Vietnam Holiday guide, the top 10 cities and places to visit including Sapa, Hoi An, Hanoi, Halong bay and major beach destinations
When it comes to listing out the best places to visit in Vietnam we had quite a hard time. Exotic Vietnam is known for its compelling natural beauty, exquisite cuisine, surreal tourist sights, and friendly locals, narrowing down just ten places to visit took quite some time.
With jaw-dropping scenery, ancient towns, fascinating complex cave systems, modern hotels and shopping centers, with plenty of adventures to choose from, such as scuba diving, kite-surfing, trekking, and cruising, no wonder Vietnam is one popular Southeast Asian tourist destination for holidays, vacations, independent travelers and wonder-lust packpackers.
Explore Vietnam and check out our list of top 10 amazing vacation spots in this beautiful country, use this information to build your Vietnam Itinary, choose your Vietnam holiday destination or simply to peruse whilst sat in your office.
1. Ho Chi Minh City – Saigon Vietnam, The southern city destination
The largest city in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, is where you can immerse yourself in the local culture. Attracting millions of tourists each year, HCMC is popular for its exciting and vibrant fusion of the old and new: from colonial architectures and Buddhist temples to modern and trendy structures, like chic malls and sleek, elegant skyscrapers.
Historical sites to visit at HCMC are the Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, City Hall, Museum of Vietnamese History, and the Cu Chi tunnels. For religious sites, visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda, the Central Mosque and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Make sure you also drop by the impressive Bitexco Financial Tower, presently the tallest skyscraper in the city. Covered with more in-depth commentary on our Guide to Ho Chi Minh.
2. Hanoi Vietnam – Capital city and tourism #1 of places to visit in Vietnam
Image courtesy of https://forum.lowyat.net/
Welcome to the capital city of Vietnam, the best place to experience traditional Vietnamese culture. Over 100 years old, Hanoi, the second largest city in Vietnam, is teeming with historical sites: ancient citadels, temples, and an unconventional theater—it’s a vibrant melting pot of East and West.
At Hanoi, visit the Water Puppet Theater to experience the ancient art of water puppetry; The Perfume Pagoda, a 15th century temple complex; Hoan Kiem Lake (Turtle Lake) and Ngoc Son, a favorite and relaxing hangout; Hanoi Old Quarter, to catch a glimpse of colonial architecture in narrow streets; the stunning natural reserve, Ba Vi National Park; and Dong Xuan Market, the largest shopping center in Hanoi. Hanoi is covered in more depth in our Hanoi Backpackers guide.
3. Hue – Ancient architecture makes it a must of places to visit in Vietnam
Located in the central region of Vietnam, Hue (pronounced “Hway”), formerly served as the imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty. Today it still echoes the glorious period of imperial Vietnam, evident in Hue’s culture, architecture, and even the cuisine.
The city’s undesirable weather is no way a hindrance to its poetic beauty. Nestled on the banks of the Perfume River, it’s a peaceful, charming city where the classic meets the modern: posh hotels interspersed with old citadel walls.
Visit the Imperial City and the forbidden Gate of the Noon, the Purple Forbidden City, complex of tomb of Nguyen emperors, and the must-see Thien Mu Pagoda (“Heavenly Lady Pagoda”).
4. Nha Trang – Party town with excellent beaches and resorts
A paradise seaside resort town in the capital city of Khánh Hòa Province, the breathtaking Nha Trang boasts of pristine beaches, mountain vistas, and waterfalls. It has one of the world’s most stunning bays, too.
Historically, Nha Trang was once a small fishing village until the French colonization, where it transformed into a picturesque coastal resort town.
Because of the colorful coral reef, Nha Trang has become a hot spot for scuba diving and snorkeling. It is also an entertainment hub, which includes the famous Vinpearl Land complex, which comprises a resort and an impressive amusement park. You can also visit the Ho Ba Mountain known to have over 40 rare floras and 60 endangered species.
5. Phu Quoc – Southern Island Beach Resort – great for family holidays in Vietnam
Phu Quoc is the largest island in Vietnam and lies south of the Cambodian coast. This tropical island has a mountainous ridge that runs its entire length called “99 Peaks,” gorgeous white-sand beaches, undamaged coral reefs, tropical forests, and a year-round temperate weather. Also, as the central point of Southeast Asia, Phu Quoc is close to main touristy cities such as Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hong Kong.
Tourists and Western expats flock to Phu Quoc’s beach resorts for fun or relaxing activities, such as diving, kayaking, motorbike tours, or going or a massage, enjoying seafood feast, or simply lounging on the beach.
Places to visit include the Phu Quoc National Park, the white-sand beaches of Sao, Dam and Vong beaches, Suoi Da Ban white-water creek, the quiet Cua Can and Ong Lang, the atmospheric Dinh Cau Night Market, and Oasis restaurant.
The island of Phu Quoc is also famous for producing the best fermented fish sauce in the world called “nuac nam.”
6. Ha Long Bay – Holiday cruises and deserted island beach resorts for backpackers
Image courtesy of http://www.ninetyeast.co.uk
Famous for its mesmerizing emerald waters and towering limestone islands topped by forests, Ha Long Bay (“Bay of Descending Dragons), found in northeast Vietnam, is simply magical.
In 1994, Ha Long Bay was designated a World Heritage site, attracting visitors year-round. The splendor of Ha Long Bay is breathtaking—over 2,000 jungle-covered islands with lakes, caves, and sinkholes.
Things to do in Ha Long Bay include visiting the largest island of Cat Ba, home of the endangered cat, with caves and a national park; and the thickly forested Ban Sen.
7. Hoi An – Number 1 of Vietnam’s World Heritage Destinations
Hoi An, a city on Vietnam’s central coast, is where you can witness the impressively well-preserved Ancient Town, reflecting a postcard-like South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic Hoi An is Vietnam’s delightful and romantic town, complete with magnificent architecture blending Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and European, with a charming riverside setting. This makes it an incredibly popular destination and an ideal mid point stop over town if you are taking the train between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi.
Explore ancient tea houses, Chinese temples, and Japanese merchant houses, and marvelously restored houses and buildings. Visit the Traditional Art Performance Theater, which offers live performances of Vietnamese folk music and folk dance; the Tra Que Herb Village; and the Kim Bong Carpentry Village.
8. Da Lat – Visit for its cool mountain climate and quirky tourist hotels
Da Lat, known as the “City of Eternal Spring,” is the cool-climate capital of Lâm Đồng Province in southern Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Visiting the city is like finding yourself in the French Alps, in addition to enjoying pine forests, lakes, waterfalls, and hills.
More than 80,000 foreigners visit Da Lat, and more than 800,000 domestic tourists, and is a favorite honeymoon destination.
Visit the Hang Nga Crazy House, known as a “fairy tale house,” designed to look like a giant tree, with ten guest rooms each with an animal theme. Also check out Bao Dai’s Summer Palace, feast your eyes on the five-peaked Lang Bian Mountain, and tour inside the Lam Dong Museum.
9. Da Nang – Vietnam resorts location with excellent beaches
One of the major ports in the city, Da Nang is the commercial and educational center of Central Vietnam. It’s located on the coast of the Eastern Sea, at the opening end of the Hàn River and is the third largest city in Vietnam. Da Nang is a bit similar to Hoi An and Hue, and is also a popular vacation spot.
A unique bridge, posh hotel and resort developments, gorgeous beaches, restaurants, an essential street food scene, and a vibrant nightlife, Da Nang is a perfect little getaway destination. As a bonus, Da Nang is where you can find the Marble Mountains, a cluster of marble and limestone hills with tunnels and cave entrances and Buddhist sanctuaries.
Also, check out the Cham Museum, the Ba Na Hills Station, among many other charming sight-seeing spots.
10. Sapa Vietnam’s timeless mountain area, one of those different places to visit
The breathtaking tourism center of the northwest, Sapa provides glorious views of misty mountains and rugged scenery. Located 4921 feet above sea level, the ethereal beauty of Sapa has given its reputation as “the Tonkinese Alps,” and blessed with views of lush vegetation, rice terraces, hill tribes, and the highest peak in Vietnam called the Fanispan.
With this mystical nature paradise, the best you can do is simply lay back in a resort balcony and drink in the intense beauty of Sapa—especially at sunset! If you’re up for a physical activity, you can go trekking, go on a tour of “Heaven’s Gate” for some dramatic mountain-viewing, or go solo biking. You can also rent a pedal boat on Sapa Lake.
Other interesting articles about places to visit in Vietnam
We only recommend writers and blogs that we read regularly and believe will deliver substantial value to our readers. The following is our top picks of articles we think that are worth reading for more reviews and information on places to visit in Vietnam.
- Ho Chi Minh City (Day 1) – by Chris Mekwatta
- My 1-month Vietnam Travel Itinerary – by Audrey of That Backpacker
- You Ask: What Should I Do In My Two Week Vietnam Vacation? The Nomadic Family World Travel Blog – by The Nomadic Family
- Vietnam with Kids – My Little Nomads
- The 5 best Vietnam travel tips – by Charles of Don’t Worry Just Travel
- Guide to Mui Ne – Legal Nomads – Not covered here Mui Ne is a great beach destination
And if you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, you might want to check out our suggested seven-day itinerary or check out our guide to Ho Chi Minh and our Guide to Hanoi in our South East Asian Travel Guides section.
Do you have an awesome link to a relevant well written article that should be included here? If so, hit us up on Twitter by following and messaging us the link.
How Did We Do?
Is the article “10 amazing vacation spots in Vietnam” useful? If so, please share and like this post, as it helps other travelers find information. Many thanks! You can follow us on Twitter or Facebook for further updates!