Top 6 places you HAVE to visit in Vietnam!
During the eighteen months I've lived in Vietnam, I've enjoyed exploring the country from the south to the north. There are so many beautiful places to visit in Vietnam. This country is filled with beautiful temples, rice fields, and beaches. The people are so friendly, and the food is amazing. Plus, it isn't overly touristy - you will have an authentic experience here. Check out my list of reasons to visit Vietnam here! There are so many amazing things to see in Vietnam, but a few have really stood out to me. Here are some places that everyone should see during their time in Vietnam!
If I had to pick just one place that you should visit in Vietnam, I would pick Hoi An. Hoi An is a small town in central Vietnam with colonial architecture and charm. In the daytime, you can bike through Hoi An, enjoying the many coffee shops and restaurants. At night, the town comes alive with markets and colorful lanterns. Hoi An is a charming town that feels like it belongs in a Vietnamese fairy tale.
The town of Hoi An makes a great introduction to Vietnam because it isn't too overwhelming. Hanoi and Saigon are both huge cities packed with people, motorbikes, and a lot to take in if you're new to Asia. Hoi An is more compact and can be easily explored on foot or by bicycle. Enjoy some delicious Vietnamese cuisine and experience life in Vietnam without the hustle and bustle of a big city. It's also a great place to take incredible pictures to remember your time in Vietnam.
What makes Hoi An special: a charming small-town feel and great options for yummy cuisine.
Known as Ha Long Bay on land, Ninh Binh is located about two and a half hours south of Hanoi. This is one of the most beautiful places I've seen and is an excellent way to get out of the city and experience some nature while in Vietnam. Ninh Binh has a lot to offer without being overly touristy. Many people visit Ninh Binh as a day trip from Hanoi, but this area deserves a few extra days to be fully explored.
Stay in the charming village of Tam Coc and rent a motorbike from your hotel or homestay. You can enjoy a couple of days driving around the countryside. Ninh Binh is an easy place to learn how to ride a motorbike if you've never done it before. Check out the Mua Caves and the hanging dragon at the top of the mountain - the view is well worth the climb! Taking one of the well-known boat rides is another great experience in Ninh Binh. I did the one in Trang An and loved it.
What makes Ninh Binh special: Epic views and peaceful countryside drives.
Ha Giang is one of Vietnam's northernmost provinces, bordering China. It is hands down the most beautiful place I've visited in Vietnam. In addition, it's less known than neighboring Sa Pa, which means fewer tourists and a more authentic experience.
The Ha Giang Loop is one of the biggest draws to Ha Giang province. This is a popular route for motorbiking. The journey takes about 4-5+ days and offers incredible views and charming homestays along the way. In March 2020, I did the Ha Giang loop and it was easily one of the best experiences of my life. It is less family-friendly as it is typically a motorbike route, but it is possible to arrange for a private car and driver.
What makes Ha Giang special: stunning mountain views with few other tourists.
Cat Ba Island
Another of my favorite places in Vietnam is Cat Ba Island. My initial plan was to visit for 4 days, but I ended up staying for 10. Cat Ba is great for a cheaper way to visit the Ha Long Bay area. You can stay on the island and take a day tour out to kayak through the bay for only around $20. Cat Ba itself has a beautiful national park and some great beaches. During my visit in May 2020, there weren't many other people, so we had these amazing beaches almost to ourselves.
On Cat Ba Island, renting a motorbike is a great way to explore the various beaches and the national park. If you are not an experienced driver, don't worry - there isn't too much traffic, so it won't be too intimidating to drive there. The Cat Ba area is where I first learned to drive a motorbike, and it was a great place to start.
What makes Cat Ba Island special: less touristy access to Ha Long Bay and great beaches to relax on.
If you're looking for a small town with beach vibes, you need to head for Mui Ne in Southern Vietnam. Just like Cat Ba island, this place sucks you in, in the best way possible. I came for 3 days and ended up staying for over a month. This is also where I met James, so that did have something to do with it. ;) Mui Ne has some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen and is a great spot in Vietnam for regular or kite surfing.
Mui Ne's sand dunes are another thing you must see. There are two sets - the white sand dunes and the red sand dunes. I've only visited the red sand dunes, but they are incredible. It was like being transported from Vietnam to the Sahara. You can also rent a 'sled' from one of the Vietnamese locals to ride down the sand dunes. This is great fun for only less than $1!
What makes Mui Ne special: beautiful sunsets and small beach town vibes.
If you want to see waterfalls, you should visit Da Lat. Located in the highlands of southern-central Vietnam, Da Lat boasts stunning scenery and a plethora of waterfalls to enjoy. Da Lat also provides great relief from the heat of the rest of southern Vietnam. The temperature here is usually 20°F/10°C cooler than the surrounding area.
Waterfalls are one of the main attractions in Da Lat. Pongour Waterfall and Elephant Waterfall are two of the most popular ones. On your way back to Da Lat from Elephant Waterfall, make sure to stop at the Me Linh Coffee Garden to try some weasel coffee and take some beautiful photos. Be sure to visit the Maze Bar when in Da Lat. This is an epic bar that is literally a maze. There are so many different rooms and both indoor and outdoor areas to sit and enjoy your drink. The Crazy House was designed by the same person, so it's a more family-friendly option when traveling with the kids.
What makes Da Lat special: cooler temperatures and amazing waterfalls.
In Vietnam, there are many amazing and diverse places to visit. These are just a few of them. This country truly is one of the most beautiful I've ever visited, with something for every type of traveler.
Which of these places would you like to visit the most? Let me know in the comments!