What to visit in Vietnam

As I have previously mentioned, Vietnam is the perfect country to visit from top to bottom or the other way around. Here I am going to show you the main places to visit in the order I did them, in this case, starting from the south and making all the way up to the north. But you can basically start from number 10 and finish with number 1.

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What to visit in Vietnam

1. Ho Chi Minh City

Also known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is the largest city in Vietnam and the old capital of South Vietnam. It doubles the Hanoi in population, so expect crowded streets and roads, specially roads. In this city you will find an impressive amount of scooters, so be careful. In such a historic city you have plenty of museums to see, mainly about the Vietnam War. Also, from here you have two fascinating day trips, the Mekong Delta (picture below) and Cu Chi Tunnels.

2. Mui Ne

Just over 200km from Saigon you can make a first stop in this coastal city. There are a few of interesting things you can do in Mui Ne apart from relaxing on the beach. Two of them is the White/Red Sand Dunes (I recommend the white ones since they are larger), the Mui Ne Harbour for the small and round boats, and the Fairy Stream (picture below).

3. Da Lat

Within the city you have plenty of palaces, lakes, markets and even what is called the “Crazy House” (a fantasy house) that are worth visiting. Outside Da lat, as side trips I would recommend the Elephant Falls (picture below) and Datanla Waterfall where you can take a self-driven roller coaster, incredible experience.

4. Nha Trang

Nha Trang is the most famous beach destination in Vietnam since it has more life than Mui Ne, although in terms of beach I liked Mui Ne more. You can always visit further beaches like Doc Let beach or Bai Dai beach that are cleaner and more tranquil. Also there are day trip islands perfect for scuba diving. If I am completely honest with you, if you want to skip one place in case you were on a tight schedule, I would recommend to skip Nha Trang. But if you have plenty of time and want to give it a chance, go for it.

5. Hoi An

Being a UNESCO World Heritage site, with more than 2000 years of history, the city of Hoi An is small but surprisingly beautiful, specially at night. When the sun goes down and the darkness takes over the city you will see how it transforms into a colourful city of lights. Almost every street, house, bridge in the old town is decorated with lights of different colours making it a very enjoyable walk. During the day you can also go to the Marble Mountains (picture below) for a panoramic view and to visit Am Phu Cave, a hell-like unique cave.

6. Hue

It used to be the imperial capital, so expect plenty of history in this city. In Hue you can visit a large number of tombs that date from the late 19th century or early 20th century, palaces, and the impressive Imperial Citadel, probably the main attraction of Hue.

7. Phong Nha

In Quảng Bình Province you find the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, another UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most beautiful places in the country. It contains the oldest karst mountains in Asia, formed approximately 400 million years ago. This area is full of caves, being the Paradise Cave, Hang En and Phong Nha Cave the most famous ones. Also worth visiting is the Dark Cave, where you will enjoy many zip-lines above the water as well as having a bath in a natural mud pool. If you are lucky enough you can try to visit the world’s biggest cave, Hang Son Doong.

8. Ninh Binh

The city of Ninh Binh itself doesn’t have anything worth visiting, it is more a base for the surrounding area. The main attractions here are Tam Coc (picture below) and Trang An Grottoes, where you will take a tour on a small boat between cliffs and through several tunnels. For an impressive panoramic view go up the Hang Mua Peak.

9. Cat Ba (Ha Long Bay)

Ha Long Bay is probably the most famous attraction in Vietnam, and honestly, it deserves that merit. Although normally people also access Ha Long Bay from Ha Long, I recommend staying in Cat Ba and accessing from here since you will find cheaper prices in both accommodation and tours, and basically you will be visiting the same place. It doesn’t matter from where you go, what really matters is that you don’t miss this area of 1,500 square kilometres with 1969 islands.

10. Hanoi

Wether it is your starting point or your ending point, you cannot skip Hanoi. As the current capital of Vietnam, is filled with museums, palaces, temples, parks, places to eat and its endless nightlife. You won’t get bored in this incredible city. For a reason it has been ranked as a one of the top destinations in the world.