Vietnam's capital races to make up for time lost to the ravages of war and a government that as recently as the 1990s kept the outside world at bay. Its streets surge with scooters vying for right of way amid the din of constantly blaring horns, and all around layers of history reveal periods of French and Chinese occupation.
Architecturally styled like a French provincial town with tree-lined boulevards and substantial low-built houses, the city is wonderfully nostalgic. You can talk a walk through the narrow lanes of the fascinating Old Quarter, where the streets are named after various crafts or specialties: Paper Street, Silk Street, Basket Street and so on; enjoy a wonderful morning wandering around Hoan Kiem Lake, get lost among the interesting sights like the charming One-Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature and the Presidential Palace.
Trang An, Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh is a good base for exploring quintessentially Vietnamese limestone scenery. Few Western tourists head here, but many Vietnamese flocks to nearby sights, including the nation’s biggest pagoda and the Unesco World Heritage-listed Trang An grottoes.
First, you can arrive in Hoa Lu, discover the first capital of Vietnam, which was founded in the 10th Century by the Dinh Dynasty as a stronghold against the Northern invaders and shortly later was inherited by the Le Dynasty. You’ll visit the two old temples one dedicated to Dinh Tien Hoang, the only king of the Dinh Dynasty and also Vietnam’s first emperor and the other to the succeeding kings of the Le Dynasty.
After that, a visit to Trang An is a must. This tourist attraction has over 310 species of higher plants, many algae and fungi. In particular, there have some rare woods and various valuable trees using for food, medicine. In addition, there are about 30 species of mammals, 50 species of birds, dozens of species of reptiles and some rare animals such as: chamois, leopard, phoenix… Sitting on a small sampan to visit cave complex: Sang Cave, Toi Cave, Ba Giot Cave, Nau Ruou in mystery and wildness, see the scenery of mountains and rivers Ha Long on the land of Ninh Binh is definitely great experience.
Ha Long Bay, Quang Ninh
Ha Long Bay is a World Heritage as designated by UNESCO in 1994 with nearly 3,000 rocky islets. You will sail a boat round its natural rocky gardens. Most of the islets here are not for living due to the lack of freshwater, but are excellent for cruising to contemplate their miraculous draws on the horizon. Many of them have great names from their inspirational shapes, including the Surprising cave, Pelican Grotto, Chopstick rock, Butterfly rock, Turtle rock, the island of Fishman’s Head, the Fighting Cocks, the Sail, the Urn, or the Sea Dog! You can visit a grotto, or just lazily relax on the sundeck.
As the former imperial capital, Hue offers a unique insight into historic Vietnam. The city is filled with relics of a fascinating past and ancient architecture is a sight to behold. This peaceful city is also the cradle of Buddhism in Vietnam and tranquil pagodas are abounded. You will have a chance to understand Vietnam’s history more through a visit to The Imperial Enclosure, which is a citadel-within-a-citadel, housing the emperor’s residence, temples and palaces, and the main buildings of state, within 6m-high, 2.5km-long walls. What’s left is only a fraction of the original – the enclosure was badly bombed during the French and American Wars, and only 20 of its 148 buildings survived.
One of the most beautiful and famous pagodas in Hue is Thien Mu Pagoda – the oldest pagoda located on the bank of the charming Perfume River in the city. Hue also owes its charm partly to its location on the Perfume River – picturesque on a clear day, atmospheric even in less flattering weather.
Moreover, another must-see attraction is the famous King’s tomb in Hue city, Khai Dinh tomb – a blend of Western and Eastern architecture & Imperial Citadel – a UNESCO listed site. Despite being bombarded heavily by bombs during the Vietnam War, many sections of the citadel are still intact and incredibly well-preserved. Other sections have been restored with care by the Vietnamese Government.
Hoi An, Quang Nam
Hoi An, known as one of South-East Asia’s major international ports of call for Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and other trading vessels with the name of Faifo, is Vietnam’s most atmospheric and delightful town. The face of the Old Town has preserved its incredible legacy of tottering Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples and ancient tea warehouses. Strolling around the charming old town and visit ancient houses, local markets, traditional handicraft workshops, Chinese community’s assembly halls and Japanese Bridge Pagoda, you shall try some Hoi An specialties: Banh Mi Phuong, Com Ga.
In Da Nang, you can enjoy a trip on cable car which has received many Guinness World Records such as longest single-wire cable car system (5,771.61m), highest difference between departure and arrival terminals (1,368.93m), contemplate the grandeur of mountain and the green forests below, take part in games at Fantasy Park - the indoor theme park which satisfies the entertainment demands of all ages, featuring amusing games for children to X-games for adults (except Wat Showroom & Carnival Skills). Or you can freely explore Vietnam’s amazing Golden Bridge which The Times magazine has listed it in its list of top 100 most wonderful destinations in the world for 2018. The Golden Bridge is located midway between the sky at an altitude of over 1.400m. All will bring you the adventurous feeling as in the fairyland and wonderful experiences with four seasons in one day and an abundant fauna and flora system.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam at its most dizzying: a high-octane city of commerce and culture that has driven the country forward with its pulsating energy. A chaotic whirl, the city breathes life and vitality into all who settle here, and visitors cannot help but be hauled along for the ride. Wander through timeless alleys to incense-infused temples before negotiating chic designer malls beneath sleek 21st-century skyscrapers, now the real beauty of the former Saigon’s urban collage is the seamless blending of these two worlds into one exciting mass. A visit to Saigon’s historic landmarks such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office and former Presidential Palace - the headquarters of the Saigon Government during the American war, will definitely give you an interesting experience.
Called as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the delta is carpeted in a dizzying variety of greens. It's a water world that moves to the rhythms of the mighty Mekong, where boats, houses and markets float upon the innumerable rivers, canals and streams that criss-cross the landscape like arteries.
Visiting Trang An Pagoda and cruising on Tien River to visit Thoi Son Islet by motorized boat, you will see the My Tho fishing village with floating fish farm, stilt houses and fruit plantation along the river bank. Walking on the village road, you will visit tropical orchards, bee-keeping farm, taste natural honey and honey wine, enjoy tropical fruits and traditional local folk songs, explore the local coconut candy production process, taste candy & coconut pulp. You will have a chance to try a rowing boat ride along the creeks, under the shadow of the water coconut trees.
If the tenacious spirit of the Vietnamese can be symbolized by a place, few sites are more symbolic than Cu Chi. At first glance, there is scant evidence today of the fighting and bombing that convulsed Cu Chi during the war. To see what went on, you have to dig deeper – underground.
Cu Chi Tunnels is an underground village of local guerillas in the Vietnam War. This network of tunnels, which stretched for over 200km, became legendary during the 1960s. The Cu Chi tunnels played a vital part in the U.S.-Vietnam War in that they allowed the Viet Cong to control a large rural area only 30 to 40 km from Saigon. Spend time exploring the tunnel then test your marksmanship with an AK rifle at a local rifle range (optional with surcharge).