Pretty Places in Vietnam that Should be on Your Bucket List in 2023
Last Updated on January 31, 2023
If you are planning a trip to Vietnam and are wondering what are the best places to visit in Vietnam, here are some of the most beautiful destinations in Vietnam to add to your itinerary.
From natural landmarks to historic sights, there are plenty of pretty places in Vietnam that will delight every type of traveler. Take a cruise in the famous Ha Long Bay, explore the ancient city of Hue, go on a motorbike adventure in Ha Giang, or visit traditional villages in Kon Tum, wherever you go you’ll find that Vietnam is full of hidden gems.
Travel tip – Before any international trip, make sure to get travel insurance and check visa requirements.
Related – Everything you need to know before a trip to Vietnam
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An Giang Province
By Marya from The Beau Traveler
An Giang Province may not be the most popular destination in Vietnam for international travelers, but the province that lies in the Mekong Delta is certainly worth visiting. Situated not so far from the Vietnam-Cambodia border, it is an ideal spot to stop by for those planning to travel around Indochina.
There are at least two cities in An Giang Province that are popular with tourists, including Chau Doc and Long Xuyen City. From Ho Chi Minh City, it is relatively easy to get to both cities as there are a few bus options that can get you there in around 5-6 hours.
From Chau Doc town square, take a ferry boat to Cham Village, the home to Muslim minorities in Vietnam. Unlike the other regions in Vietnam, you can experience a strong Muslim culture and customs and visit Mubarak Mosque, the oldest mosque in Vietnam.
Tra Su Cajuput Forest and Bird Sanctuary is also a must-visit spot in An Giang Province for nature lovers. It is a protected and conserved Melaleuca Forest in Tinh Bien District, located around 20 kilometers from Chau Doc town. It is also home to a large variety of birds and wildlife, which makes it an excellent spot for bird-watching.
Hostel Đặng Lợi in Chau Doc town square is suitable for budget travelers planning to stop by An Giang Province in Vietnam. Victoria Chau Doc Hotel is perfect for travelers looking for something a bit more comfortable, the hotel features stunning river views and an outdoor pool.
Phu Quoc Island
By Isabelle from Move To Vietnam
Phu Quoc Island is located in the south of Vietnam right at the border between Cambodia and Vietnam. It can be reached by taking a 6-hour bus then an hour ferry from Ho Chi Minh City or a direct 35-minute flight. From Hanoi, it takes about a 2.5-hour plane ride.
There are many beautiful attractions in Phu Quoc. It is known as one of the best summer destinations in the country. It’s a great spot for snorkeling, diving, and your basic beach holiday. It also has two water parks; one on the northern part of the island and the other is in a smaller island in the south which can only be reached by cable car.
You can book a boat tour that will take you to 3-4 islands and spots where you can see marine creatures and coral reefs. Inland, you can visit the starfish beach where the starfish are enjoying their time underwater at low tide. You are not allowed to touch them unless they are way out on the shore and need help to be brought back into the water.
There is also the Phu Quoc Prison which educates about the dark history of the Vietnam War. There is no entrance fee and it gets quite busy in the morning or late afternoon. It’s best to come around noon so you can take your time learning all about the prison and the war.
For a resort, Sol by Melia is really great but it’s not within walking distance to other establishments. While for mid-range, Coral Bay is located right in the popular area.
Imperial City of Hue
By Jonny from Faraway Lands
Hue is one of the best cities to visit for the cultural heritage of Vietnam, and that is mainly due to the Imperial City of Hue, which was the old imperial capital of the country.
The imperial city is located within the old walls of the citadel and is a must-visit if you love historical places to visit when traveling.
Within the imperial city complex itself, which is surrounded by a large water moat, there is also a “city within a city”, the Purple Forbidden City, which is one of the best palaces in Asia to visit.
Aside from the Purple Forbidden City, there are other numerous buildings to visit, including historic temples, gardens, and pavilions, and the main gates to each area are impressive in themselves. You can visit everything by yourself or hire a local guide to learn more about the significance and history of each place.
The modern city of Hue outside the old city has other historical sites to see around it, but the imperial city is the main reason to visit.
It’s easy to get to Hue as it’s connected by train and bus to other parts of Vietnam, in particular Da Nang City, which is only a few hours away.
A good option for a place to stay in Hue is the Orchid Hotel, budget-friendly, the rooms are comfortable and clean and breakfast is included. Backpackers can check out the Bon Ami Hostel, one of the top-rated hostels in Hue.
Top tip: Rent a motorbike in Da Nang and ride to Hue as the journey has been described as one of the best motorbike journeys in the country for the scenery.
Ho Chi Minh City
By Jessica from Up Rooted Traveler
With a population of almost 9 million people, Ho Chi Minh City is the biggest city (at least, in terms of its enormous population) in Vietnam and is a fascinating mix of colonial buildings, centuries-old shrines, and new-glittering skyscrapers.
One of the most unique aspects of HCMC- sometimes still called “Saigon” by locals – is how young it is; in fact, the majority of its residents are under 35, which is evidenced by aspects of the city, like its burgeoning craft beer scene or its thriving nightlife.
With the vast array of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, you can certainly get a taste of both the young and the old. For example, check out the Phạm Ngũ Lã area, HCMC’s version of the famed Khao San Road, with a hearty mixture of touristy nightclubs, local street vendors hawking pho and tao pho (HCMC is a great place to go on a street food tour!), and funky old bars (don’t miss La Vang Café).
If you want to experience some of its older parts, consider exploring the temples sprinkled throughout the city, like the Jade Emperor Pagoda, constructed in the early 20th century by Cantonese Buddhists, or the Thien Hau Temple, a Chinese-style pagoda dedicated to a sea goddess.
No matter what you do, don’t leave without stopping by a rooftop bar, like Chill Skybar or Social Club Rooftop, for a drink at sunset to watch the lights of the sprawling city buzz to life- it’s hard to appreciate how massive it is without a birds’ eye perspective.
Lots of hotels in HCMC, like Hotel des Arts Saigon, have killer rooftop pools to enjoy the cityscape below as well – plus the pool will help you cool down under the steamy Vietnamese sun!
Related – Day Trip from Ho Chi Minh: Visiting a Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh
By Pafoua from Her Wanderful World
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. The city is rich in history and culture, with beautiful architecture and temples dating back to the 11th century.
Whether you’re visiting Vietnam for the first time or have been to the country before, Hanoi is definitely one of the best destinations to visit in Vietnam. There are also plenty of things to do in Hanoi, from exploring the lively markets and restaurants to visiting historical sites and museums.
One of the best things to do in Hanoi is to take a cruise on the famous Halong Bay. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist attractions, and for good reason. The bay is dotted with over 1,600 islands, many of which are uninhabited and covered in lush vegetation.
Another great thing to do in Hanoi is to explore the Old Quarter, also known as the 36 Streets, which is the heart of the city. You can also explore this area by bike or on foot, taking in all of its charming architecture and bustling street markets.
In the Old Quarter, you can see a traditional water puppet show, take a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, or even book a walking food tour. When in Hanoi, you need to try the banh mi sandwich at Banh Mi 25, which is a food stand with recommended by Lonely Planet and rated 4.5 on Tripadvisor.
Another favorite food stall in the Old Quarter is called King Roti, which is a breakfast place with the most delicious coffee buns.
While you can stay anywhere in Hanoi, it’s best to book a place in the Old Quarter so you’ll be within walking distance of the markets and sites to see. Check out the Hanoi Esplendor Hotel and Spa, which is a boutique hotel with a friendly staff! Backpackers can check out the Hanoi EcoStay, for a budget-friendly, top-rated hostel.
By Sarah from A Social Nomad
Mui Ne, just a few hours by bus from Ho Chi Minh City, is a great place for relaxing and chilling out thanks to its long stretch of beach, a great market, and some interesting things to see.
There is a fabulous cooking school here, so if you’re up for learning to cook Vietnamese food, this is the place for you.
The steady winds that you get here make it a great place for kitesurfing and windsurfing.
Mui Ne is however most famous for its inland sand dunes, the Red Dunes in Mui Ne and the White Dunes about 24 km away. The Red Dunes are a great place to watch the sunset, while the white dunes are enormous. Don’t expect much desert-style quiet though, there are plenty of vendors here wanting to rent you plastic sleds so you can speed down the dunes.
Mui Ne has a wide range of accommodation, from the luxury beach resort to the budget hostel or homestay, but the city excels in mid-range accommodation. Don’t let the La Marina Boutique Hotel and Spa name put you off, this is an excellently priced place to stay with some fabulous amenities.
The tofu with lemongrass and chili from the very scruffy-looking Lam Tong restaurant, right on the beach, is legendary. Service is also legendarily bad, so be sure to order a drink on the way to a table and sit as close to the beach as you can.
Bai Tu Long Bay
By Sara from Travel A-Broads
Thought to be where a mother dragon and her offspring made their home after saving Vietnam from an invasion, Bai Tu Long Bay is a hidden gem located northeast of the more popular, and thus more crowded, Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.
Although it shares similar geological characteristics with Ha Long Bay, including its giant limestone karsts and peaceful green waters, much of this area is still undiscovered and has seen very little tourist development.
Bai Tu Long Bay is made up of hundreds of islands and islets and is home to a variety of ecosystems like mangroves, coral reefs and tropical forests. The best way to explore the area is by joining an overnight tour on a traditional wooden boat.
Renea Cruises, as well as many other cruise operators in the area, will provide round-trip transportation to and from guests’ hotels in Hanoi, which is about four hours away. They will also plan lots of fun activities to ensure guests make the most of their experience here.
Some activities include:
- Kayaking around the incredible rock formations and calm, clear waters.
- A visit to Cap La Island, an unspoiled beach with beautiful, white sand.
- A tour through Thien Canh Son Cave, the largest and most famous cave in the area.
- A sunset party on the top deck of the boat.
An overnight booking with Renea Cruises also includes an English-speaking guide, four authentic Vietnamese meals, a cooking demonstration, a Tai Chi class, and more.
A visit to Bai Tu Long Bay is a must during any trip to Vietnam!
Nicknamed the Terrestrial Ha Long Bay, Ninh Binh is one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam. Surrounded by paddy fields, limestone rock formations, and swirling canals, there are plenty of things to see in Ninh Binh.
An incredible thing to experience is a boat ride in Tam Coc, paddling through stunning scenery and stopping at islets to visit temples and pagodas – you can even visit a King Kong movie set there! Try to go early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds.
While in Ninh Binh, you should also hike to Mua Cave and its temples to get an amazing panoramic view of the area. For some history, visit the ancient capital of Hoa Lu and then head to nearby Tuyet Tinh Coc where a small tunnel will open up to yet again incredible scenery. You can walk around the lake and then hike to the Wall Gate for the views.
Don’t miss one of the biggest temples in Vietnam, the Bai Dinh Pagoda. Build on several levels, check out the thousands of Buddhas, and enjoy the view from the top.
If you have more time, you can also plan a day trip to nearby Cuc Phuong National Park to hike and try to spot wildlife.
You can visit Ninh Binh on a day trip from Hanoi on your own or via a tour, but it’s recommended to stay for at least one night to have time to explore everything and enjoy the experience. If you are not taking a tour, you can rent a bike to get from one place to another.
Most travelers stay in Tam Coc village (way better than staying in Ninh Binh City). There you can enjoy nature and relax, surrounded by the region’s peaceful scenery. A good accommodation option is the Green Mountain Homestay, perfect for both backpackers and people looking for a certain level of comfort. If you want to splurge, check out Tam Coc Garden Resort.
Ha Giang Loop
Considered as one of the best road trip in the world, the Ha Giang Province in Northern Vietnam is a place like no other, home to some of the prettiest landscape in the country. Featuring breathtaking scenery and a rich cultural life, the province has a lot to offer to travelers looking for some adventure.
The loop starts in Ha Giang City, where you can rent a bike or hire a driver, and takes around 3-4 days to complete, with stunning landscape and traditional villages on the way.
Ha Giang Province is home to many ethnic tribes and discovering their ways of life is something to experience. Try to be there during one of the market days to really witness local lifestyle, sample some tasty treats, and take in the vibrant atmosphere.
Part of the province is a UNESCO protected area, with millennium-old rock formations. Lined with paddy fields, rivers, and limestone rocks, the road features impressive viewpoints at every corner.
Famous for its historic town, Hoi An is a beautiful destination in Vietnam you can’t miss. Its traditional architecture and restored buildings make it the perfect place to spend a few day exploring. There you’ll find many markets, old houses, temples, and so on, you can visit. You’ll need to buy a pass (almost every shop in the city sell them) that will let you access edifices of your choosing.
Hoi An is also a great place to take a cooking class or a lantern making class.
There is plenty of exploring to do outside the city as well. Many companies offer bicycle tours of the countryside that blends visits to traditional villages and natural sights.
If you like ruins, don’t miss the nearby My Son UNESCO site. An ancient Cham capital.
If you can plan your trip to be there during a full-moon, even better, as the city is famed for its lantern festival that takes place every full moon and where thousands of lanterns are released at night. A unique thing to experience.
Backpackers looking for a social and comfortable hostel will love staying at the Bed Station Hostel & Pool Bar. For something a bit more comfortable, check out the Allegro Hoi An Hotel – perfect for couples and families alike.
To experience a different side of Vietnam, make sure to add Kon Tum to your itinerary. Usually skipped by travelers, Kon Tum has a lot to offer to travelers who make the trip to this small town in Central Vietnam.
There you can experience life from an ethnic minority point of view, stay at a local’s home in one of the many nearby villages. The culture is vibrant and unique and, being able to be part of it, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can check out the Kontum Home Sweet Homestay in the Dakbla Commune or the Lang Ho Homestay.
Some of the best villages to visit around Kon Tum include Kon Harachot, Kon Tum Konam, Kon Tum Kopong, Plei Thongia, Kon Hongo, Kon Kotu.
It is recommended to hire a guide for the day, so they can translate and explain about the culture and lifestyle of the people living in the villages. Make sure to check out the traditional communal houses (don’t go inside without being invited). You can also visit the wooden colonial church in the city.
Kon Tum is also a great destination for people who like nature and hiking, as there is plenty to explore, especially if you head to Chu Mom Ray National Park.
By Karla from Colorful Journey
Phong Nha is a must-see destination in Vietnam for adventurers. This national park is easily accessible and is located in Vietnam’s Northern Central Region.
There are many things to do in Phong Nha, but exploring the caves is the most popular activity. The world’s largest cave, Son Doong, and the famous Tu Lan Cave System are both located here. If you want to visit the bigger caves, you’ll need to book a tour with Oxalis because they own the rights to visit them. Top Tip: Oxalis cave expeditions sell out quickly, so reserve your spot early.
Smaller caves, such as Phong Nha Cave and Tien Son Cave, are good alternatives if you don’t have much time to explore. Both of these caves can be visited in a day.
If cave exploration isn’t your thing, rent a bicycle and ride through the valleys instead. Phong Nha is a beautiful and vibrant place, except for the annual flooding that occurs between September and November. The view of the karst mountains in the middle of endless ricefields is breathtaking, and the main town is located right on the river.
Phong Nha offers a wide range of homestay options at various price levels. Carambola Bungalow is an excellent place to stay near the river in a quieter part of town.
Other articles to help you plan your trip:
- Best beaches to visit in Southeast Asia
- Ethical places in SE Asia to see wildlife
- Visiting a Buddhist temple – everything you need to know
- Travel essentials to save space in your luggage
- Backpacking must-haves
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