Southeast Asia is teeming with beautiful destinations all of which are worth visiting many times over while some of them are yet to be explored fully such as Vietnam. Although the country has been known for its wonderful attractions such as tropical islands, hectic city life, historical monuments, water sports, mountain adventures, and more, some of them deserve special attention to notice their unique charm. Hence, we decided to take you on a tour around Vietnam to make sure you will get to know how spectacular this country is, and hopefully, it will occupy a spot on the list of top destinations for your next trip.
1. Halong Bay
Halong Bay is one of the most beautiful bays in Vietnam. It’s like a dreamland for tourists who want to enjoy the natural beauty of the country. No wonder why it is given the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and described as one of Vietnam’s most spectacular natural treasures!
Halong Bay is famous for its limestone islands, which are formed by erosion over many millennia. The bay has more than 10,000 islands, which are shaped by wind and water action into jagged pinnacles that look like a pile of broken glass.
There are also caves in Halong Bay that can be explored such as Hang Sung Sot, with three mammoth caverns, and Hang Dao Go with superbly weird stalagmites and stalactites. For most people though, the highlight is simply cruising amid the karsts and soaking up the changing scenery of pinnacles as you pass by.
2. Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City Hall
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and the country’s economic, cultural as well as educational center. The city is located on the coast of the Gulf of Tonkin, near the tripoint of Vietnam, China and Laos.
The streets are insanely clogged with motorbikes, and cars while the scenery of crowded restaurants and cafés is nothing short of a cosmopolitan lifestyle. In addition, the shopping experience is the best in the country as long as your pocket can handle it.
If you are attracted to the history of the country, you may check out the old district of Da Kao nearby for some of the best surviving examples of the city’s French colonial architecture and also visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda with its dazzling array of Buddhist and Taoist religious iconography.
Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue
Hue is another historic site, and probably the most popular one among tourists in Vietnam as it is brimming with historic buildings and relics of the 19th-century Nguyen empire. Although some of the buildings were damaged during the Vietnam war, you can still witness a piece of Vietnam’s recent history as a whole.
Located on the banks of the Perfume River, the Imperial Enclosure is a massive complex sprawling 2.5 kilometers and contains several palaces and temples. Here are some of the jewels of the complex that intrigue both tourists and locals alike:
- Ngo Mon Gate is considered the masterpiece of Hue city due to its sophistication and peculiar architecture.
- Thai Hoa Palace used to be the symbol of the Nguyen Dynasty and was the place of important rituals such as the coronation ceremonies.
- Dien Tho Residence was once the residence of the Queen Mothers.
- Halls of Mandarins were used as offices and to prepare for court ceremonies.
There are other historic sites outside the Imperial Enclosure complex as well. One of them is the Tomb of Tu Doc and the most important pagoda in the area is the Thien Mu Pagoda, with its tower soaring 21 meters high.
4. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam for caving, and it’s a World Heritage-listed site that’s home to stunning stalactite and stalagmite displays. You can get to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park from Son Trach City, about an hour’s drive from HCMC (Ho Chi Minh City).
Paradise Cave is one of the most famous attractions for cave enthusiasts in the park due to its mind-blowing 31-kilometer track below ground. Another stunning cave that is worth visiting is a “wet cave,” — Tu Lan Cave. However, don’t forget to come prepared as you will have to swim through the cave-systems river to witness the true beauty within.
5. My Son
My Son Sanctuary
My Son is a ruined Cham-era temple city that dates from the 4th century. It is located in Quang Nam province, about 25km northeast of Hoi An, and is surrounded by lush jungles and high mountains. The site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and was also recognized as a national treasure of Vietnam in 2005.
There are around 20 temple structures still standing here, all built of brick or sandstone blocks and showing interesting influences from various Asian empires, including Indian and Malay.
If you would like to read about historic facts, then I highly recommend you check out the history of the Cham people who have a unique and rich heritage.
6. Sapa Countryside
Sapa is Vietnam’s most famous mountain town, home to breathtaking natural beauty and stunning rural vistas. Sapa is the main base of operations for travelers who want to get off the beaten path and explore this beautiful part of the country as it presents oodles of options to trek between tiny villages, and experience the breathtaking mountain views. The view of mesmerizing green rice terraces you often see on the Internet is most likely taken here.
If you are concerned about all the city conveniences you have to leave behind, don’t worry. Sapa town offers all the amenities you may need such as restaurants, shops, and hotels while there are plenty of homestays in Ta Van if you would like to truly experience the daily lives of Vietnamese by living with a local family.
7. Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba is a small island that sits on the western edge of Halong Bay and is a major tourist attraction thanks to scuba diving, kayaking, and trekking activities.
The island has a number of caves and islets that make up part of Cat Ba National Park. The national park has been designated as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International. There are many types of birds on the island including endangered species such as the crested macaque, which can be seen at many tourist sites on the island.
On top of that, Cat Ba is also one of Vietnam’s most important historical sites and home to some very old communities although it is often seen as an adventure tourism destination. Regardless, The best time to visit Cat Ba is from March to the middle of April as you will have the most sunshine and clear water so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest!
8. Nha Trang
Nha Trang undoubtedly has one of the best beaches in Vietnam, with lots of sunbathing lounges, umbrellas, and showers dotted along the shoreline. There’s also a good selection of restaurants and bars at the edge of the beach.
During the spring and summer months (April to September), it’s busy here with locals on holiday or visitors from around Vietnam enjoying themselves. The beach isn’t particularly wide but it is long enough for families to get away from the crowds on either side.
In addition to being great for swimming, there are several water sports activities on offer including kayaking, windsurfing, and parasailing. You can also hire water scooters for an adrenaline rush!
9. Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc Island
The island of Phu Quoc, located off the coast of Vietnam’s southernmost province of Ca Mau, is famous for its sandy white beaches and crystal-clear water. With a population of just over 100,000 people, it’s also a haven for tourists looking to escape the hustle and bustle of busy cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang.
Phu Quoc is home to some of Vietnam’s most popular diving sites, with clear waters that attract a wide range of tropical fish and coral reefs teeming with colorful marine life. The island also has some excellent onshore activities such as hiking along its lush forested trails or taking in some culture at its museums or art galleries.
The best time to visit Phu Quoc is during the winter dry season (November to May), when the beach is deserted and there aren’t many tourists on the island. This makes it easier for you to get around solo if desired, but still gives you access to all that Phu Quoc has to offer: beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and plenty of activities for all ages!
10. Con Dao Islands
Con Dao Islands
The Con Dao Islands are a remote archipelago of islands in Southern Vietnam, lying around 160 kilometers off the coast of Quang Ninh Province. The islands are famous among divers as one of the best places to visit in the country, both for the variety of sea life as well as for the coral reefs.
Much of the Con Dao Islands, and the surrounding water, is a protected wilderness area, with the island shores home to nesting turtles, and dense forest still covering the island interiors.
The main island, and prime base for visitors with all the accommodation and things to do, is Con Son Island, which has sweeps of sand strung out across its coast that attract beachgoers looking for a relaxed sun-soaked getaway.
RMC Asia team visits MHTi, one of our partner agencies in Myanmar.
I wouldn’t be mistaken if I call Vietnam an unexplored gem of Southeast Asia, and you probably agree with me after reading about how much it has to offer. Considering how the country is striving to improve its tourism sector and attract guests from all over the world, I wouldn’t hesitate to take the first opportunity to come by and hop on the wagon. “Where would I get such an opportunity?”, you may ask. My answer is “It’s right here with us”. All you have to do is to apply for opportunities in Vietnam and allow RMC Asia to find you the best placement and live your dream while learning valuable skills from top hospitality experts. Join us and discover Vietnam for yourself!