Planning to visit Vietnam? You won’t regret your trip there! Vietnam offers an interesting mix of different landscapes: paddy fields, white-sand beaches, big cities, pagodas, caves, mountains… The local food is delicious, there’s a rich history and the locals are friendly. No more excuses, you have to visit Vietnam. So… What to do in Vietnam? What are the best places to visit in Vietnam? I’m gonna list the places to see in Vietnam, then I’ll share Vietnam travel tips!
Things to do in Vietnam
Located about 130km (80 miles) east of Hanoi, Halong Bat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s one of the most popular Vietnam tourist places, you cannot miss it! You’ll admire emerald-hue waters, hundreds of limestone mountains, karst caves and beautiful islands. To enjoy this, you have to book a cruise. I recommend you book one where you spend at least one night on the boat. Otherwise you’ll have to rush and won’t be able to really enjoy Halong Bay. I wrote a detailed article about Halong Bay. Click here to book your cruise.
Hoi An is a wonderful town in central Vietnam, one of the top Vietnam tourist spots! We call it the city of lanterns because of all the lanterns decorating Hoi An, and they lit up in the evening. The Hoi An port was an important trading place in Asia. We can still feel the influence of Japan, China and France when watching the architecture of the buildings.
It’s a charming town where you have to see the Japanese bridge, the lantern market but also Hoi An Beach. I wrote a detailed article about my visit to Hoi An. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Sapa is one of the top places to visit in Vietnam. Located in northern Vietnam, you’ll have the chance to admire wonderful paddy fields. The most popular activity in the region is trekking. You’ll pass through remote villages and admire the mountains. The locals will try to sell you handicraft, the kids will come up to you to chat. You can take a cable car to get on top of Fansipan mountain at over 3,000m (10,000 ft.). Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam. There are numerous scooters, but also noise of pollution. But if you want to dive into Vietnamese city life, go to Hanoi! You can feel the influence of France and China there. You have to see the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, one of the top Vietnam tourist attractions. Have a walk in the Old Quarter, visit the temple of Literature and also the imperial citadel of Thang Long. I wrote a detailed article about my visit to Hanoi. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s not easy to get there but this park is worth the trip. You’ll find there the largest cave in the world (Hang Son) and the oldest karst mountain of Asia. There are over 500 caves in Phong Na, but only 30 are accessible to visitors. The most popular ones care Phong Nha cave, Paradise cave and Black cave. In some of them, you can wander alone. But in others, a guide is compulsory. This park is one of the most popular Vietnam tourist spots. Click here to find your accommodation.
Located in the south of Vietnam, Phu Quoc is an island actually closer geographically to Cambodia. An island where you can relax on white-sand beaches, go trekking, admire waterfalls and savor delicious seafood. You can also go diving or snorkeling. Let’s face it, it’s one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam. It’s better to rent a scooter to explore the island. Phu Quoc has an airport and the flights are cheap from Ho Chi Minh. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Ho Chi Minh
Like Hanoi, there’s a lot of hustle and bustle in Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon). But you have to see it, it’s one of the places to go in Vietnam! There are temples, museums, parks and tourist shopping. The food is delicious, there are many breweries and cafés and a vibrant nightlife. Visit the War Remnants museum, the independence palace and the beautiful botanical garden. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities
Hue was the seat of Nguyen emperors from 1802 to 1945. It’s one of the unique places to visit in Vietnam, and you can’t miss it if you love history. Located in central Vietnam, Hue was separating the north from the south of the country during the Vietnam war. Today, the city is still split in two by the Perfume River. In the north there’s the imperial city (also called citadel) with its ruins, temples and palaces. In the south there’s the modern-day city. It’s better to rent a bicycle in Hue. Go to the Tu Doc mausoleum ans visit the Thien Mu pagoda. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
The Mekong delta
The Mekong delta is wonderful, it’s one of the most famous places in Vietnam. To enjoy the wonderful landscapes, you have to go on a boat ride. You’ll see rice fields, mangroves, floating markets, orchards, buffaloes… You need to go to Can Tho to go on a boat ride on the Mekong delta. Moreover there are floating markets and it’s interesting to watch the local daily life. Click here to find your accommodation.
Wanna relax along the beach? Head to Nha Trang, one of the best places to go in Vietnam! It’s a popular small town among local families on vacation, as well as foreign visitors. You’ll admire stunning sunsets in Nha Trang. You can also enjoy activities such as surfing, kitesurfing, snorkeling or biking. There are many good restaurants along the beach and bars to party in the city center. Click here to find your accommodation.
Ninh Binh is located about two hours south of Hanoi. Visitors mostly go there to admire the surrounding nature. Head to the top of the Mua Caves! First you have to climb 500 stairs, then you’ll enjoy a breathtaking view of the city! You can also visit the Trang An caves on a boat with a local guide. Click here to find your accommodation.
Cu Chi tunnels
Located two hours away from Ho Chi Minh, the Cu Chi tunnels are one of the top things to see in Vietnam, especially if you want to learn about the history of the Vietnam war! It’s an extensive tunnel network that during the war, stretched for more than 250 kilometres (155 miles), allowing Vietcong to communicate and repel the US forces. You visit the tunnels with a guide and you’ll pass through narrow and sometimes humid tunnels. At some point, you’ll be crawling on your hands and knees. Avoid the Cu Chi tunnels if you’re claustrophobic!
Mui Ne is not the most popular town among travelers, however it’s a nice place to spend a few days. Located along the sea in the south of the country, it’s the ideal place for windsurfing or kitesurfing. You can also relax on the beach and admire sunrises, rent dune buggies, and follow a stream to reach a waterfall. Click here to find your accommodation.
Dalat was used by Vietnamese emperors and French colonists as a summer retreat. Today it’s a popular destination for honeymooners and weekend getaways among locals. You can clearly feel the French influence when watching the architecture. There are beautiful lakes, waterfalls, gardens and royal palaces. The town is enjoyable, and it’s cooler here than in the neighboring cities. You can also go canyoning in Dalat! Click here to find your accommodation.
These were the best places to visit in Laos! You can also check out this backpacking Southeast Asia travel guide! Now here are Vietnam travel tips!
Vietnam travel budget
- Accommodation is not expensive in Vietnam. One night in a hostel dorm costs around 120,000 VND ($5). One night in a budget hotel costs around 250,000 VND ($11). You’ll pay about 500,000 VND ($22) per night in a mid-range hotel. If you’re into luxury hotels, prices start at 1,500,000 VND per night ($65). Click here to find your accommodation.
- Food is not expensive either. Street food (pho, rice bowl) costs around 20,000 VND ($1). Eating at the restaurant costs between 50 and 100,000 VND ($2-4.50). A beer costs between 20 and 40,000 VND ($1-1.50).
- Regarding transportation, a bus ticket in the city costs around 4,000 VND ($0.15). You’ll rarely pay more than 50,000 VND ($2) for a ride on a motorbike taxi. To get around in Vietnam, there are many cheap domestic flights. But most people use the bus. You’ll pay between 100 and 600,000 VND ($4.50-26) a bus ride in the country. The prices are more or less the same for train rides.
- Regarding activities, it’s usually cheap. To see the Cu Chi tunnels, you’ll pay between 100 and 200,000 VND ($4.50-8.50). However for activities targeting tourists, the prices are higher. Seeing Halong Bay costs at least 1,000,000 VND ($45).
Basically, if you’re traveling on a budget, you can get by with $30 per day. Otherwise you’ll spend about $50+ per day. Vietnam is a cheap place to travel on a budget.
How to get around in Vietnam
In cities there are buses taxis and motorbike taxis, they’re very efficient! To get around in the country, there are buses, night buses, but also cheap domestic flights (with Vietnam Airlines or Jetstar).
Best time to visit Vietnam
Here’s a full guide about the best time to visit Vietnam. It’s difficult to answer this question because the weather varies a lot depending on where you are in Vietnam. In the north, the weather is nice from October to December. In central Vietnam, the best time to visit is from February to May.
From June to August it’s too hot and from September to February it’s the monsoon. In the south, the rain season takes place from May to December and the weather is great from December to April. If you want to get an overall experience in the country, the best time to visit Vietnam is from September to December or in March/April.
Visa policy of Vietnam
Safety in Vietnam
Vietnam is a safe country. It’s one of the best places to solo travel. Be careful though, there are scams targeting tourists, especially in Ho Chi Minh but also in Nha Trang and Hanoi: pickpockets, bag snatching, con artists… It’s common in touristy areas. Always keep an eye open on your belongings, especially your wallet and your phone. When hiking or trekking, always stay on the marked trail.
In some remote areas (especially around Hue), there are still unexploded bombs, dating back to past conflicts. Before traveling, don’t forget to get travel insurance. It will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellations. Click here to get one.
Packing list for Vietnam
I’m not gonna list all the things to pack for Vietnam. I don’t know how long you’re gonna stay there, where you’re going in Vietnam, what you’re going to do and when you’ll visit. Take all the necessary clothes, toiletries, and also:
- hand sanitizer
- combination locks
- a money belt
- a security cable lock
- a travel plug adapter
- a stainless steel water bottle
- a lifestraw (a water bottle with a purifier)
- a menstrual cup (for the ladies)
Here’s a full list of travel accessories which can be useful!
What to eat in Vietnam
First off, here’s a full list of mouth-watering Vietnamese snacks! The food is delicious in this country! You have to try a pho, one of the most popular dishes in Vietnam. It’s a Vietnamese soup made of rice noodles, herbs and usually chicken or beef. Bun cha hanoi is grilled meat served over noodles, with a broth that you pour over the noodles. There are also herbs and vegetables! Banh bao is a steamed dumpling stuffed with pork, onions and some other ingredients.
You can now visit Vietnam and enjoy your time there thanks to this Vietnam travel guide!
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- Always use a VPN when traveling. I use ExpressVPN and I love it. Here’s why use a VPN when traveling.