When planning a trip to Vietnam and wondering where to go in Vietnam you’ll want to narrow it down to the best places to visit in Vietnam. We spent over a month traveling in Vietnam and here are our 13 top Vietnam destinations.
We have put the list in order to visit if you were traveling Vietnam by bus or overland. Vietnam flights are really affordable. We choose to fly within Vietnam as several of the Vietnam bus routes were overnight buses.
It would take almost a whole day to get from one Vietnam destination to the next. For example, if you were to go to all the below places in Vietnam it would be 2,590 km. We purchased three one-way flights with luggage on Jetstar for under $200 per person.
1 - HO CHI MINH CITY
A Vietnam trip should start (or end) in Ho Chi Minh City, it’s the perfect place to kick off a Vietnam vacation. Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is formerly named and still often referred to as Saigon.
Three days in Ho Chi Minh City would give you just the right amount of time to see most of the tourist attractions nearby. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam with a population of 10 million people and a staggering 4 million motorbikes. If you have ever played the video game Frogger it will come to life when trying to cross the street in Ho Chi Minh.
There are tons of things to do in Ho Chi Minh city but the following tourist attractions are a must: Vietnam, Ben Thanh market, War Remnants Museum, Saigon Central Post Office, and eat lots and lots of Pho.
The best Vietnamese Pho we had was in Ho Chi Minh City, our hotel offered it every day at breakfast. You will likely begin to realize your love for Vietnamese food in Saigon, we now find ourselves craving Pho.
There are several daily direct flights to Ho Chi Minh City (SGN). Average 2020 flight prices for a one-way ticket from the following Vietnam destinations:
Ho Chi Minh - Hanoi $100
Ho Chi Minh - Hue $85
Ho Chi Minh - Da Nang $85
Ho Chi Minh - Nha Trang $65
Ho Chi Minh - Da Lat $55
Ho Chi Minh - Phu Quoc $55
2 - CU CHI TUNNELS
The Cu Chi Tunnels are an easy Vietnam day trip from Ho Chi Minh City. There are tons of Vietnam tour companies selling half-day and full-day trips to the Ci Chi Tunnels.
The tunnels were used during the Vietnam War by the Viet Cong soldiers. These underground tunnels are an extensive network of connecting tunnels where the soldiers lived, used as a supply route, etc.
You can literally crawl through the tunnels and try and imagine what life would have been like living in the tunnels during the war. We suggest the half-day trip which can be booked online here in advance for only $20.
3 - MEKONG DELTA
The far south of Vietnam is where the mighty Mekong River finally finds its way to the sea in a maze of waterways that crisscross the floodplain. Incredibly lush, with paddy field vistas and mangroves, and full of local life, with chaotic floating markets to explore by boat, the delta is one of the most interesting regions for travelers to discover.
Can Tho is the most popular town to use as a base as it's close to the floating markets of Phong Dien and Cai Rang, while boat trips from Ca Mau allow you to explore the U Minh Mangrove Forest and Cau Mau Nature Reserve.
Take a river cruise down the Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta lies just outside of Ho Chi Minh city. Overnight Mekong Delta tours can be booked online for as low as $80, there are several one-night trips and even longer ones.
4 - MUI NE
Mui Ne is like no other destination in Vietnam and is only a 4-hour train ride away from HCMC. Mui Ne is the driest region in Southeast Asia. There are some amazing unique things to do in Mui Ne. Head 20 miles to the white sand dunes of Mui Ne for quad biking, we’ve quad biked in Namibia sand dunes but never knew about this Vietnam attraction.
Get up early in the morning for sunrise over the dunes just a mile outside the center of Mui Ne. Save time for other things to do in Mui Ne like windsurfing and kite surfing. The best time to visit Mui Ne is between the months of December through April.
Once a sleepy coastal fishing town, Mui Ne has developed into a beautiful beach resort town and a prime destination for windsurfing, sailing, and kitesurfing. Compared to other beach destinations in Vietnam, however, Mui Ne remains relatively unknown - and this means pristine beaches and a quiet retreat for most of the year.
One of Mui Ne's most unique attractions is the natural Red Sand Dunes just outside town, where visitors can practice sand-sledding or rent dune buggies for a more adrenaline-charged experience.
Tucked away between nearby fishing villages and towering orange limestone formations, there's the Fairy Stream, a slow-moving warm stream that almost feels like a walkway because it's so shallow - follow it to the end to reach a waterfall.
For those wishing to explore beyond the coastline, there's also the ruins of the Po Shanu Cham Towers - remnants of the Cham Empire that dominated the area many centuries ago.
5 - DA LAT
Da Lat is a gorgeous little mountainous town known as “The City of Eternal Spring” with year-round cooler temperatures. It’s the perfect place to relax for a few days while visiting Vietnam.
Da Lat has amazing lakes and waterfalls that are easily explored by motorbike. If you are looking to visit the “real” Vietnam head to the nearby minority villages just outside of Da Lat.
There are several daily direct flights to Da Lat (DLI). Average 2020 flight prices for a one-way ticket from the following Vietnam destinations:
Dalat - Hanoi $90
Dalat - Hue $75
Dalat - Ho Chi Minh City $55
6 - NHA TRANG
Nha Trang is Vietnam’s most famous beachside destination. Many tourists travel to Vietnam just to go diving in Nha Trang. It’s much busier and has an urban feel, so if you are looking for a relaxing Vietnam beach vacation head to Mui Ne or Phu Quoc instead. Besides the gorgeous beaches, there are several waterfalls near Nha Trang.
Don’t miss the famous Thap Ba Hot Springs and Mud baths are only 2 miles from the city center. Nha Trang is very popular with Russian tourist and many of the hotels have Russian speaking staff and Russian menus. It may be difficult to find English speaking staff in Nha Trang.
There are several daily direct flights to Nha Trang (CXR). Average 2020 flight prices for a one-way ticket from the following Vietnam destinations:
Nha Trang - Hanoi $80
Nha Trang - Da Nang $55
Nha Trang - Ho Chi Minh City $65
7 - HOI AN
Hoi An Vietnam is our favorite Vietnam destination and a place we could easily spend a week if not a whole month. Hoi An is a gorgeous coastal known that is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Some of the best Vietnamese food can be found in Hoi An, along with ten cent draft beers.
Our money has never gone further than in Hoi An, there are 4-star hotels for $20 a night in Hoi An. We stayed in an Airbnb apartment so that we had more space since we spent a week. If you are spending a week in any of these Vietnam destinations see what is available on Airbnb.
If you were overwhelmed by all the motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh city then Hoi An will be a good alternative. The pace of life is so much slower in Hoi An. You can rent a motorbike and get lost in the nearby rice paddies or head to the beaches in Hoi An. Hoi An really is one of the best places to visit in Vietnam.
8 - DA NANG
Da Nang is the gateway to several UNESCO World Heritage sites and cities like Hue and Hoi An which are nearby. Da Nang’s biggest attraction is Mỹ Sơn archaeological site dating back thousands of years ago, it’s 70km west of the city. Da Nang is a coastal Vietnam town very popular with ex-pats.
There are several daily direct flights to Da Nang (DAD). Average 2020 flight prices for a one-way ticket from the following Vietnam destinations:
Da Nang - Hanoi $85
Da Nang - Ho Chi Minh City $85
Da Nang - Nha Trang $55
Da Nang - Phu Quoc $1009 - MY SON CHAM RUINS
Surrounded by lush jungle-covered mountains, My Son is a ruined Cham era temple city that dates from the 4th century. This old Hindu religious center was still very much in use during the 7th to 10th centuries and only fell into complete decline and abandonment during the 13th century.
There are around 20 temple structures still standing here, all built of brick or sandstone blocks and showing interesting influences from various Asian empires, including Indian and Malay. Note that the temples of Group B are the oldest, while Group A once contained the site's most important monument but was destroyed deliberately by US forces during the Vietnam War.
A good museum on-site houses plenty of information on the Cham. Access to My Son is from Hoi An.
10 - HUE
Hue is known as “Vietnam’s Imperial City” and was the national capital from 1802-1945. There are several things to do in Hue but the biggest attraction in Hue is the Citadel. The citadel is surrounded by a moat and thick stone walls. Other Hue sights to see Forbidden Purple City, Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue Market, and imperial tombs.
There are several daily direct flights to Hue (HUI). Average 2020 flight prices for a one-way ticket from the following Vietnam destinations. Click here for our guide on how to get from Da Nang airport to Hue.
Hue - Hanoi $85
Hue - Ho Chi Minh City $8511 - PHONG NHA KE BANG NATIONAL PARK
One of the best places to visit in Vietnam for caving, World Heritage-listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a dramatic karst mountain formation honeycombed with huge caverns, which are home to superb stalactite and stalagmite displays. The most popular destination within the park is the Paradise Cave, which extends for a staggering 31 kilometers below ground.
The yawning caverns here are truly spectacular. Tu Lan Cave is a "wet cave," and a visit here includes swimming through the cave-systems river. The other most popular excursion is to the Phong Nha Caves, where the interior is accessed by boat. You can access Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park from Son Trach.
12 - HANOI
Hanoi is Vietnam’s second-largest cities and the motorbike traffic is similar to that in Ho Chi Minh City. But honestly, motorbikes and Vietnam go hand and hand. There are tons of things to do in Hanoi that you could spend a week in Hanoi.
Some of Hanoi attractions are: Hỏa Lò Prison also known as Hanoi Hilton where John McCain was a prisoner of war, Ho Chi Minh museum was one of the weirdest museums in the world but worth the visit, Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, and the favorite thing we did was go on a Hanoi street food tour. Street food tours are a great way to learn.
Street food tours are a great way to learn your way around Hanoi, try local food you would have never tried before, learn about the Vietnamese dishes, get Hanoi tips from your guide, and the best part was it was only $18.
You can book online here in advance. After the tour, we had new friends and continued our time in Hanoi by enjoying ten cent draft beers on the streets of Hanoi.
There are several daily direct flights to Hanoi (HAN). Check out our guide on how to get to the HAN airport from Hanoi. Average 2020 flight prices for a one-way ticket from the following Vietnam destinations:
Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh City $100
Hanoi - Hue $75
Hanoi - Da Nang $75
Hanoi - Nha Trang $85
Hanoi - Da Lat $85
Hanoi - Phu Quoc $100
13 - HALONG BAY
Halong Bay is a highlight on all Vietnam Holidays and a must on any trip to Vietnam. Halong Bay literally translates to “descending dragon bay” and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Halong Bay has more than 1,600 limestone islands.
Most of the islands are inhabitable, and therefore most tours to Halong Bay are boat cruises. There is a variety of classes of Halong Bay cruises and duration, we suggest at least a 3-day trip to truly take in the beauty. One of the best views of Halong Bay would be from a seaplane, which can be booked for only $99.14 - BA BE NATIONAL PARK
Tranquil Ba Be National Park is absolutely stunning with the three interlinked Ba Be Lakes at its heart, rimmed by jagged karst peaks and thickly forested slopes.
Most visitors come here to take peaceful boat trips or kayak on the lake and explore the caves full of stalactites and stalagmites in the vicinity, but for the more active, there's also excellent hiking and trekking in the hills here between ethnic minority villages.
This is one of the most peaceful spots in Vietnam, and travelers who spend the night here sleep in traditional stilt-house homestay accommodation along the lakeshore, allowing an experience of simple rural life.
15 - SAPA
Sapa Vietnam is like no other city in Vietnam. Gorgeous green ride paddies in the Vietnamese mountain town are the highlight of Sapa. Take a tour through the rice paddies and visit the local Hmong and Dao villages.
One of the most unique tours in Sapa actually spends the night in the village. Sapa homestay tours will give you a real look at life in Sapa. There are several options from one night to multiple nights Sapa homestays and even tours from Hanoi to Sapa for only $100.
A trip to Sapa is a trip in itself. Most tourists in Vietnam travel to Sapa by train, there is a daily overnight train from Hanoi to Sapa that takes about 8 hours.
TIP: Don’t take the cheapest train, pay the few extra dollars for the more expensive tourist class sleeper. Let’s just say we saw a rat on our train when we took the wrong one. Another way to get to Saps is by shuttle bus, we would not recommend this as the roads are very windy and can be dangerous.
16 - PHU QUOC
Well technically you would not travel to Phu Quoc from Halong Bay, we just didn’t know where to put Phu Quoc on our list. Phu Quoc is the largest Vietnamese island and is located in the Gulf of Thailand. It is a tropical paradise with turquoise waters and sandy beaches.
Phu Quoc tourism has just begun as it was a relatively unknown destination in Vietnam for many years. Tourism has been increasing over the years with the new international airport. Phu Quoc lies just south of the Cambodian coast and the nearest coastal town of Ha Tien is 40km away. A bonus is that Phu Quoc visa-free for a period of up to 30 days!
There are several daily flights to Phu Quoc (PQC). Average 2020 flight prices for a one-way ticket from the following Vietnam destinations:
Phu Quoc - Ho Chi Minh City $55
Phu Quoc - Da Nang $75
Phu Quoc - Nha Trang $75
Phu Quoc - Da Lat $55
Phu Quoc - Hanoi $100
We hope we have convinced you to make Vietnam your next destination! There are so many amazing Vietnam cities and attractions to pick from, you could easily spend two months traveling in Vietnam. If you have any Vietnam questions feel free to leave a comment below or send us an email. Did we happen to forget a Vietnam destination on our list? Let us know below, we’ll gladly include it.