Best Places To See in Vietnam

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best places to see in vietnam

Best Places To See In Vietnam

Lonely Planet PathfindersWelcome back to my Blog! On this blog post I’m going to let you know the Best Places to see in Vietnam. Of course I’m going to miss somethings, Vietnam has so much diversity that even in a 3 week trip it is difficult to chose what to visit.

If you do a trip like this, its probably worth investing in a travel guide. I always recommend to most complete one that will give you all the information you need to plan your trip. Lonely Planet’s Vietnam Guide is great!

The Trip to Vietnam

When you think of Vietnam, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Rice fields? Conical hats? and maybe lots of motorcycles?  Yes, I thought the same before going there, but to our surprise, Vietnam was the ultimate paradise to do tourism in many different ambients.

Before I get started, let me tell you that we travelled to Vietnam in August, which is the last month of the rainy season. Although the climate is more relevant in the South than in the North, you might want to consider this alternative, cause things can get pretty cheap as its low season.

Our 3 week route included: 

  • Ho Chi Minh
  • Hoi An
  • Hanoi
  • Halong Bay 
  • Phu Quoc 

We landed in Ho Chi Minh city, or Saigon as the locals call it.

Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh, was the name of the President of Vietnam who led the war against the Americans and the south Vietnamese. After the war in 1975, the city of Saigon in the south, was re-named to Ho Chi Minh City. But, if you talk to the locals, they will tell you they live in Saigon as they were fighting the North Vietnamese with the Americans.

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This important part of Vietnam’s history, has an impact on tourism as you can imagine. In Ho Chi Minh, there are many museums dedicated to that era. War museums that illustrate the view of the people from the south. 

We visited a Museum called War Remnants Museum. In this museum you will find tanks, guns, planes and lots of pictures showing the disaster…definitely one of the best places to see in Vietnam.

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Another place that is worth the visit, is the Independence Palace. This is one of the most iconic sites in Ho Chi Minh city, and its amongst the top 10 cultural sites to visit in Vietnam. 

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After you’ve explored the city, ate great Viet food, you might want to enjoy a great cocktail at the best rooftop, The View Rooftop Bar. This place is amazing to get a full view of the city, and the barman’s there are very experienced!

Where to sleep in Ho Chi Minh?

If this is your first stop in Vietnam, and you’re a bit scared of the hygiene you’re going to find, I recommend you start off in a decent hotel, while you get used to the Vietnamese life.

Infinity Edge Pool View Hotel, Ho Chi Minh, is the place where we stayed for 3 days. The name of this hotel says it all! It has an amazing infinity pool with views over the city, and a good gym too. Food is continental, so you don’t have worry. But, it’s best if you stroll around the hotel and find a local place to save some bucks 😉

If the price doesn’t fit you, here are other suggestions you can explore:

Booking.com

Hoi An

From Ho Chi Minh we grabbed a plane to Da Nang, it is the closest airport to the beautiful city of Hoi An. It’s only an hour away and the local airlines are very cheap.

Hoi An is a city with over 120.000 people living there and a UNESCO site. The city has the biggest seaport of South East Asia. The river practically splits the city in two, which makes it even more photogenic.

In Hoi An there is great gastronomy with lots of options to choose from. There are a bunch of little restaurants next to the river that offer from Viet food to fresh Italian Pizzas. But one thing you have to visit is the Night Market. 

The Night Market in Hoi An, is a complete feast for your senses. Lots of different smells, nice art craft jewelries, traditional lanterns and many more! Dedicate 2 hours in the afternoon and then go have dinner to one of the cute restaurants next to the river.

Hoi An

Only 10 min away from Hoi An by car/uber (Grab in Vietnam) you’ll get to the Beach of An Bang. It’s where locals and tourist go to the beach so, if you want to avoid crowds, it’s best if you consider going there early morning.

The old town of Hoi An is one of the prettiest places we saw in Vietnam. Little streets where you blend in with traditional houses, local shops and the daily activity of a typical South east Asian town.

Where to sleep in Hoi An?

Royal Hoi An, Mgallery By Sofitel

Hoi An is the typical Vietnamese town with lots of tourists and local markets to visit. With all that crowd in the streets, if you’re looking for a relaxing hotel, with 2 pools and french-viet cuisine, this is the place!

 

Located along Thu Bon River and just a short stroll away from the ancient town of Hoi An, a World Heritage Site, Hotel Royal Hoi An, MGallery by Sofitel is truly a perfect place to experience a refined luxurious sojourn.

Hoi An is home to an abundance of marvels such as Japanese Bridge, pristine An Bang Beach, Ancient Town, Tra Que Vegetables & Thanh Ha Pottery Villages. Be adventurous & partake in a Vespa tour, photography excursions or the world of rich cuisines.

La Siesta Hoi An Resort & Spa

What could be more relaxing than spending your afternoon at the pool after a long day of walking, sight-seeing and big noodle cups? This amazing hotel has you covered in every little detail you’re thinking of, to make your days feel like a king – queen!

This hotel is not like the massive resorts you have in mind, it’s more like a big boutique hotel, with all the little details taken care of. My favorite part was the black stone pool and the excellent bloody marys they prepare!

Here are other suggestions for you:

Booking.com

Hanoi

Hanoi! The city that never sleeps (literally). The capital of Vietnam and an explosion of culture! We had lots of fun in this city. Night life here is so intense, you’ll blend in with the locals without even noticing 🙂

As you can imagine, Hanoi is an over populated city with an intense activity all day long. Many people say that if you survive driving in Hanoi, you’ll survive anywhere in the world. 

We decided to split our time in two different type of activities: cultural sites and fun.

One of the top sites you have to visit is the Imperial Citadell of Thang Long. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history and, signifying its historical and cultural importance, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing 40 metres high, the central flag tower is the most recognizable feature of the Imperial Citadel and is often used as a symbol of Hanoi. 

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, as you’ve probably guessed, is a huge monument dedicated to the General that led the independence of Vietnam and the unification of the south and the north during the famous vietnam war. It’s worth seeing given the size of this place and the military avenues around it.

Vietnam

Tran Quoc Pagoda, one of its kind! It’s the oldest pagoda in Hanoi. Although it’s now set on an islet within West Lake, the pagoda was originally located on banks of Red River before its relocated in 1615 due to the river’s encroachment.

READ MORE HERE

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The Hanoi Opera House is amongst the best things things to see in Vietnam given its Parisian architecture and the ivory colored columns. A must visit in Hanoi for a quick snap shot!

These are some of the top places we visited in Hanoi and we loved it! After all this hustle, you might want to experience Hanoi’s night life.

The old quarter in Hanoi offers many possibilities for a great time. Big discos or small bars with very competitive prices, your choice.

We picked a place called 1900’s. The music was good, the ambient was incredible and the drinks weren’t too expensive.

Where to sleep in Hanoi?

In Hanoi there are a lot of options to choose from, but we decided to blend a bit more with the local culture and other travelers and we stayed at the best hostel of Hanoi.

Cocoon Inn Hostel, Hanoi

This hostel is in the middle of Hanoi and really close to everything. You might feel you’re in the center of humanity at some point, but you’re just in the city center of the most crowded city in Vietnam.

Great people there, great atmosphere, great attention and lots of opportunities to explore! My favorite place in Hanoi!

From Hanoi, we went to Halong Bay. There is a 3 hour ride by bus but it’s really comfy!

Halong Bay

This place is definitely one of the best places to visit in Vietnam, and a must! Ha long Bay is part of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World by UNESCO. Over 1900 little islands, most of then inhabited given the singularity of the natural formations, this place will leave you speechless.

Probably, most pictures you’ve seen of Vietnam have a front cover with a Ha Long Bay photo. One of the best places to see in Vietnam for sure! When we were in Hanoi, we heard many people doubting about visit this place or not. Don’t make the same mistake…VISIT HA LONG BAY!

We went on a party cruise called Oasis Bay Party Cruise. For us, the best option if you’re looking to meet great people and have lots of fun. 

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On board there are several activities you can do: swim on a jacuzzi, do beer yoga, learn Viet cooking style and of course, party!!

The cruise takes you on a 2 night 3 day tour. The first night you spend it traveling to Halong Bay, and the second night we stopped at the Freedom Island! A little island that you can go kayaking, listed to music, do water sports, play volley…lot and lots of fun!!

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Best places to visit in Vietnam

Believe me, this experience will change your life. You’ll meet amazing people and you’ll have great memories.

I recommend you book this cruise at the Cocoon Inn Hostel in Hanoi. There are some scams around and it’s best if you hire a trusted company like Oasis Bay Cruises.

In case you want to explore other cruises in Halong Bay:

Booking.com

Back to Hanoi, we flew to Phu Quoc Island in the south for our last visit.

Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc is one of the best places to see in Vietnam! Those places, that once you see it, you’ll think twice if you’re dreaming. White sand beaches, palm trees, amazing resorts and the smell that something great is going to happen.

La Veranda

The tourism in Phu Quoc is very high all year long, but, during the months of July and August its like rain season, so the tourism lowers a bit. We went there in August and we only saw rain 1 day. Even though, I still think Phu Quoc is one of the best places to visit in Vietnam.

During the Vietnam War, Phu Quoc used to be used to hold prisoners of war. Due to this reason, there is a prison museum you can visit, it’s called The Coconut Prison. It’s quite impactful to see how the prisoners use to live and all the installations. Also, some prisoners escaped through a tunnel which can be seen. The entrance is free, so it’s worth the visit.

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Another great thing to visit is Ham Ninh Fishing Village. A town where fisherman trade their fish and select it for the best bid. The fisherman are also known to dive for pearls or sea cucumbers. Recently, due to the increment of tourism, they even hand-craft fishermen ornaments for tourists.

Looking for a relaxing beach? Bai Sao is definitely the one! White sand, palm trees, and even an instagrammable spot with a swing hanging from a palm tree.

Where to sleep in Phu Quoc?

Depends if you visit Phu Quoc as a backpacker or as a luxe traveler, in Phu Quoc there is room for both types of tourism.

In our case, we decided to fully relax after our long journey through Vietnam. Consequently, we chose two of the most amazing resorts I’ve ever been to.

 

La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc – MGallery by Sofitel

This amazing hotel, is a unique Oasis in this paradise island. If you’re looking for something premium with excellence attention and service, this is your place.

La Veranda Phu Quoc

Also, it is so unique, I wrote another post talking about it!

READ HERE

Salinda Resort, Phu Quoc

With a dedication to providing outstanding hospitality, Salinda Resort is a five-star boutique resort, located on the prime location on Phu Quoc Island with stunning views on romantic sunsets.

The resort features 121 luxury rooms, suites and villas designed in contemporary style with added local touch that creates an almost seamless transition from the inside out, all whilst being surrounded by the elegance and simplicity of the island’s natural environment. Surrender to the allure of island life at Salinda Resort!

Alright folks, this was it on this post. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment box below. 

Most importantly, it would be great to know what you think to help me improve on future posts!

Another tip, I recommend that you go during mid season: June, September. Tourism is not too high during these months and you’ll be able to explore everything without crowds.

Finally, if you want to keep the budget low, you can book hostels the same day, with no need to rush in advance. Or even home-stays really cheap (2$/night). In 3 weeks I spent around 500$ and I went “All-In” on drinks, you know what I mean 😉

On my next post I’m going to talk about the most amazing experience I had in Ha Long Bay!

Thanks for reading,

Cheers,

Ivan

“Traveling to Find Cool Cultures”

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