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Top 10 must-visit places in Vietnam

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If Vietnam doesn’t already feature on your travel bucket list, it certainly will after a browse through these top 10 highlights. Vietnam has the unique characteristic of fulfilling every need and ticking every box on your travel checklist. The intrepid traveller can head deep into the jungle via the enchanting Mekong Delta, while first-timers will relish meeting fellow tourists in one of Hanoi’s many bars or Nha Trang’s beach spots.

Exquisite food, luxurious beaches, iconic landmarks, sensational markets, hospitable local people and epic natural beauty – Vietnam never disappoints. The greatness that Vietnam encapsulates is virtually unlimited; here is our list of the top 10 places you absolutely cannot miss.

Nha Trang

Life goes by at a slower pace in laid-back Nha Trang. This beautiful beach city is a hub for tourists in search of diverse restaurants, sand and sun, water activities and a buzzing nightlife. Nha Trang really comes to life at night and it all culminates in everyone heading closer and closer to the beach and to the Sailing Club, Nha Trang’s main nightclub.

Nha Trang is also conveniently the prime destination for amusement park thrills. Reachable only by cable car, VinWonders is the ultimate fun island, which contains both a water park and a theme park. The rides are great and it’s the perfect place to visit as a larger group, to satisfy the thrill-seekers amongst you.

Delightfully, Nha Trang is open enough for you to hire a motorcycle and cruise around, yet small enough not to get too lost in as you wander and explore. There are many airy beach cafes to stop at and refuel, and further inland you can stumble across the not-so-built-up old town and its quaint little markets.

Our Vietnamese destination expert loves Nha Trang because of its seaside surroundings, which you can easily soak up – whether you’re taking a cycle along the beachfront boulevard or exploring the towers of Po Nagar temple, with their spectacular views over the colourful fishing fleet and out to sea.

A view over Nha Trang bay

Da Nang

Located in-between the beautiful cities of Hue and Hoi An, Da Nang is slightly off the beaten path, and offers more secluded stretches of luxury beaches.

Made famous by the incredible Robin Williams film Good Morning Vietnam, it has recently transformed its reputation of being mundane with the emergence of several stunning beachfront hotels and first-class restaurants.

Apart from the exceptional beachfront, the main attraction in Da Nang is the Museum of Cham Sculpture which houses the world’s largest collection of Cham artefacts. The sculptures are very impressive and the colonial building that houses them is just as beautiful.

Da Nang coastline

Hue

The royal city of Hue has two personalities, and they exist on either side of the mystical Perfume River.

On the one hand is the royal centre of the ancient citadel, which resonates with the glories of imperial Vietnam. Within its walls is the ‘citadel within a citadel’, the Forbidden Purple City, alongside splendid pagodas and temples, ancient tombs and artefacts.

On the other side of the river lies the modern world, a string of contemporary hotels and suave restaurants. Nightlife in Hue is close to non-existent but it certainly doesn’t lack in restaurants and fine cuisine. We recommend a selection of Japanese restaurants along with dining outside in some of Hue’s romantic courtyard restaurants.

Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City

Thronging with motorbikes and marketplaces, Ho Chi Minh City is a step ahead of the rest of the world’s pace. A cultural melting pot, Saigon (as it was formerly known) has something to please everyone, from its rich, turbulent history to its vibrant nightlife.

It is a fundamental stopover in understanding the significance of the Vietnam War, in particular the trickery and intelligence used to overcome the Americans’ attack. A trip to the Cu Chi tunnels will educate you with examples of the innovative techniques that the Vietnamese used in the war; a visit to the War Remnants Museum will open your eyes to the severity of the war, and give you powerful insight into its full effects and consequences.

Across an array of traditional restaurants and street food stalls, you will have ample options for tickling your taste buds. Swanky rooftop bars will provide great evening entertainment, too.

Sunset over Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc island is off the southern coast of Vietnam and boasts paradise beaches, wonderful underwater activities, and pristine tropical forests which are great for trekking. Behind these dense jungle areas are the small fishing villages of Cay Dua, Duong Dong, Cua Can and Ham Ninh, where you can meet the locals and get a taste of traditional life in Vietnam.

Still largely untouched and visited by few tourists, Phu Quoc is a snorkelling and diving mecca. It’s also a wonderful way of going off the beaten track during your time in this country.

Beach in Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Hanoi

Hanoi pulsates to its own beat, stimulates all the senses, and keeps you fresh and alert at all times. The old quarter is where you want to be: it is here where you will discover just how good Vietnamese food is, across a flurry of restaurants and bars. The Dong Xuan day market and the Night Market are also fantastic and very atmospheric.

Hanoi is the perfect city for walking around, getting yourself lost down little lanes, and popping into all sorts of craft shops and cafes. For gorgeous scenery and a break from the incessant traffic, take a leisurely stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake and venture into the little ice cream stores on its shores.

Railway line between buildings in Hanoi

Hoi An

In Hoi An, the chaotic buzz of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City transforms into a languid, romantic colonial setting that sits peacefully next to the once-bustling Thu Bon River.

Hoi An is arguably Vietnam’s most charming city. Quaint lanes lead down to pretty tea shops, while old atmospheric cafes with wooden beams line the serene riverside. If you head in the opposite direction to the historic town, you will come across chaotic markets and idyllic beaches. Hoi An is saturated with character and elegance.

We recommend hiring bikes for a tour of the city – on a nice day, you’ll love stopping and relaxing on regular breaks in airy cafes along the way. As you cycle on, you will inevitably be tempted by the abundance of tailor service shops, providing great deals on tailoring brand-new quality suits at considerably low prices.

Yellow building on the corner of a street in Hoi An's old town

Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta is simply unmissable and one of Vietnam’s most authentic experiences. Our on-the-ground experts highly recommend taking a three- to four-day tour here, ending at the southernmost point of Ca Mau, where if you float deep into the forest you’ll find a magnificent National Park.

Another highlight of the Mekong Delta is Can Tho’s Cai Rang Floating Market, but you need to make sure to arrive around 4-5am, to both catch the breath-taking sunrise and enjoy the market before it closes at 7am.

Cycling around the local villages and bedding down at a homestay are the best ways to experience the Mekong Delta, and our local experts can help arrange these for a most memorable trip.

Tunnel of trees over a river in Vietnam's Mekong Delta

Ha Long Bay

Located in northeastern Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is a mesmerising natural wonder renowned for its breath-taking scenery and unique geological formations. It features thousands of towering limestone karsts covered in lush greenery, and islets that rise from emerald waters.

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can explore the pristine waters on traditional junk boats, sail through mysterious caves and grottos, and marvel at the otherworldly beauty from the shores of secret beaches. The bay’s enchanting ambiance, coupled with its rich cultural history, makes it a must-visit destination for those seeking both natural beauty and cultural exploration in Vietnam.

Secret beach in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Sa Pa

The hill town of Sa Pa has emerged as Vietnam’s top highlight over recent years for its spectacular hiking options and unforgettable views. Below the town are picturesque rice terraces that plunge deep into the endless valley, with mountains and cliffs looming on either side. The frequent mist that lingers here adds to its eerie enchantment and atmosphere.

According to our local expert, the best thing to do in Sa Pa is enjoy a homestay with one of the warm and welcoming local communities, such as the Blue H’mong or Red Dao people. You could also take a day trip out of Sa Pa, to a number of beautiful neighbouring hill towns, cities and districts such as Ha Giang and Moc Chau. Climb Vietnam’s highest peak – Fansipan mountain – or elevate your senses figuratively at the local street market; said to be the greatest in the country, this cultural gem is best visited on Saturdays.

Patchwork of fields in Sa Pa, Vietnam

Make it happen

Are you feeling inspired to uncover the secrets of Vietnam? Speak to one of our local experts today – they’ll help you craft a tailor-made itinerary for an unforgettable trip.

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