Vietnam is a country with so many sightseeing opportunities, unique festivals, and gastronomic delights that can’t be fully experienced in a single trip. Despite years of colonialism and modernisation, there are several parts of Vietnam that remains relatively authentic, with its local population making great efforts to preserve its many traditions and beliefs.
Whether you’re looking to enjoy a tropical getaway on Phu Quoc Island or experience the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam definitely provides. We’ve compiled 10 reasons why travellers keep coming back to Vietnam, ranging from historical landmarks to tantalising street food and more.
- Small-Group Halong Bay Day Cruise
- Small-Group Saigon Night Tour & Dinner Cruise
- Local Flavors Food Walking Tour
- Small-Group Full-Day Mekong Delta Cruise
- Small-Group Half-Day Tour of Cu Chi Tunnels
- Half-Day Cu Chi Tunnels Tour
- Mekong Delta, My Tho & Ben Tre Tour
- Halong Bay Full-Day Boat Cruise
- Cu Chi Tunnels Excursion
- Small-Group Half-Day Ho Chi Minh City Tour
Thanks to its rich history and vast natural landscape, Vietnam is teeming with attractions that have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Ha Long Bay (about 4 hours from Hanoi) is arguably Vietnam’s most recognised site, but other must-visits include Hoi An Ancient Town, Hue Imperial City, My Son Sanctuary, Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
Locally called bia hoi, Vietnamese draft beer contains about 4% of alcohol but where else in the world can you enjoy a tall glass for as little as USD0.50? If you’re in Hanoi, make your way to Bia Hoi Junction in Old Quarter, a vibrant nightlife venue hosting numerous makeshift bars and plastic stools spilling onto the streets. . Alternatively, there are several bars that sell soft drinks and imported beers such as Tiger for about VND 20,000.
Beaches in Vietnam are popular spots for tourists and locals looking to escape the bustling city life. After several trips to Vietnam, you’ll soon learn that no two beaches are the same, from Da Nang’s My Khe Beach for tourists looking to stay in the centre of all the action, to the tourist-free Qui Nhon that’s increasingly popular amongst savvy travellers. Not only is Vietnam surrounded by 3,000 kilometres of soft sands and clear waters, there are also plenty of secluded coves and islets fit for snorkelling, island-hopping, and scuba diving.
Vietnamese food is known to be both healthy and robust in flavour, thanks its generous combination of fresh herbs and greens, paired with rice, noodles, seafood, pork and beef. A typical meal includes rice or noodles, a meat or seafood dish, a vegetable dish, soup and nuoc cham (fermented fish sauce) for dipping. Pho (rice noodle soup) is essentially Vietnam’s signature dish, but there are other equally mouth-watering delicacies such as banh mi, banh xeo, ca kho to (caramelised fish in clay pot), and xoi xeo (sweet sticky rice).
Few countries can match the diversity of Vietnam’s landscapes. From the tropical idylls of the south to the stepped rice fields of the north, Vietnam is filled with expansive beaches, untouched islets, towering mountains, and tropical forests housing thousands of rare wildlife species. Adventure seekers can explore the world’s largest cave (and over 200 more caves) in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park while the Sand Dunes of Mui Ne offer thrilling activities, such as sandboarding and quad biking.
Festivals in Vietnam offer visitors the best opportunity for getting up close and personal with the myths, customs and fun-loving spirit of this proud nation. Despite undergoing modern developments, Vietnam is still a predominantly traditional country, with thousands of pagodas and shrines dedicated to Buddha as well as various deities and iconic figures. There are also plenty of cultural events that are only celebrated during certain times of the year (or years), so check out our guide of the best festivals in Vietnam to see if one pops up during your travels.
Buddhism is still practised by the local population to this very day, where hundreds of glittering pagodas and shrines can be found across the country. In Hanoi, The Perfume Pagoda is at the centre of a very revered and sacred site featuring a maze of shrines built into the limestone cliffs of Huong Tich Cave. Another unique religion in Vietnam is Cao Daism, which combines Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam. The Cao Dai Temple on Phu Quoc Island is a must visit, featuring a bright technicolour exterior and relics of prominent religions from around the world.
Due to its turbulent history with the American and French, Vietnam has plenty of war sites, museums, and prisons, especially in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The most popular war site is Chu Chi Tunnels, located 70km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. With over 120km of underground tunnels, most of which fitted with trapdoors, living areas, kitchens, storage facilities, armoury, hospitals, and command centres, you get to explore a small part of the Chu Chi Tunnels and fire an M16 rifle during your visit at Chu Chi Tunnels.
One of the best ways to fully experience the local lifestyle is arranging for a homestay in Sapa’s traditional villages. Located 400 kilometres from Hanoi, Sapa is a popular place for travellers looking to explore its rugged landscape for a few days. Best of all, its many hill tribes, such as Giay, Hmong and Red Dao, offer homestays, where you can enjoy authentic regional dishes, dress up in local costumes, and try your hand at working in the fields (or at least get a photo pretending to do so).
Introduced by the French, the Vietnamese have a love of coffee that borders on obsession – and for good reason. Throughout the country, you can find quaint cafes (both modern and traditional) serving strongly brewed coffee at affordable prices. Although ca phe bac xiu (iced coffee with condensed milk) is the most popular form of Vietnamese coffee, unconventional variations such as ca phe trung (egg coffee), sua chua ca phe (yoghurt coffee), and weasel coffee come highly recommended.