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11 Best Places to Visit in Vietnam

May 12 , 2021 by: Annie Tran

The historic country of Vietnam is a land of striking landscapes and lush rice terraces. It carries within itself a striking blend of natural beauty and a medley of cultures. Thanks to its long history and a diverse range of ethnicities, the country is as full of colorful traditions as can be. The best places to visit in Vietnam would not just consist of its big cities that breathe with contemporary life but also, more importantly, the rural areas and the countryside that brim with astonishing panoramas. Not to mention the tasty culinary experiences that comes with both.

Vietnam is a country brimming with life and there is a lot to admire about its heritage and values. It is one of the most underrated tourist destinations in Southeast Asia that will surprise you with its liveliness. With its vibrant metropolises, blissful countryside, and immense historical sites, Vietnam should sit at the top of every traveler’s bucket list.

To get you started, here is a list of the top 11 best places to visit in Vietnam.

Ho Chi MInh City, by Georgios Domouchtsidis, on Unsplash

Ho Chi Minh City

Your visit to Vietnam would not be complete without a visit to the thriving metropolis that is Ho Chi Minh City, the dizzying and electric commercial hub of the country. Ho Chi Minh City is a city with a buzzing nightlife and busy streets. You will witness bustling streets filled with cars and motorbikes like never before. It provides the best shopping and fine-dining experience in the country.

Central to the city’s liveliness is Dong Khoi, which is where you will find the most lights and activity. Along with trendy bars, cafes, and restaurants, you will find historic museums, and cathedrals, built in the city as early as the 19th Century.

For a detailed guide on Ho Chi Minh City, check out our article: [insert link]

Ha Long Bay on Pixabay

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is one of the most famous tourist spots in Vietnam and there is no avoiding it. The rampant tourism followed by the resulting pollution might have made a dent in Ha Long’s natural beauty but that does not mean that the site has lost its charm.

The karst seascape of Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the sheer beauty of it will leave you spellbound. It is surrounded by thousands of islands that are just as beautiful. The beauty of Ha Long Bay is best experienced by boat.

The bay has numerous caverns that can be entered during one of the guided tours by boat. Two of the best caves at Ha Long Bay are Hang Sun Sot and Hang Dao Go.

Most tourists simply cruise amongst the karsts and soak up the amazing scenery, however, it is recommended that you book an overnight tour of the bay as a mere day trip does not do this site justice.

Hanoi city, by Eirik Skarstein on Unsplash

Hanoi

Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital and is a place that can take you by surprise. Not unlike Ho Chi Minh City, you will witness the fast-paced life of Vietnam with its constant clamor of street vendors and traffic frenzy.

If you are a city-life lover and want to experience that part of Vietnam, Hanoi is the place to do it. This is the epicenter of tourism in the country due to its amalgamation of the modern and the ancient.

As busy as the city can get with plenty of modern distractions, the old town quarter near Hoan Kiem Lake has a plethora of well-preserved history and culture to offer. Its historical museums are unmatched compared to anywhere else in the country so if that is something right up your alley, give Hanoi a visit. Don’t forget to visit the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and the Vietnam Fine Art Museum while you are there.

Hanoi also offers culinary brilliance at its heart without which your trip to Vietnam would not be complete.

My Son Temple ruins, by Steve Douglas on Unsplash

My Son

My Son is a ruined Cham era temple city that looks like something out of an ancient painting. Word cannot do this beautiful city justice. The city is surrounded by lush green jungle-covered mountains and dates back as early as the 4th century. It was a central place for Hindus to practice their religious rights right up until the 13th century, when it was finally completely abandoned.

About 20 temple structures built from brick or sandstone blocks stand in the city, representing the diverse influences different cultures and religions had on their architecture.

When you visit My Son, one thing to keep in mind is that the temples in Group B are the oldest, while the ones in Group A once held the city’s most important monuments. However, unfortunately, those monuments were destroyed by the US military during their Vietnam operation.

Additionally, the city is also home to a museum filled with historical data about the town.

There is no direct way to reach My son. To visit My Son, you will have to book an organized tour from Hoi An which is only a short distance away.

Dalat, by Thanh Tran on Unsplash

Dalat

Located in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam, Dalat is one of the only few tourist destinations you can visit year round. This is due to its ideal weather that never touches extreme temperatures and remains moderate throughout the year.

The great weather, idyllic scenery, lush green jungles, and beautiful fresh flowers are only a few reasons why Dalat should be on your bucket list.

Dalat’s tourist attractions date back to the time of Vietnamese emperors and French colonials, who often visited Dalat as a summer retreat. It is a popular destination amongst young people for weekend trips or for couples looking for a nice romantic getaway for their honeymoon.

You can see the French Colonial influence in Dalat’s architecture with villas set amidst picturesque landscapes. The city is also well known for its royal roots. It has a ton of royal palaces that once housed Vietnamese emperors. These royal palaces are open to the general public for tours.

Moreover, Dalat has a lively farmer’s market where you can get all the fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers that your heart desires along with handicrafts and embroidered clothing items.

But the magic of Dalat does not just stop there. On the outskirts of the city lies numerous gorgeous waterfalls and trails for hiking and mountain biking.

Phu Quoc, by Paul Szewczyk on Unsplash

Phu Quoc

The scenic island of Phu Quoc lays in the Gulf of Thailand and is famously known as paradise island due to its flawless beaches and magnificent landscapes accompanied by tall mountains and exotic wildlife in neighboring jungles. While it is officially a part of Vietnam, Phu Quoc is actually nearer to Cambodia, geographically speaking.

Phu Quoc might be famous for its peaceful sandy beaches and dense tropical jungles, its troubled history is anything but that. The island has a rich and fascinating history on account of it serving as a French military base and then being a wartime prison during French colonialism.

Gloomy history aside, a visit to Phu Quoc means taking in plenty of beaming sunlight by the shores, roaming around fishing villages, visiting pearl farms and trekking to waterfalls.

Your visit to Phu Quoc would not be complete without trying the local food scene. Phu Quoc is known for its seafood and its famous fish sauce called nuoc mam.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a World Heritage-listed site that is a fascinating limestone karst formation with huge caves underlying it. It has got the best caves in the whole country that are filled with astonishing displays of stalagmite and stalactite. The most popular cave in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is called the Paradise Cave.

If you want a more immersive experience, Tu Lan Cave is another cave that is a must-see spot. It is referred to as a wet cave and as part of your visit, you would have to swim through it. Another cave that is extremely popular amongst travelers is the Phong Nha Cave a visit to which includes a guided tour on a boat.

Hoi An by Thomas G on Pixabay

Hoi An

Hoi An is a Vietnamese city packed to the brim with its fair share of historical architecture and structures.

The old town quarter part of Hoi An is filled with merchant houses that go way back to when Hoi An was the central trading hub of Vietnam, back in the 15th Century. This is where Chinese and Japanese merchants came from far and wide for their astounding local silks.

Many of the old merchant houses are now open to the general population to visit and take a look at. One of those merchant houses is the Tan Ky House, built in the 1600s, with its beautifully intricate architectural elements.

There are a number of small pagodas and museums located all around the town but the true joy of visiting Hoi An lies in its old style streets where it is easy to get lost in the beauty of its well-preserved structures.

Ninh Binh, by Chien Nguyen ba on Pixabay

Ninh Binh

One of the most popular day-trip options to explore in Vietnam is the southeast region of Hanoi, called Ninh Binh. The lush scenery of Ninh Binh is accessible with the help of a guided boat tour. The beautiful limestone karsts are loved by adventurous types.

Not only that, they are a great addition to your holiday photos or for your Instagram profile.

Ninh Binh is home to several caves nestled in the limestone karsts. One of the best ones that you should visit is the Trang An caves. While on your trip to Ninh Binh you can also visit Tam Coc, one of the best natural visiting spots in Vietnam.

Moreover, if you are someone who has a knack for trying new and unusual food, try the wealth of snail restaurants located in Ninh Binh. These eateries are famous for serving snails, traditionally cooked in aromatic lemongrass and hot chilies.

Hu Palace, Hue city, on Pixabay

Hue

If you are a history enthusiast, Hue is going to be your paradise.

Once the capital of imperial Vietnam, Hue still retains much of its rich history. The city is packed with ancient 19th Century relics from the reign of Nguyen emperors. At the heart of the city, you will find the Citadel and the walled Imperial City. A large number of historic sites lie outside the walls of Imperial Enclosure.

Other must-see tourist spots to visit in Hue include the beautiful Ngo Mon Gate, the Halls of Mandarins with its ceiling murals, and the Thai Hoa Palace with its mesmerizing interiors.

To visit tourist sites on the outskirts of the city, you can take a nice riverboat cruise along the Perfume River (Huong River). If you go on a typical day cruise, you will be able to visit several royal tombs, the best of which is the Tomb of Tu Doc, and the tall Thien Mu Pagoda tower that soars as high as 21 meters.

Sa Pa Village by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pixabay

Sa Pa

Once a quiet town, the Sa Pa countryside in Vietnam has witnessed exponential growth and boost in its tourism in the past few years and it is not stopping anytime soon. While a lot of people are put off by the huge tourism boom, there is no reason not to visit this beautiful rice field countryside.

If you are looking to experience life in the slow lane, away from the big city noise, Sa Pa is a great choice. One of the greatest places to visit in Vietnam, Sa Pa is surrounded by beautiful ethnic minority villages where you can experience authentic Vietnamese culture by booking a homestay in them.

If you are looking for a challenge and want your inner adventurous tendencies satiated, you can also climb the tallest mountain in all of Indochina, called Fansipan. Sa Pa is the top trekking destination in Vietnam, filled to the brim with options for hiking and trekking between the tiny surrounded villages.

 

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