PLACES OF INTEREST:
- Halong Bay
The karst seascape of Halong Bay is one of the world’s most spellbinding sea views and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thousands of limestone islands sit within this bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, eroded into jagged pinnacles by wind and water action over millennia. With the bay’s scenery best seen by boat, this is prime cruising territory. There are plenty of caves in the bay that can be entered including the Hang Sung Sot, with three mammoth caverns, and the Hang Dao Go, with superbly weird stalagmites and stalactites. For most people though, the highlight is simply cruising amid the karsts and soaking up the changing scenery of pinnacles as you pass by.
- Ho Chi Minh City
For big city fans, no visit to Vietnam is really complete without a visit to Ho Chi Minh City, the buzzing and crazy commercial hub of the country. The streets are an insane clog of motorbikes and cars, the restaurant and cafe scene is incredibly cosmopolitan, and the shopping is the best you’ll find in the country. For big city fans, no visit to Vietnam is really complete without a visit to Ho Chi Minh City, the buzzing and crazy commercial hub of the country. The streets are an insane clog of motorbikes and cars, the restaurant and cafe scene is incredibly cosmopolitan, and the shopping is the best you’ll find in the country.
The Reunification Palace, then known as Independence Palace, was the residence for South Vietnam’s president. It’s chiefly famous as the spot where North Vietnam’s tanks stopped on 30 April 1975, officially ending the war. It’s a completely fascinating place to visit complete with 1960s furnishings still in situ.
Vietnam’s capital is the frenetic heartbeat of the nation and a place that befuddles travelers as much as it charms them. The motorbike frenzy, pollution, and constant clamor of street vendors can get too much for some travelers, but if you want to dive into Vietnamese city life, Hanoi is the place to do it. The old town quarter has plenty of dilapidated charm on offer, while history fans should make a beeline here simply to see the bundle of excellent museums. The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and Vietnam Fine Art Museum are both brilliant introductions to the diverse artistry of the country, while the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is an important tribute to the founder of modern Vietnam.
- Củ Chi Tunnels
An absolutely fascinating experience for all travelers, not just those interested in Vietnam’s modern military history, the Củ Chi Tunnels are an extensive tunnel network that during the war, stretched for more than 250 kilometers, allowing VC troops to operate and communicate in the area surrounding Ho Chi Minh City. Two short sections of the network can be visited with a guide who’ll take you down into the narrow unlit confines, which definitely are not for claustrophobia sufferers. You will literally be crawling on your hands and knees and some points. You can access the tunnels at either Ben Dinh village (the more popular choice) or Ben Duoc village.
- Mekong Delta
The far south of Vietnam is where the mighty Mekong River finally finds its way to the sea in a maze of waterways that crisscross the floodplain. Incredibly lush, with paddy field vistas and mangroves, and full of local life, with chaotic floating markets to explore by boat, the delta is one of the most interesting regions for travelers to discover. Can Tho is the most popular town to use as a base as it’s close to the floating markets of Phong Dien and Cai Rang, while boat trips from Ca Mau allow you to explore the U Minh Mangrove Forest and Cau Mau Nature Reserve.
- Tam Coc
In the Ninh Binh province of Northern Vietnam near is Tam Coc, which translates to English as three caves. The three caves are nestled in a scenic landscape of limestone cliffs and rice paddies, and the river winds through the region. The caves are called Hang Cả, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba, and they serve as the area’s main attraction. Guided boat tours take you to the caves and along the Ngo Dong River, which is often dotted with floating vendors capitalizing on the tourist visiting on a day trip from Hanoi.
- Hoi An
Foodies can feast on street food in Vietnam’s culinary capital. If you fancy trying your hand at Vietnamese cuisine, many restaurants offer half-day cooking courses. Sounds too much like hard work? Hit An Bang Beach instead for a day lounging on the deserted sand, sipping on ice-cold cocktails at the bar.
THRILLS & CHILLS
If you have the bills, Vietnam has the thrills and chills. Some require a little physical effort, such as motor biking switchback after switchback up the jaw-dropping Hai Van Pass in central Vietnam. Others require even more sweat: kite surfing the tropical oceanic waters off Mui Ne or hiking the evergreen hills around Bac Ha or Sapa.
# 1: Da Lat: Da Lat is an old French hill station in the central highland. The City is one of the most unique destinations in southern Vietnam with intriguing architecture, natural beauty and colorful local people. Da Lat is surrounded by some of the best mountains for biking, hiking and canoeing opportunities in Vietnam.
# 2: Nha Trang: Nha Trang city, which is the coastal city in Khanh Hoa province. The city is endowed by nature with deep, quiet and warm waters all the year round. It is surrounded by archipelagoes, islands, mountains and white sand beaches – a wonderful and attractive tourist resort. Nha Trang is sunny all year round, with an average temperature of 23°C due to northern winds. The rainfall is less than anywhere else in the country and the area is not threatened by storms because it is preserved by the Truong Son Mountains and Ca Pass. This is the best place to do a scuba diving and snorkeling in Vietnam.
# 3: Bach Ma Mountain: Walking on the top of Bach Ma Mountain, you can view landscapes of Hai Van Pass, Tuy Van mount, Cau Hai lagoon with heaving fishing boats and even the shimmering electrical lights of Hue city at night as well as the huge and boundless Eastern Sea. Visiting Hue should include a day trip to Back Ma National Park.
# 4: Mekong Delta: This is where you will experience a floating life like the locals, the Mekong Delta. Lying in the border of Cambodia in southern Vietnam, the Delta is considered as “Vietnam’s Rice Belt”. This wonderful area is almost all under cultivation, and produces enough rice and fruits to feed the two third population of Vietnam. This is also a wonderful place for cycling. You can get a true glimpse of rural life and interact with local people by biking.
# 5: Halong Bay: Halong Bay is an amazing area not to be missed at any cost. Most islands are rocky and thus are uninhabited. Some areas of the Halong Bay have floating villages and fishermen. Known as Vietnam’s number one tourist destination, Halong Bay literally means “where the dragon descends into the sea.” It includes an area of more than 3000 islands in which you come to swim, discover, and visit natural, beautiful areas recognized in 1994 on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.