Vietnam is a country teaming with natural beauty, from the rice fields to the delta, the rivers to the islands, the beaches to the mountains. It is extremely popular with tourists from around the world who not only go to experience nature at its finest, but to also get a taste of Vietnamese culture, history and lifestyle.
Vietnam has three regions – the North, Central and South, each of which offers its own environment, heritage and cultures.
Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Halong Bay and Hoi An are four of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
Things to see and do
The city of Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and is popular for its striking architecture and rich culture which incorporates Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences. It is often said to be the most beautiful city in all of Asia with its sweeping boulevards, beautiful lakes surrounded with trees, and the ancient pagodas.
The city has a population of around 4 million and a history that dates back as far as the 3rd Century BC. There is plenty for the tourist to do, including Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum - where you will find the body of Ho Chi Minh, the most popular leader of Vietnam. His body is preserved in a glass class.
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and stands 40 metres high; the Perfume Pagoda is a series of Buddhist temples which are built into a mountain range; the Dong Xuan Market is the largest of its kind and is a great place if you’re shopping for fashion and souvenirs; while Hanoi Old Quarter will see you walking along narrow streets past a variety of colonial buildings.
Halong Bay is by far one of Vietnam’s most popular holiday destinations – and it is also one of best in the world. Located in the north of the country near the Chinese border, Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is dotted with 1600 limestone islands and islets that extend across an area of more than 1500 kilometres square.
Halong means ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’, because according to legend, the islands were created by a dragon. Probably one of the best parts is that most of the islands are uninhabited and therefore are completely untouched by humans.
One of the best ways to experience Ha Long Bay is by spending the night on a junk, or you can borrow a kayak and paddle through the limestone karsts and explore the hidden caves within the islands.
Hoi An has been described as Vietnam’s most delightful town. Even the name itself translates to “peaceful meeting place”. It was a Southeast Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th Century and the buildings and culture reflect a range of influences.
Hoi An is located on the seaside and it is one of the quietest in Vietnam, in fact, cars are not even allowed in the main streets. The entire town itself is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Some of the most popular attractions is the My Son Hindu Sanctuary; the Museum of Trade Ceramics; Marble Mountains (5 hills made from limestone and marble); and the Japanese Covered Bridge.
Vietnam has a number of stunning beaches, from Nha Trang with its long sandy beach, palm trees and nearby coral reefs; to Vung Tau where you can experience fantastic snokelling opportunities at the offshore islands; or the sand dunes of Mui Ne. Whether you’re looking for a water sport haven or a relaxing beachside getaway, you will find it in Vietnam.
See the red, blue and yellow robes and listen to the chants of the Cao Dai sect at the Cao Dai Temple at Tay Ninh.
Take a Vietnamese cooking lesson
Head to Dalat – a former colonial hill station with romantic lakes and alpine scenery
Take a train journey on the Reunification Express
Enjoy some of the hundreds of long distance hiking trails around the country
Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels and see what underground life was like for Viet Cong-era soldiers
Explore the Mekong Delta’s towns and floating markets
Check out the Sand Dunes of Mui Ne Mui Ne – the dunes range in colour from gold and white, to red.
Walk through the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Quang Binh Province.
Get up close and personal with the locals and visit the Sapa hill tribe’s remote villages.