Best places to visit in Vietnam

These diverse destinations in Vietnam will lead you on an incredible journey through a world of history, culture and natural landscapes.

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Vietnam is a unique country with so much to offer that visitors often miss some of its beauty. But with this list of the best places to visit in Vietnam, you won’t skip a spot that’s worth seeing.

In the north, you’ll be drawn in by the lush green rice terraces in Sapa, the bustling city of Hanoi and the UNESCO site Halong Bay. Hoi An will steal your heart in central Vietnam while in the south, Mui Ne will have you riding down sand dunes, Ho Chi Minh will take you through war history and Phu Quoc’s white sand beaches will have you wanting to stay longer.

1. Halong Bay

Filled with emerald green water and limestone pillars topped with rainforests, Halong Bay is the most popular tourist attraction in northern Vietnam.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is where travellers flock to enjoy cruises on junk boats through the towering pillars and islands.

  • Best for: Water activities, scenic sites.
  • Where is it? North-eastern Vietnam.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Check out Cat Ba Island, visit a floating village, go kayaking, explore the marine life while scuba diving and step inside caves.
  • How long do I need? 1-3 days.
  • Recommended tour: Go exploring on a bike and boat tour through the countryside where you’ll go inside hidden caves, have a cooking lesson on board and be able to chill out on the sundeck.

2. Hanoi

Hanoi is Vietnam’s chaotic capital and is packed with scooters, a rich culture and buildings that date back centuries.

You can discover the city by walking through the Old Quarter where street stalls and markets spill into the roads.

Temples, an art scene and Chinese and French influences can be found throughout this busy yet fascinating city.

  • Best for: History, culture, food.
  • Where is it? Northern Vietnam.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: See the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, stop by the Imperial City, relax at Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son, take in the ambience of the Old Quarter and shop at the Dong Xuan Market.
  • How long do I need? 2-3 days.
  • Recommended tour: that includes a cycle ride shows you the city’s highlights from the Temple of Literature to the historic Old Quarter.

3. Sapa

Sapa’s main attraction is a trek through the rice terraces, which are housed in valleys surrounded by towering mountains.

Fog often rolls into the valley, but the hill tribes that live in the area make it a bright place with their traditional clothing.

  • Best for: Active travellers, trekking, scenic sites.
  • Where is it? North-western Vietnam.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Spend a night at a village homestay, trek through the rice terraces, climb Fansipan Mountain, explore Sapa town and visit Sapa Main Market.
  • How long do I need? 1-3 days.
  • Recommended tour: An overnight Sapa tour from Hanoi takes you on a trek through minority villages and to a waterfall. You'll also experience delicious traditional meals.

4. Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh is best known for the essential part it played in the Vietnam War. Today, this large, bustling city is home to an electric mix of skyscrapers and 19th century French-influenced buildings.

The streets are lined with food stalls, and history oozes from every corner between the modern rooftop bars, hotels and markets.

  • Best for: History, culture.
  • Where is it? Southern Vietnam.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Experience the Cu Chi Tunnels, explore Ben Thanh Market, learn about history at the War Remnants Museum, check out the Reunification Palace and stop by the Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • How long do I need? 2-4 days.
  • Recommended tour: The Ho Chi Minh city-discovery small-group adventure tour will take you around to the best colonial buildings, teach you how to bargain and show you the city’s history.

5. Hoi An

Hoi An is a peaceful ancient town along Vietnam’s coast.

It doesn’t have the pollution and busy streets like Vietnam’s big cities and instead has canals winding through buildings influenced by the Chinese and French.

Hoi An is famous for its tailors who can custom make practically anything. Beaches are just a short bike ride away from the centre of town.

  • Best for: Culture, food, beaches.
  • Where is it? East-central Vietnam.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Take a food tour, try your hand at cooking local dishes, get clothes custom made, relax on the beaches and stroll through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An Ancient Town.
  • How long do I need? 2-4 days.
  • Recommended tour: A Hoi An countryside bike tour which passes by the Thu Bon River and Cua Dai beach. It also includes a ferry to Duy Hai Fishing Village.

6. Hue

Hue was the capital of Vietnam until 1945 and is where the Nguyen Dynasty called home.

What brings most visitors to this central city is the impressive Citadel, which is still a magnificent piece of history even after much of it was destroyed after the Vietnam War.

  • Best for: History.
  • Where is it? Central Vietnam.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Visit the Imperial City, ride the Hai Van Pass, see the Thien Mu Pagoda, visit the emperors’ tombs and cruise down the Perfume River.
  • How long do I need? 1-2 days.
  • Recommended tour: The Hue City sightseeing tour with Perfume River cruise guides you through the Citadel, to the local market and down the river.

7. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Visit Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park if you are an adventurer looking to discover the vast amount of wildlife in the tropical forests, caves and underground rivers.

This national park is the home of Hang Son Doong, the largest cave in the world and the entire park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Best for: Nature, adventure.
  • Where is it? North-central Vietnam.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Cruise through Phong Nha Cave, step inside the dark caves, take a tour to explore the forests, take a look inside Paradise Cave and go zip-lining.
  • How long do I need? 1-3 days.
  • Recommended tour: Explore Phong Nha Cave on a one-day boat tour from Hue so you can get an up-close look at the natural sights.

8. Nha Trang

Nha Trang is a coastal city in central Vietnam, rich in beach resorts and white sand beaches.

It’s a popular place for entertainment in Vietnam. Visitors can enjoy the hot nightlife as well as Vinpearl, a water and theme park on a nearby island.

Other islands just off the coast are home to incredible diving.

    • Best for: Relaxing holidays, beaches, nightlife.
    • Where is it? Central-east Vietnam.
    • Top 5 things to see/do: Relax on the beaches, have a day out at Vinpearl, experience a mud bath at a spa, snorkel or dive and see the Po Nagar Cham Towers.
    • How long do I need? 2-4 days.
    • Recommended tour: The best way to see Nha Trang is on a cruise, which takes you to nearby fishing villages and to the top snorkelling spots.

9. Dalat

Dalat is unique to Vietnam due to the climate in the central highlands, which is more spring-like than tropical.

The French developed it as a resort area in the early 1900s and the past is still present today with charming colonial buildings.

Dalat is a popular spot for adventure activities in the surrounding forests, lakes and waterfalls.

  • Best for: Active travellers, relaxing holidays.
  • Where is it? Southern Vietnam.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: , do a canyoning day trip, visit Datanla waterfalls, check out the Crazy House and go golfing.
  • How long do I need? 2-3 days.
  • Recommended tour: The Dalat eco day tour is an immersive experience that lets you see the local side of Vietnam and its charming landscapes.

10. My Son

My Son is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is thought to be the longest inhabited site in Indochina.

It was bombed during the Vietnam War, but 20 of the 68 original structures still stand. Surrounded by nature, it is a beautiful historic site.

  • Best for: History.
  • Where is it? South-central Vietnam.
  • Top things to see/do: Take in the amazing architecture, watch local performances and learn about religious rituals.
  • How long do I need? 1 day.
  • Recommended tour: Discover this site on a small-group My Son sanctuary tour from Hoi An to marvel at the remains and learn about its history.

11. Mui Ne

Mui Ne is a coastal beach resort town that is a popular getaway from Ho Chi Minh.

It’s the perfect spot to chill out for a few days on the beaches or to hop in the water.

The winds here are perfect for wind surfing, kite surfing and sailing. The white and red sand dunes prove just how diverse Vietnam is.

  • Best for: Water activities, adventure, beaches.
  • Where is it? South-eastern Vietnam.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Wander through the Fairy Stream, ride a quad bike on the white sand dunes, try kitesurfing, ride down the red sand dunes and check out a local fishing village.
  • How long do I need? 1-2 days.
  • Recommended tour: Visit White Lake, the white sand dunes and the Fairy Stream on a private half-day White Lake excursion.

12. Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta area just outside of Ho Chi Minh is a maze of rivers that leads you to a unique network of villages.

Here, you’ll find floating markets, pagodas and rice paddies that flow together, creating a bustling city on water.

  • Best for: Culture.
  • Where is it? Southern Vietnam.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Take a boat cruise through the canals, stop by the local floating markets, take a speedboat tour and explore the area by bike.
  • How long do I need? 1-2 days.
  • Recommended tour: A Private Mekong Delta cruise boat tour shows you all of the sites from the water.

13. Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc is not your typical Vietnamese destination but is quickly becoming popular with sun-seeking visitors.

Off the coast of Cambodia, this Vietnamese island is lined with white sand beaches and resorts. Half of the island is covered by Phu Quoc National Park where you can find wildlife and hiking trails through the forest and mountains.

Diving and seafood here are both spectacular too.

  • Best for: Beaches, nature, water activities.
  • Where is it? South-western Vietnam.
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Relax on the beaches, head to the Dinh Cau Night Market, visit Dinh Cau Rock (Cave Temple), see Suoi Tranh waterfall and go snorkelling.
  • How long do I need? 1-3 days.
  • Recommended tour: This full-day Phu Quoc island tour includes all of the island's highlights from fishing villages to the best beaches.

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