Hanoi is the capital city, and it’s here that many people begin their travels. But then it’s impossible to overlook Ho Chi Minh City in the south, a surprisingly cosmopolitan destination comparable to Bangkok. But outside the cities is where the real magic begins. Vietnam borders Cambodia and Laos, and is surrounded by the mountains in the west and by the South China Sea. Then there’s the Red River and the Mekong, where you’ll get in touch with real Vietnamese culture in the paddy fields and in the countryside.
Whether you’re here for a cultural journey, a beach vacation, or a party trip (or maybe all three!), Vietnam won’t disappoint. Have you booked your flight yet?
Places to Visit in Vietnam
- Ho Chi Minh City
- Mekong Delta
- Nha Trang
- Hoi An
- Ha Long Bay
Unique Things to See and Do in Vietnam
- Take a cruise through Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Visit Hanoi’s Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
- Visit Hoi An’s ancient town
- See Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum
- Walk through the Cu Chi Tunnels
- See My Son Sanctuary
- Spend time at the War Remnants Museum
- Camp in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Despite its war-torn past, Vietnam is now a peaceful society that graciously welcomes visitors and travellers from all backgrounds. You’ll find the atmosphere here is light-hearted and warm, and the hospitality is fabulous.
Vietnam is a BIG country, with 77 million people. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are the two largest cities, but most of the population actually lives in the rural areas. Naturally, Vietnamese is the dominant language, but in most touristy places you can get by with English.
This nation also has a fascinating history, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice to not learn some of it. Vietnam’s cities are where much of the history is showcased in their architecture. The city of Hue, for example, was once the capital of the Nguyen dynasty and many parts of it are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most notable is the stunning citadel.
French colonialists also left behind much architecture, especially in Hanoi, Hue, and Saigon. You might even find some American-style buildings in Southern Vietnam.
Food is another exceptional bit of Vietnamese cultural, and you may already be familiar with much of it! Rice is the staple, and families tend to eat together while sharing dishes. Main dishes often include sautéed vegetables, tofu, a canh soup of seafood broth and vegetables, and different varieties of meat. In the cities, people tend to eat at side-street stalls or small shops that specialize in one dish. The most popular is pho, a noodle soup with a clear meat broth. Some people even consider this the national dish!
Did you know…?
Vietnam is the largest exporter of cashews in the world, and the second largest exporter of rice.
Did you ALSO know…?
Ten million motor bikes travel on the roads of Vietnam every day.
Getting around Vietnam
Getting around Vietnam can be tricky at times, but the roads are in reasonably good shape. Buses are frequent and affordable, but often cramped and uncomfortable. For long journeys, trains offer comfortable sleeping berths. You can also opt to fly, as there are many domestic airlines offering affordable routes.
If you feel safer on a tourist coach moving between Vietnam’s destinations, then by all means splurge on the extra expense. It also pays to purchase upper class tickets, as lower class tickets often end up with some questionable accommodations.
Best time of year to travel to Vietnam
Here’s a little known secret: the best time to visit Vietnam is actually in the low season! This is between April to June, and September to November. The weather is always favorable, and things just aren’t as busy. However, keep a keen eye out for typhoon warnings. They can be present along the central and northern coastline until November.
The shoulder season, between December and March, is also a good time to visit. However, during the Tet festival, prices will rise quite a bit. It tends to get cold in the north, but blue skies and warm temperatures are the norm. High season is between July and August, and prices nearly double during this time. This is also the most hot and humid time of year.
Ready to plan your visit to Vietnam? Check out these popular guides and trips.