Best things to see and do in Vietnam whether you’re there for a short break or longer backpacking adventure
Vietnam is a gold pot of new and exciting discoveries for all. Its deserted beaches, natural wonders and bustling cities have long drawn in tourists looking for that dreamy southeast Asian getaway.
Cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Ha Long Bay never fail to wow visitors not to mention Vietnam’s raw and unspoiled climate takes the definition of a tropical Asian adventure to the next level.
But where to even begin planning? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered.
Here are the top 10 places to discover in Vietnam, whether you’re on a whistle stop tour for two weeks or taking your time traveling up the breathtaking coastline. Check out top picks by The Mirror below…
Ho Chi Minh
Originally called Saigon, this city really never sleeps. Placed in the heart of Vietnam’s brutal political history, take a tour around Independence Palace or see the impressive collection of fighter planes outside the War Remnants Museum.
Watch out for the constant stream of motorbikes whizzing down main roads!
This ancient, but charming city will complete your Instagram feed. Peddle through narrow streets, pop into eccentric shops (you can even get custom made suits and dresses if they take your fancy).
Oh, and don’t forget to try the ice cream frozen rolls. Trust us.
There’s plenty to explore in Hoi An so make sure to take a stroll along the canals which lead off into shaded temples and pagodas.
Each night the town holds a spectacular lantern show where hundreds of paper lanterns float along the water front.
Ha Long Bay
Renowned for its towering limestone islands, Ha Long Bay is a must-visit whether you’re opting for a cruise or a kayaking session.
King Kong fans might recognise it as one of the Kong: Skull Island filming locations.
Since 1994, this World Heritage Site continues to bring a plethora of tourists every day so it can get quite busy but it’s still well worth the trip. (In fact, we suggest you get up early if only for the incredible sunrise views).
Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba is the biggest out of all 367 islands to complete the beautiful archipelago of the same name.
With boat cruises on offer all day, relax and soak up the sun on deck, or if you’re looking for a little more adventure, you can hike or even rock climb your way through this UNESCO World Reserve.
This city has a fascinating history (pre-1945 it served as Vietnam’s capital), and nowadays you can step back in time and explore its many attractions uncovering its imperial past.
Highlights include the Citadel surrounded by its impressive moat, The Tomb of Ancient Emperors and Huyen Tran Princess Temple.
Not to mention the fact you can have a blind massage (a project run by the local blind community) then spend time in the herbal steam room to accomplish total zen.
Phong Nha Cave
This stunning natural cave, with turquoise waters is over 400 million years old!
Famous for its striking rock formations and names, such as the ‘Lion’ and the ‘Unicorn’, take a boat winding through the maze of pathways or dare to get a closer view from the specially constructed boardwalk.
Even better, you can swim in one of the natural pools or river banks to cool down.
The capital city’s vibrant atmosphere is known for its reputable nightlife and tasty street food.
But first, get a traditional Vietnamese egg coffee in an old coffee house.
By day, visit Ho Chi Minh’s mighty Mausoleum and the eerie Hoa Lo prison. Walk along Train Street and get lost in the Old Quarter with a spot of shopping. It’s also close to enough to Ha Long Bay to take a day trip.
By night, head to Pub Street for neon-lit, enticing bars and good value drinks.
Cuc Phuong National Park
An easy day trip from Hanoi, this spectacular reserve is home to thousands of plants and animal species in the breathtaking botanical gardens.
Cycling and walking tours are available all year round but December through to April is the best time to come.
Venture further north and you’ll be greeted by the rolling green hills of Sa Pa sure to leave you speechless.
You can opt for dedicated trek packages (usually around one to three days), but there are also plenty of home stays in the region offering personal experiences with locals and a chance to buy handmade crafts. Also, make sure to try the rice wine after dinner.
With the majority of Vietnam’s top locations lining the coast, enjoy some well-deserved R&R soaking up the sun on some of its breathtaking beaches.
Highlights include Star Beach in Phu Quoc, Danang Beach and An Bang Beach near Hoi An to name a few.