Vietnam is one of my favourite countries to visit. From my first few days in the country, I was absolutely hooked! There are so many beautiful places in Vietnam, amazing things to see and do, not the mention the delicious food and the epic coffee (make sure you try it iced!).
It’s been a little while since I visited, and I’d love to go back to Vietnam, so I asked my fellow travel bloggers to tell me what they think the most beautiful places in Vietnam are to see what awesome places I haven’t yet been to.
And here’s what they think should be on your Vietnam bucket list!
By Elizabeth from Compass and Fork
Beautiful green rice fields dominate the Mai Chau valley in Vietnam. With a little elevation, the heat and humidity which can zap your energy in Vietnam is not as oppressive in this lush, picture postcard perfect valley.
About 4 hours’ drive southwest of Hanoi, the Mai Chau valley provides a perfect way to experience rural Vietnam. There are a few hotels available in the valley or homestays with a local village family are popular in the area. Many of the local villagers have Thai heritage and the wooden homes are built on stilts.
Biking and hiking are popular activities for visitors, but the real attraction of Mai Chau is the scenery and a chance to relax and enjoy a bit of nature especially if you have been in the hustle and bustle of Hanoi.
Phu Quoc Island
By Lotte from Phenomenal Globe
Phu Quoc is the largest island of Vietnam, however, surprisingly enough it’s actually located just 15 kilometers off the coast of Cambodia. When I visited this lovely little island back in 2015 it was still unspoiled, with beautiful beaches, little villages, and red dirt roads.
I rented a scooter and explored the island for three days. I drove the Southern, Western and Eastern loop, which were all beautiful and showed me a different side of the island. In Duong Dong you’ll find lots of restaurants and accommodation, but also the night market which is fun to visit.
The Northeast of the Island is where you can find Phu Quoc National Park, a dense jungle with tropical trees and monkeys (if you are lucky!). In the South, you can find famous Sao beach, with crystal white sand and a beautiful blue ocean. Altogether Phu Quoc is a wonderful place to spend a couple of days!
By Kathy Marris of 50 Shades of Age
Out of all of the South East Asian cities or towns that I have visited, there is nowhere prettier than Hoi An Old Town and An Bang Beach. Although the town and beach are a mere 6 kilometres away from each other, if you stay at one or the other you get the best of both worlds – a beautiful stretch of white sandy beach and a world heritage-listed ancient town that exudes charm and grace.
Strolling around Hoi An Old Town is an absolute delight. The streets are blocked off to cars and motorbikes, but you do need to watch out for cyclists and rickshaws. There are striking bougainvillea vines draped off historical buildings and ferny leafed trees that provide a little shade as you walk along the streets.
Hoi An’s historical buildings reflect a fusion of indigenous and foreign cultures (principally Chinese and Japanese with later European influences). Most of the old wooden buildings now house shops selling everything from silk fabrics, brightly coloured paper lanterns, artworks to souvenirs.
Once the sun sets the streets of Hoi An take on a whole different look. Paper lanterns light up the streets and reflect off the river transforming the town into a shimmering wonderland like you’re in some sort of fairytale.
By Jessica from Independent Travel Cats
Halong Bay is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam known for its emerald colored waters, hundreds of vegetation-topped limestone islands, and numerous caves. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in northern Vietnam. In addition to the scenery, the area offers kayaking, SCUBA diving, hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities. One popular hiking area is Cát Bà National Park on Cát Bà island.
Halong Bay is located about 3.5 hours from Hanoi and most people choose to visit Halong Bay by taking a tour, shuttle, or taxi to Halong Bay, and then exploring the bay by cruise. Cruises range from a few hours to a few days in length. We ourselves took a 3 day Halong Bay cruise and we definitely recommend taking a longer cruise to have more time to relax and see more of the scenery offered in both Halong Bay and nearby areas.
The Mekong Delta is located in the south of Vietnam and is a warren of rivers, rice fields, and floating markets. Much of the transportation in the area takes place on boats. It’s easily accessible as a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City, but staying overnight will give you more of a taste for the “rice bowl” of Vietnam and all it has to offer.
Bustling towns contrast with the calmness of floating down the rivers that maze across the lush green landscape. Take a boat trip to the working floating markets and see floating and stifled houses. Life in the Mekong revolves around the waterways. Don’t forget to try a freshly cut coconut!
By Owen of My Turn to Travel
Located in Lao Cai Province, Sapa has been hailed as one of the best trekking spots in Southeast Asia. It is home to five main ethnic groups – the H’mong, Dao, Tay, Giay and Xa Pho. Homestays with the tribes have been a popular choice for travelers, as you get to understand the culture of each tribe and trudge through the iconic rice paddies with an amazing mountainous view at the same time.
During the homestay, the H’mong tribe will whip up a delicious home cooked feast, and share life experiences over bottles of ‘happy water’, allowing you to immerse into the local culture almost immediately. A choice of a 3-day, 2-night tour may bring you to Ban Ho village where you stay with the Tay tribe – which exposes you to a completely different experience relative to the earlier homestay.
Hiking past villages and a wide array of farm animals, you will be rewarded with a scenic view of green rice paddies at Ban Ho village where the skies are clearer at a lower altitude.
By Round the World Guys
Visiting large cities in Vietnam can be a bit overwhelming until you get used to them. You may need even a getaway from the hectic pace.
One good escape is the town of Nha Trang, located in the middle of the country on the coast. It’s well-known for having some of the best “beach culture” in the country and is also a diving destination for scuba divers looking for decent diving in Vietnam. Years of poverty and wars have turned the once pristine Vietnam coastline into somewhat of a less-desirable diver destination. However, there are still plenty of places to dive in Nha Trang, where enthusiasts will find everything from small critters to turtles and cuttlefish.
Not a beach person? Head out to see some of Nha Trang’s historical sites, like the famous Big Buddha. Immerse yourself in the cultural experience and take a Vietnamese cooking class at Lanterns Restaurant. You’ll cook great food and visit a busy market the locals use – all while learning more about Vietnam’s daily life.
By Michael from Time Travel Turtle
Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, has been used over the centuries as the centre of power for both local and foreign rulers. For almost 800 years, until 1802, Vietnamese dynasties ruled from here. Between 1883 and 1945, the French used it as the de facto capital of French Indochina
It means that today you’ll find a city where Asian and European influences blend together with historical sites, cultural centres, and modern national monuments to create a beautiful urban landscape.
The prettiest parts of Hanoi are around Hoan Kiem Lake. To the north is the Old Quarter where markets take over the streets, lanterns hang between trees, and decorations cover the wooden balconies.
In the French Quarter to the southeast of the lake, you’ll find wide facades with balconies surrounded by wrought ironwork, impressive government buildings painted with pastel yellows, and even French-style cafes.
With green parks, lots of lakes, and the large Red River cutting through the city, there’s also plenty of nature to give this chaotic Vietnamese city a calmer atmosphere than you might expect!
This beach resort is located within an easy travelling distance of Ho Chi Minh City, making it a popular choice for a weekend getaway or for travellers taking a coastal route on their Vietnam trip. Mid-range resorts are spread along the beachfront, with a few cheaper guest houses also available. Mui Ne is the perfect destination for adventure-seekers, as it has world-class windsurfing conditions throughout the dry season from October to April.
The sand dunes in Mui Ne are also a uniquely beautiful destination in Vietnam, giving the appearance of a desert, with both white and red dunes nearby. Tours include options to ride across the sand dunes in an ATV or to try sandboarding down them.
Son Tra Peninsula
Located near Da Nang, the Son Tra Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam. It has escaped the development of other coastal areas after being named a natural reserve in 1997, making it a beautiful scenic trip from nearby resorts.
Motorbike is the best way to see the Son Tra Peninsula, as the roads are narrow but can also be very steep, so good brakes and some power are a must! There are plenty of sites to stop and see, including the Linh Ung Pagoda, a 1000-year-old Giant Banyan Tree, and Monkey Passage with its stunning views.
There’s too much to see in one day, so if you do want to stay over then you would need to stay in one of the two resorts at the beginning of the peninsula.
Ha Giang Province
By Emily Lush of Wander-Lush
Located in far-northern Vietnam, northeast of Sapa along the Chinese border, Ha Giang Province is the country’s ‘final frontier’. It was the last part of Vietnam to open up to tourism, and foreign visitors still require a special permit to enter the border zone. Isolated and rugged, Ha Giang offers some of the most magnificent mountain scenery in the region.
Motorcycling is the transport mode of choice in Ha Giang—beloved by young Vietnamese and growing in popularity among backpackers. Most travel by the Dong Van Loop, a 350km circular road that leads you through Ha Giang’s precarious rice terraces, lush valleys, limestone karst plateaus and deep gorges. Heaven’s Gate and the Ma Pi Leng Pass are two of the most picturesque areas. It’s also possible to do the Loop by car or explore Ha Giang on foot by trekking between ethnic Tay, Dao and Flower Hmong villages.
Con Dao Islands
By Shweta from Zest in a Tote
A 45-minute flight away from Ho Chi Minh city lie the pristine islands of Con Dao. Think green forests, sandy beaches and secluded bays, and a good variety of coral reefs and marine life in Vietnam Sea that will make snorkelling or diving worthwhile. These islands have a violent history, they were used as a prison for thousands during the French rule in the mid-20th century, but now they are protected as a national park.
Con Son is the largest island in the chain with an airport, where we spent 4 blissful days, lying on the beach, having a thrilling time on mountain bikes exploring the stunning views, diving near the coast to see all the colourful corals and fish and taking it slow. I had an amazing experience at the Luxury beach resort – Six Senses, Con Dao.
By Mary of Move to Vietnam
Vietnam is already known for its world-class cuisine, those who are foreign to this country probably don’t know yet that this place is also a must-visit destination. After living and travelling on and off in Vietnam for the past three years, I’ve come to the conclusion that my favourite place here is Ninh Binh.
Ninh Binh offers a lot of things to everyone who decides to travel here or move here. The beauty of Ha Long Bay can still be appreciated from this part of the country, all you have to do is go to Trang An which also known as the Ha Long Bay by land.
Ninh Binh is also famous for all the beautiful caves you will come across too. Are you also a nature lover? Hiking in a very natural environment is definitely an option without going too far out of the city. Ninh Binh also let you travel the North of Vietnam and all the way to the South with not much of a hassle!
By Stephanie of Sofia Adventures
Located in Vietnam’s Red River Delta, Trang An is known as the “Ha Long Bay on Land.” Protected by UNESCO as the “Trang An Landscape Complex,” it is a stunning area of limestone karst peaks, similar to what you see at Ha Long Bay.
A boat ride through the grottos is magical. You paddle through caves and emerge in gorgeous pockets of limestone peaks along with Confucian temples, apple fields, and even an old movie set. Music flows over the water, echoing against the rocks, giving the air an extra bit of enchantment.
There are three different options for boat rides. Option 1 is the longest and takes about two and a half hours. At the end of the ride, I felt like I could have kept going. The landscape is just so beautiful, it was hard to make myself leave. Afterward, I went to the open-air market across the street and grabbed a delicious and inexpensive lunch with my new found friends.
I hired a private car from Hanoi and went on as a day trip. However, you can also stay overnight in the area, as there are many other lovely places to visit if you have more time.
Quy Nhon is a coastal city located almost exactly halfway between Hoi An and Nha Trang, although it is often overlooked as travellers pass between the two. The lack of heavy traffic and industry makes the city feel much smaller than it is, and it’s relatively undiscovered on the tourist trail, so offers a more authentic Vietnamese experience.
The beautiful boulevards and coastline are popular with Vietnamese retirees who want to enjoy the coastal life. Travellers will be able to enjoy the fresh seafood dishes in many of the restaurants, and the recent emergence of more cafes and bars that are giving the city a more cosmopolitan feel.
While the beach and sea at Quy Nhon are unfortunately affected by some pollution, the beaches in the surrounding villages are much more pristine, and nearby Bai Xep is a popular place to stay for travellers.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park – Hang Son Doong
By Mike of Live Travel Teach
People often ask me “where is the most amazing place I’ve ever visited” and my answer is always Hang Son Doong, the world’s largest cave! This magical destination is tucked away in the Vietnamese jungles of Phong Nha and was only discovered at the turn of the millennium which makes it that much more remarkable. The massive cave takes about a week of jungle trekking to fully explore and can only be seen on one of Oxalis’ exclusive tours. These pristine landscapes are quite literally untouched by human hands and they found a number of new species crawling through the caverns.
Words barely describe all the geological marvels that await inside of Hang Son Doong with enormous stalactites, cave shields, cave pearls and more throughout the cavern. You’ll be tempted to swim in all the wonderful cave pools and although they won’t let you in ALL of them these natural springs are the only place for a jungle bath in this week-long adventure. Two dolines have created lush jungles that fill a number of chambers with unexpected greenery and even create an ecosystem where you might get rained on inside of the cave!
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
By Claudia from My Adventures Across the World
Vibrant, full of life, fashionable, chaotic yet incredibly beautiful, Saigon is one of the most interesting places to visit in Vietnam. It’s the kind of city that one either love or hates at first sight, and most end up loving it.
What makes Saigon a must when traveling to Vietnam is the fabulous mixture of modern and ancient sites, all next to each other. Aside from the temples scattered around town, the city is packed with examples of French colonial architecture: the theater; the Notre Dame cathedral; the Central Post Office are only a few.
One of the most interesting places to visit is the War Remnants Museum, to learn more about the American War that had such a strong impact on the history and life of the country.
Last but not least, what makes Saigon a must is the incredible food scene – restaurants and street food offer great meals at unbeatable prices; and the fantastic nightlife.
The temperate climate of Da Lat made it a popular French resort in the early 1900s, as people would seek an escape from the heat of the south. The city gained the name of “The Eternal Spring” and still retains many of the French colonial villas built then, giving it a different feel to many of the other cities in Vietnam. Surrounded by coffee plantations, flowers and fruit orchards rather than the traditional rice fields adds to its charm.
It has been a popular destination for Vietnamese honeymooners and couples looking for a romantic break but has also become an adventure capital of late, with hill walking, canyoning, white water rafting and mountain biking all available in the surrounding areas.
In the middle of the Central Highlands of Vietnam is the serene Lak Lake. Surrounded by rice fields, rolling hills and minority villages, it’s a relatively undeveloped area but a beautiful one to visit.
The local tourism office can help you to organise a boat trip on Lak Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the area, or a homestay with a local family if you’d like to stay overnight. You’ll also notice many of the houses have a phone number outside that you can call to speak to someone in English and help organise a stay with the family or you can try the Lak Lake Resort for a standard hotel.
Easily reachable from both Da Lat and Buon Ma Thuot, the drive to the lake either way is worth the trip!
Hue was the capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945, and was once home of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors. The city still has an imperial feel, with a sprawling Citadel complex being one of the main attractions to see. There are also several impressive gates, imperial tombs and temples.
The Thien Mu Pagoda overlooks the Perfume River and is another beautiful place to visit in the city. Although a complex has been there since the 1600s, many of the buildings have been destroyed and restored over time. Visit earlier in the morning to avoid the crowds!
My Son is the site where a unique culture based on Indian Hinduism existed from the 4th to 13th centuries. The kings of Champa constructed an elaborate collection of temples that are unfortunately mostly in ruins after carpet bombing during the war. Despite this, it’s still a stunning site surrounded by lush jungle and streams. It’s a peaceful spot and is now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It can be easily reached from Hoi An by motorcycle.
Reading all of these brought back so many amazing memories of my time in Vietnam, and I really can’t wait to go again one day! If you’re hesitating on visiting Vietnam, DON’T, add it into your South East Asia itinerary and you won’t regret it.
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