Unforgettable experiences are everywhere in Vietnam. There’s sublime: gazing over a surreal seascape of limestone islands from the deck of a traditional junk in Halong Bay. The ridiculous: taking 10 minutes just to cross the street through a tsunami of motorbikes in Hanoi. The inspirational: exploring the world’s most spectacular cave systems in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The comical: watching a moped loaded with honking pigs weave a wobbly route along a country lane. And the contemplative: witnessing a solitary grave in a cemetery of thousands of war victims.
Thailand may contest the top spot, but in Southeast Asia, nothing really comes close: Vietnamese food is that good. Incredibly subtle in its flavours and outstanding in its diversity, Vietnamese cooking is a fascinating draw for travellers – myriad street-food tours and cooking schools are a testament to this. Geography plays a crucial role, with Chinese flavours influencing the soups of the north, spices sparking up southern cuisine, and herbs and complex techniques typifying the central coastline, rightly renowned as Vietnam’s epicurean hot spot. And up and down the country you can mingle with villagers, sample local dishes and sip rice wine in Vietnam’s many regional markets.
Many visitors find a vast number of places to visit that intrigue and excite them in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the other major centres; but despite the cities’ allure, it’s the country’s striking landscape that most impresses. Vietnam occupies a narrow strip of land that hugs the eastern borders of Cambodia and Laos, hemmed in by rugged mountains to the west, and by the South China Sea – or the East Sea, as the Vietnamese call it. To the north and south of its narrow waist, it fantails out into the splendid deltas of the Red River and the Mekong, and it’s in these regions that you’ll encounter the paddy fields, dragonflies, buffaloes and conical-hatted farmers that constitute the classic image of Vietnam.
Top 10 Places to Visit in Vietnam
1. Ha Long Bay – Ha Long Bay truly resembles a scene from a fairytale story but it totally exists in reality and you should definitely visit it. Ha Long Bay is located in northern Vietnam, just about 130 km east of Hanoi and offers a magical landscape of a cluster of limestone rocky outcrops rising from the turquoise water. This wonderful bay looking and feeling like out of this world features more than 2000 jungle-covered islands.
2. Hanoi – For the last century the capital city of Vietnam Hanoi managed to emerge from two major wars as a blooming, vibrant, and dynamic capital city of a country with a dramatic and turbulent past. If you want to get to know the culture and history of Vietnam better, make sure to visit the Old Quarter in Hanoi that is an open-air museum of colonial Asian and French architecture. Other tourist activities include strolling endless boulevards and streets with great shops, a lot of street food vendors, busy markets.
3. Hoi An – Dating back to 2000 years, the beautiful historic city of Hoi An is located off the coast of the South China Sea in South Central Vietnam. Hoi An is a popular destination in Vietnam thanks to its beautiful historical buildings, traditional culture, and textile. The main attraction in Hoi An is the interesting and atmospheric Old Town that is easy to navigate around thanks to its smaller and more compact size.
4. Hue – Located in Central Vietnam on the banks of the Perfume River, Hue used to be the imperial capital of the Nguyen dynasty back in the past and today is a home to the remains of this glorious time with its beautiful traditional architecture, rich culture, and delicious cuisine. Hue is definitely a recommended destination when in Vietnam and houses a number of important for the country’s historic sites such as the Citadel and its stunning palaces, ornate temples, walls, and gates.
5. Sapa – The remote northwest quiet town of Sapa is surrounded by a Vietnamese natural beauty that looks like right off a postcard – picturesque mountains, rice terraces, and the diversity of hill tribes. Sapa is usually used as a base for trekking in Hong Lien Son Mountains. From the town, there are many organized tours to the rice paddies and traditional villages too so you can make sure to explore the whole region.
6. Nha Trang – Nha Trang is probably one of the most popular summer holiday resorts in Vietnam, located on one of the most beautiful Asian bays off the coast of South Central Vietnam. A favourite and admired destination among locals and tourists, Nha Trang is a home to a beautiful mountain scenery surrounding the picturesque beaches and lush little islands around.
7. Mekong Delta – Visiting the Mekong Delta means that you are not only going to enjoy the beautiful nature of Vietnam but also experiencing the authentic charm and vibe of the country. A whole new and exciting experience indeed, the colourful floating markets, fruit orchards, rice paddies, sugar cane groves, bird sanctuaries, and quirky villages will impress you, surprise you, and make you remember your Vietnam visit to the rest of the time. The Mekong Delta is located in southwestern Vietnam and often called the “Vietnam’s Rice Basket” because of its agricultural value.
8. Ho Chi Minh City – Near the Mekong Delta and lying along the Saigon River, Ho Chi Minh once served as the capital of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War and today is a popular tourist attraction. Ho Chi Minh is the largest city in Vietnam and offers a bunch of reasons to pay it a visit, including all the historic, cultural, and modern-day attractions, the vibrant nightlife, extra delicious and amazing dining experiences, great shopping opportunities.
9. My Son – One of the most important archaeological sites in Vietnam, My Son is located on the central coast of Vietnam near the Duy Phu village. My Son is was once a very important centre of Hindu religious ceremonies back in the past. The god Shiva was worshipped in all of the many temples built to form My Son.
10. Dalat – Dalat brings the popularity from the past as a favourite summer retreat for Vietnamese emperors and French colonials. To this date, Dalat is a more than a pleasant place with its year-round cool and fresh weather, the idyllic scenery surrounding the town, misty and magical valleys, lush pine trees, and colourful flowers. Looking for relief from the often unbearable heat of Vietnam? Make sure to head to Dalat that is located in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam.