Vietnam is a breathtakingly beautiful and diverse country with a stunning landscape, friendly people, and delectable cuisine. It is truly one of the most incredible countries on the planet, and if it isn’t already on your bucket list, it should be. But, with so much to see and do, deciding where to go in Vietnam can be difficult – especially if it’s your first time there.
From trekking in the rugged rice terraces of Northern Vietnam to relaxing on stunning white sand beaches in the South, Vietnam has something for everyone. Whether you want to learn more about Vietnam’s history, delve deeper into its diverse food scene, or simply get lost in the winding alleys and never-ending motorbike traffic, there’s plenty to do in Vietnam. Below are 5 best places in Vietnam to visit.
Traveling in Vietnam
Vietnam is a large and rather long country, making traveling from one end to the other difficult. We frequently find that flying between major cities like Saigon, Danang, and Hanoi is the best option.
VietJet is a low-cost airline with hundreds of flights across the whole of Vietnam; however, our experience has been that the flights are frequently delayed – sometimes for several hours. You must also pay for any checked in luggage on VietJet, which can add up quickly if you check more than one bag.
Vietnam Airlines is marginally more expensive, but you’ll get two checked bags consisted of the price of your ticket, and you’ll be much more probable to turn up on time.
Traveling among smaller towns and cities in Vietnam will require you to take a bus or minivan. There are numerous deluxe bus companies that get you to your destination on time and in comfort. Unfortunately, there are a number of less reputable bus companies that will make similar claims but then fails to fulfill.
The climate in Vietnam varies greatly depending on which region you visit. However, Vietnam has a tropical or subtropical climate. It is hot, humid, and every once in a while rainy, so bring an umbrella, particularly if you visit between July and November.
Northern Vietnam has four seasons, and temperatures in the mountains can drop to 40° F or lower during the winter months (December – February). Summer temperatures in the 90° F range are common from June to August. The autumn season brings some rain, which can plan a pilgrimage to Sapa quite muddy.
The Middle of Vietnam has warm temperatures all year, but it can be almost unbearably hot during the summer months (June – August).From November to April, the weather is slightly cooler. Southern Vietnam has two seasons: wet (May – October) and dry (November – April).
Vietnam’s currency is the Dong (VND). The conversation rate was approximately 23,305 VND to $1 USD at the time of writing (August 2018). So if we say something costs 50,000 VND, it’s roughly $2 USD.
Vietnam is a cash-only country, and it is difficult to find restaurants, bars, or shops that accept visas. Most ATMs will only allow you to withdraw a maximum of 3,000,000 VND ($130 USD), and most shall only allow you to withdraw 2,000,000 VND ($85 USD) at a time. Each time you use one, you’ll be charged a 3 percent transaction fee.
Check with your bank before leaving to ensure that international ATM fees are refunded. Furthermore, they do not charge their own international fees.
The 5 Best Places in Vietnam To Visit
Hanoi is indeed the capital of Vietnam and the country’s second-most populous city (Ho Chi Minh City is number one). It’s a good starting point for exploring the beautiful surrounding areas of Sapa, Halong Bay, and Ninh Binh, but it’s also worth spending a few days in this massive metropolis.
Hanoi’s cuisine is one of the city’s highlights. You can eat some of the best bun cha in Vietnam at the same restaurant where Anthony Bourdain and Barack Obama dined. You can also try another traditional dish, snake!
Hanoi is a large city, but it is also charming. Hoàn Kim Lake, located in the heart of the Old Quarter, is a lovely spot for an afternoon stroll. There are parks and local markets to visit, as well as numerous tourist attractions.
You must see the “Hanoi Hilton” while in Hanoi, where John McCain was imprisoned after his plane was shot down during the war. And the Temple of Literature is both beautiful and peaceful; it’s best visited early that morning.
Sapa (also spelled Sa Pa) is home to several minority groups that make a living through farming and tourism. The town is perched high on a hill, with breathtaking views of the Muong Hoa Valley below. Lush green rice terraces stretch as far as the eye can see across the landscape.
Most visitors to Sapa come to trek through the remote villages, but there is much more to see and do here than most people realize. You can start taking a cable car up over the top of Fansipan Mountain, the highest mountain in the Indochinese Peninsula at over 10,000 feet.
3. Halong Bay
Halong Bay is one of Vietnam’s most stunning scenery (and touristy) areas. In fact, Halong Bay is at the top of many travelers’ lists of places to visit in Vietnam. Boating on a liveaboard boat through the rocky cliffs of Halong Bay is an unforgettable experience.
It can be difficult to select the best Halong Bay Cruise. While there are dozens of boats to choose from, most cruises follow a similar route. The difference is in the food and onboard accommodations. In Halong Bay, you’ll find everything from backpacker-friendly floating hostels to luxurious 5-star cruises.
We recommend splurging on a luxury cruise experience where you’ll be treated like royalty because Halong Bay has such a unique landscape and there are few places like it in the world. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance!
4. Lan Ha Bay
If you want to experience Halong Bay- one of the best places in Vietnam to visit without the crowds, consider taking a cruise around Lan Ha Bay instead. Lan Ha Bay’s scenery is similar to Halong Bay’s, with stunning limestone cliffs rising out of the water, but it is less popular with tourists (yet).
There are several luxurious boats to choose from in Lan Ha Bay, and you’ll appreciate that the daily adventures are more individualized than the activities in Halong Bay. Lan Ha Bay is also a little further from the mainland, so you’ll spend a little more time on the boat cruising. As a result, we recommend a 2-day/3-night cruise.
5. Ninh Binh
This lovely area, just two hours south of Hanoi, is surrounded by lush green rice paddies and towering limestone cliffs. Life is a little slower here. People are friendlier here. Rather than cars, traffic jams are usually caused by herds of goats. You’ll feel happier, more relaxed, and at ease in general.
Just two hours south of Hanoi, this lovely area is surrounded by beautiful green farmlands and soaring limestone cliffs. Life moves a little more slowly here. Here, people are friendlier. Traffic jams are usually triggered by flocks of goats rather than automobiles. You’ll be happier, more relaxed, and more at ease overall.
A slow boat ride allows you to take in the scenery from the water. There are numerous picturesque temples and pagodas in the countryside surrounding Ninh Binh.