In this article, we meticulously curate Vietnam's absolute must-see attractions, ranging from the vibrant and culturally rich ethnic enclaves to the exquisite stretches of pristine Vietnamese beaches.
Within each captivating destination, we provide invaluable insights and practical guidance encompassing itinerary recommendations, ideal duration, and a plethora of engaging activities.
Our aim is to empower you with the necessary tools to craft a tailor-made Vietnam expedition that perfectly aligns with your personal preferences and desired pace.
Should you embark on your journey by commencing in the north and winding your way down south, or should you opt for the reverse?
This inquiry frequents our conversations with prospective travelers, as they deliberate on mapping out an enthralling exploration of Vietnam. Our seasoned experts advocate for initiating your traverse from the northern realms to the southern domains, and here's why:
Intrinsically linked with history, Vietnam's genesis can be traced back to the fertile embrace of the Red River delta. Throughout the annals of time, Vietnamese dynasties orchestrated an expansion southwards, culminating in the triumphant annexation of the Mekong Delta during the twilight of the 17th century.
In essence, adhering to the chronological trajectory of north-to-south navigation unveils Vietnam's narrative tapestry, enriching your comprehension as you encounter an array of resplendent landmarks: be it venerable temples, serene pagodas, or time-honored ancestral abodes...
Explore the Hanoi Old Quarter
Geographically, Vietnam encompasses two contrasting climatic regions: the Northern and Southern zones, demarcated by the eminent Cloud Pass. The northern expanse experiences the cycle of four distinct seasons, whereas the southern realm, perpetually warm, oscillates between two discernible periods: arid and rainy.
Opting for a north-to-south odyssey across Vietnam during the span of October to April affords you the gradual acclimatization to ascending temperatures as you venture towards the southern stretches.
Immerse yourself in a sun-soaked coastal retreat within the Southern precincts. The southern fringes of Vietnam showcase an array of the nation's most sought-after islands and beaches, among them the alluring Phu Quoc and Con Dao islands, as well as the captivating shores of Mui Ne and Nha Trang.
Embarking on a journey spanning from the North to the South presents an opportunity to culminate your expedition amidst the paradisiacal beaches of southern Vietnam, a fitting crescendo to your remarkable voyage.
Spanning nearly 2,000 km from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's vast expanse makes it a formidable task to cover every corner in just a fortnight.
Within this segment, we delve into the imperative attractions within each locale, furnishing you with insights into their suggested time frames and engaging pursuits. Embarking on this north-to-south odyssey, you'll bear witness to an ever-evolving panorama of landscapes and cultures that shift distinctly from one region to the next.
The following iconic destinations encapsulate the essence of Vietnam and warrant inclusion in your itinerary: Hanoi, Sapa, Ninh Binh, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City, and the alluring Mekong Delta.
Hanoi, over the course of successive feudal dynasties, has steadfastly upheld its position as the epicenter of Vietnam's economic, political, and cultural tapestry. Within its bounds, a treasure trove of venerable abodes, museums, and sacred sites persists—a testament to its enduring legacy. These well-preserved landmarks collectively bestow visitors with an invaluable opportunity to glean insights into the nuances of ancient Vietnamese history and culture.
- Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, the Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh's house on stilts
- Hanoi Old Quarter with its 36 guilds specializing in handicrafts
- Tran Quoc Pagoda: The oldest pagoda in Hanoi and one of the ten most beautiful ancient temples and pagodas worldwide.
- Temple of Literature: The first university of Vietnam built from 1070. This academy served as a prestigious hub for the finest scholars under the rule of King Ly Nhan Tong.
- Imperial citadel of Thang Long: Provides a window into the vibrant cultural legacy of the area, along with the historical importance inherent
- Hoa Lo prison: Known as "Hanoi Hilton" and "Maison Centrale," this historical site resides within Hanoi French Quarter. Its moniker, roughly translating to "fiery furnace" or "stove," belies its dark past. Constructed in 1896 by French colonists, it initially served as a grim holding place for Vietnamese revolutionaries, marked by torment and suffering.
- Museums in Hanoi: Vietnam museum of Ethnology, Vietnam Women’s museum, History museum, Army museum
- Hanoi Shows: Water Puppet show, A O show, lonah show, Quintessence of Tonkin show
- Handicraft villages: Bat Trang ceramic village, Ha Thai Lacquer Village, Chuong conical hat making village, Quang Phu Cau incense village, Van Phuc silk village.
Drying Incence sticks at Quang Phu Cau village
The rural expanse of Ninh Binh captivates with its ever-shifting tableau, where limestone peaks intertwine with meandering rivers, imbuing the landscape with a serene and tranquil verdant hue. Beyond its natural allure, Ninh Binh holds a profound religious significance in the tapestry of Vietnam.
- Pagodas and temples: Bich Dong pagoda, Bai Dinh pagoda, Thai Vi temple,
- Boat trips: Enjoy the rowing boat trip in Tam Coc, Trang An, Thung Nang, Thien Ha cave, Van Long nature reserve.
- Biking among the rice field and village: Biking in Tam Coc area, biking around Tam Coc to Hoa Lu, biking along the Van Long dyke.
Boat trip on the crysal water at Trang An - one of the must visit places in Ninh Binh
Located in mountainous terrain, Sapa is a quaint and alluring town situated about 340 km north of Hanoi, nestled near the border with China.
Celebrated for its breathtaking panoramas, Sapa unveils sweeping vistas of a verdant valley embellished with idyllic rice fields that truly come alive under the embrace of clear skies. Encircled by imposing mountain ranges, this extraordinary topography sets the stage for unforgettable journeys through the enchanting realm of Sapa.
- Trekking along Muong Hoa valley to visit the villages: Cat Cat village, Y Linh Ho village, Lao Chai - Ta Van village, Giang Ta Chai village. En route, you'll encounter the vibrant communities of ethnic groups like the Black Hmong, Red Dao, and Day, while marveling at the captivating beauty of intricate rice terraces.
- Exploring the Fansipan peak: With a cable car, this exploration will be a half day.
Trekking along the Muong Hoa valley and explore the beautiful ethnic villages
For Halong Bay cruise, there are 3 typical routes for option:
Option 1: 1 day cruise: this is for tourists who have limited time that they could not overnight in Halong. Starting and ending the trip the same day. One day cruises will have 2 options: 4 hour or 6 hour cruises.
Option 2: 2-day 1-night cruise, you embark on the most favored choice to truly immerse yourself in the marvels of this natural spectacle. The experience of spending a night on a lavish cruise, relishing fine wine and delectable seafood, is unparalleled and adds a touch of enchantment to your journey.
Option 3: 3 day 2 night cruise: If you have time for a 3 day cruise, this will be the best option as the cruise takes you to the less touristy area of Halong Bay.
Great view of Halong Bay from the top of Titov island
Hoi An was the bustling urban port that thrived from the 16th to the 19th century in Vietnam. This city, meticulously conserved over the years, serves as a tangible link to the bygone eras, eloquently showcasing the interplay of diverse cultures: Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, and more. Deep-rooted in history, the land once belonged to the Champa Kingdom, a heritage that imparts distinct echoes of Champa cultural characteristics, reverberating through time.
A peacful Hoi An ancient town by the tranquil river
Hoi An emerges as a rarity among Vietnamese towns, having weathered the storms of wars with minimal impact. This resilient town has safeguarded an array of well-preserved period houses, a captivating haven for enthusiasts of history. Beyond the city's confines, a plethora of enticements await exploration, including the genuine countryside, artisan enclaves, and idyllic beaches, ensuring a fulfilling experience for all who venture here.
- Explore the old town with the ancient houses and streets: Tan Ky house, Phung Hung house, Quang Thang house, the Japanese bridge, the local market.
- Biking in the countryside, in the middle of rice and vegetable field
- Visit the villages: Thanh Ha, Cam Thanh, Tra Que villages in Hoi An
- Boat trip along the river
- Enjoy the basket boat in Bay Mau Coconut forest
- Beach break at Cua Dai beach, Ha My beach, An Bang beach
- Trip to Cham island to enjoy diving and swimming at Cham Island beach, just one hour by high speed boat from Hoi An
- Shopping and Tailor made your clothes, in Hoi An, you can get the tailor-made suits, clothes within 1 - 2 days.
- My Son exploration: The lost Champa Kingdom is a 2 hour drive from Hoi An.
Hoi An is one of the must visit destinations in your Vietnam Holiday
Note for Hoi An visiting: In Hoi An, tourists could stay a full week to explore the town, relax and have a beach break. However, please note that during September - October is the rainy season in Hoi An.
Where is Vietnam's most opulent and impeccably conserved royal legacy?. Look no further than Hue, a destination that beckons you to immerse yourself in a resplendent tapestry of culture and history, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nestled romantically in the heart of the country, this central city stands alone in its dedication to safeguarding a multitude of monuments that harken back to the era of the final Vietnamese emperors during the 19 century.
Things to do and see in Hue
These are the list places that you could not missed once you visit Hue
The Hue Imperial Citadel
The Tomb of Kings:
The Nguyen Dynasty encompassed 13 kings; however, due to economic and political considerations, only 7 tombs were constructed. These regal resting places in Hue were established during the kings' lifetimes, transforming them into resplendent enclaves that transcend the somber confines of traditional burial sites. Evoking the aura of palatial abodes, they seamlessly blend with nature, exuding a captivating charm through their harmonious integration with the surrounding landscapes.
- Tomb of Gia Long King
- Tomb of Minh Mang King
- Tomb of Thieu Tri King
- Tomb of Tu Duc King
- Tomb of Duc Duc King
- Tomb of Dong Khanh King
- Tomb of Khai Dinh King
A line of statues in the yard of Khai Dinh's Tomb
Thien Mu Pagoda:
A 400-year-old sacred temple by the Perfume River a must see place when traveling to visit Hue
Sinh Painting village, Tien Non Lacquerware village, Thanh Tien paper flower village
Artisans at paper flower making village - Thanh Tien - Hue
Phuoc Tich village, Situated approximately 40 km north of Hue city, Phuoc Tich ancient village graces the boundary between Thua Thien - Hue and Quang Tri provinces. The village of Phuoc Tich unfolds like an exquisite work of art, akin to an evocative masterpiece depicting the enduring charm of ancient Vietnamese hamlets.
Boat trip with traditional Hue folk song along the Perfume river.
Enjoy the Royal Music show that is recognized as the Intangible World Heritage of Vietnam
To visit Hue, tourists should stay at least 1 night and use 2 days to discover the most highlights: First day arrival, exploring the Hue imperial citadel and Thien Mu Pagoda, the second day could visit a tomb of the King and a village and take a flight or transfer to other destinations.
Note for Hue visiting: The rainy season in Hue is from September to January. Tourists should consider the schedule. The best time to visit Hue is from March to early May. The weather is really nice for your Hue vacation.
Ho Chi Minh City is the youthful city of Vietnam, yet it is the most developed and serves as the cultural and economic hub of the country. This is a city worth visiting to gain a deeper understanding of a place that was once hailed as the "Pearl of the Far East."
The Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon at city center
- Visit the great core of colonial Sai Gon: Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, the former Catinat Street, the Opera House, and the City Hall.
- Reunification Palace: Bears witness to numerous pivotal historical moments, notably the Southern Liberation event that unified the nation on April 30, 1975.
- War Remnant Museum: A proud member of the International Network of Museums for Peace and the International Council of Museums, this institution is dedicated to the research, curation, preservation, and exhibition of artifacts and documents chronicling the atrocities and aftermath of the Vietnam War.
- Sacred Sites: Notable among them are the Ngoc Hoang Pagoda and Thien Hau Temple, each embodying profound spiritual significance.
- Vibrant Markets: The bustling Cho Lon Market, often referred to as Saigon's second center and Chinatown, offers an immersive insight into the life of Vietnam's ethnic Chinese community. Meanwhile, the iconic Ben Thanh Market takes center stage as a prominent symbol of the city, showcasing an array of local treasures and flavors.
- Shows to watch in Ho Chi Minh city: A O show, Ter Dah show, Suong Som show, Traditional Music show
Cu Chi tunnel is also a highlight of your Vietnam Trip - just 50km from the city
A day trip will cover most of above activities.
For another day, Cu Chi Tunnel could not be missed.
Therefore, for 2 days and 1 night stay in Ho Chi Minh city could be enough.
The Mekong Delta is characterized by its unending expanses of rice paddies, thriving orchards, and a delectable array of fruits such as mangoes, bananas, coconuts, and durians. The region's picturesque villages are interwoven with an intricate network of meandering small waterways, creating a captivating tapestry.
Enjoy a boat trip along the shade of coconut forest in Mekong Delta River
For the Mekong delta area, we could do a day trip to 5 day trip to explore this amazing land.
- A day trip: visit My Tho, Ben Tre
- A 2 day trip: visit Cai Be - Vinh Long - Can Tho ( Cai Rang floating market)
- A 3 - 5 day trip: visit Cai Be - Can Tho - Long Xuyen - Chau Doc - Tra Su Cajuput forest.
Beyond these essential destinations, Vietnam reveals captivating treasures nestled within the northern mountainous realms. This majestic expanse, adorned with breathtaking hills, mountains, and intricate rice terraces, harbors a tapestry of approximately thirty distinct ethnic groups, each profoundly connected to their rich ancestral heritage.
Mai Chau, along with its neighboring Pu Luong, lies a mere 200 kilometers from Hanoi. Here, a tranquil journey unfolds, guiding you through a picturesque expanse of rice paddies, where the Thai and Muong ethnic communities reside in charming stilted abodes. Serving as a gateway to the cultural tapestry of the northern ethnic groups, Mai Chau - Pu Luong emerges as an optimal choice for an immersive introduction to these diverse cultures.
The peaceful landscape of Pu Luong
Recommend briefing Itinerary for Mai Chau - Pu Luong tour
Day 1: Hanoi - Mai Chau
Pick up from Hanoi to Mai Chau. Exploring Thais villages. Walk or cycle in the Mai Hich valley - Mai Chau.
Day 2: Mai Chau - Pu Luong discovery
Transfer from Mai Chau to Pu Luong, Enjoy hiking along the way to visit Eo Ken valley - Ban Hang and meeting with Muong and Thai people.
Day 3: Pu Luong - Hanoi
Hiking among the Pu Luong Valley, in the middle of rice field terrace, along the stream and return to Hanoi after lunch time.
Hanoi - Mu Cang Chai - Sapa - Hanoi.
Recommended briefing itinerary for Northwest Vietnam Adventure
Day 1: Hanoi - Transfer to Nghia Lo
Pick up at your hotel and transfer to Nghia Lo, Hiking and Biking in the Valley of Nghia Lo, Overnight at a homestay ( The house on stilts of Thai people)
Day 2: Nghia Lo - Tu Le - Mu Cang Chai
A great road trip to the mountainous area. Stop on the way for photos at Tu Le Valley, encounter the Dao and Thai people, the best highlight of the trip is trekking at La Pan Tan to Mom Xoi hill. That you see a lot of its photos about Vietnam Travelling
Day 3: Mu Cang Chai - Transfer to Sapa
Enjoy a gorgeous landscapes to Sapa, crossing Hoang Lien Son mountain range, admire the Fansipan peak and O Quy Ho pass.
Day 4: Trekking in Sapa
Trekking along the Muong Hoa valley in Sapa, visit the villages of Mong, Dzay, Dao minority ethnic people.
Day 5: Sapa - transfer to Hanoi
Enjoy a cable car to the peak of Fansipan and drive back to Hanoi in the afternoon.
September is a great season to visit Mu Cang Chai
For Sapa, we could extend 1 - 2 days to explore Bac Ha that is famous for Bac Ha market on every Sunday.
Or other Local markets surounding: Coc Ly market on every Tuestay, Sin Chen on every Wednesday, Lung Khau Nhin on every Thursday, Can Cau market on every Saturday.
Hanoi - Ha Giang - Dong Van - Ma Pi Leng pas - Meo Vac - Bao Lac - Cao bang - Ban Gioc Waterfall - Ba Be Lake - Hanoi.
Northeast Vietnam beckons to advetuous tourists. Explorations through this region can be undertaken via car, moped, or even bicycle, as its winding roads offer an enticing challenge amidst one of the country's most rugged terrains.
Ha Giang is a rocky area but it is really spectacular
Renowned for its awe-inspiring natural beauty and majestic landscapes, this area also stands as a treasure trove of rich cultural diversity, encompassing a multitude of Vietnam's ethnic groups. Amidst these, encounters with the Hmong, Lolo, Tay, and Nung communities await, further enriching your journey.
Recommended briefing itinerary for Northeast Vietnam adventure
Day 1: Hanoi - transfer to Ha Giang:
Pick up and transfer to Ha Giang, hiking to explore the Tay and Dao Village
Day 2: Ha Giang - Dong Van Rocky Plateau Park
Visit Quan Ba pass and Hmong King Palace on route.
Day 3: Dong Van - Ma Pi Leng Pass - Bao Lac
Transfer to Bao Lac, stop at Ma Pi Leng pass the most amazing pass in Vietnam and Nho Que river to admire the gorgeous landscapes.
Day 4: Bao Lac - Cao Bang
Transfer to Cao Bang, visit the monority ethnic villages on route.
Day 5: Cao Bang - Ban Gioc Waterfall - Cao Bang
Full day to discover the beauty of Ban Gioc Waterfall and stay in a village.
Day 6: Bao Bang - Ba Be Lake
Enjoy a hiking to explore the ethnic villages and immerse into the nature and culture of the area. Transfer to Ba Be Lake. Stay in Pac Ngoi village
Day 7: Ba Be boat trip - Hanoi
Boating to visit the tranquil lake and Nang river before lunch and back to Hanoi.
Gorgeous landscapes of Ma Pi Leng pass and Nho Que River in Ha Giang
For those who love the beach break or have time to extend the Vietnam Trip to enjoy the relaxation at one of the best beaches in Vietnam
For Vietnam Beach Break extention, we recommend to stay at least 3 days.
Extend your Vietnam Holiday by a beach break at the end of the trip
These are some top Vietnam beaches for your choice:
- Phu Quoc island includes some amazing beaches: Bai Sao beach, Bai Dai beach, Bai Khiem beach, Ong Lang beach. To reach this island, we can take flight or high speed boat.
- Con Dao island includes Dam Trau beach, An Hai beach, Bai Cat beach, Lo Voi beach, Dat Doc beach. Recommend to take a flight from Ho Chi Minh city, that is the best way to Con Dao.
- Mui Ne Beach: 5 hour driving from Ho Chi Minh city, flight is not available.
- Nha Trang Beach: Take a flight from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city or Danang city.
- Quy Nhon Beach: Take a flight or train ride to Quy Nhon beach.
- Danang and Hoi An Beach includes some beaches along the coastline: Non Nuoc beach, My Khe beach, An Bang beach, Ha My beach, Cua Dai beach. These beaches are easy to combine with Hoi An tour or Danang tour. Just take a flight to Danang city.