If you love to travel then Southeast Asia really is an unmissable destination with an array of experiences to offer – but if you could also pick one, which would it be? For me, it has to be Vietnam, as this long slither of a country offers a huge amount of diversity that will impress even the most experienced tourist. But what is Vietnam famous for? What to see in Vietnam that makes it an incredible and unique destination?
Bordering China, Laos and Cambodia, Vietnam has over 1,000 miles to explore, with coastline running along almost all of it. Ruins, beaches, rice terraces, spectacular landscapes and some of the most beguiling cities on earth can all be discovered within Vietnam’s boundaries.
It also has the crown for the world’s cheapest beer for its locally brewed Bia Hoi that is freshly made every day and contains no preservatives. These are just a few facts about Vietnam that draw tourists from all corners to this buzzing country.
So, what is Vietnam famous for?
Below are 9 reasons why Vietnam really is an unmissable destination in Southeast Asia and why you should plan a trip there as soon as possible. After all the travel inspiration you will find a section with practical info to help you plan your trip to Vietnam.
What is Vietnam famous for?
We start our list of what Vietnam is known for with history, of course, but our inspiring facts about Vietnam also include nature, culture and delicious food. Be ready to start dreaming of your trip to Vietnam
1- History is everywhere in Vietnam
Vietnam has a fascinating history that can be seen in exquisite buildings from the Nguyen Dynasty in Huế, to the grim Hoa Lo Prison that was built in Hanoi during French colonial times.
Not only that, but there are several sites from the Vietnam War, like the Cu Chi and Vinh Moc tunnels that you can still visit. Central Vietnam has a demilitarized zone known as the DMZ where there are several monuments and museums to visit built on the land where the battles were fought.
After visiting the War Remnants Museum and Ho Chi Minh City Museum, take a half-day or even the whole day to join one of the tours about the Vietnam War and its sites around HCM City. You can book your tour in advance via GetYourGuide, below are a few options.
2 – The uniqueness of Huế and Hoi An
Central Vietnam has some of the most exquisite architecture that the country has to offer, much of it in and around Huế and Hoi An. The city of Hue surrounds the forbidden city at its center and houses elaborate mausoleums for its past emperors in the countryside. It even has an abandoned water park complete with a dragon pool and waterslides.
Hoi An is amazing in a totally different way, the streets of this ex-trading port are lined with traditional wooden houses along the Thu Bon River. It lights up on the 14th day of every lunar calendar month when lanterns are lit with candles and floated down the river to bring luck and happiness. Read Love and Road Hoi An travel guide here.
3 – Vietnam karst bays
It’s impossible to look at any photos of Vietnam without coming across the eternally famous Ha Long Bay. This picture-perfect seascape is dominated by green limestone karsts with tiny fishing villages in their shadows.
For a less-touristy experience try Lan Ha Bay near Cat Ba Island which offers the same landscape for a cheaper price. If you want to see incredible views of the karsts on land, then head to Ninh Binh where wide rivers run through grassy rice fields at the bottom of stunning valleys.
4 – Vietnamese food
Even against all the competition with the incredible dishes from its neighbors, Vietnamese food still really stands out. The most delicious savory dishes include so many types of noodles, banana blossom salad, stuffed pancakes, fresh spring rolls, and tasty banh mi (filled baguettes).
It’s also one of the best places in the world to get caffeinated, with deliciously dark Vietnamese coffee that is blended with everything from coconut to egg for a sumptuously rich experience. You can even take these skills home with you as there are some fantastic cooking classes available in the cities.
5 – Vietnam traditional northern landscapes and rice terraces
The rice terraces of Bali are full of backpackers, but if you travel to Vietnam you might get one all to yourself. Any journey you take in the Sa Pa district in the North is bound to be beautiful and it’s one of the best places to meet indigenous people too.
Be inspired and read Love and Road 2-days trekking in Sapa guide here.
Adventurous types will love the Ha Giang loop which is a stunning 3-4 day motorbike journey that begins and ends at the province capital of Ha Giang.
6 – Vietnam incredible caves
You might not know this one, but Vietnam is famous for its incredible caves. Vietnam is home to Son Doong, the world’s biggest cave that can be found within the emerald-covered expanse of Phong Nha Kẻ Bàng National Park in the North. While that one is expensive to visit, there are many other smaller caves to explore in the region that have so many beautiful formations hidden inside of them. Two of those are the Phong Nha Cave and Paradise Cave that can be found within the same national park.
7 – Vietnam beaches and sand dunes
The length of Vietnam means that it’s blessed with so much coastline! There are beautiful beaches all along it, especially near Hoi An, Mui Ne and Nha Trang. Near Mui Ne you can find incredible red and white sand dunes that are best enjoyed at sunrise and sunset.
If you take the journey over the Hai Van Pass between Hue and Hoi An, you’ll get a beautiful birds-eye view of the golden curves of several beaches surrounded by lapping sea.
8 – Vietnam’s buzzing cities
There’s something for everyone in Vietnam’s cities, whether it’s the sexy sleaze of booming Ho Chi Minh City or the constant hubbub of Hanoi’s tiny traditional streets. Whether you’re in the north or the south, there is so much fun to be had in the chaos.
In Central Vietnam, the city of Da Nang has a bright yellow dragon bridge that breathes fire at the weekend, followed by water that is sprayed all over the gathered spectators.
You will find all the must see in Vietnam’s big cities here:
9 – The Mekong River
We arrived at the 9th fact about Vietnam, and although it’s our last topic of the list it’s one of the top reasons to visit Vietnam.
Laos is the Southeast Asian country famous for the Mekong River but it actually finishes in the South of Vietnam. The sprawling tributaries that spill out into the South China Sea are the perfect place to explore traditional life.
Watching the sunset over the Mekong is truly an unforgettable experience and pictures do not do it justice. No wonder Vietnam is famous for the Mekong Delta and all the incredible activities you can have there.
Some of the best experiences you can have at the Mekong Delta are listed below:
There so much to see and do in Vietnam, that this list could go on and on. These are just some of Vietnam highlights and there is plenty more to find! Whichever part you choose to explore in-depth, or if you traverse the length of breadth of Vietnam, it’s bound to be a trip that stays with you for years to come. It has certainly been the case for me and I still think about the delicious food even now.
So now let’s jump to our Vietnam travel tips.
How to travel to Vietnam – travel tips
Now that you are dreaming of visiting Vietnam, here are a few things you need to think of when planning your trip.
– When is the best time to travel to Vietnam?
There is no bad time to visit Vietnam, but you must be aware that the weather changes from North to South.If you’re planning to travel around, the best time to visit Vietnam is during the dry season, which lasts from December to February.
– Vietnam Visa on arrival, do you need one?
Many countries can get a visa on arrival, but you must apply in advance. Here is an article about Vietnam Visas to help you discover if you need to apply for a visa and how to do it safely and from home. Or if you prefer, you can apply to your Vietnam Tourist Visa On Arrival here.
– How to travel to Vietnam and around the country?
Vietnam’s main cities are Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, both have busy airports connected to many international destinations. Use Skyscanner or Kiwi.com to find the best flights to Vietnam.
You can travel in Vietnam by train, bus and flying. To search and book your tickets, we recommend using 12Go or Bookaway.
– How to book accommodation in Vietnam?
There are plenty of options of accommodation in Vietnam, from luxury hotels to budget hostels. The trick here is to read all the reviews carefully and book only via trustworthy websites. We recommend using Booking.com or Agoda for hotels in Vietnam, they have good offers, cancellation police and sometimes you don’t vene need to pay in advance.
– What are the best shopping destinations in Vietnam?
All the cities in Vietnam have elaborate open-air markets, some are more like a tourist attraction as the museums and mausoleums, others are for locals. And you can find anything from fresh food to souvenirs, homeware and clothes. Here is a dedicated post about where to shop in Vietnam and how to bargain there.
– Don’t forget to buy travel insurance for Vietnam!
It doesn’t matter if you are an adventure traveler or a beach bum, travel insurance is a must when visiting Vietnam. Some of the best travel insurances are World Nomads, SafetyWing and HeyMondo.
If you are in doubt, read our Long-term Travel Insurance Guide here.
That’s it! Now you know what Vietnam is famous for and how to start planning your trip! If you have any questions, drop us a comment below.
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Author: Jen Sizeland
Jen Sizeland is a British writer and producer based in Manchester in the UK. Her travel blog is called Land of Size and it focuses on ethical living and eco-friendly travel. You can connect with Jennifer: on Instagram and Facebook.