When choosing where to go in Vietnam, what you should realize is that the answer is pretty much everywhere. Vietnam is one of the most beautiful countries on earth and is full of destinations that will take your breath away.
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I backpacked all around Vietnam and had an amazing time. I cruised around Halong Bay, wandered the busy streets of Hanoi, and hiked through mountainside ride paddies in Sapa. I visited islands and explored the jungle maze of the Mekong Delta. And these were only some of my favorite places to visit in Vietnam.
I couldn’t mention all of the places to visit; otherwise, this list would be never-ending. These are my choices as the absolute best when you’re choosing where to go in Vietnam. So without further ado, let’s get started!
15 Best Places to Visit in Vietnam
This list takes into account not only Vietnam’s incredible natural beauty but also its more rural side. Some of the places on this list are well-known for being world-renowned and UNESCO protected. Others are a little less known and are a must when choosing where to go in Vietnam.
Located in the far north of the country, Sapa is first on the list. One of the more spectacular places to see, Sapa is an absolute must visit destination. Surrounded by incredible beauty on all sides, the rice paddies of Sapa are world-famous, and are a vision that I’ll never forget.
Situated high in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains, Sapa is often used as a starting point for trekking tours through the area. Mountain bike tours are also very popular here, with routes that take you through rice paddies, past stunning waterfalls, and around local villages.
It’s easy to reach the high hills of Sapa. Buses travel from all over the north of Vietnam to this little village. It is even possible to catch a bus from Laos, the neighbouring country, all the way to Sapa.
All in all, when choosing where to go in Vietnam, this diamond of the north should most definitely be on everybody’s travel list.
Getting To & From Sapa
Here are a few of the overland routes you can take to and from Sapa. These include low-fare prices from local transport companies but you can book online using Bookaway.
Despite its war-torn history, Hanoi has emerged as one of the most bustling and interesting cities in all Asia. The capital of Vietnam has burst into the 21st century as one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations.
With a never-ending list of things to do in Hanoi, this is a city which caters for all. This, along with the sheer friendliness of its people, makes Hanoi a must when choosing where to go in Vietnam. It wasn’t only one of my favorite places to visit in Vietnam, it was one of my favorite cities anywhere.
Along with its museums and many monuments to the wars of the past, Hanoi also has a traditional ancient side which captivates its visitors. Grand opera houses and majestic palaces rub shoulders with archaic shrines and crumbling markets. Take a stroll among the tree-lined boulevards of Hanoi and you will fall in love.
Again, this is another easy destination to reach. Being the capital of Vietnam, flights from all over the world land in this crazy metropolis. Also, as the saying goes in northern Vietnam, “all roads lead to Hanoi”. There will be no trouble reaching this incredible city.
3. Da Nang
As with many of the places on this list, Da Nang is a destination that has a war-filled past. But, these days the seaside city is a thriving place, with lots to see and do. Sadly, when researching where to go in Vietnam, many people decide to only use Da Nang as a transit spot for visiting the Bà Nà hills to the west. In reality, there is a lot to do here, so give yourself some time!
The Marble Mountains are a highlight of any trip to Da Nang, and Vietnam in general. These five towering limestone mountains are home to Buddhist shrines, caves and tunnels. For an awesome view, make sure to climb to the top of one of the mountains.
While there, I spent another day renting a motorbike and exploring Son Tra Peninsula with its amazing beaches and rainforest. I then went surfing and swimming at My Khe Beach, and I finished the day off with some tasty street food and market exploration in town.
☞ For all accommodations in Da Nang, click here to see the best options on Booking.com.
Getting To & From Da Nang
Here are a few of the overland routes you can take to and from Da Nang. These include low-fare prices from local transport companies but you can book online using Bookaway.
4. Halong Bay
Halong Bay is a place that needs no introduction. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous throughout the world. If you are lucky enough to visit this wonder of the world, you’ll see for yourself why Halong Bay is often heralded as one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The only way to visit Halong Bay is by taking a tour. In Hanoi there are a thousand and one companies that offer their services. However, if you do not wish to book a tour in Hanoi, head to the harbour at Halong Bay instead. It’s possible to book your own tour from the offices in the harbour.
Sailing around Halong Bay is like sailing through a land of dreams. Beautiful limestone karsts burst out of the water every which way that you look, making Halong Bay a paradise of our world. Make sure to add Halong Bay to your list when choosing where to go in Vietnam.
Here is an article which I wrote if you would like to learn more about the bay: Traveler’s guide to Halong Bay.
Hue is one of the places to visit in Vietnam which many people have never heard of. Situated on the banks of the Perfume River, Hue was once the imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty. Today the imperial city is open to tourists who can stroll among the history-filled avenues of the city.
Hue is filled with ancient culture, amazing architecture, interesting markets and delicious local cuisine. If you make it to this enchanting city, make sure to visit the incredible Citadel of Hue.
This amazing walled citadel was once the seat of the ancient rulers of the Nguyen Dynasty. Today the gates are open for all to see the beauty of this ancient place.
Situated about halfway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, Hue is a great place to rest when traveling through Vietnam. Heading either north or south, being located in the central strip of Vietnam, all roads pass close to Hue. Make sure to have your camera ready for this one as entering Hue is like being transported into the mists of time.
6. Hoi An
Hoi An is a delight to any weary traveler. With its endless hustle and bustle, Vietnam is an amazing attack on the senses. Hoi An is the perfect destination to get away from all of this. When choosing where to go in Vietnam, make sure Hoi An is on your list.
With over 2000 years of history, this little architectural wonder is one of the best places to visit in Vietnam. Famous for its riverside restaurants and beautifully coloured unique buildings, Hoi An is a place that will steal your heart.
Hoi An is also famous for its textile industry, here you can have your very own tailored suit made to fit perfectly. This is a great souvenir to take home. I still wear mine from time to time.
The town is one of Vietnam’s biggest tourist draws, however it still retains its peaceful atmosphere. This little oasis in the chaos of Asia is very easy to reach with links from all over the country ready to transport you here.
Next up on the list of where to go in Vietnam is Dalat, the city of Eternal Spring. Dalat is located in the central highlands of south Vietnam and has a cool temperate climate. It is this which has earned the city the nickname, the city of Eternal Spring.
Centered around Xuan Huong Lake, Dalat is surrounded on all sides by beautiful rolling hills and scented pine forests. This enchanting place is a delightful retreat from the heat of the lowlands and has many activities to occupy your time.
When I visited Dalat, one of the best things I did was rent a motorbike and head out into the hills. Waterfalls dot the area and were great resting points during my ride.
However, if bikes are not your thing, there are still many other things to do in Dalat. One being to jump in Dalat’s very own cable car which offers spectacular views of the valley and surrounding hills.
Situated in southern Vietnam, Dalat is only a few hours northeast of Ho Chi Minh and is very accessible.
8. Mui Ne
Mui Ne is one of my favourite places in the whole of Vietnam. This beautiful little seaside retreat is a great place to stay if you want some sun, sea and sand, lots and lots of sand. Mui Ne is also an adventurer’s dream and offers up some of the best windsurfing conditions in Southeast Asia.
Located on the southern coast of Vietnam, Mui Ne has an endless list of activities to choose from. These include windsurfing, scuba diving and 4×4 sand dune adventures.
Mui Ne is also home to Asia’s biggest sand dunes which come in a variety of colours including red, yellow and white. The white sand dunes of Mui Ne are by far the biggest and are a must when choosing where to go in Vietnam.
9. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Next up is another of Vietnam’s lesser-known wonders, Phong Nha-Ke National Park. This UNESCO protected national park is absolutely stunning in both its natural beauty and local culture. The best way to picture Phong Nha-Ke National Park is by taking Halong Bay and putting it on the land. Here, instead of sailing among the beautiful mountains, the best way to see them is by motorbike.
The roads of Phong Nha-Ke are brilliant and as there is very little traffic, this is a perfect destination for riding. Twisting and winding your way through the park you will see locals living and farming as they have for hundreds of years.
Phong Nha-Ke also has a big Christian population which means dotted among the spectacular mountains are small colourful churches that add to the charm of the area.
Phong Nha-Ke National Park is also home to the one of the world’s biggest cave systems, Hang Son Doong. However, with tickets costing 3000 USD each, you may want to check out some of the other incredible caves in the area. The national park is located in the central strip of Vietnam, which means any journey from north to south or vice versa will pass through the region.
10. Ninh Binh
Here is another diamond of Vietnam and one which many travelers overlook. Ninh Binh is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Southeast Asia, overshadowed only by Phong Nha-Ke and Halong Bay.
Ninh Binh is home to more of the distinctive limestone mountains which dot Vietnam. With gentle flowing rivers sweeping through the landscape, Ninh Binh is just one more of the incredible places on this list of where to go in Vietnam.
Along with the spectacular natural beauty, Ninh Binh is also a place where one can sneak a look at the more rural ways of life. Although Vietnam is a land which has fully embraced the 21st century, Ninh Binh is a window into its more rural past.
Located only 100 kilometers from Hanoi, Ninh Binh is most definitely one of the places to visit in Vietnam.
11. Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh City, otherwise known as Saigon, has been immortalized in the west because of the Vietnam war. Today, Ho Chi Minh is the country’s largest city.
When visiting Ho Chi Minh, the first thing that hits people is the sheer number of motorbikes. With nearly 8.5 million registered motorbikes, yes MILLION, the streets of Ho Chi Minh are a sight to behold.
With its mix of both modern and historic sites, Ho Chi Minh has activities to occupy all of its visitors. Some of the most notable being the Cu Chi tunnels and the Notre Dame cathedral. The cathedral being a remnant of the French Colonial period.
There are endless things to do in Ho Chi Minh, a city that’s famous for its bustling shopping centres, tasty restaurants and vibrant nightlife. The city is a perfect starting point for any trip in Vietnam. Or if you are starting your Vietnamese adventure in the north, the city is also a great final destination.
12. Nha Trang
After the crowded streets and endless motorbikes of Vietnam’s big cities, head to Nha Trang for some relaxing time in the sand. Beyond the long sandy beach are several gorgeous tropical islands that you can visit by canoe. Coral reef is all around, perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Although I spent most of my time in Nha Trang lounging on the beach, I was happy to discover that there was plenty of culture and history in the city as well. Nha Trang was once home to the Champa Kingdom, meaning it’s one of the top places to go in Vietnam to learn about the country’s ancient roots.
13. Phu Quoc
Speaking of islands, if your desire for sea and sand wasn’t satiated by Nha Trang, then head out to Phu Quoc to really get away from it all. Visitors all agree that it’s where to go in Vietnam when you want a real taste of tropical paradise.
While there, when I was able to pull myself out of the hammock, I found plenty of interesting places away from the beach, including traditional fishing villages and tall waterfalls deep in the jungle. Phu Quoc is even home to a French missionary that was once used as a prison, and you can visit the site today.
14. My Son
If you’re wondering where to visit in Vietnam to step way back into the past, look no further than My Son.
Located in the center of the country, this fascinating archeological site once contained more than 70 temples, many with carvings of animals, gods and battles. Today, you can wander around the area among the red-brick ruins, imagining the powerful civilization that built it between the 4th and 14th centuries.
15. Mekong Delta
Finishing off this list of where to go in Vietnam is the famous Mekong Delta. Beginning far to the north in the foothills of Tibet, the Mekong River finally empties into the Pacific through a lush labyrinth of waterways in southern Vietnam.
I began my journey in the Mekong Delta in the peaceful village of Tra Vinh, where I was able to arrange a boat trip through the mangroves. Monkeys peered down from above and water buffalo strolled through rice paddies and fruit orchards between stretches of jungle.
It was truly an unforgettable experience, and I have the mosquito bites to prove it.
FAQs About Where to Visit in Vietnam
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the many wonderful places to go in Vietnam.
Most first-time travelers begin their journey in one of Vietnam’s two biggest cities: Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh city in the south. Then, they can travel onward to other top places to visit in Vietnam, such as Halong Bay near Hanoi.
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are the two largest cities in Vietnam. Both have innumerable places of interest for travelers and are worth visiting, although for some travelers, Ho Chi Minh is their preferred destination because of its excellent restaurants and busy vibe.
Both regions contain a large city where you can begin your journey and immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture (Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh in the south). Beyond that, if you’re looking for beaches, choose the south, and if you want mountain scenery (including the tall islands of Halong Bay), head for the north.
Count on spending at least a week in Vietnam in order to explore a large city and a nearby natural area. With more time, such as a month or two, you could check out all of the fabulous places to go in Vietnam, such as Nha Trang, Da Nang, and Sapa.
Absolutely Vietnam is still cheap to travel. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest countries in the world, cheaper even than most of its neighbors in Southeast Asia.
Now You Know Where to Go in Vietnam
With this list of places to visit in Vietnam, you now have a good base for an itinerary. This is a land that will fill you with wonder at every turn. Vietnam is truly one of the great destinations of the world and one that every traveler should visit. If you want a little bit of help seeing all of these amazing places in Vietnam, consider joining a tour. Some of the country’s top-rated Vietnam tours are done through Get Your Guide and you can check out options on their website.
If you have already traveled to Vietnam, what other destinations do you think should have made the list? Leave a comment below so that others can add to their list of where to go in Vietnam.
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