Top 7 Places in Vietnam



buddha sapa vietnam


During my three months in Vietnam, I traveled across most of the country, visited many of the sights, and stayed in all of the big towns (and a lot of the small towns and villages).  Vietnam stands as one of my favorite countries that I have visited and has so much to offer any traveler.  All of my stops had something special, but a select few demanded my attention.  Here is a list of my top 7 favorite cities in Vietnam and how they ranked. 

1. Ninh Binh

 

temple bai dinh pagoda ninh binh vietnam
Inside one of the temples at Bai Dinh Pagoda.


Adventure:



Ninh Binh is one of my favorite places in Vietnam and is a hidden gem.  Often referred to as ‘Ha Long Bay on Land,’ Ning Binh offers amazing landscape views that can be taken in by a motorcycle ride through the countryside or a boat tour through Trang An.  Ninh Binh also host the largest and one of the most beautiful Buddhist pagodas in South East Asia; Bai Dinh Pagoda. 

Food:

Ninh Binh is a fairly big city and so offers a range of restaurants to choose from.  There is also a sizeable street food scene if you get out early enough. 

Nightlife:

Ninh Binh is not known for its nightlife, but you can still find many bars around town or see one of the landmark sights at night.

Beach:🛇



No Beach.

Cons: 

You will need to rent a motorcycle to get around to all of the sights, but they are cheap.


2. Hue

 

residence imperial citadel hue vietnam
A residence in the Imperial Citadel.


Adventure:

Hue is another great location for excursions.  Home to the Imperial City and many Imperial Tombs there is a whole day worth of things for you to see.  Just north of Hue is also the Vietnam Era Demilitarized Zone that is a whole day tour as well.

Food:

Most areas in Vietnam have their food specialties, but Hue takes it to a whole other level.  Having been home to the Emperor, there is a entire imperial cuisine; not to mention all of the foods from the surrounding areas as well.

Nightlife:

Hue is not known for its nightlife, but you can still find many bars around town; especially in the backpacker’s district. 

Beach:

Although many tourists visit Hue only for its historical sights, it actually has some great beaches as well.  About 30 minutes northeast of the city is about 10km of white sandy beaches with tranquil blue water. 

Cons: 

You will need to rent a motorcycle to get around to all of the sights or join one of the tours.


3. Hanoi



ho chi minh mausoleum hanoi vietnam
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.


Adventure:

The town is the adventure!  There is so much to see and do in Hanoi!  Tour the Old Quarter, visit the museums of the French Quarter, see the Imperial Citadel or mausoleum, or have a cheap beer or amazing food on the street side.

Food:

Being such a large city you can just about anything.  There are many restaurants to choose from as well as street food on almost everywhere.  Hanoi, as well as the rest of northern Vietnam, also has some of the best Pho in the country.   

Nightlife:

Like all big cities, there is a lot of nightlife in Hanoi.  For tourists, it is found in the Old Quarter.  Most restaurants, hotels, hostels, and street vendors turn into bars where you can find some of the cheapest beer in the world. 

Beach:🛇



No beaches.

Cons: 

If you are up for walking you can see all of the tourist sights by foot, but if you are not (or want to get to the other side of town), you will need to take a bus or taxi.


4. Ho Chi Minh City



city hall ho chi minh city vietnam
City Hall in Ho Chi Minh City.


Adventure:

Ho Chi Minh City has many touristy sights with in the city; most of which pertain to the French colonization or the Vietnam War.  You can also use the city as your jumping off point to many excursions outside of the city. 

Food:

There are many great restaurants, especially outside of the Backpackers District, in Ho Chi Minh City.  The city is also the epicenter of the craft beer movement in Vietnam.   

Nightlife:

Again, like all big cities, there is a lot of places to find nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City.  The main place for tourist is in the Backpackers district which compared to most places is a fairly big area.  There is all types of bars and hangouts there.  There are also many bars, like BiaCraft, outside this area.

Beach:🛇



No Beach

Cons: 

The city is very large, so you will probably need to take a bus or taxi to see some of the sights.
The tours from Ho Chi Minh City to the sights outside the city are not great.


5. Ha Long Bay



ha long bay vietnam
Cruise ships in Ha Long Bay.


Adventure:

Ha Long Bay is Vietnam’s top tourist destination.  Most people take one of the many cruise ships out into the bay and experience the day excursions from the ship.  There is also the option of staying in Cat Ba and seeing all that beautiful island has to offer.

Food:

The food on the cruise ships is top notch.  Cat Ba also has some great restaurants and street food as well.   

Nightlife:

Nightlife on the cruise ships is consigned to squid fishing (good luck), so there isn’t much there.  Cat Ba, on the other hand, has many great bars to choose from and good street food.

Beach:

The beaches that you visit from the cruise ships are teeming with people and so are not very enjoyable.  Cat Ba has some ok beaches.   

Cons:

Super touristy. 

6. Hoi An



japanese bridge hoi an vietnam
Japanese bridge in Hoi An


Adventure:

Hoi An itself is the adventure.  The city itself is a UNESCO Heritage Site and Hue is also well known for its tailoring.

Food:

There is no lack of good food in Hoi An.  The city boasts many restaurants, an incredible food market, and street food at night.

Nightlife:

The nightlife in Hoi An is a mixed bag.  There is, of course, many fun bars that cater to the backpacking crew.  There is also the night market, where you can find many people milling around and enjoying the many booths selling everything from souvenirs to street food.  Taking int the ancient city at night is also a great idea. 

Beach:

Hoi An is not usually visited for its beaches, but it does have some about 5km northeast of town.

Cons: 

It is a fairly small town, so it can be get crowded by tourist quickly. 


7. Nha Trang



po nagar cham nha trang vietnam
Po Nagar Cham temple in Nha Trang.


Adventure:

All that is Nha Trang can be found within a 5km radius of the town center, but its focal point is the beach. 

Food:

Nha Trang has a lot of great restaurants and street vendors to get some good food.  They are especially known for their seafood dishes.

Nightlife:

Nha Trang’s nightlife is found in the many bars around town, but mostly along the boardwalk. 

Beach:

The long, white sandy beach is the perfect place to relax or have some fun in the sun.  The beach is lined with a number of parks, bars, and brewpubs.

Cons: 

None



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