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An alluring combination of striking landscapes and cultural experiences, a visit to Vietnam means you can encounter anything from tropical beaches and verdant paddy fields to buzzing city streets filled with scooters. Outdoor enthusiasts will be in their element with the range of national parks, karst landscapes and tropical beaches, while foodies will delight at the vibrant flavors found in traditional cuisines. From archaeological discoveries to traditional villages and booming modern cities, read on to discover the best places to visit in Vietnam.
Ha Long Bay
Not only is Ha Long Bay a spectacular collection of 2,000 karst outcrops, but this natural wonder is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore these natural wonders and discover the limestone islands that sit in the bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, where the views are best seen from a boat cruising on the waters. Go on an overnight tour to see the views change throughout the day or hop on a kayak and explore the mammoth caverns with stalagmites and stalactites.
Hanoi is Vietnam’s buzzing capital, where the sound of motorbikes and street vendors are a constant presence. The Old Quarter showcases businesses as they did hundreds of years ago, offering a glimpse into the local life. The open-air museum features historic Asian and French colonial architecture, where you can take a stroll down its scenic tree-lined streets, browse the busy markets and visit the city’s collection of excellent museums. Take a break to see prominent sites like the Presidential Palace and Saint Joseph Cathedral.
Nestled off the coast of the South China Sea in South Central Vietnam, Hoi An is the most atmospheric city in the country. Between the 1400s and 1800s it was Vietnam’s main port, and it now serves as a World Heritage Site with hundreds of buildings designated historic landmarks. Explore the Ancient Town on foot to see centuries-old temples and beautiful architecture adorned with colorful lanterns, a famous Japanese Bridge and hundreds of tailor shops selling clothing, bags and custom-made services.
One of the country’s most historic towns, Hue is situated on the banks of the Perfume River in Central Vietnam. Once serving as the imperial capital of the Nguyen dynasty, today it houses spectacular mausoleums and a beautiful imperial city contained by a citadel. It is a sprawling complex of grand palaces, temples, walls and gates. Make sure to check out the beautiful Ngo Mon Gate, the intricate detailing of the Thai Hoa Palace and the Halls of Mandarins with its preserved ceiling murals.
Vietnam’s largest island, Phu Quoc is a quiet beach getaway where you can enjoy the tropical ambiance, alluring shoreline and forested hills reserved as a national park. If you can peel yourself away from the sands there are guided tours to explore the backcountry to see pepper farms and factories processing anchovies for the country’s famous fish sauce. Soak up the sunshine along the palm-fringed beaches of Sao, Bai Truong and Bai Khem or go on a kayaking excursion through the bays.
Sapa will lure you in with its verdant rice field countryside landscapes, as its bordered by the jagged peaks of the Hoang Lien Mountains and offers a peek into Vietnam’s most captivating rural vistas. A quiet town frequently used as a base for trekking in the mountains, you can spend your days on scenic hikes to explore rice paddies and remote villages, while those looking for natural wonders can go on a guided tour to the cascading waterfalls nearby and experience the staggering mountain views.
Ho Chi Minh City
Known for its blend of historic and modern attractions, endless shopping opportunities and buzzing nightlife, Ho Chi Minh City is the commercial hub of the country. Big city fans will delight in exploring its maze of restaurants and shopping centers, while you can also visit the HCMC Museum and its impressive collection of artifacts or the 19th century Notre Dame Cathedral. For the best views of the city, visit Saigon Skydeck or hop on a food tour on the back of a scooter to explore neighborhoods you might not otherwise see.
Those looking for some fun in the sun should head to Nha Trang, located on one of Asia’s most beautiful bays off the coast of South Central Vietnam. It is a popular seaside resort city where you’ll find picturesque mountains, beaches and lush islands surrounding its three miles of golden sands. Spend your days lounging under the palm trees, swimming in the waters, walking along the promenade and indulging in the fresh seafood offerings. The kids will enjoy the area’s collection of amusement and water park attractions.
Nicknamed “Vietnam’s Rice Basket”, the Mekong Delta is an agricultural region made fertile by the maze of waterways fed by the Mekong River. It is incredibly lush with paddy field vistas and mangroves that are full of local life, where you’ll discover colorful floating markets, sugar cane groves and quaint villages that you can explore on guided tours. More than half of the rice comes from the Mekong Delta, and the best way to see its beauty is by boat.
Located on the central coast of Vietnam, My Son is surrounded by lush jungle-covered mountains. It is a ruined Cham era temple city that dates back to the 4th century, where you’ll find 20 temple structures built from brick or sandstone blocks. It was inhabited for about 1,000 years and a burial place for emperors, serving as a site of religious rites with more than 70 temples at its prime. There’s also an on-site museum highlighting a chronology of the empire and showcasing fascinating artifacts.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a World Heritage-listed site in the Quang Binh province of Central Vietnam. See the Phong Nha Cave by boat, as it is the largest cave in the world with 27 miles of tunnels, while the Hang Son Doong has a chamber big enough to fit a New York block and a skyscraper inside., while Hang Son Doong is around three million years old. Hang Son Doong, only opened to tourism in 2014, this spectacular natural wonder is a sight to behold and is one of the most captivating destinations in Southeast Asia. The cave is so large that it could fit a 747 plane through its largest cavern. A combination of misty clouds and lush jungles, the ancient passages are lined with fascinating fossils.