Vietnam is one of those countries that will make you want to go back over and over again because you constantly feel like you’re missing out on another amazing spot. From tropical islands and beaches in the south to bustling cities (with the highest number of scooters you will probably ever see in your whole life) to breathtaking landscapes all over the country that include anything from crazy looking mountains that are covered in rainforest to mind-blowing rice terraces all the way in the north in Sapa. On top of that, there is so much to learn about the countries history that will most likely make you pretty sad but will also give you the opportunity to appreciate the people’s absolute generosity and friendliness even more, all while enjoying some of the best food in the world.
Enough of my babbling though. Let’s have a look at what places you absolutely cannot miss on your trip to Vietnam.
Ho-Chi-Minh/Saigon (2 full days)
Saigon is where I started my trip and I can absolutely recommend doing it this way (instead of starting in the north in Hanoi). The city and all its scooters might almost seem a bit overwhelming at first but I’m sure you’ll come to love this place as much as I did very soon because there is so much to explore. Although it’s pretty upsetting, make sure to definitely check out the War Remnants Museum (I’m usually not a big fan of most museums but this one is just really informative and makes you think; it’s just honestly something you have to check out). The city is also perfect to do a walking tour to check out the Notre Dame Cathedral, the central post office
Must-Do: Definitely book a trip to the Cu-Chi-Tunnels because they will blow your mind!
Mui Ne (2 days)
Mui Ne is a small fishing village about 5 hours away from Saigon that is very popular because of it’s really awesome looking boats, amazing seafood
Da Lat (1 full day to do the Canyoning)
Da Lat is a
Hoi An (easily 2 days)
Hoi An is honestly unlike any other town is South East Asia and will make you fall in love with it in a heartbeat. The old town center is a mix of different architectural periods and is so amazingly well preserved that you feel like you’re in a different time epoche. Make sure to go for a proper walk to take everything in and check out the Japanese bridge as well as the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall. Hoi An is also one of the best places to take a Vietnamese cooking class so if you have enough time, give that a try 😊 If you rather feel like checking out another beach, rent a scooter (which is super easy here and traffic is usually not bad at all) and head over to An Bang Beach.
The Golden Bridge in the Ba Na Hills is a recent addition in the area that’s been recently added and it looks truly amazing. Although I did not see it (because it didn’t exist when I was there lol) I only heard amazing things about it so make sure to go!
Hai Van Pass (1 day)
Vietnam is known to offer some of the greatest motorcycle routes and this one is definitely one of them. There are plenty of bike rental agencies in Hoi An that offer to take your luggage to your Hotel in Hue while you make your way there by Bike and the route there is absolutely beautiful and something you will never forget. If you’re still a bit unsure about your scooter skills, team up with somebody who isn’t and enjoy the ride on the back 😊 Start driving as early as possible because the ride usually takes between 4 to 6 hours and offers stunning view points, beaches and nature in general. If you want to, check out Marble Mountain and Lang Co beach on the way. They’re both really nice stops and definitely worth checking out.
Hue (at least 2 days, preferably 3)
Phong Nha (at least one full day)
Phong Nha is a super small rural village that’s surrounded by gorgeous mountains that seem out of this world. The whole area is super peaceful and renting a scooter and just driving around and taking everything in is pure joy. Life is simple here so you will so countless cows walking on the streets and it seems like the locals always have a smile on their face which is why it’s so easy to feel super comfortable here. While driving around, you can go check out the Phong Nha Caves wich are pretty cool.
Ninh Binh (3 days)
(Lost the photos but a google search will blow your mind :D)
Ninh Binh is a small town about 100km from Hanoi and it is here where you will find some of the most majestic landscapes you can honestly ever imagine. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT miss out on this. Rent a scooter and go exploring because behind every turn, you will find another ridiculously perfect landscape. Check out Hang Mua viewpoint for one of the truly most amazing viewpoints you will ever see and the Bai Dinh Temple for one of the coolest temples in all of Asia. Also make sure to go on a Tam Coc Boattour and just enjoy the peacefulness this whole area will give you.
Hanoi (2 days)
Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital and is bustling with life (and scooters :D). Don’t miss the imperial citadel that’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage and the Dong Xuan Market where you will take in a crazy amount of smells and impressions. Also, make sure to walk around the Hanoi old quarter that’s located in the Bah Dinh district. You will find a lot of French architecture here, amazing street food and all sorts of street vendors, all while you get to try to not get run over by a million scooters :D. The Hoa Lo Prison is also definitely worth a visit because it will give you a crazy insight on what imprisonment during the Vietnam War was like. Last but not least, check out the famous Hoan Kiem Lake that’s perfect for a chill afternoon stroll.
Halong Bay (3 days)
Halong Bay is probably THE most known and iconic destination when talking about Vietnam and will most definitely leave you speechless cause it’s that pretty. There are countless tour providers and agencies that will take you here but prices and quality can vary extremely (!!!) so make sure to research it properly before booking anything. If you have the time, I recommend going on a 3-day tour because you really don’t want to have to rush through this piece of paradise. While most tours will have accommodations on the boat (which means you will not really get to leave the boat) there are some operators that enable you to stay on a private island/beach which I definitely recommend cause it was the diggity bomb 😀
Sapa (2-3 days)
(Same here, check out Google and start daydreaming :D)
Sapa is an amazing town in the northeast of Vietnam where some of the most amazing rice terraces ever are located. It is here where you get to enjoy absolute tranquility while being surrounded by amazing hills, waterfalls and landscapes. Sapa is oftentimes used a starting point for trekking tours but it’s also perfect to just relax after the busy big city life in Hanoi. There can be a lot of rain sometimes, so make sure to check that out before heading there in order to avoid being disappointed because you can’t see anything at all 😀 This is it!! Although there are still a gazillion more things to look at, this should keep you busy for a good 3 weeks and should provide a really nice and diverse overview of one of my absolute favorite countries in South East Asia.