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Vietnam Travel Guide Content

At a glance

What do you like the most in Asia? Lush green rice fields, spectacular mountain landscapes, boat trips on the sea between limestone cliffs, beautiful beaches, and maybe top-notch Asian food? When you travel to Vietnam, you can have it all!

Vietnam will surely surprise you positively! During your trip, you will be able to see the incredible diversity of landscapes or food in this one of the fastest growing countries in Asia. Traveling through Vietnam offers many unique places to visit: Halong Bay, Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, Mekong Delta, Hoi An, Danang, and Sapa – here you will find a wonderful combination of sandy beaches, monuments, and picturesque mountainous areas. Do not forget to visit big cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hue!

Quick facts

  • Capital: Hanoi
  • Language: Vietnamese
  • Currency: Dong (VND)
  • Population: 91 700 000
  • Area: 331 212 km2
  • Dominating religion: Buddhism 54%
  • The highest peak: Phan Xi Păng, 3143 m

Vietnamese cuisine

Vietnamese cuisine consists of everything best in Asian cuisine with a dash of inspiration of French cuisine. Whether you have a big or a small budget, you can always count on some amazing culinary experiences in Vietnam, because here even the rice tastes different! One of the most famous dishes is the Vietnamese Pho Bo, a noodle soup with beef pieces, and the addition of fine herbs and spices. This traditional dish is served as breakfast on small street stalls. Cheap and tasty! In Vietnam, you will quickly find that you will find everything you need.

Getting around Vietnam

Public transport in Vietnam is quite extensive and you can easily get to every corner of the country. Regardless of where it stops, after just a few steps you will be surrounded by wonderful places and new experiences!

Vietnam has become a popular travel destination mainly due to its rapid development. Especially the development of the road network has led to increased traffic and increased interest in traveling around the country. When traveling across the country using a bus, for safety reasons it is advisable to choose one of the larger and slightly more expensive bus companies, especially in the main artery between the north and south of the country. The alternative is a train trip, which is also a really good way to experience Vietnam. Even domestic flights are a good option – Vietnam Airlines is one of the largest and most modern airlines in the world. Daily operates flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

Local buses and taxis are also a good and affordable option. For example, you can hire a taxi for the whole day and customize the route to your requirements for a sightseeing plan. However, we recommend that you choose a reputable company and agree on the price with the driver before the trip.

You can also rent a bike in Vietnam and go one of the 7 best motorcycle routes in Vietnam

Best things to do in Vietnam

Ha Long Bay cruise

Heavenly dragons descended to the ground, defending Vietnam against a foreign invader. The dragons began to spit jade and jewels that turned into thousands of islands, separating the invaders from the land. The islands emerged from the water and the enemy ships crashed into them. Ha Long literally means “descending dragon”. It is the place where the mother – dragon came down from the sky.

Rocky islands and islets scattered over the bay, overgrown with lush green vegetation, spectacular caves and hundreds of sailing ships maneuvering between the rocks protruding from the water – this picturesque view of Ha Long Bay is the most famous place in Vietnam and one of the greatest natural attractions. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Ha Long Bay is located in the northern part of Vietnam and covers an area of approximately 1,500 square kilometers. It consists of almost 2000 islands and islets with a distinctive shape, of which only every second has its name. Only a few islands are inhabited, some have caves, you can find here mangrove forests and coral reef. Ha Long Bay stays in memory for a long time and makes a huge impression regardless of the weather.

Ha Long Bay is most convenient to visit on an organized trip offered by every tourist agency in Hanoi. Tours last from 1 to several days. In the case of several-day trips, you spend the night either on one of the islands, mainly Cat Ba, or on a boat.

boats in ha long bay in vietnam

Explore mountainious northern Vietnam

Sapa

Sapa is a small town located high in the mountains of northern Vietnam, popular with tourists because of the magnificent views, beautiful scenery of majestic mountain ranges, rice terraces, pleasant climate and idyllic atmosphere. This small town itself is not very interesting, but it is a good starting point for scenic cascading rice terraces and villages scattered around the surrounding mountains that seem to be separated from the world. These villages are inhabited mainly by Hmong people. Both still dress in fabulous outfits traditional for their culture. The majority of them live modestly from the cultivation, selling souvenirs to tourists or acting as a guide in Sapa region.

The surroundings of Sapa offer great conditions for trekking. High mountains, valleys, rice terraces, villages and the opportunity to meet ethnic minorities, attracts people looking for something more than a nice resort and good drinks. The stereotype of the idyllic village is still alive here. Midwives villages in the valleys, surrounded by rice terraces, small boys riding buffalo, geese walking along the river, pigs running between terraces and in the distance grazing horses against the backdrop of majestic mountains.

Many travelers decide to explore the surroundings of Sapa by Motorcycle. It is a great opportunity to experience authentic culture and atmosphere of this place. However, it is better to get prepared for driving on the roads of Vietnam to survive this extreme experience.  You can read useful tips for Driving in Vietnam.

sapa rice fields in north vietnam

Excursion to Hang Son Doong Cave

The cave is located in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. Located in the central part of Vietnam, near the border with Laos, Hang Son Doong cave is considered the largest of the so far discovered in the world. It is so huge that it would hold even a 40-story skyscraper! The cave has a length of about nine kilometers, of which the largest of its chambers occupies half of this length. It is also 150 meters wide and up to 200 meters high. Impressive sizes are not everything. The bottom of the cave has an underground river, and in some places, where the top has collapsed a jungle has entered. The underground world has its own unique ecosystem – tropical vegetation, lakes, beaches, and rivers. The complex is so large that it has its own microclimate.

It is hard to believe that this ancient miracle of nature has been known to mankind for only a few years. The entrance to the cave was discovered in 1991 by a Ho-Khanh living nearby, but professional exploration was done by a team of British cavers only in 2009. Previously, the locals were afraid to enter there because of strange sounds coming from inside. It’s not easy to get to the cave – you have to spend about a day and a half and use climbing equipment. A limited number of people can enter the cave annually. A prerequisite for participation in the expedition is a good physical condition. This is because the trip lasts for a few days and involves over 50 km of trekking! Its cost is $ 3,000 with groups consisting of a maximum of 10 people over the age of 18. Excursions to the cave are organized from February to August.

Explore the Mekong Delta

Here the children learn to paddle before they learn to walk. A labyrinth of canals and small rivers spreading into a great delta, creating many islets on which people live. The Mekong, called the River of Nine Dragons, makes the whole life of the inhabitants revolve around the water. Thanks to Mekong rice is harvested here up to 3 times a year, and the fish are in infinite quantity. Houses, schools, offices, temples stand on the riverbank or often float on the surface of the water. The markets are organized in the middle of the river, and the sale takes place straight from the boat. Land transport almost does not exist – most villages can only be reached by boat. People live on the water in their floating houses, they use water from the river for everyday activities such as cooking, washing, but unfortunately also as a big garbage dump. The Mekong Delta area is an interesting place in terms of culture but it does not impress with aesthetics.

The main magnet attracting travelers is the possibility of swimming a boat in one of the most picturesque regions of Asia, observation of the everyday life of people in the river channels and visits to floating markets. You can go for an expedition on the Mekong Delta individually or on an organized trip. Expeditions usually last from one to several days with the option of sleeping at the homestay, somewhere in a small village in the middle of the Mekong Delta.

If you enjoy small villages, sleeping at the homestay and backpacking Vietnam, you can get some inspiration for your future travel and find out about 6 Backpacking Ideas in Vietnam.

woman in boat mekong delta vietnam

The Cities of Vietnam

Vietnamese cities are completely different than European metropolises. Lots of people, huge traffic on the streets, stalls full of unique products – everything is new and exotic, and it is hard not to be impressed. It’s best to begin exploring the city of Vietnam, starting with the crowded and bustling Hanoi, which lies on the right bank of the Red River and is the capital of this country. The city is the oldest, but not the largest metropolis of Vietnam.

The charming Hoi An is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Hoi An will delight those who are fascinated by buildings erected in the Middle Ages. There is a reason why it is considered a pearl of the architecture of this era. Everything is beautiful, but the largest and majestic sea port is the most impressive. The old capital, Hue also delights with history and architecture with many palaces of temples and imperial mausoleums. In contrast to old cities stays a modern Ho Chi Minh. Tired of walking, tourists can order courses with romantic rickshaws. To escape the bustle of the city, head to the coastal Mui Ne and enjoy miles of white beaches, dunes, and a canyon.

Mui Ne

Mui Ne

Sandy Beaches Once upon a time, the Mui Ne Peninsula was a strip of wild beaches where foreigners were setting up their camps. Times have changed and now the elegant…

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Hue

Hue

The Historical Capital of Vietnam The historical capital of Vietnam, with many monuments and places worth visiting. A city calmer than Hanoi or Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) with its unique…

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Da Lat

Da Lat

European architecture, romantic atmosphere, cool air, phenomenal waterfalls, picturesque lakes and pagodas. The mountainous regions create trekking possibilities, and in the valleys around Da Lat there are villages of various…

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Da Nang

Da Nang

"Da Nang is a city of colors. During the day it is blue-green, like the sea and the Son Tra Peninsula. In the evening it is yellow, dark - blue…

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Hoi An

Hoi An

A tangle of narrow streets with lots of beautiful Chinese architecture, a historic old town, small restaurants, tea rooms, temples, galleries, craft workshops, artists' studios, as well as tourist shops.…

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Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh

French finesse, Chinese minuteness, and Vietnamese obstinacy have created a city that makes you dizzy - Saigon, officially called Ho Chi Minh is a cultural and architectural patchwork. Initially, Saigon…

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Hanoi

Hanoi

A beautiful old town, with colonial architecture marked by Chinese influences, lots of pubs, restaurants, tea rooms, shops, and hotels. Hanoi is the second largest city in Vietnam and its…

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