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Best places to visit in Vietnam: top 10 destinations

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The best places to visit in Vietnam

Due to its long coastline filled with diverse landscapes, distinct cultures, and great food, Vietnam is one of the best destinations in Southeast Asia for both natural and cultural lovers. Come and get lost in a quaint Hanoi, revel in the scenic mountains of Halong Bay, Ninh Binh or Sapa in the north, enjoy alluring cultural heritages of Hue and Hoi An in the central, pump yourself up in bustling Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) and immerse in the beautiful nature of Mekong River Delta in the south. If beaches are what you’re looking for, Nha Trang and Mui Ne are just some of the most popular options.

In 2020, Sapa slips to the bottom of the list, mainly because of the many under construction. In contrast, the coastal alluring town of Hoi An becomes a must-see destination in Vietnam.

The peak time of year to travel is between December and February, however, it’s possible to travel all year-round in this wonderful country of ethnic minorities and terraced rice fields. Check out the best time to travel to Vietnam in detail to fully enjoy your journey.

Just remember, during the 30th April (Reunification Day), 1st May (Labour Day), and 2nd September (Vietnamese Independence Day), domestic travel surges as these are public holidays in the country. Tourist attractions can be very crowded along with transportation and hotels booked out well in advance.

1. Hanoi – A quaint capital

Hanoi - A quaint capital

There is something magical vibrating through the bustling streets of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. In 1010, King Ly Thai To moved the capital from Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh) to Dai La Citadel and named this new capital as Thang Long, meaning “Ascending Dragon”. In 1831, Thang Long renamed to its current name Hanoi, which translates rather poetically to “the city inside the river”. Wander down the labyrinth-like alleys of the Old Quarter, and see the hidden pagodas and temples waiting to be explored. Feel the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese when visiting historical sites such as Thăng Long Imperial Citadel, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hoa Lo Prison, One Pillar Pagoda, and Hoan Kiem Lake. Whether it’s the rich culture and heritage shown in the romantic French-influenced colonial architecture or the tantalizing smells of pho and other tasty street foods wafting through the air, the charm and atmosphere are palpable.

Recommended length of stay

Hanoi is one of the most interesting places in Vietnam. Some fall in love with the city, and a week here is not enough for them. If you like wandering non-touristy area of Hanoi, get sync with the local life here, you should spend at least 4 to 5 days. If you stay in Hanoi just as a transit to visit other nearby destination (Ninh Binh, Sapa ect.), do a full-day city tour. Many will say it’s too short, but still, it allows you to visit most typical attractions of this 1000-year-old capital city.

Time to visit

You can visit the pulsing Hanoi at any time of the year. On Tet Holiday and Independence Day, Hanoi stands out with its peaceful atmosphere.

Things to do

Click on location icon for more detailed information about each Hanoi attraction

Transportation options

Bus, private car, taxi, cyclo, motorcycle.

Trying cyclo with the price at about USD 4 per hour or walking around The Old Quarter is the unmissable thing when you are in Hanoi. Motorcycle is the most flexible and low-priced transport, with around USD 5 for a daily rental.

Accommodation

Hanoi has a variety of accommodation types ranging from budget hostels to luxurious boutique hotels. In general, Hanoi has a shortage of five-star hotel rooms available during the high season (November to April). However, Hanoi has excellent three-star hotel selections with great value for money and guest satisfaction. Reserve your hotel early to secure the best rates. Airbnb also has a good selection of properties for those who like to “live as a local”.

Famous food

Pho bo/Pho ga (beef or chicken noodle soup): Consisting of a flavorful broth, fresh rice noodles, a sprinkling of herbs and either well-cooked beef or succulent slivers of chicken, Pho is the dish that put Vietnamese food on the world map.
Where to try:  Phở Thìn, Phở Lý Quốc Sư

Best food in Hanoi

Bun cha (rice noodles with grilled pork): The pork is grilled on a charcoal stove and then mixed with rice noodles in a syrup-thick sweet and savoury fish sauce.
Where to try: Bún Chả Tuyết

Cha ca (grilled chopped fish): Grilled white fish is flavored with tumeric, ginger, garlic and pepper and tossed together with spring onions, dill,rice noodles and peanuts.

Where to try: Chả Cá Thăng Long

Banh cuon (rolled cake): A combination of ground meat with minced mushrooms and onions wrapped in steamed rice flour sheets and served with fish sauce and cucumber slices.

Where to try: Bánh Cuốn Bà Hanh

Pho cuon (fresh spring rolls): A thin rice paper roll filled with shrimp, pork, or beef with carrots, herbs, lettuce and other ingredients and served with a special dipping sauce.

Where to try: Phở Cuốn Ngũ Xá

Pho cuon in Hanoi

Pho cuon

Hanoi coffee

Ca phe phin

Bun rieu (crab chowder noodle soup): A sweet and sour soup with rice noodles, fresh tomatoes and crab soup.

Where to try: Bún Riêu Huyền Thu

Bun ca (fish noodle soup): Fresh rice noodles and cripsy fried fish are doused in a delicate sweet and sour broth and topped with herbs to impress even the toughest critic.

Where to try: Bún Cá Hà Thành

Ca phe (coffee): Savour the distinctly strong and flavourful taste of Vietnamese coffee as the ground coffee beans are flooded with hot water in a drop filter (phin) and slowly trickle down into your cup.

Best places to visit near Hanoi

Ninh Binh
Ha Long Bay
Sapa
Ha Giang
Hoi An – Da Nang
Hue
Nha Trang
Ho Chi Minh City

2. Ho Chi Minh – The most bustling city

Ho Chi Minh - The most bustling city

It’s hard to imagine the sprawling, modern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City once started out as a small fishing village surrounded by thick forests. Located in southern Vietnam, the economic center and bustling Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in regards to the population in the whole country. Fondly referred to by its evocative older name of Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City retains a preserved air of its French colonial heritage in the old areas of the city while still reflecting the dynamic modern vibes of a cutting edge Vietnam. Key attractions such as the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Saigon Opera House, Central Post Office, and Ben Thanh Market reflect this colonial heritage, while the War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, and preserved Cu Chi Tunnels north of the city lay testament to the fighting spirit and recent history of the ravages of war.

Recommended length of stay

2 to 3 days in Ho Chi Minh city is suitable for almost travelers. You’ll have enough time to experience the fantastic street food, great nightlife. With one week, you are able to take things at a slower pace and uncover the city’s hidden charm.

Time to visit

From December to April is the best time to visit this bustling city. Unlike its usual vibrancy, Ho Chi Minh City is more peaceful on Tet Holiday and Independence Day.

Things to do

Click location icon for more detailed information about each Ho Chi Minh attraction

Transportation options

Bus, private car, taxi, motorcycle.

Due to the hot weather and traffic jams, motorcycle is not the ideal option for tourists although it is much more flexible and inexpensive.

Accommodation

Ho Chi Minh City has a huge selection of hotels to choose from, ranging from Airbnb and hostels to chic guesthouses and top-notch branded hotels. The vast majority of hotels are concentrated in Districts 1 and 3. Overall, Ho Chi Minh City hotels are more expensive than other cities in Vietnam. Book early for your choice of the best accommodation.

Famous food

Pha lau: One of the most famous street food dishes of Saigon, pig or cow innards are marinated with five different spices, wine soy sauce and stewed in coconut water for hours until tender.

Where to try: Phá Lấu Dì Nủi

Bo to Cu Chi (Cu Chi beef): Enjoy the diversity of ways to cook this juicy and soft beef.

Where to try: Bò tơ Cỏ Tranh

Bo Bia (jicama and carrot spring rolls): Rice paper is wrapped around shrimp, dried sausages, ribbons of fried egg, Vietnamese herbs and Thai basil for a healthy and refreshing snack.

Where to try: Bò Bía Sương Nguyệt Ánh

Com chay cha bong (crispy rice crackers with shredded meat): A delicious treat, the beautiful golden color of the cracker with dried pork floss on top is so inviting.

Where to try: Cơm Cháy Chà Bông Sài Gòn

Hu Tieu (pork and seafood noodle soup): A pork-bone broth with fresh rice noodles, pork, and assorted seafood (fish balls, shrimp, crab,…) as well as some spring onion and bean sprouts as toppings is the perfect breakfast.

Where to try: Hủ Tiếu Nam Vang Nhân Quán

Banh mi (Vietnamese bread): A true signature dish of Vietnam, this sandwich utilizes French baguettes filled with meats and veggies such as pork sausage, pate, pickled carrot and unripe papaya.

Where to try: Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa

Banh mi in Ho Chi Minh

Banh mi

Ho Chi Minh specialty

Banh xeo

Kem nhan (Longan icecream): Experience the typical dairy product in a exotic way with an Asian twist, ice-cream with longan flavouring, a type of Vietnamese fruit.

Where to try: Kem Nhãn Chú Tám

Com tam (broken rice): A pure gastronomic pleasure made from imperfect rice grains and barbecued pork topped with a fried egg and spring onion sauce.

Where to try: Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền

Banh xeo (Vietnamese crispy crepe): Another fusion dish created during French times, banh xeo is made from a Vietnamese-styled crepe out of rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric and then filled with vermicelli noodles, chicken, pork or beef slices, shrimp, sliced onions, bean sprouts, and mushrooms.

Where to try: Ăn Là Ghiền

Best places to visit near Ho Chi Minh City

Nha Trang
Mekong Delta
Phu Quoc
Da Nang – Hoi An
Siem Riep
Mui Ne

3. Ha Long Bay – Spectacular tourist trap

Ha Long Bay - Spectacular tourist trap

Legend tells of foreign invaders attacking Vietnam in its early stages as a new country. The Jade Emperor sent a family of dragons to help the Vietnamese defend their country; as the dragons descended from the sky, the dragons spit out jewels and jade into the water, which transformed into thousands of islands and islets, creating a strong wall that could not be breached. After the battle finished, the dragon family decided to stay on Earth and live out their days. The place that the Mother Dragon descended is known as Ha Long Bay – the bay of the descending dragon. The natural beauty and aesthetic importance of Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world, is a true jewel in the crown of Vietnam’s beauty. Boasting a spectacular seascape filled with thousands of towering limestone islands, karst grottoes, and quaint junk boats cruising the sparkling emerald waters, visiting this area truly is like stepping into a fairy tale, the stuff of legends.

Recommended length of stay

2 day 1 night is the most popular choice of traveler to cruise Ha Long Bay. For an in-depth experience and staying away from the tourist hub, plan to stay here for 2 or 3 nights, so you can reach Bai Tu Long Bay, Cat Ba island where you can immerse in untouched nature.

Time to visit

Ha Long Bay has the most gorgeous beauty in April with a crystal blue sky. The weather is pleasant from November to March, a good time to go. However, you should consider visiting in August and September due to its typhoon season.

Things to do

Click location icon for more detailed information about each Halong Bay attraction

Transportation options

Cruise boat, seaplane.

It is a humbling experience to jump on a 25-minute flight and appreciate the whole beauty of Ha Long Bay with the fare of around USD 130.

Accommodation

Ha Long Bay has a wide range of hotel accommodations on offer. In addition to guesthouses, hotels, and resorts, there is also a large selection of cruises to choose from. The vast majority of foreigners stay at least 1 night onboard to see the beauty of Ha Long Bay. Various types of boats and budgets are available from budget to top luxe. Don’t forget to book your cabin early to see the best of Ha Long Bay!

Famous food

Cha muc (squid cake): The squid is pounded until it becomes flat and then salt, pepper, and dill are added for flavour before frying until golden brown.

Where to try: Chả Mực Minh Hòa

Banh cuon cha muc (rolled cake with fried squid): Steamed rice flour sheets served with golden fried squid and topped with fried onions and shredded meat.

Where to try: Bánh Cuốn Nóng Bà Ngân

Sam (Horseshoe crab): Although only the eggs and roes of the horseshoe crab are edible, the unique sweetness it brings is truly exquisite.

Bun hai san (Seafood noodle soup): Bun hai san consists of rice noodles, various Vietnamese veggies and Halong’s fresh seafood served in a light spicy soup base.

Where to try: Bún Bề Bề Đông Bắc

Ha Long Bay best dish

Squid cake

Best seafood dish in Ha Long Bay

Seafood noodle soup

Best places to visit near Ha Long Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay
Lan Ha Bay
Cat Ba Island
Hanoi
Ninh Binh
Sapa

4. Hoi An – Coastal alluring town

Hoi An - Coastal alluring town

It’s easy to see why the charming city of Hoi An in central Vietnam is such a popular destination for travellers and locals alike. Indeed, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An’s Ancient Town is filled with traditional Vietnamese tube houses, heritage Chinese shophouses, a famed Japanese covered bridge and beautiful French colonial buildings, often painted in a sunny yellow. Hoi An is not only famous for its romantic ambiance but also its wonderful local cuisine, especially Com Ga (chicken rice), Cao Lau (a traditional noodle soup), and Banh bao – Banh vac, a secret recipe only available in the area. The vibrant handcrafted lanterns glowing in the evening dusk as small rowing boats gently glide down the Thu Bon River, and large amount of bespoke tailors and original handicrafts make this cute town the highlight of any trip to Vietnam.

Recommended length of stay

Ideally, you should spend at least three days in Hoi An. You won’t regret it. Stay 1 or 2 extra days if you want to relax on the beach. An Bang is listed in the 100 best beaches around the world by CNN.

Time to visit

Hoi An is appealing all time of the year, but more elegant on Tet Holiday and every night of the 14th lunar month with lantern festivals held in the ancient town. March and April are warm, months to enjoy An Bang beach. It is blazing hot in late May, June and July.

Things to do

Click location icon for more detailed information about each Hoi An attraction

Transportation options

Motorcycle, bicycle, boat, cyclo.

Getting around Hoi An by bicycle and motorcycle is the easiest and cheapest way because of the compact size and rarely busy traffic. Boat travel (about USD 3 in 30 minutes) is also popular when you desire to contemplate the beauty along Hoai an Thu Bon River.

Accommodation

One of the most iconic cities in central Vietnam, Hoi An receives millions of tourists from all over the world each year. The city boasts a beautiful selection of boutique hotels and resorts suitable for anyone’s budget. Most hotels can be found in the old town or along the seaside of Cua Dai. Many tourists choose to stay in Da Nang and make day trips to visit Hoi An. If you choose a hotel by the river outside of the city, you can expect a calm nice view of the countryside from your room.

Famous food

Cao Lau: This local delicacy is comprised of udon-like rice noodles, barbecued pork, slices bean sprouts and fresh herbs in a pork-based sauce.

Where to try: Morning Glory Restaurant

Com Ga (chicken and rice): An ensemble of distinctive pale yellow rice, shredded chicken, fresh herbs, and pepper and chili jam, com ga is a must-try dish in Hoi An.

Where to try: Cơm Gà Bà Buội

Hoanh Thanh (wonton dumplings):  The rice-flour wonton is stuffed with minced pork, shrimp, eggs and various other spices before being steamed or deep-fried till golden.

Where to try: Hoành Thánh Anh Dũng

Mi Quang (Vietnamese turmeric noodles):  Yellow rice noodles and broth seasoned with fish sauce, pepper, chili is topped with diverse ingredients such as diced pork, shrimp, egg or local greens.

Where to try: Mì Quảng Ông Hai – Mr. Hai Noodles

Banh dap (Vietnamese rice crackers):  Bean paste and fried shallots are put on a wet rice paper sheet and then covered by a crispy rice sheet. Try this traditional snack in Hoi An.

Where to try: Quán Ăn Bến Tre

Banh baoBanh vac (white rose dumplings):  Famous for its delicate white rose appearance, shrimp and pork are filled in flattened rice dough and then steamed to perfection. This dish is only available in Hoi An.

Where to try: White Rose Restaurant

Che bap (sweet corn soup):  Made from the incredible Cam Nam corn, this sweetened porridge is cooked and sold everywhere in Hoi An.

Where to try: Chè cô Nga

Hoi An specialty

Vietnamese turmeric noodles

Hoi An famous food

White rose dumplings

Best places to visit near Hoi An

My Son Sanctuary
Hue
Ho Chi Minh City
Da Nang
Hanoi
Ha Long Bay

5. Ninh Binh – Ha Long Bay on land

Ninh Binh - Ha Long Bay on land

The lush Red River Delta in northern Vietnam creates the dreamy landscape of Ninh Binh, often referred to as “Halong Bay on land”. Known for its karst mountains and hidden grottoes, cave temples, green valleys and shimmering rice fields, Ninh Binh is an incredible insight to the simple beauty of the Vietnamese countryside. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trang An Scenic Landscape complex and Tam Coc are best visited by rowing boat, while the Cuc Phuong National Park contains incredible vistas along its hiking trails. For an epic panoramic view of the river running through rice fields, climb the stairs to the top of Mua Cave. Nearby is the river gateway to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. The largest complex of Buddhist temples in Vietnam exists here, consisting of Bai Dinh and Bich Dong Pagoda, as well as Phat Diem Stone Cathedral.

Recommended length of stay

2 days is the ideal time to discover highlights of Ninh Binh. However, if you don’t have much time and want to see as more as possible, one day tour is still fine.

Time to visit

Ninh Binh is scenic year-round. From late May to June and from late September to October, ripe rice fields add fascinating yellow to the picturesque scene.

Things to do

Click location icon for more detailed information about each Ninh Binh attraction

Transportation options

Motorcycle, bicycle.

Tourists can rent a motorbike (USD 5 – USD 7/day) or a bike (USD 3 – USD 4/day) to explore the tiny paths next to the fields.

Accommodation

Ninh Binh is emerging as a top destination in North Vietnam, with more and more properties added to its accommodation list. The city tends to have more budget hotels and homestays for quick stays. There are only a few high-end options available and some properties have a limited amount of rooms so you need to reserve early. Take advantage of the free bicycles on offer from most hotels to get the most of the dreamy landscapes.

Famous food

Thit de (goat meat): Ninh Binh’s speciality dish, goat meat-based dishes will pleasantly surprise you with their stunning taste.

Where to try: Restaurant Trung Tuyet

Com chay (rice crust): Munch on the crispy, golden rice crackers topped with dried pork floss when you feel a bit peckish.

Where to try: Thang Long Restaurant

Best place to stay in Vietnam

Goi ca nhenh (Nhech fish salad): Feel the fresh taste of the local Nhech fish, the attractive aroma of sticky rice, sour vinegar, and spice of ginger, garlic, pepper, chili and lemongrass in just one bite.

Where to try: Vu Bao Restaurant

Oc nui (Mountain snails): Ninh Binh is also famous for their chewy, crispy and sweet snails found in the limestone mountains.

Xoi trung kien (Sticky rice with ant eggs): A perfect mixture of sticky rice, dried onions, chicken fat and ant eggs.

Mien luon (Eel noodle soup): This savoury broth includes fresh rice noodles and well-seasoned fried eels, topped with fried onions and served with Vietnamese veggies.

Where to try: Miến lươn Bà Phấn

Nem chua Yen Mac (Yen Mac fermented pork roll): Wrap the fermented pork in guava leaves, mint, and lettuce and dip the roll into fish sauce.

Best places to visit near Ninh Binh

Hanoi
Hoi An
Ha Long Bay
Phong Nha – Ke Bang

6. Hue – The remains of feudalism

Hue - The remains of feudalism

Situated on the banks of the sleepy Perfume River, the imperial city and ancient feudal capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, Hue, still retains much of its regal and grandeur of the days of old. Home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to the preservation of important historical attractions like the Imperial Citadel, Forbidden Purple City, and beautiful tombs of Emperor Ming Mang, Tu Duc, and Khai Dinh, Hue is the perfect place to start a journey into the ancient and recent history of not only central Vietnam, but the country as a whole. Feel the spirituality in Thien Mu Pagoda, brought to international attention during the Vietnam-American War. Dine on the exquisite and refined way of food preparation with the eponymous Bun Bo Hue, a type of spicy noodle and beef soup named after the city it was created in, and other classics like Bun Thit Nuong and Com Hen.

Recommended length of stay

You should spend about two days in Hue, which give you enough time to visit the imperial citadel, tombs, and pagodas. If you keen on war history, spend one more day for DMZ tour. It will be a day trip from Hue. 

Time to visit 

From December to April, the weather is dry and cool. Most annual festivities are held in April. From late May to June is the time for heat waves with the temperature can reach over 40°C (104°F). Rainy season can occur in October and November.

Things to do

Click location icon for more detailed information about each Hue attraction

Transportation options

Private car, taxi, motorcycle, bicycle, cyclo.

Traveling by cyclo within Hue City Centre or driving a motorcycle at a low cost of around USD 5 per day like the locals is the ideal choice.

Accommodation

Surprisingly cheaper than other destinations in Vietnam, Hue has lovely hotels and urban resorts around the legendary Perfume River. Although the choice is not as extensive as Hoi An or Da Nang, hotels in Hue are generally cheaper and offer a good value for money. Most hotels rent bikes free of charge to visit the charming city.

Famous food

Com hen (clam rice): A bowl of contrasting colors, tastes and texture with rice, clams, crispy pork crackling, bean sprouts, peanuts and various other veggies are all stir-fried together to create Hue’s famous dish.

Where to try: Ngự Hà Vegetarian Restaurant; Cơm hến Hoa Đông

Bun bo Hue (Hue beef soup): The soul of Hue cuisine, this soup is made from simmered pork legs, and slices of pork and beef with lemongrass and a few cubes of congealed pig’s blood.

Where to try: Bún Bò O Phụng – Chú Vọng; Bún Bò Huế Bà Tý

Che hat sen (sweet Lotus seed soup): Made from the seeds of Vietnam‘s national flower – the Lotus, this nourishing dessert soup helps to soothe and relax the mind and body.

Where to try: Chè Huế Cô Ly/ Chè Cầm

Banh bot loc (chestnut starch cakes): The fleshy stuffing made from shrimp and diced pork is stuffed in the fragrance of chestnut starch and then wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a steamer.

Where to try: Bánh Bèo Nậm Lọc Bà Đỏ

Banh canh (thick noodle soup): This tomato crab based soup also contains thick fresh noodles, shrimp, pork, and local greens.

Where to try: Bánh canh Bà Đợi

Banh khoai (khoai cake): The rice flour crepe is pan-fried and stuffed with shrimp and pork belly along with scallions and bean sprouts and then dipped in a hoisin-based sauce.

Where to try: Bánh Khoái Lạc Thiện

Banh ram it: A signature dish of Hue, super-crunchy deep-fried sticky rice paste is topped with steamed sticky rice dumplings and served with a crispy mixture of stir-fried shrimp and pork.

Where to try: Nhà hàng Me

Nem lui (Lemongrass skewers): Finely ground beef and pork is seasoned with garlic, lemongrass, sugar and fish sauce and then made into sausages and grilled over hot charcoals.

Where to try: Nem Lụi Bà Tý

Where to visit in Vietnam

Clam rice

Vietnam points of interest

Lemongrass skewers

Best places to visit near Hue

Hoi An
Da Nang
Nha Trang
Ho Chi Minh

7. Mekong River Delta – A vast labyrinth of rivers

Mekong Delta - A vast labyrinth of rivers

The Mekong Delta is a floating world made up of a vast maze of rivers and fertile, alluvial soil in southern Vietnam. Referred to as Dong Bang Song Cuu Long in Vietnamese, or the river delta of nine dragons, this haven for lush rice paddies, wildlife, and tropical fruits and vegetables is a biological treasure trove of the world. The colorful floating markets and shimmering Khmer Pagodas of the largest city in the Mekong Delta, Can Tho, showcase a proud Vietnamese and Cambodian heritage. In addition, to the natural wonder of the area, the culinary delights abound in regional delicacies such as Lau Mam, a hotpot with fermented fish, and Banh Xeo, a Vietnamese-styled crispy pancake. As much of the lifestyle in the area revolves around the river, many of the villages are often only accessible by canals and boat, creating the atmosphere of land frozen in Cochinchine time.

Recommended length of stay

If you want a quick look of the floating market and local life, a one-day tour could be enough. Stay for 3 to 5 days to fully experience more attractions of Mekong Delta.

Time to visit

This floating maze is worthy-visited in any season of the year. Ripe rice seasons are in early April, late August and late November.

Things to do

Click location icon for more detailed information about each Mekong Delta attraction

Transportation options

Boat, bicycle.

It is an amazing experience to get on a boat ride along the small channels to admire the wildlife. You can also ride a bike around the smallest villages.

Accommodation

Accommodation facilities are not as developed in other regions of the country. Most international visitors who choose to stay in the Mekong Delta instead of day-tripping from Ho Chi Minh City spend the night on cruise or in simple homestay. Most hotels cater to domestic guests with prices reflecting the local budget. A few boutique properties exist around My Tho and Can Tho but due to competition, fill-up quickly. If you wish to stay in one of these properties, book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Famous food

Hu tieu My Tho (My Tho noodle soup): A flavorful dish consisting of rich broth, tender rice noodles, and various toppings such as fried fish, pork or beef, fresh vegetables, and herbs.

Where to try: Hủ tiếu chay Cây Bồ ĐềQuán Hủ Tiếu Quần Ký

Lau mam (fish sauce hotpot): This southern-styled hotpot includes a special kind of fish sauce served with a plethora of fresh vegetables and various kinds of fish.

Where to try: Quán Ăn Bảy Bồng 2

Nau man Tien Giang: Nau man are fish without scales cooked in tomatoes, green onions, coriander, salt, chili peppers, and limes, served as a soup.

Goi sau dau (sau dau salad): The leaves and flowers of the Sau Dau plant are gathered to create this salad with dried fish, chopped fried pork and pickled cucumbers.

Son Qui sweet soup: Different kinds of beans and peanuts with tapioca starch, coconut cream, and pandan leaf are used to make this lovely dessert.

Where to try: The only location to Son Qui sweet soup try  is Highway 50 from Hồ Chí Minh City to Gò Công, Tiền Giang, crossing Tân Trung – Lăng Hoàng Gia

Dua Ben Tre (Ben Tre coconuts): The land of coconuts – Ben Tre – is famous for its stunning coconut-based dishes.

Where to try: Ben Tre Province – The land of Coconuts

Lau ca linh bong dien dien (Freshwater fish with river hemp hotpot): A steaming hot pot with a lot of greens cooked with fried fish, chili, and peppers, and served with ca linh, a type of local freshwater fish, and bong dien dien, a river hemp flower, as the main ingredients.

Where to try: Quán Nhậu Bình Dân Bà Tâm

Best places in Vietnam

My Tho noodle soup

Vietnam sightseeing

Ben Tre coconuts

Best places to visit near Mekong Delta

Ho Chi Minh city
Phu Quoc
Mui Ne
Phnom penh

8. Nha Trang – A coastal resort city

Nha Trang - A coastal resort city

The coastal resort city of Nha Trang is another gem of Vietnam’s central region. The white sand beaches, shimmering turquoise waters, and luxury accommodation of the lux Ninh Van Bay rival that of Thailand is not only the landscape but hospitality. Come for the world-class beaches and stay for the eclectic cuisine, comprised of fresh seafood and interesting mixes like Bun Cha Ca, a rice noodle dish with grilled fish and jellyfish. It is also possible to discover the legacy of the Champa Kingdom, descendants of seafaring settlers who reached the Southeast Asia mainland from modern-day Borneo and Sumatra. The impact on modern society can be seen and felt at Po Nagar, a Cham-styled temple tower with intricate carvings. The Buddhist Pagoda of Long Son also showcases the heritage of Vietnamese settlers in the region.

Recommended length of stay

Cheap seafood, beautiful beaches, exotic nightlife, three days in Nha Trang is the right amount of time to enjoy all of this.

Time to visit 

This coastal town is alluring from December to April. The rainy season is from October to November.

Things to do

Click location icon for more detailed information about each Nha Trang attraction

Transportation options

Private car, taxi, motorcycle, bicycle.

Depending on the model (mountain or city bike), bicycle daily rentals are priced between USD 4 and USD 6. The prices for renting a motorcycle are from USD 5 to USD 7.

Accommodation

One of the biggest beach destinations in Vietnam, Nha Trang is a prime beach vacation choice for many tourists and locals. Nha Trang has a wide range of hotels and resorts including many luxury brands such as Amanoi and Six Senses, found outside of the city in secluded bays. At the same time, budget accommodation is very affordable, usually found on the main drag of Tran Phu Street inside the city. Nha Trang is super busy during the summer (May to August) and between December to March. Book your room early when it comes to national holidays such as the Lunar New Year, Christmas, and Labour Day.

Famous food

Nem nuong (fermented pork rolls): Enjoy nem nuong as a local by wrapping a slice of grilled fermented pork in lettuce leaves, local herbs, chilies, fresh rice noodles, and slices of green mango and cucumber.

Where to try: Nem Nướng Đặng Văn Quyên

Best places to go in Vietnam

Banh canh (rice cake): This dish is made from crispy rice caked with spring onions, eggs, shrimp and fresh squid.

Where to try: Bún Cá Nguyên Loan

Bo nuong Lac Canh (Lac Canh grilled beef): Appearing in many famous international travel guides, don’t miss out on trying this beef marinated with honey and more than ten different kinds of secret spices.

Where to try: Bò Nướng Lạc Cảnh

Banh xeo muc (Squid crepe): A crepe made from rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric is filled with fresh squid and shrimp and served with delicious spicy-sour fish sauce.

Where to try: Bánh Xèo Chảo

Bun sua (jellyfish noodle soup): Sip this hot broth with rice noodles, vegetables, fresh jellyfish and slices of Cha ca to experience the culinary pride of Nha Trang.

Where to try: Bún Cá Nguyên Loan

Hai san Lang Chai (Lang Chai Seafood): Dine on a seafood smorgasbord in Lang Chai where seafood of all shapes and sizes are served in every restaurant along the white sandy beach.

Where to try: Hải sản Làng Chài

Best places to visit near Nha Trang

Da Nang
Hoi An
Ho Chi Minh City
Hue

9. Mui Ne – A warm sandy coastal town

Mui Ne - A warm sandy coastal town

A coastal fishing town in the southern region of Vietnam, Mui Ne is the perfect getaway from the metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City. The coastline is filled with a string of beach resorts ranging from budget to pricey and chic. Popular for the numerous wind-surfing camps in the area, check out Mui Ne between October and April to try this adventurous sport. Other interesting activities include surfing the gigantic sand dunes outside the city with sandboards and ATVs or taking a half-day gentle walk through the charming Fairy Stream Canyon.

Recommended length of stay

Thanks to its relatively small size, 2 to 3 days is enough to enjoy the best things Mui Ne has to offer.

Time to visit

From December to April is the best time to travel to. Mui Ne is one of the localities with the lowest rainfall in Vietnam.

Things to do

Click location icon for more detailed information about each Mui Ne attraction

Accommodation

A hot destination for Russian tourists, Mui Ne has a fair range of hotels to choose from. The destination is visited year-round, thus hotel rates are quite stable. Although it is busier in the summer due to domestic tourists (May to August), you can always find a room with good value in Mui Ne any time of the year.

Famous food

Banh quai vac (Quai vac cake): A transparent wheat-flour dough filled with sea shrimp and bacon and then lightly steamed, quai vac cake is a famous Mui Ne street food.

Where to try: Bánh Canh Xíu

Rang muc nuong (grilled squid teeth): Looking like marble-sized balls, squid teeth are generously seasoned with chili, pepper, honey, and lime juice and then easily skewered and grilled as kebabs.

Where to try: Răng Mực Loan

Lau tha (fish hotpot): A must-try dish in Mui Ne, various kinds of fish such as gudgeon and spade-fish are served with a sweet-spicy soup base.

Where to try: Seahorse Bistro Restaurant

Goi ca mai (Spadefish salad): Fresh spadefish is seasoned with ginger, lime juice, galingale, and minced garlic and then mixed with local greens and fish sauce.

Where to try: There are many restaurants along the sea bank of Ca Ty and Mui Ne, or in the Health Department area near Phan Thiet train station

Dong (Agamidae): This kind of Vietnamese lizard can be cooked in several ways such as stir-fried, roasted, or grilled. The Dong’s meat is slightly tough but moist with the taste of chicken.

Where to try: Viet Nam home restaurant

Banh re (sweet potato cake): The potato is shaved into strings and fried. It is served with a sweet caramel dipping sauce.

Where to try: You can find Banh re in any shops around Phan Thiet market and Mui ne

Vietnam holiday destinations

Banh quai vac

Things to see in Vietnam

Goi ca mai

Best places to visit near Mui Ne

Nha Trang
Mekong Delta
Ho Chi Minh City
Phu Quoc

10. Sapa – The roof of Vietnam

Sapa - The roof of Vietnam

The frontier township of Sapa, located 1,500 m (4,900 ft.) above sea level in the northwest area of Vietnam, is the place to find jaw-dropping and unparalleled scenery. The steep, sharp mountains contrast with the deep, green valleys and terraced rice fields of the region, with long winding roads weaving in and out of the hills. Throughout the region live a multitude of diverse, vibrant ethnic minority groups, such as the Hmong, Dao, Giay, and Tay to name only a few. The hill-tribe villages are hidden in bamboo forests, behind waterfalls, and within fertile valleys, making every town more beautiful than the last. The Roof of Indochina, Mount Fansipan, stands here at 3,143 m (10,300 ft.), offering a glimpse through the clouds and mist into the numerous valleys of North Vietnam and China.

Recommended length of stay

Most travelers choose to spend 2 nights in Sapa. With 2 nights, you can explore the town and do trekking to hill-tribe villages and areas away from the central town. If you can manage to visit Sapa in the weekend, stay another day to attend Bac Ha market.

Time to visit

Sapa is beautiful year-round but there may be floods from June to September. If you wish to “date” with terraced fields, you should go in May – watering season or from the end of September to early October – ripe rice season.

Things to do

Click location icon for more detailed information about each Sapa attraction

Transportation options

Private car, motorcycle, cable car.

Destinations in Sapa are not far away from each other, so you can rent a motorbike at the price of around USD 5 per day. Cable car in a round trip to Fansipan costs USD 26 per adult and USD 18 per child.

Accommodation

Sapa offers accommodation for all tastes, from home stays in local minority villages to luxury hotels. Most properties are around the town itself within walking distance to the market, old church, and restaurants. The destination tends to be busy on weekends and quiet during the week due to heavy influx of domestic travellers. So when visiting the area, save money by scheduling your stay during the week or in months other than May, June, July and December.

Famous food

Thang co (horse soup): All parts of the horse are used in this northern soup and then seasoned with 20 different botanical herbs.

Com lam (bamboo sticky rice): Literally rice cooked in bamboo tubes, com lam is an interesting version of rice perfect for travellers on the go.

Vietnam tourist places

Thit lon cap nach (free-range pig): The whole pig is roasted on charcoal until its skin is flaky and the meat inside is soft and sweet.

Men men (corn rice): The corn is grinned to remove the grit and cooked twice in a steamer to create a type of rice.

Lau ca hoi (Salmon hotpot): This soup with its elegant and delicate salmon flavour in a spicy-sour broth is best enjoyed with friends when the weather is cool in Sapa.

Ruou tao Meo (Tao Meo wine): Known as the local whiskey, Tao Meo wine is made from apples of Meo people (an ethnic minority in Sapa).

Thit trau gac bep (dried buffalo meat): The buffalo meat is marinated and then dried like a beef jerkey in order to preserve food for the rainy season.

Nam den (Black mushroom): Black forest mushrooms are a unique botanical vegetable of Sapa.

Where to try: in Sapa, there is a place in center of the town called Sapa Grilling Area at Cầu Mây Street. You can find most of Sapa specialties here. Besides, you can check out these two restaurants for the gastronomic experience: A Quynh restaurantAnh Dung Restaurant

Best places to visit near Sapa

Hanoi
Ninh Binh
Moc Chau
Ha Giang
Dien Bien Phu

Itinerary

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Highlights: Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Sapa, Halong, Nha Trang, Vinh Hy Bay

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Highlights: Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta

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More inspiration

The best time to visit Vietnam

The best months to travel to Vietnam are in December, January, the first half of February, the second half of March and April. August and November are also good times to go.

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