Vietnam is truly a beautiful and awe-inspiring country. The local people are so incredibly endearing with their high spirits and welcoming nature. Not only is it a land filled with beautiful landscapes and incredible cultures, but the amount of history within this small country is just shy of overwhelming.
Vietnam received their independence in the 10th century after the Chinese ruled for over a thousand years. This influence is extremely prevalent throughout Vietnam, noticeably so in large cities such as Hanoi. Reminders of the Vietnam war and the destruction it entailed can be found scattered throughout the country, along with other remnants of vital Vietnamese history such as the period of French Indochina which came to cessation in 1954.
Variety is so important when travelling and Vietnam provides just that with it’s abundance of culture and history, found within breathtaking landscapes and bustling cities. From brushing up on history in Cu Chi to quad biking in Mui Ne, the list of experiences available to you throughout Vietnam is endless. If you haven’t been to Vietnam then I highly suggest that you put it on your bucket list as high importance.
So what makes Vietnam so amazing? Well here are 7 places worth visiting to find out why!
Vietnam’s capital is a beautiful mix of historical architecture and prolific Southeast Asian culture displaying both French and Chinese influences. Treat yourself to all the modern comforts without breaking your budget at the Skyline hotel deep in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Fall in love with the traditional atmosphere here, where narrow streets come alive each morning with the bustle of trade and continue right up until midnight. Immerse yourself in tradition at Hanoi’s various temples or take a swan-shaped paddle boat out on Hoan Kiem lake to take in the serenity. The street food is impeccable here and for those who will try anything, you can head to snake village and pick out your live dinner with a snake handler/chef. Let your hair down at the worlds biggest underground water park Vinpearl Water Park and have your try on their tricky surf simulator or jump on an inflatable tube in the wave pool to relax after all the water slides. Hanoi is often underrated when compared to the larger Ho Chi Minh City but it is a destination that you definitely won’t want to forget.
2.Ha Long Bay
Roughly four hours east of Hanoi, lies the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay. Thousands of limestone karsts and isles stretch over an area of more than 1500 square kilometres and each one is completely unique both in shape and size. The best way to see the vast beauty of Ha Long Bay is by staying on a junk boat for at least one night. Majestic cruises offer great packages combining comfort, style and affordability. Staying for one night provides a taste of the bay however, if time permits you can also stay longer and get a little more out of your trip. Ha Long Bay has so many hidden wonders, discover beautiful limestone caves and go kayaking past floating villages to see how the local people live. Visit the Pearl farm and learn how Pearls are grown and extracted from Oysters, then hang a squid jig over the end of the boat with a night light to catch lunch for the next day. They say that a trip to Vietnam is not complete without visiting Ha Long Bay.
Central Vietnam’s largest city boasts beautiful beaches, modern hotels and incredible street food. Previously a French colonial port, Da Nang is now well known for it’s burgeoning nightlife and central location to a large handful of sights and attractions. The modern, beachfront hotel Al A Carte has earned itself an impressive 4.5 star rating and it is easy to see why with luxe, modern suites available at great prices. You can head up to Top Bar and grab a drink and some food by Vietnam’s first rooftop infinity pool or head to the spa for a relaxing massage. Down on the beach, you can hire a umbrella deck chair and sit back with an ice cream or bring your body board to catch some afternoon swells. Da Nang is just half an hour from the popular historical trade port of Hoi An and return shuttle buses run regularly between the hotel and Hoi An Old Town.
Another of Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage sites is in the delightful town of Hoi An, just half an hour from Da Nang. Walking through Hoi An you find yourself completely submerged in both traditional and foreign influences that mould the exciting culture of this lovely town. Old Town Hoi An has earned heritage status through the outstanding condition of preservation maintained in the area. Features from it’s operation as a South-East Asian trading port between the 15th and 19th century are still prominent throughout the town and enhance it’s already exceptional charm. This town is not only home to many historical sights and traditions but also a large host of phenomenal silk tailors and boot makers. Step into Kimmy Custom Tailor and design your own designer-quality custom made winter coat and have it made in one day at a fraction of the price! In between fittings you can wander down to the port and take in the atmosphere down at the markets or stop in at Hoi An Sports Bar and catch up on the footy or cricket in this Aussie-owned bar, which happens to also be one of the very rare places in Vietnam that make delicious Western Food. There is so much to do and see in Hoi An, I am certain that it’s allure will have you wanting to return again as soon as you leave.
5.Ho Chi Minh
Formerly Saigon, the largest city in Vietnam can be found in the south and is arguably the most well-known. Home to the extremely iconic scene from the last day of the Vietnam war and more history than you can poke a stick at, it is hard to fit this crazy city into a tight itinerary but it is not completely impossible. Taking a day trip out to Cu Chi Tunnels is a must when visiting for a detailed insight into Vietnamese life throughout the war. You can find plenty of great tours at your hotel reception or for the more adventurous or budget-conscious, taking the public bus is definitely worth experiencing and fairly easy too. Ho Chi Minh is also in close proximity to the Mekong Delta and it is beneficial doing your research to find a great River tour, I recommend one which stops at many places along the way, getting you up close and personal with the locals lifestyle before riding a classic Sampan through the tight, winding channels of this famous river. Shopaholics will find their haven at the Ben Thanh markets, with the Ben Thanh night markets also proving a great spot for street food enthusiasts. If you’re looking to head off the beaten track then roughly 40km from the city centre you can visit Dai Nam park. Across 450 acres, Dai Nam park offers a shopping center, hotel, movie theater, theme park, campground, water park, zoo, rides and multiple temples. It’s best off hiring a bike to get around or it may take you days to see the whole complex.
Not far from Phan Thiet lies the scenic coastal fishing town of Mui Ne. Everything about this town oozes a soulful getaway feel. Snatch up an absolute bargain at Romana Resort & Spa and live like a rockstar in your beachfront villa, complete with private plunge pool and a breakfast feast fit for royalty, overlooking the resort’s picture perfect infinity pool and ocean backdrop. Traffic is minimal in Mui Ne compared to the cities so pluck up your courage and hire a scooter to hit the road and catch some truly magical scenery. Take a glimpse at the dragonfruit plantations Mui Ne is known for or head in the other direction to see the astonishing amounts of fishing boats that fill the bay. Head a little further to find the red sand dunes and keep driving even more to test your inner dare devil on a quad bike at the white sand dunes. The unique beauty of Mui Ne will draw you in instantly and you won’t ever want to leave.
The resort town of Nha Trang spoils travellers for choice with the endless amounts of activities and sights on offer. With a long pristine stretch of beach encompassed by the rolling mountain back drop and dotted with tropical islands, it’s understandable that this town is such a hot topic amongst backpackers. You can catch a cable car across to Hon Tre Island and visit Vinpearl Land which is made up of an aquarium, resort, theme park and water park. Take a scuba diving course along the reefs of some of Nha Trang’s other islands or mellow out at iResort mud springs, one of many thermal spas found in Nha Trang. If you can’t get enough nature and water along the shore, a 30 minute drive and a 3 hour round trip trekking through the jungle (and at times scrambling up and down rocks) will take you right through the Ba Ho “Three Lake” Waterfalls where you get to take in the astonishing views and treat yourself to a well-earned dip. Roughly 20km in the other direction from the city centre is the tucked away little surf spot of Bai Dai beach in Cam Ranh. Stilted wooden shacks run along the beach with wooden awnings coming right out over the sand creating such a unique landscape. Here you can hire surfboards, jetskis, and various other kinds of beach and water sports gear. Nha Trang not only has great daytime activities, but it comes alive with its nightlife and the variety available throughout the entire day and night can appeal to every traveller, the possibilities in this town are endless.