Best Cities to Visit in Vietnam

Vietnam is a country of diversity and beauty, with a rich and varied history, culture, and nature. It offers a wide range of destinations and experiences for travelers, from the majestic mountains and bays of the north, to the charming and historic cities of the center, to the tropical and vibrant lands of the south. In this article, we will introduce you to some of the best cities to visit in Vietnam, from north to south, and what to do, see, and expect in each of them.

 

Northern Vietnam

Hanoi – the capital city

Hanoi is the capital and the second-largest city of Vietnam, with a history that dates back more than 1,000 years. It is a city of contrasts, where you can find ancient pagodas, French colonial buildings, socialist monuments, and modern skyscrapers coexisting in harmony. Hanoi is also a city of culture, where you can enjoy traditional art forms, such as water puppetry, ca tru singing, and cheo opera, as well as contemporary music, theater, and cinema.

 

hanoi

 

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What to do/expect: ♦ Explore the Old Quarter and its cultural and historical attractions: Hoan Kiem Lake, the Ngoc Son Temple, the Dong Xuan Market, and the Hoa Lo Prison. ♦ Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, the One Pillar Pagoda, and the Hanoi Opera House ♦ Enjoy the traditional art forms, such as water puppetry, ca tru singing, and cheo opera. ♦ Try the local cuisine, such as pho, bun cha, cha ca, and egg coffee, and experience the street food culture. 

Best time to visit: October to December

 

Sapa – best for nature lovers and adventure seekers

Sapa is a mountainous town in the northwest of Vietnam, near the border with China. It is famous for its terraced rice fields, which are rated as one of the 30 most beautiful places on Earth by Mother Nature environmental website. Walking in the picturesque Sapa terraces and valleys, overlooking the mountain town, surrounded by terraced fields and rolling mountains, you will be attracted by the natural scenery here. Sapa is also a great place to experience the minority life and culture, as it is home to many ethnic groups.

 

sapa

 

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What to see: ♦ Cat Cat Village: Experience the minority life and see the beauty of the terraced fields, the highest peak in Indochina - Fansipan Mountain (3143m) (you can take a cable car up there), Mường Hoa Valley (still has traditional tribes in the mountains), Ham Rong Mountain, Double Waterfalls - Love Waterfall and Silver Waterfall β–ΊPlease pay attention to the weather! Otherwise, the fog will obscure the view! But it will add some mystery.

Best time to visit: March to May, and September to November, when the weather is pleasant and the scenery is at its best.

 

Halong Bay – a must-see destination for first-timer in Vietnam

Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous natural attractions in Vietnam. It is in the Gulf of Tonkin, about 170 km east of Hanoi. It consists of more than 1,600 limestone islands and islets, which form a spectacular seascape of towering cliffs, hidden caves, and emerald waters. It is a must-see destination for first-timer in Vietnam.

 

halong bay

 

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What to do/expect: ♦ Take a cruise to admire the spectacular views of Halong Bay ♦ Enjoy activities such as kayaking, swimming, fishing, snorkeling, and hiking on some of the islands. ♦ Experience the local culture and cuisine on board or on land. ♦ Watch the sunrise and sunset over the bay, and admire the starry sky at night.

Best time to visit: October to April, as the weather is dry and cool, and the visibility is good. 

 

Ninh Binh - a hidden gem city, enjoy the peaceful and scenic atmosphere

Ninh Binh is a province in the south of Northern Vietnam, about 100 km south of Hanoi. It is often referred to as "Halong Bay on land", as it features a similar landscape of limestone karsts, but on a smaller scale and surrounded by rice fields and rivers. Although not as famous as Halong Bay, its beauty is not inferior to Halong Bay. If you have enough time, you must come here to visit, it is very charming.

 

ninh binh

 

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What to do/see: ♦ Take a boat ride and see the Trang An Landscape Complex ♦ Cycle or hike and see the Tam Coc-Bich Dong ♦ Visit the Bai Dinh Pagoda. ♦ Enjoy the local cuisine: goat meat, mountain snails, and rice wine.

Best time to visit: February to April, and September to November

 

Central Vietnam

Central Vietnam is the region that stretches from the Hai Van Pass in the north to the Central Highlands in the south. It is a diverse and dynamic region, with a long coastline, a mountainous interior, and a rich cultural and historical legacy. 

Hoi An – Old Town, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Hoi An is a charming and colorful city in the central coast of Vietnam, about 30 km south of Da Nang. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most well-preserved examples of a Southeast Asian trading port from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Hoi An is a popular destination for tourists, especially in the Old Town, where you can find ancient houses, temples, bridges, and canals, decorated with lanterns and flowers.

 

hoi an town

 

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What to do/see: ♦ Explore the Old Town and its cultural and historical attractions, such as the Japanese Covered Bridge, the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, the Tan Ky House, and the Hoi An Museum. ♦ Visit the Cua Dai Beach, the An Bang Beach, the Cham Island, and the My Son Sanctuary, and enjoy the sun, sand, and sea. ♦ Shop for souvenirs, handicrafts, and tailor-made clothes at the markets and shops.

Best time to visit: February to May

 

Hue – a historical and cultural site with beautiful nature scenery

Hue is the former imperial capital of Vietnam, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important historical and cultural centers of Vietnam. It is also a city of beauty and romance, with a poetic and serene atmosphere, and a rich culinary and artistic tradition. Admiring the natural scenery of Hue, cannot separate the nature from the historical relics in the city. With the contrast of green mountains and water, the historical sense of the imperial city of Hue is even stronger.

 

hue

 

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What to expact: ♦ Visit the Citadel and see the most impressive structures in Hue, such as the Ngo Mon Gate, the Thai Hoa Palace, the Forbidden Purple City, and the Nine Dynastic Urns. ♦ Explore the Thien Mu Pagoda, the Tomb of Minh Mang, and the Perfume River.  

Best time to visit: March to May

 

Da Nang – a good place for for urban explorers, beach lovers, and adventure seekers

Da Nang is the third-largest city in Vietnam, and the largest city in Central Vietnam. It is a modern and vibrant city, with a booming economy, a cosmopolitan lifestyle, and a stunning location by the sea and the mountains. Da Nang is also a gateway to some of the most popular attractions in the region, such as Hoi An, Hue, and the Ba Na Hills.

 

da nang


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What to do/see: ♦ See the Dragon Bridge, which is a spectacular bridge that breathes fire and water on weekends, and the Marble Mountains, which are a group of five hills that contain caves, temples, and viewpoints. ♦ Visit the Son Tra Peninsula and the My Khe Beach.

Best time to visit: February to May

 

Southern Vietnam

Southern Vietnam is the region that covers the area from the Central Highlands to the Mekong Delta. It is a diverse and dynamic region, with a tropical climate, a fertile land, and a bustling urban life. 

 

Ho Chi Minh City – another must-see destination for first-timer in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, or HCMC, is the largest and most populous city in Vietnam, and the former capital of South Vietnam. It is a dynamic and vibrant city, with a mix of history, culture, and modernity. It is also a city of contrasts, where you can find skyscrapers, shopping malls, and luxury hotels, as well as colonial buildings, markets, and street food stalls.

 

ho chi minh city

 

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What to do/see: ♦ Visit the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Palace ♦ See the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Ben Thanh Market ♦ Experience the local culture and cuisine, such as the street food, the coffee, the pho, and the banh mi.

Best time to visit: December to April

 

Nha Trang - a paradise for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts

Nha Trang is a coastal city in the south-central coast of Vietnam, about 450 km north of HCMC. It is a popular tourist destination, especially for Russian and Chinese visitors, who come to enjoy the sunny weather, the sandy beaches, and the lively nightlife. Nha Trang is also a center of marine science and conservation, as it hosts the Institute of Oceanography and the Nha Trang Bay Marine Protected Area.

 

nha trang

 

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What to do/see: ♦ Visit the Vinpearl Land and the Po Nagar Cham Towers. ♦ Enjoy activities such as snorkeling, diving, fishing, and sailing on the Hon Mun Island, and the Nha Trang Bay Marine Protected Area. ♦ Experience the local the seafood, the nem nuong, and the bird's nest soup. 

Best time to visit: January to August

 

Mui Ne – a coastal city

Mui Ne is a coastal city in the south-east of Vietnam, about 200 km east of HCMC. It is a former fishing village that has transformed into a resort town, attracting visitors from all over the world. Mui Ne is famous for its sand dunes, which are a unique and spectacular sight in Vietnam. Mui Ne is also a hotspot for kite surfing, as it has strong and consistent winds throughout the year.

 

mui ne

 

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What to do/see: ♦ See the Red Sand Dunes and the White Sand Dunes. ♦ Walk along the Fairy Stream. ♦ Visit the Fishing Village ♦ Enjoy the local cuisine: the seafood, the banh can, and the dragon fruit.

Best time to visit: November to April

 

Dalat - a great city for relaxation and recreation

Dalat is a hill station in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, about 300 km north of HCMC. It is a popular destination for domestic and foreign tourists, who come to enjoy the cool and fresh climate, the scenic and romantic landscape, and the charming and peaceful atmosphere. Dalat is also known as the "City of Flowers", as it hosts a variety of flowers and plants, such as orchids, roses, hydrangeas, and pine trees.

 

dalat

 

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What to do/see: ♦ Walk around the Xuan Huong Lake and the Bao Dai Palace ♦ Visit the Dalat Flower Garden and the Crazy House. ♦ Enjoy the local culture and cuisine, such as the strawberry, the artichoke, the wine, and the pizza.

Best time to visit: December to March

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