Chaotic cities, deserted beaches, staggering natural beauty and a rich historical narrative: Vietnam has it all.
While just decades ago this was a country struck by war, the 21st century has seen Vietnam miraculously transform into one of Asia’s main backpacking destinations and a hot-spot for tourists looking to combine culture with a coastal escape.
There’s so much to see, so if you only have a week or two to explore the highlights, check out our recommended top places to see in Vietnam:
Foodies should head straight to Hanoi, Vietnam’s buzzing capital.
Every block is swamped with cafes that spill out onto the sidewalks, with customers dining on tiny plastic tables and chairs. Grab yourself a table and slurp up some Pho, before taking a walk around one of the city’s beautiful lakes.
The museums are also a must-visit; step inside the Vietnamese Women’s Museum to get an idea of the women’s war effort, and wander around the majestic Temple of Literature – the site of Vietnam’s first university.
A boat trip around Ha Long Bay is an experience every traveller who visits Vietnam commits to. You can see pictures, but nothing compares to actually sailing around the towering limestone peaks, which pierce out of the ocean like blades.
For an added touch of adventure, you can even stay overnight on the water in a traditional junkboat. Watch the sun sink over the jagged horizon before enjoying a delicious dinner cooked by the friendly team on board; it doesn’t get much better than that!
This is a city that’s, quite literally, constantly on the move. Characterised by its cascading whirls of motorbikes and fascinating museums and architecture, Ho Chi Minh is definitely one of the world’s most exhilarating cities.
Shop ’til you drop in the Bến Thành Market, sampling delicious street food as you go, and get a taste for Vietnam’s French colonial past at the red-bricked Notre-Dame Cathedral and the 19th Century Central Post Office.
With over 2,000 miles of stunning coastline, choosing a beach in Vietnam can be difficult.
If you’re looking for white sand swashed by turquoise shores and an array of restaurants, bars and entertainment at your fingertips, Phan Thiet ticks all the boxes. This coastal city in south Vietnam is home to Mui Ne beach – an idyllic 10-kilometres of soft white sand.
And if lazing around on the sun isn’t enough, you can also try adrenaline-pumping water sports such as kitesurfing and paragliding. It’s impossible to get bored!
A coastal town renowned for its multicultural Old Town, Hoi An was once a major port for exporting silk, pottery and other exotic goods.
This maze of pretty cobbled streets and lantern-lit canals is now a popular stopping point for tourists looking to immerse themselves in the town’s history – and indulge in a little retail therapy along the way.
When the sun goes down, the town’s charm really comes alive. Lanterns light up the water, live music plays in the streets, food markets line the walkways and quirky boutiques stay open for late-night browsers.
Luckily, there really isn’t a right or wrong time to visit Vietnam; it’s one of those destinations where you’re pretty much guaranteed good weather all year-round.
While the weather in the north is colder from June to August, the rest of the country enjoys a warm and relatively dry climate throughout most of the year.
If it’s sunshine and clear blue skies you seek, book a trip anytime from November to April. You won’t be disappointed!
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