Vietnam is country that we were looking forward to visiting for months. Why? Because pretty much every traveler we’ve met while on the road has said that Vietnam is their favorite country.
We had heard that it was insanely affordable, with friendly people and great food…but could it possibly live up to the hype? Our experience with overhyped places is that they almost never live up to your expectations.
With Vietnam, that couldn’t be further from the truth! We loved every minute we were in Vietnam, and we definitely stayed there as long as possible (we literally left the day before our VISA was set to expire).
The month we spent in Vietnam was unforgettable, and we’re really happy with the route we took. We started in Saigon, and then worked our way north to Hanoi (mainly by sleeper train). It was a great and affordable way to travel.
7 Incredible Places To Visit In Vietnam
1. Ninh Binh, Vietnam
It was a spur of the moment decision when we decided to go to Ninh Binh, and boy are we glad that we went! This beautiful area is a nature lover’s paradise, and it’s still relatively unknown among travelers. We only heard about it from a comment on our YouTube Channel.
Many travelers opt to do the ultra-crowded Ha Long Bay, but Ninh Binh is an amazing alternative if you’re looking to be adventurous. Known among locals as “Ha Long Bay on land,” you can bike around the area, hike, and hire a private boat to explore the surroundings.
We stayed at the Ninh Binh Greenhouse and loved it. They had a great restaurant, a pool, breakfast was included, and they had free bicycles for guests to use to explore the area. It was a bit outside the main tourist area in Tam Coc, which was a big plus for us. It was so quiet and peaceful at night.
2. Phong Nha Cave, Vietnam
Phong Nha Cave is the LONGEST wet cave IN THE WORLD! This massive cave system can only be accessed by boat, and we highly recommend taking a boat into this breathtaking cave to experience it for yourself. It’s an experience we’ll never forget.
It can be a bit tricky getting there, but here’s how we did it. We took the train to Dong Hoi, and stayed in a hotel there. Then, we rented a motorbike from our hotel (for 150,000 VND) and did the hour long drive to the caves.
Boats pick up from the visitor center, and we were able to get our entrance fee into the park and our boat for about $10 USD per person. We split our boat with 4 friendly Australians, so that helped make it a bit cheaper. This is a steal compared to what the tour companies charge, which is around $50 per person (including transportation and lunch).
3. Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An is very popular among tourists, and for good reason. This historic Vietnamese city is full of colorful lanterns and beautiful architecture. In fact, it’s one of the most photogenic cities we’ve ever been to.
We opted to do a day trip down from Da Nang, which ended up being perfect. We got to explore the historic Ancient Town, stroll along the river, try banh mi’s from a place where Anthony Bourdain went, and explore the night market.
4. Nha Trang, Vietnam
If you’re looking for a beachy spot with great nightlife, look no further than Nha Trang! This beach city is located an 8 hour train ride north of Saigon, and is very popular among Russian tourists.
We loved playing in the waves on the beautiful beaches, exploring the very walkable city centre, and enjoying the nightlife. Bonus points if you get a banh mi to enjoy on the beach at sunset!
5. Da Nang, Vietnam
Da Nang is the perfect combination of big city + beautiful beaches. It’s located in Central Vietnam, and it’s popular among tourists for a reason. The bustling city centre has plenty to do, and the beautiful beaches are a great place to spend the day relaxing.
We took the train up to Da Nang, but they also have a pretty big airport that you can fly into for convenience. Grab rides are super cheap here, so don’t worry about getting around the city.
6. Hue, Vietnam
Hue (pronounced H-Way) might be a tricky city to pronounce, but it’s well worth a visit from any tourist. The bustling city center is full of hip coffee shops, and the imperial architecture draws visitors from around the world.
The Thien Mu Pagoda (pictured above) is one of the most incredible structures we’ve seen, and it’s completely free to check out! The grounds also feature a temple, and a zen garden.
We stayed at Buncha House for $10/night (isn’t that crazy!?) which included a nice, private room plus breakfast in the morning. The staff was so friendly and helpful and we highly recommend staying here.
7. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam
Last but certainly not least, no trip to Vietnam is complete without a stop in Ho Chi Minh city (formerly Saigon). This is the largest city in Vietnam, and the hectic streets are sure to shock even the most experienced traveler.
The food scene in Ho Chi Minh City is very impressive. Featured on many popular street food shows, there are endless amounts of dishes for you to try and enjoy. Check out our Vietnamese Street Food Tour in Saigon for more inspiration!
We hope these 7 incredible places to visit in Vietnam help you plan your trip to this amazing country! There are even more places that we didn’t get a chance to visit so we’re sure we’ll return one day.
Vietnam is a very long country, so traveling between places can be time consuming. While it can be tempting to fly, it’s much more environmentally friendly and easy on the wallet to take the train. Plus, the first class sleeper train is quite the experience!
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