Boasting a stunning mix of verdant landscapes, lush forests, urban centers, quaint towns, heritage sites, and beautiful beaches, it’s little wonder why Vietnam belongs to the most beautiful countries to visit in Southeast Asia. Adding the country’s long history, deep-ingrained culture, and delicious food, Vietnam simply has it all! So, start creating your itinerary with our list of the top places to visit in Vietnam, and be surprised with all the fantastic panoramas and surprises the country has to offer.
Ho Chi Minh City
If you’re a big city fan, a visit to Vietnam won’t be complete without seeing Ho Chi Minh City, situated in the South of Vietnam. It’s a bustling metropolitan city where you can enjoy cheap shopping and amazing food, coffee, and brewery scenes.
Amidst the cosmopolitan vibe, there are historical sites that are also worth a peek at. Drop by at the HCMC Museum to see the fantastic collection of artifacts that tells much about the city’s story or at the Reunification Palace, the residence and workplace of South Vietnam’s president. Afterward, you can visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, Jade Emperor Pagoda, or the nearby Da Kao district.
With its large international airport, Ho Chi Minh City may also serve as your gateway to other areas in Vietnam. Luckily, you can see the city’s highlights in only a few days, so you can immediately start exploring the iconic spots in Vietnam.
Vietnam’s capital Hanoi is the heart of the nation. It’s a place that may perplex and captivate you at the same time. The insane clog of motorbikes, pollution, and the tumult from all the people and vendors may turn off some, but it’s what you need to experience and love if you want to relish the true city life in Vietnam.
One of Hanoi’s highlights is the Old Quarter, the civic and commercial hub of the capital. Here, you can find lots of ancient shops, street food stalls, beautiful pagodas, secluded alleyways, and green spaces, making it perfect for an afternoon stroll. Explore it by foot and the more you wander, the more you’ll be rewarded with its idyllic charm.
Other places to visit include the Vietnam Fine Art Museum, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Temple of Literature, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, a bundle of historic spots that will delight all history buffs. If you’re looking to immerse yourself with nature instead, don’t fret as Hanoi is the best jumping-off point to the scenic areas of Ninh Binh, Halong Bay, and Sapa.
Time to go out of the cities and start exploring Vietnam’s spellbinding natural sceneries. Your first stop should be the renowned Halong Bay. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site, its sheer beauty is best enjoyed by taking a boat tour and cruising some of the 1,600 islands of islets in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Witness the towering limestone cliffs covered with karst or visit its caves and caverns with centuries-old stalagmites and stalactites. Be sure to get an overnight tour as a mere day trip won’t suffice to cover all the glorious views Halong Bay has. Rest assured that you’ll get an experience you won’t soon forget.
Are you looking for some of the best outdoor activities in Vietnam? Then, head on to the Sapa region, Vietnam’s top trekking destination. What makes it unique is that you’ll get to pass through lush green rice terraces and the surrounding remote villages while enjoying the staggering views. If you want to take everything on another level, climb Fansipan Mountain, the highest mountain in Indochina at over 10,000 feet. If you’re with your family, you may take the cable car instead and still see the same beautiful natural landscape.
Another must in any Vietnam itinerary is the atmospheric city of Vietnam. Its main draw is Ancient Town, a UNESCO site home to well-preserved shophouses that date back to the 15th century. It’s been the meeting point of Chinese and Japanese merchants during the heyday of silk trading. As such, the town itself has also developed a history of tailoring, with hundreds of the townspeople still working as tailors today.
You can wander or bike around to see the old town streets, museums, small pagodas, and architectural wonders, dotting the town and taking you back in time. Wait until night time as the town gets even more fascinating when all the lanterns light up. Indeed, Hoi An promises a rustic, relaxing experience, something you may want to get after visiting the bigger and busier cities in Vietnam.
Da Nang is a coastal city that has the best of both worlds. First, it’s ideal if you’re not ready yet to leave the comfort and fun offered by the urban centers. In the city itself, you can shop ‘til you drop at the Han Market, visit the majestic pink cathedral, or witness the Dragon Bridge, Vietnam’s longest bridge, light up Da Nang at night with a literal vibrant dragon. Once you’re primed to get out of the city vibe, Da Nang has stunning beaches, verdant mountain peaks, and ancient caves and temples, all just waiting for you to discover.
Nestled in the central highlands of Southern Vietnam, the city of Dalat is your perfect refuge if you’re looking to beat the heat. It’s built on a plateau standing 4,921 ft. (1,500 m) above sea level, providing a cooler climate and fresher air that’s hard to find elsewhere in the country. Indulge yourself with Dalat donuts, Vietnamese wine, avocado ice cream, and other delicious delights from the city. Dalat is also home to beautiful gardens, lakes, and waterfalls, ideal if you’re longing for some outdoor adventure.
Mui Ne has evolved from a small, sleepy coastal fishing town to being a beautiful beach resort destination. If your travel bucket list includes kitesurfing, windsurfing, and sailing, it’s simply the place to be. What’s great is that it’s less-known, which means you’ll experience a quiet retreat almost throughout the year. Yet, Mui Ne’s main attraction is the Red Sand Dunes just on the outskirts of the town. Wake up early and you’ll be rewarded with its magnificent sunrise view. Afterward, you can visit the Po Shanu Cham Towers ruins or hike through the Fairy Stream for a complete experience.
For more sandy fun, head on to Nha Trang beach, Vietnam’s premier beach destination. It boasts a six-kilometer shoreline facing the calm waters of the South China Sea. Bring your family with you and soak up in the sun, feel the sand on your feet, or swim in the designated areas. If you get bored, you can try surfing, kitesurfing, and snorkeling to get yourself pumped up.
Nga Trang isn’t all about the beach, though! There’s the Po Nagar Cham Towers nearby, a place of Hindu worship used since the 7th century, and the Hon Khoi Salt Fields, the largest one in Vietnam. Then, you may end your day at Dam Market to shop for local trinkets, souvenirs, and handicrafts, plus get a glimpse of the local city life.
Capping this list is Vietnam’s Mekong Delta located in the country’s far southern area. It’s famous for its rowboat tour, where you can explore its winding canals, see mangroves and the paddy fields, and check out the bustling floating market where locals sell and buy fresh produce. While a day trip may do, spending a few days is advisable so you can engross yourself with the local life and the interesting Vietnamese culture.
With such diversity, there’s no reason why Vietnam shouldn’t be one of anyone’s dream destinations. If you decide to fulfill yours, start with these top worth-visiting places in the country and explore all the other incredible sights in Vietnam for a memorable and compelling trip in this Southeast Asian gem.