Vietnam is a small country situated on the Indochina Peninsula. Located in the southwest region of Asia, this country, along with Laos and Cambodia, is known as Indochina. The name Vietnam came into being in the 2nd century BC, and it means ‘a group of people’ living in the south of China. The geography of the country is as interesting as the culture and the places to visit as the country appears to be in the shape of a dragon. It is popularly called 'the ascending dragon’ with the head of the dragon being the capital of Hanoi and the tail being Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon.Explore Vietnam!
Vietnam was under colonial rule for a long time, starting from the Chinese who ruled for 500 years, followed by the French and the Americans. It was only in the 1970s that Vietnam came to being a free and independent nation. As a result of the external influences from these countries and other factors, such as great philosophers like Confucius, the country’s innate culture is incredibly rich. It is also a very tourist-friendly nation.
So, while you plan your trip to Vietnam, make sure you have enough days with you to soak in all that this intriguing country has to offer. Here are 22 places that you really should try and visit when in Vietnam:
• Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
A UNESCO World Heritage site, this Imperial Citadel has a rich history associated with it. This site served as the political centre of the country for as many as 13 consecutive centuries and was the capital of the country for eight centuries. Relics spanning between the 6th and 20th centuries have also been found on this site, and you are sure to be in awe when you stand there and look around this seat of history.
• Water Puppet Theatre
An interesting and unique concept, the puppet shows in Vietnam are performed over a liquid stage. The Thang Long Puppet Theatre is the most famous one in the country and the entire show, with perfect lighting and reflections of the puppets on the water, will be something you will cherish forever.
• Hoan Kiem Lake
A popular destination for tourists, this lake is extremely serene and pristine. The centre of the lake has the Ngoc Son Temple that is linked to the edge by a bridge. The aesthetic beauty of the lake is something you are sure to appreciate.
• Bach Ma Temple
Built by emperor Ly Thai To in the 11th century, this temple is the oldest temple in the city. The unique white horse that you will see in the temple has an interesting legacy to it. It also contains a shrine to Confucius, which was a later addition in the year 1839.
• Temple Of Literature
Straight out of Vietnamese history, the temple of literature is a complex where the Chinese sage Confucius imparted his teachings to his followers. A huge area, ornate pavilions, gardens, and shrine give this place an amazing aura that you cannot help but feel when visiting.
• Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex
‘Uncle Ho’, the great Vietnamese leader, is preserved and his body on display at this centre. It is generally frequented by locals and tourists all year long.
• National Museum of Vietnamese History
An architectural delight, this museum was built by Ernest Hebrard and used the best of Chinese and French designs. The things on display at the museum will guide you through the history of the country.
• Lotte Tower Observation Deck
A recent addition to the tourist attractions of the city, the Lotte Tower Observation Deck gives you a full view of the city of Hanoi from its 65th floor.
Find out more about tours and activities in Hanoi
• War Remnants Museum
The war between America and Vietnam that carried on for 30 years will be relived when you visit this place. There are tanks, planes, war machines, and written incidences of all that transpired between the armies of both nations.
• Cu Chi Tunnels
This is a tourist spot wherein tourists can go inside the tunnels to see how the soldiers planned, fought, and lived during the war. A guided tour and an informative movie tells you all about the tenacious Viet Cong soldiers’ tactics during the war.
• Bitexco Financial Towers
Standing at 262 metres (859.6 feet) tall and comprising 68 stories, this structure is a refreshing change from the historical places around the city. You can view the whole of the city from its sky deck and enjoy a drink at their refreshing bar, called Alto.
• Notre-Dame Basilica
This is a religious structure built by the French. All the material used for the its construction was imported from France. The statue of the Virgin Mary and the architecture of the place is similar to typical Gallic architecture.
• Saigon Central Post Office
The Post Office came into being in 1891, and since then it has been preserved in its original form. Built in a French colonial architectural style, it was designed by Gustave Eiffel, who was also the architect of the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris.
• Reunification Palace
The Reunification Palace is where North Vietnam proclaimed victory over the Americans. This was also a headquarters during the war and many war strategies were discussed in these halls and rooms.
• Ho Chi Minh City Zoo
A delightful experience when visiting with the family, the zoo houses many Asian animals like elephants, monkeys, hippos, tigers, and exotic reptiles.
Find out more about tours and activities in Ho Chi Minh City
• Hue Citadel
The citadel complex is huge, comprising four citadels that create the city, namely Hoang Thanh (Imperial City), Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Purple City), Dai Noi (Inner City), and Tran Binh Dai (ancient city). The complex reveals many historic perspectives and is a treat to experience.
• Emperor Tombs
Since the city has witnessed many dynasties, there are a number of tombs along the Perfume River. These include the tombs of Minh Mang, Khai Dinh, Tu Duc, Dong Khanh, and many more.
Thien Mu Pagoda is the most famous of all Hue’s pagodas, with its octagonal structure and a height of 21 metres (68.9 feet). Other pagodas like Tu Dam, Tu Hieu, and Huyen Khong are also worth visiting when in Hue.
Find out more about tours and activities in Hue
• Japanese Covered Bridge
This bridge dates back to the 18th century when the Japanese created it to gain access to the Chinese quarters. It is an absolute delight to look at it in its original form.
• Museum of Trade Ceramics
This museum is the house of the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese ceramics that have been dug up during archaeological digs. Each piece is unique to its nationality.
• My Son Sanctuary
This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is a remnant of the Champa civilization that was prevalent in south Vietnam between the 2nd and 17th centuries. The entire site has many temples of Hindu Gods, most noticeably those dedicated to Shiva.
• An Bang Beach
A stunning beach in Hoi An, this beach provides you with good views of the Marble Mountains, Da Nang Bay, Da Nang, and Cham Island. It also gives you the option of indulging in various activities like swimming, paddle-boarding, and surfing.
• Cua Dai Beach
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Cua Dai Beach is a 3 kilometres-long (1.9-mile-long) beach with crystal clear water and peaceful waves, which make it safe for swimming.
Find out more about tours and activities in Hoi An
• Nha Trang Beach
The pure turquoise calm waters and a 6-kilometre-long (3.7-mile-long) beach of golden sand translates into absolute relaxation and fun. Indulge in water sports or swimming and enjoy the seafood and the nightlife along the coast.
• Buddha Statue
This huge white Buddha sitting on a lotus blossom can be seen from all parts of the city. This structure is 14 metres (45.9 feet) high and has 152 stone steps leading up to it.
• Po Nagar Cham Towers
A temple built between the 7th and 12th centuries, you can still see Cham, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Buddhist devotees using it for worship. Originally, the temple complex had seven or eight towers, but only four towers remain today.
• Long Son Pagoda
A typical pagoda built in the 19th century, it has mosaic dragons, glass and ceramic ornamentation, and many modern structures in the main sanctuary of the pagoda. It is definitely worth a look when in this beach city.
Find out more about tours and activities in Nha Trang
• Lan Ha Bay
With 300 or so limestone islands, Lan Ha is a beautiful and peaceful bay. Here you can see around 200 species of fish, 400 species of arthropods, 500 species of molluscs, and both soft and hard coral in the water. Go snorkelling in these waters and enjoy the sea life.
• Cat Co Cove
Cat Co Cove has three beaches, 1, 2, and 3, each offering a host of activities like kayaking, windsurfing etc.
• Cat Ba National Park
Cat Ba National Park is home to the golden-headed langur and many other species of wildlife. When in this city, ensure you set aside a whole day for enjoying the nature that this national park has to offer.
• Cannon Fort
Cannon Fort has tunnels and guns from World War II. Apart from the historical significance, it serves as the best view point of the city.
• Hospital Cave
Built between 1963 to 65, this three-storey structure has 17 rooms and served as a secret bomb-proof hospital during the War in Vietnam.
Find out more about tours and activities in Halong Bay
7. Cat Ba Archipelago
8. Phan Thiet
9. Ha Long
Find out more about tours and activities in Sapa
11. Can Tho
• Cai Rang Floating Market
This is the biggest floating market in this region. A wholesale market, early morning is the best time to steal some deals here.
• Ho Chi Minh Statue
The majestic statue of Vietnam’s very own ‘Uncle Ho’, surrounded by hammer and sickle flags, is a must-see attraction.
• Bang Lang
This magnificent bird sanctuary is home to storks and egrets aplenty. Enjoy the 1.3-hectare (3.2-acre) expanse of the area and do some bird watching.
• Ong Temple
Facing the Can Tho River and housed in Guangzhou Assembly Hall, this is a Chinese temple built in the 19th century. The stories and legacies associated with the temple are enjoyable and somewhat entertaining.
12. Phu Quoc Island
• Long Beach
Long Beach stretches the entire length of the island up to the An Thoi Port. Along the beaches, you can get yourself drinks and food and indulge in watersports or just put out your towels and relax in the sunshine.
• Phu Quoc National Park
A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this park occupies a major part of the island. Perfect for biking trails and enjoying nature in its true form, it is a safe national park.
• Fish Sauce Factory
An interesting destination to go to while on this quaint island, the distillery of Nuoc Mam Hung Thanh is the largest fish sauce maker in the area. The huge vats in which the sauce is kept and the process of preparation are intriguing. A major portion of this sauce is exported to Japan, North America, and Europe.
• Coi Nguon Museum
A private museum, this is truly Vietnamese as opposed to the other museums that house exhibits from diverse cultures. Get a slice of ancient and modern Vietnamese life when you visit this place.
13. Vung Tau
14. Da Nang
15. Ha Tien
• Du Hang Pagoda
Built and rebuilt over the passage of the last three centuries, this pagoda showcases Vietnamese architecture and sculpture at its best.
• Hai Phong Museum
The history of the entire city is captured in this small no-frills museum. The garden is an added attraction that adds more than just history to the museum.
17. Mui Ne
18. Qui Nhon
19. Cat Tien National Park
Cat Tien National Park offers hiking, mountain biking, and bird watching, but there is a limit to the number of visitors it can accommodate. So, before you plan your trip, ensure you book as far in advance as possible.
20. Mong Cai
The Con Dao Islands were historically known as the Devil Islands. The name came from the fact that the French rulers housed prisoners of war there. Off the coast of Vietnam, the 16 islands have moved on from their grim past, and visitors flock there for leisure and relaxation.
The beaches are beautiful and a variety of watersports are offered. These include diving and snorkeling the crystal waters and reefs. These days, resorts ringed by tropical forest provide accommodation and excursion tours of the area. Visitors may visit the buildings of the prison to catch up on some of the history of the islands.
Tam Coc is in the northern region of Vietnam. It’s an ideal destination for a day tour out of Hanoi. Tam Coc literally means Three Caves, and you will find them in a beautiful landscape. Travel past limestone cliffs and rice fields separated by attractive rivers. Greenery is all around as you journey to the caves. The caves, known as Hang Cả, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba, are a must-do for photo opportunities.
There are tours available that take you out to the caves by boat. There, you will find vendors in their floating shops. Try some local cuisine or pick up a memento of your visit.
Vietnam is a perfect combination of natural beauty and historical legacies
Seldom will you find a place so rich in heritage and so culturally diverse, yet modern enough to cater to tourists looking for a complete package. Take a good amount of time for your Vietnam vacation and make the most of your trip by absorbing all the history, the natural beauty, and the multitude of activities that this amazing country has to offer.
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