Vietnam has become one of the most exciting travel destinations in Southeast Asia in recent years. The geographical diversity, from the rice terraces and mist-shrouded mountains in the north to the tropical palm-lined beaches in the south, draws visitors in just as much as the turbulent city of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) and the enchanting Mekong Delta. No matter where you spend your vacation in Vietnam: You too will fall in love with this country!
With a north-south extension of 1,025 miles and a width that is just 31 miles between the border with Laos and the South China Sea, Vietnam is predestined for a journey from north to south or vice versa. Of course, you can also concentrate on one region or just book a beach vacation - everything is possible in Vietnam! Looking for other destinations in Asia?
Due to its elongated shape, Vietnam is quite easy to travel around, because all the important travel destinations are lined up like a pearl from north to south or vice versa. The Unification Express connects the capital Hanoi in the north of the country with Ho Chi Minh City, the old Saigon, in the south, stopping at the most important stations along the way.
Also by train you can easily and comfortably get from Hanoi in the mountains to Sapa on the Chinese border. From Ho Chi Minh City you can easily travel further to the Mekong Delta or end your vacation on Phu Quoc, a small island on the border with Cambodia.
If you would like to spend your vacation in Vietnam on the beach, you have the choice between numerous popular bathing resorts. The most well-known are Nha Trang and Mui Ne as well as the dream island of Phu Quoc, which is currently being heavily developed for tourism. The long sandy beach between Da Nang and Hoi An is also worthwhile. You can find more tips for your perfect beach vacation or even island vacation in Vietnam further down in our list of the most beautiful islands around Vietnam. If you are planning a longer trip, you can put the following destinations on your bucket list:
The capital Hanoi with its French colonial charm
The rice terraces in the highlands of Sapa
The unique Halong Bay with its karst rocks
The ancient imperial city of Hue
The historic town of Hoi An
The French summer capital Da Lat in the cool mountains
The vast Mekong Delta
The fascinating metropolis of Saigon
From your vacation in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) you can easily take day trips to the Mekong Delta and other interesting destinations such as the Viet Cong tunnel system in Cu Chi from the Vietnam War era. Hanoi offers itself as the perfect base for excursions in the north, for example to Ha Long Bay.
Our pirate tip: You should definitely not miss the Hanoi Water Puppet Show, a form of marionette theater that is unique in the world. The tickets cost the equivalent of less than five euros at the box office.
The capital of Vietnam is hectic, yet a memorable experience for most travelers. Hundreds of thousands of scooters make every street crossing a new challenge. Street vendors and street kitchens occupy almost every meter of the already narrow footpaths in the old town.
But there are also plenty of quiet corners in the city's temples and around the lakes where you can watch the locals practice yoga, dance, or how to correctly order and eat the national dish, the pho. Hanoi 's museums are a perfect alternative for rainy days. And if you want, you can see the last resting place of the founder of the state in the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
From Hanoi you can make a day trip to what is probably the most famous bay in Vietnam. But since you are not the only ones, we recommend that you spend at least one night on one of the boats that depart every day for a kind of mini cruise. This is the only way you have the chance to get to the more remote corners.
If you still have a little more time, spend a few days on Cat Ba Island. The island stretches around Halong Bay and is a welcome change from the city of Hanoi. From there you can also board the boats that will take you through the unique landscape to the numerous caves, many of which can also be visited.
Most visitors reach the region in the far north of the country by night train from Hanoi. Anyone who loves small mountain villages and rice terraces should definitely take the time to do so. Many of Vietnam's minorities still live there in a very original way.
Of course, the area is also a paradise for hiking. From Sapa as a lively starting point, you can reach the surrounding mountains as a day trip. But of course there are also multi-day hikes with overnight stays in huts along the paths. The contrast to Hanoi could hardly be greater.
The old imperial city of Hue is the first port of call for many travelers on a road trip from the north to the south. All trains stop there, but you can also fly here from Hanoi in about an hour. We recommend planning at least two nights in the city, because there is a lot to see and discover.
Along the Perfume River are the gigantic tombs of the emperors, which can best be experienced on a boat trip. Don't miss the extremely photogenic Thien Mu Pagoda. Back in the city, you need another half day for the Thai Hoa Palace in the center, which is still protected by an intact wall.
It's only about two hours from Hue to Da Nang, but the stretch is one of the most scenic rail routes in the world. It always goes along the cliffs with wonderful views of the sea. Buses run regularly from Da Nang train station to Hoi An. The former insider tip has now become a fixture on every Vietnam tour.
No wonder, because the small town certainly has the most charismatic center in Vietnam with the famous light balloons. The ornate houses date back to the 15th century and it's just fun to stroll along the main street. A selfie in front of the Japanese Bridge is a must. And if the weather plays along, you can cycle the few miles to the nearby sandy beach. Or you can pay a visit to the spectacular My Son temple complex in the southwest of the city.
Saigon, as the city used to be called, stands in stark contrast to Hanoi. Not only because of Vietnam's warlike past, but also architecturally and culturally, you can see the difference around every corner. Ho Chi Minh City is more spacious , with wide streets more reminiscent of Paris. Of course, you are not spared the chaotic traffic of taxis and scooters here either.
Apart from the cathedral and a small part of the colonial old town , little survived the Vietnam War, which is also called the America War here. History can be explored at the War Remnants Museum through depressing finds, documents and remnants of the war. In the neighboring Independence Palace, on the other hand, time seems to have stood still.
During the Vietnam War, this 155-mile tunnel system was built to allow Vietcong troops to communicate and move around Saigon unnoticed. Parts of it have been secured and can be visited today.
However, you should know that the tunnels are extremely narrow and that you can only get on your knees in places. So definitely not recommended with claustrophobia. You can either book a day tour from Ho Chi Minh City to the tunnels or drive individually, for example with a rented scooter.
The estuary of the Mekong into the sea is huge in terms of area. The stream splits into countless small sub-rivers, which were connected with canals. This is how an agriculturally extremely usable area was created, which at the same time can only really be experienced by boat .
If you want to experience more than just a small part of it, it is better to book accommodation in the middle of the delta, because the drive from Ho Chi Minh City is at least three hours. In the small shops, locals offer just about everything you can imagine, from fruit to home-distilled rice schnapps. However, most travelers will classify one or the other as too exotic.
Not only the mainland in Vietnam has a lot to offer. No, the Asian country also has wonderful excursion opportunities on the surrounding islands. Dreamlike and lonely sandy beaches surrounded by palm trees and green-blue sea offer a break from the hectic life in cities like Hanoi or Hoh Chi Minh. We have picked out the eight most beautiful islands in Vietnam for you and are sending you to the tropical paradise, as well as to real insider tips in Vietnam that are still off the beaten track of mass tourism. Sit back, put your feet in the sand and relax.
Let's get to our first island paradise in Vietnam. Okay, admittedly, this is not exactly an insider tip, but a vacation on Phu Quoc is somehow part of being in Vietnam.
Located off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc is also extremely popular with locals looking for rest and relaxation from the bustling mainland cities. You can expect white sandy beaches lined with palm trees and a national park that stretches across the island with its dense rainforest, mountainous landscape, lots of exotic animals and great hiking routes.
Pirate tip: The south of the island is already extremely touristy. If you are allergic to other tourists, you should stay in the north of the island. Here you will find equally beautiful beaches and much more peace and quiet.
We remain in the Gulf of Thailand, moving southeast from Phu Quoc and closer to the coast of Vietnam. In the Nam Du archipelago (archipelago) we find the island of the same name, Nam Du Island, which is a real paradise.
With this insider tip for Vietnam you are really away from tourism and actually from any civilization. There is hardly any Wifi and the mobile phone reception itself is horrible. You won't find an ATM here either. So you should withdraw money before your visit to Nam Du Island. Electricity is only available for a few hours a day, but that's what makes it so seductive. Just switch off and leave everything behind. All the stress just stays on the mainland.
And so you sit comfortably on the dream beach, which you practically have all to yourself and enjoy the sunsets with a delicious drink. During the day you can explore the dense jungle and feel like Tarzan and Jane. Simply unique!
The fascinating and beautiful Cat Ba Archipelago is just a short distance from the extremely famous Ha Long Bay. Although the area around Ha Long Bay in particular is a tourist hot spot, you should still avoid these islands. Should you decide to vacation on Cat Ba, the main island of the same name, you will be treated to a sight that is unlikely to be found anywhere else in the world.
Cat Ba itself is the largest island of the archipelago and is surrounded by distinctive rock formations, which protrude from the green-blue sea and are forested with tropical vegetation. In the small and green-blue bays, the local and mostly traditional boats bob up and down. The quiet and unique scenery that awaits you here simply radiates an incredible calm that you should have experienced.
Our place four of the most beautiful islands in Vietnam is not actually an island, but it still belongs on our list because here you just feel like you are in an island paradise. Hang Rai is about 61 miles south of Nha Trang in Nui Chua National Park.
Surrounded by an impressive mountain landscape on one side and open to the sea on the other side, Hang Rai looks like a scenery from another planet. Magnificent cave landscapes, a fantastically beautiful coral reef and untouched and natural beauty await you here.
The biggest highlight is probably the rock formations in the sea, which are caused by the ocean waves to form a waterfall that can be seen from the shore. Hang Rai is a unique place that is perfect for a day trip if you are on a tour of Vietnam, for example.
This is where history meets a dream island: discover the slightly different side of Vietnam during your vacation on Con Dao. The archipelago lies off the south-east coast of the country, almost between the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea.
As dreamy as the island may appear with its snow-white powdered sugar beaches that stretch along the coast, Con Dao's historical past is just as bleak. Because here, in addition to crystal-clear water, a colorful underwater world and a coral reef that invites you to snorkel, you can also discover the history of Con Son prison, in which even the national heroine Vo Thi Sau was executed during wartime. Yes, you heard correctly. Beach paradise meets prison.
But maybe that's exactly what makes the Con Dao Archipelago in Vietnam so interesting: the exciting mix of beautiful nature and fascinating history.
Only an hour's ferry crossing separates you from Ly Son in the South China Sea and the mainland. The island is off the south-central coast of Vietnam and is home to heaps of garlic. There are definitely no vampires here. The popular spice is grown here in volcanic soil and protected from the sun with sand. Of course, there are also plenty of delicious garlic dishes on Ly Son, but don't worry, even for those of you who don't like garlic, the island is still worth a visit.
There are dozens of temples that invite you to visit, extremely cheap, and very tasty sea food and a panoramic view of Mount Thoi Loi, which makes every sunset something very special. Garlic or not, you shouldn't miss Ly Son either.
Cu Lao Cham is a group of eight islands that form a marine park in the East Vietnamese Sea. The Cu Lao Cham archipelago in Vietnam is even protected by UNESCO due to its biodiversity. You can easily reach them by canoe from Hoi An's Cua Dai Beach.
Dreamlike and tropical rainforests stretch out in front of your feet, as well as a mountainous landscape and sandy beaches so dazzlingly white that you should definitely not forget your sunglasses. While snorkeling you can also discover the underwater world, which awaits you here in all colors and shapes. Cu Lao Cham is just the perfect day trip when you are in Hoi An.
Our last spot of the most beautiful islands in Vietnam goes to Binh Ba, just under 9 miles south of Nha Trang. If you decide to vacation on Binh Ba, then you have discovered a little insider tip.
Ferry crossing from Cam Rahn Harbor is only $1. You have the beaches of Binh Ba almost to yourself, because as already mentioned, the island is not yet in the focus of tourists. The rock formation that rises up on the beach as a giant turtle is particularly beautiful. So enjoy the space you have to yourself, enjoy the view and the absolutely delicious and cheap food.
There is another special feature on Binh Bah. Here you can treat yourself to a dinner in the sea, placed on an inflatable table, and wearing a life jacket, you rock in the waves and enjoy your lunch - of course only if the waves are not too high, otherwise the meal would be a little difficult.
When you think of a beach vacation in Southeast Asia, Thailand is usually the first thing that comes to mind. Maybe Bali or Malaysia. Vietnam has more than 600 miles of coastline and beautiful sandy beaches. Especially in the south, the water is warm enough for swimming all year round.
The most famous seaside resort in Vietnam is probably Mui Ne. Originally discovered by backpackers, you can now also find luxury resorts on the beaches there that fulfill every wish. Nevertheless, the city is still a starting point for round travelers who are looking for a few days by the sea as a stopover or to end their trip.
In recent years, Nha Trang has also become a perfect place for a beach vacation. The wide sandy beach stretches over three miles along the city. Numerous hotels of all categories will find guests for every budget. Getting there is easy as the Reunification Express makes multiple stops in Nha Trang every day.
A little further north, perfectly situated between the visitor points of Hue and Hoi An, the sandy beaches of Da Nang also invite you to look for a few days of relaxation. Although the city is somewhat overshadowed by Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, it has recently undergone enormous development. Due to its easy accessibility via the international airport, it is also popular as a weekend getaway for travelers from all over Southeast Asia.
Of course, one should not forget the island of Phu Quoc in the very south of Vietnam. It has long since lost the innocence of the last century, when it became known as a dropout paradise. But it is now easier to reach than ever before and in addition to the simple bungalows, which offered nothing more than a bed and a mosquito net, you will now also find modern resorts with fantastic pool landscapes.
Within a short time, Vietnam has developed into an economically flourishing and touristically worthwhile country. More and more travelers are drawn here and alongside the typical destinations in Asia such as Thailand or the Philippines, Vietnam has meanwhile blossomed into a growing competitor. It's just fun to discover the country, its incredible culture and the beautiful beaches. Especially since Vietnam is simply a paradise for backpackers in terms of price. Some important information for your vacation in Vietnam can be found below.
Entry into Vietnam is possible with an e-Visa at the Vietnamese Immigration Office at a cost of US$25. Travelers can spend up to 30 days on this visa. Attention: These regulations can change at any time! Before you travel, consult the Travel.State.Gov website to find out whether there are any changes to the current entry requirements for Vietnam.
From the US there are no direct flights, however, great-value round-trip fares can be bought in various major cities, but particularly out of Los Angeles or San Francisco. There are numerous transfer connections, for example via Bangkok or Singapore to the major cities of Saigon and Hanoi as well as to the vacation resorts of Nha Trang and Phu Quoc. If you are lucky and keep your eyes open with us, you can snag one or the other flight bargain to Vietnam and save money.
When is a trip to Vietnam recommended? Everyone probably asks this question before planning their vacation. Even if you shouldn't completely ignore the rainy season, since there are simply significantly fewer tourists on site at this time and the offers for accommodation are even cheaper, it's not for everyone to have a drop or two of rain on their trip get off. To choose your perfect time for a trip to Vietnam, you should know that the country is divided into three climate zones: South Vietnam, Central Vietnam, and North Vietnam.
The south of Vietnam is mainly characterized by a tropical climate and temperatures range between 86°F and 90°F throughout the year. The best travel time for the south is probably between November and January. Then it is dry and the temperatures are between 82°F and 86°F. Between February and May it can get uncomfortable with high humidity and temperatures can reach up to 95°F. The rainy season is from June to October.
Central Vietnam has a tropical and cycle humid climate. The best time to travel is between February and May, when temperatures are constantly between 75°F and 82°F. June gets muggy with temperatures up to 88°F and October to November is high typhoon season with frequent flooding and landslides.
North Vietnam, around Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, has a subtropical climate . Winter here is between November to April and temperatures can drop to 50°F. With high humidity, this can quickly feel very cold. In spring there are fewer tourists and the temperatures are milder. Between July and August it gets really hot with temperatures around 90°F. High season is between September and November when the thermometer is constantly at 89°F.
South Vietnam: November to January
Central Vietnam: February to May
North Vietnam: September to November
What is actually the best when you are traveling in new countries? Exactly: The food and especially Asian dishes are among the favorites of most of us. A vacation in Vietnam turns into a gourmet trip. The Vietnamese national dish is the hearty pho soup, which is usually served with beef (pho bo) or chicken (pho ga). You will also get numerous rice and noodle dishes.
Pirate Tip: While Vietnam may not be known for its coffee, you should still try it because it's absolutely delicious. In any case, you can look forward to an exciting world of taste and try out how spicy it can really be.
Travelers will find sufficient accommodation almost everywhere in Vietnam, both simple guesthouses and middle-class hotels. Numerous luxury resorts have also sprung up around the most important sights in recent years. French and American hotel chains in particular can be found almost everywhere.
Free WiFi has been standard for a number of years, even if you only spend a few euros on accommodation. Air conditioning is also common, and occasionally you pay a surcharge for rooms equipped with it to cover electricity costs.
Almost all accommodation can be booked online in advance, which is also recommended. Because with the big hotel chains you often get early booking discounts of up to 40%, also pay attention to promos and sales. It is not uncommon for you to get a luxury hotel for a similar price to a mid-range hotel.
But even for simple accommodation it is worth looking before you travel. These often only have a limited number of rooms, especially for single travelers. If these are fully booked, you have to settle for the second choice or pay more than you actually have to.
Most hotels in Vietnam can be divided into two groups. On the one hand, there is an almost unmanageable number of mid-range hotels, which usually do not belong to any chain and are popular with both the local middle class and tourists with a medium budget.
Normally the rooms have their own bathroom and air conditioning, the hotel usually has its own restaurant. You can also have your clothes washed for little money and get them freshly ironed back the next morning. Most hotels do not offer their own tours, but they will be happy to put you in touch with an operator, which is helpful so that you do not have to take a taxi alone, for example. Calculate around 30 to 40 dollars per night for a double room, although it can be a good bit more expensive in the high season if you book at the last minute.
There are of course no upper limits. Luxury hotels complement the offer, especially where many foreign tourists stay. Most of the time, you will find hotels in this category in business districts or on the beach, so that you often have to travel a little longer. Of course, the facilities leave nothing to be desired, mostly there are shuttle buses and tour offers.
From time to time you can get such hotels from as little as 50 dollars per night, especially in the low season and as part of special prepaid rates. The rule is more like 80 to 150 dollars, with the location of course having the largest share. Of course, if you want to go directly from the resort to the beach, that has its price.
As is common throughout Southeast Asia, you will also find a wide range of simple accommodation for backpackers and long-term guests in Vietnam. Particularly noteworthy here are the so-called homestays. As the name suggests, you stay at the host's house. Families usually sleep on the ground floor and the upper floors have been developed for guests. Since most of the accommodation has only been built in recent years, the standard is often surprisingly high and the furnishings modern. Contact with the family and the other guests is expressly desired here. So don't book it if you prefer the privacy of a hotel.
Even if they are being pushed out more and more, the famous bungalows that cost little, are simply furnished and are usually not far from the sea are still on the beaches of Vietnam. It is best to take a look at the reviews and pictures in advance and think about how much comfort you want and can do without. If you have a nervous breakdown with a lizard in your room, you better look for something else.
Classic hostels like in Europe can also be found in Vietnam, but they are often only booked by people with extremely tight budgets. The reason is quite simple. If you are traveling as a couple, you will not pay much less for two beds in a hostel than for a middle-class hotel. Of course, one advantage of a hostel is that it is much easier to get in touch with other travellers, make plans together or share the cost of the taxi to the airport.