Though Vietnam looks small on the map, you could easily spend weeks exploring this fascinating country. From the jagged mountains in the north to the tropical beaches in the south and all of the history and culture, Vietnam is such a great place you can't miss.
Ha Long Bay
Not only is Ha Long Bay a spectacular collection of 2,000 karst outcrops, but this natural wonder is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore these natural wonders and discover the limestone islands that sit in the bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, where the views are best seen from a boat cruising on the waters. Go on an overnight tour to see the views change throughout the day or hop on a kayak and explore the mammoth caverns with stalagmites and stalactites.
If you only have time to visit a few places in Vietnam, make Hoi An be one of them. The first time you walk out by the river in the Ancient Town is a special moment. It’s exactly as captivating as the pictures show, and it gets even more beautiful at night because of all the lanterns. This town is also home to hundreds of professional tailors, so spend a couple of days and have a nice dress or suit made just for you.
Related: A day to experience the glorious Hoi An
Hanoi is Vietnam’s buzzing capital, where the sound of motorbikes and street vendors are a constant presence. The Old Quarter showcases businesses as they did hundreds of years ago, offering a glimpse into the local life. The open-air museum features historic Asian and French colonial architecture, where you can take a stroll down its scenic tree-lined streets, browse the busy markets and visit the city’s collection of excellent museums. Take a break to see prominent sites like the Presidential Palace and Saint Joseph Cathedral.
Vietnam’s largest island, Phu Quoc is a quiet beach getaway where you can enjoy the tropical ambiance, alluring shoreline and forested hills reserved as a national park. If you can peel yourself away from the sands there are guided tours to explore the backcountry to see pepper farms and factories processing anchovies for the country’s famous fish sauce. Soak up the sunshine along the palm-fringed beaches of Sao, Bai Truong and Bai Khem or go on a kayaking excursion through the bays.
Nicknamed “Vietnam’s Rice Basket”, the Mekong Delta is an agricultural region made fertile by the maze of waterways fed by the Mekong River. It is incredibly lush with paddy field vistas and mangroves that are full of local life, where you’ll discover colorful floating markets, sugar cane groves and quaint villages that you can explore on guided tours. More than half of the rice comes from the Mekong Delta, and the best way to see its beauty is by boat.
This city was once the capital of imperial Vietnam, and much of its rich history still remains. The centerpiece is the Citadel and the enclosed Imperial City. Much of it was destroyed by American bombers during the war, but plenty remains to give you an idea of the former splendor. Hue is also famous for its spicy cuisine, so be sure to check some local versions of popular Vietnamese dishes.
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park
Unless you’re making your way the whole length of Vietnam, this national park is pretty far out of the way. But those who do make the effort to get here will be rewarded with some of the most unique experiences in all of Vietnam. This park is famous for its caves and even has the largest in the world by volume.
Those looking for some fun in the sun should head to Nha Trang, located on one of Asia’s most beautiful bays off the coast of South Central Vietnam. It is a popular seaside resort city where you’ll find picturesque mountains, beaches and lush islands surrounding its three miles of golden sands. Spend your days lounging under the palm trees, swimming in the waters, walking along the promenade and indulging in the fresh seafood offerings. The kids will enjoy the area’s collection of amusement and water park attractions.