Ban Gioc Waterfall & Cao Bang

If you’ve read my other best places to visit lists, you may already know about my fascination for beautiful waterfalls. Cao Bang in Northern Vietnam is home to Ban Gioc Waterfall, the most majestic in Vietnam. Half of this massive cascade sits on the Chinese border and is called Delian Waterfall on the other side.

Location : Cao Bằng Province, northern Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

Total travel time from Hanoi to Ban Gioc is around 8 to 11 hours. If you want convenient transfers, consider booking an organized tour. If you want to go on your own, local buses to Cao Bang depart from My Dinh Bus Terminal in Hanoi. Travel time is 7.5–8 hours. From Cao Bang, minibus and shuttles go all the way to Ban Gioc Waterfall. Travel time is 2.5–3 hours.

Cao Bang Travel Essentials

vietnam tourist town

12. Sa Pa & North Vietnam

vietnam tourist town

Sa Pa, Vietnam

Location : Lao Cai Province, northern Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

Sa Pa Travel Essentials

Shared Limousine Transfer from Hanoi to Sapa

Shared City Transfers (VIP Cabin) between Hanoi and Sapa

13. Nha Trang

vietnam tourist town

Nha Trang, Vietnam

Location : Khanh Hoa Province, southern Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

Nha Trang Travel Essentials

Shared City Transfers between Da Lat and Nha Trang via Limousine

Private Da Lat Airport Transfers (DLI) for Da Lat City, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, and Tuyen Lam Lake

14. Phu Quoc

vietnam tourist town

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Location : Kien Giang Province, southern Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

Phu Quoc Travel Essentials

15. Con Dao Islands

vietnam tourist town

Con Dao Islands, Vietnam. Photo by vanlaphoang1945 via Flickr

Location : Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu Province, southern Vietnam . Save on Google Maps .

Con Dao Travel Essentials

Beyond Vietnam

vietnam tourist town

Angkor Wat (temple) view from the reflecting pond

Location : Indochina, Southeast Asia (mainland) . Save on Google Maps .

Cambodia Travel Essentials

Angkor Wat & Little Circuit Guided Join-In Tour

Banteay Srei & Angkor Grand Circuit Guided Join-In Tour

Siem Reap Private Car Charter

See more : Cambodia travel tips

9 Things to do in Cambodia + Tourist Spots

Wat Rong Khun (White Temple), in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Thailand Travel Essentials

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link (ARL) Ticket

Bangkok Chao Phraya Princess Cruise

Pattaya-Nong Nooch Tropical Garden Ticket

See more : Thailand travel tips

20 Things to do in Thailand + Tourist Spots

Tat Fane Waterfall near Paksong, in Bolaven Plateau, Champasak, Laos

Laos Travel Essentials

Tours + discounts

Pak Ou Cave & Kuang Si Waterfall Day Tour from Luang Prabang

Vang Vieng – Luang Prabang Shuttle – Shared City Transfers

Vientiane – Vang Vieng Shuttle – Shared City Transfers

See more : Laos travel tips

5 Places To Visit in Laos

Braemar Hill Peak in Hong Kong

Location : Southeast China, East Asia . Save on Google Maps .

Hong Kong Travel Essentials

Hong Kong Disneyland Admission Ticket

Ocean Park Hong Kong Admission Ticket

Victoria Peak Tram and Sky Terrace 428

See more : Hong Kong travel tips

Hong Kong Travel Guide Blog

What places have you added to your bucketlist? Have you been to beautiful places in Vietnam that should be on this list? Feel free to share your thoughts!

Places to visit in Vietnam

Vietnam tourist spots, things to do in Vietnam, where to go in Vietnam & more.

Note: Destinations featured above are not listed by rank.

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Click below & search recommended Vietnam hotels/hostels/home rentals within your budget. Remember to set your  min/max price , travel dates, and  sort by review ratings . I often book online with these trusted booking sites below for rock-bottom prices & convenient bookings.

Book sooner rather than later if you already have your dates set. Cheaper-priced rooms and hotels with high reviews tend to get fully booked faster, especially during busy days like weekends, holidays & peak tourist seasons.

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October 16, 2015 at 10:48 pm

Thanks for sharing your travel to Vietnam. Been to Saigon in 2011 and been wanting to go to Hanoi. Never knew about the other worth visiting places until you shared your wonderful pictures. Is it hard to tour Halong Bay? Would it be just fine skipping Halong Bay when I go to Hanoi?

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October 16, 2015 at 11:23 pm

My pleasure Manuel :) There are still more potentially worthy places to visit in Vietnam. I want to go back as well, particularly, for Sa Pa and Da Lat. I booked an overnight boat cruise in Ha Long Bay for $80. I had a very bad experience with both the booking and tour agency. Touring Ha Long Bay is easy since you just have to turn up at the travel agencies in Hanoi or Ha Long City at least a day before (or book online). It’s finding a decent tour agency / boat operator that is the tricky part.

If the weather is too cloudy or rainy, I would skip Ha Long Bay. I enjoyed Ninh Binh and Phong Nha a lot more than Ha Long Bay.

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October 13, 2017 at 7:32 pm

Amazing Vietnam!!!!

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December 26, 2017 at 9:31 pm

What an amazing and informative blog marcos.One should definitely go through the blog if he/she is travelling to vietnam.This country has a blend of chinese as well as french culture so anyone can feel the presence of both the cultures.

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April 24, 2020 at 10:15 am

I’m Vietnamese and living in Hanoi but I haven’t had opportunity to visit of all these places. Now I got more motivation to visit more places in the Southern of Vietnam, especially Mui Ne Beach! About the last place Can Dao Island, actually its name is Con Dao, not Can Dao. Anyway, thank you for sharing the destinations to visit.

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October 23, 2022 at 5:53 pm

Thank You Marcos, i have been following you in IG and i love all your post. I am an Ilongga also from Bacolod city but now reside in the US for 35 years. I am planning to visit southeast asia this december 2022 but only have 3 days to spend in Vietnam, so which one is the best to visit? Thank You!

October 26, 2022 at 5:00 pm

Hi Nadia, visit Hanoi to enjoy the food and historical sites then enjoy a day trip to Ninh Binh & Ha Long Bay

The 15 best things you can do in Vietnam in 2024

Joe Bindloss

Feb 29, 2024 • 12 min read

vietnam tourist town

Taking a cruise along the Mekong Delta is an incredible experience not to be missed © Cultura Exclusive / Rosanna U / Getty Images

The siren song of Vietnam has brought many travelers to its shores in search of incredible landscapes, pearl-white beaches , chaotic and vibrant cities, and one of the warmest welcomes in the world.

The tough decision for travelers isn't whether they should visit Vietnam, it's how they choose what to do with so many incredible options. Do you start in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)? Do you swap the big city experience for the beaches and seafood suppers of Phu Quoc island? Do you dive headlong into the history of a dozen rival empires, or embrace the dynamic, modern Vietnam that has emerged from the aftermath of conflict?

No matter what you want your vacation to look like, accept that you'll never cover everything in one trip and embrace it as a reason to return. Here are 15 incredible things to do that need to be on your Vietnam to-do list.

1. Embrace past and future Vietnam in historic Hanoi

The vibrant capital of the former North Vietnam – and today the capital of the nation – Hanoi is where old and new Vietnam come together. Traces of the imperial past float like ghosts in a city surging skywards – hawkers drift through the narrow lanes of the Old Quarter selling snacks from traditional yoke baskets, while the surrounding buildings are lit up with advertising displays and strip lights.

Exploring at street level is highly atmospheric and fantastic fun – mix up days visiting wartime and imperial relics with evenings feasting on some of Asia’s finest food and late nights dousing the sticky summer heat with glasses of bia hoi (local draught beer).

Planning tip: As they say, Hanoi rocks, and the best places to rock out like a local are lively live music venues such as the moody Binh Minh Jazz Club and keep-it-loud Hanoi Rock City .

2. Find your own island in the sun in Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay

Okay, we concede that Halong Bay – the atmospheric sprawl of rocky coves and eroded karst islands to the east of Hanoi – is firmly discovered, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to discover away from the cruise ship crowds. If a tour on a diesel-powered luxury junk doesn’t appeal, consider hiring a kayak to potter around Lan Ha Bay near Cat Ba Island , where outcrops sculpted by wind and waves emerge from the water like the teeth of sea monsters.

Alternatively, leave the diesel fumes behind in calmer Bai Tu Long Bay to the north, where more jungle-capped islands shelter low-key resorts and languorous beaches.

High angle close up of a bowl of bun bo hue, or beef noodle soup.

3. Get your fill of imperial cuisine in handsome Hue

Vietnam’s Nguyen Dynasty held court in Hue until 1945, and the city’s damaged but still impressive historic relics feel somehow closer to imperial China than to the rest of Southeast Asia. However, for many travelers, it’s all about the food. More than half of Vietnam's estimated 3000 local dishes are believed to have originated in Hue, from the vermicelli-noodle-based bun bo Hue and crispy banh khoai pancakes topped with shrimp and pork to canapé-like, soft-and-crunchy banh ram it dumplings. The lavish imperial cuisine known as am thuc cung dinh – created by the emperors’ loyal chefs – can still be sampled in some of Hue's top restaurants, such as Thin Gia Vien and Hoang Phu .

Planning tip: Don’t restrict yourself to posh imperial banquets; for less than 100,000 dong you can gorge on tasty Hue staples at busy stalwart restaurants such as Madam Thu or at food stalls on the streets.

4. Meet Vietnam’s imperial leaders in the Hue tombs

Hue gets a second spot on the list thanks to the astounding imperial tombs, which preserve the mortal remains of a string of Nguyen emperors and empresses, from dynasty-founding Gia Long to Khai Dinh , the last Nguyen emperor to be buried on Vietnamese soil (his son, Bao Dai, the final emperor of Vietnam, was interred in the Cimetière de Passy in Paris ).

While crowds mob the Citadel and Imperial Enclosure, you can still find peaceful moments for contemplation by skipping the boat tours and renting a motorcycle to visit the extravagant mausoleums along the Perfume River. Don’t miss the towering  Thien Mu pagoda , looming over the north bank on the city fringes.

Detour: Equipped with two wheels, you can also buzz north from Hue to enjoy unspoiled dune beaches on the sandy barrier island stretching north and south from Thuan An.

5. Learn to make soups, stir-fries and salads on a cooking course

There’s no better souvenir to bring home from Vietnam than being able to prepare your own Vietnamese feast. Indeed, Vietnamese food arguably has a bigger dinner-party cachet than more familiar Thai cuisine.

Up and down the country, you’ll find cooking courses that start with a fragrant market trip to buy fresh ingredients and local herbs and end with a banquet of the dishes you’ve prepared, covering everything from summer rolls to pho noodle soup.

Hoi An is the most popular destination for aspiring chefs – small and personal Green Bamboo Cooking School is highly recommended. There are also good cooking schools in Hue, Hanoi and HCMC.

A woman approaches a ruin surrounded by jungle

6. Unravel Vietnam’s complex religious history in My Son

While travelers mob the regal assembly halls, pagodas and historic homes of Hoi An, nearby My Son offers a calmer vision of Vietnam’s rich and layered past – particularly if you come in the afternoon. The big lure here is the atmospheric collection of UNESCO-listed Hindu temple ruins surrounded by jungle in a loop of the sacred Thu Bon river.

Sharing many architectural features with the Khmer temples of Cambodia and Thailand , these crumbling, red-brick shrines were built between the 4th and 14th centuries by the Hindu kingdom of Champa, whose descendants – the Cham people – can still be found in pockets in central Vietnam. With only birdsong to disrupt the quiet, the site scores highly for atmosphere as well as history,

Detour: If you use Hoi An as a base for exploring My Son, set aside a day to explore the nearby Cham Islands , an impressive marine reserve whose granite islands are still inhabited by Cham people, most now followers of Islam.

Explore My Son effortlessly with GetYourGuide.  Book your tour today .

7. Visit the Cao Dai Holy See in Tay Ninh

One of the world’s youngest faiths, the Cao Dai religion was founded in the Mekong Delta town of Tay Ninh in 1926, fusing elements of ancestor worship, folk religions, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Roman Catholicism, with the ultimate goal of freeing the soul from the endless cycle of reincarnation.

To explore its complex customs, head to the cathedral-like Cao Dai Holy See in Tay Ninh. Inside, you’ll see weapon-toting statues, an all-seeing eye, and even a Communist-looking red star – the sect reveres, amongst other figures, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Mohammed and even French novelist Victor Hugo.

Planning tip: Visitors can enter the shrine to witness prayers four times a day; if you have time to kill before or after a visit, detour 15km (9.3 miles) northeast to Nui Ba Den mountain. You can take a gondola then hike to reach its summit cave temples, then whoosh back downhill on a luge-style slide.

Dense, crowed scene of city traffic in rush hour, crowd of people wear helmet, transport by motorcycle,

8. Rumble through the highlands by motorcycle

Vietnam largely moves on two wheels, and a motorcycle is by far the most enjoyable way to explore the hill country of the northwest , even if it takes some courage to adjust to the driving conditions, the errant livestock, and the steep, winding roads. Rent a quality bike in Hanoi and pop your wheels on the train to Lao Cai, to avoid the nerve-jangling ride out of the capital.

Once you reach the heart of the hill country, you can rumble out to outlying villages far from the tourist crowds for epic views and nights in charming homestays run by members of Vietnam’s tribal minorities.

Planning tip: You’ll need an international driving permit to ride legally in Vietnam, and this is only available for some nationalities. Many travelers manage to rent a motorcycle without a permit, but if things go wrong, you won’t be covered by your travel insurance.

9. See the American War through Vietnamese eyes

Modern-day Vietnam is moving on from conflict, but the battlefields from the American War still linger as a sobering reminder of what people had to go through to get to this point. Sites of American losses such as Hamburger Hill in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) are etched into the popular consciousness, but the wartime tunnels at Cu Chi near HCMC and Vinh Moc near Hue offer a glimpse of the Vietnamese experience, as ordinary people went to extraordinary lengths to resist the world’s greatest superpower.

10. Visit villages in the "Asian Alps"

The former French Hill station of Sapa is surrounded by mountains so impressive that French colonizers called them the “Tonkinese Alps,” and the surrounding villages of the H'Mong and Dao ethnic minorities have become popular destinations for hikers – and somewhat commercialized in the process.

For a taste of the scenic serenity that first drew travelers to these lush green hills, head instead to drier, calmer Bac Ha , or the trails and mountain roads around Ha Giang province, tucked against the border with China and seemingly sculpted by the hands of the gods. Stay in hospitable homestays and explore markets, peaceful stilt-house villages, French-era relics and soaring limestone pinnacles, away from the maddening crowds.

Planning tip: There's a lot of competition for the title of best vista in Vietnam but the lookouts gazing over the Dong Van Karst Plateau are strong contenders. The area is designated as a UNESCO Geopark, and the trip from Yen Minh to Dong Van and over the Mai Pi Leng Pass to Meo Vac is particularly spectacular.

11. Find a perfect cup of coffee in the Central Highlands

It was the French colonizers who brought coffee from the Arabian peninsula to Vietnam, but it was the farmers of the Southwest Highlands who mastered the art of coaxing quality beans from these undulating hills. Rising to 1600m (5250ft), Dak Lak Province provides the perfect terroir for growing robusta beans, and the regional capital of Buon Ma Thuot is a great place to tour plantations and track down a quality cup of ca phe , particularly during the annual coffee festival in March. If you insist on arabica beans, head to Dalat and visit the community K'Ho Coffee cooperative, supporting local coffee growers from the K’Ho minority.

Planning tip: The best time to visit coffee country is from September to the end of December when the harvest season is in full swing and plantations are filled with baskets of red beans.

Transform your visit the Central Highlands by  booking with GetYourGuide.

Man at the cave entrance in Son Doong Cave, the largest cave in the world in UNESCO World Heritage Site Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

12. Enter the world’s largest cave in Phong Nha

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in north central Vietnam is a lost world of jungles and caverns, including the world’s largest, Hang Son Doong. The scale of this wonder of nature is simply mind-blowing – a 747 airplane could fly through the cave’s main tunnel.

Parts of the limestone ceiling have collapsed, bringing in natural sunlight, so Hang Son Doong contains an entire rainforest ecosystem with flying foxes, rare langurs, and even a small population of tigers. Since 2012, one tour company – Oxalis Adventure – has been allowed to take a strictly limited number of visitors into Hang Son Doong on challenging four-day treks; the price is stratospheric but so is the scenery.

13. Walk with the ghosts of French Indochina in Ho Chi Minh City

The former capital of South Vietnam may have changed its name from Saigon to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) , but the past remains close to the surface, from the American War relics in the HCMC Museum and War Remnants Museum to the city’s elegant French-built mansions and civic buildings – many now housing museums, restaurants and boutique hotels.

To get a feel for vintage Saigon, stop for a cup of ca phe sua (milk coffee) at the elegant Hotel Continental Saigon , sample cutting-edge French cuisine at La Villa , and take a stroll past the Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the People’s Committee Building – built as HCMC’s Hôtel de Ville but rebranded as the Vietnamese sent the colonizers packing.

Planning tip: To fully appreciate the marvelous, lip-tingling variety of HCMC street food, join a foodie-focused scooter tour with Saigon Street Eats .

Explore Ho Chi Minh City effortlessly with GetYourGuide.  Book your tour today .

14. Bask on beautiful beaches

It was the beaches of Phu Quoc Island and Danang – developed as a playground for GIs during the American War – that put Vietnam on the map for seaside vacations, but both have developed into lively resorts. To find unspoiled stretches of sand, modern-day castaways aim their sights at the kitesurfing beaches around Mui Ne , the island sands of the Con Dao archipelago and long, languorous Hong Van Beach on Co To Island in Bai Tu Long Bay .

Planning tip: The best time for a beach trip varies as you move around the country. In central Vietnam, skies are brightest from January to August, while December to April is the beach window on the south coast, and northern Vietnam sees plenty of dry days from October to April.

15. Float on the Mekong Delta

Reaching out into the East Sea like an enormous hand, the mighty Mekong Delta marks the end point of Southeast Asia’s longest river – a 4350km (2700 mile) monster, rising on the Tibetan plateau and emptying to the south of Ho Chi Minh City. This waterlogged wonderland is Vietnam’s rice bowl, nurturing a network of sleepy towns and stilt villages whose residents use the river as their primary artery for life and trade.

For comfortable exploring, book an overnight cruise along the main channel near Can Tho or a cross-border trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia. For a less commercial experience, take a day trip to the backwaters near Ben Tre with Mango Cruises or make your own arrangements with boat owners in Delta villages.

This article was first published Sep 22, 2021 and updated Feb 29, 2024.

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  • The 10 Most Beautiful Towns...

The Most Beautiful Towns and Cities in Vietnam

vietnam tourist town

Vietnam immediately captivates visitors with its rich heritage and striking natural beauty. Bordered by mountains to the east and the South China Sea to the west, with the Red River and Mekong deltas at the country’s north and south ends, the country’s diverse landscape encompasses white-sand beaches , rice paddies, and lush jungles. Here are some of the best towns and cities in Vietnam, bookable through Culture Trip.

Natural Feature

Hoi An Vietnam, view at night of illuminated riverside bars and restaurants in the historic Old Town tourist quarter of Hoi An, Central Vietnam.

You can visit Hội An with Culture Trip and enjoy a guided walking tour on our specially curated 12-day Vietnam adventure, led by our local insider .

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark

Silhouette of two women carrying baskets across sand dunes at sunset, Mui Ne, Vietnam

At an altitude of 1.5km (about a mile) above sea level, Đà Lạt offers year-round cool weather and serene mountain scenery. This quaint city was once a favourite retreat of Vietnamese emperors and French colonials eager to escape the country’s summer heat. The European influences are still noticeable in the French colonial architecture found in the city’s central area, where the streets are lined with red-roofed stone buildings. With lovely churches, markets, winding streets and colourful gardens, the city is a wonderful place for strolling. The surrounding area offers lakes, forests and waterfalls – perfect for trekking, biking and rock-climbing.

4. Nha Trang

Woman on Xom Bong Bridge, Nha Trang, Vietnam, Asia

The largest city in the Mekong Delta, Cần Thơ sits at the meeting point of several different waterways. It’s an ideal base for visiting the nearby floating markets, with canals and rivers filled with an astonishing variety of boats and ships. Cần Thơ’s lovely riverfront is lined with sculpture gardens and some of the region’s best restaurants. The backstreets give rise to a few unique temples and a buzzing night market, plus a short trip outside of the city will bring you to beautiful countryside landscapes covered with rice fields.

people cheering on a mountain

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6. Vũng Tàu

Architectural Landmark, Natural Feature

Sunset in Dam Trau beach, Con Dao siland, Ba Ria Vung Tau, Vietnam

7. Châu Đốc

Architectural Landmark

Canoe on a river between the rice paddies, Mekong Delta, Chau Doc, Vietnam

Set at a meeting point of a tributary linking the Bassac and Mekong rivers, Châu Đốc is the closest city to the Vietnamese- Cambodian border crossing. Locals are known for being especially friendly, with the city’s pastel-coloured shop fronts adding to its already-cheerful ambiance. With large Khmer, Cham and Chinese communities, the city is also interesting from a cultural perspective. Check out the vibrant main market and then wander along the pretty waterfront promenade nearby. Take the ferry across the river to visit Chau Doc’s largest mosque.

Vua Meo is a french colonial villa / baroque style palace constructed for a Hmong king in 1914 to 1921. Bac Ha, Vietnam

A popular day-trip from Sapa, Bắc Hà also serves as a more low-key base for exploring the country’s northern highlands and hill tribe villages. Set at 1.2km (nearly a mile) above sea level, the town is fringed by cone-shaped mountains. This quiet town comes to life on Sundays when ethnic-minority villagers such as the Dao, Flower Hmong, Tay, Nung and Giay people come to the town for its bustling market. Everything from textiles and handbags to livestock is traded. On many market days, Flower Hmong singers perform captivating songs to entertain market-goers.

Stone mandarins in the Court of Honour, Tomb of Khai Dinh, near Hue, North Central Coast, Vietnam, Indochina, Southeast Asia

Another Unesco World Heritage Site, Huế was Vietnam’s Imperial City and later the capital of the country’s Nguyen emperors. It also features on Culture Trip’s exclusive small-group Vietnam trip , which includes a street food tour and cooking masterclass in Huế. The town was devastated by wars with the French and the Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries, it’s still filled with enthralling tombs, temples, and palaces. The Perfume River (Sông Hương) winds through the city, with the Forbidden City looming over its north bank. Dating back to the early 19th century, this citadel stretches for three miles along the town’s waterfront. The Perfume River itself is dotted with houseboats, long-tail vessels and dragon boats.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

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All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

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Places To Visit in Vietnam

Here are the top 47 tourist places in vietnam.

vietnam tourist town

1 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 83 Tourist attractions

Perched on the banks of the Red River in Northern Vietnam, Hanoi is Vietnam's capital and one of the world's most ancient cities. Boasting well-preserved colonial buildings, golden pagodas, unique museums, mouthwatering cuisine, entertainment destinations, and traditional bazaars, Hanoi is a melting...

Best Time: October to April

2. Ho Chi Minh City

2 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 86 Tourist attractions

Popularly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam is the largest city and the financial and cultural capital of the country. Ho Chi Minh City is a fast-paced city deeply rooted in its cultural roots whilst quickly having adapted to the demands of urbanisation. Here you will find o...

Best Time: November to April

3. Halong Bay

3 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 51 Tourist attractions

Characterised by towering karst limestone pillars and small islets of various shapes and sizes amidst crystal blue waters, Halong Bay's ethereal beauty is a sight to behold. Located in northern Vietnam, it is the most popular tourist spot this side of the country. Halong Bay, where 'Halong' translat...

Best Time: April to September

4 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 37 Tourist attractions

One of the oldest cities in Asia, Hoi An is a town in central Vietnam which was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. Located south of Danang, Hoi An translates to 'a peaceful meeting place'. It is culturally and historically one of Vietnam's most important towns and also one of the r...

Best Time: February to July

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5 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 48 Tourist attractions

Da Nang sits prettily on the east coast of Vietnam, right between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Popularly known as the tourist capital of South-Central Vietnam, Da Nang is truly stunning - filled with beaches, museums, evolving nightlife and world-class infrastructure. On the South China Sea coast, wi...

Best Time: February to May

6. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

6 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 4 Tourist attractions

Phong Nha ke Bang National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its many cave systems, old karst mountains, thick green forests and scintillating underground rivers. There are many spectacular caves in the region, including the most extensive cave network on earth. Spread across 10,000 hec...

Best Time: February to August

7. Nha Trang

7 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 43 Tourist attractions

Home to some of the most beautiful bays in the world, Nha Trang, on the coast of southern central Vietnam, is a popular beach resort city. While the fine powdery white crescent beach is a highlight of the shoreline, regular makeovers have produced parks, sculpture gardens, bright promenades, and bea...

Best Time: January - August

8 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 40 Tourist attractions

Hue, the former royal capital of the Nguyen empire in central Vietnam, is one of the oldest cities in the country. Set on the banks of the Perfume River, Hue is a primarily a historical city which famously houses the Imperial City (declared a World Heritage Site in 1993) within the Citadel, which ac...

Best Time: February - August

9 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 28 Tourist attractions

Situated atop the Hoang Lien Son Mountains, Sapa is a colonial-era town in northwest Vietnam overlooking the terraced rice fields of Muong Hoa Valley. At an elevation of 1,500 metres, this small market town shares its border with China and offers some of Vietnam's best trekking. Arguably offering th...

Best Time: March to May

10. Phu Quoc

10 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 28 Tourist attractions

Phu Quoc is the biggest island in Vietnam, boasting the most beautiful white sand beaches, surrounded by palm and coconut trees. It's the largest island in Vietnam and is renowned for its stunning white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush tropical landscapes. Located just 45 kilometers from...

Best Time: November to March

11. Mekong Delta

11 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam

The Mekong Delta in south-east Vietnam is one of the world’s greatest river regions. The Mekong River is the twelfth longest river in the world and the seventh longest river in Asia. The delta is a hive of activity and serves as an important transport and agricultural hub. Known as the ‘rice bowl of...

Best Time: November to May

12. Ninh Binh

12 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 14 Tourist attractions

Located in northern Vietnam, Ninh Binh is known for its stunning landscapes, rich history, and cultural heritage. It is called the "Halong Bay on land" due to its picturesque karst limestone formations, lush rice paddies, and winding rivers. Located just 90km from Hanoi, it is easily accessible...

Best Time: Throughout the year

13 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 29 Tourist attractions

Da Lat is a refreshing hill station located in the southwestern highlands of Vietnam and is about 6 hours away from Ho Chi Minh City. It is the capital of Lam Dong Province, known as the 'City of Eternal Spring' for its distinctive temperate climate. A far cry from the tropical heat of the...

Best Time: December to March

14. Ba Be National Park

14 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 5 Tourist attractions

Located at a distance of 240 kilometres from the city of Hanoi, Ba Be National Park is a stunning national reserve blessed with rolling hills, tall limestone karsts and over 550 plant varieties. It is also populated by 353 types of butterflies, 65 types of mammals and the rare Vietnamese Salamander.

15 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 14 Tourist attractions

The picturesque beach resort town of Mui Ne is located at a four-hour train ride away from the city of Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). Once a sleepy fishing beach village, the town is now dotted with swanky beach resorts, posh cafes and restaurants, attracting a large number of seaside-loving tourists and loc...

16. Bai Tu Long Bay

16 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 4 Tourist attractions

Bai Tu Long Bay in Northeastern Vietnam is an extension of Ha Long Bay - A UNESCO World Heritage site -  located at a mere 30 km from it. However, this small distance creates a vast difference in the experience that you can have here! The same limestone karsts, teal blue waters and languid crui...

Best Time: February to April

17. Bach Ma National Park

17 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam

Bach Ma National park is a verdant paradise, located about an hour-and-a-half drive away from the city of Hue. Home to a varied range of flora and fauna with about 358 bird species, it is also proclaimed to be one of the wettest areas in Vietnam. One of the most popular spots on the touris...

Best Time: June-August

18. Con Dao Islands

18 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 6 Tourist attractions

A picturesque archipelago of 16 Islands, Con Dao lies off the southern coast of Vietnam. Out of the 16, Con Son is the largest and the only inhabited island. However, even the uninhabited islands are rich with stunning beaches. Emerging out of its past as prison islands for prisoners of war, the de...

Best Time: November to February

19. Vung Tau

19 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 13 Tourist attractions

Vung Tau translates into 'The bay of boats'. Sitting on a hilly strip of land that juts into the Ocean, Vung tau is one of the best beach towns located around 100 Km from Ho Chi Minh City. It primarily serves as a weekend getaway from Saigon and other cities in the nearby region. The two main beache...

20. Dong Hoi

20 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 4 Tourist attractions

A pleasant seaside city, with easy access to the Phong Nha Ke Bang caves, Dong Hoi is a rapidly rising tourist destination. Apart from its proximity to the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Dong Hoi has its own tourist attractions, authentic cuisine and unique history that beckon people to explore an...

21. Dien Bien Phu

21 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 6 Tourist attractions

Formerly known as Thaeng, Dien Bien Phu is the capital of Dien Bien Province in the northwestern region of Vietnam. It is among the most historically eminent cities in Vietnam. It is here that the French were finally defeated in the year 1954 by the Viet Minh Communist Revolutionaries.Initially, jus...

Best Time: April to June, September to November

22 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 4 Tourist attractions

Son La is a picturesque Vietnamese town hidden amidst towering mountains. The town has a dark past as it played house to one of the most brutal prisons in the world. Today, all that remains is the ruins and a tiny town with ghosts of its past deceptively hidden behind its natural rivers, trees and f...

23. Cat Tien National Park

23 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam

Cat Tien National Park is located in the Southern region of Vietnam, approximately 155 kilometres away from Ho Chi Minh City. This forest reserve covers around 720 sq.km. of the few surviving tropical low-lying woodlands of Vietnam. The national park is home to exquisite flora and fauna such as the ...

Best Time: December to May

24 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 3 Tourist attractions

Bac Ha is a village located in the Northwest of Vietnam and is a sleepy little town, the economy of which is centred around its Saturday and Sunday markets. The exchange, the colours, the local wares and an ever-bustling affair, these markets are usually visited on a day trip from the neighbouring S...

Best Time: December to April

25. Phan Thiet

25 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 2 Tourist attractions

Playing house to an amalgamation of heated sand dunes, lush mountains filled with greenery, golden beaches with blue water and gurgling streams, Phan Thiet is the perfect escape into the beauty of Mother Nature.

Best Time: September to December

26. Lai Chau

26 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 6 Tourist attractions

Nestled in the midst of sloping mountains and plateaus, Lai Chau is a quaint town with monumental government buildings. This town offers you an opportunity to immerse yourself in the mystic scenery of the Vietnamese countryside. In addition to that, you can learn about the locals, go trekking, backp...

27. Hoa Binh

27 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 5 Tourist attractions

Hoa Binh is the Capital City of the Hoa Binh province of Vietnam. Located but a short distance from Hanoi, this hidden gem offers spectacular natural beauty, coupled with a rich culture. The natural beauty, rich history, and unique culture have made Hoa Binh a tourist attraction.

Best Time: October to January

28. Lao Cai

28 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 7 Tourist attractions

Nestled in the midst of mountains and valleys, Lao Cai, an obscure yet well developed Vietnamese region offers you something out of the ordinary - rich Vietnamese culture sans the sultry tropical heat. Lao Cai offers you a picturesque scenery, adventure and a peek into the rich culture and history o...

Best Time: September to October

29. Haiphong

29 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 19 Tourist attractions

Haiphong is Vietnam's third largest city and a major port. Haiphong is an industrial city and you can feel it in the air as soon as you enter. However, Haiphong also offers you with hidden relaxation, tucked and hidden away in the industrial town. It has a number of beaches and markets in addition t...

30 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 3 Tourist attractions

Ca Mau is Vietnam's southernmost town and the only city in the Ca Mau province. Braced against the Bac Lieu Canal, Ca Mau is a town that is still trying to decide its identity. While on one hand, it is a trade hub and a bustling metro, on the other, it is a quiet town with a bird sanctuary!The silky...

Best Time: June to October

31. Mong Cai

31 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 6 Tourist attractions

Nestling on the very edge of Vietnam, Mong Cai is a small town located on the Vietnam-China border. It is filled with picturesque untouched beaches and a rich history of the Vietnam - China conflict. The town has booming trade owing to its proximity to the border. Mong Cai is also full of untou...

Best Time: April to July

32. Vinh Long

32 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 4 Tourist attractions

Vinh Long has a vibe - a relaxed one. As soon as you step foot in this nondescript town in the Mekong Delta, you will physically feel your worries melt away as though you are stuck in a time lapse. The beautiful scenery coupled with the friendly locals, thatched huts, narrow lanes and fruit-laden or...

Best Time: January to March

33. Tuy Hoa

33 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 7 Tourist attractions

Flanked by the highway, the ocean and the Da Rang River, Tuy Hoa is a sleepy and nondescript city that does not see many tourists. This quiet Vietnamese city is the perfect place to relax, catch some waves or intent with friendly locals who are more than welcoming of tourists. The miles and miles of...

Best Time: January to April

34. Mai Chau

34 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam 4 Tourist attractions

The perfect location to cut yourself off from the world, Mai Chau is a quaint sleepy town that is not very well known and subsequently does not have as many tourists. If you want to drop off from the earth and land in a richly cultural land, in the midst of nature, then Mai Chau is the place for you...

35 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam

A hidden gem in the Mekong Delta, the small sleepy town of Sa Dec belongs to the Dong Thap Province. The town has a sense of calmness in the air and does not draw too many tourists. Although a bit of a silent town, it can keep a tourist busy with places such as the old busy market by the river, old ...

Best Time: July to October

36. Quy Nhon

36 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam

Quy Nhon is characterised by diverse topography ranging from hills, mountains, peninsulas, lakes, beaches and much more. This small corner of Vietnam is an undiscovered gem for most tourists eliminating your worries about crowded and noisy beaches. 

37. Bien Hoa

37 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam

Bien Hoa is a busy town on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam. Close to the cultural heart of Vietnam, Bien Hoa is connected to it by Vietnamese Highway 1. At present, it fosters eco-tourism through its national parks and reserves. It is a huge industrial area that is expanding expon...

38. Cao Lanh

38 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam

The refreshing town of Cao Lanh is the capital city of Dong Thap Province of Vietnam located on the southeastern coast of the country along the Mekong Delta. The newly flourishing city has a pretty good trade scene, especially in rice. The city does not give off a touristy vibe for the simple reason...

Best Time: October to December

39. Hai Van Pass

39 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam

Hai Van Pass, between Da Nang and Hue, is said to be one of the most scenic and beautiful roads in the world. The road is flanked by the South China Sea on one side and the Annamite mountain ranges on the other. The pass stretches for 19 km and serves as a link between the north and south of Vietnam...

40 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam

Also known as the war city, Pleiku is the capital of Gia Lai province in Vietnam. The city has become the hub for tourists in Vietnam. This central highland offers a range of places to see, visit and eat. Famous for its cuisine and military campaign in 1965, Pleiku should especially be visited durin...

41. Tay Ninh

41 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam

Tay Ninh, the capital city of Tay Ninh province, is the site for the famous Cu Chi Tunnels built during the Vietnam War for military siege. It shares its borders with Cambodia and is only 90 kms from the largest city of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh. The city’s crucial location gives it an economic advantage...

42. Kon Tum

42 out of 47 Places to visit in Vietnam

Due to the lack of a mainstream touristy vibe, the destination offers a calm off-centre experience to travelers and dwells them into the authentic Vietnamese culture. The city holds significance in the Vietnam War history and has many war sites open for visits by tourists and the locals. The surroun...

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Mountain towns in Vietnam

Highland Getaways: 7 Stunning mountain towns in Vietnam to discover

  • 12 minute read

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  • July 25, 2020

Table of Contents

How to get to mai chau, where to stay, when to visit, how to get to pu luong nature reserve, how to get to phong nha, how to get to kon tum, how to get to pleiku, how to get to da lat, how to get to cat tien national park.

The likes of Ha Long Bay and resort-laden Nha Trang tend to be overcrowded and overly familiar to travelers. Why not consider the emerald sanctuaries hidden in and around the cooling highlands of the multi-faceted countryside? Snake your way through the vivid patchwork of jade and emerald paddy fields in Mai Chau, invite yourself into the caverns of Phong Nha’s largest caves, and wake up to gibbons singing their early morning song at Cat Tien. From north to south, there is much to offer to the ardent explorer. These are the seven stunning mountain towns in Vietnam that we’ve handpicked.

While traveling, remember to be safe. Always check with local authorities for any travel restrictions or conditions that might affect your route.

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A mere four hours from Hanoi lies the idyllic Mai Chau , the polar opposite of the frenzied and chaotic capital. Here, rolling rice paddies and forest-clad mountains as far as the eye can see serve as the backdrop for quintessential village scenes. Friendly farmers tend to their crops, hard at work, yet always happy to take a break for a quick chat with anyone passing by. Young children carelessly chase clucking chickens around traditional stilt houses, while their mothers prepare hearty meals with ingredients plucked from the ground that morning. Expert hands operate looms like a musical instrument, producing rich and intricate brocades of hand-reeled dyed silk to sell at the local markets.

There is no better way to appreciate the tranquility of Mai Chau than a bike ride through the valley. Explore the winding paths amongst gardens and houses, and the wide open rice paddies between villages. Be sure to stop at a number of small drink stalls run by smiling locals for a quenching cà phê đá (Vietnamese iced coffee).

The rich culture of Mai Chau’s White Thai people runs deep throughout the rural district, and is best experienced by catching a Tai Kao dance performed by a local dance troupe, followed by a dinner of farm-to-table delicacies such as cơm lam (bamboo-tube grilled rice) and thịt lợn xiên nướng (pork skewers). For the daring, stuffed and fried cicadas are also enjoyed by the locals — just ask for a taste of ve sầu chiên .

  • By motorcycle/car: Mai Chau is approximately 150 kilometers from Hanoi and will take you around 4 hours to get there. Most of the roads you encounter are smooth and suitable for motorbike riding.
  • Tip: Chance upon the Thung Khe mountain pass on your journey into Mai Chau and reward yourself with a sprawling bird’s eye view of the valley.

Booking a night at one of the humble homestays should be on your checklist when it comes to experiencing Mai Chau. Options like Little Mai Chau Homestay and Homestay Trường Huy meld nature with simple comforts, ensuring a restful night’s sleep after a long journey.

Visit Mau Chau from September to May to see the rice fields while they are still lush. Harvesting takes place in June.

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Like Mai Chau, Pu Luong Nature Reserve offers that magical glimpse into the sprawling greens of rice fields, village landscapes, and an unparalleled opportunity of unhurried outdoor exploration. Weave your way through the ethnic Thai villages and encounter a network of bamboo water wheels sitting on a shallow sparkling river, its hypnotic symphony of movement and water filling the clean country air. Nearby, you might spot a gentle water buffalo grazing amidst the rich green. Just a short hike away from the laid-back Hieu village, find yourself in the midst of the dreamy Thac Hieu Waterfall , its inviting sun-dappled pools the perfect remedy for sun-scorched skin after a long trek around the reserve. 

This rustic, unspoiled region located on the cusp of Thanh Hoa and Hoa Binh sees few foreign visitors, although its growing collection of homestay lodges have seen an uptick in local tourism. Discover this untouched corner of Vietnam while it still retains its domestic charm.

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  • By motorcycle/car: Follow the directions to Mai Chau from Hanoi. Pu Luong is another 2 hours south of Mai Chau — around 70 kilometers of travel.

The best way to experience Pu Luong overnight is a homestay in one of the traditional stilt houses. If you want to stay close to the Thac Hieu Waterfall, we recommend Ban Hieu Garden Lodge and Duy Phuong Homestay . 

To catch the beginning of green season, visit Pu Luong in March. This will also guarantee cool nights, plenty of sunshine, and vibrant rice paddy fields.

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Phong Nha National Park is blessed, even by Vietnam’s high standards, with some of the most varied geology and biodiversity the country has to offer. Virgin forests carpet the lush valley, while striking mountains make their presence known for miles. Chartered boats meander lazily down the tranquil Son River, its waters feeding the rice fields that stretch across the terrain in organized abundance. Walk or cycle through the rural township of Son Trach as you listen to the call of cicadas cutting through the humid air.

For all its oasis-like beauty, it is what’s hidden behind the dense forestry and rugged cliffs that draws adventure-seekers to this protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. Deep limestone caves housing vast ecosystems and internal rivers run through the mountains here, none more legendary than Hang Son Doong , formed some two to five million years ago. Big enough to house skyscrapers, Hang Son Doong grants visitors an amazing glimpse into a world unseen by most. The price tag on the multi-day expedition through its depths is as steep as its stalagmites are tall — an eye-watering USD 3000. Not to worry, other caves are more accessible and manageable. The well-lit Paradise Cave boasts superb reflecting pools and incredible rock formations, while the Dark Cave challenges visitors to swim, kayak, and zip-line their way through the tour.

Of note, many of these mountain caves were used by the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War (or “American War”, to the locals) as makeshift hospitals to shelter the wounded and as safe-houses for munitions storage. Indeed, Phong Nha’s extensive parklands and its surroundings were once sites of heavy conflict. A conversation with your guide may result in stories of the Ho Chi Minh Trail that can be found fragmented around the parklands, and they may be quick to point out the occasional bomb crater amidst the rice fields. 

  • By plane: Regular domestic flights from either Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi fly into Dong Hoi Airport. From there, you will need to travel an additional 50 kilometers to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park Headquarters.
  • By bus: Overnight sleeper buses are available. The journey from Hanoi will take about 9 hours.

Phong Nha Farmstay is a unique collection of colonial-style buildings with unblocked views of the endless green fields that characterize Phong Nha. If convenience and comfort are key, you’ll appreciate the terraced restaurant and bar, swimming pool, and complimentary breakfast.

Caves in Phong Nha are not accessible during the rainy season from August to January. Always check with official tour operators about the conditions of the caves and book your expeditions in advance.

Often overlooked in favor of neighboring Pleiku, Kon Tum is well-deserving of a place in your list of mountain towns in Vietnam. History buffs may be interested in the region’s wartime past. Bloody battles waged during the Vietnam-American war once carved scars into the land, but things have changed. While the site of the  Đắk Tô Airstrip still remains, the local farmers now use this barren belt of asphalt to lay out and dry cassava. 

But Kon Tum is more than just the sum of its modern history. Dig deep into the time-honored culture of the area and you will find a melting pot of diverse ethnic minority communities. The Bahnar, Sedang, Gieh Trieng, and Rongao people make up the 700 small villages dotting the surrounding hills. Marvel at the architecturally distinct rong in the Bahnar villages of Kon Kotu, its impossibly tall thatch roof held up by bamboo walls, and join the locals in festivals and village meetings. At the Rongao village of Plei Thonghia, watch as children splash and play in the Dakbla River, while farmers in ox-pulled carts transport their harvests. In Ya Chim, just southwest of Kon Tum, villagers tend to elaborate graves in Jarai cemeteries, where daily offerings sit alongside personal possessions of the deceased, ranging from simple jewelry and trinkets to bicycles and actual TVs! Some of these self-contained villages require you to travel with a legitimate guide, so book visits in advance to avoid disappointment.

While serving as the perfect base for exploring the nearby villages, Kon Tum itself also has a few intriguing sights worth a visit. The Immaculate Conception Cathedral , aptly called the “old wooden church” by locals, beautifully blends into the town, with its imposing dark wood and gold colonial facade opening up into a light and airy altar room, adorned with traditional woven fabrics.

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Kon Tum is an easy 30-minute drive from Pleiku Airport.

A number of the surrounding villages offer overnight stays in the homes of locals, giving travelers the unique chance to experience true rural village life. Should you prefer something a little more modern, Nang House 82 offers stylish accommodation closer to town.

It is best to visit Kon Tum in the drier months, in December and between February and early March.

Pleiku , in itself a city with its fair share of urban comforts, asserts itself as a gateway for travelers looking to enter the enchanting wilderness of Vietnam’s Central Highlands from the south. A vast 250-hectare crater lake — Bien Ho — sits six kilometers north of the city center, its volcanic origins gifting the natural landscape with an abundance of nutrient-rich water and soil. The locale is fringed with photogenic pine trees and tea plantations, and sitting on the lake itself is a scenic jetty with a lovely gazebo.

The Gia Lai province has long bewildered visitors with one particular exotic condiment: ant salt. Made from a specific yellow jungle ant found in the region, the unsuspecting critters are harvested, fried, and ground into an acidic pulp with a pungent mix of spicy chili, herbs, and salt. The condiment packs a powerful punch to barbecued meats, beef jerky, and fruit. For something a little more palatable to the average gastronomer, slurp up a bowl of fresh vermicelli noodles covered in a very special crab sauce, the product of boiling and fermenting freshwater crabs found scuttling in wet paddy fields.

Off the beaten track, Phu Cuong Waterfall is a lesser-known gem, some 50 kilometers south of the city. Gushing waters thunder down a dizzying 38 meters of reddish rock cliffs, spraying the surrounding greenery with fine mist. Not quite on the tourist radar yet, make the most of this hidden stopover and keep the secret to yourself.

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  • By plane: Pleiku Airport is just six kilometers north of the city. Catch domestic flights from Ho Chi Minh City or Da Lat.
  • By motorcycle/car: If driving from Da Lat, you will need to travel approximately 385 kilometers north to get to Pleiku. This can take 7 to 8 hours. Sleeper buses also operate between the two cities.
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XOM Organic Farm Stay is modern and tastefully decorated. As its name might suggest, there is also an organic farm on the premises. We highly recommend getting to know the owners and sampling some of their farm-to-table cooking.

The Gia Lai province is best experienced in the drier months, in December and between February and early March.

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Blessed by eternal spring, succulent strawberries, fields of flowers, and mist-shrouded mountains, Da Lat entices its visitors with its uniquely temperate climate and romantic atmosphere. Located in the southern reaches of Vietnam’s Central Highlands and often touted as the Paris of Vietnam, this mountain town has more of a modern touristic influence than the other places on this list. Don’t let this dissuade you, for Da Lat offers its own brand of charm. 

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Sip on a comforting glass of cà phê sữa nóng (hot milk coffee) on a hillside terrace that overlooks the distant mountains. There are plenty of delightful cafes here that will satisfy your cravings for a good view and a delicious cuppa. Speaking of delightful things, any traveler to Da Lat worth their salt must visit the beautiful Linh Phuoc Pagoda to marvel at its intricate mosaic-style facade. To get there, make your way to the lovely buttercup-yellow Da Lat Railway Station and catch one of the vintage trains in all its old-world glory — complete with charming wood furnishings and Art Deco lamps — to the nearby village of Trai Mat. From there, it’s an easy 5-minute walk from the station to the pagoda.

For something quirky, lose yourself in the labyrinthine wonderland of the avant-garde Crazy House that combines architectural madness with fairy-tale whimsy. For the adventurous, head out to see the cascading Datanla Waterfall , just five kilometers south of the city center — an exhilarating roller coaster ride takes you on a winding journey through the alpine forests before stopping at the falls. And, of course, Da Lat is famous for its strawberry farms, so try your hand at picking the best sun-ripened fruit at the Vườn Dâu Tuấn garden.

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  • By plane: Da Lat’s city center is 30 minutes from Da Lat Airport, which is serviced by frequent domestic flights from Ho Chi Minh City.
  • By bus: A sleeper bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Lat will take about 7 hours.

Although there are plenty of places to stay in Da Lat, the Dahlia Dalat is worth the travel time from the city center. Situated in a natural pine forest, it offers picturesque panoramic views of Tuyen Lam Lake.

The best time to enjoy Da Lat is between December and March, when its famous flower gardens are in full bloom.

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Not so much a mountain town as it is a protected reserve, Cat Tien National Park will grant adventure-seekers the opportunity to roam the centuries-old jungles of the south and glimpse some of the rarest species of Vietnam’s wildlife. Sweeping in its size, encapsulating over 700 square kilometers and stretching across three provinces, Cat Tien is a treasure trove for nature lovers. At dawn, witness yellow-cheeked gibbons swing from branch to branch overhead, their chorus of ethereal howls reverberating through the trees. Venture deeper into the jungle and cross paths with towering ancient Tung trees, their buttress roots making a canyon of the forest floor. Finally, discover the hidden Bau Sau (“Crocodile Lake”), where lurking Siamese crocodiles shimmy their way through the still waters looking for prey.

For the best chance of seeing the gibbons in their natural environment, we recommend the official Wild Gibbon Trek . All proceeds go back into Cat Tien National Park’s conservation work. These guided tours are limited to four people per day and require advanced booking.

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  • By motorcycle/car: Cat Tien National Park is approximately 150 kilometers northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, about 4 hours away.
  • By bus: Take a direct bus from Bến xe Miền Đông bus station in Ho Chi Minh City to Cat Tien National Park. This will take around 5 hours.
  • Entering the park: You will need to cross the river to access the national park. Ferries operate from 7 am to 7 pm. Return tickets cost 60,000 VND per person.

Nature lovers can stay at the Forest Floor Lodge , conveniently nestled amongst the trees in the national park, while those looking for a touch of civilization can stay in town at the family-owned Nhà Nghỉ Thủy Tiên ECO-LODGE .

The best time to visit Cat Tien National Park is between December and May, when there is less rain.

We hope we’ve piqued your curiosity and inspired you to discover these beautiful mountain towns in Vietnam!

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25 Top Tourist Attractions in Vietnam

By Mike Kaplan · Last updated on May 4, 2024

Most travelers to Vietnam are attracted by the country’s wonderful natural beauty: From the green rice fields in the north to the fascinating bustle of the Mekong Delta in the south. Vietnam however is also a country with a long history and ancient traditions.

While its history is one of war, colonization and rebellion, the Vietnamese are very friendly and welcoming and are rightfully proud of their country. Aside from learning about the rich culture and cuisine in its cities, you can also visit remote hill tribes for a completely different experience.

The landscapes are just as varied as untouched mountain ranges and terraced rice fields give way to lovely islands, beaches and coastline. With Buddhist temples, serene hill towns and huge caves, this country offers visitors a wide range of things to do. For ideas on the best places to visit check out our list of the top tourist attractions in Vietnam.

25. Khai Dinh Tomb in Hue

Khai Dinh Tomb

Blending both Vietnamese and European design elements, the architecture of the Khai Dinh Tomb in Hue has been described as Buddhist as well as Roman Gothic. Constructed in the 1920s, the tomb was commissioned by the Emperor of Vietnam as his own future tomb.

The entrance of the complex leads to the Honour Courtyard, and then on to the main building called the Thien Dinh. Khai Dinh’s final resting spot is clearly marked by a bronze statue surrounded by beautiful murals.

24. Con Dao Islands

Con Dao Islands

Under French rule, the Con Dao Islands were known as the Devil’s Island of Indochina, a place where thousands of prisoners of war were kept. Today, this group of 16 islands off the southern coast of Vietnam has a completely different purpose.

Visitors come for the beautiful beaches while scuba diving and snorkeling are also popular things to do. However, the history of Con Dao can still be explored at some of the prison buildings that still stand.

Aside from visiting the camps and seeing the notorious ‘tiger cages’, most come to lounge on soft sandy beaches or scuba dive and snorkel. From Con Son, its largest island, you can take unforgettable trips to see dugongs, dolphins and sea turtles.

23. Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains

South of Da Nang , are the Marble Mountains. These five peaks are named after the five elements of earth, water, wind, fire and wood. The mountains are picturesque on their own, but they are also home to countless caves, some of which house incredible Buddhist sanctuaries. Some caves contain Confucian or Buddhist shrines, and others were used as sanctuaries and hospitals during the Vietnam War.

After hiking up to Am Phu or Non Nuoc, there are plenty of expertly carved Buddhist statues and soaring pagodas to wander around. Very special and atmospheric, the Marble Mountains also offer some wonderful views over the surrounding area.

22. Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon

Notre Dame Cathedral

In Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, stands the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral. Built in the late 19th century, the cathedral is brick, neo-Romanesque and clearly influenced by European architecture of the same time period. In fact, many of the materials used in construction were imported directly from France.

While the exterior is impressive, the interior is also worth exploring. Look for the surviving stained glass panels as well as carved tiles and a statue of the Virgin Mary.

21. Tam Coc

Tam Coc

In the Ninh Binh province of Northern Vietnam near is Tam Coc , which translates to English as three caves. The three caves are nestled in a scenic landscape of limestone cliffs and rice paddies, and the river winds through the region.

The caves are called Hang Cả, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba, and they serve as the area’s main attraction. Guided boat tours take you to the caves and along the Ngo Dong River, which is often dotted with floating vendors capitalizing on the tourist visiting on a day trip from Hanoi .

20. My Khe Beach

My Khe Beach

The most scenic spot in Da Nang is arguably My Khe Beach. Also known as China Beach, this was where US servicemen were helicoptered in for R&R during the Vietnam War. These days people come here however for tis pristine white sand, blue water and sunny skies.

Visitors can rent a lounge chair on the sand, relax in the shade under a thatched umbrella or rent a kayak from nearby vendors. Many hotels and cafes are within walking distance of My Khe Beach, making it a hub for visitors as well as locals in search of incredible views.

19. Hang Son Doong Cave

Hang Son Doong Cave

One of the largest caves in the world, and certainly the largest in Vietnam, is Hang Son Doong. Approximately three million years old, Hang Son Doong Cave is an incredible destination unlike anywhere else on the planet. The cave is enormous, and it is possible for dozens of people to camp within it at a time.

Bright blue water pools are located in the cave, and a river runs through it. Lush greenery lines the walls, thanks to erosion that lets in beams of sunlight. The cave is ethereal, and guided tours are available to best explore this amazing landmark.

18. Temple of Literature in Hanoi

Temple of Literature in Hanoi

The first university founded in the country, the magnificent Temple of Literature impressively dates back to 1070. Lying amidst gorgeous grounds and courtyards in the centre of Hanoi, it has numerous altars, shrines and an imposing entrance gate to admire.

Dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars, its grand pavilions and gold-decked ceremonial halls all exhibit some fine traditional architecture. Most striking, however, are the hundred or so stone-carved turtles which honour all students to have passed the royal exam.

Dotted about the complex are tons of informative wall-hangings that explain more about its age-old history. During Tet – the Vietnamese New Year – countless calligraphists assemble outside the temple and write well wishes for people to take home with them.

17. Bac Ha Market

Bac Ha Market

Once a week, the quiet town of Bac Ha becomes a hub of culture and trade in Northwest Vietnam. Residents from the surrounding villages and valleys flock to Bac Ha, and the roads are filled with buses packed with tourists.

Visiting on a Sunday means watching locals in their traditional ethnic dress, sipping the juice from fresh coconuts and browsing countless stalls. Shoppers can find everything for sale in Bac Ha, including water buffalo, delicious Hmong and Thay cuisine, brightly colored fabrics and fragrant spices.

16. Cham Islands

Cham Islands

Several miles off the coast of Hoi An is a cluster of mountainous isles known as the Cham Islands . Primarily granite, these islands were once restricted but are now open to the public. The main island Hon Lao, the largest and the only one inhabited, is less than two hours’ away by speed boat.

Visitors can come for the day and go birdwatching, snorkel through the surrounding reefs or just enjoy the scenery of the beautiful beaches. Overnight stays are limited, but can be an incredible experience for the intrepid traveler.

15. Hang Nga’s Guesthouse in Da Lat

Hang Nga's Guesthouse

While it may be a bit unusual to include a guest house on a list of a country’s top attractions, Hang Nga’s ‘Crazy House’ in Da Lat definitely warrants its spot. A mix of Dali meets Disney, its extraordinary architecture and equally unique interior create some incredible photo ops.

Inspired by Catalonia’s Gaudi, the phenomenal five-story building was designed by Vietnamese architect Dang Viet Nga in 1990. Resembling a banyan tree, it is decorated with natural shapes that look like caves and mushrooms or tangled plants and spider webs.

Other than exploring its maze of small passageways and narrow staircases, you can actually stay in some of its fun-themed rooms. Fittingly described as a ‘fairytale house’, it really is a must-visit when in Da Lat.

14. Cao Dai Temple

Cao Dai Temple

One of the most sacred attractions in Vietnam is the Cao Dai Temple, which was constructed in the 1930s. Caodaism is a uniquely Vietnamese religion that is influenced by elements of Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism and even Roman Catholicism.

In the main building of the Cao Dai Temple, there are four prayers conducted daily, and visitors can watch or even participate in the ceremonies. In addition to the temple, which boasts beautiful murals, the complex is home to many additional residences, administrative buildings and even a hospital.

13. Imperial Citadel in Hue

Imperial Citadel

For nearly 150 years until World War II, the Imperial Citadel of Hue served as the capital of Vietnam’s Nguyen dynasty. In the very center of these secure walls was the Purple Forbidden City, an area reserved exclusively for the royal family.

The enormous Imperial Citadel was also a strategic hold during the Vietnam War, as it stands very close to the demilitarized zone that separated North and South Vietnam. This destination is significant for all those who are interested in the history of the nation.

Highlights include the majestic Meridian Gate and the colourful Mieu temple complex. As you stroll about its grounds, you’ll also find several interesting museums to stop at.

My Son

More than 1,600 years ago, the Chan people of Vietnam began construction on dozens of Hindu temples near the village of Duy Phú. Under the shadow of Cat’s Tooth Mountain, and surrounded by a green valley, several of these temples still stand.

Constructed between the 4th and 14th century, the humongous Hindu complex served as an important religious center and burial site for the Kings of Champa. At its zenith, there were over 70 temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu dotted about the valley.

Known collectively as My Son, most of the temples are now ruins. However, that only adds to the atmosphere. Visiting My Son is like stepping back in time, thanks in part to its secluded location and the lack of touristy infrastructure.

11. Phong Nha Caves

Phong Nha Caves

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park boasts many attractions, but none is so popular as its caves. The Phong Nha Caves are made up of hundreds of cave systems, many of which are large enough to hold entire city blocks.

Formed throughout millions of years, its endless mountains and forests contain over 300 caves and grottos. Some, such as Son Doong and Phong Nha, are among the largest in the world.

Entering their cavernous confines is unforgettable as spectacular stalactites and stalagmites are on show wherever you look. What’s more, there are even underground rivers, rainforests and beaches to see.

A gateway to the caves is Son Trach, a growing village that is home to several transport links throughout Vietnam, local restaurants and meeting points for guided tours to the caves.

10. Nha Trang

Nha Trang

Nha Trang is Vietnam’s most popular seaside resort town located along the second most beautiful bay in the country. It features beautiful beaches with fine and clean sand and clear ocean water with mild temperatures.

The city has about 300,000 inhabitants and is more lively and urban in character than other beach destinations like Mui Ne and Phu Quoc. It’s also the scuba diving center of Vietnam.

Besides its wonderful beaches and water parks, there are a couple of museums and historic sights to see. The city is also renowned for its splendid seafood and vibrant nightlife scene.

9. Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels

The Cu Chi Tunnels are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located about 40 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The tunnels were used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots during the Vietnam War, and were the base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968

Stretching a staggering 250 kilometers in total, their oppressive tunnels and chambers were hollowed out by hand using only simple tools. Here, thousands of fighters lived in absolutely horrendous conditions alongside ants, snakes, scorpions and spiders.

The tunnels have become a popular tourist attraction, and visitors are invited to crawl around in the safer parts of the tunnel system.

8. Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta

Fittingly nicknamed the ‘Rice Bowl of Vietnam’, the Mekong Delta’s many murky waterways cover a massive area immediately west of Ho Chi Minh City. Both fascinating and fun to boat about, the remote region is full of pretty paddy fields, mangroves and floating markets.

Since as early as the 4th century BC, the vast maze of rivers, swamps and islands has been an important source of agriculture and aquaculture. Impressively enough, it produces more rice than Japan and Korea combined.

As you paddle about in little wooden canoes, you’ll pass fruit orchards and cattle farms and learn about everyday life in the delta. There are also numerous nature reserves with floating markets like Phong Dien and Cai Rang always being popular stops.

7. Sand Dunes in Mui Ne

Mui Ne

The formerly little-inhabited beach south of the fishing village of Mui Ne has seen some serious development in the last 20 years. Due to strong sea breezes it is a popular destination in Vietnam for kite- and windsurfing.

The town is still most known though for its sparkling dunes that wouldn’t look out of place in the Sahara. Towering over 10 metres in height, they make for a phenomenal sight with lots of people either sledding or quad biking about them.

While the red sand dunes lie quite close to town overlooking the sea, the white ones are a bit further away. Both look particularly epic at sunrise and sunset with some even taking hot air balloon rides above them.

6. Terraced Rice Fields In Sapa

Sa Pa Terraces

Some of Vietnam’s most famous and photogenic landscapes, however, have to be the scenic Terraced Rice Fields around Sapa. Nestled away right in the northwest of the country, their sweeping valleys and vivid green hues make for unbelievable views.

Located not far from the Chinese border, the popular and picturesque town lies right by the 3,143 metre-high Fansipan; the tallest peak in Southeast Asia. In between them are all the romantic terraced rice fields of Muong Hoa Valley.

For many centuries now, local hill tribes have constructed and maintained these engineering marvels, cultivating rice amidst the region’s harsh mountain climes. Other than enjoying its arresting views, you can also trek about the verdant fields and visit all the small villages.

5. Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc

Although it is the largest island in Vietnam, the gorgeous Phu Quoc lies just off the coast of Cambodia, surrounded by the glinting Gulf of Thailand. A tropical paradise, it is famed for its wonderful white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters.

Coated in dense rainforest with mountain ridges also running through it, the idyllic isle was quite undeveloped until relatively recently. While most of it is still pristine, new restaurants and resorts are popping up all the time.

As well as sunbathing and swimming, you can always scooter around nearby fishing villages or tour pearl and pepper farms. With delicious seafood dishes to try and twinkling waterfalls to hike to, Phu Quoc really does make for a great island getaway.

4. Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An

This fishing-village-turned-tourist-attraction is situated on the coast of the South China Sea. Hoi An has been an international port from the 16th century although the serious shipping business has long since moved to the city of Da Nang.

The heart of the city is still the Old Town, full of winding lanes and Chinese-styled shops. It is sometimes called the “Venice of Vietnam” because of the narrow canals that cut through part of the town.

Due to its strategic setting along the country’s central coastline, Hoi An thrived for centuries as an important trading port. Its many merchants built not just Chinese-style temples and shophouses but Vietnamese tube houses too. Later on, the French also added colonial villas.

What makes its Ancient Town even more enchanting are all the colourful lanterns strung up along its streets and riverside. In addition to taking photos of its quaint Japanese-covered bridge, you can stop for a bite to eat or shop for souvenirs at its vibrant central market.

3. Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake

Located in the historical center of Hanoi , Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the major scenic spots in the city and serves as the locals’ favorite leisure spot. Hoan Kiem means “returned sword”, and the name comes from a legend in which King Le Loi was given a magical sword by the gods, which he used to drive out the invading Chinese. Later he returned the sword to the Golden Turtle God in the lake.

See also: Where to Stay in Hanoi

Aside from strolling along its shores taking in the scenery and views, you can also cross the bright red The Huc Bridge to the historic Ngoc Son Temple. Another of the lake’s landmarks is the iconic Turtle Tower which is set on a tiny island far offshore.

2. Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue

Thien Mu Pagoda

Along with the Imperial Citadel, the marvellous Thien Mu Pagoda is undoubtedly Hue’s main symbol and sight. Perched upon a hill overlooking the Perfume River, it makes for some fine photos with the lush landscaped grounds at its foot being very peaceful to wander around.

Originally erected in 1601, the pagoda was built by the first of the Nguyen lords to pray for the country’s prosperity. Now towering seven storeys in total, it houses some exquisite gold and silver images of the Buddha.

After snapping some pics of the 21-metre-high tower, make sure to explore all its gorgeous gardens along the river.

1. Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay

Renowned around the world for its incredible karst landscapes and emerald waters, Halong Bay is by far the most popular tourist attraction in Vietnam. Featured on the front of countless travel catalogues, it can be reached in roughly 2.5 hours from Hanoi.

Home to almost 2,000 craggy isles and looming limestone outcrops, its name means ‘Bay of Descending Dragons’ in Vietnamese. Rising dramatically above the waters around them, their rugged rocks are topped by thick jungle vegetation with sandy beaches and cool caves found at their feet.

Many people also take sightseeing cruises about the bay, stopping off at floating villages and grottoes along the way. You can also always swim and kayak or enjoy relaxing Tai Chi, yoga and cooking classes aboard the junk boats .

Map of Tourist Attractions in Vietnam

Vietnam Map

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Reader interactions.

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November 8, 2017 at 6:22 pm

I spent two weeks in Vietnam Dec 2016, Cam Ranh, Nha-Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi Tunnels, Tay Ninh, The Mekong Delta, I have never had such a great trip in my life. I am already planning my next trip. I can’t wait to go back. The in country flights are fantastic, the people are awesome and for those who complain about the traffic, hey it is their way of life, they don’t need to change because are coming to visit. Go there and enjoy yourself.

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June 10, 2017 at 3:02 am

I am planning a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia for Feb 2018 and this site has been of great help. so many positive comments and a few scarey ones…I will continue doing my home work and am hoping that 10 to 14 days will suffice for the trip from north to south and Con Dao.

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May 21, 2017 at 11:54 pm

I think Ha Giang, Ba Be lake, Ban Gioc waterfall, Trang An are beautifull too.

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May 10, 2017 at 1:25 am

i am planning to visit this country by next year , this blog is very helpful . amazing place! see you sonnest!

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April 17, 2017 at 3:09 am

we are planning to visit Vietnam shortly .,good to learn reviews as posted by all of you. We are excited to explore.

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March 28, 2017 at 7:47 am

i really like Việt Nam. In my opinion, i think you should visit Phú Quốc. What a beautiful island! I’m Vietnamese. Thanks you so much 🙂

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January 17, 2017 at 7:16 am

great information, thanks!

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November 25, 2015 at 1:04 am

love Vietnam so much. People are very friendly. I have just had an interesting holiday with my family in summer. Nha Trang beach is the most beautiful beach i have ever seen. The food is very special that no country has. I will come back to Vietnam soon.

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June 11, 2015 at 10:43 pm

If you go to Vietnam, it is best to travel on your own. Stay away from the tourist traps because as a tourist, you will be expected to pay high rates. Better to rent a motorbike and just go. I have been to Phu Quoc island and it is not clean. The Vietnamese are the worst next to India about throwing garbage everywhere. We went to star beach in the very south of the island. It’s difficult to get there, not many speak English, and it’s very expensive. There was polluted water running off into the sea. The beach water was yellow at the shoreline. There was garbage dumped everywhere. Your cheap rooms at an overnight house should cost around $8 per night in the off season. At a higher end place it will be about $50 / night. In the high season it will be much more.

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April 12, 2015 at 9:20 am

Beautiful country to visit. Viet Nam has improved a lot after a long war. Thanks for the information.

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February 3, 2015 at 7:25 pm

Love Vietnam! Yes, you can be ripped off and charged more if you act like an ethnocentric tourist… bargain for things like the locals do, be smart by learning atleast a little of the language, get a guide if you need one. Don’t renounce the place because YOU can’t fit in and atleast try to have cultural etiquette! Of if the best trips of my life! Truly awesome! I will be back!!

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December 26, 2014 at 4:39 am

I’ve lived in Vietnam for over 11 years. I’ve found many places to visit during my ventures through Vietnam. I am surprised that the the Ke Bang National Park is not on this list of places to go. I would think the caverns and small boat rides would be a very interesting trip to the North central part of Vietnam. The only place I have not been is Sa Pa and island of Phu Quoc… I’ve traveled several times by motorbike covering between 1700 and 2100 km throughout Vietnam. Now living in DaNang. The beaches here are fantastic, lodging is of your choice and many say the food great.

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November 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Spent 3 weeks in Vietnam & loved every minute of it. I may have got ripped off a dollar or two here & there but its so cheap it didn’t worry me. The food is great, the people are great. Hoi An is a delight. I always travel to Thailand but it was a great break away from Thailand and will be heading back to Vietnam 2015 for more exciting travel. PS; Marisa, I’m going to learn basic Vietnamese to get me by. No ranting from me.

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October 24, 2014 at 11:23 pm

I am soooooo happy i found this website cos needed a good one for a school project:) 🙂 :{ also I am going to Vietnam soon so I am glad to know some of what I am gonna see thx whoever made this website

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October 24, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Help! Need to take vacay soon! Cant decide bw vietnam and thailand. Want something different as far as culture (i’m from usa). Love beaches, touristy stuff and immersing myself with the locals. Drawn to vietnam for the history and because my dad fought in the war. Drawn to thailand for the beaches. Plan on two weeks at either country. Cost is a factor. Would also like to do a side trip to angor wat since i’ll be so close. Input/suggestions would be appreciated!

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October 22, 2014 at 8:19 am

Literally just returned (yesterday) from an awesome trip to Vietnam. Loved it there and the food and people were awesome. Very respectful, friendly and helpful. Our guide was phenomenal.

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June 23, 2014 at 6:47 pm

To those who say you got ripped off while traveling in Vietnam, as being a Vietnamese, I very apologize for this unfriendly manner. I understand this and this could even happen to Vietnamese tourists. As my own experience, places that you could be ripped off the most are street-food places. If you don’t understand the culture there, please find a local, they will help you get around. We are very friendly and we would love to learn English from travelers. I understand why those people rip foreigners off. It is because of poverty and lack of education. I believe when a new government ruling our country and kick the communists out of our land, things will change. Vietnam is so beautiful. I would love to go back there and travel to every corner of the country. Before I start traveling the world, I have to explore my own mother land.

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June 10, 2014 at 6:12 am

Hello, Just back from a great trip to Vietnam, amazing place, clean, green, never felt intimidated once in our 11 days trip to this Gods country, with such a rich history, diversity, culture food etc….we were a group of 17 from India. Being from India we did not find traffic as chaotic of how it is written about. We thoroughly enjoyed the food from pork, sea food, and even tried crickets!!! We enjoyed every city, special was Hoi An could have stayed longer there!!! Amazing pagodas and temples, awesome Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. The Cu Chi tunnels give you a real experience of the ingenuity of the Viet Cong (VC). This country has to be in the list of MUST visit before you die.

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May 8, 2014 at 8:47 am

You have got to love Marisa’ post with quotes like “none of the vendors speak English or have English menus”! Vietnam is amazing!

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April 23, 2014 at 1:38 am

I am in Vietnam right now, and I have to say it’s a completely positive surprise. We have heard from a lot of people that vietnamese are unfriendly, stories of ripping off the tourists, etc… Well, I have seen a bunch of foreign tourist here bargaining for every penny, and complaining about everything. Hanoi as an amazing place and Halong Bay is unbelievable, and local people are generally very friendly and quite natural. And even if we (the foreigners) pay more than the locals, it is still a very cheap country. Besides, if we are honest to ourselves, we should be more than happy how they treat us after all the misery the west has brought to them in the past. Next week heading off south, can’t wait to see other fascinating places in this beautiful country.

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March 9, 2014 at 3:22 am

Vietnam is one of the most diverse and beautiful countries i have been to, to those that say it is a rip off is completely wrong, you pay a single dollar for some of the best street food in the world. Tourists pay more than locals because nearly every local i met had never left their town or major city because they earn basically nothing compared to western travellers.I would highly suggest spending 1 to 2 months in this amazing country. So much love for Vietnam.

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February 6, 2014 at 2:12 am

A good selection of places to go. I missed some of them, but you can’t go everywhere. 🙂 I’d like to recommend a tour with the Easy Riders from Dalat. It was a nice experience. Anyone, who wants to know more, can check it out on my blog. Plus, Dalat itself, is a nice place to hang out.

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January 27, 2014 at 7:15 am

I am currently in Vietnam and so far this place has been a complete tourist-unfriendly rip off. Yes Halong Bay is nice, yes the sights such as Ho Chi Minh’s Museum and Mausoleum and the Vietnam War museum and Hanoi Hilton prison in Hanoi are worth seeing but to get to these places you have to put your life on the line just to walk along a road. Never have I met such insincere people in my life and I have travelled all over the world including backpacking in Thailand, Chile, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, South Africa etc. Tourists pay far more than locals for train tickets, bus tickets,food. The food is bland and unappetizing compared with Thailand in restaurants and its ten times more difficult to use street vendors as nobody speaks english or has english menus. Only 5% of visitors return to Vietnam compared with 50% who return to Thailand, and you have to pay a very high cost for a visa to get here as well. My advice for Vietnam would be if you have to visit, go with a tour company having paid for everything in advance. Sorry we wont be returning. Ever.

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January 20, 2014 at 9:08 am

Vietnam is a great travel destination. I spent a month in south VN in 2008, and hope to visit the north (Ha Giang, Lang Son) later this year.

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November 25, 2013 at 1:53 am

Son Doong cave is also Amazing!! I’ve been in Hanoi and walked around Hoan Kiem lake and Halong bay. Very nice!

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November 10, 2013 at 10:51 pm

i loved it in Vietnam, especially in the Chu Chi Tunnels it was an amazing experience. my wife and i even saw bats, i would defiantly recommend going to Vietnam

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November 5, 2013 at 6:36 am

Just left Vietnam having spent 3 weeks there, what a nightmare. Been on the road for 4.5 months now, overland from Europe, as part of a 7 month trip. I’ve visited nearly 50 countries in my lifetime, Vietnam is just the worst. As a tourist you are constantly lied to, cheated and overcharged (by 5, 10, 20 times the fair price) not by a small minority, but by the vast majority of the people you interact with – if you let them. If you choose to visit Vietnam for its mediocre sights, take GPS enabled maps, a stack of local information / guidebooks and make absolutely sure you believe and trust no one you speak to while there.

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November 3, 2013 at 7:24 pm

If you have time, Just visit Da Nang City, Viet Nam. Da Nang is very nice and full of hidden thing waiting for your Exploration.

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July 7, 2013 at 4:07 am

As a solo-backpacker will be touring Vietnam and Cambodia in November 2013. thanks for youir excellent information on Vietnam places of Interest.

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May 6, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I love to see my country again and i am doing my project about my country. I luckily see this site and have enough info here. Thank you very much .

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October 16, 2012 at 1:42 am

vietnam is very beautiful as i m newly married i want to come here for honeymoon

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September 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm

I want to go here so bad! It looks so beautiful! Thank you so much for this information because I’m doing a project for school and it needed to include attractions… luckly your site was the best one I could find! Oh and don’t worry I gave you credit for the info! 🙂

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July 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Vietnam seem to be a very beautiful country that I would like to visit soon.

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January 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Great post and useful information! Thanks!

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  • How To Get There

Founded over 1000 years ago, Vietnam’s capital city is rich in history, with the streets of its rambling Old Quarter dating back to the 14th century. Wandering these tree-lined lanes past crumbling colonial facades will transport you back in time. However, today's Hanoi is about much more than the past. The ancient city is being invigorated with modern cafes, world-class restaurants, and cool art galleries. When the sun goes down, you have your pick of watering holes, from sophisticated rooftop bars to buzzing bia hơi. If you're traveling to Hanoi for the first time, these are experiences you must try at least once in your life. From ancient temples to buzzing markets, Hanoi's got it all. It's basically the cultural heartbeat of Vietnam. 

Click the image below for a 360-degree tour of hanoi.

vietnam tourist town

Top things to do in Hanoi

Sample the street food

For an authentic taste of Hanoi, look to the street kitchens of the Old Quarter. Steaming pots of its star anise-infused Phở broth simmer on every corner; while every day, the scent of bún chả fills the air as barbecued pork sizzles over hot coals.

Stroll the Old Quarter

Hanoi’s Old Quarter serves up a sensory overload. Wisps of incense drift out onto streets from ancient temples, while the clang of blacksmiths’ hammers mingles with mobile fruit sellers’ call. Jump in a cyclo and tour this intoxicating maze.

Explore Hanoi's cafe culture

Fast-paced on the surface, the true rhythm of Hanoi life is far from hurried and is reflected well in its leisurely coffee hours. Alongside traditional coffee houses, an ever-growing band of unique cafes serve new brews in cool caffeine dens.

Check out the art scene

Hanoi is Vietnam’s art capital. The elegant Fine Arts Museum houses the country’s foremost collection, such as ancient Cham artifacts and impressionist pieces. For something more contemporary, head for Manzi or the Vietnam Art Gallery. 

Join the locals at Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake rests in the heart of Hanoi. Every morning it comes alive with walkers, aerobics classes, and even a laughing yoga group; and bursts back into activity at sunset, thronged with locals taking in the evening air.

Ha Noi Weather

Hanoi is most inviting from April to June, but the capital is particularly beautiful in May when trees suddenly come into bloom. September and October are also excellent months to visit as temperatures cool and the sky clears.

Ha Noi Transport

Vietnam’s capital is served by Noi Bai international airport, 45km from the city centre. The Reunification Express line has trains to many major destinations including Lao Cai (Sapa) and Dong Hoi (Phong Nha.) There are many options for getting around Hanoi, including taxis, buses, and motorbikes. Grab, and a few other ride-hailing apps offer on-demand services for getting around. Hanoi’s bus network has an extensive network around the city and low-cost fare. Finally, the classic cyclo can be hired to take you around the Old Quarter on a sightseeing tour.

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vietnam tourist town

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Vietnam Tourism and Travel Guide

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All You Need To Know About Traveling to Vietnam

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Best Time to Visit Vietnam

The best time to visit the country and explore Vietnam tourism is between December to March and from August to October. There is hardly any rainfall during this time and it’s the best weather to explore the beautiful country. If you are a trekking enthusiast, you can book your trip between February and April and include treks and hikes in your Vietnam tourism itinerary.  One can also say that Vietnam is a year-round destination with a pleasant climate throughout the country. However, if you are planning to explore the northern side of Vietnam tourism, you may want to ensure that you avoid the rainy season. The best time to visit North Vietnam is between September and November and from March to May.

Visa Information For Vietnam

Getting a Vietnamese visa is an easy process. Travellers from most European and Asian countries can get a visa on arrival and the maximum duration of your stay will depend on your home country. Since 2017, Indian passport holders are eligible to obtain a visa on arrival when visiting Vietnam. The process is fast and without any hassles but we highly recommend filling the online visa form well in advance. 

Vietnam Visa on Arrival (VOA) is a legal document approved by the Vietnamese government. One can apply for it online via any of the e-commerce websites offering a Vietnamese visa. After approval, you will receive a corresponding approval letter that needs to be shown at the airport to pick up the visa. The visa can be picked up at one of the three international airports in Vietnam – Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Da Nang. The requirements for submitting the VOA application include a valid passport with at least six months validity.

Top Attractions In Vietnam

Hoi An can’t be missed or ignored when you are planning your Vietnam tourism itinerary. This city is an erstwhile port city and a growing tourist attraction, renowned for its Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated along the Thu Bồn River, Hoi An is home to archaic temples, quirky cafes, bustling markets and inviting homestays. We recommend spending at least three days in the city so that you can explore the neighbouring countryside as well as enjoy the bliss of spending a few warm afternoons at the beach. Travellers also recommend enrolling in a few cooking classes in Hoi An if you want to experience the local way of life. 

Cycles are common in the city and are a popular means of transport for most travellers. Whether you want to explore the nearby An Bang Beach or take a longer trip to the countryside through rice paddies, cycles are your best bet. There are numerous cycling tours that take place throughout the year and more so during the tourist season. We recommend booking one the moment you arrive before the temptation of spending all your time in cafes takes over. Shopping enthusiasts should keep some time in their Vietnam tourism itinerary to explore its vibrant markets. Handmade souvenirs, local apparel, herbs, coffee and spices are some of the things that Hoi An is known for. As the sun sets, the city transforms into one big street glittering under a kaleidoscope of lights. Street food vendors, shopping kiosks and small restaurants replace cycle-filled streets and make way for the long celebration, every night.

Hoi An is the perfect example of a traditional Vietnamese town that has seamlessly integrated modern comforts and we promise it will be difficult to bid adieu to this beauty. You can expect a busy itinerary when in Hoi An but some of the highlights that should be in your list are Fujian Assembly Hall, the Old Town, the Japanese Covered Bridge and My Son Sanctuary. You can hire a taxi to reach Hoi An or choose to fly to Danang. Danang is the closest city to Hoi An with an airport and a railway station.  Hanoi Hanoi may not be the largest city in Vietnam but it’s certainly the most popular. An undeniable part of Vietnam tourism, the capital city of Hanoi is a beautiful destination worth exploring. It is situated along the Red River and is home to numerous ancient temples, pagodas and more than ten lakes. Hanoi was once ruled by the French, whose influence is visible in the French Quarter. A must-visit for photographers and history lovers, the city offers you a fulfilling experience.

The ‘City of Lakes’ is as charming as it is welcoming and no Vietnam tourism itinerary is complete without spending a few days here. Often called the ‘Paris of the East’, Hanoi’s multicultural vibe is its most attractive feature as are the many food streets. What also puts Hanoi at the top of the list for travellers exploring Vietnam tourism is the variety of experiences it offers. You can enjoy Vietnamese egg coffee in a cafe, dig into traditional Vietnamese cuisine on a village tour and end the day at a bustling bar. Hanoi sums up the Vietnamese experience quite seamlessly and it almost feels as though you have seen the entire country. 

Hanoi is divided into different sections namely Old Quarter, French Quarter, Ba Dinh district, Hoan Kiem district and Tay Ho district. You can include guided tours of all the top attractions in your Vietnam tourism itinerary or explore the city on your own. The top highlights that should be part of your itinerary are the Ho Chi Minh Museum, Hoan Kiem Lake, Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo Prison and Bach Ma Temple. 

Halong Bay is an integral part of Vietnam tourism. Most travellers choose a tour of Halong Bay to experience this gorgeous region in North Vietnam. Halong Bay directly translates to ‘the place of descending dragons’ and has gained popularity in the recent past. A natural wonder, it is home to 1600 limestone islands and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The unique diversity and the surreal natural beauty are a delight and exploring Vietnam tourism without Halong Bay is impossible. 

There are numerous tours that take you to Halong Bay and you can choose to travel by car or bus from Hanoi. For luxury travellers, there is a helicopter ride available which is mesmerising. There are five tours that you can choose from and we highly recommend an overnight boat tour which gives you a chance to admire a sunset and sunrise. Halong Bay is home to numerous hotels and homestays that are ideal for those who have a longer trip in mind. Kayaking and camping are some of the popular activities that can feature on your Vietnam tourism itinerary when in Halong Bay.

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam. An important part of Vietnam tourism, it is unmissable in most itineraries since it’s home to the biggest international airport in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is where traditional markets and old temples coexist with glittering malls and world-famous restaurants, where motorbikes buzz past you and where street hawkers invite you to try the best banh mi .

Bustling with energy, the city brings together various elements to offer you an unforgettable experience. The first thing that greets you in Ho Chi Minh City is the host of sounds. Packed with honking cars, yelling hawkers and chaotic streets, Ho Chi Minh City is similar to any urban city in the world and yet it preserves its unique character. Situated on the banks of the Saigon River, the city offers an unbelievable cultural experience, especially for history lovers. Ho Chi Minh City was officially called Saigon until 1976 but despite the introduction of the new name, most people still refer to the city by its former name.  The best way to explore the city is by walking but you can also rent a car or a motorcycle. There are numerous walking tours that take place throughout the year and if you have the time, we certainly recommend including one in your Vietnam tourism itinerary. 

The War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, Saigon Opera House, the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Notre Dame Cathedral are some of the best places to include in your tour of Vietnam tourism when you are exploring Ho Chi Minh City. If you are a shopping enthusiast, we recommend including Ben Thanh Market in your Vietnam tourism itinerary. Offering everything from apparel, souvenirs, packaged foods and beauty products, the market is the ideal place to complete your shopping. Ho Chi Minh City is also well known for the huge number of malls that are located in the city. The malls are home to both global brands and local brands that offer a reasonable shopping tour. 

Hue is one of the oldest cities in the country and was once the capital city. During the Vietnam-America War, the city suffered tremendously but in the recent past, it has risen to be a popular tourist attraction. A must-include for history lovers in their Vietnam tourism itinerary, Hue boasts the awe-inspiring Complex of Hue Monuments, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Offering travellers a glimpse into the past through historical buildings and museums, you can easily spend three to four days in Hue.

You can book numerous walking tours to experience the city of Hue. We especially recommend visiting the Imperial City of Hue which is home to a walled fortress and palace. Commonly known as ‘the Citadel’, the palace is a sight to behold despite the damage it underwent during the war. The fort itself is home to a number of buildings including temples, libraries and halls.  Some of the other places that you can include in your Vietnam tourism itinerary when exploring Hue are Hue Provincial Museum, the Perfume River, Minh Mang Tomb, Thien Mu Pagoda and Khai Dinh Tomb.

Activities And Things To Do In Vietnam

Trek in Sapa

Sapa is one of the most visited places in Vietnam. The hill station is known for its spellbinding views and cultural diversity. A favourite with trekkers, photographers and nature lovers, it’s often said to be one of the most beautiful places that travellers add to their Vietnam tourism itinerary.  Surrounded by craggy mountains and marked by rice paddies, the hill station is mostly covered in mist and is remarkably different than other parts of Vietnam. Sapa is home to the Hoang Lien Son range of mountains, which includes the largest mountain in the country – Mount Fansipan. You can either opt for a guided trekking tour here or set out on your own to explore the mesmerising beauty. Another thing that stands out in Sapa is the local culture. The region is home to numerous tribal villages that have retained their tradition and it’s enlightening to interact and learn more about the country when on a tour here. 

Trekking is one of the main activities here but you can also include a visit to Hoang Lien National Park in your Vietnam tourism itinerary to explore the local flora and fauna. There are guided forest treks for those who enjoy exploring nature reserves. You can either book these treks in advance or book on the spot if you are travelling with a large group. 

Explore caves In Phong Nha

If you want to add a dash of adventure to your Vietnam trip, then you must include a trip to the various caves in Phong Nha in your Vietnam tourism itinerary. Situated in central Vietnam, the city is home to Son Doong Cave, which is one of the largest caves in the world. Exploring these caves is slightly tricky and you will have to plan your trip well in advance if you want to head here. 

There are different tours that you can choose if you want to explore caves in Phong Nha but we strongly recommend choosing a reputed tour agency. The most popular tours include a visit to Hang Va Cave, Nuoc Nut Cave and Tu Lan Cave System. You can either choose to visit all over a period of three to four days or stick to a day tour of the most popular ones. Some activities that you can include in your cave tour are kayaking, swimming and camping.

Where To Stay In Vietnam

Vietnam tourism is a blessing for budget travellers and backpackers. There are a variety of hotels, resorts and hostels in the country that range from luxurious to budget. You can find accommodation in the country without compromising on comfort or experience. Let's take a look at some of the hotels that are part of Vietnam tourism.

Luxury hotels in Vietnam

If you are on a luxury trip to Vietnam, you can expect a memorable experience. The luxury hotels in the country ensure that guests have an opportunity to experience the local culture and cuisine as well as enjoy the comforts of modern living. Some of the most sought-after luxury hotels in Vietnam tourism are:

  • Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Nha Trang
  • Bai Tram Hideaway Resort, Phú Yên Province
  • The Reverie, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Anantara Quy Nhon Villas, Binh Dinh
  • Anantara Mui Ne Resort, Binh Thuan 
  • Avani Quy Nhon Resort & Spa, Binh Dinh
  • Banyan Tree Lang Co, Hue
  • Six Senses Con Dao, Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province

Mid-budget hotels in Vietnam

If your idea of a perfect trip is spending more on experiences than accommodation then Vietnam tourism is going to surprise you. There are numerous mid-budget hotels in Vietnam that promise travellers a comfortable and memorable experience. Some of these budget hotels are family-run and offer experiences that help travellers learn more about the local culture. Some of the best mid-budget hotels that are part of Vietnam tourism are:

  • Maison d'Hanoi, Hanoi
  • Splendora Hotel, Hanoi
  • Hoi An Heritage Homestay, Hoi An 
  • Thu Bon Riverside Homestay, Quảng Nam
  • Victoria Chau Doc and Can Tho, An Giang Province
  • Blue Ocean Resort, Bình Thuận
  • Fusion Suites Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

Budget hotels and hostels in Vietnam

Budget travellers can easily plan a trip to Vietnam without exhausting their budget. The country is budget friendly and offers travellers a hassle-free experience in terms of accommodation and travel. If you are on a solo trip, you can also choose to stay at a hostel – an option that will not only help you save money but will also give you a chance to interact with fellow travellers. Some of the best budget hotels that are part of Vietnam tourism are:

  • Nguyen Shack, Can Tho, Saigon, Ninh Binh
  • Town House 50 Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Essence Hanoi Hotel & Spa, Hanoi
  • Yen Apartment, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Alagon Central Hotel & Spa, Ho Chi Minh City
  • The Alcove Library Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Loc Phat Hoi An Homestay, Hoi An

Some of the best hostels in Vietnam are:

  • Vietnam Backpacker Hostels - The Original, Hanoi
  • Chez Le Anh Homestay, Hoi An
  • Old Quarter View Hanoi Hostel, Hanoi
  • Khe Sanh Homestay, Hue
  • Mr Rots Secret Stay, Dalat
  • The Hideout Hostel, Ho Chi Minh City

Cuisine And Best Places To Eat

Vietnamese cuisine is closely linked with the local culture and you can’t experience Vietnam tourism without trying some of the signature dishes. The country is divided into three regions and the food differs in the north, south and central. While the taste is similar, there are certain differences that ensure food lovers have a unique experience everywhere they visit. The cuisine in Northern Vietnam is spicy, whereas Central Vietnam offers a mix of spicy and herbal flavours and South Vietnam promises a mix of sweet and salty. Most dishes also use nuoc mam , a fermented fish sauce. 

Food lovers suggest trying goi cuon that are spring rolls filled with greens and minced pork or shrimp. Pho is another dish that is an integral part of Vietnam tourism and is a noodle soup which is primarily a breakfast dish. You can have the noodle soup with chicken or shrimp. Banh xeo , banh mi thit , bo kho , cao lau , cha ca , banh khot and ga tan are some of the other dishes that you must try when exploring Vietnam tourism. Another thing that most people don’t know is that Vietnam is the second-largest coffee exporter in the world. In fact, most travellers recommend trying Vietnamese coffee in one of the quirky cafes spread across the country. The most popular coffee is cà phê sữa đá that is condensed milk topped with ice. 

There are a number of restaurants in Vietnam that should be on your bucket list when exploring Vietnam tourism so you can experiment freely and go with your instincts. Some of the best restaurants in Vietnam tourism are Cuc Gach Quan, Hum Vegetarian Café & Restaurant, Cha Ca La Vong, Dalchini, Quan An Ngon, Full Moon Town, Club Opera Novel and Mango Mango.

How To Travel In Vietnam

Travelling in Vietnam is easy since the country is connected by a strong network of roads, railways and airways. However, it’s not always possible to fly to a place of your choice so you might have to opt for trains or buses. This is also a safe choice for those who are exploring Vietnam tourism on a budget. 

Buses and trains in Vietnam offer travellers a comfortable experience. Whether your journey is three hours long or 35 hours long – you can expect a smooth experience. Most of the buses operating in the country offer sleeper seats, washrooms and free Wi-Fi. Air travel within the country is reasonable if you book your tickets in advance but there are a few luggage restrictions that you will have to adhere to.

Taxis are another common means of transport when exploring Vietnam tourism, especially in bigger cities. You can either hire a taxi for the entire duration of your trip or stick to short duration rides. Mai Linh or Vinasun taxis are some of the preferred taxi providers in Vietnam as they use meters to calculate the fares.

Typical Costs In Vietnam

Vietnam has always been a budget-friendly destination. However, the growing popularity of Vietnam tourism has led to an increase in travel costs and accommodation. If you are a budget traveller, you may have to devote more time to research in order to have a budget-friendly trip. 

Luxury travellers can expect to spend between Rs.10,000 and Rs.15,000 per day when exploring Vietnam tourism. This amount includes transport, activities and food. 

If you are mid-budget traveller, you can expect to spend between Rs.5000 and Rs.8000 per day when exploring Vietnam tourism. This amount can reduce if you plan your trip carefully and stick to basic expenditure. 

For budget travellers, per day costs of exploring Vietnam tourism can be between Rs.1000 and Rs.3000. This cost can vary depending on the tours that you choose and the places you cover in your Vietnam tourism itinerary.

Written by Kirat Sodhi. She is a proud mom of three cats and lives for lemon tea, a good book and spontaneous travel plans.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best places to visit in Vietnam that are part of Vietnam tourism are

  • Mekong Delta
  • Hoan Kiem Lake
  • Ba Be National Park

Vietnam tourism offers travellers a memorable experience and exploring the country features high on the bucket list of most travellers. Some important tips for travellers exploring Vietnam tourism are:

  • Choose homestays or hostels over hotels if you are on a budget. This will give you a chance to experience the local culture and also save money.
  • If you are travelling within the country, ensure that your luggage weight doesn’t exceed the limit specified by the airlines. Not fulfilling this will lead to an additional payment. 
  • Conduct basic research before you book taxis. If you aren’t aware of the prices, you may end up paying much more than the actual cost. 
  • Travel for at least 10 to 15 days. This will help you save money by opting for bus and train journeys instead of flights. It will also give you time to explore the best tourist places in Vietnam tourism.
  • Respect the local culture, especially when you are visiting temples. It’s also polite to ask before clicking pictures of locals or a local ceremony. 

Nature lovers have plenty to keep them busy in Vietnam. Some of the most gorgeous places in Vietnam tourism are

  • Con Dao Islands
  • Cat Tien National Park

Vietnam tourism promises an action-packed trip. Whether you are an adventure buff or a nature lover, you can expect a busy and fulfilling trip. Some of the most sought-after activities in Vietnam tourism are cycling tours, village tours, forest walks, treks, kayaking, culinary tours and sandboarding. 

Internet is available in most parts of the country. Cafes, restaurants and hotels are Wi-Fi enabled as are most public spaces. You will not find Internet access in national parks and other remote places. 

What you pack for your Vietnam trip will depend on the season you are visiting. However, a general packing list for travellers exploring Vietnam tourism should include a pair of hiking shoes, waterproof jacket, bug spray, travel soap, emergency medicines and your identification documents. 

Hostels are a smart accommodation option for those travelling on a budget. In fact, hostels are so popular in Vietnam tourism that even luxury travellers can spend a night here to experience the hostel culture. The five best hostels in Vietnam are Common Room Project in Ho Chi Minh City, Mojzo hostel in Nha Trang, Roll hostel in Da Nang, Vietnam Republik and Nexy hostel in Ha Noi. 

Vietnam is one of the most travel-friendly countries in the world. If you are a solo traveller who is exploring Vietnam tourism, you don’t have to worry about safety or plan extensively for your tours. Most of the tours are designed keeping in mind the needs of solo travellers. As is with any other destination, we recommend keeping your hotel and family informed of your whereabouts at all times. 

The best hostels in Vietnam are The Oriental Jade Hotel and Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai in Ha Noi and Vinpearl Condotel Empire Nha Trang in Nha Trang. 

Most travellers worry about the language barrier in Vietnam but rest assured that English is widely spoken in Vietnam and you will not face any problem. In an effort to promote Vietnam tourism, the locals ensure that travellers don’t face any communication barriers. You can always use a translator app in places where you feel stuck.

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The elongated roughly S-shaped country has a north-to-south distance of 1,650 km, divided into 8 regions, which have relatively different climatic features. Below is a map of the most attractive destinations in Vietnam and the best time to visit them.

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Based on geographical and topography, Vietnam is divided into eight regions: Northwest, Northeast, Red River Delta, North Central Coast, South Central Coast, Central Highlands, Southeast, and Mekong River Delta. Each region has a relatively different climate.

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You should download Vietnam Maps for offline use and print out the paper. Don’t forget to refer to cities tourist map below!

The map includes the famous destinations in Vietnam by season. You can rely on it to devise an appropriate schedule.

Recommended length of stay in Vietnam: 3-4 weeks.

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12 Towns Of The World That Are UNESCO World Heritage Sites

  • Vatican City, Italy: See the smallest sovereign state in the world that also happens to be one of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage cities
  • Lijiang, China: Discover this UNESCO World Heritage town with breathtaking mountain views and historic charm.
  • The Great Spa Towns of Europe: Enjoy 11 relaxing towns across various European countries, all of which are towns that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

There are only a few landmarks that are lucky enough to call themselves a wonder of the world, which excludes many other gorgeous historical sites. Luckily, thanks to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) , there are thousands of sites that are highlighted for their beauty or significance!

Travelers who want to appreciate the world's beauty beyond the wonders of the world can visit these towns recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Each town was awarded this designation for its significance to the local culture or history.

Of course, UNESCO World Heritage Sites continue to be added to the list every year, with towns, relics, and natural wonders being included in each rollout. Some countries host top-rated World Heritage Sites , while others may be lesser-known. Here are some towns that have the prestigious honor and title as of 2024.

UPDATE: 2024/01/10 13:28 EST BY NOAH STAATS

There Are Two More UNESCO World Heritage Site Towns

This article has been refreshed with two additional UNESCO World Heritage towns, including Vatican City and a remote mountain town in China. Remember to embrace and appreciate the history that shaped each spot on this list, and don't be afraid to embark on the adventure of a lifetime!

10 Mind-Blowing UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Italy

Vatican city, rome, italy, a significant religious territory also stands as a cultural icon on unesco's world heritage site list.

One of the more religiously significant cities/countries in the world is Vatican City in Rome, Italy. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area also hosts two separate World Heritage Sites , including the Historic Centre of Rome and the designated territory itself.

What makes Vatican City worthwhile is it's the smallest sovereign state in the world (population of around 850). This, plus its Christian-centered art, architecture, and history, make it a great pilgrimage for those interested.

  • Located: A city-state surrounded by Rome, Italy
  • Best time to visit: September to February

The Vatican Gardens take up roughly half the country and are well worth exploring.

The Old Town Of Lijiang, China

Indescribable views and an elevation of 2,400 meters make lijang worth a trip.

For those wanting to explore a UNESCO World Heritage town with endless mountain views and hikes, the old town of Lijiang is well worth an adventure. Tucked perfectly on the Lijiang plain at an elevation of 2,400 meters, this protected site stands as a historic and strategic hub in southwest Yunnan, China.

There is a traditional town where people can walk and explore that was established earlier during the Song and Yuan dynasties, so it is perfect for history buffs.

  • Located: On the Lijiang plain in southwest Yunnan, China
  • Best time to visit: April to June and September to November

The Great Spa Towns Of Europe

With 11 spa towns in europe being included, this set of unesco sites is uber-relaxing.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site designation applies to not one but 11 spa towns across seven European countries! (Yes, all of these are towns that are UNESCO sites!). Travelers looking for a relaxing spa getaway that UNESCO designates can venture to the Great Spa Towns of Europe for their stunning architecture and relaxing springs .

This marvel is made up of towns like:

  • Baden bei Wien (Austria)
  • Bad Kissingen (Germany)
  • Montecatini Terme (Italy)
  • Bath (United Kingdom)
  • Bad Ems (Germany)
  • Baden-Baden (Germany)
  • Frantiskovy Lazne (Czechia)
  • Karlovy Vary (Czechia)
  • Marianske Lazne (Czechia)
  • Vichy (France)

These spa towns achieved international success and reputations as premier spa destinations in Europe around the 18th and 19th centuries. These spa towns transformed the wellness industry and the practice of balneology!

  • Located: Austria, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Czechia, France
  • Best time to visit: Spring or summer

Ouro Preto, Brazil

In the valleys of minas gerais, this unesco world heritage town represents brazil's 18th-century gold rush.

Nestled in the valleys of Minas Gerais, Ouro Preto is more than just a picturesque town; it's a remnant of the country's history. Here, this UNESCO World Heritage Site gives visitors a glimpse of life during Brazil's gold rush in the 18th century.

Meaning "black gold," Ouro Preto was once abundant in gold deposits and became a prominent gold mining area from 1720 to 1897 . Slowly, through the decades, as the deposits dwindled toward the 20th century, so did its gold mining activities and, thus, the town's prosperity.

However, something more beautiful remained at Ouro Preto that is worth exploring today; namely, its Brazilian Baroque architecture is a must-visit for those who appreciate building design and history. Here, curious travelers can find stunning architecture that's a remnant of the past (and of Portuguese influence), especially at the Church of São Francisco of Assisi!

  • Located: Southwest Region of Brazil
  • Best time to visit: April to October

Old Town Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada

Although chilly in the winter, old town lunenburg is one of the best-preserved colonial towns on earth.

Much like fashion, architectural design is always changing. The 21st century is teeming with skyscrapers. However, some towns, like Nova Scotia's Lunenburg, are proud to retain some of their historical buildings. As such, UNESCO-listed Lunenburg is one of the best-preserved colonial towns in the world.

Recognized as a small and beautiful town in the Great White North, visitors who venture to Lunenberg can still find its Old Town intact. Specifically, this former British colonial settlement still retains its original layout as a rectangular grid pattern. Some of its 18th-century houses and buildings also remain standing, which were constructed from wood!

  • Located: South Shore of Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Best time to visit: May to October

Charming Fishing Villages To Seaside Towns: Nova Scotia's 11 Prettiest Coastal Towns

Sewell mining town, chile, although left behind, this unesco town in the andes is a reminder of what could've been.

Sitting comfortably in the Andes, some miles from Rancagua and Santiago, the Sewell Mining Town stands quietly uninhabited. Sewell served as a town for miners who worked at El Teniente, the world's largest underground copper mine. The Braden Copper Company constructed this now-uninhabited town in the early 20th century.

A town specifically built for workers may not sound too appealing, but residents in Sewell enjoyed a comfortable life despite living in a harsh mountain climate. Workers had access to a cinema, a hospital, spacious living quarters, and other amenities like heated pools, a club, and a theater! Today, Sewell can be visited through a guided tour, and it is not possible to visit this ghost town by car.

  • Located: Central Chile's Los Andes Cordillera
  • Best time to visit: Year-round, although it is deserted

Tallinn Old Town, Estonia

A magical christmas village in the winter and a medieval relic for the rest of the year.

Estonia's historic capital city of Tallinn is still teeming with life and bustle, which has existed since the medieval era! Though the capital city boasts an experience that combines the old with the modern world, Tallin's Old Town remains a beautifully preserved Hanseatic town center.

This historical center is not just studded with historical buildings. Its 13th-century city plan remains beautifully preserved and intact to this very day! Tallin's Old Town provides a historical experience for those who seek it; grab refreshments at the Maiasmokk (the city's oldest cafe, built in the late 19th century) or admire architecture along the cobblestones streets.

  • Located: Vanalinn is a subdistrict in the district of Kesklinn, Tallinn
  • Best time to visit: Fall or Winter

Grand-Bassam, Côte D'Ivoire

Once the country's capital, grand-bassam now dazzles with colonial architecture and history.

Côte d'Ivoire's Grand-Bassam may remain a town, but it stood as the country's first capital. Grand-Bassam will make travelers feel like they have stepped into a time machine studded with colonial-style houses and architecture, a remnant of French colonial rule during the late 19th century.

Discover the history behind Grand-Bassam, which once functioned as a major port city and a commercial hub for Côte d'Ivoire, and enjoy the vibes of this historic coastal fishing village. Don't forget to stop by the Musee National du Costume inside the former Governor's Palace.

  • Located: Near the city of Abidjan, in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa
  • Best time to visit: December to April

These Are The 10 Most Beautiful West Africa Destinations

Uxmal, yucatán, mexico, explore ancient pyramids, sacred sites, green spaces, and preserved mayan cities.

Uxmal may not be a habitable town anymore, but this archeological site is a perfect example of pre-Hispanic periods in Mexico. Founded in 700 AD, Uxmal was once home to 25,000 people and was adorned with traditional Mayan architecture (and art), some of which pay homage to the rain god Chaac.

Lovers of all things archeology will enjoy discovering the gems in this pre-Hispanic town, housing ruins (which were once buildings, of course) organized in relation to astronomical phenomena. This ancient Maya city is one of the best-preserved cities to discover out of Merida's Yucatán Peninsula !

  • Located: Southeastern Mexico

Hoi An Ancient Town, Vietnam

A southeast asian trading port with 15th-century timber buildings and restored ruins.

Like rising from the ashes, some architecture and buildings have been restored around the Hoi An Ancient Town! This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a fine example of a Southeast Asian trading port that dates back to the 15th century.

Hoi An is a well-preserved city and has stood the test of time for centuries, earning it status as one of the many UNESCO towns around the world. Much of its street plan also remains intact, combining elements from local and foreign heritage. Here, travelers can peruse through the town to admire its 1,107 timber frame buildings alongside several buildings or ruins that have been completely restored (such as the Japanese Bridge).

  • Located: Qung Nam Province, Vietnam
  • Best time to visit: February to April

Discover Hidden Gems: Vietnam's 10 Off-The-Beaten-Track Tourist Attractions

Toru, poland, founded in the 13th century by teutonic knights, toru also housed the world's most famous astronomer.

Torún is one of Poland's popular destinations and is a town of great cultural (and historic) significance to the country. This historic town was founded in the 13th century by Teutonic Knights, albeit in a different area. The area that the town originally resided in was not ideal due to constant flooding events, which led to the creation of two towns: an old and a new town!

Today, visitors can educate themselves about the fascinating history of Toruń, learning more about former local residents like Nicholaus Copernicus (the world's most famous astronomer) or sampling the city's legendary gingerbread. Foodies and history lovers may also want to book a trip to Toruń's Living Museum of Gingerbread!

  • Located: On the Vistula River in north-central Poland
  • Best time to visit: May to September

Galle, Sri Lanka

A fortified old city by the coast with the largest existing european colonial fort in asia.

Nestled in Southern Sri Lanka, Galle's allure is its coastal sites, paired with its storied past. This Sri Lankan city was visited (and built) by several communities: Galle was founded by the Portuguese in the 16th century. In contrast, its fortified city was constructed by Europeans and Southeast Asians. British settlers and travelers were also prone to Galle's charm!

Today, there is a bounty of historical sights to see at Galle, including Dutch-style colonial buildings, historical places of worship, and other ancient architecture that mixes with the city's boutiques and hotels. One of the most notable sites in Galle is Galle Fort, the largest remaining European colonial fort in Asia .

  • Located: Southwest coast of Sri Lanka

12 Towns Of The World That Are UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Why is Russia’s Putin visiting Vietnam after North Korea?

Vietnam is a rising nation that the West wants closer ties with. The visit is a signal from Russia that Putin isn’t isolated.

Nguyen Thi Hong Van, 55, a collector and seller of Russian souvenirs who lived and worked in Russia for 20 years, poses at her shop in Hanoi, Vietnam

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday held talks with Vietnam’s leaders, hours after flying into Hanoi for a visit to an old ally that has positioned itself as an increasingly influential geopolitical player, wooed by most major nations. Putin flew to Vietnam from North Korea, where he met that country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, on Wednesday.

The visit to Vietnam, among other things, is Russia’s way of showcasing that while Putin is treated as a pariah by the West, he still holds political clout in the East, experts have said. Communist-led Vietnam will welcome Putin for a two-day visit, the Kremlin said.

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The trip comes after the United States last week imposed more sanctions on Moscow and Western countries reiterated their unwavering support for Ukraine – now fighting its third year of war against Russia – by agreeing to a $50bn loan for Kyiv at a Group of Seven (G7) summit. The visit also comes days after last weekend’s Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland.

Why Vietnam?

While North Korea , where Putin held meetings with leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday, is itself a global outcast, heavily sanctioned by the United Nations over its nuclear and missile programmes, Vietnam is a nation that other major countries want close ties with.

A rising economy and a leading exporter of garments, Vietnam today counts the US and other Western countries as important partners. India is a growing defence partner. Vietnam is also a pillar of Southeast Asian efforts to balance ties with China, keeping strong economic ties with Beijing while pushing back against perceived military threats from the Asian giant.

That backdrop makes Vietnam a choice destination for the Russian leader. “Putin will hope his Vietnam visit signals that Russia is far from isolated in Asia amid its recent Ukraine war inroads,” said Prashanth Parameswaran, a fellow at the Washington, DC-based Wilson Center. “ … Even though the visit has been pending for a while now and Moscow’s list of regional friends is quite short in practice,” added Parameswaran, who is also the founder of the weekly ASEAN Wonk newsletter.

What is on the agenda?

Vietnamese President To Lam welcomed Putin in Hanoi on Thursday, committing to further strengthening ties, which he said would enhance peace in the region and globally.

While very few details are available at the moment, their dialogue is expected to focus on strengthening their strategic partnership. In 2001, Russia became the first country to sign a strategic partnership with Vietnam.

Regional and global issues will also feature on the agenda, the Russian state news agency TASS reported. Following the meeting, a joint statement will be adopted and a number of bilateral documents will be signed, it added.

Russia is Vietnam’s biggest weapons supplier, and military and security relations are expected to figure in talks.

Le Kim Phuong, 60, and Le Thu Hong, 62 prepare Russian national flags ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Vietnam, in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 18, 2024. REUTERS/Thinh Nguyen

How strong are Vietnam-Russia ties? 

Ties between the two countries date back to the Soviet Union, which was Hanoi’s biggest weapons supplier – a position that Russia today still occupies.

The Soviet Union’s military support was critical to the Communist Party of Vietnam during key historical events, including the First and Second Indochina Wars against France and the US.

However, the relationship between the two goes beyond its military scope.

“They were once on the same side of history, they shared the same ideology against Western capitalism and imperialism. And the legacy of shared ideology is still there,” said Huong Le Thu, International Crisis Group’s deputy programme director for Asia.

The Soviet Union used to host tens of thousands of Vietnamese students during the Cold War, including the current head of the Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong.

Hanoi’s architecture also has a Soviet touch, such as the museum of modern Vietnam’s founding father Ho Chi Minh, and an imposing Vietnam-Soviet Friendship Cultural Palace, built in the late 1970s.

What is Vietnam’s position on Ukraine?

Since the start of the war in 2022 , Vietnam has officially taken a neutral stance.

“Vietnam has tried to cultivate a careful balance in the Ukraine war between not disrupting ties with Russia as a traditional partner while also signalling that it takes principles like territorial integrity seriously,” said Parameswaran.

As a victim of large occupying or invading powers – the US, France, Japan and China – over the past 80 years, Vietnam holds a country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity being inviolable as a sacrosanct principle.

The centrality of those principles is something that Vietnam has repeatedly underscored at global meetings discussing the Ukraine war, in veiled criticisms of Russia’s war – even though it has not condemned Moscow.

There is also a shared history, and a degree of sympathy, between Vietnam and Ukraine, which was also part of the Soviet Union, say analysts. Ukraine too used to supply weapons to Hanoi and cultural ties meant that many Vietnamese studied in Ukraine forming a large diaspora. Vietnam has supplied humanitarian aid to Ukraine through international organisations during the war.

Yet, Vietnam skipped the Ukraine peace summit last week and abstained on four resolutions at the UN General Assembly condemning Russia’s invasion of its neighbouring country. It also voted against removing Moscow from the UN Human Rights Council.

“Vietnam guides its foreign policy based on its historical legacies and its own interests – it wants to showcase that it’s able to receive Chinese, American and Russian leaders and that it is OK with being friends with anyone – it’s a multidimensional diplomacy,” Le Thu added.

The peak of such flexibility, which some experts called “bamboo diplomacy”, came last year when US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the country. Bamboo, which grows widely in Vietnam, is known for its ability to bend as needed – without snapping – serving as a metaphor for the country’s foreign policy.

In this pool photograph distributed by the Russian state agency Sputnik, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on June 19, 2024. - Russian President Vladimir Putin landed in North Korea early on June 19, the Kremlin said, kicking off a visit set to boost defence ties between the two nuclear-armed countries as Moscow pursues its war in Ukraine. (Photo by Gavriil GRIGOROV / POOL / AFP) / -- EDITOR'S NOTE : THIS IMAGE IS DISTRIBUTED BY THE RUSSIAN STATE OWNED AGENCY SPUTNIK --

What is the US response to Putin’s visit to Vietnam?

The US is a top trade partner of Vietnam and has not taken Putin’s visit well.

“No country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalise his atrocities,” a US embassy spokesperson in Hanoi told the Reuters news agency. “If he is able to travel freely, it could normalise Russia’s blatant violations of international law,” they added.

The visit to Vietnam is a rare occasion for Putin to travel outside Russia since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for his arrest over alleged war crimes in Ukraine. The warrant means that any signatory to the ICC must arrest the Russian president should he step into their territory. Vietnam is not an ICC member.

What is China’s role in all of this?

As the war in Ukraine drags into a third year, Moscow’s political and economic dependence on China has deepened. This is relevant to Vietnam, which has a dispute with China in the South China Sea. Beijing claims jurisdiction rights to maritime resources on certain Vietnamese territories rich in oil and gas reserves.

This is where Russia comes into the picture. Two of its energy companies are involved in upstream projects in some of the contested zones.

“Vietnam is concerned that as a result of Russia’s growing dependence on China, Beijing could use its leverage with Moscow to undermine Vietnamese interests. This would include increased pressure on the Kremlin to withdraw its state-owned energy companies,” Ian Storey, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, wrote in a research paper in March.

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3 Takeaways From Putin’s Trip to Vietnam

The state visit by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to Vietnam had a very different backdrop than his trip to North Korea, as Hanoi has deepened ties with Washington.

Vladimir Putin smiles as he talks to To Lam in front of a row of flowers.

By Sui-Lee Wee and Paul Sonne

President Vladimir V. Putin’s state visit to North Korea appeared to have a singular focus on military matters: The two sides dramatically revived a Cold War-era mutual defense agreement. A day later, in Vietnam, the Russian leader was far less provocative, at least early in his visit.

Vietnam values its relations with the United States, which would be jeopardized if Mr. Putin were to make fiery statements about Washington standing beside Vietnamese officials. So even though Vietnam and Russia have deep military relations and a shared communist history, leaders in Hanoi instead focused talks with Mr. Putin on boosting ties in areas like trade, education, energy, and science and technology. The Russian leader kept his formal remarks muted, though he let loose later when he took questions from his press pool before taking off. Most of the questions were about North Korea.

There were no major breakthroughs, but the show of unity with Vietnam was designed to give Mr. Putin a veneer of international legitimacy at a time of increasing isolation in the West.

Here are three key takeaways from his visit.

It was a diplomatic show of sorts for Mr. Putin.

Unlike North Korea, which is a pariah in the West, Vietnam has been courted by the United States in its effort to contain China’s growing global influence. Within the past year alone, Hanoi has also hosted President Biden and China’s top leader, Xi Jinping.

Mr. Putin’s visit to Vietnam is part of an effort by the Russian leader to show that despite Western attempts at isolating him over his invasion of Ukraine, he is still accepted by world leaders. His trip late last year to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, two key American partners in the Middle East, underscored the point.

He was given a 21-gun salute at the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, an important historical site in the center of the capital. In typical scripted fashion, Vietnamese schoolchildren — waving both Russian and Vietnamese flags — lined streets in Hanoi as Mr. Putin’s motorcade drove by. It was Mr. Putin’s fifth trip to the country since 2001 but his first since his full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Vietnam and Russia share a long history bound by ideology. In 1950, the Soviet Union was among the first countries to give diplomatic recognition to what was then the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, or North Vietnam.

Nguyen Phu Trong, the powerful head of the Vietnamese Communist Party, told Mr. Putin that as someone who had lived and studied in Russia, he still recalls fondly “this great and beautiful country of Russia with warm feelings,” according to Vietnam’s Tuoi Tre newspaper.

For decades, Moscow became Vietnam’s biggest donor, providing military aid when Hanoi was fighting its wars against France and the United States — a fact that Mr. Putin took pains to remind the Vietnamese on Thursday.

“The Soviet Union, as you noted, provided effective assistance in the heroic struggle of the Vietnamese people against the French and then American invaders, and subsequently contributed to the peaceful construction of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” Mr. Putin said, as Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh stood at his side.

Vietnam has stopped short of voicing support for Russia’s war on Ukraine but has also been careful not to alienate Moscow.

Last weekend, Hanoi skipped the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland. It has also abstained on four United Nations resolutions condemning Russia’s attack on Ukraine and voted against the motion to remove Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Mr. Putin’s rhetoric was muted in Hanoi.

Unlike in his meeting a day earlier with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, Mr. Putin, in public, held back on the fiery rhetoric against the United States through most of the day, when appearing at formal events with Vietnamese counterparts.

On Wednesday, sitting across from Mr. Kim, he railed against Washington as a hegemonic and imperial power trying to force its will on the world through its satellite countries. He signed a defense pact vowing to aid North Korea in the event of a war and threatened deeper cooperation with Mr. Kim’s military.

In Vietnam, the Russian leader stuck to uncontroversial statements about trade and historical relations. The messaging appeared to be calibrated with his Vietnamese counterparts in mind.

Vietnam, which upgraded ties with the United States last year, has been careful with the optics of Mr. Putin’s visit. Ahead of his trip, officials in Washington made it clear that they were not happy, saying that no country “should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalize his atrocities.”

Vietnamese media has focused the visit on the bilateral relationship and their long historical past as friends during the Cold War era.

“Whatever Russia can offer, I don’t think Vietnam would jump at it and give any impression or appearance that we are aligned with Russia in an anti-Western front,” said Hoang Thi Ha, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

Although Russia has long supplied weapons to Vietnam, there was little public talk of arms procurement or defense. Mr. Putin’s new defense minister, Andrei R. Belousov, accompanied the Russian leader in North Korea but then seemed to drop off the trip, with Russia’s defense ministry publishing images of him touring a military health complex back in Russia on Thursday.

For Vietnam, it was a display of its ‘bamboo diplomacy.’

Hanoi says its highest level of bilateral ties are with seven countries: Russia, China, the United States, India, South Korea, Japan and Australia. Maintaining ties with one allows it to counterbalance the others.

Both Russia and Vietnam have profited greatly from exploiting Vietnam’s oil and gas deposits in the South China Sea. Mr. Putin pledged to supply oil and gas products to Vietnam for the long term.

Huong Le Thu, deputy director for Asia at the International Crisis Group, said Mr. Putin’s visit was a showcase of Vietnam’s ability to “sustain a relationship with all actors, despite the mutual great power rivalry and competition.”

Mr. Trong, the party chief, calls this approach “bamboo diplomacy,” in which, displaying the flexibility of bamboo branches, the country is able to balance multiple relationships with major powers.

“It is centered around Hanoi’s interests, rather than anyone else’s,” Ms. Huong said.

Sui-Lee Wee is the Southeast Asia bureau chief for The Times, overseeing coverage of 11 countries in the region. More about Sui-Lee Wee

Paul Sonne is an international correspondent, focusing on Russia and the varied impacts of President Vladimir V. Putin’s domestic and foreign policies, with a focus on the war against Ukraine. More about Paul Sonne

Visiting Vietnam, Putin seeks new 'security architecture' for Asia

  • Medium Text
  • Vietnamese president praises Putin for peace contributions
  • United States criticised Hanoi for inviting Russian leader
  • Putin a day earlier signed mutual defence pact in North Korea

Russia's President Putin visits Vietnam

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