Tourists looking for exciting places to go in Vietnam will want to take a look at this list to help determine the best place to relax — or explore — for a few days. We’ve arranged our list from North to South. These tourist destinations in Vietnam are very popular for all tourists including adventure seekers and cultural tourists. We’ve also left out the big cities (Hanoi, Danang, and Ho Chi Minh City) which we will discuss on our blog.
Sapa is Vietnam’s signature mountain city. It is home to terraced rice paddies, natives in colorful traditional garb, and all the things that come to mind when you envision Vietnamese hill tribes. The trekking industry is huge here, what with the breathtaking countryside surrounding the city and the uncharacteristically (by Vietnam standards) temperate climate.
Activities: Trekking, meeting local hill tribes
Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is the most renowned instance of natural beauty in the already-gorgeous country of Vietnam. The water of the bay is blue and serene, unlike most of the country’s bays and beaches. And the real stars of the show are the monolithic natural rock formations rising out of the depths and topped with greenery. There are also a few very cool floating fishing villages scattered on the bay. Along with Hoi An, Ha Lomg Bay is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam and is nothing will find anywhere else – so it’s a must do trip on anyones itinarary.
Activities: Caving, rock climbing
Hue is a paradise for history buffs. Not only is it the ancient capital of Vietnam, but it was one of the areas unfortunately hit hard during the war with the US. The resulting ruins are both tragic and fascinating to behold. Taking a tour around the old palace at the center of the city or visiting one of the local royal tombs are rich lessons in imperial Vietnamese culture.
Activities: Learning about history, visiting the Holy Cham ruins
Hoi An is a small town, but it is amazingly popular considering its size. Its small, peaceful streets are quaint and charming. Its old town is lined with fascinating buildings from the colonial and pre-colonial eras. And on weekend evenings, its central lake lights up with soft red, greens, and oranges for the most stunning lantern festival seen outside of Disney’s Tangled. Hoi an is also just a 20-30 minute drive from Danang, so it’s a good idea to combine the two if you’re travelling to either one.
Activities: Shopping for lanterns, taking cooking classes
Nha Trang is the definition of a bustling beach town. First things first: the ocean. It is calm, warm, and the water is clear since Nha Trang generally does not suffer from the same geological phenomenon of “sedimented sea” that most of Vietnam’s coastal waters do. It’s a fantastic city for snorkeling, parasurfing, and other water sports. It’s home to Vietnam’s only major aquarium. In short, it’s an aquatic wonderland. For sea, sand, and sun, head to Nha Trang.
Activities: Parasailing, getting certified in scuba
Having lived in Vietnam for five years, I can say that Dalat is the only place I have been here that really makes me feel that I am visiting another country. Their fertile mountain soil lets them produce berries and other agricultural products not made elsewhere in Vietnam. The weather is pleasantly temperate, feeling more reminiscent of a European town than a Vietnamese city. The civic design is also pretty great, something many Vietnamese cities struggle with.
Activities: Taking a chairlift to a grand pagoda, touring the colonial palace
Mui Ne (also sometimes called Phan Thiet) is another beach town, but it is much less built up than Nha Trang. Resorts make up the majority of the town’s main strip, and the “real town” is a normal rural Vietnamese berg free of tourist activity. Visitors generally go around to see the area’s stunning geological features, such as the red dunes, the white dunes, the fairy stream, and, of course, the pristine beaches. There are lots of jeep or hot air balloon tours to show you around.
Activities: Taking a hot air balloon over the dunes, riding an ostrich at the fairy stream
Phu Quoc is a rustic island paradise. The island is large, but it is undeveloped and the structures are fairly spread out. This allows for open stretches of road that give those who like to tool around on a motorbike an ideal playground in which to do so. And Phu Quoc has plenty of points of interest as well, from pepper farms to huge fish sauce makers to night markets to killer seafood restaurants… and all the beautiful beaches in between.
Activities: Eating seafood at a floating restaurant, kayaking
Can Tho is a lush, vibrant city in the heart of Vietnam’s Mekong region. The most popular thing to do in Can Tho is the Cai Rang floating market, a morning market that congregates daily on the river abutting the city. My personal favorite thing to in Can Tho, though, is simply wandering the streets. Lush flora and fauna emphasize the youthful, vigorous feeling created by an easy-going population in the city. There are lots of things to see, like temples and parks, and the food is both exotic and delicious making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam.
Activities: Going on an exotic foods tour, touring the cacao factory.
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