Vietnam is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia, with its colourful history and breathtaking natural beauty. With verdant fields in the northern part of the country and serene seascapes, it is no wonder why Vietnam has held a special place in the hearts of many travellers.
If you are going to visit Vietnam, here are some attractions that should not be left out of your itinerary.
Hoi An used to be a quiet fishing village by the South China Sea—at present, Hoi An is a popular tourist attraction fondly nicknamed as the “Venice of Vietnam,” thanks to its network of canals. These canals can be used to explore some parts of the town, with its narrow winding streets and shops that call back to the country’s Chinese-influenced past.
The Cu Chi Tunnels
Located some 40 kilometres northwest of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), the Cu Chi tunnels are an impressively large network of underground tunnels connected to each other. These tunnels were once used by the local guerrillas as their means of moving around and hiding during the Vietnam War. The Cu Chi Tunnels were also once an important element of the 1968 Tet Offensive, during which the Viet Cong used the tunnel network as a base of operations. At present, the tunnels are a popular tourist attraction, where visitors are allowed to explore the relatively safer parts of the Cu Chi Tunnels.
Mui Ne is just one of the many seaside destinations in Vietnam. However, unlike the lively Nha Trang, Mui Ne is a relatively quiet beach. This former sleepy fishing village is now the destination of choice for adventurous travelers who want try windsurfing and kitesurfing. A few meters north of Mui Ne are the breathtakingly beautiful sand dunes, where visitors can enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities. When visiting Mui Ne, make sure to stick around for the sunset, when the vast expanse of sand dunes will provide one of the most amazing sights you will see in your lifetime.
The Sa Pa Terraces
The Sa Pa Terraces are located near the Chinese border, in the northwestern part of Vietnam. The Muong Hoa Valley, nestled between the Fansipan Mountain and the town of Sa Pa, is covered with earth terraces where corn, rice, and other vegetables are grown. Set amidst a backdrop of lush bamboo forests, the Sa Pa Terraces are one of those attractions that will remind you of the rich agricultural background of this Southeast Asian country.
Easily one of the most beautiful bas in Vietnam, Nha Trang should be definitely in your travel itinerary, simply for being the most popular seaside resort town in the country. The beaches of Nha Trang are adorned with fine, white sand. The waters are very clear, with mild temperatures ideal for swimming or just splashing around. Unlike the other seaside destinations in Vietnam, such as Phu Quoc and Mui Ne, Nha Trang is an urban location with over 300,000 residents. Scuba diving enthusiasts will also definitely enjoy this attraction.
The Mekong Delta
Found in the southern parts of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta, also home to the Mekong River, is one of the best places to visit to learn more about the country’s rich culture and history. The Mekong Delta is not only rich in culture and history, but also in natural bounty. The nearby plains are best for planting rice, the Vietnamese people’s staple food and major agricultural crop. Life in this area is centered on the historic river, allowing visitors to explore the area easily through wooden boats.
Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is perhaps the most picturesque spot in Vietnam, and its beauty multiplies hundredfold when you see it in person instead of in postcards. The name Ha Long literally translates into “Descending Dragons,” and the name seems apt, since majestic creatures such as dragons would definitely choose a breathtaking spot to descend upon. Located in the northern part of Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is 120 kilometers of gorgeous coastline with thousands of limestone islands, each with their own lush jungle greenery. The bay is home not only to the limestone islands, but also a wide variety of wildlife and marine life, as well as several floating villages where local fishermen live.
Another popular beach destination in Vietnam, Phu Quoc, found opposite of the Cambodian coast, is the largest island in the country. Many travelers and beach bums compare Phu Quoc to Phuket, but less developed, commericalized, and crowded. If you are craving for a quiet holiday in a beach paradise, then Phu Quoc is the best place to go to. The Bai Dai beach in Phu Quoc is a popular choice among those who want to experience how clean and beautiful Vietnamese beaches can be. On the culinary department, make sure you try the local nuoc mam or fish sauce as a condiment to the freshest seafood in town.
The Thien Mu Pagoda
The Thien Mu Pagoda is the highest pagoda in Vietnam, with seven breathtaking stories that allow visitors to enjoy unobstructed views of the Perfume River. Built over four hundred years ago, the pagoda is a fine example of classic Vietnamese architecture with intricate sculptures and distinctive forms and silhouette never seen anywhere else. Visitors love this site because it serves as a great introduction to the rich and colorful history of Vietnam.
Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the favorite scenic and leisure spots of the locals. This attraction, located right in the heart of Hanoi, is definitely a must-see when you come to Vietnam. Local legend says that a Vietnamese king, Le Loi, was gifted a powerful magical sword by the gods, which he used to protect his country and prevent the Chinese from invading Vietnam. When he succeeded in his mission, he returned the sword to the Golden Turtle God, who lived in the Hoan Kiem Lake.