Planning a trip to Vietnam? You're in for an incredible journey. This Vietnam trip guide will walk you through the best places to visit and share some secret tips to make your experience even better.
Create a Vietnam trip plan with vibrant cities, breathtaking landscapes, and the unique culture of this fascinating country. Get ready for an adventure that will leave you with unforgettable memories.
Top Cities to Explore: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hoi An
These cities provide a well-rounded view of Vietnam's past and present, offering a rich tapestry of experiences for travelers.
- Hanoi: As the capital, Hanoi is rich in history and culture. You'll find ancient temples, French colonial architecture, and bustling markets. The Old Quarter is a highlight, showcasing the city's vibrant street life.
- Ho Chi Minh City: Previously known as Saigon, this city is the economic hub of Vietnam. It's fast-paced and modern but also holds historic sites like the War Remnants Museum. The food scene here is diverse and delicious, as any Vietnam tour guide such determinate.
- Hoi An: This city stands out for its well-preserved Ancient Town, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lantern-lit streets, historic architecture, and riverside setting create a unique atmosphere. It's also great for custom-made clothing and local handicrafts.
How to visit these cities?
Getting In and Around:
- Hanoi: Fly into Noi Bai International Airport. Use taxis, buses, or ride-sharing for city transport.
- Ho Chi Minh City: Land at Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Buses, taxis, and motorbike taxis are the best way to travel around Vietnam.
- Hoi An: The nearest airport is in Da Nang. From there, take a taxi or shuttle bus to Hoi An.
- Flights, buses, and trains connect Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
- From either city, get to Da Nang by plane, train, or bus, then continue to Hoi An.
Natural Wonders: Long Bay, Phong Nha Caves, and the terraced fields
No Vietnam trip guide could miss the best places to explore the wonders of nature:
Ha Long Bay:
- Tour: Vietnam-organised tours allow you to book a cruise to navigate the bay’s limestone islands and emerald waters. Options range from day trips to overnight stays.
- Activities: Try kayaking, swimming, and exploring caves. Don’t miss the sunset over the bay.
- Getting There: Take a bus, car, or join a tour from Hanoi. It takes around 3-4 hours.
Phong Nha Caves:
- Cave Tours: Visit Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and choose from various private tours to Vietnam's caves. Paradise Cave and Phong Nha Cave are popular.
- Adventure: For the more adventurous, look into tours that take you deep into the caves, such as the Son Doong Cave expedition.
- Getting There: Take a train or bus to Dong Hoi, then a bus or taxi to Phong Nha.
Terraced Fields of Sapa:
- Trekking: Engage in guided treks to experience the rice terraces and local villages.
- Homestay: Consider a homestay with a local family to fully immerse yourself in the culture.
- Best Time to Visit: Go between September and October for the harvest season or April and May for the planting season.
- Getting There: Take a train or bus from Hanoi to Sapa.
Vietnam Trip Guide to Street Food Adventures
Before you go, look up popular Vietnamese street foods. Pho, Banh Mi, and Bun Cha are must-tries. Once in Vietnam, head to local markets and street food stalls to find authentic and delicious food.
Pay attention to where locals are eating. A crowded spot usually means good food. Don’t hesitate to ask locals or your accommodation hosts for their favorite places to eat.
Consider booking a street food tour, especially in cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Guides can take you to the best spots and explain the dishes.
Vietnamese cuisine varies by region. Try dishes unique to the north, central, and south.
Cultural Hotspots: The Imperial City in Hue and My Son Sanctuary
Visiting these sites gives you a glimpse into Vietnam's rich history and heritage.
Imperial City in Hue:
- Historical Significance: Once the capital of Vietnam, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Architectural Marvel: Explore palaces, temples, walls, and gates in this ancient city.
- Cultural Insight: Gain a deeper understanding of Vietnam's royal history and traditions.
- Getting There: Fly to Phu Bai Airport or take a train/bus to Hue.
- Guided Tours: Consider a guided tour for insightful stories and historical context.
- Allocate Time: Spend at least half a day to fully explore.
- Best Time to Visit: Visit in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday heat.
My Son Sanctuary:
- Ancient Champa Kingdom: It's a remarkable archaeological site dating back to the 4th century.
- Cultural Heritage: Learn about the Hindu-influenced Champa civilization.
- Scenic Location: Set amid lush landscapes, it provides a serene experience.
- Getting There: Located near Hoi An, take a bus, motorbike, or join a tour.
- Guided Tours: Opt for a tour to get historical insights and navigate the site efficiently.
- Early Visit: Arrive early to beat the crowds and the heat.
- Photography: Bring a camera; the ruins and scenery are picturesque.
Off the Beaten Path: Explore less touristy destinations worth your time
These destinations, excluded in many Vietnam travel guides, offer a more authentic and tranquil experience.
- Ninh Binh: Known as "Halong Bay on Land" for its limestone karst landscapes. Explore by boat or bike.
- Mai Chau: Peaceful valley with rice fields and traditional stilt houses. Great for trekking.
- Con Dao Islands: Pristine beaches and clear waters, plus a chance to learn about the island’s history as a former prison.
- Phu Yen: Beautiful coastal province with unique rock formations and untouched beaches.
- Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark: Stunning limestone landscapes and diverse ethnic cultures in Ha Giang Province.
- Quy Nhon: Coastal city with beautiful beaches and Cham ruins, without the crowds of more famous destinations.
- Buon Ma Thuot: The heart of Vietnam's coffee country, surrounded by coffee plantations and waterfalls.
- Ben Tre: Experience the Mekong Delta's waterways, fresh fruits, and coconut candies.
- Cao Bang: Home to Ban Gioc Waterfall and stunning karst landscapes.
- Bac Ha: Famous for its Sunday market and the colorful attire of the local Flower H’mong people.
To make the most of your trip, plan ahead, stay connected, and be adventurous in trying local dishes and exploring off-the-beaten-path locations.
With the right preparation, a Vietnam trip guide, and an open mind, a trip to Vietnam promises rich cultural encounters, stunning scenery, and unforgettable memories.