13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit

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Are you looking for the ultimate Vietnamese adventure? In this article I’ll guide you through the best cities in Vietnam, drawing from my personal experiences traveling to each of these incredible destinations.

You’ll learn:

  • How to navigate the bustling streets of Hanoi and immerse yourself in its rich history.
  • Where to find the vibrant nightlife of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and the best rooftop bars for panoramic views.
  • The enchanting charm of Hoi An’s ancient town and its lantern-lit streets.
  • The temperate climate and picturesque landscapes of Da Lat, the “City of Eternal Spring.”
  • The serene landscapes of Sapa and the cultural richness of its ethnic minority villages.
  • The coastal beauty of Da Nang and its thrilling outdoor adventures.
  • The imperial grandeur of Hue and its historic citadel.
  • The coastal oasis of Nha Trang and its water sports paradise.
  • The tropical paradise of Phu Quoc with its pristine beaches and lush jungles.
  • The vibrant dunes and beach paradise of Mui Ne.
  • The gateway to Halong Bay on Cat Ba Island.
  • The tranquil retreat of Mai Chau and its unique homestay experiences.
  • The natural wonders of Ninh Binh, often called “Halong Bay on Land.”

Vietnam is a country that offers a mesmerizing blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. From the bustling city streets to the tranquil countryside, each destination has its unique charm waiting to be explored. Join me on this journey, and let’s uncover the best that Vietnam has to offer together!

Best Cities in Vietnam Map

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

Settled in the northern part of Vietnam, Hanoi stands as the vibrant and historic capital of the country. Its roots trace back over a thousand years, and its rich cultural tapestry weaves together traditions, modernity, and a sense of timeless charm. As you journey through Vietnam, Hanoi will undoubtedly capture your heart with its stunning architecture, bustling markets, and delectable street food.

Top Attractions and Landmarks

  • Hoan Kiem Lake: This iconic lake, often called the “Lake of the Restored Sword,” serves as the heart of Hanoi. Stroll around its tranquil waters, visit the Ngoc Son Temple located on a small island in the lake, and take in the picturesque red bridge.
  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum: Pay your respects to Vietnam’s founding father, Ho Chi Minh, at his mausoleum. It’s a solemn and significant site for the Vietnamese people.
  • Temple of Literature: Explore this ancient temple complex, dedicated to Confucius, which also houses Vietnam’s first national university. Its serene courtyards and traditional architecture make for a peaceful visit.
  • Hanoi Old Quarter : Wander through the narrow streets of the Old Quarter, where you’ll find a labyrinth of shops, cafes, and street vendors. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in local life and shop for souvenirs.

Street Food in Hanoi

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

  • Pho: Start your culinary adventure with a steaming bowl of pho, Vietnam’s famous noodle soup. Try it at one of the local street stalls for an authentic experience.
  • Bun Cha: Don’t miss out on this delicious dish consisting of grilled pork served with vermicelli noodles and fresh herbs. It’s a Hanoi specialty.
  • Egg Coffee: Sip on the creamy and rich egg coffee, a unique Hanoi creation. Giang Café is known for serving some of the best in the city.

🔗 Related : Where to Stay in Hanoi: 7 Best & Safest Neighborhoods

Cultural Experiences and Festivals

  • Water Puppet Theater : Witness the traditional art of water puppetry, a captivating cultural performance that tells stories of Vietnamese folklore.
  • Tet Festival: If you visit during the Lunar New Year (Tet), you’ll be treated to vibrant parades, fireworks, and an explosion of colors and traditions.

🔗 Related: Living in Hanoi as a Digital Nomad: The BEST Guide

Tips for Exploring Hanoi

  • Traffic: Be prepared for the bustling traffic, including motorbikes, when crossing the streets. Follow the locals; they have a knack for weaving through.
  • Dress Code: When visiting religious sites like temples and pagodas, ensure you dress modestly with shoulders and knees covered as a sign of respect.
  • Language: Learning a few basic Vietnamese phrases can go a long way in enhancing your experience and connecting with locals.

In Hanoi, every corner tells a story, and every dish tastes like a masterpiece. It’s a city where tradition and modernity coexist harmoniously, making it a must-visit destination on your journey through Vietnam.

🔗 Related: 10 Best Hostels in Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

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Ho Chi Minh City, often referred to as Saigon, embodies the energetic pulse of southern Vietnam. As the country’s largest city and economic hub, it’s a place where the past meets the future, creating a dynamic atmosphere that’s both thrilling and enriching. From historic landmarks to modern skyscrapers, Saigon offers a diverse range of experiences that will leave you captivated.

Iconic Places to Visit

  • Ben Thanh Market : Dive headfirst into the city’s bustling atmosphere at Ben Thanh Market. It’s a treasure trove of local goods, from clothing and souvenirs to fresh produce and street food.
  • War Remnants Museum : Gain insights into the Vietnam War at this museum, which displays wartime artifacts, photographs, and exhibitions detailing the country’s history.
  • Cu Chi Tunnels : Take a day trip to explore the underground network of Cu Chi Tunnels, an intricate system used by Viet Cong soldiers during the war.

Nightlife Scene

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

  • Bui Vien Street: Saigon comes alive after dark, and Bui Vien Street in the backpacker district is a hub for nightlife. Enjoy street performances, bars, and clubs.
  • Rooftop Bars: Experience Saigon’s skyline by visiting rooftop bars like the Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar.

Shopping and Modern Entertainment

  • Dong Khoi Street: Explore the high-end boutiques, art galleries, and cafés on Dong Khoi Street. It’s the city’s upscale shopping and dining district.
  • Vincom Landmark 81: Visit the tallest building in Vietnam, Vincom Landmark 81, for luxury shopping, entertainment, and panoramic city views.

🔗 Related : Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods

Local Cuisine and Dining Experiences

  • Pho Hoa: Try southern-style pho, which is slightly sweeter and spicier compared to the northern version. Pho Hoa is renowned for its delicious bowls.
  • Banh Mi Huynh Hoa: Savor Vietnam’s famous banh mi sandwiches at this local favorite. The combination of flavors is a delightful explosion in your mouth.
  • Street Food Tours: Join a street food tour to taste various local dishes like com tam (broken rice), goi cuon (spring rolls), and hu tieu (noodle soup).

Navigating the City’s Transportation

  • Grab: Utilize the Grab app (similar to Uber) for convenient and affordable rides around the city.
  • Public Transportation: The city has a growing metro system, buses, and plenty of taxis for getting around. Be sure to have small denominations of Vietnamese dong for fares.

Ho Chi Minh City, with its energetic spirit and diverse offerings, is a city of contrasts that never fails to leave a lasting impression. Whether you’re exploring its history, savoring its cuisine, or dancing the night away, Saigon has something for every traveler.

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

Hoi An, a picturesque town on Vietnam’s central coast, is often described as a living museum. Its well-preserved architecture, lantern-lit streets, and rich cultural heritage make it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a taste of traditional Vietnam. Hoi An’s charming Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that will transport you back in time.

Exploring the Well-Preserved Old Town

  • Ancient Houses and Assembly Halls: Wander through the narrow streets lined with ancient houses, each showcasing a unique blend of Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese architectural influences. Don’t miss the Tan Ky House and Phung Hung House.
  • Japanese Covered Bridge: Marvel at the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge, an architectural gem from the 18th century, adorned with intricate carvings and a small temple.
  • Hoi An Central Market: Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting Hoi An’s bustling central market. Here, you can shop for fresh produce, spices, and handicrafts while interacting with friendly vendors.

Hoi An’s Lantern Festival and Cultural Events

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

  • Lantern Festival: If you have the opportunity, visit Hoi An during the monthly Full Moon Lantern Festival. The town is adorned with thousands of colorful lanterns, and the river comes alive with floating candles and traditional performances.
  • Cultural Workshops: Participate in lantern-making workshops or cooking classes to gain hands-on experiences with Hoi An’s traditions.

Tailoring and Shopping in Hoi An

  • Custom Tailoring: Hoi An is renowned for its skilled tailors. Consider getting custom-made clothing, suits, or dresses at one of the many tailor shops in town.
  • Shopping: Explore the myriad of boutiques and souvenir shops offering silk products, ceramics, and unique handicrafts. Be prepared to haggle for the best deals.

Beaches and Nearby Attractions

  • An Bang Beach: Relax on the nearby An Bang Beach, a serene and less crowded alternative to the bustling Cua Dai Beach.
  • My Son Sanctuary: Take a day trip to the My Son Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring ancient Hindu temples and ruins.

Hoi An’s romantic ambiance, historical significance, and vibrant local culture make it an enchanting destination for travelers. Whether you’re strolling through the lantern-lit streets, enjoying local delicacies, or immersing yourself in cultural traditions, Hoi An promises an unforgettable experience.

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

Da Lat, often referred to as the “City of Eternal Spring,” is a charming highland city located in the southern part of Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Known for its temperate climate, lush landscapes, and French colonial architecture, Da Lat offers a refreshing change of pace from Vietnam’s coastal cities.

Visiting the Flower Gardens and Xuan Huong Lake

  • Flower Gardens: Explore the beautifully manicured flower gardens of Da Lat, such as the Flower Park and the Valley of Love. These gardens are a burst of color and fragrance.
  • Xuan Huong Lake: Take a leisurely stroll around Xuan Huong Lake, a serene artificial lake in the heart of the city. Rent a swan boat for a romantic outing or simply enjoy the scenic views.

Adventure Activities like Canyoning and Trekking

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

  • Canyoning : Da Lat is a popular destination for canyoning, where you can rappel down waterfalls, swim in natural pools, and experience the thrill of the outdoors.
  • Trekking: Embark on trekking adventures in the surrounding highlands, exploring lush forests, rolling hills, and ethnic minority villages.

Local Produce and Cuisine

  • Local Markets: Visit the local markets to sample fresh produce and unique Da Lat specialties like artichokes, avocados, and strawberries. Don’t forget to try the local wine.
  • Dining Experiences: Da Lat offers a variety of dining experiences, from street food stalls to cozy cafes. Try traditional Vietnamese dishes like bun bo Hue (spicy beef noodle soup) and the local specialty, banh mi Da Lat.

Recommendations for a Romantic Getaway

  • Dalat Palace Golf Club: Play a round of golf at the Dalat Palace Golf Club, surrounded by pine forests and offering panoramic views of the city.
  • Linh Phuoc Pagoda: Visit the intricate Linh Phuoc Pagoda, also known as the “Broken Glass Pagoda,” featuring stunning mosaic artistry.

Da Lat’s pleasant climate, scenic beauty, and unique cultural experiences make it an ideal destination for those seeking a romantic getaway or outdoor adventure. Whether you’re exploring lush gardens, indulging in local delicacies, or embarking on thrilling canyoning excursions, Da Lat promises a memorable escape in the heart of Vietnam’s highlands.

Sa Pa (Sapa)

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

Sapa, nestled in the northern highlands of Vietnam, is a place of stunning natural beauty. The town is surrounded by lush terraced rice fields, soaring mountains, and vibrant ethnic minority villages. Sapa offers travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the tranquility of the Vietnamese countryside.

Trekking and Hiking Opportunities

  • Rice Terraces : Embark on treks through the famous rice terraces of Sapa. The terraced fields change colors with the seasons, creating a picturesque landscape that’s perfect for hiking.
  • Fansipan Mountain: For the adventurous, consider trekking to the summit of Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam. It’s a challenging but rewarding climb with breathtaking views.

Meeting Ethnic Minority Communities

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

  • Hill Tribes: Sapa is home to several ethnic minority groups, including the Hmong, Red Dao, and Tay people. Take the opportunity to visit their villages, learn about their unique cultures, and even stay in homestays for an authentic experience.

Sapa’s Local Markets and Handicrafts

  • Bac Ha Market: If you’re visiting on a Sunday, don’t miss the Bac Ha Market, a vibrant and colorful market where various ethnic groups gather to trade goods, livestock, and handicrafts.
  • Local Crafts: Sapa is known for its handmade textiles and crafts. You can purchase beautifully woven textiles, clothing, and traditional souvenirs at the local markets.

Accommodation Options and Planning a Visit

  • Homestays: Consider staying in a local homestay for an immersive experience. Many host families offer comfortable accommodations and delicious home-cooked meals.
  • Weather: Be prepared for varying weather conditions. Sapa can be quite cold and misty, especially in the winter months, so pack accordingly.
  • Guided Tours: Booking a guided trek or tour with a local guide is advisable, as they can navigate the terrain, provide insights into the culture, and ensure a safe experience.

Sapa’s stunning landscapes and cultural richness make it a top destination for nature enthusiasts and those seeking an authentic glimpse into Vietnam’s ethnic diversity. Whether you’re trekking through terraced fields, interacting with local hill tribes, or simply taking in the panoramic mountain views, Sapa promises a memorable adventure in the heart of Vietnam’s highlands.

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

Da Nang, located along the central coast of Vietnam, is a city that seamlessly blends natural beauty, modernity, and cultural richness. With its stunning beaches, lush mountains, and proximity to historic sites, Da Nang offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers.

Beautiful Beaches and Water Activities

  • My Khe Beach: Relax on the white sandy shores of My Khe Beach, often ranked among the world’s most beautiful beaches. It’s ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports like surfing and jet-skiing.
  • Non Nuoc Beach: Explore Non Nuoc Beach, known for its serene ambiance and views of the Marble Mountains. It’s a great spot for a peaceful beach day.

🔗 Related : Where to Stay in Da Nang: 6 Best & Safest Neighborhoods

Visiting the Marble Mountains

  • Marble Mountains: Climb the Marble Mountains, a cluster of five limestone hills filled with caves, tunnels, and Buddhist shrines. The views from the top are breathtaking, and you can explore the spiritual and historical sites within.

Ba Na Hills and the Golden Bridge

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

  • Ba Na Hills : Take a cable car ride to Ba Na Hills, a hill station with a French colonial influence. Here, you’ll find gardens, an amusement park, and a replica French village.
  • Golden Bridge: Marvel at the famous Golden Bridge, held up by enormous stone hands. This architectural wonder offers spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

Local Food and Dining Options

  • Seafood: Da Nang is known for its fresh seafood. Head to one of the local seafood restaurants along the beach for a delightful meal.
  • Bun Cha Ca: Try Bun Cha Ca (fishcake noodle soup), a popular local dish that’s a delightful mix of flavors and textures.

Exploring Nearby Destinations

  • Son Tra Peninsula: Explore the Son Tra Peninsula, also known as Monkey Mountain, home to the endangered red-shanked douc langurs and a pristine natural environment.

Da Nang’s natural beauty, exciting attractions, and delicious cuisine make it a fantastic destination for both relaxation and exploration. Whether you’re sunbathing on the beach, exploring cultural sites, or enjoying local seafood, Da Nang has something for every type of traveler.

🔗 Related: Hang Pygmy: The 2-Day Vietnam Cave Trek You Should Not Miss

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

Situated along the Perfume River in central Vietnam, Hue holds a significant place in the country’s history as the former imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty. This culturally rich city is renowned for its majestic architecture, historic relics, and serene landscapes.

Visiting the Imperial City and Royal Tombs

  • Imperial City: Explore the UNESCO-listed Hue Imperial City, a vast complex surrounded by walls and a moat. Discover the Forbidden Purple City, where the emperors lived, and admire the intricate architecture of the royal palaces, gates, and temples.
  • Royal Tombs: Hue is also home to several magnificent royal tombs, such as the Tomb of Khai Dinh and the Tomb of Tu Duc. Each tomb reflects the unique personality and style of the respective emperor.

Experiencing Hue’s Traditional Cuisine

  • Bun Bo Hue: Savor a bowl of Bun Bo Hue, a spicy beef noodle soup that’s a local specialty. The flavors and aromas are truly captivating.
  • Hue Royal Cuisine: Indulge in a royal dining experience featuring traditional dishes that were once served to emperors.

🔗 Related : Where to Stay in Hue: 6 Best & Safest Neighborhoods

The Perfume River and Boat Trips

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

  • Perfume River: Enjoy a leisurely boat ride on the Perfume River, which gets its name from the fragrant flowers that fall into the water. The riverbanks are adorned with pagodas and historic sites.
  • Thien Mu Pagoda: Visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, an iconic seven-story pagoda perched on a hill overlooking the river. It’s a symbol of Hue and a picturesque site.

🔗 Related : 45 Best Things to Do in Hue Vietnam

Tips for Exploring Hue’s Cultural Heritage

  • Local Guides: Consider hiring a local guide to gain deeper insights into Hue’s history and culture. They can provide valuable context and stories about the city’s landmarks.
  • Biking and Cyclo Tours: Explore the city and its surroundings by renting a bicycle or taking a cyclo (pedicab) tour. It’s a unique way to experience the local way of life.

Hue’s imperial legacy, tranquil river scenery, and exquisite cuisine make it a captivating destination for history enthusiasts and travelers seeking cultural immersion. Whether you’re wandering through ancient citadels or enjoying the flavors of traditional Hue dishes, this city offers a truly authentic Vietnamese experience.

🔗 Related: Hai Van Pass: The Ultimate Motorbike Guide

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

Nha Trang, located on Vietnam’s south-central coast, is a vibrant coastal city known for its stunning beaches, clear waters, and vibrant underwater world. It’s a popular destination for beach lovers, water sports enthusiasts, and those seeking a mix of relaxation and adventure.

Water Sports and Island Tours

  • Water Activities: Nha Trang offers a range of water sports, including snorkeling, scuba diving, jet-skiing, and parasailing. Explore the colorful coral reefs and diverse marine life in the warm waters of the South China Sea.
  • Island Tours: Take boat tours to nearby islands like Hon Mun, Hon Tam, and Hon Tre. These islands are known for their beautiful beaches and water activities.

Vinpearl Amusement Park

  • Vinpearl Land: Visit Vinpearl Land, a massive amusement park on Hon Tre Island. It features a water park, aquarium, shopping mall, and thrilling rides, making it a fun family destination.

Spa and Wellness Experiences

  • Mud Baths: Nha Trang is famous for its mud baths, believed to have therapeutic properties. Relax in a mud bath and enjoy spa treatments at one of the city’s renowned wellness centers.

Seafood and Dining Recommendations

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

  • Seafood Delights: Nha Trang is renowned for its seafood. Enjoy a seafood feast at one of the many seafood restaurants along the beachfront. Grilled seafood and seafood hotpot are popular choices.
  • Local Cuisine: Don’t miss trying Nha Trang’s specialties like bun cha ca (fishcake noodle soup) and banh canh cua (crab noodle soup).

Practical Tips for Travelers

  • Weather: Nha Trang enjoys a tropical climate, so be prepared for warm and humid weather. Sunscreen and protective clothing are essential.
  • Resort Accommodations: Consider staying at one of the many beachfront resorts in Nha Trang for easy access to the beach and amenities.

Nha Trang’s stunning coastal landscapes, water adventures, and vibrant culinary scene make it a top destination for travelers looking for a beach getaway with plenty of entertainment options. Whether you’re lounging on the beach, exploring underwater wonders, or indulging in fresh seafood, Nha Trang promises a rejuvenating and enjoyable experience by the sea.

best beaches in phu quoc

Phu Quoc, the largest island in Vietnam, is a tropical paradise located in the Gulf of Thailand. Known for its pristine beaches, lush jungles, and vibrant coral reefs, Phu Quoc is a destination that offers relaxation and natural beauty in abundance.

Beaches and Water Activities

  • Long Beach: Start your island adventure at Long Beach, a stunning stretch of white sand where you can relax, swim, and partake in various water sports.
  • Snorkeling and Diving: Explore the colorful underwater world by snorkeling or diving around the island. An Thoi Archipelago, off the southern tip of Phu Quoc, is a popular diving spot.

Exploring Phu Quoc’s Nature and Parks

  • Phu Quoc National Park: Hike through Phu Quoc National Park, which is home to diverse flora and fauna. Discover hiking trails, waterfalls, and viewpoints.
  • Vinpearl Safari: Visit Vinpearl Safari, where you can observe exotic wildlife in a natural habitat, including zebras, giraffes, and white lions.

🔗 Related: 35 Best Things to Do in Phu Quoc Vietnam

Local Cuisine and Night Markets

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  • Fish Sauce Factory: Learn about the island’s famous fish sauce production by visiting one of the fish sauce factories.
  • Night Markets: Explore the vibrant night markets in Duong Dong Town, where you can sample fresh seafood, street food, and shop for souvenirs.

Pepper Farms and Fishermen’s Villages

  • Pepper Farms: Visit pepper farms to learn about the island’s renowned black and white pepper production. You can purchase high-quality pepper as a souvenir.
  • Fishermen’s Villages: Discover the traditional way of life in Phu Quoc’s fishing villages. Watch fishermen at work and enjoy fresh seafood at local restaurants.

Relaxation and Resorts

  • Resort Getaways: Phu Quoc offers a range of luxury resorts and boutique accommodations, making it a perfect destination for a relaxing beach getaway.

Phu Quoc’s natural beauty, water adventures, and culinary delights make it a fantastic destination for beach lovers, nature enthusiasts, and those seeking a tranquil escape in Vietnam’s tropical paradise. Whether you’re basking in the sun on pristine beaches or exploring the island’s lush landscapes and local culture, Phu Quoc promises an unforgettable experience.

🔗 Related: 9 Best Beaches in Phu Quoc Vietnam

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

Mui Ne, situated on the southeastern coast of Vietnam, is a coastal oasis known for its stunning sand dunes, azure waters, and a laid-back atmosphere. It’s a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts and sun-seekers.

Water Sports and Activities

  • Kitesurfing and Windsurfing: Mui Ne is a hub for kitesurfing and windsurfing, thanks to its consistent winds and ideal conditions. Enroll in lessons or watch the pros in action.
  • Fairy Stream: Walk through the enchanting Fairy Stream, a natural watercourse surrounded by unique rock formations and lush vegetation.

Sand Dunes and Desert Adventures

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

  • Red and White Sand Dunes: Explore the surreal Red and White Sand Dunes, where you can go sandboarding, take jeep rides, and witness stunning sunrise and sunset views.

Fresh Seafood and Dining

  • Seafood Restaurants: Enjoy a seafood feast at one of the many beachfront restaurants. Grilled seafood and the local specialty, fish sauce, are highlights of the culinary scene.

Relaxation and Beach Time

  • Mui Ne Beach: Unwind on Mui Ne Beach, a picturesque stretch of coastline with swaying palm trees and calm waters. It’s perfect for sunbathing and swimming.

Mui Ne’s combination of natural beauty, thrilling activities, and seaside relaxation make it a fantastic destination for beach enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

Cat Ba Island

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

Cat Ba Island, situated in the southwestern part of Halong Bay, is the largest island in the Cat Ba Archipelago. It serves as a gateway to the stunning limestone karsts and emerald waters of Halong Bay, making it an ideal base for exploring the area.

Halong Bay Cruises and Island Hopping

  • Halong Bay Cruises: Take a boat cruise through the breathtaking Halong Bay, where you can admire the iconic limestone karsts, visit caves, and enjoy kayaking in the serene waters.
  • Lan Ha Bay: Explore Lan Ha Bay, a less crowded alternative to Halong Bay, offering equally stunning landscapes and opportunities for swimming and water sports.

Cat Ba National Park and Outdoor Adventures

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

  • Cat Ba National Park: Hike through Cat Ba National Park, known for its lush forests and diverse wildlife. The park offers hiking trails, viewpoints, and opportunities to spot native species.
  • Rock Climbing: Cat Ba Island is a popular destination for rock climbing, with numerous climbing routes suitable for both beginners and experienced climbers.

Local Seafood and Cuisine

  • Seafood Restaurants: Savor the island’s fresh seafood at local restaurants. Grilled seafood and seafood hotpot are must-try dishes.

Cat Ba Town and Nightlife

  • Cat Ba Town: Explore Cat Ba Town, the main town on the island, which features a range of accommodations, restaurants, and a lively nightlife scene.

Cat Ba Island’s stunning natural scenery, outdoor adventures, and proximity to Halong Bay make it an excellent destination for those seeking a mix of relaxation, exploration, and water-based activities.

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

Mai Chau, located in the Hoa Binh Province of northern Vietnam, is a serene rural destination surrounded by lush rice paddies, traditional stilt houses, and the warm hospitality of the White Thai ethnic minority. It’s an ideal place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Vietnamese countryside.

Trekking and Biking Adventures

  • Scenic Trails: Explore the picturesque landscapes of Mai Chau through trekking or biking along scenic trails that wind through rice terraces and villages.
  • Pu Luong Nature Reserve: Consider taking a day trip to nearby Pu Luong Nature Reserve, known for its pristine forests, glistening rivers, and diverse wildlife.

Stilt House Homestays and Cultural Experiences

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

  • Stilt House Accommodations: Stay in one of the traditional stilt houses of the White Thai people, offering a unique and authentic experience. These homestays often include delicious home-cooked meals.
  • Cultural Performances: Enjoy traditional Thai dance and music performances, where you can learn about the culture and traditions of the local ethnic communities.

Local Markets and Souvenirs

  • Local Markets: Visit the Mai Chau market to purchase handmade textiles, handicrafts, and locally produced goods as souvenirs.

Peaceful Retreat and Relaxation

  • Nature Retreat: Mai Chau is a place for relaxation and tranquility. Spend your days unwinding amid the serene surroundings, listening to the sounds of nature, and enjoying the slower pace of life.

Mai Chau’s serene countryside, cultural immersion, and outdoor activities make it a perfect destination for travelers seeking a peaceful retreat and an authentic glimpse into traditional rural life in Vietnam.

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

Ninh Binh, often referred to as “Halong Bay on Land,” is a region of captivating natural beauty located in northern Vietnam. Here, dramatic limestone karsts rise from emerald green rice fields and winding rivers, creating a picturesque and tranquil landscape.

Tam Coc and Trang An Boat Tours

  • Tam Coc Boat Tour : Take a traditional sampan boat ride through Tam Coc, where you’ll pass through limestone caves and experience the stunning natural scenery.
  • Trang An Boat Tour: Explore the Trang An Landscape Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on a boat tour that navigates through a labyrinth of karst formations and caves.

Bich Dong Pagoda and Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

13 Best Cities in Vietnam to Visit -

  • Bich Dong Pagoda: Visit the Bich Dong Pagoda, built into a mountainside and offering panoramic views of the surrounding area.
  • Hoa Lu Ancient Capital: Discover the historic Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, which was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. Explore ancient temples and the fascinating history of the Dinh and Le dynasties.

Mua Cave and Scenic Hiking

  • Mua Cave Viewpoint: Climb the 500 steps to the Mua Cave viewpoint for breathtaking panoramic vistas of the entire Ninh Binh region. It’s especially stunning during sunset.

Delicious Local Cuisine

  • Ninh Binh Specialties: Savor local dishes like goat meat, rice-based delicacies, and the region’s famous rice-based products.

Ninh Binh’s enchanting landscape and historical sites make it a captivating destination for nature lovers, history buffs, and those seeking a serene escape from city life.

Finishing Thoughts

What do you think? Hopefully I’ve convinced you to add Vietnam to the top of your travel list, as it is one of my favorite countries!

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The 12 best cities to visit in Vietnam

Last updated on March 15th, 2024

Unsure of the best places to visit in Vietnam? We’re sharing the 12 best cities to visit in Vietnam, to help you choose the right destinations for you! Vietnam spans 1,025 miles from North to South, covering a wide variety of scenery along the way. Across the country you can find large cities, mountains, beaches, small towns, caves, and so much more. There is truly something for everyone!

Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam | Hoi An Itinerary

We were fortunate enough to spend six weeks in Vietnam and experience so much of what it has to offer. Our time in the country was filled with endless beautiful scenery, kind locals, bustling cities, and adventurous activities. It was easily one of the best trips we have ever been on! But during the planning stages of our trip to Vietnam, we were overwhelmed by all of the places to visit. And if you’re feeling the same way, we’re here to help! In this guide we’re sharing the 12 best cities to visit in Vietnam, plus the best things to do in each and how much time you should spend. While it is unlikely that you’ll be able to visit all of them in one trip, we hope it helps you narrow down your choices and choose the ones that interest you the most!

good cities to visit in vietnam

1. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

2. dalat , 3. nha trang, 7. phong nha, 8. ninh binh, 11. ha giang, 12. cao bang.

Before we dive into the list of the 12 best cities to visit in Vietnam, a couple disclaimers. First, this isn’t an exhaustive list of all of the best cities to visit in Vietnam. We are instead focusing solely on cities that we really enjoyed or that are high on our list for our next visit. Also, this list is in order from south to north, not by preference. 

Need help planning your trip to Vietnam? We’ve created 2 week and 3 week Vietnam itineraries!

Landmark 81 | Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam, with 9 million residents. Located in the southern part of Vietnam, with the country’s largest airport, it is typically the starting or ending point for most travelers. We kicked off our Vietnam trip in Ho Chi Minh City and weren’t sure what to expect, but we LOVED it. The mix of modern and historic French colonial architecture, plus markets, museums, street food, fine dining, parks, and nightlife, makes this such a fun city to explore!

Top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Ho Chi Minh City is split up into 24 districts, with District 1 (and 3) being home to the majority of the tourist sites. It is very easy to walk or take a quick Grab ride to get between them!

  • Explore District 1. Top sites to see are the Notre Dame Cathedral, Book Street, Central Post Office, and the Opera House. 
  • Visit the Reunification Palace. This was home to one of the most famous scenes of the Vietnam War where North Vietnamese tanks rolled through the front gates symbolizing the end of the war. It’s now a museum that you can visit!
  • Shop at the Ben Thanh Market. Brush up on your bargaining skills before heading here to pick up some fun souvenirs or street food.
  • Catch the sunset from the Saigon Skydeck . One of the sleekest looking buildings in Ho Chi Minh City, the Bitexco Tower, has an awesome observation deck perfect for sunset!
  • Go on a food tour with a local, to check out the city’s amazing food scene.
  • Mix with the locals on a weekend night at the Nguyen Hue Walking street.
  • Visit the War Remnants Museum to learn about the impact of the Vietnam War on the country.
  • Go on a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels or Mekong Delta .
  • Watch the sunset with a picnic beneath Landmark 81.

How much time should you spend in Ho Chi Minh City? (Saigon)

We suggest at least two days in Ho Chi Minh City, which will allow you to experience District 1 and go for a day trip. But if you want to visit a museum, temples, and try lots of local food, three days is perfect . 

Learn more about Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam:

Check out our 3 day Ho Chi Minh City itinerary for even more things to do, places to visit, where to stay, and how to spend your time. You can also watch us experience Ho Chi Minh City, plus Vietnam, for the first time in this video !

The 12 best cities to visit in Vietnam | Best places to visit in Vietnam

Dalat is located in the central highlands of Vietnam, about 6 hours northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. It’s known for its quirky, fun, and adventurous attractions, set in a peaceful and lush landscape. While we did not have time to visit Dalat on our last trip to Vietnam, we will be going there next time!

Top things to do in Dalat

There are tons of things to do in Dalat, making it one of the best cities to visit in Vietnam. Here are just a handful!

  • Visit and stay at the Crazy House. This ever evolving accommodation and attraction is a super unique and, as the name implies, crazy structure. Every room is different with bright colors, undulating surfaces, narrow bridges, and many other wild elements. The rooms are meant to mirror nature elements like mushrooms, caves, and spiderwebs.
  • Ride the longest alpine slide in southeast Asia! This slide is over a MILE long and passes by several waterfalls including the Datanla waterfall. This looks like so much fun!
  • Ride the cable car to Truc Lam Pagoda for panoramic views over Dalat and the surrounding area.
  • Go canyoning ! You’ll be climbing down massive waterfalls. It looks like a BLAST!
  • Pay a visit to the Linh Phuoc Pagoda, which looks to be one of the most detailed and intricate temples we’ve ever seen!
  • Go on an epic waterfalls tour to see Pongour, Elephant, and Datanla Falls! 
  • Wander around Clay Tunnel. This unique theme park is an art exhibition with tons of big sculptures made of clay. 
  • Explore the Valley of Love. In this massive park you can hike the trails, ride a boat on the lake, and challenge yourself on “the Hard Road.” The Hard Road is a series of adventure games in the forest!
  • Visit the Dalat Train Station, the oldest train station in Vietnam!
  • Smell the hundreds of different flowers at the Dalat Flower Park.
  • Check out the Dalat night market.

How much time should you spend in Dalat?

We think that three days in Dalat would be ideal! You can spend the first day on a canyoning tour, the second day exploring the city, and the third day in the surrounding area, including riding the cable car and alpine coaster.

Curious how we get FREE flights and hotels? Check out our list of our favorite travel cards that have saved us thousands of dollars!

The 12 best cities to visit in Vietnam | Best places to visit in Vietnam

Nha Trang is one of the best coastal cities to visit in Vietnam. With beautiful beaches, coral reefs, cultural sights, and a mix of fun activities, it offers a lot for travelers who want a mix of relaxation and adventure.

Top things to do in Nha Trang

Compared to some areas of Vietnam, Nha Trang is a bit more developed, modern, and focused on tourism. Which means that you’ll find quite a bit of man made activities here. But don’t let that scare you away! There are also plenty of authentic, plus natural experiences to have.

  • Visit the Po Nagar Temple. This temple is dedicated to the goddess of the country, Yan Po Nagar. The temple was built over 1,000 years ago and lies on a mountain top outside of town giving wonderful views over the area.
  • Go scuba diving or snorkeling ! This is one of the most popular things to do in Nha Trang.
  • Lounge at the white sand Nha Trang Beach. For a less busy beach, check out Doc Let Beach or Bai Dai Beach instead!
  • Visit the Ba Ho waterfall. We suggest taking a tour to get here!
  • Relax and cover yourself in mud at Thap Ba mud baths!
  • Visit Yang Bay Eco Park. Located about an hour west of Nha Trang, this eco park has three large waterfalls to admire, a thermal hot spring to soak in, and view a massive banyan tree known as the Tree of Wishes. 
  • Ride the Vinpearl Cable Car to VinWonders Amusement Park . The cable is one of, if not, the longest cable cars that travels over the sea. It connects Nha Trang to Hon Tre Island, where you can find the VinWonders Amusement Park. This amusement park is one of the largest in Vietnam. 

How much time should you spend in Nha Trang?

We suggest spending three days in Nha Trang. Your first day could be spent checking out the Po Nagar Temple, visiting a mud bath, plus relaxing at a beach. For your second day, we’d suggest doing a snorkeling tour, while your third day could be spent either at the Ba Ho waterfall, Yang Bay Eco Park, or VinWonders.

The 12 best cities to visit in Vietnam | Best places to visit in Vietnam

Located in central Vietnam, Da Nang is the fifth most populated city in Vietnam. Often used as a gateway to Hoi An, the city itself has a lot to offer, including mountain views and surfable beaches. Plus many fun day trip options!

Top things to do in Da Nang

  • Da Nang is known for its gorgeous beaches! My Khe Beach is one of the nicest beaches in Vietnam and all of southeast Asia, but you can also visit the less crowded Non Nuoc.  
  • While at the beach, take a surf lesson ! Da Nang is known for being one of the best surf spots in the country.
  • Check out Hai Van Pass, one of the most scenic and famous mountain passes in Vietnam. This is a great tour to experience it in one day with a guide!
  • Explore the Son Tra Peninsula which is home to the Son Tra Nature Reserve. This nature reserve is where you have the chance to see the extremely rare langur monkey.
  • Visit the Lady Buddha, the largest Buddha in Vietnam.
  • Hike the Marble Mountains. Only 15 minutes from the city is a collection of five mountains with pagodas perched on top. You can walk up the stone steps, explore caves, and see the ancient temples. 
  • Watch the Dragon Bridge breath fire! This happens every Saturday and Sunday night at 9 PM.
  • Take a day trip to Sunworld Ba Na Hills Resort and walk on the Golden Hand Bridge. There is tons to see and do at Ba Na Hills, like a French village, a massive cable car, a winery, amusement rides, and more!

How much time should you spend in Da Nang?

We suggest spending at least two days in Da Nang. This will give you the chance to enjoy its beaches, visit the Son Tra Nature Reserve, and see Lady Buddha. Plus do a day trip to either Hai Van Pass, the Marble Mountains, or Ba Na Hills. 

Hoi An Ancient Town | Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An is easily one of the best cities to visit in Vietnam. And in our opinion, is a must-visit! The city is mostly known for its well preserved Ancient Town with its yellow, historic buildings and countless colorful lanterns. But it is so much more than that! Here you can go for a fun bike ride through rice fields to the beach, ride a circular boat through a coconut village, and try unique foods that can only be found in Hoi An. We loved the smaller town, laid back feel here. While it’s very popular with tourists, it still retains a lot of its ancient charm. 

Top things to do in Hoi An

  • Explore the Ancient Town, which is what Hoi An is known for. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to the 15th century! 
  • Try some delicious tea at Mót Hội An.
  • Eat Cao Lau, a Hoi An specialty dish, at Nostalife. The authentic version of this food can only be found in Hoi An!
  • Attend a lantern making class ! Hoi An’s most recognizable symbol is the lantern. You can certainly purchase one, but why not make one yourself!
  • Shop and eat at the Hoi An night market, which happens nightly.
  • Go on a basket boat tour through the Cam Thanh Coconut Village
  • Ride a bike around town. We suggest going to An Bang Beach and the Tra Que Vegetable Village. Make sure to grab drinks at Sounds of Silence Coffee Shop and lunch at Baby Mustard!
  • Experience the Hoi An Lantern Festival. This festival happens on the 14th day of the lunar month. This is when the moon is at its fullest and brightest!
  • Check out the My Son Sanctuary. This was the religious and political capital of the Champa people. 

How much time should you spend in Hoi An?

We personally spent three days in Hoi An and it was perfect! We were able to accomplish most of the things to do listed above, at a more relaxed pace. However, we would’ve loved to have spent more time here, just biking around and enjoying the beach more.

Learn more about Hoi An, Vietnam:

Curious what else there is to do in Hoi An? Check out our guide with 13+ fun things to do . We also have a 3 day Hoi An Itinerary , to help you plan your time in the city!

The 12 best cities to visit in Vietnam | Best places to visit in Vietnam

Located about 100 km north of Da Nang, along the Perfume River, is the Imperial City of Hue. This city offers a mix of ancient architecture, delicious food, and yet another must see UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hue was the spiritual, cultural, and political capital of Vietnam in the 1800s, which is when the large citadel was built.   The city of Hue has gone through lots of periods of turmoil over the centuries, including during the Vietnam War when it was heavily damaged. Many people died and many historic structures were destroyed. Today, Hue is a great example of Vietnam’s resilience as evidenced by the extensive renovation of the city, making it one of the best cities to visit in Vietnam.

Top things to do in Hue

  • Walk around the Imperial Citadel of Hue! To better understand its history, we suggest hiring a guide .
  • Pop into the Royal Antiquities Museum to see over 300 artifacts.
  • Try Bun Bo Hue, a dish that many claim is their favorite in Vietnam !
  • Explore the royal tombs of past leaders of the area, like Minh Mang, Khai Dinh, and Tu Duc.
  • Not only can you experience the Hai Van Pass in Da Nang, but you also can in Hue!
  • Explore the Dong Ba Market.
  • Go on a Dragon Boat ride on the Perfume River.
  • Check out the eerie Thuy Tien Lake abandoned water park. This water park is apparently slowly being demolished, so time will tell how long this will be around. 
  • Visit the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), which was the dividing line between North and South Vietnam during its years at war.
  • Take a trip to the Thuy Xuan Incense-making Village

How much time should you spend in Hue?

You could see the majority of the top things to do in Hue in two days! The first day could be spent on a tour of the Citadel, while the second day could be spent doing a trip to the DMZ or Hai Van Pass.

Oxalis Wild Tu Lan Explorer Cave Tour Vietnam | Vietnam tips | Planning a trip to Vietnam

Phong Nha may not technically be a city, but we couldn’t leave it off this list of best cities to visit in Vietnam. This tiny town in Central Vietnam is an adventure lover’s paradise!  This region is known for its caves, including the world’s largest natural cave by volume, Hang Sơn Đoòng, at 38.5 million cubic meters. Here you can go on a wide variety of cave tours that include hiking in the jungle, waterfalls, swimming and floating through caves, camping, and so much more! While this destination may not be on every visitor’s radar, our time in Phong Nha was easily one of the highlights of our trip to Vietnam. 

Top things to do in Phong Nha

  • Visit Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. This park is home to mountains, lush jungle landscapes, rivers, and 450 caves. Two very popular caves to visit in the park are Phong Nha Cave and Paradise Cave. These are both accessible with a tour or on your own.
  • Head to The Duck Stop ! Here you can meet tons of ducks and even get to feed them. It is hilarious!
  • Stop by Monkey Bridge Farm to enjoy a drink from a swing or hammock. There is also a fun monkey bridge challenge you can complete!
  • Go on a cave tour with Oxalis Adventure . This is a MUST! They have a wide variety of tours for all timeframes, skill sets, and budgets. You can do a quick one day tour or go on a multi-day overnight tour. We went on their 4 day Wild Tu Lan Cave tour and it was not only one of the best things we did in Vietnam, but in all of our travels!

How much time should you spend in Phong Nha?

This depends on what type of tour you book. We spent 4 full days there for our tour, but there are some fun 2 day and 3 day tours as well! Phong Nha is a bit of a trek to get to, requiring a train or plane to Dong Hoi, plus a taxi ride, so we definitely suggest more than one day.

Learn more about Phong Nha, Vietnam:

To see our experience on the Wild Tu Lan Cave Tour check out this video . It was one heck of an adventure, as we swam in caves, squeezed in small spaces, camped in the jungle, and so much more.

Mua Caves Viewpoint in Ninh Binh, Vietnam (Hang Mua Viewpoint)

While Ha Long Bay is considered by most to be a must-visit in Vietnam, we think you should visit Ninh Binh instead! With towering limestone karst peaks and beautiful valleys, it is nicknamed “Ha Long Bay on land.” Here you can ride a boat through stunning rock formations, cycle through rice fields, visit temples, climb up to viewpoints, and so much more. It is paradise and while becoming more popular, is less busy than Ha Long Bay!

Top things to do in Ninh Binh

  • Climb to the top of the Hang Mua Caves viewpoint , which has the best views in the area!
  • Cruise through the area’s famous limestone peaks and caves on the Trang An boat tour . 
  • Wander through the Bich Dong Pagoda. This three part temple is built into the mountainside!
  • Pop into Brick Coffee Shop and get a coffee, plus their banana or carrot cakes. This was our favorite coffee shop in Vietnam!
  • Try the local foods! You can’t visit Ninh Binh without trying goat meat. We enjoyed trying it at Thao Béo Restaurant .
  • Visit the largest complex of Buddhist temples in Vietnam at the Bai Dinh Pagoda Complex.
  • Check out the views from Tuyet Tinh Coc and explore what’s left of the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital.
  • Rent a bike and simply wander around the town and rice fields. 
  • Stay at a relaxing bungalow. We loved our time at Trang An Lamia ! 

How much time should you spend in Ninh Binh?

We spent two full days in Ninh Binh and it was perfect! This gave us time to check out some of the best things to do, plus relax at our bungalow. You can do a day trip to Ninh Binh from Hanoi , but we really think you should spend at least one night there.

Learn more about Ninh Binh, Vietnam:

Check out our guide to the top things to do in Ninh Binh . This guide covers the best things to do, where to stay, and scams you should look out for. Plus it includes a ready to go itinerary! We also have detailed guides to visiting the Mua Caves Viewpoint and riding the Trang An boat tour .

Old Quarter Hanoi | 3 Days in Hanoi Itinerary

No trip to Vietnam is complete without a stop in Hanoi! As the second largest city and capital of Vietnam, there are TONS of things to do, like the charming and chaotic Old Quarter, street food, and the iconic Train Street. It is easily one of the best cities to visit in Vietnam! For many visitors, Hanoi is either their starting or ending point in Vietnam. We ended our time in Hanoi and highly recommend you do the same, as we think the Northern part of the country is the most beautiful. And who wouldn’t want to save the best for last?

Top things to do in Hanoi

  • Hanoi is known for its amazing street food scene. So going on a delicious Hanoi street food tour is a must!
  • Explore the historic sites of the Old Quarter. Some top sites are the St. Joseph Cathedral, Opera House, and the Ngoc Son Temple.
  • Feel the ground rumble beneath your feet as a train rumbles right past you at Hanoi Train Street . 
  • Attend the Water Puppet Theater , an art form that originated over 1,000 years ago in the rice paddies of the Red River Delta.
  • Visit as many cozy coffee shops as you can. Hanoi is full of them!
  • Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake. Hanoi is known as the city of lakes and this lake is very important to the people of Hanoi. Visit on the weekend and you’ll find a fun, lively atmosphere!
  • Experience some of Hanoi and Vietnam’s history at the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
  • Wander around the Temple of Literature.
  • Visit the Hoa Lo Prison Relic. This was once a prison to hold rebelling Vietnamese under French rule, before becoming a US prisoner of war prison. 
  • Walk around West Lake and visit the Tran Quoc Pagoda.

How much time should you spend in Hanoi?

You can experience Hanoi’s Old Quarter in one jam-packed day, but we suggest 2-3 days if you want to visit some museums and go on a food tour. 

Learn more about Hanoi, Vietnam:

We have tons of Hanoi content to help you plan your trip! Our 3 days in Hanoi itinerary covers everything you need to know to visit Hanoi. Including the top sights, plus where to stay! We also have a guide with how to visit Hanoi Train Street , the 13 best coffee shops in Hanoi , and the best food in Hanoi .

The 12 best cities to visit in Vietnam | Best places to visit in Vietnam

Sapa is located in Northern Vietnam’s Hoang Lien Son range and is known for its rice terraces, mountain scenery, and large communities of Ethnic Minorities. It is one of the best places to visit in Vietnam if you want to experience the country’s mountains and culture. We originally planned to visit Sapa, but due to a lack of time, we had to make the tough choice between going here and Ha Giang. While we heard great things about Sapa, many people said they preferred Ha Giang, as it’s less touristy. So that’s what we did instead! But in the future, we would love to explore Sapa. 

Top things to do in Sapa

  • The top thing to do in Sapa is to go on a trekking tour. These can be anywhere from one day to multiple days and will take you through different rice paddies and small villages. It’s a great way to see the area and connect with the locals!
  • Visit Fansipan, which is not only the tallest mountain in Vietnam, but the entire Indochinese Peninsula! To get here, you can either take a cable car to the top or hike !
  • Hike to Love Waterfall! It’s a bit of a trek from town, so you will either need to drive out there or hire a guide .
  • Ride a motorbike on Tram Ton Pass, a scenic mountain pass with amazing views of the area!

How much time should you spend in Sapa?

Sapa can be explored in 3-4 days. This gives you enough time to do a multi day trek, go to the top of Fansipan, and explore the area’s waterfalls, or just wander around and see what you discover! 

Ma Pi Leng Pass | Ha Giang Loop Tour | Northern Vietnam Motorbike

While the city of Ha Giang isn’t a destination in itself, it’s the gateway to one of the most epic motorbike trips in all of southeast Asia, the Ha Giang Loop !  Many travelers to Vietnam, including ourselves, agree that this is the BEST thing to do in Vietnam. We spent a couple days on the Ha Giang Loop, plus ventured even further east to Cao Bang, and it was easily one of our favorite experiences of all time. 

Top things to do in Ha Giang

The Ha Giang Loop is a roughly 350 km (217 mile) multi-day motorbike loop through some of the most epic scenery Vietnam has to offer. We’re talking endless views of towering, jagged limestone peaks, the deepest canyon in southeast Asia, waterfalls, small villages, and so much more! While the scenery itself is insane, what makes the experience even more special is that you get the chance to see a much more remote side of Vietnam, immerse yourself in the culture, and connect with locals. It was such an impactful experience for us, unlike anything we have ever done! While this motorbike trip can be done on your own, we highly suggest going with a tour. We loved our guides from Ha Giang Road Trip ! They truly felt like our family by the time the tour was over. 

How much time should you spend in Ha Giang?

Most people will spend 3-4 days on the Ha Giang Loop, but if you have more time to spend we highly recommend adding an additional 3-4 days to go towards Cao Bang, which we will cover next!

Learn more about Ha Giang, Vietnam:

We share much more detail about the Ha Giang Loop, including logistics, itineraries, and more in our ultimate guide to the Ha Giang Loop . You can also see the Ha Giang Loop in the first part of our motorbike trip !

Pac Bo Cave | Cao Bang Vietnam

Cao Bang is a gorgeous province in Northern Vietnam, known for its mountains, rice fields, and for being home to the tallest waterfall in the country. Not only is Cao Bang the name of the province, but it’s also the name of its largest city.  We loved this region! It was just as beautiful as the Ha Giang Loop, but felt even more remote and less busy. While its major attractions will have lots of people, we rode through many small villages where we were the only foreigners. It was really meaningful to experience such an untouched and less touristy part of Vietnam!

Top things to do in Cao Bang

  • Visit the epic Ban Gioc waterfall , right on the Vietnam and China border. This is the tallest waterfall in Vietnam at more than 300 meters wide (800 feet) and 30 meters tall (98 feet). Here you can admire multiple different falls, plus go on a boat ride!
  • Climb up to the Truc Lam Phat Tich Pagoda to get a sweeping view of the area and see the Ban Gioc waterfall from high above.
  • Check out the nearby Nguom Ngao Cave, also known as Tiger Cave. 
  • Get your eyes on Angel Eye Mountain, a huge mountain peak with a hole straight through it! 
  • Hang out with the locals at the weekend night market in Cao Bang. We had SO much fun here! 
  • Admire the beauty of Pac Bo, a lush, green valley, with the vibrant turquoise Le Nin River rushing through. You can also see the cave that Ho Chi Minh lived in before he became the leader of Vietnam!
  • Stay at a homestay. We loved our time at Yen Nhi Homestay ! They have a cave (that you eat your meals in), plus we got to enjoy traditional music and dancing.

How much time should you spend in Cao Bang?

Similar to Ha Giang, Cao Bang is less about the city itself and more about the adventures closeby. We spent a total of two days in Cao Bang, which were a part of a larger, six day motorbike tour we did with the Ha Giang Loop. 

Learn more about Cao Bang, Vietnam:

Watch this video about our motorbike trip around Cao Bang to see many of the spots above! And to learn more about visiting the Ban Gioc Waterfall, we have a full guide here .

Looking for more Vietnam inspiration?

  • eBook: The ULTIMATE guide to visiting Vietnam
  • 2 week Vietnam Itinerary
  • 3 week Vietnam Itinerary
  • Vietnam packing list
  • 3 Days in Hanoi, Vietnam Itinerary  
  • 9+ AMAZING things to do in Ninh Binh! (+ 2 day itinerary)
  • The ULTIMATE 3 day Hoi An Itinerary 
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  • The ULTIMATE guide to planning a trip to Vietnam
  • 20+ Vietnam tips: things to know before you go!
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The 12 best cities to visit in Vietnam | Best places to visit in Vietnam

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17 Best Places to Visit in Vietnam

Written by Jess Lee Updated Aug 30, 2023

Vietnam is an astonishing mix of natural highlights and cultural diversity.

The scenery ranges from jagged peaks seen from winding mountain passes down to verdant paddy fields painted every shade of green in the palette, while Vietnam's long history and multicultural population (with over 50 ethnic minority groups) make a trip here rich in heritage.

Outdoor lovers can get their teeth into the countryside within the numerous national parks, where hiking, biking, and kayaking are popular things to do, but Vietnam's most famous natural tourist attraction, the spectacular karst seascape of Halong Bay, is one natural sight that even the more slothful can experience up close on a cruise.

While the rural areas brim with lush panoramas, the big cities buzz with contemporary life and provide ample opportunities to get stuck into Vietnam's tasty culinary highlights.

This fascinating country is full of surprises and is one of Southeast Asia's most underrated destinations. Plan your sightseeing with our list of the best places to visit in Vietnam.

1. Halong Bay

2. ho chi minh city, 4. phong nha-ke bang national park, 7. sapa countryside, 9. nha trang, 10. cu chi tunnels, 11. ba be national park, 12. mekong delta, 13. cat ba island, 14. ha giang, 15. phu quoc island, 16. con dao islands, frequently asked questions, when is the best time to visit vietnam.

Halong Bay

The karst seascape of Halong Bay is one of the best places to visit in the world for spellbinding sea views and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Thousands of limestone islands sit within this bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, eroded into jagged pinnacles by wind and water action over millennia.

With the bay's scenery best seen by boat, this is prime cruising territory. Opt for at least an overnight tour to see Halong Bay's iconic views as a day trip doesn't do it justice.

There are plenty of caves in the bay that can be entered including the Hang Sung Sot, with three mammoth caverns, and the Hang Dao Go, with superbly weird stalagmites and stalactites. For most people though, the highlight is simply cruising amid the karsts and soaking up the changing scenery of pinnacles as you pass by.

There are plenty of different cruise tours to choose from. Check the different itineraries offered before booking as many travelers have left Halong Bay underwhelmed by their cruise.

Author's Tip: If possible, book a tour that takes in neighboring Lan Ha Bay as well as Halong Bay. The karst scenery is just as dramatic here but fewer cruise trips visit. And check if your cruise offers included activities such as guided kayaking (which allows you to experience an up-close view of the scenery).

Ho Chi Minh City Hall

For big city fans, no visit to Vietnam is really complete without a visit to Ho Chi Minh City, the buzzing commercial hub of the country.

The streets are an insane clog of motorbikes and cars, the restaurant and café scene is incredibly cosmopolitan, and the shopping is the best in the country.

At its center is Dong Khoi, a relatively small and easily navigable central district, which holds most of the city's sights.

Here, you'll find the HCMC Museum, with a brilliant collection of artifacts that weaves together the story of the city, and the grand Notre Dame Cathedral, built in the late 19th century.

Check out the old district of Da Kao nearby for some of the best surviving examples of the city's French colonial architecture and also to visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda with its dazzling array of Buddhist and Taoist religious iconography.

Afterwards, the History Museum is a must-do for history fans with stacks of relics on display from various archaeological sites.

For many visitors, the two big-hitter tourist attractions not to miss are just a little out of the center, along Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street. The Reunification Palace, then known as Independence Palace, was the residence for South Vietnam's president. It's chiefly famous as the spot where North Vietnam's tanks stopped on 30 April 1975, officially ending the war. It's a completely fascinating place to visit complete with 1960s furnishings still in situ.

Nearby is the War Remnants Museum, which although very obviously biased, paints a disturbing picture of the brutality of war and the many atrocities committed by US Forces during their Vietnam campaign.


One of Vietnam's most historic towns, Hue is packed to the brim with relics from the reign of the 19th-century Nguyen emperors.

Sitting along the banks of the gorgeous Perfume River, the Imperial Enclosure is a huge site set within walls that sprawl for 2.5 kilometers.

While touring the grounds check out the gorgeous Ngo Mon Gate, the Thai Hoa Palace with its finely lacquered interior detailing, the Dien Tho Residence where the Queen Mothers would live, and the Halls of Mandarins with its preserved ceiling murals.

A dazzling number of historic sites lie outside the Imperial Enclosure walls as well.

One of the nicest ways of visiting a collection of outlying sites is by taking a riverboat cruise on the Perfume River. A day cruise can take you to visit several royal tombs along with some pagodas.

If you're short on time, the best tomb to visit is the Tomb of Tu Doc and the most important pagoda in the area is the Thien Mu Pagoda, with its tower that soars for 21 meters high.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

One of the best places to visit in Vietnam for caving, World Heritage-listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a dramatic karst mountain formation honeycombed with huge caverns, which are home to superb stalactite and stalagmite displays.

It's best known for its caving activities , which range from multi-day hiking and caving tours for the more adventurous, to simpler half-day trips to caves with easy access provided by boat trips and modern boardwalks, but the national park also offers mountain biking and trekking activities.

The most popular destinations within the park are the Paradise Cave , which extends for a staggering 31 kilometers below ground, and the Phong Nha Cave, where the interior is accessed by boat. Half-day tours can be easily arranged once you're in the area.

The national park's most renowned caverns though are Son Doong Cave (the world's largest cave) , and the Tu Lan Cave with its cavern river system. Access to these, and to certain other caves in the park are restricted to organized tours (ranging from one-day to multi-day expeditions) which are all run by Phong Nha's expert adventure tour company Oxalis . It's well worth booking in advance to secure your spot.

To make the most of your time here, time your visit for outside the rainy season, which runs from October to December, when many of the national park's caves are closed to the public.

You can access Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park from Son Trach (also known as Phong Nha village).

Hindu temple ruins at My Son

Surrounded by lush jungle-covered mountains, My Son is a ruined Cham era temple city that dates from the 4th century.

This old Hindu religious center was still very much in use during the 7th to 10th centuries and only fell into complete decline and abandonment during the 13th century.

There are around 20 temple structures still standing here, all built of brick or sandstone blocks and showing interesting influences from various Asian empires, including Indian and Malay.

Note that the temples of Group B are the oldest, while Group A once contained the site's most important monument but was destroyed deliberately by US forces during the Vietnam War.

A good museum on-site houses plenty of information on the Cham.

Access to My Son is from Hoi An.

Hoi An

Beautiful Hoi An is the most atmospheric city in Vietnam, with bags of surviving historic architecture.

The old town quarter is a joy to explore, packed to the brim with well-preserved merchant houses that hark back to Hoi An's trading center heyday of the 15th century, when the town was a major meeting point for Japanese and Chinese merchants who flocked here for the local silks.

Plenty of the old merchant houses have been opened to the public, so you can get a taste of these times. The best is 17th-century Tan Ky House, with fascinating architectural and decorative elements.

Hoi An's major symbol is the delightful Japanese Bridge at the western end of Tran Phu Street, while nearby, the Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation is the old town's most highly decorated temple.

There are numerous small pagodas and museums dotted about town, but Hoi An's true charm is found in simply rambling the old town streets admiring the well-preserved facades.

Sapa Countryside

The verdant rice field countryside surrounding Sapa, bordered by the jagged peaks of the Hoang Lien Mountains (often still known by their French colonial era name of the Tonkinese Alps), are home to Vietnam's most beautiful rural vistas.

The deep valleys here are home to a diverse mix of the country's ethnic minorities, including the Hmong, Giay, and Red Dzao people, while the rippling hills are terraced with rice fields and overlooked by the country's tallest peak, Fansipan Mountain.

This is the top trekking destination in Vietnam with oodles of options to trek or day hike between tiny villages and experience the staggering mountain views.

Sapa itself is the main base here - an old hill station and now a bustling and forever growing tourist center that is a stark contrast to the sumptuous tranquil countryside right on its doorstep.

Author's Tip: Keen trekkers looking for more of northern Vietnam's lush mountain vistas may want to skip the busy Sapa scene completely and nudge further 95 kilometers northwest to Bac Ha , where the terraced hill views on hikes between hill villages are just as beautiful. Bac Ha's Sunday market is also a very popular day trip from Sapa.


Vietnam's capital is the frenetic heartbeat of the nation and a place that befuddles travelers as much as it charms them.

The motorbike frenzy, pollution, and constant clamor of street vendors can get too much for some travelers, but if you want to dive into Vietnamese city life, Hanoi is the place to do it.

The old town quarter has plenty of dilapidated charm on offer, while history fans should make a beeline here simply to see the bundle of excellent museums.

The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and Vietnam Fine Art Museum are both brilliant introductions to the diverse artistry of the country, while the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is an important tribute to the founder of modern Vietnam.

Author's Tip: It's well worth adding extra time into your itinerary to use Hanoi as a base for exploring the many sights within day tripping distance. In particular, the Tay Phuong and Thay Pagodas (30 kilometers west from the central city), Co Loa Citadel (24 kilometers northeast), and the Huong Pagoda (also known as the Perfume Pagoda; 60 kilometers southwest).

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Hanoi

Nha Trang

For sandy fun in Vietnam, Nha Trang is king. The well-maintained beach trundles for six kilometers along the shoreline of central Nha Trang city and during summer is jam-packed with local families on vacation, as well as foreign visitors.

There is excellent swimming here with designated swimming areas and manicured lounging areas that make this a great option for relaxing days soaking up the sun and sand.

If you do get bored of sunbathing, the ancient Po Nagar Cham Towers are just to the north across the Xom Bong Bridge and have been used as a place of worship here since at least the 7th century (with some historians saying the site itself has been a place of active worship since much earlier).

There is also an excellent museum dedicated to the work of Alexandre Yersin who discovered the cause of the bubonic plague and founded Nha Trang's Pasteur Institute (which still carries out vaccination programs in Vietnam today).

Cu Chi Tunnels

An absolutely fascinating experience for all travelers, not just those interested in Vietnam's modern military history, the Cu Chi Tunnels are an extensive tunnel network that during the war, stretched for more than 250 kilometers, allowing VC troops to operate and communicate in the area surrounding Ho Chi Minh City.

Two short sections of the network can be visited with a guide who'll take you down into the narrow unlit confines, which definitely are not for claustrophobia sufferers.

You will literally be crawling on your hands and knees and some points. You can access the tunnels at either Ben Dinh village (the more popular choice) or Ben Duoc village.

Ba Be National Park

Tranquil Ba Be National Park is absolutely stunning with the three interlinked Ba Be Lakes at its heart, rimmed by jagged karst peaks and thickly forested slopes.

Most visitors come here to take peaceful boat trips or kayak on the lake and explore the caves full of stalactites and stalagmites in the vicinity, but for the more active, there's also excellent hiking and trekking in the hills here between ethnic minority villages.

This is one of the most peaceful spots in Vietnam, and travelers who spend the night here sleep in traditional stilt-house homestay accommodation along the lakeshore, allowing an experience of simple rural life.

Mekong Delta

The far south of Vietnam is where the mighty Mekong River finally finds its way to the sea in a maze of waterways that crisscross the floodplain.

Incredibly lush, with paddy field vistas and mangroves, and full of local life, with chaotic floating markets to explore by boat, the delta is one of the most interesting regions for travelers to discover.

Can Tho is the most popular town to use as a base, as it's close to the floating markets of Phong Dien and Cai Rang, while boat trips from Ca Mau allow you to explore the U Minh Mangrove Forest and Cau Mau Nature Reserve.

This area of Vietnam is one of the best to visit for keen bird watchers and nature lovers , as it is home to both Tra Su Bird Sanctuary Forest and Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary.

View from the top of Cat Ba Island

One of Vietnam's major centers for activities and adventure travel attractions, Cat Ba Island sits on the western edge of Halong Bay.

This is the best place to visit if you want to organize cruises and kayaking trips in Lan Ha Bay, which lies off Cat Ba's southern coast. Lan Ha Bay is a less visited seascape of karst islets and outcrops that makes for a quieter alternative to Halong Bay.

Off the water, much of Cat Ba's dense jungle interior is part of Cat Ba National Park, where hikers can spot plentiful birdlife, as well as animals such as macaques.

For many visitors, though, Cat Ba is all about climbing opportunities. Climbing excursions here utilize both the island's limestone cliffs and Lan Ha Bay's outcrops, providing experiences to suit both complete climbing beginners and experienced climbers.

Scenery along the Mai Pi Leng Pass

The emerald-green karst mountain landscapes along Ha Giang's mountain passes make this far-north province prime territory for scenic road-tripping by either motorbike or car.

In particular, the twisty Quan Ba Pass between Ha Giang town and Tam Son provides panoramic vistas of the karst plateau and its jagged limestone outcrops, while the zigzagging Mai Pi Leng Pass between Dong Van and Meo Vac offers dizzying views of the lush mountain scenery and narrow valleys below.

Time your visit to coincide with one of the area's market days, when traders from the surrounding mountain villages pile into town. Dong Van's Sunday market is one of the best.

View of colorful fishing boats from the Phu Quoc cable-car

Sitting 45 kilometers off the southern coast of the country, in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc is a densely forested island, speckled by sweeps of white-sand beach that attract plenty of sunseekers during the winter dry season.

Dry season (November to May) is also when the island's underwater and on-the-water tourism attractions spring into action, with plenty of dive sites in the waters just offshore, as well as opportunities for snorkeling, kayaking, and boat trips.

Many of the main boat excursions head to the An Thoi Islands, just to the south of Phu Quoc, which is home to the best snorkeling in the area.

Off the water, the Phu Quoc cable-car provides bird's-eye views for eight kilometers, soaring over the seascape and islands, all the way from Phu Quoc to the island of Hon Thom in the An Thoi Islands.

Phu Quac is accessed by plane or regular ferries from the mainland towns of Rach Gia and Ha Tien. As Ha Tien lies very close to the southern border crossing with Cambodia, the island is a popular first (or last) stop-off in Vietnam for overland travelers.

An Hai Beach on Con Son Island

This remote island group lies around 160 kilometers offshore in the South China Sea and is renowned among divers as one of the best places to visit in the country, both for the variety of sea life and for the coral reefs.

Much of the Con Dao Islands, and the surrounding water, is a protected wilderness area, with the island shores home to nesting turtles, and dense forest still covering the island interiors.

The main island, and prime base for visitors with all the accommodation and things to do, is Con Son Island, which has sweeps of sand strung out across its coast that attract beachgoers looking for a relaxed sun-soaked getaway, as well as divers.

Even if you're here mostly for the beach, make sure to explore the historic sites of Con Son Town (the island's only settlement) including Phu Hai Prison, Bao Tang Con Dao Museum, and the prison known as the Tiger Cages, which document the dark history of this isolated island group.

Con Son's remote position led to the island being used to incarcerate political prisoners during the era Vietnam was occupied by French colonial forces, and later by both the South Vietnamese government and the occupying American forces.

Preserved sites including Phu Hai Prison and the prison cages used by the US forces, known as the Tiger Cages, along with Con Son Town's Bao Tang Con Dao Museum, do an excellent job of documenting this history for visitors.

Access to Con Son Island is either by flight from Ho Chi Minh City or by ferry from the coastal city of Vung Tau.

Fishing boats on the beach in Mui Ne

Once a sleepy coastal fishing town, Mui Né has developed into a beautiful beach resort town and a prime destination for windsurfing, sailing, and kitesurfing.

Compared to other beach destinations in Vietnam , however, Mui Né remains relatively unknown - and this means pristine beaches and a quiet retreat for most of the year.

Red cliffs and river in Mui Ne

One of Mui Né's most unique attractions is the natural Red Sand Dunes just outside town, where visitors can practice sand-sledding or rent dune buggies for a more adrenaline-charged experience.

Tucked away between nearby fishing villages and towering orange limestone formations, there's the fairy stream, a slow-moving warm stream that almost feels like a walkway because it's so shallow - follow it to the end to reach a waterfall.

For those wishing to explore beyond the coastline, there are also the ruins of the Po Shanu Cham Towers - remnants of the Cham Empire that dominated the area many centuries ago.

Vietnam experiences strong monsoon seasons, where heavy rains hit the cities and the countryside, often causing floods and mudslides. If you're planning to travel around, the best time to visit Vietnam is during the dry season, which lasts from December to February – but there are some exceptions.

The south of Vietnam – where Ho Chi Minh city is located – experiences a more tropical climate, with high temperatures and high humidity year-round. Visiting these areas in the cooler months means less humidity and temperatures in the high 20s rather than the high 30s and 40s, which makes it more comfortable to walk around.

In the north, however, many areas experience an actual winter. Hanoi sees temperatures in the mid- to high teens in December and January – and in the mountains of Sapa in the north, you'll even get to see some snow during these months.

If you're visiting Danang for some beach time or to travel through the ancient town of Hoi An, it's best to arrive between February and May, when water and air temperature are in the 20s – perfect beach weather for enjoying the sand or a dip in the water. The rainy season, and especially the months of September and October, see very heavy rains and often very strong wind storms on the coast, so it's better to stay away from Danang during this time.

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23 Best Cities To Visit In Vietnam And Make The Most Out Of Your Trip

Vietnam is an underrated destination capable of captivating all of your senses with its diverse landscapes, rich culture, and intriguing history. From the bustling cities that hum with energy to the tranquil countryside that whispers tales of a bygone era, every corner of Vietnam paints a different picture. Whether you’re a history buff, foodie, adventurer, or peace-seeker, Vietnam offers a myriad of experiences that cater to every kind of traveler. The goal of this guide is to help you discover the best cities to visit in Vietnam based on your preference and expectations and that’s exactly what we’ll do.

But before we get to our top 23 favorite destinations in Vietnam, let’s cover some basics…

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Now that we covered some basics, let’s get to the most important part of this article- the best cities to visit in Vietnam.

Hanoi: The Heart Of Vietnam

hang bac hanoi

Situated in the northern part of Vietnam, Hanoi serves as the beating heart of the country, seamlessly intertwining a rich history with a dynamic modernity. One of the main attractions is the Old Quarter, a district dating back a thousand years, where narrow, bustling streets are named after the specific goods that were traditionally sold there. 

Hanoi is also home to serene spots such as Hoan Kiem Lake, known as ‘Lake of the Returned Sword’, a perfect place to escape the city’s hustle and bustle. Adjacent to the lake is the enchanting Ngoc Son Temple, standing on a small island and offering fantastic views. The city is also a foodie paradise with a thriving cafe culture, fuelled by the love for locally produced coffee.

Ho Chi Minh: A City That Never Sleeps

china most visited countries in the world

Ho Chi Minh City, once known as Saigon, is a city that truly never sleeps. As Vietnam’s largest city, it thrums with ceaseless energy, epitomizing the fast-paced development and youthful vitality of the country.

The city is characterized by an arresting blend of cultural influences. Majestic French colonial structures stand alongside sleek skyscrapers, while traditional markets buzz next to modern shopping malls . The iconic Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office are splendid examples of the city’s colonial past.

History enthusiasts will appreciate the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels – both powerful reminders of the country’s turbulent past. The city also serves as the gateway to the Mekong Delta, offering a glimpse into the rural life and natural b eauty of Vietnam .

Hue: City of Historic Splendors

hue shopping in vietnam

Situated along the banks of the Perfume River, Hue, often referred to as the ‘City of Historic Splendors’, is a showcase of the country’s regal past and one of the best cities to visit in Vietnam. As the former imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, Hue is a historical treasure trove dotted with ancient tombs, pagodas, and the remains of a grand fortress.

The most important attraction of Hue is the Imperial City- a vast, walled complex within the Citadel in the heart of the city, filled with palaces, temples, and gardens dating back to Vietnam’s royal era. The most famous attractions of Hue are probably the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, a seven-story historic temple that offers panoramic views of the river and the city, and the Royal Tombs, the eternal resting place of former Vietnamese emperors.

Da Nang: Vietnam’s Coastal Gem

da nang

Located on the eastern seafront of Vietnam, Da Nang is a vibrant city that combines urban energy and coastal tranquility. The city is one of the  best beach resort destinations in Vietnam  but it also has beautiful surrounding nature and it’s home to a handful of fascinating historic landmarks.

The most famous beach in Da Nang is My Khe Beach, often hailed as one of the most attractive beaches in the world while the picturesque Son Tra Peninsula, also known as Monkey Mountain , is Da Nang’s very own nature paradise offering panoramic views of the city and the sea, along with a chance to spot rare red-faced monkeys. A short distance from the city lie two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the ancient Hoi An Town and the Hindu sanctuary, My Son , adding a historical dimension to Da Nang’s appeal.

Hoi An: A Timeless Town

hoi an

Speaking of the best cities to visit in Vietnam, we just can’t miss Hoi An; hands down the most beautiful historic town in the country . Once an important trading port, this beautiful town captivates its visitors with its fascinating blend of cultural influences (Japanese, Vietnamese, and Colonial) reflected in its architecture, traditions, and even local cuisine.

The city’s most prominent feature is the Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dotted with winding tiny streets that lead visitors through enchanting old Chinese merchant neighborhoods, ornate Vietnamese tube houses, and Japanese-style bridges. When dusk falls, street vendors turn on their colorful lanterns, casting beautiful reflections on the Thu Bon River.

A gentle boat ride down the river offers you a different perspective of the town and a peaceful retreat from Hoi An’s bustling streets. Last but not least, the local cuisine is a delightful experience, with signature dishes like Cao Lau, a noodle dish that originates from and is exclusive to Hoi An.

Nha Trang: Beach Lover’s Paradise

nha trang

With miles of white sandy beaches bordering the crystal-clear waters of the South China Sea, Nha Trang is one of the best cities to visit in Vietnam. The city’s main beach, Tran Phu Beach is one of the most beautiful and busiest beaches in Vietnam. It’s a bustling hub of activity with a beautifully landscaped promenade, numerous beach resorts, and fine seafood restaurants. However, Nha Trang also has a handful of other beaches like Bai Dai Beach that offer a more secluded setting.

In addition to beaches, Nha Trang is also known for its marine life and for being one of the best diving destinations in the region (The Nha Trang Bay is without a doubt one of the most beautiful bays in the world and is a fantastic spot for boat trips). And if that’s not enough, inland, you can visit attractions like the Po Nagar Cham Towers (a relic of the ancient Cham civilization), the modern Agarwood Tower, the Institute of Oceanography, and the picturesque Ba Ho Waterfalls .

Da Lat: The City of Eternal Spring

Da Lat hidden gems in Vietnam

Perched in the highlands of Southern Vietnam, Da Lat is a unique city that offers a breath of fresh air, both literally and figuratively, in contrast to the tropical climate found elsewhere in Vietnam . Da Lat is famous for its stunning natural beauty that features picturesque lakes, cascading waterfalls, and verdant forests. The city is also known for its wide variety of flowers (the cool climate sure helps them thrive) that are celebrated during the annual Flower Festival.

Another important characteristic of Da Lat is its French colonial architecture, with some of the most notable examples including the Da Lat Railway Station and the Dalat Palace Hotel. One of the city’s most popular attractions is the surreal Hang Nga Guesthouse, also known as the ‘Crazy House’ due to its unusual, whimsical architecture. Add to this a thriving coffee culture and you have a city that offers a little bit of something for everyone.

Phu Quoc: The Ultimate Island Escapade

Phu Quoc best cities to visit in vietnam

Lying in the Gulf of Thailand, off the coast of Cambodia but still a part of Vietnam, Phu Quoc is the country’s largest island. Known for its gorgeous beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush tropical landscapes, Phu Quoc is probably the best destination in Vietnam for an island getaway. The island is home to many beautiful beaches like Long Beach, Sao Beach, and Ong Lang Beach, each offering a slice of paradise. Phu Quoc is also a great scuba diving destination , considering that its coast has a rich variety of marine life.

The island’s interior is just as impressive; it’s home to a national park that covers more than half the island, featuring dense jungle and diverse wildlife. Phu Quoc is also home to the world’s longest cable car ride , offering jaw-dropping views of the archipelago. The island’s local life can best be observed at the bustling Duong Dong Market, or at the local fish sauce factory, where you can see how this famous Vietnamese condiment is made.

Can Tho: The Rice Basket of Vietnam

can tho best cities to visit in vietnam

Located in the heart of the Mekong Delta, Can Tho is the ‘Rice Basket of Vietnam’ and a city surrounded by a maze of rivers, swamps, and picturesque rice fields. If you’re looking to experience life in the Mekong Delta , Can Tho is one of the best cities to visit in Vietnam. The city’s star attraction is the Cai Rang Floating Market , one of the largest such markets in the whole country. Here, you can see first-hand the age-old trading practices of the locals and try a variety of delicious tropical fruits.

And speaking of unique experiences in Can Tho, we have to mention exploring the delta’s waterways by boat and catching a glimpse of the lush green rice paddies, sugar-cane groves, and fruit orchards. The city itself is also a very interesting place; some of its most prominent features are the vibrant waterfront lined with sculpted gardens, the array of eateries serving some of the delta’s tastiest specialties, and of course, some beautiful temples, like the Ong Temple.

Hai Phong: The Flamboyant City

hai phong best cities to visit in vietnam

Hai Phong is a major port city in the northern part of Vietnam. Named after the flame-red blossoms that line its streets, Hai Phong’s vibrant energy matches its moniker. The city is famous for its colonial architecture, ornate temples, wide boulevards, and of course, one of the liveliest ports in the country. The city has a charming old quarter dotted with French colonial buildings (similar to Hanoi) and is also home to the Du Hang Pagoda, a beautifully preserved piece of Vietnamese heritage, and the Opera House Square that’s home to one of the most beautiful fountains in Vietnam.

Hai Phong also serves as a gateway to the famous Halong Bay, and the beautiful Cat Ba Island, offering a variety of water activities and natural exploration. With its vibrant street life, beautiful coastal views, historical charm, and proximity to some of Vietnam’s most impressive natural attractions, the flamboyant city is surely one of the best cities to visit in Vietnam.

Sapa: Rice Terraces Extravaganza

Sapa rice fields

Nestled in the highlands of northern Vietnam, Sapa is a beautiful getaway famed for its magnificent rice terraces. However, the beauty of Sapa is not limited to its landscapes. The town is home to several ethnic minority groups with distinct cultures and traditions that have been preserved for thousands of years and trekking through the lush terraced fields and minority villages allows you to experience first-hand the often-forgotten cultural diversity of Vietnam .

The town itself, with its French colonial charm, offers attractions like the Sapa Church and the bustling Sapa Market, where you can buy local produce and crafts. Sapa’s cooler climate also makes it the perfect refreshing retreat from the scorching summer heat of the plains.

Vinh: A Charming Port City

vinh best cities to visit in vietnam

Located in north-central Vietnam, Vinh is a bustling port city teeming with a lively blend of culture, history, and contemporary life. The cityscape is one of the most unique ones in Vietnam with traditional Vietnamese pagodas standing alongside remnants of French colonial architecture. The city’s most popular attraction is Hong Son, a temple that has the status of a national treasure with all of its culturally significant shrines. Equally engaging is the Uncle Ho House, which offers insightful glimpses into the life of Ho Chi Minh (the Vietnamese leader, not the city that was later named after him).

The city is also the capital of the Nghe An Province, and as such it often serves as the gateway to the province’s rich history, including the Kim Lien village, the birthplace of Ho Chi Minh. Additionally, the city’s proximity to stunning natural landscapes, such as Cua Lo Beach and Pu Mat National Park, makes it an excellent base for exploring the broader region.

Ha Long: The Most Famous Bay In Vietnam

ha lon bay

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay is one of the most famous natural wonders in Vietnam. The Bay is the most famous attraction of the homonymous city and home to thousands of limestone islands topped with lush rainforests. A cruise through the bay takes you on a journey along these natural marvels and allows you to discover hidden grottoes and caves within the fascinating limestone structures.

Moreover, the floating fishing villages, such as Cua Van and Ba Hang offer visitors a unique cultural experience where one can learn about the villagers’ lifestyle and customs. Not far from the bay, you can also visit the Sun World Ha Long Park a massive entertainment complex that’s home to exciting rides, a zoo, and a water park, offering fun for the whole family.

Buon Ma Thuot: The Coffee Capital Of Vietnam

buon ma thuot best cities to visit in vietnam

Located in the Central Highlands, Buon Ma Thuot is known as the Coffee Capital of Vietnam. This city is at the heart of the country’s coffee industry , producing most of the robust beans that contribute to Vietnam’s reputation as a leading coffee exporter. Coffee lovers can visit some of the many plantations that surround the city, learn more about the coffee-making process from bean to cup, and of course, indulge in a cup of rich, freshly brewed local coffee.

However, the city is not just about coffee; it’s also famous for the stunning natural beauty that surrounds the city. The area is home to several waterfalls, including Dray Nur and Dray Sap Waterfalls, and is on the doorstep of Yok Don National Park, Vietnam’s largest national park and one of the best places for wildlife watching in the country.

Vung Tau: The Scenic Seaside Resort Town

vung tau vietnam

The scenic seaside resort of Vung Tau is the perfect quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. The town is famous for its beautiful sandy beaches, particularly Back Beach and Front Beach, each with its own distinct charm. The town is a haven for water sports enthusiasts, especially surfing, jet-skiing, and kite surfing.

Vung Tau’s cultural side should not be forgotten, with landmarks like the towering Christ of Vung Tau statue, which offers panoramic views of the city, and the beautiful Vung Tau Lighthouse which serves as a testament to the town’s colonial past. Vung Tau is also home to the iconic Niet Ban Tinh Xa Pagoda, a prime example of exquisite Buddhist art and architecture and last but not least, the city is also famous for its local seafood cuisine, with countless beachside restaurants serving fresh catches of the day, adding to the town’s coastal charm.

Quy Nhon: A Hidden Coastal Gem

quy nhon best cities to visit in vietnam

This tranquil coastal paradise in the central part of the country is one of the best cities to visit in Vietnam for holidayers. Quy Nhon is renowned for its beautiful beaches like Ky Co and Bai Xep, and for offering a serene seaside retreat away from the typical tourist trails. The azure waters, white sandy beaches, and gentle waves form the perfect backdrop for relaxing beach days away from the typical hustle and bustle you’d usually come across in most other parts of the country.

The city is also home to a handful of important historical sites, including the ancient Banh It Towers and the Twin Cham Towers; relics of the once-flourishing Champa civilization. While still relatively unfrequented by international visitors, Quy Nhon offers a unique mix of natural beauty and cultural heritage, and should definitely be on your list.

Pleiku: The Nature Lover’s Paradise


Located in the central highlands of Vietnam, Pleiku is a city encircled by awe-inspiring natural beauty and the city’s most popular landmarks are its lakes – the serene Bien Ho Lake, often cloaked in morning mist, and the volcanic Sea Lake, offering panoramic views from its shores. Pleiku is also the gateway to the scenic Kon Tum Province which is home to diverse ethnic minority groups with unique culture and traditions that have been around for hundreds of years (especially the Jarai and Bahnar villages, with their unique communal rong houses).

Dong Hoi: Rustic Rural Charm

Dong Hoi

Located in the central part of Vietnam, Dong Hoi is a city that exudes rustic charm, offering a window into rural Vietnam. The city serves as a base for exploring the nearby UNESCO World Heritage-listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park , known for being home to the world’s largest cave, Son Doong, and its rich biodiversity. The city itself has a laid-back vibe, a rural charm, and a scenic riverfront and beautiful beaches like Nhat Le Beach, offering the perfect setting for a relaxing holiday. The local cuisine is also a must-try, with a variety of seafood dishes capturing the essence of Doing Hoi’s coastal location.

My Tho: The Mekong Delta City

My Tho best cities to visit in vietnam 2

Located in the Tien Giang Province, is a lively town lying in the heart of the Mekong Delta region and one of the best cities to visit in Vietnam if you’re looking for a different experience . My Tho is a realm of waterways, floating markets, fruit orchards, and rice fields, that present a unique glimpse into everyday life in the delta.

In addition to floating markets and natural beauty, the city is also known for its beautiful Buddhist pagodas, including the Vinh Trang Pagoda, a serene spiritual site adorned with Buddha statues and beautiful gardens. Last but not least, while you’re in My Tho, perhaps the best way to explore the city is taking a boat tour along the waterways which allows you to not only enjoy the lush landscapes but also gives you a chance to experience the local way of life on the delta.

Ninh Binh: The “Halong Bay On Land”

Ninh Binh

Situated in the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam , Ninh Binh is often dubbed the “Halong Bay on Land” due to its jaw-dropping landscapes of limestone karsts and caves rising out of the emerald green rice paddies. The city is also surrounded by numerous tourist sites, including the Trang An Landscape Complex, a valley dotted with limestone karst peaks, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, famous for its ancient temples dedicated to past Vietnamese kings, and the Tam Coc area, known for its three caves, ideal for boat trips and leisurely bike rides along the countryside paths.

Phan Thiet: The Red Sand Dunes

sand dunes, desert, sand Phan Thiet

This list of the best cities to visit in Vietnam wouldn’t be complete without Phan Thiet, a coastal city in south Vietnam famous for its unique natural feature – the Red and White Sand Dunes. These sprawling sand dunes, reminiscent of a desert landscape, offer a striking contrast to the usual tropical scenery you’ll come across in most of the country.

Visitors can enjoy a fun-filled day sliding down the slopes, riding quad bikes, or simply admiring the sun setting over the undulating sands. In addition to the dunes, Phan Thiet is also home to several beautiful beaches like Mui Ne and Phu Quy (a bustling fishing harbor brimming with colorful boats) but also a few historical sites like the Po Sah Inu Cham Towers, showcasing the architectural legacy of the ancient Champa Kingdom.

Are you a fan of history and want to learn more about this part of the world? Then reading more about the Ayutthaya Kingdom is a good start.

Quang Ngai: The Ancient Ruins Hub

Thap Poshanu Cham Tower

Quang Ngai is a city in central Vietnam steeped in history and culture. The city is home to a myriad of ancient ruins, war relics, and traditional villages but it’s best known for the impressive remains of the Champa civilization, with the Thap Poshanu Cham Tower standing as a testament to this ancient culture. Another impressive sight is the My Lai Massacre Memorial Museum which serves as a poignant reminder of the Vietnam War. Aside from historical sites, the city also features pristine beaches and the nearby Ly Son Island, known for its garlic farms and scenic volcanic landscapes.

Tuy Hoa: A Hidden Beach Lover’s Paradise

Tuy Hoa best cities to visit in vietnam

Last but not least, we round up this list of the best cities to visit in Vietnam with Tuy Hoa, the perfect hidden paradise for beach lovers. Known for its pristine beaches and clear turquoise waters, Tuy Hoa is a perfect destination for a relaxed, off-the-beaten-path seaside holiday. The city’s most famous natural landmark is the Da Dia Reef, an expansive area filled with thousands of basalt rock columns formed by volcanic eruptions.

The next most famous natural landmark is probably Nhan Mountain, home to the ancient Nhan Tower which provides stunning panoramic views of the city and the surrounding landscapes. Tuy Hoa might not be as well-known as some of the other cities on the list, but still, it’s a city rich in natural beauty and cultural heritage, and overall, a captivating place to explore.

Did you like our list of the best cities to visit in Vietnam? Which one would you like to visit first? Do you think we forgot to include some other interesting cities on this list? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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17 Best Places to Visit in Vietnam

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A long, narrow country squeezed in between the South China Sea and the Laos and Cambodia borders, Vietnam is a land of striking landscapes that range from the lush rice terraces and forested mountains in the north to the picturesque valleys of the Central Highlands and the fertile delta and beautiful beaches of the south.

Vietnam has seen its fair share of struggles. Ruled for almost a thousand years by various Chinese dynasties until 938 AD, Vietnam became a French protectorate in the 19th century. After independence, there was the Vietnam War.

Today, Vietnam is a proud country and you can see why. Not just for fiercely defending its own independence, but for its incredible landscapes and history.

The first words on everyone’s lips when speaking of Vietnam are undoubtedly Halong Bay, a beautiful set of karst islands and formations off the northern coast. Hanoi is the bustling, motorbike filled capital. Plan your trip to this beautiful Southeast Asia travel destination with our list of the best places to visit in Vietnam.

17. Da Nang

Da Nang

Nestled on the central coast of Vietnam, Da Nang is an energetic coastal city with a historic French colonial port.

It is known primarily for its fantastic beaches, including the famous My Khe Beach , which Tripadvisor has named as one of the best beaches in Asia.

However, it is also a popular starting point for exploration of the Bà Nà hills , which lie on the city’s western reaches. From there, the spectacular Hải Vân Pass showcases incredible views of Da Nang Bay. Moreover it conveys the Marble Mountains , five imperious limestone outcrops crowned with ornate pagodas and yield caves containing lavish Buddhist shrines.

Da Nang boasts impressive landmarks like the iconic Dragon Bridge , world-class golf courses, and a modern skyline dotted with luxury resorts and upscale shopping centres.

The city is also home to many cultural experiences, including the Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture and Da Nang Fine Arts Museum.

16. Ha Giang Loop

Ha Giang Loop

If you pride yourself on being an adventurous traveler, then you should embrace the Ha Giang Loop with open arms.

Located in the remote and breathtaking Ha Giang province , tourists can embark on a thrilling motorbike journey through some of the country’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. This scenic loop takes you on a winding road that cuts through majestic mountains, lush valleys and terraced rice fields.

The journey provides an immersive experience, allowing you to connect with the authentic culture of the ethnic minority communities that call this region home.

Along the way, you’ll encounter traditional villages , where locals showcase their rich heritage, colorful attire, and warm hospitality.

The loop offers stunning viewpoints such as Ma Pi Leng Pass , with its jaw-dropping vistas of the Nho Que River snaking through the mountains. You can also visit attractions like Dong Van Karst Plateau, a UNESCO Geopark, and the fairy-tale-like Lung Cu Flag Tower.

Typically, this journey takes three to four days to complete. Its rugged beauty and remote nature are perfect for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience.

15. Bai Tu Long Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay

If you can’t get to or don’t fancy visiting Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay is an excellent alternative. Situated in the northeastern part of Vietnam, it has all the pristine beauty and untouched landscapes of its more illustrious neighbor, only with greater tranquillity and fewer crowds.

The picturesque bay is characterized by its emerald waters, towering limestone islands , and lush vegetation. Cruising through it provides fabulous opportunities for kayaking , swimming and visiting remote fishing villages.

The bay is also home to a diverse ecosystem accommodating rare wildlife, colourful coral reefs and hidden caves waiting for you to discover them.

A tour of the area allows for a more intimate connection with nature and a chance to experience the serenity of the surroundings. Whilst there, be sure to visit the incredible Thien Canh Son Cave . One of 59 discovered caves in the area, it will wow you with its unique stalactite formations.

14. Tam Coc

Tam Coc

Tam Coc, often called ‘ Halong Bay on land ‘, is an enchanting destination in the Ninh Binh province.

Forming part of the UNESCO World Heritage Tràng An scenic landscape site, it is renowned for its dramatic limestone karsts that dramatically rise out of emerald green rice fields. Tam Coc presents visitors with a stunning natural landscape that will forever leave an impression on their heart.

The main attraction in Tam Coc is a scenic boat ride along the Ngo Dong River , where local rowers skilfully navigate through a series of caves and limestone formations. As you glide along the tranquil waterways, you’ll be mesmerized by the picturesque scenery and the harmonious blend of nature and verdant rice paddies.

Tam Coc is also home to ancient temples and pagodas, such as Bich Dong Pagoda , which is perched atop a hill and offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

If you are into cycling, you can also explore the area in more detail on two wheels.

Mui Né

There are several places in Vietnam where you can go for some beach R&R, but few can compare to the sheer beauty of Mũi Né.

A stunning beach resort town along the southeast coastline, it boasts a long stretch of golden palm-tree-lined sand, perfect for walking and sunbathing. During the dry season, with steady wind conditions, the area becomes a fantastic destination for sailing, kitesurfing and windsurfing.

The highlight of Mui Né is undoubtedly its captivating sand dunes . The iconic White Sand Dunes and Red Sand Dunes offer a surreal landscape that resembles a desert oasis. On our last visit, we explored the dunes on an ATV ride and sand boarded down the slopes. Both were a lot of fun!

Beyond the beaches and dunes, Mui Né offers opportunities to explore nearby fishing villages , taste delicious seafood, and indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments. Close by, The Fairy Stream, with its gently flowing water and unique rock formations, is a popular spot for a refreshing dip on a stiflingly hot day.


Year-round cool weather and idyllic scenery of misty valleys, lush pine trees and colorful flowers are some of the reasons that Dalat was once used by Vietnamese emperors and French colonials as a summer retreat. Today, this charming town in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam is a popular destination for honeymooners, weekend getaways and for those looking for relief from the heat.

A walkable city, Dalat is a beautiful scene of French colonial architecture and villas set amid picturesque landscapes. The city is well known for its royal palaces that were owned by the last emperor of Vietnam. These lovely palaces are open for tours as is the Hang Nga Guesthouse, the city’s most bizarre attraction. Informally called the “Crazy House,” this structure is a fantastical construction with caves, spider webs and shapes of animals and mushrooms.

Dalat’s lively market is a great place to find fruits, flowers and vegetables grown in the local area as well as handicrafts and silk embroidered items.

Outside the city are scenic lakes, flower gardens, plantations and mountains offering pretty waterfalls and trails for hiking and mountain biking. A must-do is the Valley of Love, an incredibly beautiful valley with pine forests and lakes where tourists can enjoy pedal-boating and canyoning.

My Son

Located on the central coast of Vietnam near the Duy Phú village is the important archaeological site known as My Son. One of Southeast Asia’s most notable heritage sites, My Son was once a significant center of religious Hindu ceremonies where the kings of the Champa Kingdom built numerous temples devoted to the worship of the god, Shiva, between the 4th and 14th centuries.

Believed to have once contained more than 70 temples that were constructed with brick and decorative carvings and sculptures bearing scenes of animals, priests, gods, mythical battles and inscriptions of Sanskrit and Champa, My Son today features a complex of ruins in varying states of disarray and repair, all arranged in several groups.

Within the site is a museum where visitors can check out exhibits and artifacts to better understand and appreciate the ruins. Near the entrance of My Son are a few cafes, food vendors and a shop selling souvenirs. At certain times of the day, visitors can watch live Champa dance performances. Additionally, the site is surrounded by jungle, hills and a lake where visitors can enjoy hiking and kayaking.

My Son is often reached by organized tour groups from Hoi An. However, visitors can also arrive at My Son by motorbike rentals.

10. Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc is a scenic island in the Gulf of Thailand. While it officially forms part of Vietnam, it is actually closer geographically to Cambodia . Today, it’s characterized by dense tropical jungle, soft sandy beaches, and undulating hills. But the island has a fascinating history, having served first as a French missionary base and then as a French colonial wartime prison – a gloomy reformatory that you can visit today.

History aside, the island is most tempting for its alluring tropical nature . Days in Phu Quoc are spent sunbathing on sandy beaches, scootering around fishing villages, visiting pearl and pepper farms, and, if you’re up for it, trekking to waterfalls.

An island that’s famous for its seafood, don’t miss an opportunity to try out Phu Quoc’s famous fish sauce (nuoc mam) – you can even visit one of the fish sauce factories while you’re here!

9. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha-Ke Bang

Tucked away in the Quang Binh Province in Vietnam’s Central Coast region, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is one of the most picturesque parts of the country. With a steadfast reputation as a filming location for 2017 Kong: Skull Island, and with a nearby international airport, the national park is more popular than ever before.

Opened to the public in 2010, the appeal of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is the escape from the city. Here, you’ll live life in the slow lane as you cycle through Kong jungles at your own pace.

Home to 400 million-year-old karst mountains, there are hundreds of caves and secretive rivers to explore. The Son Doong Cave is a must visit. Home to its very own hidden jungle, microclimate, and Underground River, it’s one of the largest caves on Earth .

Due to its location near the Laos border, access to the park is strictly controlled, and visitors can expect to find a strong military presence here. This is mainly due to its war history – the park has some of the world’s highest numbers of undetonated bombs, which is why visitors can only visit this place with a licensed tour guide.

8. Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh, formerly known as Saigon , is the biggest city in all of Vietnam. It’s also the old capital of the Republic of Vietnam. When Saigon fell to the north in 1975, it was renamed to HCMC, yet its former name is still used today, particularly when describing the beating heart of the city.

Hoi Chi Minh has a bit of everything – temples, museums, parks, and tourist shopping. Whatever your interests, you’ll find something to do here. Head to the top of the Saigon Skydeck for an astonishing 360-degree view of the city – especially impressive at night when the lights twinkle on below.

History buffs should not miss the chance to explore the mysterious network of the Cu Chi tunnels , the headquarters for many military operations during the Vietnam War.

The five stories of Reunification Palace – also known as the Independence Palace – is also a fascinating place to go. It’s a famous spot in Vietnam’s history as it captures the time when Saigon fell as a tank broke through the gates of the palace. A replica of this same tank can be seen on the grass outside the palace.

If you’re curious to learn more about the war, you’ll enjoy a visit to the War Remnants Museum or the Museum of Vietnamese History.

7. Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta, nicknamed the ‘Rice Bowl of Vietnam,’ is a lush network of waterways in Vietnam known for its excellent nutrient-rich soils and diverse ecosystems – the banks are a veritable patchwork of fruit, vegetables, rice plantations and cattle farms that provide sustenance for more than a third of the country.

This impressive stretch of river frontage is the most biodiverse in the world if you don’t count the Amazon. Taking up much of the south of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is an extraordinary place filled with lily pad waterways, rice paddies, mangroves, and enchanting wildlife.

With plenty of bus connections and motorbikes, tourists can explore the Mekong Delta and its towns like Tra Vinh , which is considered one of the prettiest villages of the delta. A boat trip down the tranquil tributaries and mangroves of the Mekong is an unforgettable experience.

Paddled by a local in a wooden canoe, you’ll be able to witness everyday life on the river, passing farmlands, fruit orchards, monkey bridges, water buffalo, and floating markets . The best time to visit the Mekong is during the dry season between December and May when there’s less chance of flooding.

6. Nha Trang

Nha Trang

If it’s beaching you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. Nha Trang is the most famous seaside resort in Vietnam, with a laidback atmosphere and exceptional scuba diving. While it’s certainly not on the same scale as many of Asia’s other beautiful beaches , Nha Trang offers warm water and some picturesque offshore islets.

The promenade that encircles the beachfront is always a hive of activity, filled with parks and sculptures that make a stroll here interesting. As with most beach resorts, most of the activity gets going when the sun goes down, and Nha Trang is no different. You’ll find a host of vibey bars and restaurants near the beachfront.

There’s much more to Nha Trang than sunbathing and strolls, though. Go for a soak in the Thap Ba Mud Bath or take a ride on the longest cross-sea cable car in the world. The sacred Po Nagar Cham towers, dating back to the 7th to 12th centuries, offer a taste of the city’s history – they’re an active religious site for Cham, Chinese, and Buddhists even today.


Tracing the border with China, Sapa is a captivating remote town in the Hoang Lien Son mountains of northern Vietnam. Its elevation 1,500 meters above sea level is nothing to scoff at when you’re trekking the terraced hills and slopes around this high-altitude mountain town. While there’s plenty of natural beauty to tempt you to this far-reached corner of the country, much of Sapa’s appeal lies in its raw and authentic culture.

Days are spent trekking through rice paddies , rural villages untouched by tourism, and the clouds of Fansipan – Vietnam’s highest peak.

Cat Cat village

Scenery aside, the highlight is hands down the opportunity to chat with these fascinating people along the way – local kids will tag along and try to sell you some of their handmade jewelry or simply try to improve their English by speaking to you.

In the town of Sapa itself, there are attractive French colonial sites worth visiting such as the Gothic church, the town square and city hall. Sapa is a major market town where the various ethnic tribes in the area often gather to sell their handicrafts, which make excellent souvenirs. At the Sapa Culture Museum, visitors can learn all about the history and cultures of these ethnic groups.


Hue – formerly known as the Panduranga of Cham Kingdom – was once the imperial capital of Vietnam. Located in the central region, Hue had a huge role to play in the Vietnam War. Captured by the Viet Cong for a total of 24 days, thousands of people were killed here if they were thought to be sympathizers of the south.

Today, the city is split in two by the Perfume River. The old city with its ancient ruined citadel lies to the north and the modern-day city to the south. The Demilitarized Zone, which marks the official former border, is one of the most popular day trips from Hue while the Thien Mu Pagoda is the city’s official symbol.

Of the city’s monuments , the Citadel is the most famous. Once the seat of the Nguyen emperors, the Citadel is a sprawling complex of grand palaces, ornate temples, walls and gates. Prime attractions within the Citadel are the Forbidden Purple City, Thai Hoa Palace, and the Ngo Mon Gate. Another important landmark on the river is the city’s official symbol, the Thien Mu Pagoda.

A stroll along the promenade is also recommended, through the statue-abundant parks and onwards by scooter or boat cruise to the Tombs of the Emperors on the outskirts of the city. Dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries, the Tomb of Tu Doc, with its striking Buddhist architecture is the cherry on top.

Hoi An

Laidback and charismatic with a charm all of its own, Hoi An is the highlight of any Vietnam itinerary. Located south of Da Nang within cycling distance of some excellent warm-water beaches along the central coast, this atmospheric old town is a feast of color, where bright and cheerful lanterns adorn each and every building.

The narrow, winding lanes of the old town are lined with beautiful historic buildings, Chinese temples and wooden-fronted shops with excellent opportunities for retail therapy. The bustling night market and lantern-lit streets are also great places for shopping and people-watching.

street in Hoi An old town

At the same time, you can also take a boat ride along the Thu Bon River or join a cooking class to learn the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine. Wrangle a tempting spa deal, and get a dress or tailored suit handmade for you at one of the town’s many illustrious tailors.

Don’t leave without a visit to the gorgeous Japanese Covered Bridge and the glaze-roofed Chinese merchant houses that date back hundreds of years and house a quarter of the town’s population. There’s plenty to fill your afternoons in Hoi An.


Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is truly chaotic, but that’s all part of its charm. An interesting mix of French and Sino-Vietnamese influences, it’s one of the most rapidly growing cities in Southeast Asia.

Those visiting this energetic capital should be prepared. It’s a hive of activity at the best of times, utter chaos at the worst – a city where crossing the road could be taking your life into your own hands with cars, motorbikes, and tuk-tuks vying for right of way in a city without road rules.

One of the best places to experience the madness of Hanoi is at Legend’s Corner . The well-located Legend Beer restaurant is the ideal spot to sit with a drink and watch the rush hour insanity just before sunset. You’ll see pedestrians, dogs, cars, tuk-tuks, and scooters all entwined in traffic, yet somehow there are very few accidents.

Hanoi Train Street

Hanoi’s historic Old Quarter is a maze of narrow streets filled with charming colonial architecture, street vendors, and bustling markets. The best way to explore it is on foot or by cyclo (cycle rickshaw). This will enable you to soak up its atmosphere and discover hidden gems like the ancient Temple of Literature or the vibrant Dong Xuan Market.

See also: Where to Stay in Hanoi

For a change of pace, go for a stroll around the freshwater Hoàn Kiếm Lake in the Old Quarter or soak up more Vietnamese history with a visit to the Thăng Long Imperial Citadel. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum , the final resting place of the Revolutionary leader and Vietnamese President, is a must-see.

1. Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay

Located about 130 km (80 miles) east of Hanoi in northern Vietnam, Halong Bay is celebrated for its gorgeous emerald-hue waters, thousands of spectacular limestone karsts, astonishing waterside caves, and beautiful tree-topped islands.

It’s a popular location for adventure – scuba diving, kayaking, hiking, and rock climbing can all be enjoyed in and around Cat Ba National Park . For those who wish to simply relax and enjoy the views, there are numerous Halong Bay cruises to choose from, from basic to top-level luxury.

The thousands of islands scattered about the bay are a real mixture, ranging from isolated landmasses home to free-roaming monkeys and antelope to bigger inhabited islands with some fantastic beaches . Boat cruises are the best way to experience the natural wonder of Ha Long Bay.

Kayak at Halong Bay

With hundreds of boats ranging from traditional Chinese junks to luxury cruisers, boat tours can vary from day trips to multiple-night journeys . These tours often provide meals, nightlife activities and excursion stops where islands, caves and lagoons can be explored. Most boat cruises are arranged either from Hanoi or from ports such as Haiphong, Halong City and Cai Rong.

As with most holidays on the water, Halong Bay is easily affected by the weather. Plan your trip between March and June to get the most out of your visit. June to September is the off-season, so you can usually get some great deals – just be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast as monsoons can really put a dampener on your trip.

Map of Places to Visit in Vietnam

Map of Places to Visit in Vietnam

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Reader interactions.

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September 15, 2019 at 1:19 am

I hereby compose a key-word list of outstanding places in Vietnam. Hope it’s helpful for you guys searching.

1. Islands: Côn Đảo ; Phú Quốc ; Lý Sơn, Cam Ranh, Bình Ba, Bình Hưng, Điệp Sơn ,Đảo Yến Hòn Nội, ,Cù lao Chàm , Đảo Nam Du, Hòn ông đảo cá voi, Cát bà.

2. Best beaches on islands Bãi Nhát ( Côn Đảo ), Bãi Suối Nóng ( Côn Đảo ), Hòn Cao ( Côn Đảo ), Bãi Sao ( Phú Quốc ), Bãi Khem ( Phú Quốc ), Bãi ông Lăng ( Phu Quoc ) , Nam Du ( Phu Quoc ), Dao Be ( Ly son ) , Bai Kinh ( Binh Hung), Bai Nom ( Binh Ba ),

3. Coastal Cities : Ha Long, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Quy Nhon, Vung Tau.

4. Best beaches on coastal cities: Doc Let, Dai Lanh, My Khe, Nha Trang, Ky Co, Bãi Binh Tien, Bãi Cà ná, Bãi bắc beach da nang, quy nhon beach.

5. Best Bays Ha Long Bay, Lang Co bay, Nha Trang bay, Ninh Van bay, Van Phong bay, Cam Ranh bay.

6. Highland cities/town offer great mountain views, trekking activities : Sapa, Da Lat, Ha Giang, Cao bang.

7. Ancient cities/towns : Hoi An, Dong Van, Hue

8. Caves: Phong Nha, Thien duong, Son Doong, Hang En, Hang Sung Sot, Hang Va, He thong hang dong Tu Lan, Tam Coc bich dong

9. Rivers Mekong delta, Sông Ngô Đồng, Tràng An, Sông đáy chùa hương, Sông Son, Sông Nho Quế, Sông Chày.

10. Waterfall Thác Bản Giốc, Thác Voi, Thác Pongour

11. Lakes Hồ Ba bể, Hồ Xuân Hương, Hồ Tuyền Lâm, Hồ Tơ Nưng, Hồ Lắk, Hồ Hoàn Kiếm, Hồ Thác Bà, Phá Tam Giang.

12. Lagoons Pha Tam Giang, Đầm Vân Long.

13. National Parks Phong Nha ke bang, Nam Cát Tiên, Bạch Mã, Cúc Phương, Ba Vì, Ba Bể, Tràm Chim Tam Nông, núi chúa.

14. Terraces rice field Mù Căng Chải, Hoàng Su Phì, Tú Lệ , Sapa, Y Tý, Bát Xát, Pù Luông.

Enjoy your traveling trip!

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May 1, 2019 at 2:46 am

I like Vietnam. I really do. I love their culture and traditions. Just recently I went on a trip to Vietnam and I absolutely loved it. The people there were so nice and lovely. The wildlife, vegetation and sacred places were amazing too. But I have to say, the most beautiful place that I went to in Vietnam is Ha Long Bay. The scene was incredibly stunning! I also stayed in Sapa. It has astonishing views. Especially when you look at it from a distance. It has fog surrounding the buildings, has tall mountains in the background and has brightly coloured buildings. It’s breathtakingly beautiful!

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March 3, 2019 at 1:49 am

I am a Vietnamese and according to my experience, there are two places you should visit when you are in Vietnam: Cat Ba Island in the Northeast Vietnam and Phu Quoc Island in the Southeast Vietnam.

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March 29, 2018 at 9:26 pm

The market in Can Cau is fabulous.

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November 21, 2017 at 10:29 pm

I think these places are amazing to visit but I have a question, how is Vietnam in general? Is it a safe country to visit ??

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November 8, 2017 at 8:19 am

I recommend Pu Luong nature reserve, not very far from Hanoi.

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September 19, 2017 at 4:52 pm

I really liked Da Nang.

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November 23, 2016 at 4:13 am

Great list. I have just spent two months in Vietnam and did most of the places except My Son and Sapa. Will come back for that. Love this country!

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July 21, 2015 at 2:04 pm

There are lots of day trip activities from Hoi An– snorkeling or diving at the Cham Islands, early morning cycling trips to the countryside, visiting the My Son archeological ruins. Hoi An also has terrific food, and is a great place to wander around and explore.

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June 2, 2015 at 6:46 am

There are at-least 30 incredible places to visit in Vietnam, your list is correct those are about the top places but there are alot more amazing places in Vietnam and no one should stop at just 10

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November 7, 2014 at 4:11 am

Great places. You can also put Ninh Binh and Ha Giang.

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18 Best Cities In Vietnam You Must Visit For An Incredible Journey


You must have heard of the timeless charm of Hanoi and the lantern-lit romance of Hoi An, but what about the regal elegance of Hue, the dynamic spirit of Hai Phong, or the tranquil beaches of Phan Thiet? Vietnam is like a treasure chest of cities, where the lesser-known are the hidden gems that sparkle with unexpected brilliance. From culinary conquests to historical haunts, these cities pack a punch that might outshine their celebrity siblings (just ask our travelers!).

In this guide to the 18 best cities in Vietnam , we’re spilling the secret sauce on destinations that will tantalize your wanderlust, so buckle up! 

18 Best Cities In Vietnam You Simply Cannot Miss

Just a heads-up, since this is the list of best cities in Vietnam, you’ll undoubtedly see some already famous names. But as you read on, you’ll uncover hidden gems that may transform your travel experience. 

Ha Giang – The Northern Jewel

Ha Giang is the perfect opening for our list of the “Best cities in Vietnam”. Located at Vietnam’s northernmost point, Ha Giang is notable for its wild and magnificent landscapes, featuring towering mountains and deep valleys. As a UNESCO Global Geopark, Ha Giang is distinguished by its geological diversity and rich cultural heritage, with numerous ethnic groups preserving their age-old traditions. The region’s less-traveled roads offer peace and authenticity that is harder to find in more popular destinations.


Ha Giang Loop, the appealing route for adventure seekers

Highlight Experiences

  • Trekking through diverse terrains with stunning vistas
  • Motorbiking the Ha Giang Loop for breathtaking mountainous scenes
  • Exploring the Dong Van Plateau’s remarkable geology
  • Visiting the historical Vuong Family Mansion
  • Experiencing local culture at hill tribe markets
  • Taking in the panoramic views at the Ma Pi Leng Pass
>> Read More: A Full Guide To Conquer The Ha Giang Loop

Lao Cai – The Frontier Spirit

Lao Cai City is the capital of Lao Cai, a frontier province in Vietnam’s Northwest region. It is known for its cultural mosaic and the iconic Sapa, with its terraced rice fields and diversity of indigenous peoples. The province enjoys a cooler climate, providing a refreshing contrast to the tropical heat found elsewhere in Vietnam. Lao Cai’s position as a border province has made it a bustling trade center with a unique blend of Vietnamese and Chinese cultural influences.

Highlight experiences

  • Trekking to traditional ethnic villages surrounded by stunning landscapes
  • Shopping for local handicrafts and textiles at the Bac Ha market
  • Climbing Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina, for adventurous spirits
  • Enjoying the cooler climate and scenic beauty of the Sapa region
  • Witnessing the vibrant assembly of different ethnic groups at local markets

Hanoi – The Capital with Timeless Soul

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a city where ancient history and modern times converge. Its well-preserved colonial buildings, ancient pagodas, and unique museums offer a glimpse into the country’s past, while bustling streets and vibrant markets showcase the energetic present. The Old Quarter’s maze of streets, filled with the sounds of daily life and the aroma of street food, is the essence of Hanoi’s charm. The city is also known for its intellectual and artistic traditions, including centuries-old puppetry and music.


Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square

  • Strolling around Hoan Kiem Lake and visiting Ngoc Son Temple
  • Exploring the historic and lively Old Quarter
  • Sampling local Vietnamese cuisine, like Pho and Bun Cha
  • Watching a traditional water puppet show
  • Visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum
  • Enjoying the vibrant nightlife and local craft beer scene
>> Read More: 22 Best Things To Do In Hanoi

Hai Phong – The Hidden Beauty

As Vietnam’s third-largest city, Hai Phong is often seen as the gateway to the sea, with its essential seaport and coastal economy. The city blends industrial prowess with cultural richness, evidenced by its French colonial architecture, wide boulevards, and verdant city parks. Hai Phong serves as a jumping-off point for visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay and the less-visited but equally enchanting Cat Ba Island, with their dramatic karst landscapes and clear waters.

  • Touring the city’s landmarks like the Hai Phong Opera House and colonial-era architecture
  • Visiting Cat Ba Island for its beaches, national park, and adventure activities
  • Taking a cruise to Ha Long Bay from Hai Phong to explore limestone islands and caves
  • Tasting seafood specialties at local markets and restaurants
  • Experiencing the local festivals, such as the flamboyant Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival

Halong – The Coastal Serenity

Halong Bay is a place of otherworldly beauty. Thousands of limestone karsts and isles, often shrouded in mist, rise from emerald waters, creating a mystical landscape. According to legend, these formations were created by dragons that descended to protect Vietnam from invaders. Today, Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most iconic travel destinations in Asia, drawing visitors with its natural beauty and serenity.


Behold the mystical beauty of Halong Bay

  • Cruising amidst the karst formations on a traditional junk boat
  • Kayaking in hidden lagoons and discovering secluded beaches
  • Exploring the Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave) and its illuminated chambers
  • Watching the sunrise over the bay for an unforgettable experience
  • Visiting floating villages and learning about the local way of life
  • Trying squid fishing at night while on your cruise
>> See Tour: Vietnam Luxury Tour

Ninh Binh – The Scenic Majesty

Ninh Binh whispers tales of Vietnam’s regal past, set against a backdrop of dramatic landscapes. This province was once the proud capital of ancient Vietnam, during the Dinh and early Le dynasties, leaving behind a legacy that harmonizes with the natural beauty. Far from being a mere reflection of Ha Long Bay, as it is sometimes called “Ha Long Bay on Land”, Ninh Binh weaves together a tapestry of historical relics amidst a stunning matrix of rivers, limestone cliffs, and lush paddy fields.

  • Exploring the historic remnants of Hoa Lu, Vietnam’s ancient capital
  • Taking a boat trip through the Trang An Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Marveling at the architectural wonder of Bai Dinh Pagoda, the largest pagoda in Vietnam
  • Climbing the stone staircase to Mua Cave for a breathtaking valley view
  • Venturing through Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam’s first national park, rich in biodiversity and ancient trees
  • Enjoying a leisurely bicycle ride through the countryside, alongside rivers and between natural limestone pillars
>> Read More: Top 12 Things To Do In Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Da Nang – The Urban Beachscape

Da Nang, located in central Vietnam, showcases the country’s rapid urbanization while preserving its natural beauty. This lively city is renowned for its sandy beaches, including My Khe Beach, a popular destination for both locals and tourists. With the Marble Mountains as a backdrop and the Han River flowing through the city, Da Nang is a perfect blend of modernity, history, and natural splendor.


Dragon Bridge in Da Nang City at night

  • Relaxing on the pristine shores of My Khe Beach
  • Exploring the Marble Mountains and their hidden caves and temples
  • Crossing the Dragon Bridge and watching its weekend fire and water breathing show
  • Admiring the panoramic city views from the Ba Na Hills and visiting the Golden Bridge
  • Sampling the vibrant street food scene with local specialties like Mi Quang noodles
  • Touring the Museum of Cham Sculpture to delve into the region’s history

Hoi An – The Ancient Harmony

This is no doubt one of the loveliest cities in Vietnam! Hoi An is a living museum that captures the essence of an untouched Southeast Asian trading port from the 15th to the 19th century. Its well-preserved Ancient Town is an atmospheric blend of narrow lanes lined with traditional houses, lantern-lit at night, creating a magical ambiance. The city’s architecture is a confluence of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and French influences, reflecting its multicultural heritage and history as a merchant’s haven.

  • Wandering through the cobblestone streets of Hoi An’s Ancient Town
  • Taking a traditional lantern-making workshop or attending a cooking class
  • Enjoying a sunset boat ride along the Thu Bon River
  • Cycling to the nearby An Bang Beach or exploring the surrounding rice paddies
  • Savoring Cao Lau, a regional dish unique to Hoi An
  • Visiting the Japanese Covered Bridge and the many historic homes turned museums
>> Read More: Essential Things To Do In Hoi An Of Vietnam

Hue – The Royal Splendor

Hue stands as a reverent custodian of Vietnam’s imperial past, once the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty that ruled the last feudal system of the country. The city is synonymous with its historical monuments, including the vast, walled Imperial City, akin to Beijing’s Forbidden City, with palaces and shrines that tell the story of Vietnam’s royal history. Hue’s poetic landscape is complemented by the Perfume River, which flows through the city, adding to its serene and nostalgic atmosphere.


Poetic Perfume River in Hue

  • Touring the UNESCO-listed Hue Imperial City and the Royal Tombs
  • Taking a leisurely boat ride on the Perfume River, especially enchanting in the evening
  • Visiting Thien Mu Pagoda, a historic temple that overlooks the river
  • Wandering the Dong Ba Market to try Hue’s royal cuisine, including banh beo and bun bo Hue
  • Enjoying traditional Vietnamese music performances
  • Biking around the city to discover its hidden charms and less-visited temples
>> See Tour: World Heritage Sites of Vietnam

Da Lat – The Misty Retreat

Often referred to as the “City of Eternal Spring” or the “City of Love”, Da Lat nestles in the cool climes of the Central Highlands. Its temperate weather, mist-covered valleys, and lush pine forests give it a distinctly different feel from Vietnam’s tropical cities. The city is famous for its French colonial architecture and the abundance of flowers that bloom in its parks and gardens, which have earned its third nickname, “The City of Flowers.” Da Lat’s laid-back vibe and scenic beauty make it a favorite among locals and tourists seeking respite from the heat.

  • Visiting the iconic Da Lat Flower Gardens, home to a vast array of vibrant blooms
  • Taking a cable car ride to Truc Lam Zen Monastery for tranquility and panoramic views
  • Strolling around Xuan Huong Lake, especially in the early morning or late afternoon
  • Enjoying outdoor activities like mountain biking, trekking, or canyoning
  • Sampling locally-grown produce like strawberries and avocados and visiting coffee plantations to taste the region’s renowned coffee

Buon Ma Thuot – The Highlands’ Heartbeat

While overlooked by the typical tourist path, Buon Ma Thuot offers more than what you beckon for. This serene city is known as the coffee capital of Vietnam. Situated in the Central Highlands, the city is the heart of a region blanketed with coffee plantations. Beyond its caffeinated fame, Buon Ma Thuot offers access to the cultural wealth of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities and the natural beauty of the surrounding highland areas.

  • Visiting the myriad coffee plantations and learning about coffee production, followed by a fresh brew tasting
  • Learning about the lives of Vietnam’s ethnic groups at the Ethnographic Museum
  • Trekking through Yok Don National Park, Vietnam’s largest national park, potentially spotting some wildlife
  • Enjoying the serenity of Lak Lake, taking a traditional dugout canoe trip, or visiting local M’nong villages
  • Joining the annual Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival if timing allows
  • Immersing in the bustling atmosphere of the city’s central market
>> See Tour: A Food Lover’s Tour Of Vietnam

Quy Nhon – The Serene Coastal Haven

Quy Nhon is a tranquil beach town that offers a more laid-back alternative to Vietnam’s more famous coastal destinations. It boasts a long, curving bay with beautiful beaches, clear waters, and a developing waterfront promenade. Quy Nhon’s history is rich with the Cham culture, with the remains of ancient Cham temples dotting the landscape.


Aerial view of Quy Nhon Beach

  • Catching the first sunrise in Vietnam from Eo Gio beach
  • Lounging on the sandy shores of Quy Nhon Beach or exploring the secluded beaches along the coastline
  • Visiting the Thap Doi Cham Towers, remnants of the ancient Cham civilization
  • Taking a scenic drive along the coastal road from Quy Nhon to the fishing village of Bai Xep
  • Discovering the local culinary scene with fresh seafood and Binh Dinh’s specialties
  • Spending time at the Quang Trung Museum, dedicated to the Tay Son Dynasty and the hero Nguyen Hue

Ho Chi Minh City – The Cosmopolitan Energy

Ho Chi Minh City, commonly called Saigon (its old name), is the economic powerhouse of Vietnam, pulsating with energy and ambition. This city is a melting pot of energy and ambition, racing towards the future while still cherishing its past. From traditional street food vendors to sleek skyscrapers and from historical relics to modern-day comforts, this city is a perfect blend of contrasts. The dynamic and fast-paced atmosphere of Ho Chi Minh City is truly one of a kind, making it a city that never sleeps.

  • Exploring the historic District 1 with landmarks like the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon and the Central Post Office
  • Visiting the War Remnants Museum for a poignant look at the Vietnam War through Vietnamese eyes
  • Strolling down Dong Khoi Street, a hub for history, culture, and shopping
  • Savoring the flavors of Vietnamese cuisine at Ben Thanh Market
  • Experiencing the city’s nightlife, from rooftop bars to buzzing street food vendors
  • Taking a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels to understand the ingenuity of the Viet Cong during the war
>> See Tour: Classic Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi

Can Tho – Mekong’s Beating Heart

With its intricate network of waterways, Can Tho exudes an irresistible charm and character. It’s a place where boats and sampans are more common than cars, and where the serene rhythms of the river blend seamlessly with the diverse traditions of the Vietnamese heartland. The city’s colorful tapestry of cultural experiences offers a glimpse into the vibrant lifeblood of the Mekong Delta. Can Tho is a testament to the beauty of cultural diversity and a reminder that there’s always something new and wonderful to discover when we venture beyond our familiar surroundings.


Can Tho Bridge at sunset time

  • Visiting the Cai Rang Floating Market early in the morning to see it at its liveliest
  • Enjoying a boat tour through the narrow canals and streams to see the delta’s rich ecosystem
  • Exploring the Ong Pagoda or the Can Tho Museum to learn about local culture and history
  • Relaxing in one of the city’s many green spaces, like Ninh Kieu Park, alongside the Hau River
  • Sampling the region’s unique cuisine, which includes dishes like bun ca  (fish noodle soup) and grilled snails
  • Taking a bike ride through the countryside to see local farms and orchards
>> See Tour: Highlights of Central & Southern Vietnam

Phan Thiet – The Relaxed Vibes

Phan Thiet, a serene coastal town graced with an ever-stretching shoreline, is home to some of Vietnam’s most magnificent beaches and breathtaking sand dunes. This destination combines natural wonders with cultural richness, offering an escape where the desert meets the sea in a dramatic display of nature’s artistry.

  • Marveling at the Red Sand Dunes (Doi Hong) and White Sand Dunes (Doi Cat Trang), possibly trying sandboarding
  • Visiting the Fairy Stream, a shallow water path through a colorful landscape of white, red, and orange sand
  • Enjoying the sun and surf at Mui Ne Beach , a hotspot for windsurfing and kitesurfing
  • Exploring the Po Shanu Cham Towers, remnants of the ancient Cham civilization
  • Sampling the local fish sauce, for which Phan Thiet is renowned, at a traditional factory

Nha Trang – The Riviera Feel

Nha Trang is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, where crystalline waters meet powdery white sands under the generous Vietnamese sun. Beyond the allure of its beaches, Nha Trang’s rich cultural tapestry comes to life in the form of the Po Nagar Cham Towers, standing majestically as a tribute to the ingenuity of the Cham civilization. 


Sunny relaxation on Nha Trang Beach

  • Soaking up the sun on Nha Trang Beach or exploring the quieter Bai Dai Beach
  • Diving or snorkeling among the vibrant coral reefs off the coast
  • Visiting the Po Nagar Cham Towers, which date back to the 7th century
  • Relaxing in the mineral-rich mud baths at the Thap Ba Hot Springs
  • Taking a boat trip to the nearby islands where you can swim in crystal clear waters
  • Exploring the Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam for an insight into marine life

Phu Quoc – The Island Paradise

Phu Quoc, a jewel in the Gulf of Thailand with its verdant hills and azure seas, offers a secluded sanctuary for nature lovers and sun seekers alike. This emerald isle attracts tourists with its enchanting beauty, tranquil beaches, and lush jungles, promising adventure and relaxation in equal measure.

  • Soaking up the sun on the pristine shores of Long Beach or the secluded Ong Lang Beach
  • Snorkeling or diving to witness the mesmerizing coral reefs teeming with life off the southern coast
  • Absorbing the unique architecture and spiritual aura of the island’s Cao Dai Temple
  • Visiting a local pepper plantation to learn about the famous Phu Quoc’s pepper
  • Discovering nearby islands on a boat trip
>> Read More: The Ultimate Phu Quoc Travel Guide

Ca Mau – The Southernmost Serenity

Just like Ha Giang being the first, Ca Mau is the perfect closing for this list of “Best cities in Vietnam”. Perched at the southernmost tip of Vietnam, Ca Mau is a place where the earth tenderly meets the sea. This unique locale, cradled by the Mekong Delta’s intricate waterways, boasts a rich tapestry of ecological and cultural wonders. Here, life moves to the rhythm of the rivers and the whisper of the mangroves.


Explore the southernmost point of the S-shaped land, Ca Mau Cape

  • Journeying through the lush expanse of the Ca Mau National Park, a UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve
  • Discovering the exotic nature of U Minh Ha forest
  • Checking in at the southernmost marker at Ca Mau Cape, where land and the sea intertwine 
  • Observing local life at Ca Mau’s floating markets
  • Tasting the succulent black tiger prawn, Ca Mau’s signature dish
>> See Tour: Splendours of Vietnam & Pristine Beach

Embrace The Wonders Of Vietnam

Vietnam’s allure lies in the rich tapestry of its diverse destinations, each a distinct thread contributing to the country’s vibrant cultural and natural quilt. Whether it’s the rugged mountain passes of Ha Giang, the serene limestone karsts of Ninh Binh, the labyrinthine alleys and historic charm of Hanoi, or the crystalline waters of Nha Trang, the question isn’t which city is the best, but what kind of story you want to write into your travel journal.

Ready to embrace Vietnam’s promise of adventure? Asia Pioneer Travel can help you design a journey as eclectic and remarkable as Vietnam itself. Craft Your Dream Holiday with our committed travel designers and let us take you to the heart of Vietnam’s wonders! 

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written by SarahGibbons_

updated 26.05.2023


There’s nowhere quite like Vietnam – a land of true contrasts, from the frenetic and fascinating capital of Hanoi to the idyllic rice terraces of mountainous Sapa . With so much to see in this beautiful country, it can be hard to know which places to visit. Here is our guide to the best cities in Vietnam.

1. Hoi An, Central Vietnam

2. dalat, central highlands, 3. ho chi minh city (saigon), southern vietnam - one of the best cities in vietnam for foodies, 4. sapa, northwest vietnam, 5. hue, central coast, 6. hanoi, north vietnam, 7. da nang, central coast, 8. nha trang, southern vietnam, 9. ninh bình, northern vietnam.

This article is inspired by our Rough Guides to Vietnam — your essential guide for travelling to Vietnam.

Tailor-made travel itineraries for Vietnam, created by local experts

Vietnam Culinary Discovery

10 days  / from 2150 USD

Vietnam Culinary Discovery

Vietnamese cuisine can be divided into three categories, each pertaining to a specific region, namely the North, Centre and South. You will visit all of these on this culinary tour of Vietnam. Awaken all of your senses to the wonderful sights, sounds and aromas of this fascinating country.

Very Vietnam

16 days  / from 2150 USD

Very Vietnam

Vietnam is full of surprises, seamlessly mixing both ancient and modern. See rice paddies, traditional villages, markets, temples and pagodas. Discover romantic cities, cruise around mystical Halong Bay, laze on pristine beaches and get out and about in exuberant Ho Chi Minh City.

Cultural Saigon

4 days  / from 550 USD

Cultural Saigon

Southern Vietnam is home to modern Ho Chi Minh City, a vibrant southern capital full of historic attraction and old Saigonese charm. Soak up some café culture, enjoy authentic street food, and get a taste of the city’s thriving markets.

Tailor-made trips for   Vietnam

One of the best cities in Vietnam for: Sightseeing, shopping and café hopping

Don’t miss: Seeing the thousands of lanterns on an evening stroll around the Old Town

If you want to combine sightseeing with a spate of shopping, then the charming UNESCO world heritage city of Hoi An should be top of your list. Dating back to the 15th century, character positively oozes out of its ancient, ochre-hued walls. It’s not hard to see why the city is often dubbed the 'Venice of the East’.

Spend your afternoons strolling along the main canal and exploring the labyrinth of winding streets, lined with market stalls, tailors, cafés and boutique shops. You can get almost anything made here – and for incredibly little money by Western standards – so be warned, you may be going home with far more than you came with.

If shopping doesn't interest you, escape the crowds and pedal down to the ocean for some relaxing beach time – the beach is only a 15-minute cycle away. Hoi An really comes alive at night, when thousands of brightly-coloured silk lanterns illuminate every nook and cranny of the Old Town creating a magical glow – a photographer’s paradise. See why Hoi An was voted as one of the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia .

Where to stay in Hoi An:

  • For a luxurious stay with a spa and swimming pool: Anantara Hoi An Resort
  • For a stay with traditional Vietnamese-style rooms: Hoi An Ancient House

Or browse accommodation of all kinds in Hoi An


Hoi An is lined with picturesque canals © Sarah Gibbons

One of the best cities in Vietnam for: Countryside romps and canyoning thrills

Don’t miss: The hair-raising canyoning experience

If baking on the beach is something you’d rather avoid, then make sure Da Lat – known as the ‘City of Eternal Spring’ – is on your itinerary. Located in the picturesque Central Highlands, this quaint mountain city enjoys far cooler temperatures than its coastal counterparts. Here, you're surrounded by pine forests, open meadows and coffee plantations.

A popular weekend break destination for domestic tourists, this city is built for romance, with its French colonial architecture, horse-drawn carriages and even an Eiffel Tower-lookalike radio pylon. However, it’s got a serious adventure streak too, with travellers from all over the world coming to experience one of the most adrenaline-inducing canyoning experiences in Southeast Asia.

Not for the faint of heart, this involves scrambling, jumping and abseiling down 20-metre waterfalls – a hair-raising, but utterly thrilling activity that you won’t forget in a hurry.

Ready to immerse yourself in Vietnamese cuisine? Our tailor-made trip service makes travelling easy by taking care of the planning and booking. Our Vietnam Culinary Discovery trip takes you through the many cuisines of the North, Centre and South. Our trips are crafted by local travel experts and are completely customisable.


Canyoning in Dalat – not for the faint-hearted © Sarah Gibbons

One of the best cities in Vietnam for: Buzzing culture and cheap eats

Don’t miss: Exploring the city’s best street food on a motorbike tour

You haven’t experienced chaotic traffic until you’ve been to Ho Chi Minh City (still known by many locals as Saigon) – a high-octane, positively pulsating city of over eight million people. One of the first things you’ll no doubt experience is the blaring horns and clatter of thousands of bikes zipping around; it seems like pandemonium yet somehow everyone seems to know where they’re going.

The food scene here is thriving and if you can muster the courage, join a motorbike street food tour (as a passenger, naturally) and take a whistle-stop tour of the city’s best street food, from Bánh mì (filled baguettes) to bánh xèo (crispy rice-flour pancakes).

Ho Chi Minh City is also the gateway to exploring the fascinating, and highly claustrophobic, Cu Chi Tunnels – used by Vietnamese guerrilla fighters during the war with America – as well as the hard-hitting War Remnants Museum.

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City:

  • For a 5-star stay with panoramic city views: The Reverie Saigon
  • For a stay in the city centre with a gorgeous rooftop: Caravelle Saigon

Or find your dream accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City


Bánh xèo, a crispy rice-flour pancake filled with a variety of delicious choices © Alphonsine Sabine/Shutterstock

One of the best cities in Vietnam for: Trekking through the iconic rice terraces

Don’t miss: The view from the top of Fansipan Mountain

Established as a Hill Station by the French in 1922, Sapa is the tourist hub of the mountainous north – famed for its dramatic rice terraces that cling to the steep hillsides. The region is also home to a number of ethnic minorities, namely the Red Dao and Black Hmong, who still wear their distinctive traditional dress – each village wears different clothing.

Spend your days exploring the region on one of the multitude of hiking trails and if you’re looking for more of a challenge, you can tackle Mount Fansipan itself, the highest peak in Indochina at 3,143m. If you don’t fancy the trudge, then you can still soak up the incredible views thanks to the Fansipan Legend cable car – reportedly the highest and longest in the world.


Rice terraces in Sapa, Vietnam © This Is Me/Shutterstock

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One of the best cities in Vietnam for: Exploring Vietnam’s imperial history

Don’t miss: Biking along the Hai Van Pass

Get a taste of Vietnam’s imperial past on a visit to Hue, the Vietnamese capital (1802-1945) during the time of the Nguyen Dynasty , which dissolved at the end of the war with America. Straddling the Song Huong (Perfume River), the city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to The Imperial City – a vast network of temples, museums and pavilions that will definitely keep you busy all day long.

If you're travelling to Hue from Da Nang and Hoi An or vice versa, make sure to travel the Hai Van Pass: a stunning mountain road of hairpin turns and panoramic vistas of deserted beaches and mist-clad hills. Some may recognise it from Top Gear , who named it one of the best coastal roads in the world in their Vietnam special. You can either rent a motorbike and experience it solo or join an ‘Easy Rider’ tour as a passenger.

Where to stay in Hue:

  • For a stay with spacious villas and bungalows with stunning views: Vedana Lagoon Resort & Spa
  • For an elegant stay with a spa and pool: Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa

Or find accommodation at any budget in Hue

Prefer to leave planning and booking to experts? Our tailor-made service allows you to travel without the hassle. Our Quintessential Vietnam trip will take you through Ho Chi Mihn City, and Hanoi as well as through traditional villages of the Mekong Delta.


Hue, one of the best cities in Vietnam © Efired/Shutterstock

One of the best cities in Vietnam for: Pho-loving and bargain hunting

Don’t miss: A stroll around the serene Hoan Kiem Lake in the centre of Hanoi’s historic district – a hub of activity for tourists and locals alike.

Vietnam’s attractive capital is a city of contrasts, from the wide, elegant streets of the French Quarter to the colourful chaos of the Old Quarter. Most of the activity is found in the latter – the UNESCO-protected heart of the city. Packed with hundreds of shops and market stalls spilling out onto the streets (and thousands of motorbikes!) the best way to explore is to just dive in and see what you discover.

Make time to stop off and sample a Pho; Hanoi is the home of this famous noodle soup, after all. You can easily spend several days in Hanoi itself, but most also use it as a springboard to exploring the iconic Halong Bay and its thousands of towering limestone pillars – a four-hour drive away.

The peaceful Hoan Kiem Lake is well worth a visit, and it's steeped in history too: legend has it that Emperor Le Loi obtained a magical sword from the Dragon King to fight against Chinese oppressors in 1428.

Where to stay in Hanoi:

  • For a stay with colonial grandeur and modern luxury: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
  • For a stay on the serene waters of West Lake: I nterContinental Hanoi Westlake

Or find your perfect accommodation in Hanoi .


Tran Quoc temple in Hanoi, Vietnam © martinho Smart/Shutterstock

One of the best cities in Vietnam for: Beach breaks and cosmopolitan city culture

Don’t miss: The Marble Mountains and the Golden Bridge

Vietnam’s third-largest city, just up the coast from Hoi An, cosmopolitan Da Nang is changing fast and steadily gaining a reputation with visitors . Known for its white-sand beaches, stylish bars and restaurants and picturesque surrounding mountains, there’s plenty to keep you occupied for a few days.

One of the most popular things to see is the Marble Mountains, a cluster of five mountains named after the earth’s elements: Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth). The main attraction is Nui Thuy Son Mountain, the largest in the group and home to a series of caves; you can also climb up one of the winding staircases in the rock to enjoy the vistas of the surrounding countryside.

One of the newest attractions is the Golden Bridge, a 150-metre-long pedestrian bridge in the Bà Nà Hills resort. Supported by two gigantic hands it looks like something out of a fantasy film set.

The Rough Guides to Vietnam and related travel guides

In-depth, easy-to-use travel guides filled with expert advice.

The Rough Guide to the A-Z of Travel

Want to experience Vietnam but without the hassle of booking and planning? Our Vietnam for Romantics trip is the ideal mix of culture (Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City) paired with nature (Halong Bay, Mekong Delta) and ending the trip on picturesque Phu Quoc.

Golden Bridge

The Golden Bridge, Da Nang's Instagram-friendly new construction © charnpui/Shutterstock

One of the best cities in Vietnam for: Beach activities, water sports, and nightlife

Don't miss: Snorkeling or diving in the vibrant coral reefs of Nha Trang Bay

For those seeking a mix of sun, sand, and vibrant nightlife , Nha Trang is a must-visit destination in Southern Vietnam. Known for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters, Nha Trang offers a range of beach activities and water sports that cater to all tastes.

One of the highlights of Nha Trang is the opportunity to explore the remarkable marine life beneath the surface. Embark on a snorkelling or diving adventure to discover the vibrant coral reefs of Nha Trang Bay. Dive into an underwater wonderland teeming with colourful fish, graceful sea turtles, and a myriad of other fascinating marine creatures.

Apart from its beautiful coastline, Nha Trang is renowned for its lively nightlife scene. As the sun sets, the city comes alive with an array of bars, clubs, and beachside parties that cater to both locals and tourists. Indulge in delicious seafood dinners, sip tropical cocktails, and dance the night away under the starlit sky.


Nha Trang cable car © Shutterstock

One of the best cities in Vietnam for: Natural landscapes, scenic boat rides, and cultural exploration

Don't miss: Taking a boat tour through the breathtaking Trang An Grottoes

Ninh Bình, located in the northern region of Vietnam, is a hidden gem that offers a serene escape into nature. Often referred to as the "Halong Bay on land," Ninh Bình is characterized by its stunning karst landscape, limestone cliffs, and emerald green rice paddies. It's also an affordable getaway.

One of the best ways to explore the natural beauty of Ninh Bình is by taking a boat tour through the Trang An Grottoes. Hop aboard a traditional sampan boat, and navigate through a network of limestone caves, lush valleys, and winding rivers.

As you glide through the calm waters, you'll be mesmerized by the breathtaking vistas and the intricate system of caves adorned with stalactites and stalagmites. This UNESCO World Heritage site offers a glimpse into the region's rich natural history and cultural heritage.

Aside from its natural wonders, Ninh Bình is also home to historical landmarks and ancient temples. Visit the iconic Bai Dinh Pagoda, one of the largest Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia, and marvel at its grandeur and intricate architecture.

Ninhbinh Ninh-Binh, Vietnam © John Bill/Shutterstock

Ninh-Binh, Vietnam © John Bill/Shutterstock

There is much to do and see in Vietnam — even beyond the country's vibrant cities. Ready to start planning your trip? Check out the Rough Guide to Vietnam.

If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Vietnam without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.

We may earn a commission when you click on links in this article, but this doesn’t influence our editorial standards. We only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.


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Vietnam, a country in Asia is a captivating country nestled in Southeast Asia and known for its breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality. From bustling cities to serene countryside, Vietnam presents an enticing tapestry of experiences for travelers. In this article, we will delve into the best cities to visit in Vietnam, each with its unique charm and allure. Whether you seek the bustling energy of urban life or the tranquil beauty of nature, Vietnam has something to offer for everyone.

Table of Contents

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Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, is a compelling fusion of modernism and old-world charm. This city, which is rich in history, provides a window into Vietnam’s diverse cultural legacy.

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Top 12 Best Cities to Visit in Vietnam

Vietnam is a beautiful and diverse country with a rich culture, fascinating history, and stunning natural scenery. From bustling cities to charming ancient towns and beautiful beaches, Vietnam has something for everyone. The cuisine is also exceptional, and the people are warm and welcoming. A visit to Vietnam is an unforgettable experience.

Below I am detailing the best cities to visit in Vietnam, from Northern, Central, to Southern regions of Vietnam.

Top 12 Best Cities to Visit in Vietnam:

  • Halong Bay – one of my favorites!
  • Hoi An – one of the best cities to visit in Vietnam!
  • Ho Chi Minh City

Can Tho (Mekong Delta)

Location : Northern Vietnam, 2 hours from Halong Bay Most Known For : Capital City; Train Road Best Hotel: LeaH Silk Hotel

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the country. The city is known for its rich history, French colonial architecture, and vibrant street life.

Some of the top attractions in Hanoi include the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, and the Old Quarter. The Old Quarter is a maze of narrow streets lined with shops, cafes, and street vendors, where you can sample some of the best street food in Vietnam. In fact, you can take a Street Food tour that gives you access to the famous Train Road in Hanoi!

I also loved going to the Water Puppet Show – this is a great way to learn about the culture of Vietnam through a unique form of art!

Temple of Literature in Hanoi Vietnam - best cities to visit in vietnam

Location : Northern Vietnam, 2 hours from Hanoi Most Known For : Towering Limestone Cliffs Best Hotel: Book an Overnight Boat!

Visiting Halong Bay is a must-do experience for anyone traveling to Vietnam. Located in the northeast of the country, Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its emerald waters and towering limestone cliffs that rise majestically from the sea.

A trip to Halong Bay offers the opportunity to explore the bay’s many islands and caves, go kayaking through hidden lagoons, and take in stunning panoramic views from the top of its many cliffs.

The best way to experience the beauty of Halong Bay is on a traditional Vietnamese junk boat, where you can relax on the deck while cruising through the bay’s breathtaking scenery.

Whether you choose to take a day trip or spend a few nights on a boat, visiting Halong Bay is sure to be a highlight of your Vietnam adventure.

good cities to visit in vietnam

Location : Northwest Vietnam Most Known For : Lush Rice Fields Best Hotel :

Sapa (Sa Pa) is a mountainous town located in the northwest region of Vietnam. The town is known for its terraced rice fields, hill tribes, and trekking activities. It is likely that when you think of Vietnam, you think of Sapa, which is exactly why it should be on your list of cities to visit in Vietnam!

Some of the top attractions in Sapa include the Fansipan Mountain, the Muong Hoa Valley , and the Love Waterfall. While in Sapa, be sure to enjoy panoramic views over the rice terraces!

Location : Central Vietnam Most Known For : Floating Lanterns, Custom Made Suits Best Hotel : Cozy Savvy Boutique

Hoi An is the most beautiful city in Vietnam. You absolutely must add this to your list of cities to visit in Vietnam – I promise you won’t regret it!

Hoi An is a charming ancient town located in central Vietnam. The town has preserved its traditional architecture, narrow streets, and beautiful lanterns, making it one of the most picturesque places in Vietnam. You can take a Lantern Making Class in Hoi An to learn more about this beautiful art form!

Some of the top attractions in Hoi An include the Japanese Covered Bridge, the Tan Ky Old House, and the night market. The town is also famous for its tailor shops, where you can get custom-made clothing at a reasonable price. I recommend going to Yaly!

Read More: Best Things To Do in Hoi An

good cities to visit in vietnam

Location : Central Vietnam Most Known For : Imperial City Best Hotel : Hue River Side Villa

Hue is a former imperial capital city located in central Vietnam. The city is known for its historical monuments, temples, and cuisine.

Some of the top attractions in Hue include the Imperial City, the Thien Mu Pagoda, and the Tombs of the Emperors. Hue is also famous for its cuisine, which is a fusion of royal cuisine and street food.

Be sure to end the day in Hue with a Sunset River Cruise that includes traditional music and singing!

good cities to visit in vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Location : Southern Vietnam Most Known For : Largest City, War Museums & War Tunnels Best Hotel: Orchids Saigon Hotel

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam and a hub of commerce, culture, and nightlife. The city has a mix of modern skyscrapers and historical landmarks, such as the Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

For a taste of local culture, head to the bustling Ben Thanh Market or sample some street food in one of the many food stalls scattered around the city.

Near Ho Chi Minh City, be sure to check out the War Tunnels (offsite from the Museum listed above).

good cities to visit in vietnam

Location : Southern Vietnam Most Known For : Island Hopping Best Hotel : Azura Gold Hotel

Nha Trang is a coastal city located in southern Vietnam. The city has beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and water sports activities, making it a popular destination for beach lovers.

Some of the top attractions in Nha Trang include the Hon Mun Island, the Po Nagar Cham Towers, and the Long Son Pagoda. One of my personal favorite activities in Nha Trang was the mud baths and spa !

good cities to visit in vietnam

Location : Central Vietnam, near Hoi An Most Known For : Caves, Mountains, and More! Best Hotel : Sofiana My Khe Hotel

Da Nang is a modern city located in central Vietnam. The city has stunning bridges, beautiful beaches, and popular attractions like the Marble Mountains (glorious system of caves, temples, etc) and Ba Na Hills (iconic bridge with hands).

Marble Mountains in Vietnam

Location : Southern Vietnam Most Known For : Sandy Beaches Best Hotel : Villa Aria Boutique Muine

Mui Ne is a coastal town located in southern Vietnam. The town has beautiful beaches, sand dunes, and kite surfing activities. Some of the top attractions in Mui Ne include the Fairy Stream, the Red Sand Dunes, and the Fishing Village.

Location : Southern Vietnam Most Known For : Floating Markets Best Hotel : Mekong Riverside Boutique Resort & Spa

Can Tho is a bustling city located in the Mekong Delta. The city is known for its floating markets, fruit orchards, and traditional rural life. Some of the top attractions in Can Tho include the Cai Rang Floating Market, the Bang Lang Stork Sanctuary, and the Binh Thuy Ancient House.

good cities to visit in vietnam

Location : Island South of Vietnam mainland Most Known For : Beautiful Beaches Best Hotel : SOL by Melia OR JW Marriott Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc is an island located in the Gulf of Thailand, famous for its pristine beaches, coral reefs, and seafood. This island has the longest ocean Cable Car that will take you to Pineapple Island for more beaches and views!

From pristine beaches and stunning landscapes to cultural attractions and delicious cuisine, there is something for everyone on this beautiful island.

good cities to visit in vietnam

Final Thoughts on Best Cities to Visit in Vietnam

Each city has its unique charm and attractions, making Vietnam a great destination for a diverse range of experiences.

If I had to pick my two favorite cities to visit in Vietnam, I would pick Halong Bay and Hoi An. Both are so unique to the country of Vietnam and something you won’t get to experience anywhere else! Share your your favorite cities to visit in Vietnam in the comments below!

Want more? Read about my best travel tips and things you should know before you go to Vietnam .

xoxo lisa

Disclosure: Some of the links in this guide on best cities to visit in Vietnam are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This helps me keep the content on my website free, like this guide on the best Cities to Visit in Vietnam.

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12 best cities to visit in vietnam

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10 Best Places to Visit in Vietnam in 2022

Coming to the S-shaped country, you can admire the poetic and charming scenery wherever you go. The natural beauty and unique culture have made Vietnam become a tourist destination worldwide. Here are the top 10 places to visit in Vietnam nominated in 2022.

Map of the best places to visit in Vietnam

1. Ha Long Bay

Top 10 places to visit in Vietnam - Halong Bay

Off Northeast Vietnam , Ha Long Bay was designated as one of the World Heritage Sites in 1994. For many reasons, Ha Long Bay has to be on your list when you travel to Vietnam.

Having been known for thousands of limestone islands that emerged from the emerald water, the bay is surrounded by a spectacular seascape. You will want to sign up for a boat trip to cruise along the maze of channels and uniquely shaped islets. You can also go kayaking and caving to experience the enchanting beauty of this wonderland.

Although it can get very touristy during the high season, with what it has to offer, Ha Long Bay is totally worth your visit.

The best time to visit Ha Long Bay is in the summer (May – October) when its weather is warm, less rain, convenient for outdoor activities and exploring.

2. Ninh Binh

Top 10 places to visit in Vietnam - Ninh Binh

Used to be one of the hidden gems in the north of Vietnam, Ninh Binh has become more and more popular among both local and foreign visitors after being chosen as the blockbuster Kong’s filming location. But Ninh Binh is not all about that.

This is home of one of the biggest temples in South East Asia (Bai Dinh Pagoda), which is solemnly situated amid the lush paddy fields and breathtaking rock formations. The best way to explore the renowned landscape complex is by rowboat to bit-by-bit take in the majestic and poetic scenery. Ninh Binh will truly give you a sense of the spiritual calmness coming from the splashing water under your boat and distant temple bells echoing.

You can visit Ninh Binh at any time of the year, each season in Ninh Binh has a unique beauty that is nowhere to be found.

Top 10 places to visit in Vietnam - Hoi An

Noted as another World Heritage Site of the long-stretching nation, the Ancient Town of Hoi An  carries not only the diversity of settings but also the history of hundreds of years of cultural interference between the three countries of China, Japan, and Vietnam. You will need to be ready to fall in love with the mix of vibrant lifestyle and ancient architecture of this little town.

Hoi An is also famous for a wide range of delightful cafes and restaurants of those overlooking peaceful views. Even for a local, the town’s delicacies are definitely one-of-a-kind, and it will give you a hard time picking among all the good food.

As the most beautiful city in Vietnam, Hoi An is crowded year-round, the tourist season starts from November to the end of February. If you want to enjoy a “real” Hoi An, April to June is the right time for you, when there are the least tourists.

Top 10 places to visit in Vietnam - Da Nang

Further north of Hoi An is a beautiful coastal city – Da Nang . Da Nang is a tropical sea paradise in Vietnam; it has some of the most beautiful and secluded beaches such as Non Nuoc Beach, which is almost never too busy. It would make you extend your staying here with its spectacular mountain temples, well-decorated bars and restaurants, and so much more. It is not random that many expats choose to relocate here as you can easily find a hint of the modern lifestyle of a big city blended into the tranquility of the natural surroundings.

If you are an adventurous soul, get on a motorbike and go for a road trip around Son Tra Peninsula, then set out to conquer the Hai Van Pass or simply walk the majestic  Golden Bridge .

The ideal time to visit Da Nang is the dry season from January to July, and the most perfect is between February and May. During this period, the weather is pleasant and less rain.

Top 10 places to visit in Vietnam - Hue

Hue  is the former imperial capital of Vietnam under the prosperous reign of the Nguyen Dynasty, which explains a rich collection of tombs, palaces, and royal buildings. That is also the highlight of this romantic city.

Strolling along the gorgeous Perfume River, crossing Trang Tien Bridge just to later sit down and take a sip of cold Huda beer.

Hue is definitely not a tourism hub but if you are keen on an atmosphere with a breadth of history, then Hue would be your perfect choice.

Located between the South and the North, Hue weather is characteristic of both regions. Hue has four seasons, but the most obvious are sunny and rainy seasons. The dry season lasts from March to August, it is quite bright and hot. From August to November is the rainy season. Especially from October onwards, there are prolonged rains and storms.

Top 10 places to visit in Vietnam - Sapa

In 6th place, Sapa meets all the elements to become one of the best places to visit in Vietnam: the small villages like the picture painted on the majestic hills, upland markets, and the identity of ethnic minority communities.

Although the main town itself has been said to be too touristic and going through lots of construction, it gives you a reason to go out of town and immerse yourself in one of the most beautiful highland cities in the country. Meeting up with the innocent local minority people and being amazed by terraced fields – breathtaking scenery will be your unforgettable memory.

Sapa is a mountainous region with a cool climate all year round. The weather in Sapa has four seasons. The average temperature of Sapa is 15 °C. Summer in Sapa is not too hot; winter is often cloudy and cold, and sometimes it snows.

The best time to visit Sapa is from September to early November, at this time, rice begins to ripen, and the scenery of Sapa turns to the brilliant golden colour of the rice, a picturesque view.

7. Nha Trang

Top 10 places to visit in Vietnam - Nha Trang

As one of the most beautiful coastal cities in Vietnam , Nha Trang has been recognized as a tropical sea paradise. Not only do long blue beaches and dozens of large and small islands remain untouched, but Nha Trang is also an ideal destination for those who love culture – history as it is also the land of the flourishing Champa Kingdom in the past.

Visit Nha Trang, immerse yourself in the refreshing water, dive down to the coral reefs, discover islands by canoe, and enjoy fresh seafood.

The most significant advantage of this city is the long sunny season during the first eight months, the temperature difference is not considerable. The rainy season of Nha Trang lasts from September to December and reaches its peak in October and November.

Nha Trang is definitely an indispensable name when it comes to the best places to visit in Vietnam.

8. Ho Chi Minh City

Top 10 places to visit in Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh City

When talking about the best places to visit in Vietnam, it’s impossible to ignore the biggest city in the country: Ho Chi Minh City .

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is the most developed and somehow chaotic city across the country once known as the Pearl of the Far East. Although Saigon is not rich in natural resources, it has a wide range of street food and nightlife activities to choose from.

And if your heart is up for knowledge, there is a list of museums and galleries scattered around the city so you can check them out and explore the city at the same time.

Chinatown is also the soul of the dynamic city filled with century-aged temples and shops – where you can give yourself a break after play-hard days. It is no exaggeration to say that Saigon has it all.

Ho Chi Minh City weather does not have four seasons like Hanoi but only two: rainy and dry. The rainy season is from May to November. In general, you can visit Ho Chi Minh City at any time of the year, the rainy season is also the most beautiful season of this city.

Top 10 places to visit in Vietnam - Hanoi

It is always worth visiting the capital city of any country. In  Hanoi , your mind will be blown away by the subtly busy Old Quarter – 36 Streets. You will live the historic moments walking along Long Bien Bridge.

You will love every single second of riding around Truc Bach Lake and finding yourself a good coffee spot to sit down and enjoy a hot egg coffee. And when the sun goes down, get yourself to the Main Cathedral, sit on those red stools and join the locals for lemon tea and sunflower seeds.

Hanoi is one of the few places in Vietnam that has four seasons. Because of the characteristics of a humid monsoon tropical country, Hanoi’s climate in the winter and summer is quite harsh. The winter in Hanoi is so cold; sometimes the temperature drops deeply below 10 °C, meanwhile, the summer is very hot, sometimes stormy. According to the experiences of many travellers, you should visit this city in the autumn.

Top 10 places to visit in Vietnam - Mui Ne

Mui Ne is another coastal city to add to your list. Unlike any other beaches, Mui Ne is a paradise for those into extreme water sports. You can do from snorkeling, diving to surfing and parachuting. Riding past miles of white and red stunning sandhills on one side and feeling the ocean breeze blowing from the sea from the other side, you will know why this destination keeps popping up in travel conversations. And of course, live seafood is freshly brought to restaurants from the fishing boats will fulfill your visit.

Mui Ne is not only good for motorbike trips but also the best place across the country for water sports. November to April is the windy season making it perfect for kitesurfing and windsurfing. Other activities such as parasailing, kayaking, and motorboating can also be spotted. Make sure you eat at one of the food stalls set on the beach for an unforgettable dining experience.

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Updated top 6 must-visit cities in Vietnam

good cities to visit in vietnam

The best city in Vietnam to visit in 2024: Which city should be on your travel bucket list? If you are looking for a destination with stunning landscapes, rich history, and diverse culture, Vietnam is the perfect choice for you. This country has many amazing cities that cater to different tastes and interests, from ancient heritage towns to modern metropolises. 

According to the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism, the country received more than 11 million international visitors in the first eleven months of 2023, a 47.7% increase from December 2022 and 3.8 times higher than the same period last year. With such impressive numbers, Vietnam is definitely a place worth visiting. But which city should you choose in 2024? Let us help you decide by introducing you to the best cities in Vietnam to visit for everyone. 

1. Ha Long: Nature's Masterpiece and Coastal Gem Of Vietnam

If you are looking for the best city in Vietnam to visit, then Ha Long is the perfect destination for you. Ha Long is located in Quang Ninh Province, about 160 kilometers away from Hanoi. It is famous for its stunning Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features over 1,600 limestone islands and islets rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin.

Ha Long - The best city in Vietnam to visit with family

Ha Long - The best city in Vietnam to visit with family

Halong Bay is a natural wonder that has been formed over millions of years by the erosion of the sea and the wind. The islands have various shapes and sizes, creating a spectacular scenery that will take your breath away. 

Some of the islands have caves, grottoes, and lakes that you can explore and admire, such as Surprised Cave, Luon Cave, Dau Go Cave, Thien Cung Cave, etc. 

Besides, travelers can also learn about the legend of the bay, which says that a dragon descended from the sky and spat out jewels that turned into the islands to protect the country from invaders.

Halong Bay is not only a place of natural beauty but also a place of cultural heritage

As you can see, Halong Bay is not only a place of natural beauty but also a place of cultural heritage. Humans have inhabited the bay since prehistoric times, and you can find traces of their ancient cultures and civilizations in the archaeological sites, museums, and markets around the bay. 

Furthermore, travelers can experience the modern life of the local fishermen who live in the floating villages and depend on the bay for their livelihood. They are friendly and hospitable, and they will welcome you to their homes and share their stories and traditions with you.

Cua Van - floating villages in Halong Bay

Cua Van - floating villages in Halong Bay

Moreover, this stunning city offers an adventure paradise with lots of fun activities. You can do things like kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, biking, scuba diving, and parasailing. 

What's cool is that you get to pick how you cruise – on a traditional Halong Bay boat , a modern yacht, or a fancy cruise ship. 

Each gives you a different view of the bay. There are also many beaches to chill on, feel the sun, and enjoy the sea breeze. At night, the stars and bioluminescent plankton make the bay magical. So, Halong Bay is more than just a daytime delight. It's incredible at night, too!

What's cool is that you get to pick how you cruise – on a modern yacht or a luxury cruise ship. 

What's cool is that you get to pick how you cruise – on a modern yacht or a luxury cruise ship. 

Ha Long is a city that has developed rapidly in recent years thanks to its tourism potential. The city has a modern transportation system that makes it easy to access from Hanoi and other places. You can take a bus, a train, or a car, or you can fly to the nearby Cat Bi International Airport or Van Don International Airport. 

In terms of Halong Bay weather, the best time to visit Halong Bay is from October to December, when the weather is dry and cool and the visibility is good. However, you can see the bay all year round, as each season has its own charm and beauty.

Read more The Ultimate Halong Bay Cruise Overnight Itinerary: Top Tips and Must-See Sights

2. Ha Noi: The capital of culture, history, and charm in Vietnam

Hanoi is the capital and second-largest city of Vietnam, with a long and fascinating history that goes back to the third century BCE . The city is a significant tourist attraction in Vietnam, with its well-preserved French colonial buildings, religious sites, historical monuments, and museums.

Ha Noi is a significant tourist attraction - the best city in Vietnam to visit

Ha Noi is a significant tourist attraction - the best city in Vietnam to visit

Take a stroll around the serene Hoàn Kiếm Lake, where you can admire the Turtle Tower and the Ngọc Sơn Temple. Dive into the lively atmosphere of the Old Quarter, a maze of narrow streets filled with charming shops, cozy cafes, tasty restaurants, and friendly street vendors.

Is Vietnam safe for tourists ? What do you need to know when visiting this country?

When it comes to food, Hanoi is a culinary paradise. Indulge in local delights like phở, bún chả, bánh mì, and don't miss out on the unique egg coffee. And when the sun sets, experience the vibrant nightlife – from water puppet shows to live music, or simply join the locals for a refreshing glass of bia hơi, the city's affordable and delightful beer.

When it comes to food, Hanoi is a culinary paradise.

When it comes to food, Hanoi is a culinary paradise.

In Hanoi, every corner is a new adventure, and every dish tells a story. This city will capture your heart with its captivating culture, rich history, and undeniable charm. It's not just the best city in Vietnam to visit, it's an experience that will stay with you forever.

3. Ho Chi Minh: The city of energy, innovation, and diversity in Vietnam

Welcome to Ho Chi Minh, also known as Saigon – Vietnam's biggest and most bustling city. This is home to about 9.3 million people as of 2023. Situated in the southeast, it's nestled by the Saigon River and close to the Mekong Delta. HCM is the heart of Vietnam, buzzing with life and drawing millions of visitors each year.

Ho Chi Minh - one of the best cities in Vietnam to visit

Ho Chi Minh - one of the best cities in Vietnam to visit

This must-visit city boasts the Ho Chi Minh Botanical Garden and Zoo, the country's oldest, where rare plants and animals reside in a tranquil setting. For a glimpse into history, you can delve into the Cu Chi Tunnels, an intricate underground network used by the Viet Cong during the war. Indulge your taste buds in the diverse cuisine of Ho Chi Minh, from the iconic banh mi to the comforting pho and flavorful com tam. 

Ho Chi Minh is a city that never sleeps, brimming with energy, innovation, and diversity. With its dynamic atmosphere, this city promises an unforgettable experience that you'll always find intriguing and exciting.

4. Hue: The City of Culture, History, and Romance in Vietnam

Located in central Vietnam, Hue is a city with around 500,000 folks calling it home in 2023. It sits snugly by the Perfume River and hugs the coast of the East Sea. Once the imperial capital of Vietnam, it proudly housed the Nguyen Dynasty, the country's final royal ruler. 

Many travelers confirmed that Hue is the best city in Vietnam to visit in 2023

Many travelers confirmed that Hue is the best city in Vietnam to visit in 2023

Now, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hue boasts loads of historical and cultural gems that shine a light on Vietnam's rich past. From royal tales to cultural wonders, this city is a living testament to the grandeur of Vietnamese civilization.

With a history stretching over a thousand years, Hue is a city that's seen a lot. To soak up its stories, you should head to the Imperial City. It's a mix of palaces, temples, and monuments that once housed the Nguyen emperors. 

Explore further Best Places To Visit In Vietnam With Family In 2024: Adventures Await

From royal tales to cultural wonders, Hue is a living testament to the grandeur of Vietnamese civilization.

From royal tales to cultural wonders, Hue is a living testament to the grandeur of Vietnamese civilization.

Besides, Hue is a beautiful city with lots of cool stuff for visitors. The Perfume River is a lovely spot to chill, and it gets its name from the sweet-smelling flowers that drop into the water in the fall. And make sure to try tasty local food like bun bo hue, com hen, and banh beo. 

Discover the charms of Da Nang, the best city in Vietnam to visit. It's got loads of cool stuff for visitors. And if you're into chilling on the beach, soaking up culture, or having an adventure, Da Nang's got you covered. It's the place to be!

This wonderful place is a lively coastal city known for its beautiful sandy beaches and clear waters, perfect for water sports enthusiasts. While it has temples and government buildings, it's the modern bridges that have really put Da Nang on the world travel map.

Ba Na Hills Golden Bridge - one of the best delightful hot spots in Da Nang 

Ba Na Hills Golden Bridge - one of the best delightful hot spots in Da Nang 

Travelers should discover delightful hot spots in Da Nang, like the Marble Mountains, Ba Na Hills, My Khe Beach, and Hoi An. There are a bunch of luxurious resorts, fancy malls, and lively clubs for your entertainment and accommodation needs.

Sapa, a key tourism hub in northwest Vietnam, boasts breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural diversity, and various ethnic groups. It's a perfect combo of nature and culture, making it a must-visit for nature lovers. 

The highlight? Conquering Mount Fansipan, the Roof of Indochina, offers an incredible adventure. At the summit, explorers find not strange creatures but a stunning world of clouds, mountain ranges, green fields, and a serene pagoda for worship.

Sapa is a key tourism hub in northwest Vietnam.

Sapa is a key tourism hub in northwest Vietnam .

Nestled among mountains and surrounded by lush green terraced rice fields, Sapa provides a refreshing retreat. Strolling through the cool weather in Sapa town is incredibly comfortable and relaxing. This charming town is a definite delight for every tourist to explore.

Exploring the Top 10 Best Places to Visit in North Vietnam

Must-try Activities when Visiting Vietnam

Vietnam is a country with a rich culture, history, and natural beauty. It offers a variety of experiences for travelers who want to explore its diverse landscapes, cuisine, and people. Here are some of the must-try activities when visiting the best city in Vietnam:

1. Cruise the bay

A trip to Halong Bay is at the top of many travelers’ bucket lists, and for good reason. From the majestic limestone karsts, the largest in the world, to the floating villages, cultural heritage, and biodiversity, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this UNESCO World Heritage. 

To truly see it all, the best way to explore Halong Bay is by ship, and the best Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay cruises have quickly made Paradise Vietnam one of the most in-demand cruise operators in the region.

 Paradise Vietnam’s Cruises is one of the most in-demand cruise operators in Ha Long.

 Paradise Vietnam’s Cruises is one of the most in-demand cruise operators in Ha Long.

  • Recommended Itinerary: Paradise Vietnam, 3-day 2-night Halong Bay or 3-day 2-night and Lan Ha.
  • Departures: Year-round 
  • All-Star Amenities: Spacious cabins with private balconies, luxury bedding and toiletries, kayaking and biking activities, cooking classes and tai chi sessions,  four dining options, spa and wellness center,  sunset party, and live music.
  • Luxury cruise options: Paradise Elegance, Paradise Sails, and Paradise Peak cover the Ha Long route, while Paradise Grand sails through Lan Ha Bay.

With a luxury heritage that dates back to 2008, it’s no wonder Paradise Vietnam found its way to Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay. The cruise operator with a keen focus on elegance, comfort and culture, has 4 exquisite ships – Paradise Elegance, Paradise Sails, Paradise Peak, and Paradise Grand – sailing the waters that surround the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each of the ships features a spacious cabin, private balcony, luxury bedding and toiletries, spa and wellness center, as well as a dining option with panoramic views so you never miss a thing. 

Each of the cruises features a spacious cabin, private balcony, luxury bedding, toiletries and more.

Each of the cruises features a spacious cabin, private balcony, luxury bedding, toiletries and more.

A cruise team of Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay experts join each voyage, hosting cooking classes and tai chi sessions about the areas the ships visit and guiding passengers on outings like kayaking trips around the limestone karsts and biking tours through the Viet Hai Village. 

Find more information about Halong Bay River Cruise

Guests learn about the cultural heritage of local communities and focus binoculars to spot monkeys, birds, fish, and more. The Paradise Elegance cruise offers both a 2-day-1-night and a 3-day-2-night itinerary through Halong Bay, while the Paradise Grand ventures through Lan Ha Bay. These itineraries cover the highlights of both bays, including Titov Island, Luon Cave, Tien Ong Cave, Cua Van Fishing Village, Dark and Bright Cave, and Viet Hai Fishing Village.

2. Participating in water sports

Vietnam has a long coastline that stretches over 3,000 kilometers, as well as many rivers, lakes, and islands. This makes it an ideal destination for water sports enthusiasts.

In Vietnam's clear waters, you can have fun with various water sports like surfing, kite surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, and diving. Top-notch locations for these activities include Halong Bay, Nha Trang, and Da Nang. Additionally, travelers can opt for a cruise tour to discover the picturesque landscapes and marine wonders of Vietnam.

3. Hiking and Rock Climbing

If you are looking for some physical challenges and outdoor adventures, you can try hiking and rock climbing in Vietnam. Vietnam has many mountains, hills, and forests that offer stunning views and trails for hikers and climbers of all levels. 

Whether you fancy scaling the limestone cliffs of Cat Ba Island or exploring the karst formations in Ha Long Bay, there's something for everyone. For hiking enthusiasts, the Fansipan Peak awaits, standing as the tallest mountain in Indochina. Alternatively, you can embark on a trek to the Ban Gioc waterfall, which happens to be the largest waterfall in Vietnam. 

4. Adventure and Outdoor Activities

Vietnam is an excellent place for adventure and outdoor fun. There's a lot to try, like zip-lining, bungee jumping, paragliding, rafting, cycling, and motorbiking. You can feel the excitement of zip-lining over the Chay River or sand sliding in Quang Binh.

Moreover, travelers can try paragliding above the Muong Hoa Valley or rafting down the Da River. If you prefer cycling, explore the Ho Chi Minh Trail or take a motorbike ride across the Hai Van Pass. 

Tips for Tourists When Visiting Vietnam

  • Sort out your visa

Check the visa requirements and procedures on the official website of the Vietnam Immigration Department and apply for an e-visa, a visa on arrival, or a visa in advance.

  • Don’t underestimate the size of the country

Vietnam is a long and narrow country, and traveling between regions can take a lot of time and money. Therefore, you should plan your itinerary carefully and choose the destinations that suit your interests and budget. 

  • Be smart about your itinerary

Our country has a lot to offer, from the stunning landscapes of Halong Bay and Sapa, to the charming towns of Hoi An and Hue, to the vibrant cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. However, you don’t have to see everything in one trip, as that can be exhausting and overwhelming. Focus on the places that interest you the most, and spend enough time to enjoy them fully. 

  • Prepare for the weather

Vietnam has a tropical climate, with hot and humid summers and mild and dry winters. However, the weather can vary a lot depending on the region and the season. 

Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you travel, and pack accordingly. Besides, you should bring a raincoat or an umbrella, as well as sunscreen and insect repellent, to protect yourself from the elements.

  • Respect the culture and etiquette

Vietnam is a country with a rich and diverse culture, influenced by various ethnic groups, religions, and historical periods. You should respect the local customs and traditions and avoid any actions that might offend or upset the Vietnamese people. 

Some of the basic etiquette rules are:

  • Take your shoes off when you enter someone’s house or a temple.
  • Wear modest clothing and remove your shoes and hat when visiting temples.
  • Greet someone with a handshake or a slight bow, and address them by their title and surname.
  • Use chopsticks or a spoon when eating, and avoid sticking your chopsticks upright in your bowl.
  • Be polite and friendly when bargaining, and avoid using your index finger to point at something.

So, that's it! Where will you go? Vietnam has many incredible cities to explore in 2024, each with its unique charm. Pick one that suits your taste, or visit a few to see the diverse beauty of the country. For a smooth trip, check out Paradise Vietnam , a leading luxury cruise and hotel firm that can help you plan your amazing trip. Just visit their website or reach out via email or phone. Wishing you a fantastic and memorable journey!

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The 15 best things you can do in Vietnam in 2024

Joe Bindloss

Feb 29, 2024 • 12 min read

good cities to visit in vietnam

Taking a cruise along the Mekong Delta is an incredible experience not to be missed © Cultura Exclusive / Rosanna U / Getty Images

The siren song of Vietnam has brought many travelers to its shores in search of incredible landscapes, pearl-white beaches , chaotic and vibrant cities, and one of the warmest welcomes in the world.

The tough decision for travelers isn't whether they should visit Vietnam, it's how they choose what to do with so many incredible options. Do you start in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)? Do you swap the big city experience for the beaches and seafood suppers of Phu Quoc island? Do you dive headlong into the history of a dozen rival empires, or embrace the dynamic, modern Vietnam that has emerged from the aftermath of conflict?

No matter what you want your vacation to look like, accept that you'll never cover everything in one trip and embrace it as a reason to return. Here are 15 incredible things to do that need to be on your Vietnam to-do list.

1. Embrace past and future Vietnam in historic Hanoi

The vibrant capital of the former North Vietnam – and today the capital of the nation – Hanoi is where old and new Vietnam come together. Traces of the imperial past float like ghosts in a city surging skywards – hawkers drift through the narrow lanes of the Old Quarter selling snacks from traditional yoke baskets, while the surrounding buildings are lit up with advertising displays and strip lights.

Exploring at street level is highly atmospheric and fantastic fun – mix up days visiting wartime and imperial relics with evenings feasting on some of Asia’s finest food and late nights dousing the sticky summer heat with glasses of bia hoi (local draught beer).

Planning tip: As they say, Hanoi rocks, and the best places to rock out like a local are lively live music venues such as the moody Binh Minh Jazz Club and keep-it-loud Hanoi Rock City .

2. Find your own island in the sun in Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay

Okay, we concede that Halong Bay – the atmospheric sprawl of rocky coves and eroded karst islands to the east of Hanoi – is firmly discovered, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to discover away from the cruise ship crowds. If a tour on a diesel-powered luxury junk doesn’t appeal, consider hiring a kayak to potter around Lan Ha Bay near Cat Ba Island , where outcrops sculpted by wind and waves emerge from the water like the teeth of sea monsters.

Alternatively, leave the diesel fumes behind in calmer Bai Tu Long Bay to the north, where more jungle-capped islands shelter low-key resorts and languorous beaches.

High angle close up of a bowl of bun bo hue, or beef noodle soup.

3. Get your fill of imperial cuisine in handsome Hue

Vietnam’s Nguyen Dynasty held court in Hue until 1945, and the city’s damaged but still impressive historic relics feel somehow closer to imperial China than to the rest of Southeast Asia. However, for many travelers, it’s all about the food. More than half of Vietnam's estimated 3000 local dishes are believed to have originated in Hue, from the vermicelli-noodle-based bun bo Hue and crispy banh khoai pancakes topped with shrimp and pork to canapé-like, soft-and-crunchy banh ram it dumplings. The lavish imperial cuisine known as am thuc cung dinh – created by the emperors’ loyal chefs – can still be sampled in some of Hue's top restaurants, such as Thin Gia Vien and Hoang Phu .

Planning tip: Don’t restrict yourself to posh imperial banquets; for less than 100,000 dong you can gorge on tasty Hue staples at busy stalwart restaurants such as Madam Thu or at food stalls on the streets.

4. Meet Vietnam’s imperial leaders in the Hue tombs

Hue gets a second spot on the list thanks to the astounding imperial tombs, which preserve the mortal remains of a string of Nguyen emperors and empresses, from dynasty-founding Gia Long to Khai Dinh , the last Nguyen emperor to be buried on Vietnamese soil (his son, Bao Dai, the final emperor of Vietnam, was interred in the Cimetière de Passy in Paris ).

While crowds mob the Citadel and Imperial Enclosure, you can still find peaceful moments for contemplation by skipping the boat tours and renting a motorcycle to visit the extravagant mausoleums along the Perfume River. Don’t miss the towering  Thien Mu pagoda , looming over the north bank on the city fringes.

Detour: Equipped with two wheels, you can also buzz north from Hue to enjoy unspoiled dune beaches on the sandy barrier island stretching north and south from Thuan An.

5. Learn to make soups, stir-fries and salads on a cooking course

There’s no better souvenir to bring home from Vietnam than being able to prepare your own Vietnamese feast. Indeed, Vietnamese food arguably has a bigger dinner-party cachet than more familiar Thai cuisine.

Up and down the country, you’ll find cooking courses that start with a fragrant market trip to buy fresh ingredients and local herbs and end with a banquet of the dishes you’ve prepared, covering everything from summer rolls to pho noodle soup.

Hoi An is the most popular destination for aspiring chefs – small and personal Green Bamboo Cooking School is highly recommended. There are also good cooking schools in Hue, Hanoi and HCMC.

A woman approaches a ruin surrounded by jungle

6. Unravel Vietnam’s complex religious history in My Son

While travelers mob the regal assembly halls, pagodas and historic homes of Hoi An, nearby My Son offers a calmer vision of Vietnam’s rich and layered past – particularly if you come in the afternoon. The big lure here is the atmospheric collection of UNESCO-listed Hindu temple ruins surrounded by jungle in a loop of the sacred Thu Bon river.

Sharing many architectural features with the Khmer temples of Cambodia and Thailand , these crumbling, red-brick shrines were built between the 4th and 14th centuries by the Hindu kingdom of Champa, whose descendants – the Cham people – can still be found in pockets in central Vietnam. With only birdsong to disrupt the quiet, the site scores highly for atmosphere as well as history,

Detour: If you use Hoi An as a base for exploring My Son, set aside a day to explore the nearby Cham Islands , an impressive marine reserve whose granite islands are still inhabited by Cham people, most now followers of Islam.

Explore My Son effortlessly with GetYourGuide.  Book your tour today .

7. Visit the Cao Dai Holy See in Tay Ninh

One of the world’s youngest faiths, the Cao Dai religion was founded in the Mekong Delta town of Tay Ninh in 1926, fusing elements of ancestor worship, folk religions, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Roman Catholicism, with the ultimate goal of freeing the soul from the endless cycle of reincarnation.

To explore its complex customs, head to the cathedral-like Cao Dai Holy See in Tay Ninh. Inside, you’ll see weapon-toting statues, an all-seeing eye, and even a Communist-looking red star – the sect reveres, amongst other figures, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Mohammed and even French novelist Victor Hugo.

Planning tip: Visitors can enter the shrine to witness prayers four times a day; if you have time to kill before or after a visit, detour 15km (9.3 miles) northeast to Nui Ba Den mountain. You can take a gondola then hike to reach its summit cave temples, then whoosh back downhill on a luge-style slide.

Dense, crowed scene of city traffic in rush hour, crowd of people wear helmet, transport by motorcycle,

8. Rumble through the highlands by motorcycle

Vietnam largely moves on two wheels, and a motorcycle is by far the most enjoyable way to explore the hill country of the northwest , even if it takes some courage to adjust to the driving conditions, the errant livestock, and the steep, winding roads. Rent a quality bike in Hanoi and pop your wheels on the train to Lao Cai, to avoid the nerve-jangling ride out of the capital.

Once you reach the heart of the hill country, you can rumble out to outlying villages far from the tourist crowds for epic views and nights in charming homestays run by members of Vietnam’s tribal minorities.

Planning tip: You’ll need an international driving permit to ride legally in Vietnam, and this is only available for some nationalities. Many travelers manage to rent a motorcycle without a permit, but if things go wrong, you won’t be covered by your travel insurance.

9. See the American War through Vietnamese eyes

Modern-day Vietnam is moving on from conflict, but the battlefields from the American War still linger as a sobering reminder of what people had to go through to get to this point. Sites of American losses such as Hamburger Hill in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) are etched into the popular consciousness, but the wartime tunnels at Cu Chi near HCMC and Vinh Moc near Hue offer a glimpse of the Vietnamese experience, as ordinary people went to extraordinary lengths to resist the world’s greatest superpower.

10. Visit villages in the "Asian Alps"

The former French Hill station of Sapa is surrounded by mountains so impressive that French colonizers called them the “Tonkinese Alps,” and the surrounding villages of the H'Mong and Dao ethnic minorities have become popular destinations for hikers – and somewhat commercialized in the process.

For a taste of the scenic serenity that first drew travelers to these lush green hills, head instead to drier, calmer Bac Ha , or the trails and mountain roads around Ha Giang province, tucked against the border with China and seemingly sculpted by the hands of the gods. Stay in hospitable homestays and explore markets, peaceful stilt-house villages, French-era relics and soaring limestone pinnacles, away from the maddening crowds.

Planning tip: There's a lot of competition for the title of best vista in Vietnam but the lookouts gazing over the Dong Van Karst Plateau are strong contenders. The area is designated as a UNESCO Geopark, and the trip from Yen Minh to Dong Van and over the Mai Pi Leng Pass to Meo Vac is particularly spectacular.

11. Find a perfect cup of coffee in the Central Highlands

It was the French colonizers who brought coffee from the Arabian peninsula to Vietnam, but it was the farmers of the Southwest Highlands who mastered the art of coaxing quality beans from these undulating hills. Rising to 1600m (5250ft), Dak Lak Province provides the perfect terroir for growing robusta beans, and the regional capital of Buon Ma Thuot is a great place to tour plantations and track down a quality cup of ca phe , particularly during the annual coffee festival in March. If you insist on arabica beans, head to Dalat and visit the community K'Ho Coffee cooperative, supporting local coffee growers from the K’Ho minority.

Planning tip: The best time to visit coffee country is from September to the end of December when the harvest season is in full swing and plantations are filled with baskets of red beans.

Transform your visit the Central Highlands by  booking with GetYourGuide.

Man at the cave entrance in Son Doong Cave, the largest cave in the world in UNESCO World Heritage Site Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

12. Enter the world’s largest cave in Phong Nha

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in north central Vietnam is a lost world of jungles and caverns, including the world’s largest, Hang Son Doong. The scale of this wonder of nature is simply mind-blowing – a 747 airplane could fly through the cave’s main tunnel.

Parts of the limestone ceiling have collapsed, bringing in natural sunlight, so Hang Son Doong contains an entire rainforest ecosystem with flying foxes, rare langurs, and even a small population of tigers. Since 2012, one tour company – Oxalis Adventure – has been allowed to take a strictly limited number of visitors into Hang Son Doong on challenging four-day treks; the price is stratospheric but so is the scenery.

13. Walk with the ghosts of French Indochina in Ho Chi Minh City

The former capital of South Vietnam may have changed its name from Saigon to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) , but the past remains close to the surface, from the American War relics in the HCMC Museum and War Remnants Museum to the city’s elegant French-built mansions and civic buildings – many now housing museums, restaurants and boutique hotels.

To get a feel for vintage Saigon, stop for a cup of ca phe sua (milk coffee) at the elegant Hotel Continental Saigon , sample cutting-edge French cuisine at La Villa , and take a stroll past the Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the People’s Committee Building – built as HCMC’s Hôtel de Ville but rebranded as the Vietnamese sent the colonizers packing.

Planning tip: To fully appreciate the marvelous, lip-tingling variety of HCMC street food, join a foodie-focused scooter tour with Saigon Street Eats .

Explore Ho Chi Minh City effortlessly with GetYourGuide.  Book your tour today .

14. Bask on beautiful beaches

It was the beaches of Phu Quoc Island and Danang – developed as a playground for GIs during the American War – that put Vietnam on the map for seaside vacations, but both have developed into lively resorts. To find unspoiled stretches of sand, modern-day castaways aim their sights at the kitesurfing beaches around Mui Ne , the island sands of the Con Dao archipelago and long, languorous Hong Van Beach on Co To Island in Bai Tu Long Bay .

Planning tip: The best time for a beach trip varies as you move around the country. In central Vietnam, skies are brightest from January to August, while December to April is the beach window on the south coast, and northern Vietnam sees plenty of dry days from October to April.

15. Float on the Mekong Delta

Reaching out into the East Sea like an enormous hand, the mighty Mekong Delta marks the end point of Southeast Asia’s longest river – a 4350km (2700 mile) monster, rising on the Tibetan plateau and emptying to the south of Ho Chi Minh City. This waterlogged wonderland is Vietnam’s rice bowl, nurturing a network of sleepy towns and stilt villages whose residents use the river as their primary artery for life and trade.

For comfortable exploring, book an overnight cruise along the main channel near Can Tho or a cross-border trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia. For a less commercial experience, take a day trip to the backwaters near Ben Tre with Mango Cruises or make your own arrangements with boat owners in Delta villages.

This article was first published September 2021 and updated February 2024

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The 15 Best Places to Visit in Vietnam

Vietnam is a stunningly beautiful and diverse country with an amazing landscape, lovely people, and delectable cuisine. It’s truly one of the most amazing countries in the world. If it’s not yet on your bucket list, it should be. But with so much to explore, deciding where to go in Vietnam can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time visiting.

Vietnam offers something for every taste – from trekking in the rugged rice terraces of northern Vietnam to lounging on stunning white sand beaches in the south. Whether you choose to explore Vietnam’s history, delve deeper into its expansive food scene, or just get lost in the winding alleys and never-ending motorbike traffic, you’re sure to find plenty to do in Vietnam.

Having lived in Ho Chi Minh City for two years and traveled the country extensively, we have compiled a list of the best places to visit in Vietnam.

Starting in the north and working your way south, you can explore all of these amazing Vietnamese destinations. Be prepared to fall in love with Vietnam just like we have!

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Places to Visit in Vietnam !

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

How Long to Spend in Vietnam

Vietnam is a surprisingly large country with a lot of amazing places to visit and fun things to do. We recommend spending at least a month in Vietnam, which gives you time to explore a bit of northern Vietnam (Hanoi, Sapa, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay), central Vietnam (Hue, Danang, and Hoi An), and southern Vietnam (Saigon, Dalat, Mui Ne, the Mekong Delta, and Phu Quoc).

Of course, we realize that many people don’t have the flexibility to spend an entire month traveling, which is why we put together an awesome 2-week Vietnam itinerary for all of our friends and family that have visited while we have been living here. It focuses on north and central Vietnam, which is what most visitors to Vietnam seem to prefer for their first trip.

Visa Requirements for Vietnam

Vietnam Visa on Arrival Process

Unlike neighboring Thailand and Cambodia , most visitors can’t simply arrive in Vietnam and get stamped into the country. You’ve got a bit more work ahead of you. Even US Citizens will need a visa for Vietnam .

The two most common visa options for tourists are the eVisa and the Visa on Arrival, both of which require approval before your arrival in Vietnam.

If you’re planning to visit Vietnam for 30 days or less and do not require a multiple-entry visa, then we recommend the eVisa. If your trip is longer than 30 days or if you need to exit and re-enter Vietnam for any reason, then your only option is the Visa on Arrival.

Steps for Obtaining a 30-Day Single-Entry eVisa

  • Visit this website:  https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/trang-chu-ttdt . This is the only official government website. All others only look official but are run by tourist agencies.
  • Upload your passport data page image and a passport photo (straight looking without glasses).
  • Pay the $25 USD fee by credit card.
  • You will be emailed a registration code which you can use to check the status of your eVisa .
  • Wait 3 working days for processing.
  • Once approved, print your e-visa, and remember to pack it in your carry-on luggage!

Steps to Obtaining a multi-entry 30-day or 90-day Visa on Arrival

  • Find an online service like Vietnam Visa Pro or one of the countless other options.
  • Complete the visa application.
  • Pay the fee.
  • Wait 2 working days (usually less) for the letter of approval.
  • Print the approval letter.
  • Get passport photos taken if you don’t have them already. If you forget this step, you can get them taken at the airport for an inflated charge of ~$5 per photo (but it’s best not to rely on this option).
  • Pack your approval letter, passport photos, and cash. Make sure they are all in your carry-on/hand luggage!
  • At the airport, you’ll pay a stamping fee – either $25 or $50, depending on the length of visa you’re applying for (see below). Be sure to bring US Dollars in reasonably good condition – bills with no rips or writing.

You can find more information about the Vietnam visa process in our must-read post on Vietnam Travel Tips .

Getting Around Vietnam

Vietnam is a large and rather long country which can make getting from the northern end to the southern end of the country quite daunting. We often find that traveling between major cities such as Saigon, Danang, and Hanoi is best done by airplane.

VietJet is a very affordable budget carrier with hundreds of low-cost flights throughout Vietnam. However, our experience has been that the flights are often delayed – sometimes for several hours. You’ll also need to pay for any checked luggage on VietJet, and if you’re checking more than one bag it can get quite expensive.

Vietnam Airlines is a bit more expensive, but you’ll have two checked bags included in the price of your ticket, and you’re much more likely to arrive at your next destination on time.

We always use Skyscanner.com to check flight prices when we travel – it’s our favorite comparison search engine.

Check Flight Prices on Skyscanner

When traveling between smaller towns and cities in Vietnam, you’ll need to travel by bus or minivan. There are plenty of luxury bus companies that will get you where you are going on time and in comfort. Unfortunately, there are also a number of less reputable bus companies that will claim to provide comparable service but then fail to deliver.

The biggest challenge when traveling in Vietnam is finding a travel agent who you can trust. We prefer to book our bus, train, and ferry tickets online through Bookaway Vietnam . They sell tickets for over 200 routes in Vietnam and have a website that makes it really easy to compare all the transportation options to your next destination in Vietnam (and other Southeast Asian countries).

Bookaway also offers 24/7 support via phone or chat, and you can even cancel your booking for free up to 48 hours before departure!

Weather in Vietnam

Clouds Roll Over Fansipan Peak in Sapa, Vietnam

Vietnam has quite a diverse climate, depending on which region you choose to visit. But overall, the country has a mild tropical or subtropical climate. Hot, humid, and occasionally rainy, be sure to bring an umbrella, especially if you visit from July to November.

Northern Vietnam has four seasons, and during the winter months (December – February), it can get down to 40° F or even colder in the mountains. And the summer months (June – August) are quite hot, in the 90° F range. The autumn time sees a bit of rain which can make a trip to Sapa quite a muddy experience.

Central Vietnam has warm temperatures year-round, and in the summer months (June – August), it can be almost unbearably hot. The weather from November to April is a bit cooler and drier. And southern Vietnam has a wet season (May – October) and a dry season (November – April).

Money in Vietnam

Vietnam Currency: Dong (VND)

The currency in Vietnam is the Dong (VND). At the time of writing (August of 2018), the conversation rate was about 23,305 VND to $1 USD. So if we say that something costs 50,000 VND, that’s just about $2 USD.

Vietnam is a cash-driven country, and it’s rare to find restaurants, bars, or shops that take Visas. Most ATMs will only let you take out a maximum of 3,000,000 VND (~$130 USD), and many will only give you 2,000,000 VND (~$85 USD) at a time. You’ll be charged a 3% transaction fee each time you use one.

Be sure to check with your bank prior to departing to ensure that they refund international ATM charges. And that they don’t charge their own international fees.

We love the Charles Schwab debit card that offers zero international fees and refunds all of your ATM fees. And the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is best for earning points.

We use the Chase card for booking hotels and tours and our Charles Schwab card for getting money out of the ATM.

Best Places to Go in Vietnam: Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and is the second-largest city in terms of population (Ho Chi Minh City is number one). It is the jumping-off point to visit the beautiful surrounding areas of Sapa, Halong Bay, and Ninh Binh, but it’s worth spending a few days in this bustling city as well.

One of the highlights of Hanoi is its cuisine . You can eat what is possibly the best bun cha in all of Vietnam at the same restaurant where Anthony Bourdain and Barack Obama dined together. And you can try another local delicacy – snake !

Hanoi is a big city but it’s also full of charm. Hoàn Kiếm Lake sits in the center of the Old Quarter, and it’s an idyllic place for an afternoon stroll. There are parks and local markets to explore, as well as plenty of tourist hot spots.

During your time in Hanoi, you absolutely must see the “Hanoi Hilton,” where John McCain was held prisoner after his plane was shot down during the war. And the Temple of Literature is both beautiful and peaceful – it’s ideal to visit in the early morning. Read all about our other favorite things to do in Hanoi here!

Vietnam Highlights: Sapa

The Sapa region (sometimes spelled Sa Pa) is home to several minority groups who earn a living through farming and tourism. The town is perched high on a hill, and the views of the Muong Hoa Valley below are quite incredible. Lush green rice terraces stretch across the landscape as far as the eye can see.

Most people travel to Sapa to go trekking through the remote villages. But there is so much more to see and do here than most people realize. You can take a cable car ride up to the top of Fansipan Mountain. At over 10,000 feet, it is the highest mountain in the Indochinese Peninsula. You can also do a self-guided (downhill) trek to the Cat Cat tourist village. Then, catch a motorbike taxi back up.

The shopping in Sapa is amazing and you should definitely purchase some of the colorful handmade textiles. And if you really want to treat yourself, consider booking a few nights at the Topas Ecolodge , where you can gaze out at the rice paddies while lounging in the pristine infinity pool. 

Sapa is one of our favorite places to visit in Vietnam and should definitely rank high on your list of things to see during your trip. Read all about what to do in Sapa and how to choose a trekking guide !

3. Halong Bay

Vietnam Highlights: Halong Bay

Halong Bay is one of the most picturesque (and touristy) areas in Vietnam. In fact, many travelers have Halong Bay at the very top of their list of places to visit in Vietnam. Cruising on a liveaboard boat through the limestone cliffs of Halong Bay is definitely an experience that you won’t soon forget.

Choosing the best Halong Bay Cruise can be difficult. While there are dozens of boats to choose from, most of the cruises offer a similar itinerary. The difference is in the quality of meals and onboard accommodation. In Halong Bay, you’ll find everything from floating hostels that cater to those on a backpacker budget to luxurious 5-star cruises.

Since Halong Bay has such a unique landscape and there are few places like it in the world, we recommend splurging on a luxury cruise experience where you’ll be treated like royalty. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

4. Lan Ha Bay

If you want to have the Halong Bay experience but without the crowds, consider booking a cruise around Lan Ha Bay instead. The scenery of Lan Ha Bay is quite similar to Halong Bay, with stunning limestone cliffs rising out of the water, but it’s not as popular with tourists (yet).

There are many luxury cruise boats in Lan Ha Bay to choose from, and you’ll love that the daily excursions are more personalized than the activities around Halong Bay. Lan Ha Bay is also a bit further from the mainland, so you’ll spend a bit more time cruising on the boat. Because of this, we recommend a 2-day/3-night cruise.

If you’re looking for a relaxing cruise where you can sip wine at sunset on your own balcony while gazing out at the beautiful landscape, a trip to Lan Ha Bay is for you!

5. Ninh Binh

Vietnam Highlights: Ninh Binh

This beautiful region, just two hours south of Hanoi, is full of lush green rice paddies in the shadow of massive towering limestone cliffs. Life moves a bit slower here. The people are friendlier. Traffic jams generally involve herds of goats rather than cars. You’ll feel all around happier, relaxed, and more at peace.

You’ll want to rent a motorbike in Ninh Binh since it’s the easiest way to get around. You can hike up to the Mua Caves, where the view of the landscape below is absolutely breathtaking. And you can enjoy the scenery from the water on a slow boat ride. The countryside surrounding Ninh Binh is also full of countless picturesque temples and pagodas.

Many people condense their time in Ninh Binh to only a day trip. But we’d recommend spending at least three nights here if you have the time to spare. The region of Ninh Binh tops the list of our favorite places to visit in Vietnam. You definitely shouldn’t miss it!

Read all about where to stay, where to eat, and what to do in the stunning region of Ninh Binh !

6. Phong Nha

Vietnam Highlights: Phong Nha

One of the most unique places to visit in Vietnam is the Phong Nha region. It is famous for its massive national park – Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, it is home to the oldest karst mountains in Asia. There are hundreds of massive, complex cave systems as well.

Phong Nha Cave, Paradise Cave, and Black Cave are the most popular and easily accessible caves in the area. You can visit all three on your own – no need to hire a tour guide.

Phong Nha is a bit off the typical tourist track, so it’s a little more difficult to get to and much less crowded than some of Vietnam’s other top destinations.

If you enjoy adventurous cave explorations, then you should definitely add Phong Nha to your Vietnam bucket list!

Vietnam Highlights: Hue

History buffs will love the Imperial City of Hue. It was the seat of Nguyễn Dynasty emperors from 1802 to 1945. There is also a beautiful walled complex to explore. Hue has so much history to learn about and gain a greater understanding of the history of Vietnam.

Hue was also right in the center of the clash of northern and southern Vietnam during the American War (or Vietnam War as you may know it), so many of the sites have had to be reconstructed. The longest and bloodiest battle took place here, but thankfully many of the historical sites remain intact.

If Hue is on your Vietnam travel itinerary, read all about what to do while visiting !

Best Places to Go in Vietnam: Golden Bridge, Da Nang

The city of Da Nang (also known as Danang) is full of lavish beachfront resorts and is the perfect place if you’re looking to get a little rest and relaxation. Da Nang is getting more and more visitors of late with the construction of the Golden Bridge – a giant bridge that appears to be held up by two hands .

It’s also the southern gateway to the spectacular drive over the Hai Van Pass . But there is so much more to see and do in this busy city, so plan on spending a few days here during your trip. You can hike through the Marble Mountains, see a dragon bridge breathe fire, sample the delectable cuisine, or just lounge on the beach.

Read all about what to do and where to stay during your trip to Da Nang !

Vietnam Highlights: Hoi An

Hoi An is a darling little touristy town in central Vietnam that is a must-visit during your trip! The pedestrian-friendly downtown area is famous for the beautiful yellow French colonial-style buildings that line the streets.

Plus, it’s full of cute boutiques, quaint coffee shops, and delicious restaurants. In the evenings, the riverfront comes alive with vibrantly colored lanterns and a lively night market.

The most popular activities in Hoi An include taking a cooking class, biking through the countryside, going on a photography tour , getting a dress or suit tailored, taking a day trip to visit the nearby My Son ruins, and shopping! Hoi An also has amazing dishes that are delicious and difficult (even impossible) to find in other cities around Vietnam. You must try them all!

Hoi An is one of our favorite cities in Vietnam and is not to be missed during your trip. It’s our favorite place to take friends and family when they visit from out of town. Read all about what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in Hoi An !

10. An Bang Beach

When you get tired of the crowded, touristy Old Town, make the 10-minute drive to the neighboring An Bang Beach. Here you’ll find a peaceful sandy beach and quaint local restaurants and bars. Plus, there are several beach clubs where you can use the pool for the day for a nominal fee. It’s good if you’re looking for a change of scenery.

When we visit Hoi An, we always choose to stay in An Bang Beach. Then, we just make the 10-minute Grab ride into Hoi An every evening for dinner and night market shopping. We love that An Bang has far fewer tourists and some amazing beachfront resorts with pristine pools at reasonable prices.

Even if you decide to stay in Hoi An, you’ll want to take a day trip to An Bang. There, you can enjoy the beach during your trip! Check out our complete guide to An Bang Beach , which includes our favorite resorts, restaurants, and bars.

Mui Ne is a little beach town that is incredibly popular with windsurfers and kiteboarders. It has perfect windy conditions and a sandy beach break. Even if you aren’t into water sports, Mui Ne boasts a beautiful sandy beach and nearby sand dunes. Here, you can enjoy the sunrise, take a lovely hike through a stream, and explore ancient ruins.

Mui Ne is the perfect place for a relaxing beach getaway during your vacation in Vietnam!

12. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Best Places to Go in Vietnam: Central Post Office, Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon (officially “Ho Chi Minh City”) is a bustling metropolitan city in the south of Vietnam. It has an amazing food scene , it is a popular place for westerners to open up craft breweries, and there are diverse neighborhoods to explore.

Ho Chi Minh City, or HCMC as it’s often called, has a large international airport. It’s often a jumping-off point to explore other areas of the country. You can easily see the highlights of the city in just a few days, so there’s no need to spend a lot of time here.

There are several tourist attractions in HCMC, including the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum. But we would argue that the best things to do in Saigon involve coffee, food, beer, and shopping ! We visited the top craft breweries and the best coffee shops in HCMC. We compiled our thoughts on the ambiance and options at each. Enjoy drinking your way through this big, busy city!

13. The Mekong Delta

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta is an area in southern Vietnam that covers over 15,000 square miles. It is where the many rivers provide ideal farming conditions. Many of the fruits and vegetables that are sold in markets around Vietnam come from the Mekong Delta.

Tourists love to visit the Delta to see the famous floating markets where the locals buy and sell fresh produce. You can also take a rowboat ride through the winding river canals. Most people visit the Mekong Delta on a day trip. But since it’s one of the best places to visit in Vietnam, it’s definitely worth spending a few days here!

The city of Dalat is located in southern Vietnam’s central highlands. It’s the perfect place to visit if you’re craving cooler temperatures and outdoor activities. If you’ve spent a bit of time in the concrete jungle that is Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll find Dalat to be a breath of fresh air (literally).

Dalat is home to Vietnamese wine (it’s terrible, take our word for it), Dalat donuts, avocado ice cream, and other yummy culinary concoctions. These are difficult to find anywhere else in the country. It’s also where you’ll find beautiful lakes, waterfalls, and gardens. Even though the weather in Dalat is typically colder than in other parts of southern Vietnam, you’ll want to spend most of your vacation enjoying the great outdoors.

Check out our list of the best things to see and do in Dalat to help plan your trip!

15. Phu Quoc

Best Things to do in Vietnam: Phu Quoc (Sunset at Mango Bay)

Phu Quoc is an island off the southern coast of Vietnam (well, technically, it’s off the coast of Cambodia). It is the place to go if you want to visit a tropical paradise during your vacation. Even though Vietnam has a huge amount of coastline, many of the beaches actually aren’t ideal for a relaxing getaway. But that’s not the case in Phu Quoc.

Here you’ll find white sandy beaches, ideal diving and snorkeling conditions, yummy seafood, and some fun activities to keep you busy. Rent a motorbike and cruise around the island, stopping along the way to explore the temples and enjoy an iced coffee on the beach.

And if you want to pamper yourself during your trip to Vietnam, Phu Quoc has some truly amazing hotels and resorts to splurge on! And since they have an airport on the island, it’s easy and cheap to book a plane ticket from HCMC.

That’s it – the best places to visit in Vietnam! Where is your favorite Vietnam destination? Let us know in the comments below.

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Vietnam: Best Places To Visit & Things To See

About the Author:

Valerie Wheatley

Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag. Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her! These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

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12 best places to visit in Vietnam on your next trip

Enjoy hanoi and halong bay — then step beyond the tourist trail to find more magic in the highlands, islands, history and culture of this captivating nation.

W ith 99 million souls and a coastline that wrinkles 2,000 miles along the country from north to south, there are plenty of people to meet and a lot to see, do and eat in Vietnam. I first visited in 2004 and have returned many times since. It’s easy to follow the tourist trail of historic Hanoi, ethereal Halong Bay, shopping emporium Hoi An and buzzy Ho Chi Minh City, but push a little further and you’ll be rewarded with some dazzling and memorable experiences.

Mine have been when I’ve gone the extra mile, quite literally: a magical three-day cruise to the outer battlements of Halong Bay; a thrilling motorbike trip through the sugarloaf peaks and beyond in remote mountainous Ha Giang; meeting the last wild elephant catcher in Yok Don National Park. Taking in the elaborate mausoleums and sites of Vietnam’s last imperial dynasty deepened my understanding; sighting the endemic, critically endangered Cat Ba langur on Cat Ba island was exciting; and I loved exploring the history, food and pristine beaches of Con Dao island. And of course the irresistible, fragrant food, delicious coffee, craft cocktails and beer will lead you everywhere.

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If you only have . . .

One week Hanoi, a boat trip to Halong Bay and the rice fields of the Mai Chau Valley

Two weeks After Hanoi, Halong Bay and Mai Chau, hop on trains and domestic flights to visit imperial Hue, the DMZ, the ruins of My Son, gorgeous Hoi An and energetic Ho Chi Minh City


Three weeks Take in Ha Giang in the far north, Dalat in the Central Highlands or the caves of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a beach break, and a boat trip along the Mekong Delta or a couple of days on remote Con Dao island

A tight budget Balance domestic flights with long-distance train journeys and Vietnam’s excellent network of hop-on hop-off “open tickets” on air-conditioned minibuses

Street food vendors in the night markets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter

Hanoi is noisy, traffic-choked and beautiful all at once. The thousand-year-old city of lakes, founded on a bend of the Red River, is full of history, charm, museums, shops, markets and wonderful street food. Don’t miss the Old Quarter, the heart of the city, where you’ll find lots of food, hotels and temples cheek-by-jowl with shops. Learn how to dodge the motorbikes while on a street-food tour or exploring the ochre-hued French colonial villas, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, the “Hanoi Hilton” prison museum of Hoa Lo and the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology.

Make it happen

The Sofitel Legend Metropole is where Graham Greene stayed in 1951 while working for Paris Match . It’s the city’s top address and is elegant throughout

Exodus’ 14-day Vietnam Adventure takes in two full days in Hanoi with a comprehensive city tour

2. Ha Giang

Children in Ha Giang province

Ha Giang is Vietnam ’s northernmost region, pushing up against the border with China. It’s an otherworldly landscape of sugarloaf peaks, mountain passes and rice paddies carved into impossibly steep mountains. Find villages of Red Dzao, Flower Hmong and other local minorities, markets, eco-stays and a window into a rural world of timeless traditions such as weaving. Don’t miss the palace of the Hmong king who raked in revenue from opium farming. En route, stop at the dazzling rice paddy region of Mu Cang Chai.

Panhou Retreat, up in the mountains, is a peaceful nature resort with bungalows dotted amid the trees, a spa, and hot springs

Inside Asia’s 11-day Vietnam’s Northern Soul is an in-depth exploration of the region taking in trekking, rice paddies, tea terraces, markets and visits to remote villages


3. Pu Luong and Mai Chau

A visitor takes a photo in the terraces of Pu Luong

Not too far from Hanoi are these idyllic retreats found amid neon-green rice paddies. At Pu Luong nature reserve, with its homestays and eco-retreats, trek past the paddies and orchards of the Muong people and cruise down a river on a traditional bamboo raft in a landscape woven with traditional water wheels. This area is home to rare Asian black bear, Owston’s palm civet and endangered Delacour’s langur. North is the exceptionally beautiful Mai Chau Valley, a serene landscape carved in rice paddies. Stay at the lovely Avana Retreat, built by local Hmong, White Thai and Black Thai people.

Avana Retreat is built and staffed by local people. Its beautiful thatched rooms blend with the rippling contours of rice paddies

G Adventures’ 11-day Vietnam: Hanoi, Halong Bay and trekking Pu Luong tour is one of few that takes in trekking in Pu Luong, an overnight stay, and a barbecue lunch made by local chefs

4. Bai Tu Long Bay, Halong Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay

Boats — from junks to elegant luxury vessels — cruise through the waters of Unesco-protected Halong Bay, which is studded with thousands of craggy limestone outcrops. It’s an ethereal landscape and with each turn of weather can bring dense fog or crisp blue skies. It won’t matter — it’s all enchanting. To make the most of it, head out on a boat for at least two nights to cruise to the outer “fortress” of towers — Bai Tu Long Bay. It’s more magical and it escapes the crowds of one-day and one-night boats.

Bhaya’s Au Co Cruise sails to the outer reaches of the silent bay with wonderful close-up views, smart bedrooms and delicious, artfully presented cuisine

Audley’s 19-day Classic Vietnam tour includes two nights on the Paradise Sails boat exploring the limestone stacks and coves of the outer limits of the bay


5. Hue and the DMZ

A gate in the Imperial City of Hue

Hue was the cultural and political power base of the Nguyen emperors, Vietnam’s last imperial dynasty. They built a citadel, gilded in bronze, enamel and lacquer, with gates for themselves, elephants and their minions, based on the Forbidden City of Beijing. They lived in extravagant regal splendour surrounded by concubines and eunuchs. And they fashioned their last resting places, all gothic-meets-Confucius and geomantic in design, landscaped with streams, statues and elaborate graves that trace the serpentine route of Hue’s Perfume River. This city is often overlooked in favour of Hoi An as a central Vietnam stop, but don’t miss it. The thousand-plus dishes of the imperial household are still eaten, too. From here, explore the Demilitarized Zone marking the border established in 1954 between the communist north and the US-backed south.

Pilgrimage Village Boutique and Spa is an exquisite address just outside the historic centre of Hue. Think garden rooms, leafy plots, a spa and a perfect oblong pool

Original Travel’s 12-day An intro to Vietnam, North to South includes an in-depth tour of Hue’s imperial past as well as other significant buildings

originaltravel.co.u k

6. Danang and China beach

The fire-breathing Dragon Bridge in Danang

China beach, an 18-mile curve of golden sand along the sea, was made famous by thousands of American GIs who would sunbathe here for R&R during the Vietnam War. Today, it’s more fabulous, with some top hotel retreats, such as the Four Seasons and, hidden amid the forest of monkeys on a small peninsula, the outstanding InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula designed by Asia-based architect Bill Bensley. But there’s more — the incomparable Museum of Cham Sculpture with its beautiful carved sandstone works, the nearby Unesco-protected ruins of My Son, the spiritual capital of the Cham, an Indianised culture, and Danang’s fire-breathing Dragon Bridge.

Architect Bill Bensley has weaved his magic on the glamorous InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula. Come for the cute funicular, the pool villas and the restaurant

Explore’s 14-day Inside Vietnam is one of few tours taking in the Cham museum, the My Son ruins and an optional visit to My Lai, site of a wartime massacre

• Five of the best backpacking routes in southeast Asia

The old town of Hoi An

Yes, it’s touristy, but that’s because it’s gorgeous. The ancient port of Hoi An is filled with Chinese temples, large merchant houses, and hundreds of tailors and craft shops. One-storey ochre-coloured homes line the small lantern-lit streets along the Unesco-protected town’s Thu Bon river. Come for the atmosphere, tailor-made clothes, and the delicious street food including some tantalising local dishes. Nearby An Bang beach provides downtime, too.

The Four Seasons Nam Hai is a sublime beachfront property. Large, gorgeous villas dot the peaceful gardens, where pools and coconut palms facing the sea

Wendy Wu’s 12-day Vietnam at a Glance ensures time spent immersed in Hoi An, meeting artisans and visiting a farming village — plus plenty left for tailoring

8. Ninh Van Bay

The beach at Ninh Van Bay

Ninh Van Bay is a divine little hideaway close to the major seaside resort of Nha Trang. Escape from the city to this peninsula, just north, for some serious beach time. An Lam Retreats Ninh Van Bay is dreamy with a boho vibe, while Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is on a sublime stretch of sand with villas tucked away between and behind huge boulders. It’s just you, the beach, the restaurant and your butler at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. The waterfalls and forests of the peninsula can be explored too.

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is a barefoot getaway with villas and their private pools perched on huge biscuit-coloured boulders facing the sea. It’s boho, supremely beautiful and comes with butler service

Scott Dunn’s 11-night luxury Limitless Vietnam indulges with four nights at Ninh Van Bay and organised activities


A 1930s railway station in Dalat

Dalat is a quirky place. A former French hill station up in the pine-scented highlands with a central lake, it’s ringed by attractive early 20th-century homes and villas (some hotels, some museums), markets, flower gardens and waterfalls. There’s even a golf course. Today, the city is filled with bars and cute cafés and is a great base from which to explore a load of kooky spots including the Crazy House homestay, cactus and coffee playground Kombi Land and a dragon statue made from thousands of glass bottles. Don’t miss checking out the French-built railway station, a Wes Anderson shoo-in.

Ana Mandara Villas Dalat Resort & Spa is a cute little hilltop hotel fashioned from an ochre-hued villa

Intrepid Travel’s 15-day Premium Vietnam in Depth offers plenty of time to explore Dalat, its quirky sites and coffee culture

10. Ho Chi Minh City

Cao Dai cathedral at Tay Ninh

Ho Chi Minh is a heady city of nine million people and eight million motorbikes. It has brilliant street food, is draped in a fantastic array of fairy lights and is fuelled by a growing craft beer, spirit and cocktail scene and a thrilling, infectious energy. What two decades ago was a fairly low-rise city has now been dwarfed by an army of high rises. Don’t miss exploring the city on the back of a motorbike, visiting the top sites, and taking a trip out to the Viet Cong tunnels at Cu Chi and the fantastically decorated Cao Dai cathedral at Tay Ninh. Sampling the food and coffee goes without saying.

The Park Hyatt Saigon isn’t the best-looking from the outside. Step inside, though, and it’s a dazzler. Its restaurants and bars are top city addresses and the lovely pool is a boon on humid days. It’s right in the heart of the city, too, just behind the opera house.

Riviera Travel’s 16-day Vietnam and Cambodia tour three night-stay in Ho Chi Minh City ensures plenty of time to take in the sites and the food and explore the tunnels at Cu Chi

11. Mekong Delta

A fruit vendor at a floating market on the Mekong Delta

The liquid fingers of the Mekong River slink through southern Vietnam into the sea. Here you’ll find a mostly rural way of life with floating markets, temples and churches, and market farms harvesting coconut, bananas, mangos and veg. It’s not so much specific sites but a dip into the region’s culture — a mix of Cham, Khmer and Vietnamese, war history (Xeo Quyt’s Viet Cong forest bunkers are fascinating), wetlands and birds, and delicious food.

The prettily illuminated, French-inspired Victoria Can Tho faces the waterfront in lush grounds on the edge of Can Tho city. You can tour the waterways and floating markets of the delta using its own boats.

On Wendy Wu’s ten-day Magnificent Mekong cruise on the eco-friendly Victoria Mekong you’ll visit floating markets and local temples, meet artisans and explore wetlands

12. Con Dao archipelago

Vistiors at the cemetery on Con Dao

Con Dao was once a prison island run by the French and then the Americans. Today, this remote island off the south coast of Vietnam is a nature paradise, internationally recognised (by Ramsar) wetland area and home to the most important location for nesting sea turtles in Vietnam. Hike, snorkel, dive, sunbathe on the beautiful beaches, visit the turtle sites, and watch the squid boats at work. Visit its museum and sites, too: the cemetery of Vietnamese martyrs’ graves features seats built for their ghosts. You’ll want to stay at the fabulous Six Senses Con Dao.

The remote, secluded hideaway of Six Senses Con Dao is a luxury treat. The contemporary, glassy villas with private pools are right on the sugar-soft island sands; excellent food, the spa, and snorkelling are on tap.

Black Tomato’s 14-day Ultimate Vietnam: A luxury holiday from top to tail features fabulous beach time at the end of your trip at the exquisite Six Senses Con Dao


• Best things to do in Vietnam • Best hotels in Vietnam

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6 Key Cities in Vietnam to Visit and Why

Vietnam is one of the most culturally enriching places to visit and a trip to Vietnam is surely something you’ll remember for a lifetime. Containing several World Heritage sites, Vietnam also boasts some of the most richly diverse landscapes, cultural history and opportunities for adventure of any country we’ve ever visited. This is before we’ve even mentioned the food! With an area of 331,689sq. km, Vietnam has a huge variance from North to South and everything in-between, which is one of the things that makes it such an incredibly vibrant country to visit. Simply put, there’s something for everyone in Vietnam. Below, we’ve highlighted 6 key cities in Vietnam and their provinces/regions that deserve to be on your itinerary.

Cities to visit in Vietnam

1. hanoi – vietnam’s capital city.

Set in the North of Vietnam, Hanoi is full of wonder, intrigue and a massive sense of culture – both around its heritage and its food. If you’re a foodie, you won’t be disappointed as Hanoi is well renowned for its massive street food scene. Being one of the biggest cities in Vietnam, you’ll find a whole range of street food vendors all over the city, but some of the best known ones are populated in the Old Town, in the backstreets around Hoan Kiem Lake. Here you’ll find tiny street vendors offering things like Banh Mi, BBQ, as well as slightly larger cafes offering traditional menus of hot pots and family style cooking. What’s more, Hanoi is famous for the ever comforting Pho, a noodle soup which consists of steaming hot broth, boiling hot stock, protein and is usually topped with onions and cilantro/coriander. Hanoi is a great place to visit if you want to be right in the hustle and bustle of things – quite frankly it never seems to stop! Hanoi is also known as the cultural capital of Vietnam, being home to over 15 museums which focus on everything from art to history. Simply put, a visit to Hanoi will enhance your cultural and historical understanding of Vietnam, and hopefully yourself too. Read our full guide on things to do in Hanoi .

Why Visit Hanoi?

Other than Hanoi being the capital of Vietnam, if you’re into food, Hanoi is one of the best cities in Vietnam you could possibly visit with absolutely out of this world street food all the way through to fine dining restaurants with bold and exuberant menus. If you’re vegan or vegetarian it’s one of the best places to visit in Vietnam as Hanoi also has a great food scene for you. Whilst Vietnamese culture and food typically includes a lot of meat, fish sauce etc., you’ll also find a big vegetarian scene (largely due to the large Buddhist population). Vietnamese food can naturally be very vegan friendly, and you’ll find a whole host of restaurants and street food vendors offering vegan or ‘chay’ food. Whatever your tastes, you’re likely to come back from Hanoi with a renewed love of food. Many people will spend a couple of days in Vietnam once they arrive in the country from the airport, before leaving for somewhere else. However, if you’re into people watching and soaking in culture, you could easily spend a much longer amount of time in Hanoi. Hanoi is also very accessible for day trips or overnight trips to locations such as Ha Long Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay and also Ninh Binh amongst others.

traditional vietnamese junk boats sailing near Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Less touristy Bai Tu Long Bay, close to Ha Long Bay is just a couple of hours drive from Hanoi and makes a great excursion when visiting the city

What is the Best time of year to visit Hanoi, Vietnam?

The best time of the year to visit Hanoi is between the months of October and April where the North of Vietnam is at a much lower level of humidity, making daily activities much more enjoyable. December and January are really popular months to visit Hanoi also, due to many westerners visiting around Christmas Holidays and the vibrant New Year celebrations that also happen around this time.

Related: When is the Best Time to Visit Vietnam ?

2.Cao Bang – one of the must see places in Vietnam

270 km (170mi) from Hanoi, Cao Bang is located on the bank of the Bằng Giang river. One of the main reasons that most people will travel through Cao Bang is to visit the incredible Ban Gioc Waterfall, however there is a lot more to see and it is one of the most interesting provinces of Vietnam to visit. Cao Bang itself makes a great base for exploring the area for a few days, and from here you’ll get a true glimpse of Vietnamese countryside life. Once more, Cao Bang province seems to be off the beaten track in terms of tourism, making it in our opinion one of the best cities in Vietnam for a quiet, more peaceful experience. Here are some of the main locations we’d recommend visiting from Cao Bang to learn more about Vietnamese culture and see some truly jaw dropping landscapes:

a baby amongst incense sticks in traditional incense village Phia Tap in Cao Bang Vietnam

A baby sat amongst incense in traditional incence making village, Phia Tap in Cao Bang, Vietnam

Phia Tap village: Cao Bang is surrounded by small villages where traditional crafts still sit strongly as cultural identifiers, with some villages dating from French Colonial times. Phia Tap incense village is one such place to take in and learn about the traditional craft of incense making and how the village works as a community to create their own product.

smaller waterfall next to Ban Gioc Waterfall Cao Bang Vietnam

Smaller waterfall next to Ban Gioc Waterfall

Ban Gioc Waterfall: Ban Gioc is one of the more popular places in the region, and absolutely one of the best places to visit in Vietnam. What makes Ban Gioc Waterfall so interesting is that it sits on the border between both Vietnam and China. Near the waterfall, you can also visit the Phat Tich Truc Lam Ban Gioc Pagoda where you can see the entire Ban Gioc Waterfall from above.

Nui Thung Mountain: Also referred to as Angel Eye Mountain. The small road that takes you up to see this magnificent limestone structure is quite the experience. You’ll drive through small villages to get to the mountain and from there the views open up to stunning vistas, jungle, mountains and at certain times of the year, a lake that reflects the eye of the mountain.

Nui Thung Mountain or Angel Eye Mountain Cao Bang Vietnam

Nui Thung Mountain otherwise known as Angel Eye Mountain

Phong Nam Valley: Close to Ban Gioc Waterfall, Phong Nam Valley is rarely visited, but gives a stunning feel of the Vietnamese countryside. With rice fields, rivers, mountains, small villages and everything in between that traditional life has to offer, you will feel really off the beaten track. Plus, a visit to Phong Nam Valley wouldn’t be complete without a spending the night at Lan’s Homestay for a traditional, welcoming and warm experience.

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Why Visit Cao Bang?

If you like peace and quiet, Cao Bang is away from the busiest Vietnam tourist spots. Cao Bang also fits in a lot – especially when you take into consideration that it’s home to some the most incredible natural sites and experiences that Vietnam has to offer such as Ban Gioc Waterfall, Nui Thung Mountain and Phia Tap village. However, due to the traditional practices you’ll encounter in this province, you’ll also find incredible food and drink – such as herbal teas, green tea all the way through to arrowroot noodles.In our opinion, it’s one of the best places to visit in Vietnam.

When is the Best time of year to visit Cao Bang, vietnam?

Much like the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, Cao Bang is best visited from October through to April due to lower humidity levels making for a much more pleasant experience. In fact, it is possibly the best time to visit Vietnam in general. It’s worth noting that you’re more likely to experience cloudy days between October and April though, but you’ll have more chance to get through your days rain free too.

Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage site for a reason as it is steeped in history and it feels in many ways like it has been frozen in time. It’s also quite a different experience from the bustling centers of the big cities in Vietnam like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City! Hoi An was traditionally a trading port, but this fell into decline toward the end of the 18th century. Hoi An today is one of the best cities in Vietnam to visit if you want to experience temples, tea houses and merchants with an exquisitely ancient feel. Spending some time in the old town of Hoi An is a must, and whilst busy, it puts you right in the heart it all where you can indulge on the street food and restaurants as well as the unique attractions the city has to offer. However, if you’re looking for a more off the beaten track experience, Cam Chau offers a more authentic experience of Hoi An situated between the old town and beaches.

brightly colored lanterns in Hoi An

Brightly colored lanterns in Hoi An

Why Visit Hoi An?

From beaches that feel like a tropical paradise to iconic architecture and trade that feels like it has been frozen in time, Hoi An is one of those Vietnam cities that feels like it has it all. It’s the perfect balance between history, culture, food and relaxation and has a very different feel from places like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

When is the Best time of Year to Visit Hoi An, Vietnam?

Hoi An is one of the more popular Vietnam vacation spots, but the best time of year to visit Hoi An is between January and March. This is because temperatures are cooler at this time of year, ranging between roughly 18-24c, making it easier to enjoy everything Hoi An has to offer from beaches to sight seeing.

Hue is steeped in history, it’s also incredibly unique. A visit to Hue will have you learning about Vietnam’s royal history – more specifically the last royal family who survived a 143 year reign. Imperial Hue has a lot to offer, and you can easily take a step back in time as you visit theatres, palaces and pavilions as well as exploring Vietnam’s Buddhist roots. However, there’s so much more to explore in Hue than the citadel alone. Whilst Hue’s traditional and historical roots are of prominence, you’ll also find an emerging scene of modern Vietnamese artists as well as developing pop culture and innovative food. It also feels much less polluted, maybe even quieter than other cities such as Hanoi, and it’s also less touristy than places like Hoi An. The food you’ll find in Hue is much different to some of the other cities in Vietnam – with a much richer, sweeter feel. You’ll also find a wealth of vibrant street food vendors as well as colorful markets that are itching to be explored all around the city. Hue is one of the best cities in Vietnam for its sense of vibrancy and contrast.

typical architecture found in Hue Vietnam

Typical architecture found in Hue Vietnam

Why Visit Hue?

If you want to explore Vietnamese cities enchanted by history as well as emerging and ever growing arts and cultural scenes without the crowds you’ll find in places like Hanoi, then Hoi An would be well worth your time to visit. It’s beautiful, a little bit quirky and has a massive sense of creativity. What’s more, the food scene is absolutely wonderful, and if you’ve already visited Hanoi, you’ll enjoy tasting how the food subtly and not so subtly develops and changes.

When is the Best time of Year to Visit Hue, Vietnam?

The best time of year to visit Hue is between October and April where the weather is cooler and more manageable for taking in the sights. Whilst there is likely to be some rain at this time, you’ll also feel much more comfortable and will likely be able to enjoy all of the outdoors activities on offer as much as possible.

5.Ninh Binh

If you’re into outdoor adventures and spending time in nature, Ninh Binh is one of the best cities in Vietnam for you and you’re going to want to make it into your Vietnam itinerary! There’s simply so much to do here and you’ll get to experience Vietnam for all its majestic natural beauty. You’ll find endless adventure based tours in Ninh Binh, and it’s even possible to take day trips from Hanoi, as it is located less than 100km southeast of the capital of Vietnam. If you’re looking for something more off the beaten track away from the tourist crowds, spending a few days in Ninh Binh is a really worthwhile thing to do. Here are two experiences we’d recommend to anyone visiting Ninh Binh:

sailing down Tranh An Ninh Binh Vietnam

Sailing down Tranh An, Ninh Binh

Trang An: Take a boat in Trang An to experience some of the most incredible scenery that this province has to offer. You’ll be able to relax as your boater paddles along whilst you check out the densely covered rock outcrops, temples and arches along the way in the gentle waters. One of the absolute best places to go in Vietnam!

Mua Cave: A hike that allows you to head up 486 steps to the top of a majestic limestone mountain which gives you an amazing view over Tam Coc. The hike up is magical, even on a foggy day and along the way you’ll find lots of interesting sculptures punctuating the walk.

Why Visit Ninh Binh?

If you’re looking for adventure, especially close to Hanoi, Ninh Binh is one of the best cities in Vietnam for nature based experiences. That aside, it’s also steeped with rich history. A trip to Ninh Binh will have you feeling like you’ve learnt about Vietnam, connected to the landscape and in turn, hopefully yourself!

When is the Best time of Year to visit Ninh Binh, Vietnam?

Whilst Ninh Binh is a great place to visit all year round, especially if you’re tying this into a trip to Hanoi later in the year, you’ll have the best weather between May and August. If you want to take in some of the best views, especially if you plan to go hiking, try to plan your trip during the harvest season which happens in October.

6.Ho Chi Minh City

Whilst Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is actually the biggest city in Vietnam with a sprawling population of over 9 million and counting. of Ho Chi Minh City, otherwise known as Saigon in the south of Vietnam is home to commerce, culture and references back in time to French colonialist architecture. If you want to get a real glimpse of one of the best cities in Vietnam, Hoi Chi Minh City is really worth a visit. Ho Chi Minh City has a very different feel in terms of food from Hanoi, with each having its own individual style. People in Ho Chi Minh City tend to use and combine ingredients and flavors from different regions to create their dishes. Here, you’ll find dishes from all over Vietnam to try at the vibrant street food markets, stalls and restaurants that permeate the city. Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, sees two main seasons – sunny and rainy but experiences year round sun too. Again, Ho Chi Minh City is often a location that many people visit on the way to other Vietnamese vacation spots, however, a visit to Ho Chi Minh City opens up the possibility of exploring off the beaten track in nature. Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve is just 40km outside of Ho Chi Minh City and gives the opportunity to see monkeys, crocodiles and gibbons amongst interesting wetlands and tall palms. Whereas a few hours out of Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll find the incredible Mekong Delta which gives a wonderfully different perspective to Vietnam that you won’t see anywhere else. Surrounded by rivers, swampland and endless green, it really is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

elevated viewpoint over Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

Elevated viewpoint over Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Why Visit Ho Chi Minh City?

Firstly, Ho Chi Minh City is actually the largest city in Vietnam. That aside, the bustling vibrant markets to the quant chaos of everyday life make Ho Chi Minh one of the best Vietnam cities to feel at the heart of culture at its richest. The food is also inventive, taking traditional practices from all over the country and harboring new, innovative takes making it one of the best places to visit in Vietnam. If you’re into fusion food, Ho Chi Minh City may well be the place for you. What’s more, Ho Chi Minh City comes alive at night – a walk around the city center at night can be full of vibrant scenes, rich culture and a place to experience off the wall food choices.

When is the Best time of Year to visit Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam?

Ho Cho Minh City is one of the best cities to visit in Vietnam between December and March where the weather is much more settled than at other times and you’re less likely to experience extreme rain. It’s wise to try and plan your trip outside of April and May, which are some of the hottest months and can make exploring the city and the neighboring natural resources on offer much more stifling and less pleasant.

typical Vietnamese street scene

Typical street scene in Ho Chi Minh City

Of course, this guide to the six key cities in Vietnam to visit barely scratches the surface of just what is available in Vietnam. Vietnam is such an incredibly varied place to visit, but what we love the most is just how much access to incredible, other worldly landscapes the main cities of Vietnam have (even within a few hours travel). We hope this guide has given you some inspiration as to which cities in Vietnam to base yourself around depending on your trip plans and what you want to experience. Whichever you visit, you won’t be dissapointed!

Discover more about Vietnam: 

14 Unforgettable Things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

When is the Best Time to Visit Vietnam: Month by Month Guide

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12 Of The Best Places To Visit In Vietnam For The An Amazing Trip

Vietnam is a treasure trove of all things nature and culture and here are the best places to visit in the country..

By: Anushka Goel Published: Jan 27, 2023 02:30 PM SGT

12 Of The Best Places To Visit In Vietnam For The An Amazing Trip

One of the most sought-after Southeast Asian travel destinations over the last couple of years has been Vietnam. The country is a treasure trove of all things nature and culture, and is amazing for the budget traveller, too. So, if you’re planning on travelling, here are the best places to visit in Vietnam.

If you’re looking to visit more countries this year, Vietnam should be on your bucket list. The country is complete with scenic landscapes and ancient architectural sights such as temples. Great for budget travellers , Vietnam has ample city experiences and some of the most delectable street food options.

Vietnam is also great for digital nomads and expats, as SGD 1 equals VND 17,830, roughly. So, in case you’re planning to visit this beautiful, cultural nation, here’s your guide to the best places to visit in Vietnam for an enriching experience.

Places to visit in Vietnam for an amazing experience

Ha long bay.

vietnam travel

Ha Long Bay (also spelled as Halong Bay) is a beautiful destination that boasts of azure waters and clear skies. The place speaks of tranquility, and it consists of limestone formations which make it all the more mesmerising. The best way to experience this UNESCO World Heritage Site is through boats, so be sure to hire one when in the area. Ha Long Bay also offers overnight tours to get enchanted in its mesmerising beauty through the night. It is truly among the best places to visit in Vietnam, and will make for a memorable experience (or two)!

How to reach: Ha Long Bay can be reached via road (about four hours from Hanoi) and train (a station is in Ha Long City). The closest airports are Van Don Airport, Noi Bai International Airport and Cat Bi International Airport.

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places to visit in vietnam

The Vietnamese capital is a place vibrant with local culture blended with ample modern amenities, making it a great place to visit and stay at. The second largest city in the country, Hanoi also offers some unique experiences such as dining along a railway track, delectable street food , ample lakes, museums and many architectural marvels.

How to reach: Hanoi, being the capital, is well-connected via roads, air and train. International flights from various cities in India also ply to Hanoi multiple times in a week.

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Cu chi tunnel.

Places to visit in Vietnam

Vietnam has seen its fair share of war, and thus, the country also has some destinations that take you back to the era. Among them is the Cu Chi Tunnels. The extensive network of these tunnels was used during the war, and the stretch for over 250 kilometres. They allowed troops to operate and communicate with Ho Chi Minh City. When here, get a guide who will take you through the narrow, unlit areas of the tunnel – so much so that you might have to go down on your knees and crawl through some sections!

How to reach: You can reach here via road from Ho Chi Minh City

Mekong Delta

places to visit in Vietnam

Mekong Delta is formed where the Mekong River finds its wat to the city. Among the best places to visit in Vietnam, the destination is characterised by the crisscross maze that the waterways form. Also known as the ‘Rice Bowl of Vietnam’, the destination is complete with lush paddy fields and a robust local life. Visit the floating markets via boat and see places such as the U Minh Mangrove Forest and Cau Mau Nature Reserve, among other beautiful places here.

How to reach: The place is accessible via road

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places to visit in vietnam

Among the places to visit in Vietnam us Hue. The town is a historic location, filled with relics from 19th century Nguyen emperors. Witness marvellous archaeological sites, the magnificent Perfume River, old but mighty gates, tombs, pagodas and a lot more on your visit here.

How to reach: The closest international airport is in Da Nang, while the domestic airport closest to Hue is 30 minutes away. The place is also reachable via train and road

Ho Chi Minh City

places to visit in Vietnam

The largest city in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is the commercial centre here. Visit for its restaurants and cafes, insane cosmopolitan culture and its heritage spots, too. At the centre of the city is Dong Khoi, known for most of the city’s touristy destinations . Visit Ho Chi Minh City’s museums that house relics and artefacts from the 19th century and before, plus experience the stunning (and few surviving) examples of the French colonial architecture here.

How to reach: Ho Chi Minh City is well-connected via air, road and train. The international airport here also connects the country to major cities abroad

places to visit in Vietnam

My Son is an important site in Vietnam and is one of the most stunning and charming places to visit. The place is surrounded by mountains covered in a dense cover of forests. The ruins in My Son date back to the 4th Century, and this old Hindu religious centre is still much in use till date. The temples located here are made or red bricks and sandstone and have influences from India and Malaysia.

How to reach: My Son is accessible via Hoi An, and can be reached via road

most beautiful places in Asia_Hoi An

Hoi An is a town complete with lots of history. The place has beautiful (and well-preserved) merchant houses, going back to Hoi An’s trading era in the 15the century, is an important part of the country’s trade history with Japan and China. A lot of these houses are open to the public, where you can visit and experience those times. What’s more, the many small pagodas and beautiful, quaint streets to transport you back to the simple times.

How to reach: Da Nang International Airport is about 30 kilometres from Hoi An, and you can also reach here by road

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vietnam travel

If you want to spend a couple of days in the quiet countryside, head to Sapa. The place shares its border with China, and is complete with terraced hills and many slopes. The rural villages and raw, authentic life here is what is attractive about Sapa, which makes it great for those wanting to stay away from the cities. Head there for treks and some calm. Purchase handmade jewellery and head to the gothic church, colonial sites and more.

How to reach: The nearest train station is in Lao Cai, and Sapa is reachable by car from most major towns

Places to visit in Vietnam

What makes Phu Quoc popular is its clear blue waters and white sand beaches, making it a popular destination for travellers. Located in the south of Vietnam, Phu Quoc is great for sipping on cocktails as the sun goes down, grabbing a bike to trail the dirt roads, and fun local markets with delectable cuisine and beverages.

How to reach: Phu Quoc is connected via air and roads. You can also board a ferry till here from several other destinations

good cities to visit in vietnam

Yet another destination known for its sandy beaches is Nha Trang. Among the places to visit in Vietnam, this city is packed with locals as well as visitors, and has ample spots for you to hit the water as well as soak up the sun. And in case you’re done exploring the beaches, the destination has old temples and towers that you should head to and explore. There’s also a museum here, dedicated to the work of Alexandre Yersin, that you should visit.

How to reach: The nearest airport is Cam Rahn, and the destination is also reachable via road. Trains also reach Nha Trang

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

places to visit in Vietnam

One of the most magnificent places to visit in Vietnam is the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The place, which is also a popular filming location, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful spots in the country, and is home to the 400-million-year old karst mountains. There are hundreds of caves and secret rivers here that will enchant you. The best part? There’s a hidden jungle, filled with its own microclimate, tucked away here!

How to reach: The nearest airport is Dong Hoi, which is connected via domestic flights. The destination is also reachable via road

Hero Image: Courtesy of Steve Douglas/Unsplash; Featured Image: Courtesy of Tomáš Malík/Unsplash

Related: Vietnam Travel Guide: Where To Go, What To Eat And Everything You Need To Know

  • Explore Vietnam
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Anushka Goel

Anushka Goel

Anushka has previously worked with publications such as the Times of India and Being Indian. A graduate from Xavier Institute of Communications, she specialises in entertainment, food and travel. She also likes to write about sustainability and beauty. When not working, you can catch her reading a book, tending to her plants, cooking or playing an instrument. Read Less

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good cities to visit in vietnam

13 things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai serves as a captivating blend of ancient traditions and modern influences.

The best Vietnam holiday destinations: When to travel and where to stay

Vietnam, a southeast Asian country bountiful with charm, cultural diversity and culinary delights, boasts striking scenery for both a blissful holiday on white sands and backpacking adventures through Unesco World Heritage Sites such as Ha Long Bay.

The versatility of the Vietnamese landscape, with its urban hubs such as capital Hanoi , rolling rice fields and limestone mountains, is what makes Vietnam an oasis for nature lovers and adventurers alike.

Buddhist pagodas, lantern festivals and wellness retreats are highlights of a visit, alongside tours (fuelled by local coffee made with condensed milk) through fresh food markets. Meanwhile, heritage trails to historic sites from the Vietnam War (known in Vietnam as the American War) and the Communist era are sure to entice history buffs.

There are also small island archipelagos clustered offshore for paradise-like beach holidays, while global tourist hotspots, like the largest city Ho Chi Minh , beg to be explored.

From where to stay and when to travel, here’s  The Independent’s  selection of holiday destinations to inspire your next trip to Vietnam.

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Vietnam’s cosmopolitan capital in the north, Hanoi , is home to buzzing night markets, narrow trade streets and Buddhist temples, with a fusion of historical and 21st century sights creating its lively atmosphere. Ancient paths through the 14th-century Old Quarter jostle with contemporary art galleries, while the city’s authentic cuisine is best tasted by indulging in street food such as Pho and bun cha, the budget options abundant between pint-sized watering holes on the chaotic urban track of Train Street.

When to visit Hanoi

A good time to visit Hanoi is from April to November, as temperatures are the highest and rainfall predictions are the lowest. Average daily temperatures reach highs of 28C in the April shoulder season.

Where to stay

Scent Premium Hotel is the ultimate modern stay in Hanoi. Elegant rooms are fitted with en-suite bathrooms, mini-bars and have city and lake views, with diverse breakfasts complimentary to the stay in the heart of the Old Quarter.

Ho Chi Minh City

Formerly known as Saigon , Ho Chi Minh City in the southeast is the economic capital of Vietnam and is also its most heavily populated region. In a marriage of tradition and modernity, Ho Chi Minh is the metropolis where pagodas meet skyscrapers and innovative commerce hubs thrive. Elaborate French colonial architecture, including the Notre Dame Cathedral and landmarks such as the War Remnants Museum and Cu Chi tunnel network used by the Viet Cong during the American War, are historical highlights in this fast-paced city.

When to visit Ho Chi Minh City

It’s dry season from December to March, which is an ideal time to go. The hottest month for a trip to Ho Chi Minh is in April, where average highs of 35C can be sweltering compared to comfortable lows of 24C in the coolest month, December.

Fusion Original Saigon Centre  offers guests a rooftop pool, a restaurant and an attractive central location. Eccentric artwork accents the walls of spacious rooms with cosy seating areas, sprawling city views and comfortable beds.

Postcard-perfect scenery greets visitors cruising to Halong Bay in northeast Vietnam. A Unesco World Heritage Site since 1994, Halong, meaning “descending dragon”, is one of Vietnam’s most spectacular natural wonders. Emerald waters, 1,600 islets, off-shore islands – mostly uninhabited – and caves dot the diverse landscape, where limestone rock formations are millions of years old. Scuba diving and sea kayaking with marine life to floating fishing communities are popular pastimes on this part of the Gulf of Tonkin. On land, rock climb and hike in mountainous Cát Bà National Park or absorb the mystical aura of Halong Bay from a long stretch of golden beach.

When to visit Ha Long Bay

The shoulder tourism seasons of March, April, September and October are the best time to visit Halong Bay for optimum weather conditions that avoid the monsoon season. The year-round daily temperature is 29C, with June being the hottest month.

Budget stays at  Bao Phuc Hotel  offer guests a shared lounge, terrace and cosy doubles just 600m from Tung Thu Beach. There’s also a garden, bike hire and friendly staff at the accommodation ideal for a stopover in Cat Ba on a boat tour of Halong Bay.

Think seafront resorts on white powder beaches and palm-fringed shores in Phú Quốc island in the Gulf of Thailand, a protected Unesco Biosphere Reserve since 2006. The largest of Vietnam’s islands, with 150km of unspoiled coastline, it’s the ideal tropical holiday destination with secluded coves, vibrant nightlife and authentic day and night seafood markets in Duong Dong town. The fish sauce in particular is hailed as a treat for the tastebuds. Phú Quốc National Park blankets more than half the island with dense jungle and rainforest and hiking trails are plentiful. Coined “Pearl Island” by the locals for its gleaming sands and pearl farms, Phú Quốc offers winter sun and spectacular sunsets from the famous beaches of Sao Beach and Long Beach.

When to visit Phú Quốc

October to April are the driest months to visit Phú Quốc, with daily temperatures reaching up to 32C.

A few steps from Long Beach,  Salinda Resort  in Phu Quoc exudes luxury and authentic Vietnamese charm. Buffet breakfasts fuse American and Asian cuisines and are included in your stay, while an in-house bar, terrace and billiards tables await guests staying in the sea view rooms.

Step back in time to the ancient charm of Hoi An city on Vietnam’s central coast. Colourful temples, shophouses and budget boutique hotels line canals and the rustic Old Town district amid several family farms cultivating local produce for the markets. Sometimes referenced as the “Venice of Vietnam”, the beguiling former trading port at the mouth of the Thu Bon River was a settlement for merchants in the 15th century and the legacy of the Chinese, Japanese and European cultures remains evident in the cuisine ( Bahn mi is a speciality) and grand design of the lantern-lit streets.

When to visit Hội An

The best time to visit Hội An is between February and July, the height of the summer season. The daily temperatures are around 26-35C during these months before the monsoon season takes hold in winter.

Hoi An Golden Holiday Hotel boasts modern rooms with skyline views for bargain prices. A five-minute drive from the centre of Hoi An, an outdoor pool, shuttle services and complimentary breakfasts welcome visitors to the ancient town.

Nha Trang, Vietnam’s crowning jewel of coastal resorts in the south, is a tourism hub with 6km of golden sand beaches, untouched archipelagos and azure waters framed by a high skyline and rolling hillsides. The popular scuba and backpacking spot is also home to ruins and architecture from the ancient Champa Kingdom, including the Po Nagar towers. Intersecting streets make it easy to explore the unique salt fields, hot springs and waterfalls of Nha Trang on foot and there’s even an island theme park for families and thrillseekers to enjoy, connected to the mainland by a 3,320m sea-crossing cable car.

When to visit Nha Trang

Head to Nha Trang during February-May for average daily temperatures of around 26C, or in June and July for higher temperatures but a greater risk of rainy days but a chance to catch some of Nha Trang’s summer festivals.

If affordable rooms and sea view swimming pools in a beachfront location are your hotel non-negotiables,  Azura Gold Hotel  should fit the bill. Less than 100m from Nha Trang Beach, the tropically decorated Azura is an ideal spot for soaking in the sunshine.

Once the national capital of Vietnam (from 1802 to 1945) and the seat of the ancient Nguyen Dynasty, the dynamic city of Hue boasts a long history of imperial glory as seen in the ornate shrines and palaces that surround the intersecting Perfume River. Reminders of the once royal riverside town include an Unesco designated site, the Complex of Hue Monuments in Thua Thien, and the Forbidden Purple City, once home to the imperial family – their tombs remain, highlighting the decadent and luxurious lives once lived in the 19th-century Đại Nội citadel. Embrace Hue’s slow pace of life while exploring the exotic landscape and feast like a king on Bun Bo Hue and local produce from the fertile landscape.

When to visit Huế

January to April is an ideal time to visit Huế, as it’s after the peak of monsoon season. While you can still expect daily rainfall from Huế’s tropical climate, a light drizzle can be a refreshing break from average daily temperature peaks of 25-35C.

Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort offers unrivalled luxury and world-class service in the tranquil Thua Thien Hue. The rustic resort features Vietnamese restaurants, spa treatments and hospitality with complimentary busses shuttling travellers into Hue. Huts, bungalows and villas dot the lush jungle – some with private pools and wellness facilities.

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Your Guide to the Best of Contemporary Art in Hanoi, Vietnam

The vibrant and cosmopolitan capital of Hanoi is home to one of Asia’s best contemporary art scenes. Here is where you should go.

hanoi vietnam contemporary art

Located within the Red River Delta in Northern Vietnam, Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital. In recent years the city has undergone radical transformation. Restrictions have eased and a burgeoning arts scene has emerged, pushing boundaries in literature, music, and art. Internationally renowned, Hanoi’s contemporary art scene is an essential experience for any art enthusiast visiting the country. However, like other major capitals Hanoi may seem vast and intimidating. So, here is a guide to the best of Hanoi’s contemporary art.

The History of Contemporary Art in Vietnam

hanoi vietnam market

Vietnam is changing and it’s changing fast. Curfews have lifted and its cities hum to the sounds of well-heeled twenty-somethings roaring motorcycles up and down polychromatic neon streets. Local Vinahouse music blasts from bars and young Vietnamese gather, sitting outside on wide terraces sharing fried chicken and beer with plate-like mobile phones in one hand and technicolor vapes in the other. Sporting designer outfits and new-fangled haircuts, they huddle together on small plastic furniture, laughing, talking, and sharing stories while soaking up a balmy Hanoi evening. With nearly 60% of Vietnam’s population born after 1975 memories of war and sacrifice are fading. Global capitalism now tantalizes and excites, replacing the old conservatism with new ideals.

No longer isolated and withdrawn, Hanoi is vibrant and alive, increasingly shaped by the values and designs of its young cosmopolitans. Three decades have passed since Doi Moi unshackled Vietnam from its communist past and despite some remaining censorship, the inrush of modernism and change has been profound. As the economy has boomed so has its craving for sophistication. Minds have been liberated and as a newly educated class is joined by a returning diaspora—exiled under Ho Chi Minh—globalized trends in fashion, music, and art have taken hold.

Indochina College of Fine Arts

students hanoi vietnam

But change does not happen in a vacuum and as the country rouses from a somnolent state, Vietnam’s future is still being directed by its past. While the French brought colonization, they also brought doctrines and institutions. The elegance in Vietnamese tailoring did not happen by coincidence, Vietnamese cuisine is a combination of regional simplicity and French intricacy, and the country’s art is a collision of centuries of innovation, united through the founding of the École des Beaux Arts de L’Indochine (Indochina College of Fine Arts) in 1925. While it was rooted in Western art theory and critical thinking, seeded by professors and hungry students with a thirst for impressionism , surrealism , and art history , it also provided the platform to explore finely tuned Vietnamese techniques like silk painting, lacquering, and engraving.

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Fast forward a century, and the congruity of Western and Vietnamese art is as apparent as the love between two old friends at Christmas. Yes, Vietnam still has issues with censorship and free speech, and traditional conservatism dictates that nudity and depictions of Ho Chi Minh remain taboo. But revolutions like this do not happen overnight. Near half-century struggles with post-colonialism and feminism will attest to this. However, Vietnam’s unique social history has laid sturdy ideological foundations. In releasing society from the grip of the state, the deregulation of art galleries and public spaces has allowed artists to use these foundations and newfound freedoms to ponder and create and to further force outward the boundaries of expression while unleashing the innate madness of the human spirit.

Places You Should Visit

hammock jospeh inguimberty,

For an art movement that now stretches from Saigon to San Francisco and sells regularly at Christie’s, there has arguably never been a more exciting time for contemporary art in Hanoi. Its traditional focus on impressionist and post-impressionist style painting is now flanked by more avant-garde and contemporary mediums with artists less afraid of taking on the establishment. As exhibitions continue to draw attention from authorities the ensuing running battle is slowly relaxing attitudes of free expression, and with more progressive themes being incorporated into an increasing number of people’s work, Hanoi’s allure has never been more compelling. So, to help get to grips with this enthralling and dynamic contemporary art scene, here is a guide to where one can find the best of it.

1. Nha San Collective

nha san collective

Not so much a gallery space, but a collective of multidisciplinary artists who exhibit all over Hanoi, the Nha San Collective is one of the longest-running and most important contemporary art projects in Vietnam. Founded in 1998 by artists Nguyễn Mạnh Đức and Trần Lương, the studio would go on to influence several generations of artists and play a significant role in developing Vietnamese contemporary art. By hosting lectures and workshops, the studio became a place for artists to experiment and connect with the international art community.

The studio was closed by Vietnamese authorities in 2011, but a new generation of artists has ensured its legacy continues. In recent years they have received significant recognition for a series of guerrilla projects around Hanoi and for challenging the status quo not just in the capital, but also in the country. Officially recognized as the Nhà Sàn Collective again, it relies on volunteers, private donations, and support from various cultural institutions.

2. Manzi Art Space


Located in a small alley in central Hanoi, Manzi Art Space is regarded as one of the most dynamic art spaces in Southeast Asia. Opened in 2012 by art enthusiasts Tram Vu and Bill Nguyen, Manzi has been a place of multidisciplinary-meeting-of-the-minds for over 10 years. The gallery is known for a brilliantly curated program that features visual art exhibitions, talks, workshops, and dance performances amongst other things.

It is hugely respected for its commitment to local artists and helping contemporary art in Vietnam reach new audiences. The gallery is also dedicated to discovering new talent and providing a platform to help emerging artists establish themselves. Consequently, Manzi has been responsible for launching the careers of several notable Hanoi-based contemporary artists. Also a café and gift shop, it sits within the grounds of a charming 1930s colonial French villa and provides a number of excellent excuses for a visit.

3. Work Room Four

work room four

Work Room Four is a multidisciplinary art and design studio founded in 2013 by English pair Claire Driscoll and Dorian Gibb. Doubling up as a gallery, it focuses on collaborations with Vietnamese and international artists. Through the curation of top-class multidisciplinary exhibitions and shows, Work Room Four offers much-needed space and resources to help develop emerging talent and promote contemporary art in the city, all while staying true to the studio’s mantra of creating something new. The studios and gallery can be found in the neighborhood of Tay Ho. The place has two floors housing offices, workshops, a giftshop, and rental spaces for artists. A visit will also provide you with outstanding views of Hanoi looking out over the West Lake. Checking their website before visiting is recommended.

4. Green Palm Gallery 

green palm gallery

With galleries located centrally in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the Green Palm Gallery is one of Vietnam’s most well-known and prestigious institutes of art. Specialising in contemporary and fine art, it regularly sells works made by Vietnam’s best artists, including Nguyen Thanh Chuong, Le Thanh Son, and Hong Viet Dung. The gallery was established in 1996. As demand for Vietnamese art skyrocketed in recent years, the gallery became one of the most admired in Southeast Asia. Besides selling work, the gallery also hosts regular exhibitions in its two showrooms and features an array of Vietnamese and international artists. For those who do make a purchase here, the customer service is supposedly legendary.

5. CUC Gallery

cuc gallery hanoi vietnam

Located in the new central business district (CBD) of Hanoi, the CUC Gallery is one of the few institutions in Vietnam that consistently collaborates with other artists and galleries, both in Vietnam and internationally. Much of the work exhibited here is the result of an arduous research and peer-reviewing process that aims to exhibit world-class contemporary art. Dedicated to contemporary and fine art, the gallery has self-proclaimed ambitions to be not just Hanoi’s but also Vietnam’s principal institution for contemporary art. Since 2013, CUC Gallery has been listed as one of the top 20 museums in Asia and number one in Vietnam. The place also serves as an art education center for children, offering foundations in art history and critical thinking.

6. Mai Gallery 


One of the first and most significant galleries to emerge following Doi Moi, the Mai Gallery is synonymous with the foundation and development of contemporary art in Hanoi. Originally exhibiting pioneering Vietnamese painters like Dang Xuan Hoa, Nguyen Quan, Ha Tri Hieu, and Hong Viet Dung (members of the now lauded Gang of Five), a new generation of Vietnamese artists have now assumed their mantle for innovation and are showing their work here. Expertly curated by owner Tran Phuong Mai, the Mai Gallery takes pride as a place for fine contemporary art and is synonymous with the city’s best artists. Now situated in a modern three-story gallery on Hang Bong Street, you will find refreshing diversity here—impressionist-inspired paintings are superbly balanced with a multitude of other styles and disciplines.

Experience Contemporary Art in Hanoi, Vietnam

gang of five vietnam

Arguably there has never been a better time to experience contemporary art in Hanoi. New artists are emerging, and galleries have never had as much freedom as they have now. Whether it be painting or performative art, Vietnam’s capital has something to offer for any art aficionado visiting Asia. This article has hopefully provided you with an entry point into the enthralling world of contemporary art in Hanoi.

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What Are the 9 Best Contemporary Art Movements?

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By Cameron Mason MA Social Anthropology, MSc Comparative Public Policy Cameron is a freelance writer currently based in Vietnam. He has an MA in Social Anthropology and an MSc in Comparative Public Policy, both from the University of Edinburgh.

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TRAVEL GUIDE: 7 places to visit in Germany if you're a fan of 'Queen of Tears'

By Yoniel Acebuche Published Apr 10, 2024 5:57 pm

While a star-studded cast, witty banter, and fantastical narratives draw us in, Korean dramas also surprise us with stunning backdrops. These locations fuel our wanderlust with dreamy scenes beyond South Korea.

Case in point: tvN's Queen of Tears featuring A-list stars Kim Soo Hyun and Kim Ji Won .

The romance drama, which is now the third highest-rating drama in tvN history, follows the "miraculous, thrilling, and humorous love story" of Baek Hyun-woo and Hong Hae-in, a couple facing marital burnout.

Queen of Tears features Germany prominently—a location that holds special significance for the on-screen couple as it was their honeymoon destination and the place where their love story reignited.

From The Neptune Fountain to the Taoasis Garden, d iscover the places that captured Ji-won's heart and became her " most favorite scenes " in the series. Read with caution though, this article may contain spoilers!

Neptunbrunnen (The Neptune Fountain)

good cities to visit in vietnam

The series kicks off with a scene where the press interviews the two couples about their married lives. While Hyun-woo narrates the "wedding of the century," the show offers a montage of the couple on their German honeymoon. One of which is Berlin's Neptunbrunnen, or the Neptune Fountain.

The Neptunbrunnen, by German artist Reinhold Begas, with its 18-meter-wide swimming pool and a ten-meter-tall statue of the Roman sea deity Neptune, is one of the world's largest fountain sculptures.

Spree River

good cities to visit in vietnam

Another scenic place presented in their honeymoon is their romantic sunset kissing scene on the banks of the Spree River , where the original center of Berlin was built.

Many major monuments are located on its banks, so a boat ride is highly recommended to enjoy your trip and discover the city. If you want more physical adventure, bike rentals are also available in the area.

Sanssouci Palace

good cities to visit in vietnam

In the following episodes, Kim Ji Won's character traveled to Germany to seek approval for a new cancer therapy. Subtly hoping that Baek Hyun Woo would accompany her, she concealed her true sentiments by acting as though she was more at ease traveling alone.

But after she had departed, Hyun Woo couldn't stop thinking about his wife and ended up taking a plane to Germany to find her. This resulted in a beautiful, serendipitous reunion at Sanssouci Palace, a location that carried sentimental memories from the couple's honeymoon.

ICYDK, Sansscouci is a historical building in Potsdam near Berlin. With its name literally translating to "without worries" in French, the historic structure was constructed for Prussian King Frederick the Great as his summer palace between 1745 and 1747.

The complex, which includes the palaces and park, is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its exceptional architectural design and landscaping.

The Rooftop Terrace — Hotel de Rome

good cities to visit in vietnam

With its expansive views of Berlin, the Hotel de Rome's rooftop terrace provides an emotional backdrop for the lovers' attempts to rekindle their romance in episode six. This includes the moment when Hae-in asks Hyun-woo if he would cry during the former's funeral, making the latter want to feel sad.

Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom)

good cities to visit in vietnam

Hyun-woo offers a prayer to Hae-in in the Berlin Cathedral , one of the city's most prominent spots, following the latter's search for cancer therapy.

Though it is not totally seen in the series, Berliner Dom "marks the spot of the impressive basilica housing the city's most important Protestant church."But even though it was called a cathedral, it has the status of a parish church.

Eiserner Steg

good cities to visit in vietnam

Episode six continued with Hae-in beginning to look for the love locks she and her husband had secured on the Eiserner Steg or the Iron Bridge railings three years ago.

Located in Frankfurt, Germany, which is over five hours away from Berlin, Eiserner Steg is one of Frankfurt's iconic landmarks, which was "opened in 1869 to alleviate the heavy traffic on the only bridge between the north and south parts of town."

Using this bridge, you can explore Frankfurt's exquisite old buildings and fascinating museums without having to walk very far.

Taoasis Botanical Scent Garden

good cities to visit in vietnam

This botanical garden, which has over 500,000 plants used to extract aromas and essential oils, provides a tranquil setting for the K-drama's first episode.

Likewise, Taoasis houses the lavender Lavandula angustifolia , "from which the unique harmonizing and calming lavender oil is obtained."

Moreover, the place caters to "almost all the important aromatic medicinal plants and herbs such as rosemary, hyssop, lemon balm, peppermint, oregano, St. John's wort, yarrow, and much more Fascinating Mediterranean plants and fragrant exotic plants," according to its website .

TAGS: Netflix travel K-drama Germany EUROPE Queen of Tears

Yoniel Acebuche

Yoniel Acebuche is a journalist by profession and a beauty queen by passion. She has constantly joined beauty pageants in different cities and fiestas across the Philippines ever since she was 15. Writing and pageantry are her empowering ways to connect to other people as well as to understand herself.

good cities to visit in vietnam

Best Places to Travel Solo | Money

Traveling exposes us to new places, cultures and people. For many, it’s one of the great joys of life. If you’re an independent spirit looking for safe places to travel by yourself, our guide can be an excellent place to start your research.

Keep reading to learn about our top picks for the best places to travel alone and how to make the most of your trip.

Our Top Picks for Best Places to Travel Solo

  • Barcelona, Spain: Best for first-time solo travelers
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Best for solo backpacking
  • Montreal, Canada: Best for solo female travelers
  • Chicago, Illinois: Best for going on solo travel tours
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia: Best budget solo travel destination

Best Places to Travel Solo Reviews

Best for first-time solo travelers: barcelona, spain.

  • Offers many travel experiences in a single city
  • Easy to get around town without a car
  • Year-round good weather means you can visit in any season
  • More expensive than other options on our list
  • Can get very busy during popular travel times

Why we chose it : Barcelona is a beautiful and historic European city with something for everyone to enjoy. It boasts stunning gothic architecture, sandy beaches, a bustling nightlife and prices that will help you stretch your budget.

Spain is considerably affordable compared to other European countries, and Barcelona is its crown jewel. The city has roots tracing back to the end of the 1st century BCE and beautiful architecture throughout its winding streets, such as Gaudí’s Casa Batlló and his world-famous unfinished church, La Sagrada Familia.

If you tire of exploring Barcelona’s impressive history, gorgeous Barceloneta Beach is just a few minutes away from the city center. And at night, you’ll find plenty of entertainment options, from rooftop bars and clubs to concert venues and flamenco shows.

Barcelona is excellent for first-time solo travelers because its compact layout, wide sidewalks and excellent public transportation makes getting around town without a car a breeze. U.S. travelers can also visit for up to 90 days without a visa . However, Barcelona is more expensive than other options on our list and can be very busy during popular travel times.

Best for solo backpacking: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

  • Very affordable accommodations, food and attractions
  • Is easy to navigate, with a developed transportation system
  • Has a vibrant expat community
  • U.S. citizens need a tourist visa to visit Vietnam

Why we chose it : Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling and affordable city that offers a wide range of attractions for solo travelers, from inexpensive food and accommodations to an abundance of cultural and historical sites.

Visiting Ho Chi Minh City has become something of a bucket-list item for many backpackers. Its vibrant culture, friendly people and amazing food attract millions of tourists annually. And it’s also one of Vietnam’s safest cities .

Try some of the mouth-watering street food available in pretty much every corner of the city (especially Districts 1, 3 and 5), do some shopping at the Ben Thanh Market, visit the Notre Dame Cathedral or book a tour of the Mekong Delta to learn more about the local flora and fauna.

Getting around is also pretty easy, with many transportation options, from the new metro to buses, taxis and motorbikes. However, one thing to keep in mind is that U.S. citizens need to apply for a Visa before they can be granted entry into Vietnam.

Best for solo female travelers: Montreal, Canada

  • Very safe and walkable city
  • Visitors can stay for up to six months without a Visa
  • Toronto is only five hours away by direct train
  • Not a great option for budget travelers
  • The winter weather can be harsh

Why we chose it : Montreal is one of the safest cities in Canada, and it is only a short flight away for travelers from the U.S. The city has a vibrant art scene, a diverse population and plenty of old-world charm with its mix of classic and modern architecture.

Traveling solo as a woman might cause your loved ones some anxiety. But Montreal is a great place for women to travel alone. The city is safe and offers much to do, from beautiful architecture, such as Notre-Dame Basilica, to artisanal shopping in Old Montreal. And while the population is predominantly French-speaking, many residents also speak English, so you should have no problem communicating.

Visitors from the United States can stay in Montreal for up to six months without a visa. It’s also a good point of departure for exploring the rest of Canada. Trains depart for Toronto several times a day, and the trip is about five hours.

Accommodations in Montreal can be more expensive than in other international destinations, but enrolling in the best hotel rewards programs may help.

Best for going on solo travel tours: Chicago, Illinois

  • You can find many different types of guided tours
  • Has an excellent public transportation system
  • One of the best culinary destinations in the U.S.
  • Weather can be unpleasant if you visit at the wrong time

Why we chose it : Chicago is home to some of the best travel tours in the country. From river cruises to walking food and drink excursions, you’ll have no problem filling your time in the Windy City.

Chicago is one of the best places to travel in the U.S. It’s home to a wide variety of guided tours, covering everything from the city’s mob history to its architecture and natural landmarks. And if you love Chicago dogs or deep-dish pizza, you can take a walking food tour to enjoy some of the city’s best restaurants in a single day.

Chicago is also home to inspiring architecture, such as Willis Tower and Cloud Gate in Millennium Park. The city is a more affordable place to visit than other U.S. cities of its size, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. And if you visit in summer, you’ll have perfect weather for relaxing on the beaches of Lake Michigan, located in the heart of the city.

Depending on what you’re looking for, visiting the city between May and October could be your best bet, as winters can be very cold, with average temperatures ranging between 22 F and 37 F.

Best budget solo travel destination: Ljubljana, Slovenia

  • A highly affordable travel destination
  • Easy entrance requirements for U.S. citizens
  • Classic European architecture and dining options
  • Plenty of green spaces to lounge and relax
  • Doesn't have a strong nightlife culture
  • Crowds can be overwhelming during peak travel seasons

Why we chose it : Slovenia is one of the most affordable European countries, and Ljubljana is one of the country’s most beautiful destinations. It’s home to classic European cobblestone streets and its stunning architecture and exhibits can keep you busy for weeks without breaking your budget.

Ljubljana is an affordable European destination with beautiful green spaces and incredible architecture, including the Ljubljana Castle and the Robba Fountain. It’s also highly walkable and pedestrian-friendly, as car traffic is banned in the city center.

Hotels are cheaper here than in more popular destinations such as France or Italy, which is a big reason why Ljubljana is one of the best international places to travel . There are also many great affordable restaurants and open-air cafes.

U.S. citizens can remain in Slovenia for up to 90 days without a visa, making it easy to extend their stay with the money they save.

However, Ljubljana is not known for its nightlife, as many bars close earlier than elsewhere in Europe. Plus, it has become more popular in recent years, and crowds are abundant during peak seasons, especially the summer.

Other places to travel solo we considered

We compiled our list of the best places to travel alone by evaluating global destinations based on safety, affordability, cultural and historical sites and convenience, among other factors.

Although the following destinations didn’t make it into our top list, they’re still worth considering as you plan your travels.

Reykjavik, Iceland

  • Close to beautiful natural landmarks
  • It's possible to see the Northern Lights when conditions allow
  • Home to many museums and several Michelin-starred restaurants
  • More expensive than other popular travel destinations
  • The region's weather can be bleak
  • Long periods of darkness and sunlight can interfere with your sleep schedule

Reykjavik is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with stunning mountains and beaches everywhere you look. However, it’s an expensive destination and experiences prolonged periods of darkness and sunlight that may be difficult to adjust to.

  • Some of the best food in South America
  • Miles of beautiful coastline to explore
  • Friendly locals - many of whom speak at least some English
  • Travelers can suffer from altitude sickness in some popular attractions
  • The city is sprawling, which can increase travel times and make traffic worse

Lima is a beautiful South American destination with picturesque beaches and affordable accommodations. It’s also a foodie’s dream, with a wide variety of tasty local and international restaurants available at budget-friendly prices.

Just remember that traffic congestions are common and can make it hard to get around. Additionally, some travelers may experience altitude sickness in high-altitude locations like Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Knoxville, Tennessee

  • Has beautiful outdoor settings
  • Minimal traffic
  • Moderate prices for accommodations
  • There isn't as much to do in Knoxville as in other travel destinations
  • Public transportation options are limited

Knoxville is the third-largest city in Tennessee, but it maintains a small-town feel. It’s home to beautiful attractions, such as the Great Smoky Mountains and the World’s Fair Park, and has enough cultural exhibits and museums to keep you busy.

Nevertheless, there isn’t quite as much to do here as in other cities, and public transportation is comparatively limited.

Places to Travel Solo Guide

Traveling alone can be intimidating, but a little preparation can go a long way. This guide covers some of the best travel tips to help you plan your next solo trip.

Why travel solo?

As with everything, there are pros and cons to traveling alone.

Some of the benefits of solo travel include:

  • The ability to plan trips according to your schedule
  • Paying less for dining and experiences
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone and getting to know yourself better
  • Having more time to reflect and relax in peace

Of course, to enjoy your solo vacation to the fullest, practice general safety precautions. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, do some proper research before visiting new places and consider hiring a guide if you’re doing outdoor activities in remote locations.

How to travel alone

Traveling alone can be a wonderful experience. But it often requires more planning and initiative than group trips. The following tips for traveling alone should help you make the most of your next solo trip.

Research your travel destination extensively

The more research you do before visiting a destination, the more prepared you will be to enjoy it. Pay close attention to the following:

  • Climate : Be aware of the weather conditions at your destination to avoid potential hazards, pack the right gear and plan appropriate activities.
  • Top attractions : Plan your itinerary by mapping out the attractions you want to visit and checking their distance from your accommodations. This will help you create a realistic schedule and determine if you need to book transportation for any day trips.
  • Cost : Consider the average cost of accommodations, meals and attractions to create a realistic budget.
  • Public transportation : This is an important consideration, as visiting a destination with insufficient or unreliable public transportation translates into additional expenses.
  • Language barrier : Consider downloading translation apps or learning basic phrases in your destination’s native language if English isn’t widely spoken there.
  • Food : If you have any dietary restrictions, check the availability of suitable food options at your destination and plan your meals.

Stay connected with your friends and family

When traveling alone, keep your loved ones informed of where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing. That way, your family can call for help if they don’t hear back from you in a reasonable timeframe.

Depending on your destination, you may consider purchasing an international SIM card or an international phone plan with your existing carrier to text and call your people back home.

Finally, you can register your trip with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) through the U.S. State Department. STEP is a free service that allows you to receive automatic safety and travel updates from the U.S. embassy in the country you’re visiting. It also makes it easier for friends and family to reach you in an emergency.

Consider travel insurance

If you’ve spent quite a bit of money on non-refundable travel expenses and it hasn’t been that long since you made your initial trip deposit, consider travel insurance to safeguard your investment. A travel insurance policy can help you recoup a portion of pre-paid travel expenses if you cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason.

Travel medical insurance could also be worthwhile if you’re going on an extended trip, as it would cover some of your medical expenses in an emergency, including medical evacuation and repatriation. And some plans even include additional services like language support, which could be helpful if English isn’t widely spoken where you’re visiting.

If this sounds like something you’re interested in, check out our guide to the best travel insurance companies .

Try new things

Now that we’ve covered some of the most important things to do before leaving for a solo trip, let’s explore how to get as much enjoyment out of your travels as possible while you’re there. The best advice we can give you is to get out of your comfort zone and try new things.

If you genuinely want to experience everything other cultures have to offer, you can’t spend your days doing the same things you do at home. So take a chance and live as the locals do. You’ll be happy you did.

Interact with the locals

The best way to forget you’re traveling alone is to befriend the locals. Your new friends can keep you company, guide you to the best places in town (the ones that aren’t in any tourist guides) and help to make your trip more enjoyable overall.

Meeting locals is much easier to do now than before the Internet. A wide variety of online resources can connect you to local events and groups where you can meet people. Some of the best options for this include:

  • Facebook expat groups for the destination you’re visiting
  • The subreddit for your destination (such as r/Paris and r/Chicago)

Some professional and religious groups may have international meetups as well. This can be a fantastic way to meet locals with whom you already have something in common.

Take plenty of pictures (with you in them)

Last but not least, make sure you take plenty of pictures to share with your people back home. Landmarks can be great, but you should also be in some of the photos. Most people will happily snap pictures of you if you ask nicely.

What to do when traveling alone

Traveling alone can be one of the best experiences of your life or a challenge that quickly loses its appeal. To give yourself the best chance of having an ideal trip, remember the following strategies during your travels:

  • Be flexible : Flexibility is a must for solo travelers. You’ll have more fun if you take advantage of chance encounters and throw away your schedule when necessary.
  • Take group tours and classes : Just because you arrive at your destination alone doesn’t mean you must spend every minute there alone. Group tours and classes will help you meet people and give you a chance to socialize when you’re feeling lonely.
  • Stay in places that encourage talking : If you’re concerned about feeling lonely, consider staying at a hostel or bed and breakfast. Shared accommodations like these are more affordable than the best hotels and can be a great way to meet people.
  • Gather first-hand advice : You can use Reddit and other resources to read about the experiences other solo travelers have had at your destination. These firsthand accounts can alert you to problems you may not have considered otherwise and new opportunities for fun.
  • Sign up for free rewards programs : Airlines , hotel chains and third-party booking sites often have reward programs that help you save money if you’re a frequent traveler. You may also want to look into the best airline credit cards and best travel credit cards if you plan on traveling alone regularly.
  • Prioritize your safety : Traveling alone can make you a target, so prioritizing safety is important. Be proactive about telling others where you’ll be and take yourself out of situations you feel unsure about to enjoy your trip without incident.

Staying safe is a critical consideration for solo travelers. One way to do that is by avoiding reckless behavior, such as drinking excessively and venturing alone into places locals deem unsafe.

Take the time to thoroughly research your destination, share your travel plans with friends and family and prepare an emergency plan.

Finally, consider travel insurance. If something does happen while you’re traveling alone, it will provide financial support so you can go to the hospital without worrying about breaking your budget.

You could save up enough money to make the cost of travel insurance negligible by signing up for one of the best airline rewards programs .

Places to Travel Solo FAQ

What are the safest places to travel alone, is solo female travel safe, how old do you have to be to travel alone, how we chose the best places to travel solo.

We evaluated the best places to travel solo based on the following criteria:

  • Cost of accommodations, experiences and meals
  • Crime rates
  • Reviews and guides from experienced solo travelers
  • Natural and cultural attractions
  • Strictness of entry criteria

Summary of Money’s Best Places to Travel Solo

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2044 solar eclipse path: See where in US totality hits in next eclipse

Compared to this year's eclipse, with a path of totality that will cross over 13 states, the 2044 total solar eclipse won't have as quite as broad of a reach. here's what to know:.

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Millions of Americans are by now eagerly awaiting the next total solar eclipse , which is only hours away from passing over a large swath of the continent .

But when the celestial event comes and goes, the awe-inspiring impression it leaves on skygazers may leave them with one question: "When can we see that again?"

Unfortunately, we'll have to wait awhile – this sort of spectacular astral phenomenon doesn't happen very often . Here's what we know about the next total solar eclipse that will cross over the contiguous U.S.

Solar eclipse glasses: What to know about glasses, safe viewing before the solar eclipse

When will the next total solar eclipse happen in the U.S?

Only seven years have passed since Americans had the opportunity to view a total solar eclipse, a relatively rare celestial event in which the moon appears to us here on Earth to completely block the sun.

The resulting fleeting moments of darkness can last for minutes or just mere seconds and is known as " totality ," whereby the sun's outermost layer known as the corona makes a rare appearance.

Today's total solar eclipse , the first in North America since 2017, will travel over portions of northern Mexico, thousands of miles of the U.S. and the maritime provinces of Canada, according to NASA . According to astronomers, this eclipse will be brighter, will last longer and will be visible to more people than the last one in North America.

It's also the last one for 20 years in the United States.

After Monday, the next total solar eclipse viewable from the lower 48 states will be on Aug. 23, 2044.

2044 total solar eclipse path of totality

Compared to this year's eclipse, with a path of totality that will cross over 13 states, the 2044 total solar eclipse won't have as quite as broad of a reach .

The Planetary Society, a nonprofit involved in research, public outreach and political space advocacy, says that during the 2044 eclipse, the path of totality will only touch three states.

The eclipse will begin in Greenland, sweep through Canada and end around sunset in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

It's not too early to start thinking about where you want to witness it. According to whenisthenexteclipse.com , Americans may want to make sure their passports up to date.

The place to be will likely be Banff National Park in Alberta and Jasper National Park , with Calgary and Edmonton also within the path of totality.

What to know about the 2033 eclipse in Alaska

Outside of the "lower 48," Alaska is set to experience a total solar eclipse much sooner.

On March 30, 2033, a total solar eclipse will occur in Russia and cross over Alaska, according to nationaleclipse.com . The maximum duration of totality for this eclipse will be 2 minutes and 37 seconds.

Contributing: Mary Walrath-Holdridge and Gabe Hauari

Eric Lagatta covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach him at [email protected]


What Solar Eclipse-Gazing Has Looked Like for the Past 2 Centuries

Millions of people on Monday will continue the tradition of experiencing and capturing solar eclipses, a pursuit that has spawned a lot of unusual gear.

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In a black-and-white photo from 1945, nine men, some in military uniforms, stand in the middle of a New York City street. They are holding a small piece of what looks like glass or a photographic negative above their heads to protect their eyes as they watch the eclipse. The original border of the print, as well as some numbers and crop marks drawn onto it, are visible.

By Sarah Eckinger

  • April 8, 2024

For centuries, people have been clamoring to glimpse solar eclipses. From astronomers with custom-built photographic equipment to groups huddled together with special glasses, this spectacle has captivated the human imagination.

Creating a Permanent Record

In 1860, Warren de la Rue captured what many sources describe as the first photograph of a total solar eclipse . He took it in Rivabellosa, Spain, with an instrument known as the Kew Photoheliograph . This combination of a telescope and camera was specifically built to photograph the sun.

Forty years later, Nevil Maskelyne, a magician and an astronomy enthusiast, filmed a total solar eclipse in North Carolina. The footage was lost, however, and only released in 2019 after it was rediscovered in the Royal Astronomical Society’s archives.

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Telescopic Vision

For scientists and astronomers, eclipses provide an opportunity not only to view the moon’s umbra and gaze at the sun’s corona, but also to make observations that further their studies. Many observatories, or friendly neighbors with a telescope, also make their instruments available to the public during eclipses.

Fredrik Hjalmar Johansen, Fridtjof Nansen and Sigurd Scott Hansen observing a solar eclipse while on a polar expedition in 1894 .

Women from Wellesley College in Massachusetts and their professor tested out equipment ahead of their eclipse trip (to “catch old Sol in the act,” as the original New York Times article phrased it) to New London, Conn., in 1922.

A group from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania traveled to Yerbaniz, Mexico, in 1923, with telescopes and a 65-foot camera to observe the sun’s corona .

Dr. J.J. Nassau, director of the Warner and Swasey Observatory at Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland, prepared to head to Douglas Hill, Maine, to study an eclipse in 1932. An entire freight car was required to transport the institution’s equipment.

Visitors viewed a solar eclipse at an observatory in Berlin in the mid-1930s.

A family set up two telescopes in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 1963. The two children placed stones on the base to help steady them.

An astronomer examined equipment for an eclipse in a desert in Mauritania in June 1973. We credit the hot climate for his choice in outfit.

Indirect Light

If you see people on Monday sprinting to your local park clutching pieces of paper, or with a cardboard box of their head, they are probably planning to reflect or project images of the solar eclipse onto a surface.

Cynthia Goulakos demonstrated a safe way to view a solar eclipse , with two pieces of cardboard to create a reflection of the shadowed sun, in Lowell, Mass., in 1970.

Another popular option is to create a pinhole camera. This woman did so in Central Park in 1963 by using a paper cup with a small hole in the bottom and a twin-lens reflex camera.

Amateur astronomers viewed a partial eclipse, projected from a telescope onto a screen, from atop the Empire State Building in 1967 .

Back in Central Park, in 1970, Irving Schwartz and his wife reflected an eclipse onto a piece of paper by holding binoculars on the edge of a garbage basket.

Children in Denver in 1979 used cardboard viewing boxes and pieces of paper with small pinholes to view projections of a partial eclipse.

A crowd gathered around a basin of water dyed with dark ink, waiting for the reflection of a solar eclipse to appear, in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 1995.

Staring at the Sun (or, How Not to Burn Your Retinas)

Eclipse-gazers have used different methods to protect their eyes throughout the years, some safer than others .

In 1927, women gathered at a window in a building in London to watch a total eclipse through smoked glass. This was popularized in France in the 1700s , but fell out of favor when physicians began writing papers on children whose vision was damaged.

Another trend was to use a strip of exposed photographic film, as seen below in Sydney, Australia, in 1948 and in Turkana, Kenya, in 1963. This method, which was even suggested by The Times in 1979 , has since been declared unsafe.

Solar eclipse glasses are a popular and safe way to view the event ( if you use models compliant with international safety standards ). Over the years there have been various styles, including these large hand-held options found in West Palm Beach, Fla., in 1979.

Parents and children watched a partial eclipse through their eclipse glasses in Tokyo in 1981.

Slimmer, more colorful options were used in Nabusimake, Colombia, in 1998.

In France in 1999.

And in Iran and England in 1999.

And the best way to see the eclipse? With family and friends at a watch party, like this one in Isalo National Park in Madagascar in 2001.


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