Vietnam has been a hotspot on the global map for tourism. From bustling cities to tranquil beaches, from magnificent mountains to verdant rice fields, Vietnam offers a wide range of destinations for travelers to explore. This article will give you a list of the best places to visit in Vietnam, highlighting the must-see destinations that you should include on your Vietnam travel itinerary.
1. The best places to visit in North Vietnam: 6 unmissable destinations
The following destinations are excellent ideas for the question of which part of Vietnam is best to visit. Include them in your bucket list for a fulfilling trip in this S-shaped country:
1.1. Ha Noi – The bustling capital of Vietnam
Hanoi, the thousand-year-old capital, tops the list of the best places to visit in Vietnam. The city boasts many distinctive features, such as an iconic red bridge (The Huc Bridge) that cannot be found in any other place, making it a must-visit for travel enthusiasts.
Even on the busy streets, you can still feel Hanoi’s charm and peacefulness. The Old Quarter, for example, is a bustling area where you can see the old Hanoi through its narrow streets lined with vendors selling traditional goods and local food. Other popular attractions that you should not miss out on include the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - the final resting place of Vietnam's beloved leader; Hoan Kiem Lake - a serene oasis in the heart of the city; Long Bien Bridge - a historical witness of Hanoi; the Temple of Literature - Vietnam's first national university, etc.
After wandering around the city, it is time to indulge in some of Hanoi's unique delicacies. The city is famous for its street food, which is both delicious and affordable. Some must-try dishes here include “Pho” (Vietnamese noodle soup), “bun cha” (Vietnamese grilled pork with noodles), “Banh Mi” (Vietnamese sandwich), and “Cha Ca La Vong” (Vietnamese grilled fishcake).
1.2. Ha Long (Quang Ninh)
If you are wondering about the best places to visit in Vietnam, Ha Long Bay should be mentioned on the list. The bay features stunning islands and has been recognized as one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a World Natural Heritage site.
A visit to Ha Long Bay allows you to explore some incredible tourist sites, such as Dragon Eye Island, Ti Top Island, Ngoc Vung Island, Con Coc Island, etc. The bay is also blessed with numerous caves, including Sung Sot Cave, Dau Go Cave, and Me Cung Cave, where visitors can marvel at the impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
In addition to its breathtaking scenery, Ha Long Bay is also a heaven for food lovers with its wide variety of fresh and delicious local dishes. Some must-try specialties include “Gat Gu” cakes, mantis shrimp vermicelli, grilled chopped squid, oysters, and more. With an abundance of seafood and the skillful hands of the local chefs, you will surely have a delightful culinary experience here.
If you plan to stay in Ha Long, it is recommended that you choose a reliable accommodation such as Vinpearl Resort & Spa Ha Long. This resort is situated on the sea, offering tourists a breathtaking view of the bay. The luxurious rooms and professional services also add up to bring you the ultimate comfort for a complete vacation.
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1.3. Sapa (Lao Cai)
Sapa is a charming mountain town nestled in the northwest region of Vietnam. The town is renowned for its breathtaking mountain vistas and scenic beauty, making it among the best places to visit in Vietnam for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
Foodies will also appreciate Sapa's diverse selection of delicious dishes, ranging from dried buffalo meat and “Thang Co” (Vietnamese horse meat soup) to bamboo sticky rice and seven-colored steamed sticky rice. To fully experience the rich flavors of the region, be sure to sample some of the locals’ specialty wines, such as docynia indica wine, Shan Lung wine, and Bac Ha corn wine.
1.4. Ninh Binh – Vietnam's idyllic gem
Ninh Binh, located in the northern region of Vietnam, is a top destination for both domestic and foreign tourists. The stunning limestone karsts, astounding temples and pagodas, and incredibly large rice paddies make it an enticing place to visit.
In addition to the beautiful scenery, Ninh Binh also offers delicious specialties such as mountain snails, goat meat, goat cheese, baked rice crust, and Nho Quan wine. These flavorsome dishes are a true reflection of the region's culinary culture, which has been passed down through generations. So, while you explore the beauty of Ninh Binh, do not forget to treat your taste buds to these delightful local specialties.
1.5. Moc Chau (Son La)
Moc Chau is a picturesque mountainous district located in the southwest of Son La Province. It experiences four distinct seasons, each bringing a new look to the region. Spring is the peak season here, when the pleasant weather is accompanied by the stunning blooming of peach blossom, apricot, and plum flowers. Visitors often flock at this time of year to take in the beautiful floral wonders of nature.
Summer in Moc Chau is the season for fruit harvesting. It is also the best time to witness the majesty of the Dai Yem Waterfall, which falls from the 70-meter-high cliff.
The weather is cooler in autumn. Visiting Moc Chau during this time, you can see white Brassica napus flowers and sunflowers painting the fields and valleys with their vibrant colors.
When winter comes, it brings colder temperatures and fog that covers the tea hills, creating a mystical and beautiful scenery.
In addition to the natural beauty, Moc Chau offers an array of delectable local specialties, including fried veal, grilled fish, salmon, Suoi Bang rock snails, buffalo meat, etc., which should not be missed.
1.6. Ha Giang
Ha Giang is a province in the far northeast of Vietnam. It is renowned for its spectacular mountainous landscape and unique cultural diversity. The province is home to numerous ethnic groups, including the Hmong, Tay, and Dao people, who have preserved their traditions and way of life over generations.
One of the main highlights of Ha Giang is the winding mountain roads, which offer breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys, forests, and terraced fields. A must-see attraction is the Dong Van Karst Plateau, a UNESCO-recognized geopark with stunning rock formations, ancient fossils, and unique cultural heritage.
Another attraction worth visiting is Ma Pi Leng Pass. It is one of the highest and most scenic mountain passes in Vietnam. The pass offers panoramic views of the Nho Que River and the surrounding mountain ranges, which are particularly striking during sunrise and sunset.
Besides its reputation as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Vietnam, Ha Giang is also known for its delectable local specialties. Coming here, you should not miss trying “Thang Co” - a traditional soup made with horse meat, viscera, and herbs) and “Au Tau” porridge - a nutritious dish made with sticky rice, green beans, and pork). The province is also famous for its honey, tea, and medicinal herbs, which are harvested from the local forests and hills.
>>> Read more: Vietnam where to go: The 10 HOTTEST destinations
2. Which are the best places to visit in Central Vietnam?
2.1. Hoi An – A UNESCO-recognized ancient town
Hoi An, a charming ancient town located in Central Vietnam, is a top-rated tourist attraction in the country. The city is not only renowned for its well-preserved historical architecture and cultural heritage but also for its lively nightlife. As the sun sets, Hoi An comes alive with numerous activities and entertainment options. From lantern-lit streets and colorful night markets to trendy bars and lively music venues, Hoi An offers an exciting nightlife scene that attracts visitors from all over the world.
Besides its energetic nightlife vibe, Hoi An is also home to a number of must-see attractions. These include the impressive architecture of Tan Ky Ancient House, the crystal-clear waters and white sand of An Bang Beach, the local farming life of Tra Que Vegetable Village, etc. If you are interested in history and culture, a visit to My Son Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site with ancient temples and ruins, should be your go-to.
Another highlight of Hoi An is its delicious food, which includes mouth-watering specialties like Cao Lau, Quang noodles, wontons, white rose dumplings, chicken rice, etc.
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2.2. Da Nang
Da Nang, known for its extensive coastline, is one of the best places to visit in Vietnam's central area. This coastal city serves as a connecting point between the two tourist attractions of Hoi An Ancient Town and Hue City.
Da Nang boasts a variety of charming bridges, including the Golden Bridge, Han River Bridge, Dragon Bridge, Thuan Phuoc Bridge, and Love Bridge, as well as wild and poetic beaches such as My Khe Beach, Non Nuoc Beach, and Xuan Thieu Beach. It is also home to stunning landscapes such as the Marble Mountains, Son Tra Peninsula, and Ghenh Bang.
Apart from its breathtaking scenery, Da Nang also offers a wide range of delicious food. Some of the popular delicacies that you must try in this city include Quang noodles, sliced pork rolled with rice paper, Vietnamese pancakes, vermicelli salad with pork and anchovy sauce, noodles with grilled fishcake, and duck porridge.
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2.3. Nha Trang
Nha Trang is one of the best places to visit in Vietnam, drawing in visitors with its stunning scenery, rich cultural sites, and pleasant year-round weather. This region offers many breathtaking landscapes, such as Doc Let Beach, Hon Tre Island, Hon Mun Island, Yang Bay Waterfall, Van Phong Bay, Diep Son Island, etc. If you are interested in exploring the cultural and architectural landmarks, be sure to visit Ponagar Cham Towers, Nha Trang Cathedral, Long Son Pagoda, National Oceanographic Museum, etc.
While you are in Nha Trang, do not forget to indulge in the local cuisine, which is made with fresh seafood. You will find a wide range of mouthwatering meals here, including jellyfish salad, white sardine salad, grilled sea urchin, fish noodles, and jellyfish noodles.
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2.4. Hue – Vietnam's ancient captial
Hue, known as the land of heritage, is a must-visit destination in Central Vietnam. Here, you get the unique opportunity to experience Vietnam's rich cultural heritage through its spectacular landscapes and historical sites, including Truong Tien Bridge, Hue Historic Citadel Relic Complex, Ngu Binh Mountain, Lang Co Bay, Lap An Marsh Lagoon, Tam Giang Lagoon, and many ancient royal mausoleums, temples, and pagodas.
Hue's traditional royal music, recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage, has also contributed to the popularity of this city. Its culinary tradition is equally renowned, with dishes like rice with mussels, beef noodles, Hue noodles, vermicelli with grilled pork, and a variety of rice powder cakes that are must-tries during your visit to Hue.
2.5. Quang Binh
Located in Central Vietnam, Quang Binh is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. This province is known for its stunning natural landscapes, such as the charming beaches of Nhat Le and Da Nhay, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, the largest cave in the world, Son Doong Cave, etc.
If you are a history enthusiast, Quang Binh also has many sites to explore, such as the 700-year-old Hoang Phuc Pagoda, Mother Suot Monument, Citadel Dong Hoi, etc.
Quang Binh's cuisine is also a must-try when visiting this province. The cuisine here is known for its diversity and unique flavors, thanks to the combination of ingredients from the mountains, rivers, and sea. Some popular dishes that you should try include “Banh Canh,” a noodle soup dish with crab or pork, “Chao Ca,” a fish porridge dish that is simple yet flavorful, and Quang Hoa pancakes, a mixture of flavors of snakehead fish, vegetables, musa balbisiana, and fish sauce.
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3. Top 5 best places to visit in South Vietnam for your tour
3.1. Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a popular tourist destination that should be included in your Vietnam travel itinerary. This city stands out with its magnificent architectural works, such as Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office, and Ho Chi Minh City Opera House, which have become the city's iconic landmarks.
This city is also steeped in Vietnamese history, especially during the resistance war. To learn more about the heroic past of Vietnam, you can explore historical sites such as the Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Nha Rong Wharf, and the Cu Chi Tunnels. Those seeking a vibrant atmosphere will be glad to know that Ho Chi Minh City is one of the best places to visit in Vietnam for nightlife, with Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street, Bui Vien Street, and Ben Thanh Market among the top spots.
Besides these attractions, Saigon's unique cuisine is another highlight of the city. Must-try delicacies here include steamed broken rice, grilled snails, banh mi, fresh spring rolls, and beef noodles.
3.2. Phu Quoc (Kien Giang) – Vietnam's tropical paradise
Phu Quoc Island, located in Kien Giang Province and the Gulf of Thailand, is renowned for its unspoiled natural beauty. Here, you can find a series of picturesque beaches stretching from north to south, framed by majestic mountains, hills, and primeval forests. Notable tourist attractions on the island include Phu Quoc National Park, Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc Prison, Ham Ninh Fishing Village, Long Beach, etc.
Phu Quoc is not only a paradise for nature lovers but also for foodies. The island offers an abundance of regional specialties, including mouthwatering seafood such as herring salad, Ham Ninh steamed sentinel crab, and sea cucumber soup. The rich sea surrounding the island provides fresh and flavorful seafood that will surely satisfy your taste buds.
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3.3. Vung Tau – A beach bliss getaway
Vung Tau, situated in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, is a scenic coastal city just a short two-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City. The city is famous for its picturesque beaches, each with its own features. While Bai Truoc Beach is ideal for catching stunning sunsets, Bai Sau Beach boasts a powdery sandy stretch, and Bai Dau Beach has fascinating rock formations.
In addition to its beaches, Vung Tau also has several other tourist attractions, such as Go Gang Island, Pearl Island, Nghinh Phong Cape, the Christ of Vung Tau, the White Palace, Thich Ca Phat Dai Buddhist Temple, etc.
When it comes to food, Vung Tau is famous for its seafood. The city's many seafood restaurants offer a wide variety of dishes, from grilled squid to shrimp spring rolls. Vung Tau is also known for its “Banh Khot”, which are small, savory pancakes made with rice flour and coconut milk.
3.4. Tay Ninh
Tay Ninh is a province located in southern Vietnam, known for its unique cultural and religious attractions. The province is home to the Cao Dai religion, a fascinating fusion of various religions such as Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Christianity. The Cao Dai Great Temple, located in Tay Ninh City, is the religion's holiest site and a must-visit attraction for tourists. You will surely be surprised by its unique architecture and colorful decorations.
Tay Ninh is also famous for its natural beauty, with breathtaking landscapes such as Ba Den Mountain, Dau Tieng Lake, Ma Thien Lanh Valley, etc.
Your trip to Tay Ninh will be incomplete without indulging in the province's unique cuisine. Some must-try dishes here include Trang Bang rice noodle soup, Tay Ninh beef, Ba Den mountain lizard, dew-soaked rice paper, and more.
3.5. Can Tho
Located in the heart of the Mekong Delta, Can Tho is a bustling city that offers visitors a chance to experience the beauty of the Delta's waterways and lush greenery. There are plenty of attractions to see and explore here. Among them, some must-see spots include Ninh Kieu Wharf, where you can admire the beauty of the Hau River; Cai Rang Floating Market - the largest and most famous floating market in the Delta; the 140-year-old Binh Thuy Ancient House - a perfect blend of French and Vietnamese architecture; and Bang Lang Stork Garden - a great place to learn about the local ecosystem and wildlife.
While in Can Tho, you should not miss trying some of the local delicacies. Some outstanding dishes that you should try are grilled snakehead fish, fish hot pot, fried shrimp cake, grilled pork sausage, grilled snails with pepper, etc.
4. Tips while traveling to Vietnam
To make the most of your time in Vietnam, it is important to prepare beforehand. Here are a few links to help you plan the perfect Vietnam holiday:
- When to go to Vietnam: Learn about the best time to travel, along with information about influencing factors like the weather, national holidays, etc.
- How to get around in Vietnam: Get to know the transportation options available and brief through the Vietnam map to navigate the country easily.
- Vietnam tips: A first-timer's guide: Familiarize yourself with the essentials, like Vietnam language, Vietnam currency, Vietnam time, how to get a Vietnam visa, etc.
With its stunning landscapes, rich history, and mouthwatering food, Vietnam is a traveler's paradise. Whether you are seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, Vietnam has it all. Hopefully, the list of the best places to visit in Vietnam above will inspire and guide you in planning your next unforgettable trip to this incredible country.
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