Vietnam is a Southeast Asian country offering amazing experiences for the curious traveler. From its renowned cuisine, to its wallet-friendly prices, this vibrant nation will not disappoint! But what truly sets Vietnam apart are its breathtaking landscapes - picture lush jungles filled with ancient temples hidden in misty mountains and sandy beaches bathed by turquoise waters of unspoiled bays....Discover why it's one of Asia's must-sees destinations today.
From the breathtaking hills of Sapa to the vibrant nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is an untouched gem with something for everyone. With over two weeks spent discovering its hidden treasures and delights, I am your personal guide on how to experience this enchanted land like a local! Whether you seek out adventure or tranquility - make sure not miss these must-visit spots while exploring all that beautiful Vietnam has to offer.
1. Ho Chi Minh City
Known for its vibrant culture and energy, Ho Chi Minh City offers an exciting introduction to the wonderful world of Vietnam. From historical sites to modern attractions, this bustling city is a great place for travelers starting their journey in South East Asia.
The city itself is like any other big city in Southeast Asia, it comes with traffic jams, full of nightlife activities, and a ton of things to do for city-goers. It is also home to the Vietnam War Museum, which I highly recommend you visit.
Visiting Ho Chi Minh City's Vietnam War Museum is a powerful, eye-opening experience. It offers an in-depth look at the country's dark past and provides valuable insight into what shapes Vietnamese culture today. Although it can often be emotionally difficult to take in, understanding this history arms viewers with essential knowledge of where the nation comes from - crucial for developing a deeper appreciation of its people and their stories.
Ho Chi Minh is also home to some stunning colonial-era architectures like the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon and the Saigon Central Post Office which should allow you to get a glimpse of how much the city was affected by outside influences.
Pham Ngu Lao street is a must-see destination for any foodie. Not only can you explore the exotic cuisine of Vietnam, but also its unique French influences in dishes like Bahn Mi sandwiches and signature Vietnamese coffee-unquestionably one of the most flavorful coffees on earth!
Despite it being a big crowded city, Ho Chi Minh has quite a lot to offer for first-timers as culture and the vibe here are more catered to tourists than the capital city, Hanoi so if you are planning to visit Vietnam, be sure to start your journey in Ho Chi Minh City.
2. Cu Chi Tunnel
Head just two hours away from the bustle of Ho Chi Minh City and venture into a thrilling journey through history. Outside the small town of Cu Chi lies an incredible network of tunnels used by Viet Cong during Vietnam War to successfully force US forces out, dubbed as 'Cu Chi Tunnels'. Immerse yourself in one-of-a kind experiences this site has to offer.
Journey on an adventure through one of many tunnels that burrow deep beneath the surface - a fantastic way to explore Vietnam! Enjoy guided day trips and organized tours provided by Ho Chi Minh, perfect for those seeking some unique insight into this beautiful country.
At the Cu Chi Tunnel, you will learn a bit more about the Vietnam War and the guerilla tactic used by the Viet Cong to overcome the US forces before you have a chance to go down these extremely narrow and humid tunnels to see for yourself.
Be warned though, the tunnels are extremely small and if you are claustrophobic, I would recommend against entering the tunnel. One of the guys in my group fainted due to him not knowing he has claustrophobia and the humidity didn't help.
3. Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta is where the mighty Mekong River, the 12th longest river in the world meets the sea as it makes its way from the Tibetan Plateau across 6 countries through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and eventually Vietnam.
The Mekong Delta is a maze of waterways teems with life from beautiful mangrove trees to lush paddy fields. The area is also home to several villages and cities living off the resource-rich Mekong river. One of the most populous cities in the area is Can Tho which is a great place to witness how the locals have adapted their lives to the flood plain first hand.
Surrounded by rivers, nature, and floating markets, the Mekong Delta is best explored with a boat and you can do just that straight from Ho Chi Minh City with a guided tour which also includes a night stay at Can Tho.
If you are looking for a fun thing to do near Ho Chi Minh City for a day or two, I highly recommend you visit Can Tho and the Mekong Delta for 2 days. The price of tours to the Mekong Delta varies a lot depending on what you want to see so be sure to check the recent tour price with the link below.
4. Hoi An
Hoi An is a picturesque town in Vietnam with remarkable historical significance. Once an influential trading port along the Southeast Asian coast, it flourished between the 15th and 19th centuries CE - its well-preserved beauty continues to captivate visitors even today.
Every year, Hoi An welcomes visitors from around the world to its beautiful and unique town. Showcasing a mix of traditional Vietnamese culture with foreign influence in its architecture, it is an unmissable sight! Though popular amongst tourists during day and night alike - especially by the river at sunset – there’s no denying that one can never tire of this charming ancient city's beauty.
You can spend your time exploring the crisscrossing streets of the ancient town in the morning, visit the Japanese bridge, and have a nice lunch break at one of the many restaurants in town eating some of the best food you can eat in Vietnam like the Cao Lau (the signature noodle dish), Bahn Bao Vac (Vietnamese dumplings) and Bahn Mi (Vietnamese Baguette Sandwich).
5. My Son
My Son Sanctuary is an old ancient ruin dated back from the 4th to the 13th Century CE located around an hour away from Hoi An and you can visit the remote ruin via a day trip or an organized tour operate in the old town.
My Son Sanctuary is a great example of the prowess craftsmanship of the people of the Champa Kingdom that reigned this part of Vietnam back in the 4th Century. The temples and towers found at My Son are of Hindu background and it resembles those old ruins scattered throughout Cambodia and Thailand like the famous Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.
If you are interested in history and are looking for something to do for a day in Hoi An then I highly recommend you visit My Son Sanctuary. This is one of the few places you will see this type of ruins in Vietnam and it would be a shame if you come all the way to Hoi An and not see this ancient ruin with your own eyes.
6. Phong Nha
If you are looking for a little adventure in Vietnam, the cave region of the country that has been steadily gaining popularity, Phong Nha, home to the largest cave in the world, the Son Doong Cave, is a must-visit.
Phong Nha is probably one of the few places on this list that are still considered off-the-beaten-path in Vietnam and for good reasons. The area is extremely remote and surrounded by nothing but rice paddies and sandstone mountains.
Under these sandstone mountains and hidden in plain sights are some of the most beautiful natural caves in the world. Some claim that the largest cave in the world, the Son Doong Cave located right here in Ninh Binh, is so massive that the cave has its own weather system.
That said, getting there is extremely expensive with an expedition costing over 3,000 USD to reserve. Fortunately, there are several other caves as well that are worth a visit in Phong Nha like the Paradise Cave, a beautiful cave full of stunning stalactites and rock formations.
If you love adventure and would like to do something unique in Vietnam like go caving, Phong Nha is definitely worth a visit. I highly recommend you go on a tour into the Paradise Cave where they will take you even deeper than the designated area and explore the dark cavern a size of a football field and more.