Table of Contents
1. Why choosing great destinations play an important role in your Vietnam trip?
Choosing great destinations (or picking your own best places to visit in Vietnam) is crucial to the success of your Vietnam trip for several compelling reasons:
Maximizing Your Experience: Vietnam is a diverse country with a wide range of attractions, each offering a unique experience. By selecting great destinations, you ensure that you get the most out of your trip by visiting places that align with your interests and preferences.
Cultural and Historical Significance: Vietnam is steeped in history and culture. Great destinations often have historical and cultural significance, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the country. For example, visiting cities like Hanoi, Hue, or Hoi An provides insights into Vietnam’s history and traditions.
Natural Beauty: Vietnam boasts stunning natural landscapes, from the lush rice terraces of Sapa to the pristine beaches of Phu Quoc. Choosing great destinations allows you to witness the country’s natural beauty firsthand, providing opportunities for relaxation, adventure, and awe-inspiring moments.
Adventure and Exploration: If you’re an adventure seeker, selecting the right destinations is essential. Vietnam offers trekking, caving, water sports, and motorbike tours in various regions. Picking destinations that cater to your preferred activities ensures an exhilarating experience.
Optimizing Your Itinerary: A well-planned itinerary can make your trip more efficient and enjoyable. By choosing great destinations strategically, you can create a balanced itinerary that minimizes travel time between locations and maximizes your time spent exploring and experiencing.
Culinary Delights: Vietnamese cuisine is renowned worldwide for its flavors and variety. Different regions offer distinct dishes and culinary experiences. By selecting destinations known for their local specialties, you can savor authentic Vietnamese cuisine at its best.
Avoiding Overwhelm: Vietnam can be overwhelming due to its size and diversity. Choosing great destinations helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed by options. It allows you to focus your research and plan activities in advance, reducing stress during your trip.
Memorable Moments: Great destinations often lead to memorable moments. Whether it’s witnessing a stunning sunset over Halong Bay, exploring the ancient streets of Hoi An, or interacting with local hill tribes in Sapa, these experiences create lasting memories that enrich your travel experience.
Safety and Comfort: Some destinations may be more suitable for certain types of travelers or seasons. Considering factors like weather, safety, and infrastructure when choosing destinations ensures a comfortable and enjoyable journey.
Local Connections: Certain destinations provide opportunities to connect with locals and gain insights into their way of life. These interactions can be incredibly enriching and provide a deeper understanding of Vietnam’s culture and society.
However, according to our post – Vietnam Travel Itinerary: Top #1 Guide You Must Read, it is not easy to choose your own best places to visit in Vietnam. Vietnam is a “long” country which is 1650km straight line from north to south, and we do have some facts that may surprise you:
- There are 54 different ethnics in Vietnam
- There are more than 63 cities & provinces in Vietnam, not only the famous cities like Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Hoi An, Phu Quoc,… that international tourists usually discuss
- There are 10000+ different authentic Vietnamese dishes (no, we don’t count Western food in this). 1000+ of those foods are listed in the top record of the world!
What do these numbers mean? They are telling you that you will lose your way of finding your own best places to visit in Vietnam.
2. Things you must know before reading our "Best places to visit in Vietnam" blog
Before you continue reading this post, there are some notes that we would love you to know in advance, so that you can understand and browse this blog better:
- Post length: “Best Places To Visit In Vietnam? Ranking All Destinations!” is not like other Vietnam destination blogs that you can easily find on Google. We don’t just pick places to visit in Vietnam out of nowhere and list them here. In this blog, we will explain each place, and its pros and cons so that you can choose the right ones. Therefore, this blog will be quite long. In case you want quick navigation, please use our TABLE OF CONTENTS at the beginning of this post.
- Categorizing & links: As we have claimed in the previous part of this blog, there are no really “Best places to visit in Vietnam”. Each destination will be suitable for each type of traveler, and what you are looking for. That’s why we will categorize all of the destinations in Vietnam so that you can choose. Each of the places will be explained in detail in their own post. So if you are interested in a specific place, please click the link below it to access.
- Beyond destinations: finding the best places to visit in Vietnam is not the only part of planning a Vietnam trip. There will be more things that you must know before traveling to Vietnam. Besides this blog, you may want to visit our Vietnam Travel Itinerary: Top #1 Guide You Must Read to have all of the insights.
3. Top 30 most popular destinations in Vietnam
3.1. Top 10 most popular destinations in Northern Vietnam
Northern Vietnam is known for its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and historical sites. Here are the top 10 best places to visit in Northern Vietnam:
Hanoi: The capital city of Vietnam is a bustling metropolis with a rich history. Explore the Old Quarter, visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and take in the unique blend of French colonial architecture and Vietnamese culture.
Halong Bay: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its emerald waters and thousands of limestone karsts and islets. A cruise on Halong Bay is a must to witness its breathtaking beauty.
Sapa: Located in the Hoàng Liên Son Mountains, Sapa is known for its stunning terraced rice fields, lush landscapes, and vibrant hill-tribe communities. Trekking in the region offers unforgettable views.
Ninh Binh: Often referred to as “Halong Bay on Land,” Ninh Binh features limestone karst formations, rice paddies, and ancient temples. Don’t miss a boat ride through Trang An or Tam Coc.
Mai Chau: This serene valley is known for its traditional stilt houses and offers opportunities for trekking, cycling, and experiencing the culture of the Thai ethnic minority.
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital: Explore the historic remnants of Vietnam’s ancient capital, including temples dedicated to Dinh and Le Dynasties, and learn about the country’s early history.
Cuc Phuong National Park: The oldest national park in Vietnam is home to diverse flora and fauna. Trekking and exploring the park’s caves and wildlife are popular activities.
Lao Cai: Known for its colorful ethnic markets, Lao Cai is a great place to experience the vibrant culture of the Flower Hmong people. Visit on a Sunday to catch the bustling ethnic markets.
Hai Phong: This coastal city is a gateway to Cat Ba Island and has its own attractions, including the historic Du Hang Pagoda and vibrant street food scenes.
Ba Be National Park: Located in Bac Kan Province, this national park is known for its scenic lakes, lush forests, and ethnic villages. Boat trips on Ba Be Lake are a highlight.
3.2. Top 10 most popular destinations in Central Vietnam
Central Vietnam (including the Central Highlands, and Central-South Coastal Areas of Vietnam) offers a wide range of attractions and experiences. This area is the largest region in Vietnam. Here are the top 10 places to visit in these regions:
- Hue: Known as the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue is a city steeped in history. The Imperial City, a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts ancient palaces, temples, and fortifications. Explore the Perfume River, visit Thien Mu Pagoda, and take in the historic ambiance.
- Hoi An: This picturesque town is famous for its well-preserved ancient architecture, lantern-lit streets, and vibrant atmosphere. Explore the charming Old Town, visit the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge, and enjoy delicious Vietnamese cuisine. Hoi An is also known for its tailor shops and riverside dining.
- Da Nang: Visit the Marble Mountains, My Son, and Bana Hills with Golden Hand Bridge, enjoy beautiful beaches, and explore the modern city with its dynamic atmosphere.
- Cham Islands: This group of islands near Hoi An is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It offers pristine beaches, snorkeling opportunities, and a glimpse into traditional fishing communities.
- Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park: This UNESCO-listed national park is famous for its impressive karst landscapes and extensive cave systems, including the world’s largest cave, Son Doong. You can take guided tours to explore some of the accessible caves like Phong Nha Cave and Paradise Cave.
- Quang Binh Province: Besides Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh offers other attractions like Nhat Le Beach and Quang Phu Sand Dunes.
- Quy Nhon: A coastal city with beautiful beaches and a relaxed atmosphere. It’s a great place to unwind and enjoy the sun and sea. Don’t miss the Thap Doi Cham Towers, which are ancient Hindu temples.
- Dalat: Known as the “City of Eternal Spring,” Dalat offers a pleasant climate, beautiful gardens, and picturesque landscapes.
- Nha Trang: Nha Trang is one of Vietnam’s most popular beach destinations, known for its long stretches of sandy beaches, clear waters, and vibrant nightlife. It offers a wide range of water activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, and boat tours. The city also has a variety of restaurants and bars.
- Mui Ne: Mui Ne, located in the south-central coast of Vietnam, is known for its unique landscape with red and white sand dunes. While it may not have the same pristine beaches as some other destinations, it’s a kiteboarding and windsurfing hotspot due to its strong winds.
3.3. Top 10 most popular destinations in Southern Vietnam
Southern Vietnam is a diverse region with a rich cultural heritage, bustling cities, serene countryside, and beautiful coastlines. Here are some of the top places to visit in southern Vietnam:
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon): The largest city in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is a dynamic metropolis with a mix of modern skyscrapers and historic landmarks. Must-visit attractions include the War Remnants Museum, Independence Palace, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, Ben Thanh Market, and the vibrant street food scene.
Mekong Delta – Ben Tre: Often referred to as the “Coconut Capital of Vietnam,” Ben Tre is famous for its coconut-based products. Take a boat trip through the canals, visit coconut candy workshops, and enjoy the tranquil scenery.
- Mekong Delta – My Tho: My Tho is one of the delta’s gateway towns and offers a glimpse into delta life. Visit Vinh Trang Pagoda, take a boat ride on the Tien River, and explore the islands and orchards.
Mekong Delta – Can Tho: The largest city in the Mekong Delta, Can Tho is famous for its floating markets, particularly the Cai Rang Floating Market. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy the delta’s culinary delights.
- Phu Quoc Island: Phu Quoc is the largest and most famous island in Vietnam. It’s known for its stunning beaches, lush jungles, and vibrant marine life. Phu Quoc offers a variety of activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, and exploring the island’s national park.
- Vung Tau: A coastal city near Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau offers sandy beaches, colonial-era architecture, and a relaxed atmosphere. The Jesus Christ Statue on Núi Nho Mountain provides panoramic views.
- Long Tan – Nui Dat: Long Tan and Nui Dat are important sites in Vietnam associated with the Vietnam War, particularly the Battle of Long Tan, a significant engagement involving Australian and New Zealand forces, and Nui Dat, a key Australian base during the conflict. The site is actually in Vung Tau, which many tourists think it is not.
- Con Dao Islands: A remote archipelago, the Con Dao Islands are known for their natural beauty, pristine beaches, and rich history. Visitors can enjoy snorkeling, diving, hiking, and exploring historical sites like Con Dao Prison.
- Cat Tien National Park: Located in Dong Nai Province, Cat Tien is one of Vietnam’s most important national parks. It’s home to diverse flora and fauna and offers opportunities for trekking, wildlife watching, and eco-tourism
- Black Virgin Mountain: The Black Virgin Mountain (Núi Bà Đen) in southern Vietnam is a striking peak known for its black volcanic rock. It’s a place of religious importance with a temple dedicated to the Black Lady. Visitors climb steep stairs for panoramic views and explore the temple’s serene surroundings and lush natural beauty.
4. Top 20 off-the-beaten-path places to visit in Vietnam
Before this blog “Best Places To Visit In Vietnam? Ranking All Destinations!”, we have mentioned that Vietnam has a wealth of hidden gems and lesser-known destinations, even some are not ever mentioned by international tourists. Exploring these places can provide you with a more authentic and unique experience. Here are some unseen and non-touristy places to consider visiting in Vietnam:
Bac Ha: Known for its vibrant ethnic minority markets, Bac Ha in the Lao Cai Province offers a chance to interact with locals from various tribes such as the Flower Hmong.
Kon Tum: Located in the Central Highlands, Kon Tum provides an opportunity to explore the culture of ethnic minority groups like the Bahnar and Gia Rai and visit traditional longhouses.
Phu Yen Province: This coastal province boasts pristine beaches, beautiful landscapes, and cultural experiences without the crowds often found in more popular coastal areas.
Ninh Binh Province (Beyond Tam Coc): While Tam Coc is famous, explore lesser-visited spots like Van Long Nature Reserve and Cuc Phuong National Park for serene boat rides and wildlife encounters.
Dak Lak Province: Located in the Central Highlands, Dak Lak offers a glimpse into the lives of the Ede and M’nong ethnic groups and the chance to explore lush forests and coffee plantations.
Bai Tu Long Bay: Adjacent to Halong Bay but less frequented, Bai Tu Long Bay offers a similar stunning seascape with fewer tourists, making it ideal for a more peaceful cruise experience.
Pu Luong Nature Reserve: This tranquil area in Thanh Hoa Province features lush landscapes, ethnic Thai villages, and opportunities for hiking and discovering rural life.
Bac Son Valley: In Lang Son Province, Bac Son Valley is known for its stunning rice terraces and scenic landscapes, perfect for hiking and photography.
Quy Chau District (Near Hoa Binh): Quy Chau is a hidden gem for trekking and discovering ethnic villages near Hanoi, with terraced fields and traditional stilt houses.
Tra Vinh: Located in the Mekong Delta, Tra Vinh offers a unique blend of Khmer culture and heritage, with colorful temples, pagodas, and serene rural landscapes.
Dong Van Karst Plateau: In Ha Giang Province, this rugged plateau is dotted with ethnic villages and offers breathtaking mountain scenery, making it a haven for trekkers and adventure seekers.
Cao Bang Province: Explore the less-visited landscapes and the stunning Ban Gioc Waterfall in this northern province.
- Ta Nang – Phan Dung: Ta Nang – Phan Dung is a renowned trekking route in Lam Dong Province, Vietnam. This picturesque trail takes you through a diverse landscape of rolling hills, terraced rice fields, dense forests, and charming ethnic minority villages. It’s famous for its stunning natural beauty and the opportunity to interact with local communities. Trekkers can enjoy breathtaking views, immerse themselves in the serene wilderness, and experience the cultural richness of the region, making it a memorable adventure for nature enthusiasts and hikers.
- K50 waterfall: K50 water is considered to be the most beautiful waterfall in Highlands Central of Vietnam. To visit the waterfall, you can’t use normal transportation but have to do a trekking through the beautiful jungle of Gia Lai, Vietnam.
- Ta Dung: Ta Dung Lake is sometimes referred to as the “Ha Long Bay of Central Vietnam” due to its stunning natural beauty and the presence of water and lush landscapes that share some similarities with Ha Long Bay in the northern part of the country. Both locations offer picturesque scenery with water and unique geological formations.
- The Easternmost point of Vietnam: one of the best trekking paths for those who love the sea and conquer the stunning scenes of Vietnam. While it’s not a traditional trekking destination, the rugged coastal terrain and picturesque landscapes in the area can make for an enjoyable trekking adventure.
- Bidoup Nui Ba National Park: Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, often simply referred to as Bidoup, is a protected area located in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The park is known for its stunning landscapes, including lush forests, rolling hills, pristine lakes, and waterfalls. The natural beauty of Bidoup makes it an excellent destination for nature lovers and photographers.
- Chu Bluk Volcano Cave: Chu Bluk cave complex located in Krông Nô District, Đăk Nông Province, about 40km south of Buôn Ma Thuột City, is the longest volcanic cave in Southeast Asia. It is known as an iconic destination of the Central Highlands. This is a completely new place for people who love to travel and explore because it was only discovered in 2014. Therefore, the cave complex still retains its inherent wildness.
Nam Du Islands: Situated in the Gulf of Thailand, the Nam Du Islands are relatively less known among international travelers. They offer sandy beaches, clear waters, and a laid-back atmosphere.
Ly Son Island: Located in Quang Ngai Province, Ly Son is known for its volcanic landscapes, clear seas, and unique garlic farms. It’s a place where you can experience a more authentic and less touristy side of Vietnam.
These are the best places to visit in Vietnam if you are looking for unseen, non-touristy destinations in Vietnam. And they are not all! We will keep updating the list soon in the future!