Vietnam is among the most underrated tourist destinations in Asia. This fascinating country, lying on the eastern part of the Indo-Chinese peninsula, has an astonishing mix of natural highlights and cultural diversity providing a variety of places to visit in Vietnam. It boasts scenery ranging from jagged peaks to verdant paddy fields, along with 2,000 miles of coastline, a layered history, and rich culture—making it one of the best destinations in Southeast Asia for nature and culture lovers. The country’s lip-smacking cuisine will not only allow you to eat healthy during your travel but also let you try some intriguing flavours.
As there are a number of attractions to choose from, we’ve put together a list of the most notable places to visit in Vietnam. From the shores of the UNESCO-designated Ha Long Bay to the rolling dunes of Mui Ne and the island getaways of Phu Quoc, here are the best places to enjoy Vietnam’s sun, culture, and history.
The Best Places To Visit In Vietnam
1. Largest Island Of Vietnam: Phu Quoc
The Phu Quoc district of Vietnam lies off the coast of Cambodia, making it a haven for travellers hoping to escape the hustle and bustle of Vietnam’s busier cities. Covering a total area of 574 square kilometres, it’s the largest island in Vietnam. It comprises 28 islands, most of which are uninhabited, and all of which boast romantic sunsets, evergreen forests, and a serene atmosphere. One of the best tourist places in Vietnam, this idyllic Vietnamese island also offers traditional villages, expansive nature parks such as the Vinpearl Safari Care and Conservation Park, and Buddhist pagodas. We also suggest you hike through the dense forests of the UNESCO-listed national park—the Phu Quoc National Park—and admire the gentle trickle of the Suoi Tranh waterfall there.
2. Vietnam’s Biggest City: Ho Chi Minh
Formerly Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is located in the southeastern region of Vietnam. It is a unique blend of old and new, and one of the best places to visit in Vietnam. In Ho Chi Minh, you’ll find both towering skyscrapers and tree-lined streets with aging villas. As you visit the metropolis, you’ll find that it reverberates with the whirr of a million motorbikes. The burgeoning pulse offers a fascinating culture, with a hotchpotch landscape of French colonial architecture, pagodas, Soviet-style housing blocks, and sleek skyscrapers as well as venerable temples. The city is home to over eight million people and is the biggest city in Vietnam. It’s well known for timeless alleys, incense-infused temples, chic designer malls, and sleek 21st-century skyscrapers, so make sure to visit them all!
3. Lost Imperial City Of Vietnam: Hue
The most royal city in Vietnam, Hue was once the capital of Imperial Vietnam. This historical city used to be the seat of the Nguyen dynasty from 1802 to 1945 and is therefore packed to the brim with relics from the reign of the 19th-century Nguyen emperors. Located on the bank of the Song Huong or Perfume River, Hue is the capital of the Thua Thien Hue province in Central Vietnam. Hue is one of the best places to visit in Vietnam. It was mostly destroyed by American bombers during the Vietnam War, but plenty remains to give you an idea of its former splendour. The city’s imperial history represents an outstanding demonstration of Vietnamese feudal power that once existed and ruled over the country.
Experience it through Hue’s complex of monuments, tombs, and pagodas, that attract tourists from all over the world. Here, visit the Chinese-style Vietnamese imperial citadel Dai Noi, which is a UNESCO-listed site, or To Mieu Temple, a beautifully restored site offering a glimpse of the grandeur of the former royal family. If you just have a day to explore this modern-day city, plan a relaxing day along the gorgeous Perfume River and visit the temples and historical landmarks of the former Vietnamese capital.
4. Vietnam’s Famous UNESCO World’s Heritage City: Ha Long Bay
The list of best places to visit in Vietnam is incomplete without Ha Long Bay. Located in northern Vietnam near the Chinese border, Ha Long Bay is considered one of Vietnam’s most beautiful spots. The name Halong Bay translates to ‘descending dragon’ and is dotted with 1,600 limestone islands and islets rising from its turquoise waters. The region covers an area of over 1,500 square kilometres and has been a designated World Heritage site since 1994.
The karst seascape of Ha Long Bay has been featured in various movies and features a wide range of biodiversity. The spectacularly impressive bay is a prime cruising territory in Vietnam, but its rampant commercialisation may detract from its raw, undeniable beauty. To escape the crowds, get on a reputable tour boat, or stay on Cát Bà Island. If you want to avoid crowds, a trip to Bai Tu Long Bay can be another option.
5. Largest City In Central Vietnam: Da Nang
A one-time French colonial port on the central coast, Da Nang is located in central Vietnam. This beach town boasts a long coastline with beautiful beaches and incredible bridges such as the Dragohn Bridge and the Golden Bridge. Da Nang is Vietnam’s third-largest city and is home to some of the country’s best beaches. It marks the halfway point between the capital city in the north, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh in the south. It is full of centuries-old pagodas, French colonial buildings, set against tranquil beaches with clear blue waters, and verdant national parks.
6. Hiking Capital Of Vietnam: Sa Pa
A township located in northwestern Vietnam, in the Hoàng Liên Son Mountains, Sa Pa is the top trekking destination in Vietnam. The town first became popular as a French hill station in the 1930s, and later became a popular trekking base overlooking the terraced rice fields of the Muong Hoa Valley. Sa Pa is set on a 1,650-metre-high mountain ridge and boasts dramatic landscapes of Vietnam’s mountainous region. The town’s vivid rice terraces host a colourful market that’s attended by the hill tribes from the neighbouring countryside every Saturday. The cool, misty town of Sa Pa is one of the best places to visit in Vietnam as your hikes allow you to explore its waterfalls, stunning landscapes, rice terraces, and hill-tribe villages of countryside Vietnam.
7. Vietnam’s Most Graceful And Historic Town: Hoi An
This alluring town on Vietnam’s central coast dates back to the 15th century and is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port. It is the capital of Vietnam and offers a unique heritage that can be seen through its buildings and street plans which reflect indigenous and foreign influences. Hoi An used to be a strategic port for the Chinese, Japanese, Indian, French, Dutch, and Portuguese sailors and traders until the mid-1800s. In 1999, the city was granted the status of a UNESCO heritage site. Find the ancient ruins of the Islamic Champa kingdom here, enjoy some of the best Vietnamese food in the country, walk along the streetside markets and explore the city’s quaint cafes and independent shops on its signature cobbled streets.
8. The Rice Bowl Of Vietnam: Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is a network of distributaries in southwestern Vietnam and is also known as Dong Bang Song Cuu Long in Vietnamese or the river delta of nine dragons. Located between Ho Chi Minh and Cambodia, this delta comprises dense green rice paddies, lazy canals (and streams), islands, villages on stilts, and a way of life that hasn’t changed for centuries—all of this making it a must-see destination in Vietnam. The Mekong is Asia’s seventh longest river, crossing through the Tibetan Himalayas in China, Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia, covering over 4,000 km, it reaches Vietnam where it slows down to a more languid pace. This maze of waterways crisscrossing the floodplain offers a picturesque scenery filled with incredibly lush, paddy fields, coconut palms, fruit gardens, and mangroves.
Just hitch a ride with a cargo boat or go on a cruise to make your way to the region’s colourful floating markets and get closer to locals’ daily life.
9. Vietnam’s Most Famous Seaside Resort-town: Nha Trang
This city of Nha Tran is the capital of the Khánh Hòa province and is located on the south-central coast of Vietnam. It offers white sand beaches, shimmering turquoise waters, verdant mountains, and untouched islands. It’s also home to the remnants of the Champa kingdom, Buddhist temples, gothic-style Catholic churches, and eclectic cuisine, comprising fresh seafood and interesting mixes like bun cha ca (a rice noodle dish with grilled fish and jellyfish). Don’t forget to visit the natural hot springs, salt fields, and unique waterfalls of the Nha Trang that offer numerous sightseeing and recreational activities such as jet skiing, surfing, or even a flyboard, if you’re brave enough.
10. A Traditional Fishing Village: Mui Ne
You can escape the hustle and bustle of Saigon, at this beautiful beach resort town called Mui. Once a sleepy coastal fishing town, today it’s commonly referred to as Mui Ne and also includes portions of Ham Tien Ward and Phan Thiet City. With its renowned coastline, the town is a prime destination for windsurfing, sailing, and kitesurfing. Mui Ne’s known for an expanse of desert called the White Sand Dunes and Red Sand Dunes nearby, which are both popular for sand-surfing and hot-air balloon rides.
Out Of These Tourist Places In Vietnam, Which Will Be Your First Pick?
This Southeast Asian country will lure travellers from around the world with its varied landscapes, natural beauty, culture, food, and a delightful mix of megacities and ethnic villages. But as tourism is growing fast in Vietnam, it also needs to keep a check and encourage responsible and sustainable travelling. As a traveller, you can help by visiting local communities or by opting for services from an operator with a responsible tourism policy, or not purchasing anything made out of endangered species. Vietnam is also wonderful to explore on a cycle, so give that a try. Hope this list helps you in picking out the best Vietnam locations. Tell us all about your trip to the best places to see in Vietnam in the comment section below.