Though Vietnam looks quite small on the maps, you could never find enough time to explore this country. Having been working as a tour guide for a few years, I have had chances to reach many places in Vietnam. Now, as a travel consultant for five years, I am thrilled to share my experiences and insights with you. Vietnam is a country full of wonders, from its breathtaking landscapes to its rich cultural heritage. In this blog, I will take you on a journey to discover the best places to visit in Vietnam and explore the must-see things in each destination from the highlights to the hidden gems.
Best Places to Visit in Vietnam
Hanoi is the first-holiday destination in Vietnam that should be on your Vietnam travel list. Being the capital of Vietnam since the year 1010, Hanoi proves itself a center of culture, politics, and tourism with a bundle of historical monuments such as the Temple of Literature, Thang Long Citadel, or museums and scenic spots such as Hoan Kiem Lake, etc.
You can also immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Hanoi’s vibrant rush hour culture by taking a cyclo ride. By doing so, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the hustle and bustle of the main streets in both the Old Quarter and the French Quarter with major buildings that have largely remained intact despite wartime.
If you have cultural interests, then you can enjoy an exhilarating water puppetry show, after that take the time to explore local markets such as Hang Be or Cho Troi. These markets offer a glimpse into Hanoi’s true character, as you observe locals purchasing ingredients for their meals. Here are some unique experiences in Hanoi that take you away from the typical tourist destinations.
Moreover, you can see plenty of street vendors in Hanoi, as it is a part of our culture. That is why Hanoi street food is highly recommended for the best local taste and the variety of dishes. Undoubtedly, the cuisine is the essence of Hanoi!
Pu Luong is a hidden gem in Vietnam that you will absolutely love visiting! The landscapes there are absolutely breathtaking, with cascading waterfalls and vibrant rice terraces. You can have a chance to visit a Thai ethnic home and learn all about their fascinating brocade weaving tradition. One of the highlights is going bamboo rafting and enjoying the serene atmosphere!
If you’re a nature lover, Pu Luong is a place you shouldn’t miss. It’s like stepping into a magical world of natural beauty!
Looking to take a trip to Pu Luong? Check out Pu Luong Comprehensive Travel Guide: A Vietnam Hidden Gem for Nature Lovers
Ninh Binh province takes only a 2-hour drive from Hanoi. When you visit Ninh Binh, you will discover a place that perfectly blends stunning nature and rich history. There is a place called Tam Coc – meaning Three Caves in English. Here you will board on a small sampan, paddled by a local person by his/her foot which is quite unique, to discover three natural caves here on the Ngo Dong River. These caves are nestled in a scenic landscape of limestone cliffs and rice paddies. Or you can take a boat ride through the complex and admire the stunning natural scenery.
If you have time, climbing up the Mua Cave is also worthwhile as you can see the amazing panoramic view of limestone mountains and rice fields.
>>> We think you may like this journey: Explore Ninh Binh – Halong 3 Days
Halong Bay is a must-not-miss, I promise you! Nearly two thousand limestone islands and islets covered by tropical trees and fauna systems stand strongly on the Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, some are eroded by wind and seawater action. Here also offers a lot of amazing natural dry and wet Halong Bay caves such as Sung Sot Cave – the most famous one, Dau Go Cave, Thien Cung Cave, Thien Canh Son Cave, Luon Cave, Dark & Bright Cave, etc.
The most enjoyable way to explore the Bay is by Halong Bay overnight cruises. Those are kind of big boats sailing the fixed routes, with en-suite cabins for couples, friends and families. It is like a floating hotel! Also, there are many things to do in Halong Bay. You can not only witness the stunning beauty of the Bay and explore the caves but also kayak, swim and visit the floating farms here.
Sapa hill-tribe villages
Sapa town is the most worldwide known for its rice terraces and numerous ethnic minorities. However, nowadays, it has become utterly crowded leading to the fact that a lot more hotels, and resorts are built, making this town a big construction. But that is not the reason you should skip Sapa in your plan. The locals in Lao Chai and Ta Van Village are offering high-standard homestays with beautiful views of the valleys and rice terraces – a new trend for adventurous travelers.
Hue is known for its rich history and beautiful landmarks. Situated on the banks of the Perfume River in Central Vietnam, Hue once served as the imperial capital of the Nguyen dynasty. Once visit here, you will feel like stepping back in time. The Perfume River cruise was breathtaking, with stunning views of temples and pagodas along the way. And the local food, like the famous Hue noodles is absolutely delicious!
If you are seeking more unique experiences, let’s take a look at unusual things to do in Hue. You can take a dragon boat ride to Thien Mu Pagoda while enjoying the peace of Hue. Visit Tam Giang Lagoon for an authentic glimpse into local fishermen’s traditional way of life, or hike to Bach Ma National Park and observe a wide variety of flora and fauna if you are a nature lover.
Hoi An ancient town
Also, in the Central region and a 2-hour drive away from Hue, Hoi An is known as a place for peace of mind. The old town is packed with well-preserved houses reminiscing its heyday when it was a main silk trading port for the Japanese and Chinese. Hoi An is now a famous place so it might be crowded, so if you want to find non touristy things to do in Hoian, it’s better to explore areas beside Old Town.
One of the special things here is Hoi An lanterns – placed everywhere on the streets. And it is even more vibrant in the evening when every house, shop, and restaurant turns the candle on. On every full moon day, you can embark on a small sampan on the Hoai River, leave a lantern on the water, and wish for the best things in life.
>>> We think you might love this suggested tour to Hue and Hoi An: Classic Central Vietnam 5 Days
At the altitude of 1500m compared with sea level, the weather in Dalat is cool, with fresh air all year round. Besides the sightseeing here like Tuyen Lam Lake, Bao Dai King Palace, Love Valley Lang Biang Mountain, Da Lat offers hidden gems that you can escape from the tourist crowd. Visiting to Trai Mat area, you can find a unique blend of natural beauty and rural charm as well as sense the vibrant array of sights and sounds of the largest agricultural markets in Dalat. More and more unique things to do in Dalat await you to explore.
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a city that will truly captivate you with its vibrant energy, rich history, and fascinating culture. While exploring the bustling markets and iconic landmarks like the City Post Office and Independence Palace, you can discover a whole different side of Saigon. By venturing off the beaten path and finding hidden gems like wandering off the main streets through the narrow alleys and discovering something brand new. Exploring the city’s iconic landmarks by riding on a vintage Vespa scooter, zip through the bustling streets as a local.
Don’t forget to indulge in the flavorful Saigon street food if you are a food enthusiast, there are a lot of mouthwatering culinary awaits you to taste like Hu tieu (saigonese noodle soup), banh mi, com tam (broken rice), etc. From charming neighborhoods to local street food stalls, there was always something exciting to discover. Saigon is a city that will leave you amazed and wanting to explore more!
Cu Chi Tunnels
When you visit the Cu Chi tunnels, you can explore an incredible piece of history. About 60 km from downtown Saigon, this is a site where the Viet Cong used these tunnels as hiding spots during the War, and they played a crucial role.
The tunnels stretched over 200 km and were like underground cities! You can see trap doors, living areas, storage rooms, factories, hospitals, and even kitchens. There is plenty of evidence of the fierce battle that took place here during the 1960s when Cu Chi was a “Free Target Zone”. The Cu Chi tunnels are a must-see for both Vietnamese and foreign travelers, a place where history comes alive.
The Mekong Delta is a special place that you can’t miss on your Vietnam bucket travel list. It’s a region of incredible natural beauty with lush rainforests, a rich culture with diverse ethnic groups, and unique handicrafts. Visiting morning floating markets, cycling through rice paddies of quaint villages, experiencing as a farmer cutting sugar cane, and bird-watching at Tram Chim National Park, all create remarkable memories in your Vietnam journey.
But what really makes the Mekong Delta special is its people. The locals are warm, welcoming, and incredibly friendly. They’re always happy to share their culture and traditions with travelers. Hop aboard the motor cart to explore the town, you can take in the sights and sounds of everyday life. This journey allows you to interact with the locals, and soak in the authentic atmosphere. The more unique experiences in the Mekong Delta you encounter, the more chances you can find what is truly called beyond the ordinaries.
Phu Quoc island
Phu Quoc Island is an incredible destination, which is the largest and most beautiful island. Finding a place with long beaches, white sand, and clear water like Phu Quoc is like discovering a hidden treasure. The island is blessed with pristine tropical forests and vibrant coral reefs.
As a snorkeling and diving enthusiast, you will be in awe! Underwater, you can encounter a kaleidoscope of colorful corals and a wide variety of fish species. If you are an active person and into sea sports then Phu Quoc is a true haven for you. It offers numerous breathtaking snorkeling and diving spots, such as the An Thoi Archipelago, Turtle Island, and Fingernail Island.
Vietnam Refined Itineraries
Whether you have a month or just a week or two, we still have an itinerary to suit your interests and time frame. Here are some sample inspirational itineraries for your first trip to Vietnam and Southeast Asia, but you can see all our itineraries here.
Grand Sensational Vietnam 20 Days
Overview: This itinerary covers the highlights but mixes with off-the-beaten-track experiences from bustling cities, and mountainous areas to beautiful beaches, and much more.
Route: Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Halong – Sapa – Hue – Danang – Hoian – Nha Trang – Dalat – Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta
>>> View trip
Vietnam Cultural Highlights 14 Days
Overview: Including the most-wanted destinations from the north to the south. You will have a perfect view and capture all of the highlights of Vietnam’s culture, history, and cuisine. Yet still be able to enjoy the natural landscapes, pristine beaches, and the daily life beauty of local people.
Route: Hanoi – Halong – Sapa – Hue – Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh – Mekong Delta
>>> View trip
Splendors Of Vietnam & Cambodia 17 Days
Overview: This tour enables you to experience the most stunning locations in Vietnam from north to south as well as the top temples in Cambodia, at an appropriate pace.
Route: Hanoi – Halong – Hue – Hoi An – HCMC – Mekong – Phnom Penh – Siem Reap
>>> View trip
Hope that with these suggestions, you can plan out your Vietnam holiday destinations for your Vietnam vacation without hesitation. We are also grateful to get 480++ excellent reviews on Trip Advisor. Read our reviews and get inspired to embark on an unforgettable journey.
If you want to explore Vietnam authentically with a personalized itinerary that only fits your interests, and budget with flexibility, we are here to accompany you. Let’s craft your lifetime journey with us by filling out the form below. We will contact you within 24 hours.
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Van Do – Travel Consultant
Hi, I am Van, Travel Consultant at Indochina Voyages. I am so thrilled to bring my experience, passion, and knowledge to plan your trip to Vietnam & Indochina region and make your journey lifetime memories.