The 12 best places to visit in Vietnam
Vietnam is a magnificent combination of natural beauty and cultural diversity. The country’s landscapes range from jagged peaks seen from windswept mountain passages to rice paddies painted in all shades of green. In turn, Vietnam’s long history, as well as the presence of a huge number of small nations, means that cultural enthusiasts are sure to find something to occupy themselves. Lovers of trekking, biking, and recreation in nature can safely go to the countryside, where there are many national parks. However, even the laziest tourist should explore the beauty of the karst landscapes of Halong Bay, at least as part of a comfortable cruise. While the countryside is filled with delightful panoramic views of nature, the cities are buzzing with modern life, and provide excellent opportunities to experience the delicious cuisine of Vietnam. This stunning country is full of surprises and is undoubtedly one of the underrated gems of Southeast Asia.
1. Halong Bay.
The karst seascape of Halong Bay is one of the most enchanting seascapes in the world, which has been commended for its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The bay (which belongs to the Gulf of Tonkin) contains thousands of limestone islets. The wind and water that has acted on them over thousands of years have turned the islets into jagged rocks. The local beauty is best revealed from boat tours, and therefore there are many different cruise ships. We advise you to choose an overnight cruise, as one day tour will not be enough to fully enjoy the beauty of the bay. On its territory, by the way, there are many caves that you can enter. Among them, for example, caves Khan Sung Sot, consisting of three huge dungeons, or caves Khan Dao Go with their strange stalagmites and stalactites. However, many tourists prefer to simply sail around the bay to enjoy its magnificent scenery.
2. Ho Chi Minh City
For lovers of big cities, a visit to Vietnam would not be complete without a visit to Ho Chi Minh City, which is the bustling commercial center of the country. Its streets are a mad jumble of motorcycles and cars. Its restaurants and cafes are astonishingly diverse, and certainly its stores are the best in the whole country. The center of the city is the small and pleasant neighborhood of Dong Hui, where most of the sights are concentrated. Here you’ll find the City Museum, which has an excellent collection of artifacts related to the city’s history. This is also where you can find Saigon’s Cathedral of Our Lady of Saigon, built in the late 19th century. If you take a walk to the nearby district of Da Cao you’ll see perfectly preserved examples of French colonial architecture. There is also the Jade Emperor’s Pagoda, where you can learn about the traditions of Buddhist and Taoist iconography. Finally, all history buffs should visit the Historical Museum, which displays various antiquities from several archaeological sites. For many visitors, there are two attractions in the city that should not be missed. Both are only slightly outside the central district, on Nguyen Thi Minh Hai Street. The first attraction is the Unification Palace, formerly known as the Palace of Independence. This was the residence of the president of South Vietnam. It is mostly known as “the very place” where the North Vietnamese tanks stopped on April 30, 1975, which marked the end of the war. It’s quite an interesting place, with furniture from the ’60s still standing there. The second attraction is the Victims of War Museum located near the palace. Despite some obvious bias, the museum clearly demonstrates the horrors of the war and sheds light on the many acts of brutality carried out by American troops during the Vietnam War.
3. Hue City
Hue is considered one of the most historic cities in the country. Probably because it is packed with relics from the reign of the Nguyen dynasty emperors in the 19th century. The city is located on the banks of the Huong River (Fragrant River). The Imperial Citadel is a huge area surrounded by a wall, a length of 2.5 km. Once on the grounds, pay special attention to the magnificent Ngo Mon Gate, Tay Hoa Palace with magnificent interiors and the residence of Dien Tho, where the Emperor’s mother lived. Equally interesting are the Mandarin Halls, mainly because of the preserved ceiling paintings. Outside the walls of the Imperial Citadel, there are also several historical sites. The best way to see the sights scattered throughout the city is to take a boat tour on the Huong River. A day cruise will allow you to visit several royal tombs and temples. If you have limited time, know that the best tomb in the region is Tu Doc and the best pagoda is Tien Mu with its 21 meter high tower.
4. Fongnya Kebang National Park
This park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a speleologist’s dream. It is a karst mountain formation, something resembling a honeycomb, consisting of huge caves full of stalactites and stalagmites. The most popular point of the park is Paradise Cave, whose underground caves stretch for 31 kilometers. The gaping caves in this area are truly magnificent. For instance, Tu Lan Cave is a “wet cave. A visit here involves navigating an underground river. Another popular tourist destination is the Phongnya Caves, which can be accessed by boat. Trips to Fongnya Kebang Park are made from San Trach village.
5. Michonne .
Surrounded by forested mountains, the Mishon complex is the ruins of a temple city from the Ch’ang era, which dates back to the 4th century. It was an ancient Hindu religious center that was in active use from the seventh to the tenth century. It only fell into decline by the 13th century. There are about 20 temple structures still standing here, built of sandstone bricks. Their architectural style shows the influence of various Asian civilizations, including Indian and Malay. Group B temples are older than Group A temples. The latter housed the most important monument of the entire complex, but it was destroyed by U.S. aircraft during the Vietnam War. Mishon has a good museum offering much information about the Tian people. You can get to Michon from Hoi An.
6. Hoi An City
The beautiful city of Hoi An is the most atmospheric city in Vietnam with lots of historical architecture. The old town area is extremely interesting to explore on foot as there are old merchant houses that remind you of the times when Hoi An was a thriving trading center (around the 15th century). Traders from China and Japan used to meet here and buy local silk. Many of the merchant houses are open to the public, allowing you to feel the atmosphere of bygone times. The best of these houses is rightly considered to be Tan Kii, which boasts both magnificent architecture and interesting decorative elements. A true symbol of the city is the Japanese Bridge at the western end of Tran Phu Street. Nearby is the Chinese Community Meeting Hall, whose building is considered the most lavishly decorated in the entire area. There are several small pagodas scattered around the city, but the main charm of Hoi An lies in its old streets, which you can simply walk around admiring the beautiful facades.
7. Sapa District
Surrounding Sapa town are green rice paddies surrounded by the serrated peaks of the Hoanglien Mountains (also known by their French colonial name of the Tonkin Alps). Overall, the area is almost the most beautiful rural region in all of Vietnam. The vast valley is home to various small nationalities of the country, and the surrounding hills are occupied by rice paddies. Above it all is the largest mountain peak in Vietnam. The whole area is a great setting for hiking, both day hikes and longer hikes. You can just hike from one village to another while enjoying the mountain views. The town of Sapa is a great base point for accommodations. It is an old French station that has developed into a fast-growing tourist center that contrasts wonderfully with the tranquil countryside around it.
Vietnam’s capital is the true heart of the nation, and a place where travelers will be thrilled and charmed at the same time. The abundance of crazy motorcyclists, the constant air pollution, the noise of street vendors – all this can put the unprepared tourist into a stupor. But if you want to experience urban Vietnam, there’s no better place to be. The Old Town quarter is especially charming. Connoisseurs of history, by the way, will find here a lot of excellent museums. The Vietnamese Ethnographic Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts are excellent introductions to the country’s diverse culture. A tribute to the founder of modern Vietnam its inhabitants expressed in the form of the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh City.
9. Nha Trang City
If you like sandy beaches, you need to go to Nha Trang. Six-kilometer zone along the coast is solid landscaped beaches. In the summer there is a rush, caused by both local tourists and foreign tourists. There are excellent conditions for bathing, both in terms of preparation of beaches and well-maintained area in general. Here you can calmly relax on the sand on a hot day, periodically dipping into the sea. If you get tired of sunbathing, you can walk to the ancient temple of Ponagar, which is located north of the bridge Xom Bong. The temple has been used for worship since at least the 7th century, although many historians claim the place has been sacred since much older times. Also worth seeing is the museum dedicated to the French doctor Alexandre Jersen, who discovered the bubonic plague pathogen and founded the Pasteur Institute in Nha Trang (which is still involved in vaccination in Vietnam).
10. Kuti Tunnels
These tunnels guarantee a great experience for all visitors, not only those who are interested in the modern history of Vietnam. This is an extensive network of tunnels, the length of which during the Vietnam War was up to 250 km. This network was used by the Viet Cong (South Vietnamese guerrillas) fighters around Ho Chi Minh City. Two short sections of the tunnels are open for visits. Together with a guide, you can walk deep into the narrow, unlit dungeon, which clearly will not please people with claustrophobia. In some places you will literally have to crawl on all fours. The tunnels can be accessed from the village of Ben Duoc or Ben Dinh (the more popular option).
11. Ba Be National Park
The tranquil Ba Be National Park boasts three connected lakes at its heart. The lakes are surrounded by rocky peaks and wooded mountain peaks. Most hikers show up at the park for a relaxing boat trip on the lake or a kayak ride. In the process, you can check out the local caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites. For more active visitors, we recommend hiking the surrounding hills, which are home to villages of various small ethnicities. The park is one of the most peaceful places in all of Vietnam. Travellers staying overnight are accommodated in traditional huts on stilts in family-run guesthouses. They are located right on the shore of the lake, allowing you to touch the simple life of the country’s rural population.
12. The Mekong River Delta
In the very south of Vietnam, the mighty Mekong River finally finds its way to the sea, forming a maze of waterways that cross floodplain meadows. The delta of the river is a very attractive place for tourists, because there are a lot of interesting things here. For example: lush rice fields, mangroves, boiling local color and chaotic floating markets, which can only be accessed by boat. The most popular town in the delta is Kantho, which is often used as a base by tourists. The Phong Dien and Cai Rang floating markets are not far away, and boat tours from Camau will allow you to discover the Yuming mangrove forest and the Cau Mau National Reserve.
Vietnam’s 10 Best Resorts
Describing and comparing the best resorts and beaches in Vietnam – famous and not so famous. Tourist reviews and personal experiences from traveling around the country. Map of Vietnam in Russian with resorts. Choose where to go for a vacation!
At what resorts in Vietnam you can have a good vacation? Let’s try to understand, considering the most popular tourist destinations of the country.
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Nha Trang .
Are you looking for good infrastructure and beach vacations? Then the best resort to go on vacation in Vietnam is Nha Trang. The beaches are well-groomed and equipped, although not paradise: almost everywhere the sand is yellow and coarse, and the bottom is uneven. Sometimes there are strong waves, and holidaymakers with children go where there are shallows and beautiful beaches with white sand (Paragon, Zoklet, etc. – read more about the best beaches in Nha Trang).
Когда ехать. Лучше всего отдыхать в Нячанге весной и летом . С октября начинается сезон дождей — дуют сильные ветры, и море волнуется. Зимой бывает некомфортно из-за волн, но они есть не всегда. Мы отдыхали именно зимой — это прекрасное время для экскурсий и поездок по окрестностям! Узнайте о погоде в Нячанге зимой >>
Nha Trang city beach. Rice fields on the road to Yang Bay Park on the outskirts of Nha Trang.
Cam Ranh is a small seaside village located in the bay of the same name. The most famous beach is Bai Zai, here often comes from neighboring Nha Trang.
The beach is only 30 meters wide, but very long, with fine sand and a gentle entrance. There are restaurants and hotels on the beach, you can rent a deck chair with an umbrella and water skiing.
When to go. The climate is the same as in Nha Trang, so come in spring and summer.
Reach for the sky. Standing with a friend on the shore of the South China Sea. Bai Zai Beach, Cam Ranh.
Where to go in Vietnam if you want a quiet beach vacation? Phu Quoc Island is a quiet resort, a center of diving and snorkeling. Beautiful beaches, interesting underwater world, the clearest water and a warm climate. The infrastructure is actively developing, but there is no nightlife, and there are few attractions. Although we know a few secret places that will not leave you indifferent.
Когда ехать. Сезон длится с ноября по март , когда не слишком жарко. Самые знойные месяцы — с апреля по июнь, а с июля по сентябрь льют дожди. Мы прожили на Фукуоке весь январь и встретили там Новый год — было солнечно и без осадков. Узнайте про погоду на Фукуоке >>
Mui Ne and Phan Thiet.
The narrow 17-kilometer resort area between Phan Thiet and the fishing village of Mui Ne is simply called Mui Ne by everyone. This is a pile-up of hotels, souvenir shops, bokeh (seafood cafes), travel agencies and pharmacies. Most hotels are located on the first line. The best beaches are occupied by expensive hotels, the sites are worse – the budget. The beaches of Mui Ne we did not like – they are mostly dirty. Everywhere shallow water and waves, so you can not swim. But there are interesting attractions in the area: the red and white dunes, Fairy Creek.
When to go. There are no strong climatic swings as in the northern resorts of Vietnam. However, the best time to vacation is during the dry period – from November to April . Strong winds blow most of the time, so this place is loved by kiters and surfers. They prefer to vacation from January to March, when the sea has high waves. From April to late fall, the sea is a little calmer.
Among Russians this resort in Vietnam is almost unknown (everyone goes to Nha Trang, Mui Ne and Phu Quoc), the Vietnamese rest here. The city is large and modern, with spacious streets and not too dense traffic, so it’s easy to learn to ride a bike.
The best beaches in Da Nang with white sand and gentle entrance to the sea are Bac Mi An and Mi Khe. Entrance is free, infrastructure is quite developed. The coastline is wide and long, you can collect a lot of beautiful shells. Near Da Nang there are beautiful Marble Mountains.
A small disadvantage is the remoteness of the center from the tourist area. There are no big supermarkets on the coast. There are no city buses, you have to go to the center by bike or cab.
When to go. The high season is short – the best time to relax is from April to June, when it’s warm enough, and the sea is low waves. From summer to the end of the year it rains, and in winter the winds are rampant. We vacationed in Da Nang in winter: the city and the beach were deserted, but it has its own charm. There was a strong wind, big waves on the sea, red flags on the beaches, and sometimes it drizzled with rain. In low season, almost all the cafes in the tourist area are closed, and sometimes it’s not easy to find inexpensive food: the Vietnamese, seeing the lone tourists, slamming prices.
If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Vietnam with children, consider Hoi An – the sea entrance there is gentle. The best beach is An Bang (the other one, Cua Dai, has been destroyed by marine erosion and is being restored). Beaches with fine sand and light colored sand in some places with developed infrastructure. Parking is not free.
In Hoi An beautiful old architecture. From the city is convenient to visit the Marble Mountains in Da Nang – we, for example, went there by bicycle (rent costs only $ 1 day).
On the downside, Hoi An is on the river, and to the nearest beach you have to drive several kilometers. Tourists prefer to live near the Old Town, although you can also settle by the sea.
When to go. The best time is from February to May. In the fall, hurricanes rage and flooding occurs.
Beach recreation in Vietnam is also possible in the bay of the same name in the city of Halong. The beaches on the islets are mostly imported sand and the water is often muddy, but most tourists come here to admire the wonder islands.
There’s not much to do in Halong town itself, except stroll along the beautiful promenade with gorgeous views of the bay, watch the inhabitants of floating villages, enjoy sunsets and climb Mount Bai Tu Poets, which offers a panorama of the city and the bay.
When to go. The best time for excursions is from December to the end of May, when it is dry and warm, for beach holidays – in April, May, September and October. The rainy season – from June to September. We lived in Halong in January, and, although the sun was often warm, cold wind prevented the thought of a beach vacation.
A picturesque green island located in Halong Bay, the largest in the archipelago. The beaches are usually unassuming with yellowish-brown sand, but clean, no trash and algae. The main attractions for tourists at the resort are cruises around the islands and excursions to the local national park.
When to go. In the summer it is stormy on Catba, so it is better to vacation in the fall .
It is a small seaside town with a densely built up coastline and oil production facilities. There are beaches in the city – narrow, with muddy and frothy water due to the close proximity to the Mekong and strong winds.
The infrastructure is developed: there are restaurants, hotels, entertainment, stores. However, even the locals prefer Long Hai or Mui Ne, where the beaches are better. If you need exactly a good beach vacation, it is better to go to popular resorts in Vietnam: Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Mui Ne or Da Nang.
When to go. From November to April. High waves rise in winter, which kiteboarders love. The rainy season is from May to October.
(Photo: vitieubao / pixabay.com)
The island is good for secluded holidays and ecotourism, and has been called the best resort in Vietnam for diving. There are unique species of plants and animals, such as sea cows and green turtles.
Tourist infrastructure is underdeveloped, there are no major shopping centers and few hotels. The island itself is rocky, most of the coast – the steep shores. There are several sandy beaches at the east end of the island, all sparsely populated and semi-wild.
When to go. The ideal time for a beach holiday in Con Dao is from December to April, for diving – from February to July.
(Photo: khoibinh / flickr.com / License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Map of Vietnamese resorts in Russian
For your convenience, we have made a map of all popular resorts in Vietnam.
Where to go on vacation in Vietnam
Each resort in Vietnam is good in its own way. Thirsty for new experiences and active entertainment should go to Nha Trang, Halong, Hoi An and Danang. The islands will suit fans of natural attractions and diving. For a vacation with children in Vietnam is better to choose resorts with good hotels 4-5 * and entertainment – is Phu Quoc, Hoi An and Nha Trang.
If you have decided where to go on vacation in Vietnam, we advise to know when it’s better to fly there.