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Explore Vietnam: Places to Visit, Hotels & Attractions

Sandra Gouveia

This S-shaped country can offer you the best experiences, from adventurous backpacking to luxurious sailing.

So much to do and see in Vietnam from exploring the war remains of a resilient nation, getting buzzed at all the sounds, smells and sights of vibrant Ho Chi Minh, and going underground to visit the world’s largest cave (Son Doong).

A place where modernity took over as fast as a lightening turning cities into bustling places but has not yet been able – and hopefully will not! –  to sprawl across the tapestry of breathtaking landscapes that unfold in the rural and traditional areas of Vietnam.

This S-shaped country can offer you the best of both these worlds plus a diverse, delicious (and sometimes strange) gastronomy, great resorts and spas, and both adventurous backpacking (such as hiking majestic hills) and top-notch luxury experiences (picture sailing the turquoise waters of Halong Bay on an extravagant cruise ship).

 

For those who wish to head this Southeast Asian country, keep reading and discover the best places to visit and stay in Vietnam.

 

Key-Areas in Vietnam

Peter Nguyen

Ho Chi Minh & Around

On the banks of the Sagon River is Vietnam’s biggest bustling city, Ho Chi Minh (former Saigon). Sensory overload may take visitors by surprise but that’s soon overcome and quickly turns into an eagerness to discover all the city has to offer. This former French colony still boasts some colonial-time villas and buildings (such as the Notre-Dame Basilica) as well as several museums (don’t miss the War Remnants Museum) and war memorials.

 

Expect to encounter the usual chaos and vibrancy normally found in Asian metropolis with plenty of pagodas and temples, authentic delicacies (even some strange looking ones too by the way), colourful markets and motorbikes everywhere.

Where to Stay

Hotels in Ho Chi Minh & Around

Right in the heart of Ho Chi Minh, District 1, the best accommodation options include The Myst Dong Khoi, Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint, Alagon D’Antique Hotel & Spa, Hotel Nikko Saigon and Park Hyatt Saigon.

 

On the surroundings and on the shores of the Saigon River is An Lam Retreats Saigon River, a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Jack Young

The Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta is the southernmost region of Vietnam, lying right next to bustling Ho Chi Minh. Live revolves around the Mekong canals and rivers which are surrounded by several villages and floating markets. On the north, mountains and highlands populate the landscape while in the south and west regions the scenery is more flat and flooded.

 

Agriculture strives in the Mekong Delta, in fact, it produces the largest quantity of rice in the whole country and the sight of farmers harvesting rice with their conical hats is a very typical and common one.

 

Khmer pagodas, paddy fields, sugar-cane grooves and coconut palms lining up the river shores are also some of the other persistent sights found throughout the area.

Where to Stay

Hotels in The Mekong Delta

Located on the main city in the Mekong Delta are the beautiful Azerai Can Tho Resort, the colonial-style Victoria Can Tho Resort and Vinpearl Hotel Can Tho.

 

Close to Cai Be Market is Mekong Riverside Boutique Resort & Spa offering everything from a tennis court and pool to a deli and restaurant.

Vi Tieu Bao

Ho Chi Minh to Danang

The South-Central area that goes down from Danang to Ho Chi Minh is a long line of white-sandy beaches, a handful of islands and a few remnants of what used to be the prosperous kingdom of Champa (found in Phan Thiet and Phan Rang).

 

Vibrant Danang, stunning Lăng Cô, ancient Hoi An, watersports heaven Mui Né, and Nha Trang (with its stunning islands) are the highlights along the coastline while in the more offbeat highlands trekkers and nature lovers can head out to Yok Don National Park and stop by rural villages to delve deep into a more traditional way of life.

Where to Stay

Hotels from Ho Chi Minh to Danang

Along the South Coast of Vietnam, there are plenty of great hotel options:

 

In Vung Tau, The Wind Mountain Side Hotel is an interesting option for a seaside escape from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Min.

 

Very close to the beach in Ho Tram is Ho Tram Beach Resort & Spa and also a stone’s throw from the beach in Mui Ne is Pandanus Resort.

 

Further in Cam Ranh you will find the Fusion Resort Cam Ranh – All Spa Inclusive and The Anam Deluxe Collection (boasting its own private beach).

 

In Nha Trang, the best places to stay are Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Amiana Resort and Villas Nha Trang, Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang, and Mia Resort Nha Trang.

 

In Hoi An there is the central Hoi An Odyssey Hotel, seaside Four Seasons The Nam Hai and riverside Laluna Hoi An Riverside Hotel & Spa.

 

A little north in Danang, check in at the San Marino Boutique Danang, Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa, Royal Lotus Hotel Danang – managed by H&K Hospitality or in Son Tra Peninsula at InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort.

@cakersfish

The Central Coast

A couple of hours’ drive from Danang is Hué, one of the most historical cities in Vietnam with a 19th-century citadel set in the north banks of the Perfume River. Further north is Vietnam‘s Demilitarized Zone, where the border between north and south Vietnam used to be. Not much is left to see from what was once the stage of dramatic war battles but the Vinh Moc Tunnels and a couple of museums in the area still testify for its dark past.

 

Not that far from the 12-km beach stretch of Dong Hoi another unmissable place can be found: the breath-taking Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, home to world’s largest cave – Son Doong Cave – the also spectacular Phong Nha Cave, and to a stunning limestone karst scenery amid lush green jungles.

 

Vinh is the biggest city in Central Vietnam and is normally just a stopover for those heading either to the north attractions, downwards to the south or to Laos. Nevertheless, if you want to explore a more rural and unspoilt side of the Vietnam countryside then you can take some time to discover the surroundings of the city.

Where to Stay

Hotels in Vietnam's Central Coast

Set on a garden by the beach in Hué is Ana Mandara Hue Beach Resort, while more inland is the rustic Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa, Indochine Palace, and La Residence Hue Hotel & Spa.

 

A stone’s throw from the beach in Vinh is Vinpearl Discovery Cua Hoi.

Ammie Ngo

Halong Bay, Hai Phong & The Northern Coast

One of Vietnam’s most iconic photographs and footage have the same northern coast setting in common: Halong Bay’s scenic maze of towering limestone karsts scattered in the sea. To the east is yet another scenic location, Bai Tu Long Bay, a much less visited seascape, ideal for those seeking more quiet and still wishing to sail across azure waters, rugged karts and relax on pristine beaches.

 

Hai Phong is the gateway to these must-visit places in Vietnam, standing right across Cát Bà Island, the largest island in the bay. The city is sometimes called “mini-Hanoi” due to its more laid-back vibe but still an echo of Vietnam’s capital city with impressive French colonial architecture, lively markets and friendly people.

Where to Stay

Hotels in Vietnam's Northern Coast

There are plenty of options to cruise Halong Bay in luxury: Alisa Premier Cruise, Paradise Luxury Cruise, Paradise Elegance Cruise Halong, Signature Halong Cruise and Era Cruises Halong.

 

In Hai Phong check the colonial-styled AVANI Hai Phong Harbour View Hotel.

Chor Hung Tsang

Hanoi & Around

On the banks of the Red River is buzzing Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. In this culturally rich metropole, you’ll find beautiful and well-preserved French-colonial buildings (such as the Opera House and the National Museum of Vietnamese History), pagodas, a delicious cuisine (you’ve got to try the Egg Coffee and pho, the national dish),  and of course, plenty of motorbikes moving around its busy streets.

 

A tapestry of landscapes unfolds in the areas surrounding Hanoi: amid vast paddy-fields, different hill-tribes inhabit the mountainous town of Sapa close to the Chinese border and Fan Si Pan (Vietnam’s highest mountain) in the far northwest. The rice fields, cycling paths, trekking routes, grottoes and stilt-houses are the appeal to those who visit the Mai Chau Province to the west, while on the northeast, Ba Be National Park attracts adventurers wishing to explore uncharted territory through the dense jungle in order to reach the country’s largest lake (7km long).

Where to Stay

Hotels in Hanoi

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