The 10 best places to visit in Vietnam
Vietnam is a wonderful and unique country. When you think about this country that survived the war brings many images to mind; sunny rice fields and floating markets that immerse travellers in a timeless Asian engraved environment. Travelling to Vietnam is a dreamlike experience enhanced with scents of spices and fresh herbs used in Pho, the national dish. From Halong Bay to Hoi An, Hanoi to the Mekong Delta, Saigon to Sapa, Vietnam, a trip to Vietnam is an exotic adventure! Taking your time is the key for a successful trip, it will allow you to appreciate its culture, people and language. There is no doubt that you will come home with wonderful memories. Here are 10 must-see places to visit during your trip to Vietnam.
Our selection of must-see places
The Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is one of the major attractions in Vietnam. From Cai Be to Ben Tre, Can Tho to Coa Lanh, the Mekong River splits into countless different canals.
Cai Rang and Phong Dien are one of the region’s most emblematic floating markets. You can also embark on a Sampan boat cruise through the mangrove to discover the canals. In Cai Be, discover the wooden houses dating from the Colonial era.
Nice village | River | Market
Hô Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, has become an ultramodern megalopolis with a breathtaking skyline. There is always something to do in this young and trendy city. At the beginning, you might have a hard time finding your way around the city and its constant bustle but after a few days you will realize that it has many things to offer to curious travellers.
Sometimes called “the Paris of Asia”, Ho Chi Minh City has a rich Colonial heritage, especially in the historical center. Visit the Saigon Opera House, the Cent Post Office designed by Gustave Eiffel and the magnificent Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon. Finally, don't hesitate to stop off at the Independence Palace.
Museums | Monuments | Market
Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc Island is a major destination in Vietnam for relaxation and beach enthusiasts. Surrounded by clear water, the island has amazing coral reefs which makes it an ideal place for snorkeling and diving. Just lay your beach towel on the sand, open a good book and clear your mind. Welcome to paradise!
In Phu Quoc, rent a scooter to explore the island and find the most beautiful beaches. Don't hesitate to stop off in one of the many fish sauce factories, the regional specialty. Finally, enjoy a nice walk on the beach or sign up for a scuba diving course.
Island | Nature | Relaxation
Hoi An, the City of Lanterns, is unquestionably one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam. There are so many things to see in this historic city that a whole week wouldn't be enough to see all of them. Walking around the ancient town and discovering the colourful colonial houses is a real pleasure.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the ancient city of Hoi An is a perfect example of what a Vietnamese commercial port looked like in the 15th and 16th centuries. There are over a thousand well-preserved buildings such as the Japanese covered bridge, the ancient house of Tan Ky, and the assembly hall of the Fujian Chinese congregation.
UNESCO World Heritage | Nice village | Monuments
Also referred to as “Small Angkor Wat”, My Son sanctuary is the biggest archeological site in Vietnam. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this impressive architectural ensemble is what remains of the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Champa.
Visiting the whole site doesn't take very long, only about two hours. You can also opt for a guided tour.
UNESCO World Heritage | Archaeological site | Monuments
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Imperial City will offer you a timeless experience discovering its splendid temples and monuments. The citadel was inspired by the Forbidden City in Beijing, and attest to the past glory of Vietnam’s dynasties, the Nguyen dynasty in particular.
Because of its amazing architectural and historical heritage, Hue is a must-see place to visit during a trip to Vietnam. Among the most important monuments in the city are the Imperial City, the Forbidden Purple City and the tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty.
UNESCO World Heritage | Architecture | Monuments
Sapa and Vietnam Northern mountains
Located in an impressive cirque at a height of 1500m, Sapa is a hill station built by the French in the 1920s. Surrounded by rice fields as far as the eye can see, the region allows travellers to have a glimpse of the magnificent Vietnamese mountains. Sapa is the perfect destination for hiking enthusiasts. Also, it is the ideal place to stop if you wish to meet with the ethnic minorities of Northern Vietnam. Finally, make sure to learn more about rice cultivation in rice terrace paddy fields.
Natural wonders | Mountain | Hiking
Ninh Binh and the Tam Coc River
The Ninh Binh province is often referred to as “The terrestrial Ha Long Bay”. It's true that this region features spectacular black karst peaks, just like its marine counterparts. Once surrounded by the rice fields and mountains, you will probably want to stay there forever.
There are many things to see in the Ninh Binh province. Start off by exploring the Tam Coc River and continue on by exploring the Trang An grottoes. After discovering the former capital of Hoa Lu, climb the Dragon mountain to enjoy a breathtaking view at the top.
Natural wonders | Hiking | Nature
Hanoi is the oldest capital city in Southeast Asia. From the narrow streets of the Old Quarter to the French Quarters, the megalopolis has an incredible atmosphere and tremendous charm. Hanoi is a delightful blend of both Asian culture and Colonial architecture that leaves no one indifferent.
You will most likely start off your Hanoi tour on the banks of the legendary Hoan Kiem Lake. In the French Quarters, you will be amazed by the Haussmann style buildings. Among the major monuments in the city, don't miss out on the Temple of Literature and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
Monuments | Museums | Heritage
Ha Long Bay
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Ha Long Bay is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. No need to explain why this site is a major attraction in Vietnam. This spectacular maritime landscape is composed of over 1600 limestone karsts and isles scattered over the Gulf of Tonkin.
Ha Long Bay offers several activities and discoveries. Of course, you can discover the site during a cruise or on a traditional junk. You will also have the chance to visit one of the floating villages of the bay, to go on a kayak tour and to visit sea caves.
Natural wonders | UNESCO World Heritage | Hiking
It took me a few days to get over the culture shock after arriving in Vietnam. The first few hours of my trip were very chaotic and full of uncertainty. But once immersed in the everyday life of Vietnamese people, I discovered a very complex and fascinating country that took me into another world.
In Hoi An, where young chefs are determined to reinvent the Vietnamese gastronomy, I tasted one of the best cuisines in the world. In Ninh Binh, I was able to lose myself among the Karst peaks during an unforgettable road trip through the rice fields and canals. From Cat Ba Island, I embarked on an old wooden boat to discover Ha Long Bay. In Hanoi, I was enchanted by the energy of one of the most captivating Asian capitals.
As you can see, Vietnam overwhelmed me in its own way. After a little bit of a difficult start off, I was able to enjoy the beauty of this country from north to south.