21 Incredible Places To Visit in Vietnam – Advice From Travel Experts

21 Incredible Places To Visit in Vietnam – Advice From Travel Experts

Looking for the best places to visit in Vietnam as recommended by some of the world’s top travel experts? Look no further! This list was put together by 20 top bloggers who have all travelled extensively in Vietnam and can personally recommend all the top things to do do and unique places to visit in the beautiful country.

From hiking in Sapa or checking out a colourful local market, to sailing in Halong Bay, doing a food tour in Hanoi or going in search of Vietnam’s best beaches, here’s our top 21 places to visit in Vietnam.

Pro Tip: If you’re planning to travel around Vietnam for a few weeks, I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to have decent travel insurance – as you never know what could go wrong and accidents happen ALL the time in Vietnam…especially if you’re on a bike. Just read my Koh Tao horror story to see what could happen. I always use World Nomads, as they’re known as the best insurer for backpackers and long term travellers.

Unique Places To Visit in Vietnam

21. Sapa

Recommended by Mostly Amelie

Leaving for Sapa from the Lao Cai train station through an opaque blanket of fog leaves me guessing what is possibly hiding in the distance. But all of a sudden, as if a breathing, living creature, the fog rolls behind the mountains in a matter of minutes, taking me aback with the beauty of the scenery.

Lush terraced paddy fields rolling in the distance and doll-like, less-than-five-foot-tall women in traditional indigo embroidered costumes with their hair up in pretty dos and lots of silver jewellery adorning their ears walking their buffaloes on a leash. I came here to hike to hill tribe villages with the locals and it was wonderful.

But beware! You don’t come to Sapa for the climate. Sapa was miserable, cold and wet (I kind of felt like I was back in the UK!), but its landscape and people more than make up for it.

Where to stay in Sapa: Topas Eco Lodge

Topas Eco Lodge just outside of Sapa is not only one of the coolest places to stay in Sapa, but also one of the most unique hotels in Vietnam if not the world. The views from the infinity pool rival those of some of Switzerland’s most famous hotels, but for just a fraction of the price. This is a real fairytale kind of place – with spectacular views of the terraced rice fields and a feeling that you are staying ABOVE the clouds! Full review here.

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20. Halong Bay

Recommended by GaminTraveler

My girlfriend and I spent 2 amazing weeks in Vietnam. Among the places we visited there. Our favourite was Ha Long Bay. We had an amazing two-day cruise experience. We witnessed how beautiful the bay was. No wonder it’s one of the 7 Wonders of Nature.

While cruising, we saw huge lime stones around and of course, the beautiful colours in the sky. You can get your own kayak and explore the area with a tour guide. There are caves which you can consider going in. Swimming and snorkelling here shouldn’t be missed as well.

There are many activities you can do here. Of course, don’t forget to watch the beautiful sunrise and sunset in Ha Long Bay. All these things make Ha Long Bay magical and more touristic everyday.

Where to stay in Halong Bay

If you are looking to sail around Halong Bay in style, and stay on one of the nicest junk boats in the bay, we recommend a tour with Viola Cuiise Halong Bay. A little pricier than the others but also one of the highest rated boats on Agoda. If you’re on a shoestring budget, we recommend staying in the City Bay Palace Hotel for less than $30 a night.

19. Ho Chi Minh / Saigon

Recommended by World Travel Family

Amazing food, fast internet, low prices and high standards set Saigon up as a great travel or digital nomad destination. Around town there is plenty to keep visitors busy, French era architecture including Vietnam‘s own Notre Dame Cathedral, the War Remnants Museum and markets, Ben Thanh Market, in District 1 being the major tourist draw.

The best of the things to do in Saigon are the trips and tours visitors can take from the city. The Cu Chi tunnels are nearby and offer a real insight into what went on in the American War. If you only do one tour in Vietnam, this one would be my pick.

The unique and fascinating Cao Dai temples cam be combined with the Cu Chi trip, visit for the daily noon ceremony shown above. Alternatively take to the water for a Mekong, villages and floating markets tour before heading back to Saigon for dinner on Bui Vien walking street in the heart of the backpacker area.

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh

The biggest city in Vietnam, there is no shortage of good accommodation in Saigon / Ho Chi Minh city. If you’re on a budget, we recommend checking into one of many highly rated hostels or cheap hotels in the city. If you want a bit of luxury, and hotel with an insane swimming pool and incredible view of the city, check into the Silverland Yen Hotel.

18. Dalat

Recommended by Wander With Jo

After spending 3 weeks from south to North Vietnam and then flying back south, I soon discovered that Dalat was my favorite city in Vietnam. It’s cost effective, fun to ride around and has some amazing waterfalls and unique spots. 
 
I love how the city looks like a modern picture postcard from Europe – Seriously, I didn’t find a since spot that looked anything like SE Asia, at all. Plus its so cost effective that you can get hostels for $5 a night – with free flow beer and dinner on first night. How cool is that?
 
Just rent a cheap bike and enjoy riding around in this pretty town exploring cafes in the middle of nowhere or hiking to waterfalls – there’s plenty to do in Dalat.  Its a great city to meet other backpackers and make travel buddies to explore other parts of Vietnam. Dalat also has very chic colonial architecture plus Gaudi style unique designs in the Maze bar and Crazy house.  Dalat is definitely a must visit if you happen to be traversing around Vietnam
 
 

Where to stay in Dalat

One of the cheapest options in Dalat, ideal for backpackers in Vietnam, is the highly rated Gaia Hostel, which has private rooms from as little as $15 a night or dorm beds from as little as $4 a night. 

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17. Cat Ba Island

Recommended by Flip Flop Globetrotters
 
Cat Ba Island is the largest island of the Cat Ba Archipelago on the southeastern edge of Ha Long Bay. Most of the population lives in Cat Ba Town. A large part of the island is covered by jungle and about half of it is a National Park. We only spent 3 days on Cat Ba Island with our 2-year old, but would love to come back. The second day, when it finally stopped raining, we rented a scooter and drove around the island. It was a beautiful scenic ride. A stark reminder of Vietnam’s violent past can be found at Hospital Cave. This secret bomb-proof hospital from the Vietnam war is now a popular tourist attraction. As is the more recently built Cannon Fort. The old bunkers are impressive, but the main reason to visit is the amazing view of the bay.

Not many people know this, but when you do a Ha Long Bay cruise it’s often possible to stay on Cat Ba Island longer, paying only for the extra hotel nights. When you want to return to the mainland, you contact the cruise company and return with them to Hanoi as part of your original cruise package at no extra charge. 
 

16. Lak Lake

Recommended by Migrating Miss

Lak Lake is a charming and serene spot in the middle of the central highlands. It’s the largest natural freshwater lake in the area, and it’s surrounded by rice fields, rolling hills, and several minority villages. It’s a relatively undeveloped area but there is a tourism office that will help you to secure a guide if you’d like to trek around the lake or go out on a boat. Lak Lake can be accessed on a day trip from Da Lat or Buon Ma Thuot, or you can stay overnight. 

There is a hotel called Lak Lake Resort, but you can also organise a home stay with a local family. Some families will have a sign outside with a phone number you can call to have someone help you in English, or you can try and organise it yourself. This is a beautiful part of the central highlands that is worth the detour!  

15. Can Tho

Recommended by Thrifty Family Travels

Explore the exotic Mekong Delta from Can Tho and its surrounding villages. To get a feel for the local village life stay in a homestay like the Nguyen Shack.  From here you can easily the waterways and narrow laneways of the Mekong Delta.

Visit the famous Cai Rang floating markets, where you will see large boats piled high with produce and smaller boats pulled alongside them whilst locals manually put their purchases into their boats. 

Be mesmerised by the ladies whizzing by in their small boats selling coffee and baguettes to locals and tourists and others cooking pho right there on their tiny boats.  

An eye opener for westerners is a visit to the Cai Rang land markets with items for sale like jumping skinned and headless frogs in a large bowls!!!  Other activities include boat rides down the waterways where you will get a glimpse into life on the water or bike riding through the tiny little villages and high fiving the friendly kids as you ride by.

14. Son Doong cave

Recommended by Live Travel Teach

Son Doong is the most amazing place I’ve ever been and definitely tops Vietnam’s most beautiful places.  The cave is the world’s largest and smack in the middle of Phong Nha – Khe Bang National Park in Central Vietnam.  

Discovered in 1992 and only opened to the public in 2013 this cave is both magnificent and largely untouched.  If you can afford the hefty $3000 price tag for an exclusive tours through Oxalis I guarantee that you will love it and Son Doong will probably become one of your favorite places on Earth!  

Your trip to Son Doong will take you through rivers and jungles before you descend with expert guides to the pitch black below.  On your multi-day journey through the cave you’ll pass 2 dolines where the ceiling collapsed millions of years ago allowing jungle to grow INSIDE the cave.  These sections often have cloud formations too meaning you might get rained on inside a cave!  Even if you can’t make it to Son Doong, Phong Nha has plenty of other budget friendly excursions with beautiful landscapes and unique views so make sure you stop in while traveling through Vietnam!

Where to stay near Son Doong Cave

Thanks to its remote location, a unique place to stay near Son Doong Cave is to do a homestay with a local family.  Tung Homestay is very highly rated and will give you a chance to meet local people, experience life as they do and hopefully get some great travel tips about the area.

13. Quy Nhon

Recommeded by PassingThru

Less frequently visited Quy Nhon stole our sun and sand-loving hearts in a showdown of Vietnam beach towns. Situated a short ride east of the Dieu Tri railway station, Quy Nhon (also spelled Qui Nhon) is a more authentic slice of Vietnamese life than other popular beach destinations such as Nha Trang or Phu Quoc island. While its history goes back to the 11th century Kingdom of Champa, central Quy Nhon has managed to avoid overwhelming urban development.

Its atmosphere feels undiscovered; you’ll rely on local recommendations for restaurants and choose from just a few guesthouse resorts and one or two larger hotels. Check out the Long Khanh Pagoda, a landmark dating from the 18th century, whose 20th century Buddha is 17 meters high. Noteworthy: the Thap Doi Cham Towers, reminiscent of Khmer temples. Beach quality: terrific, with flat, sugary sand and no crowds.

12. Bao Loc

Recommended by Orient Express

Located right in between Ho Chi Minh city and Dalat, Bao Loc was an essential stop for us after a pretty awful trip on highway 20. While the city might not look like much and feel more like a mandatory rest for people riding through the country, it hides a few treasures like some of Vietnam‘s best green tea (you can visit a few of the tea plantations near the city) and some pretty good food, but the real gem hides in the nearby Dambri Waterfall Resort.

Inside this massive park you’ll find the 70 metre Dambri waterfall. This high stream of water comes crashing at an unbelievable speed and makes for quite an incredible sight. While the view is impressive from atop, getting down there might make you realise just how big Dambri is. If you are driving through Vietnam then spend the night in Bao Loc, it’s worth the extra day out of your itinerary. 

11. Hue

Recommended by Laughter Travel Eat

Hue, a city in central Vietnam that looked under-developed at first glance, was actually the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty. As the royal capital between 1802 to 1945, they were the last ruling family in Vietnam. The most prominent relic from this time is the citadel in the city center, which is dubbed as the smaller version of the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Although many parts of it were destroyed during the Vietnam War, it is still a sight to behold. But the real gems are the tombs of the Nguyen emperors that surrounded the city. While there might be dozens of them, the most famous ones are Minh Mang tomb, the second emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. Dong Khanh tomb, with a mix of western and Chinese influence.

And Tu Duc tomb, which doubled up as his summer palace during his reign. If you want to learn more about what else to see in Hue, here’s a more detailed guide.

10. Bac Ha Sunday Market

Recommended by Nomad Is Beautiful

Bac Ha village in the northern Vietnam is becoming one of the highlights for travelers visiting Sapa. The proximity to popular mountain range in Vietnam makes it an accessible and unique place.

Only 2.5 hr by a minivan from Sapa, and you’ll be walking in a world of cratfsmen, local Hmong villagers dressed in the incredibly colourful weaved costumes doing their weekly shopping.

The Bac Ha market focuses on local fabrics, accessories, agricultural tools, cattle. That said, you’ll find here only one small alley selling souvenirs, which is a good sign that the place is still authentic compared to Sapa main square or Halong Bay.

You can easily book a seat in a minivan from Sapa for about 5 USD one way to Bac Ha or Lao Cai village, where you can continue north, or take a train back to Hanoi.  

9. Ninh Binh

Recommended by The ETLR Blog

We already knew that Halong Bay in Vietnam is something which should definitely not be missed…a trip here is ranked one of the top things to do in Vietnam, and the world! Little did we knew that there existed a place called Ninh Binh which is almost like Halong Bay but on land.
 
The kind of limestone mountains one finds, while sailing through the emerald green waters of Halong Bay ; one can easily find similar sights while cycling around Ninh Binh and Tam Coc. 
 
Ninh Binh was the perfect place, to kick start my 2 week adventure around Vietnam and Cambodia, and at the same time enjoy the natural untouched beauty ofVietnam, which has taken the social media by storm.
 
Located around 95 Km from Hanoi, it takes hardly around two hours to reach Ninh Binh. The Open Bus Ticket is the best way to travel to Ninh Binh, alternatively, one can even take a day tour with any of the numerous travel agencies scattered all around Hanoi.
 

8. Mai Chau

Recommended by Willful and Wildhearted

I booked a home stay with Vietnam Backpackers Hostel in 2014, not completely sure of what I’d signed up for. As our van drove out of Hanoi and into the country side, I was completely enraptured by the enchanting fields of green and lush mountains. 
 
The homestay location was unlike anywhere I’d ever been. It was quiet, scenic and the family was so warm to each of us.The weekend was certainly memorable; I crashed a motorbike and got completely lost from the rest of my group – ruining my perception of the popular Vietnamese mode of transport. I am so thankful for this trip, though.
 
Not only did I make beautiful memories and friendships, it was in Mai Chau that I decided I would love to move to Vietnamsomeday. It took me three years, but I’ve officially relocated to Saigon – and I love it. This little town is often overlooked among backpackers, but if you ever get the opportunity – don’t give it a miss.
 
 

Where to stay in Mai Chau

While it is possible to do day trips to Mai Chau from Hanoi, it’s a long and tiring journey and we recommend staying 2 night in Mai Chau instead. The best way to integrate into local life here is to do a homestay like the one the Linh Soi Homestay. There are also some pretty cool Eco Lodges popping up in Mai Chau, such as the beautiful Mai Chau Eco Lodge – complete with spectacular views, an amazing swimming pool, and individual private Eco cabins.

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7. Ha Giang

Recommended by BroganAbroad.com

Ha Giang is the northernmost province in Vietnam, still off the beaten path but becoming more and more popular with travellers, especially with motorbike adventurers.

It’s home to the UNESCO Geopark Site, the Dong Van Karst Mountains, one of the most awe inspiring landscapes I have ever seen and my favourite area of Vietnam. As you ride through the ridiculously-winding roads, you will find ever-changing landscapes opening up in front of you. You go from beautiful bamboo-lined river valleys, to plateaus with conical outcrops, to karstic landscapes, to mountains carved with rice paddies. 

Don’t miss going to the Lung Cu flag tower, also known as the North Pole of Vietnam, which has excellent views across China. You will need a permit from the Ha Giang Immigration Office to explore the area, which you can easily get on the day. One of the scenic places to visit in Vietnam by a long shot!

6. Hoi An

Recommended by My Adventures Across The World

Hoi An is by far the most interesting city in Vietnam. Although significantly smaller in size compared to the capital Hanoi, and to the buzzing Saigon, it is packed with history and great sights. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hoi An enjoys a relaxed atmosphere, with the historic centre closed to traffic and thus extremely pleasant to explore. 

A good idea when in Hoi An is to get the tourist tickets, which provide good savings and allow access to a number of attractions, including the Japanese Covered Bridge, built in the 1590s by the Japanese community that lived and traded there.  
 
Hoi An is famous for the many tailor shops that are scattered across the city centre, and where it is possible to get tailored made suits and dresses for a very good price. Make sure to spend long enough in the city to have time for all the fittings. 
 
At a stone’s throw from the city there are some gorgeous rice fields, such as those found on Cam Kim island; as well as some very good beaches. An Bang beach is the most popular one with tourists, and there are several beach restaurants. Beaches and rice fields can be reached on an easy bike ride from the city centre.
 
 
 

5. Suoi Tien Buddhist Theme park

Recommended by Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal

Think of the most unusual theme park you’ve ever been to. Now add a dazzling array of brightly painted dragons, fat happy Buddahs, creepy sea creatures, fanciful and elaborate temples, gigantic fruit, ornamental lakes, pretty pagodas and freakish fun rides and you’re getting close to the bizarre wonderland that is Suoi Tien Buddhist theme park near Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Despite the jolly colours and figures, the rides and experiences are, let’s say, odd, even disturbing at times, with some quite bloody montages and ghostly appearances. Suoi Tien is very much a fun day out for Vietnamese families but if you’re taking your own kids, be prepared for shrieks and possible nightmares. As an adult, I found the whole experience unforgettably strange and often hilarious, especially the fruit parade with enormous plastic fruit on intricately decorated floats accompanied by women wearing fruit-covered costumes.  Definitely a day to remember and one of the most unique places to visit in Vietnam!

4. Ninh Vanh Bay

Recommended by Our3KidsVTheWorld.

We were looking for something a little bit different on out last trip to Vietnam and I found an exclusive little bay off the coast of Nha Trang with just as exclusive resorts on it. There are few resorts on on Ninh Van Bay, one a Six Senses Resort the other An Lam Resort which we stayed at (now called L’Alyana Ninh Van Bay).  These resorts are only accessible by speedboat and take about 30 mins from the private jetty near Nha Trang.

Once you arrive at Ninh Van Bay there is little to do but relax, the bay is breathtaking and the resort is the type of place you wish you never had to leave. With our private beach front villa with private plunge pool and private butler and might wonder why you would want to. There are plenty to do on the Bay if you are that way inclined, take a hike to a beautiful look out, kayak on the bay or windsurf or better still visit the spa, sounds like heaven hey!

Unique PLaces to visit in Vietnam

3. Phu Quoc Island

Recommended by Trusted Travel Girl

While many travelers leave Saigon for the Northern parts of Vietnam to Hanoi and Halong Bay, locals flock to the largest island in Vietnam, Phu Quoc. Phu Quoc is a quick 40 minute flight from of Ho Chi Minh City, and it’s the perfect way to experience Vietnam without being inundated with other tourists. 
 
Phu Quoc boasts a number of activities unique to the island that have remained authentic. The local pepper farms and honey bee farms are some of the “touristy excursions”, but with the lack of western travelers, they don’t feel touristy at all and have remained authentic. Even island hopping and snorkeling day-trips include fishing and interacting with the locals on the boat.
 
For travelers looking to get off-the-beaten-path and experience the local culture, head to Duong Dong Market. This local market is bustling! It will give you a taste for the local culture and you definitely won’t see other tourists!
 
Looking for a quiet place to rest? Check out our article on Phu Quocs Best Beaches!
 
 

2. Hanoi

Recommended by2FoodTrippers

A visit to Hanoi is a must for any visit to Vietnam. The country’s capital city is chaotic, crazy and downright wonderful with its non-stop motorbike traffic and seemingly endless selection of street food and pho shops. A visitor could easily spend all day and night eating, but there’s so much more to do in Hanoi.

The best way to start a Hanoi visit is to explore the city’s Old Quarter and then check out sites like the Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and the Hanoi Hilton. Don’t forget to stroll around the Hoan Kiem Lake located near the Old Quarter. We like the lake best at night when hoards of locals come out to socialize and eat ice cream cones before and after the sun sets.

READ: Top Hostels in Hanoi, Vietnam

best places to visit in Vietnam

1. Castaway Island, Halong Bay

If you’re looking for a weekend you will never forget while visiting Vietnam, then signing up to a few days on a private island owned by a party hostel in Hanoi is the way to go!

They pack anywhere between 50 and 100 excited backpackers onto junk boats, cruise around beautiful Ha Long bay then you spend a few days on a deserted island relaxing on the beach, playing drinking games, rock climbing, kayaking and whatever else – anything goes here!

For a full review (the good, the bad and the ugly) you can check out this post.

places to visit in vietnam - halong bay

 

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