Vietnam is home to a spectacular mix of cultural diversity and natural sights. With breathtaking scenery ranging from verdant paddy fields in nearly every shade of green imaginable to winding mountain passes to a bay with thousands of islands, along with numerous ethnic minorities and a long history, the country is bursting with places for travelers to explore and admire. Cities are alive with contemporary life and delicious culinary treats while the more rural areas are home to amazing panoramas.
Halong Bay’s karst seascape is one of the most awe-inspiring sea views in the world and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s definitely worth a visit for anyone traveling to Vietnam. The bay is full of thousands of islands, eroded by water and wind over millennia into jagged pinnacles.
The breathtaking scenery of Halong Bay is best seen by boat, which is why a cruise through the bay is a must for any visit. There’s no shortage of choices either. I personally recommend Vega Travel and have shared my tips for visiting Halong Bay. There are many caves throughout the bay that can be explored as well, such as the Surprising Cave.
Hoi An is a charming town with a laid back atmosphere and historic architecture that’s sure to be one of the highlights of any trip to Vietnam. Lanterns can be seen adorning nearly every building as winding lanes take visitors through an old town full of beautiful buildings, wood-fronted shops, and temples.
The main symbol of Hoi An is the gorgeous Japanese Bridge set at the end of Tran Phu Street. Several museums and small pagodas can be found throughout the town as well, but the true charm of Hoi An is simply strolling through the streets of the old quarter.
My Son, surrounded by jungle-covered mountains, are ruins of a Cham-era temple city dating back to the fourth century. The old Hindu religious center was still used during the seventh century to tenth century, falling into complete decline much later in the thirteenth century.
Today, around twenty structures can still be seen standing at My Son, all of which are built out of sandstone or brick and show influences from many different empires of Asia, including Malay and Indian. There is an on-site museum housing abundant information as well. My Son is a popular day trip from Hoi An.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is one of the best destinations for caving in Vietnam, as well as one of the country’s most picturesque areas. This World Heritage-listed park features dramatic karst mountains and huge caverns home to amazing stalagmite and stalactite formations, including the world’s largest cave. Paradise Cave is the most popular site in the park, extending an impressive 31 kilometers below the ground.
Some cave interiors can only be accessed by boat, like the Phong Nha Caves, while others include swimming to explore them, such as the Tu Lan Cave. The park has also been used as a filming location and was used to film Kong: Skull Island.
Hue is one of the most historic towns in Vietnam, packed full of relics from the nineteenth century reign of Nguyen emperors. Situated along the banks of the Perfume River, the town was once an imperial capital and also played a significant role during the Vietnam War.
Today, Hue is divided in two by the river, with a modern-day city in the south and the old city with ancient ruins in the north. There are numerous historic sites to see here, both inside and outside of the Imperial Enclosure, with the official symbol of the city being the Thien Mu Pagoda.
The Sapa countryside is full of verdant rice fields backdropped by the Hoang Lien Mountains, providing gorgeous rural vistas. The picturesque valleys surrounding Sapa are home to a diverse mix of ethnic minorities, such as the Red Dzao, Giay, and Hmong people.
Trekking in the Sapa countryside is an extremely popular activity due to the mountain backdrop, terraced fields, and tiny villages, and treks range from half-day hikes to multi-day treks. The town of Sapa itself has become a bit of a tourist center, serving as a base for these treks.
Ho Chi Minh City
For travelers who love exploring large cities, Ho Chi Minh City is a must. This bustling commercial hub features streets full of cars and motorbikes, a cosmopolitan cafe and restaurant scene, and some of the best shopping in Vietnam. Most of the main sights of the city are in the easily navigable central district, Dong Khoi.
The highlights of Ho Chi Minh City include the old Da Kao district with its French colonial architecture, the History Museum, and the Jade Emperor Pagoda. A little further from the city center are the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Palace.
The capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi is a place that charms travelers as much as it confuses them. While the constant noise of street vendors and motorbike frenzy can be off-putting, Hanoi is the perfect destination for diving into the city life of Vietnam.
There are many things to do in Hanoi. History enthusiasts should be sure to head to Old Town and explore the many museums. For a place to relax within the chaos, Hoan Kiem Lake is a peaceful spot to sit and take in the views.
Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City are an extensive tunnel network used during the Vietnam War by VC troops to communicate and operate in the area around the city. The tunnels are a must for any traveler interested in the country’s modern military history.
Two sections of the Cu Chi Tunnels can be visited with a guide, with access possible from the Ben Duoc village or the Ben Dinh village. Be aware, however, that you will need to crawl on your hand and knees at times, and the tunnels certainly aren’t for anyone with claustrophobia.
For beach lovers, Nha Trang is the place to For beach lovers, Nha Trang is the place to go. Vietnam’s most famous seaside resort town boasts spectacular scuba diving and a laid back atmosphere. The town benefits from picturesque offshore islets and warm water, as well as a promenade along the beachfront that’s always full of activity.