Top 10 must visit destinations in Vietnam

Vietnam, a land of staggering natural beauty and cultural complexities, offers a spectrum of destinations that are nothing short of a traveler’s dream. From the mystical limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, each location presents a unique tapestry of experiences, stories, and landscapes. As we dive deep into the top 10 must-visit destinations in Vietnam, we embark on a journey through time-honored cities, serene countryside, bustling streets, and tranquil beaches. This exploration not only promises visual delights and historical insights but also an intimate encounter with Vietnam’s soul – a blend of harmony, resilience, and vibrant traditions. Whether it’s the ancient charm of Hoi An, the majestic mountains of Sapa, or the underground labyrinths of the Cu Chi Tunnels, each site narrates a chapter of Vietnam’s rich and diverse narrative. Join us as we unveil the must-see destinations of this enchanting country, where every corner holds a story waiting to be discovered.

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Traveling to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam offers a blend of stunning natural beauty, cultural experiences, and relaxation. Here’s a detailed guide for your trip from a traveler’s perspective, including information about getting there, accommodation, and other expenses.

Getting to Ha Long Bay

  • By Plane: The quickest way from Hanoi is a seaplane flight, taking about 30-45 minutes, with prices ranging from around $45 to $150.
  • By Private Bus: A more economical option, taking 3-4 hours from Hanoi to Bai Chay Bus Station in Halong, costs around $10. From Bai Chay, you can take a public bus or taxi to Tuan Chau Marina.
  • By Motorbike or Private Car: For a more adventurous journey, you can drive from Hanoi, with the shortest route being around 150 km via QL1A.

Where to Stay

  • Overnight Cruise: Staying on a cruise offers an immersive experience in the bay. Prices vary based on the luxury level and duration, but a mid-range or luxury cruise is recommended for a more fulfilling experience.
  • On Cat Ba Island: For land-based stays, Cat Ba Island has various options from budget hostels to comfortable hotels. Hostel dorms can be as low as $2.50, while hotel rooms with breakfast start around $15.

Food and Dining

  • On the Cruise: Your dining experience will depend on your cruise choice. Most cruises offer meals included in the package.
  • Local Specialties: Don’t miss out on local seafood like Ngan (a type of mollusc), Tu Hai (shellfish), and Sa Sung (sandworm), which are unique to the region.

Average Daily Costs (Per Person)

  • Accommodation: Around $29 for a single person or $58 for a double-occupancy room.
  • Local Transportation: Approximately $15.
  • Food: About $17.
  • Entertainment: Around $17.
  • Tips and Handouts: Between $2 and $6.
  • Alcohol: Approximately $6 to $19.

Activities and Experiences

  • Cruising: A must-do to enjoy the bay’s landscapes. Overnight cruises offer a comprehensive experience.
  • Kayaking: Explore the bay’s hidden corners and caves.
  • Hiking on Titop Island: Offers panoramic views of the bay.
  • Visiting Floating Villages: Experience the local lifestyle.
  • Exploring Cat Ba Island: Known for its national park and beaches.
  • Bamboo Boat Rides to Dark & Bright Caves: A unique way to see the caves.

What to Pack

  • Travel Documents: Essential for check-ins on boats and hotels.
  • Clothing: Weather-appropriate attire and a waterproof jacket.
  • Comfortable Shoes: For cave visits and hiking.
  • Swimwear: For beach activities and kayaking.
  • Sunscreen: A must-have, even on cloudy days.
  • Camera: To capture the unforgettable scenery.

Best Time to Visit

  • March to June: Ideal for clear weather.
  • June to September: Off-peak season with fewer crowds.
  • October to November: High season with pleasant weather.
  • December to February: Low travel season but expect cloudy and rainy weather.


  • Phone Reception: Limited in the area, so expect to be disconnected.
  • Waterproofing: Essential for electronics during kayaking.

This comprehensive guide should help you plan a memorable and enjoyable trip to Ha Long Bay, tailoring your experience to your preferences and budget.

Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh in Vietnam

Traveling to Ninh Binh in Vietnam offers an immersive experience in a landscape filled with natural beauty, cultural significance, and a serene countryside atmosphere.

Getting to Ninh Binh

  • From Hanoi: The journey from Hanoi to Ninh Binh is quite straightforward. You can opt for a bus or train, both offering a comfortable and affordable way to travel. The journey takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.
  • Local Transportation: Once in Ninh Binh, renting a motorbike is a popular option for getting around, costing about 100,000 – 150,000 VND per day. This offers flexibility as attractions are spread out. Taxis are also available for larger groups or those preferring not to ride bikes.

Accommodation Options

  • Tam Coc: About 15 minutes from Ninh Binh city, Tam Coc is a great place to stay, offering a balance of convenience and nature. Here, you can find a range of accommodations from budget to more luxurious ones.
  • Budget Options: For budget travelers, options like The Banana Tree Hostel start at around 5 USD/night.
  • Mid-Range Options: Properties like Mua Caves Ecolodge offer more comfort starting from 36 USD/night.
  • Luxury Options: For those looking for upscale accommodations, resorts such as Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh and Tam Coc Garden Resort provide luxury services with facilities like swimming pools and spas.

Dining and Cuisine

  • Local Specialties: Ninh Binh is famous for its goat meat, which is a must-try due to its unique flavor. Other local specialties include elderberry dishes and crab roasted leaves.
  • Dining Options: Depending on where you stay, many hotels and homestays offer on-site dining options, providing a convenient way to sample local Vietnamese cuisine.

Attractions and Activities

  • Boat Tours: Explore places like Trang An and Tam Coc on boat tours, meandering through rivers and caves.
  • Historical Sites: Visit Hoa Lu, the ancient capital, and Bai Dinh Pagoda, showcasing rich history and architecture.
  • Natural Beauty: Mua Cave offers panoramic views of the region, and Cuc Phuong National Park is perfect for nature lovers.
  • Cultural Insights: The floating villages and local markets provide a glimpse into the traditional Vietnamese way of life.


  • Weather: Be prepared for varying weather conditions and pack accordingly.
  • Cultural Etiquette: Respect local customs and traditions, especially when visiting religious sites.

Ninh Binh, with its stunning landscapes and cultural richness, offers an authentic Vietnamese experience away from the hustle of the major cities. It’s a destination that combines adventure, tranquility, and cultural immersion, making it a must-visit for any traveler in Vietnam.

Hoi An

Hoi An in Vietnam

Traveling to Hoi An in Vietnam is a journey into a world of historical allure and cultural vibrancy. Here’s what you need to know for a trip to this enchanting destination:

Getting to Hoi An

To reach Hoi An, many travelers fly into Da Nang International Airport, which is about 30 km away. From there, options include a private transfer, a taxi (costing at least VND 350,000), or a shared shuttle bus for a more budget-friendly choice. For those preferring overland travel, sleeper buses offer a comfortable and direct route, particularly popular for shorter distances within Vietnam. Another alternative is the train to Da Nang Railway Station, followed by a taxi or pre-arranged transfer to Hoi An.


Hoi An caters to a range of budgets and preferences in terms of accommodation. Budget hotels typically range from $9 to $16 per night. For those seeking a bit more comfort, mid-range hotels average around $25 per night, while luxury accommodations can start at about $52 per night. Hostels are also available, with beds costing between $8 and $20.

Choosing the Right Area

Hoi An Ancient Town, the historic and cultural heart of the city, is an ideal spot for first-time visitors, offering easy access to many attractions and restaurants. The Minh An area is close to the Night Market and is convenient for shopping and dining. Cam Pho offers a quieter setting suitable for budget travelers, while Cam Chau provides a more authentic experience, located between the Ancient Town and the beach.

Daily Expenses

Food and drink in Hoi An are quite affordable. The average cost for a meal is around $4.11 per person. Budget breakfasts can be found for $1.36 to $2.22, and dinners range from $4.11 to $6.37. For local transportation, such as taxis and local buses, travelers typically spend around $20 per day.

Currency and Exchange

The Vietnamese Dong (VND) is the local currency. Banks and jewelry shops often provide the best exchange rates. ATMs are widely available and are a convenient option for withdrawing cash. When exchanging currency at hotels or restaurants, be aware that rates may not be as favorable.

Hoi An is a blend of historical architecture, vibrant street life, and culinary delights, making it a must-visit destination in Vietnam.

Da Nang

Da Nang in Vietnam

Traveling to Da Nang, Vietnam offers a delightful mix of beach relaxation, cultural experiences, and urban exploration. Here’s a detailed guide from a traveler’s perspective:

Getting to Da Nang

Da Nang is easily accessible by plane, bus, or train. The most common approach is flying into Da Nang International Airport. From there, you have several options for reaching the city:

  • Private Transfers: The easiest and fastest option, with bookings available through your hotel or online platforms.
  • Taxis: A taxi ride from the airport to the city will cost you at least VND 350,000.
  • Shuttle Buses: A more budget-friendly choice, costing around VND 130,000 each way.


Da Nang offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets:

  • Budget Hotels: Average around $10 per night.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: Typically cost around $22 per night, offering good quality amenities.
  • Luxury Hotels: Starting from $91 per night, offering premium amenities and services.
  • Average Hotel Room Price: Generally, you can expect to spend around $25 per night.

Daily Expenses

  • Food: On average, you might spend about $17 per day on food. This allows you to enjoy a range of dining options, from local street food to more upscale restaurants.
  • Transportation: Daily transportation costs are estimated at around $12. This includes taxis and local buses.
  • Attractions: Setting aside about $14 per day will allow you to explore various sights and engage in activities.
  • Alcohol: An average daily expense on alcoholic beverages might be around $9.70.


  • Currency Exchange: You can exchange currency at banks, gold/jewelry shops, or ATMs.
  • Travel Insurance: Always a good idea to have, especially for unforeseen events or emergencies.

Da Nang, with its beautiful beaches and historical sites, offers a perfect blend of relaxation and exploration. The city’s budget-friendly nature makes it an attractive destination for a wide range of travelers.


Hue in Vietnam

Traveling to Hue in Vietnam offers a journey through the country’s imperial past and a taste of its rich culture. Here’s what you need to know for a trip to this historical city:

Getting to Hue

You have several options to reach Hue, including buses, trains, planes, and taxis. Flying is a quick and convenient option, with flights from major cities like Ho Chi Minh City taking about an hour. If you land in Da Nang, you can take a 2-hour bus to Hue. The train is also a viable option, but it’s often more expensive than flying. For budget travelers, sleeper buses are recommended, with companies like Sinh Cafe being popular.


Hue offers various accommodation options:

  • Budget Hotels: Average around $12 per night.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: Typically cost around $22 per night.
  • Luxury Hotels: Starting from $40 per night, with some options like the Eldora Hotel costing around $40 and the Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa from $75.
  • Hostels: A dorm bed in a hostel in Hue costs on average $8 per night, with the cheapest being $4 and the most expensive $22.

Daily Expenses

  • Food: On average, expect to spend about $15 per day on food. Dining out at an average restaurant should cost around $6.18 per person.
  • Transportation: Daily transportation costs average around $13. This includes taxis and local buses.
  • Attractions: Budget around $12 per day for entertainment, including entrance fees to museums and attractions.
  • Alcohol: On average, spending on alcoholic beverages is about $5.98 per day.
  • Tips and Handouts: Expect to spend about $4.77 per day.

Sights and Activities

The biggest attraction in Hue is the Citadel, a Chinese-style town and settlement dating back to the 1800s. It’s a must-visit for its historical significance. Also, exploring the local market and trying Hue beer can be delightful experiences. However, be mindful of the weather, as Hue can be misty and rainy.


  • ATMs: Hue has ATMs, so withdrawing cash shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Transportation: Always ask for a metered taxi to avoid overpaying.
  • Food: While there are fewer cheap dining options compared to other Vietnamese cities, you can still find good value for money.

Planning and budgeting wisely can help you enjoy the rich history and culture of Hue without overspending. The city serves as a testament to Vietnam’s imperial past and offers a unique experience for travelers.


Sapa in Vietnam

Traveling to Sapa in Vietnam is an adventure into the stunning, mountainous landscape of northern Vietnam, famous for its ethnic diversity and terraced rice fields.

Getting to Sapa

  • By Bus or Train from Hanoi: Most travelers reach Sapa from Hanoi, which is about a 6-hour bus journey. The train is another option, offering a more scenic but slower journey.
  • Local Transportation: Once in Sapa, taxis and motorbikes are common for getting around. Motorbike rental is a popular choice, but it’s advised to check the bike carefully before renting. The average cost for local transportation is around $10 per day.


  • Budget: On average, budget accommodation costs around $13 per person, per night.
  • Mid-Range and Luxury: Mid-range hotels average at $25 per night, while luxury accommodations can be around $55 per night. Options like the Olympia Sapa Hotel and BB Hotel Sapa are recommended.

Daily Expenses

  • Food: The average daily food cost is about $17. This includes meals from local to Western cuisines. Pho soup and other local dishes are relatively cheaper.
  • Entertainment: On average, travelers spend about $6.33 per day on entertainment, which might include entrance fees to attractions and local tours.
  • Alcohol: Expect to spend around $8.45 per day if you plan on indulging in alcoholic beverages.

Sightseeing and Activities

  • Trekking: Sapa is renowned for its trekking routes, offering breathtaking views of the terraced rice fields and an opportunity to visit local hill tribe villages.
  • Cat Cat Village: A popular tourist village located nearby, known for its traditional H’mong houses and crafts.
  • Fansipan Peak: Known as the “Roof of Indochina”, Fansipan Peak can be reached via a cable car. The journey takes about 15-20 minutes and offers spectacular views.


  • Weather: Sapa experiences a subtropical climate in summer and a temperate climate in winter. The weather can be quite variable, so pack accordingly.
  • Local Guides: For an in-depth experience, consider hiring local guides, especially if you’re not comfortable with motorbike riding.

Sapa offers a perfect blend of cultural immersion, adventure, and natural beauty, making it a must-visit destination for those exploring Vietnam’s northern region.

Nha Trang

Nha Trang in Vietnam

Traveling to Nha Trang, Vietnam offers a vibrant mix of beautiful beaches, cultural experiences, and lively nightlife. Here’s a detailed guide from a traveler’s perspective:

Getting to Nha Trang

  • By Air: Flights are available from major Vietnamese cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with the journey from Hanoi taking about 1 hour and 55 minutes, and from Ho Chi Minh City, around 1 hour.
  • Local Transportation: Taxis are more common than public transportation for getting around Nha Trang. The average daily expense for local transportation is about $14.


  • Hostels: Budget-friendly hostels start at around 100,000 VND per night for a dorm bed. Private rooms in hostels cost about 250,000 VND per night.
  • Budget Hotels: Prices for budget hotels start at approximately 400,000 VND per night. Many budget hotels offer free Wi-Fi and breakfast.
  • Airbnb: Private rooms average around 325,000 VND per night, while a whole apartment or home typically costs at least 480,000 VND.
  • Luxury Hotels: High-end accommodations like the Havana Nha Trang Hotel offer more luxury services and facilities, with prices starting around $45.

Food and Dining

  • Street Food: Affordable and delicious, starting under 25,000 VND.
  • Western Food: Typically more expensive, ranging from 100,000 VND for a fast-food combo to 150,000-200,000 VND for a large pizza.
  • Average Meal Costs: Around $6.17 per person.
  • Drinks: Beers cost about 25,000 VND, while coffee is around 45,000 VND.

Activities and Attractions

  • Beaches: Nha Trang’s beaches are free to visit, with various sections catering to different preferences, such as swimming-only areas.
  • Hot Springs and Mud Baths: Prices start at 180,000 VND, believed to have healing properties.
  • Cultural Sites: Temples like Po Nagar and Long Son Pagoda offer insights into local religion and history.
  • Waterfalls and Eco-parks: Places like Yang Bay and Ba Ho Waterfalls are great for a day trip, with entrance fees starting from 150,000 VND.
  • Museums: The National Oceanographic Museum, for instance, charges an admission of around 40,000 VND.

Tips for Travelers

  • Monsoon Season: It’s advisable to avoid visiting from October to mid-December due to chilly and windy weather.
  • Language: English is becoming more common, but many signs and menus are in Vietnamese and Russian.

Nha Trang is ideal for travelers looking for a mix of relaxation on beautiful beaches and an exploration of vibrant city life. With a range of accommodation options and activities, it caters to different budgets and interests.

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a bustling metropolis that blends the traditional with the modern. It is Vietnam’s largest city and offers a plethora of experiences for travelers.

Getting to Ho Chi Minh City

  • By Air: The main airport is Tan Son Nhat International Airport, situated about 7km from the city center. A taxi from the airport to the city center costs around 195,000 VND, while a more budget-friendly option is the air-conditioned bus route 152.
  • By Bus: International bus services connect Ho Chi Minh City to Cambodia, with departures from the Pham Ngu Lao area.
  • By Train: Trains connect Ho Chi Minh City with other major Vietnamese cities like Nha Trang, Danang, Hue, and Hanoi, departing from Saigon Train Station.


  • Budget: Dorm rooms start from around 92,000 VND, with private rooms in budget hotels beginning at approximately 250,000 VND.
  • Mid-Range: Comfortable double rooms in nice hotels can range between 820,000 – 1,200,000 VND.
  • Luxury: Upscale hotels offer rooms upwards of 1,500,000 VND.

Transportation within the City

  • Buses: An affordable option, with fares starting at around 3,000 VND.
  • Taxis: More convenient but costlier than buses, with the flag fall starting at 15,000 VND for the first kilometer.
  • Motorbike and Bike Rentals: Available for those comfortable navigating the city’s hectic traffic.

Daily Expenses

  • Food: Street food starts around 20,000 VND, with sit-down meals in restaurants ranging between 70,000 VND – 100,000 VND.
  • Alcohol: Local and imported beers, as well as cocktails and wine, are available at great prices.
  • Transportation: Taxis and local buses average about $16 per day.

Best Time to Visit

  • October to November: Warm weather with clear skies and less rain.
  • December to March: Cooler, good for those wanting to avoid the heat.
  • April to June: Warm but with more tourists and potential rain.
  • July to September: Hot and humid with a chance of showers.
  • Avoid February: Due to the Tet holiday or Lunar New Year, which typically falls in this month.

Attractions and Activities

Ho Chi Minh City is rich in history and culture, offering museums, pagodas, and war memorials alongside modern markets and a developing skyline. Key attractions include the War Remnants Museum, Cu Chi Tunnels, Ben Thanh Market, Jade Emperor Pagoda, and the bustling night markets.

Money-Saving Tips

  • Eat Local: Street food stalls and local restaurants are much cheaper than tourist-oriented eateries.
  • Utilize Happy Hours: Many bars offer happy hours and special deals.
  • Walk or Rent a Bike: Most attractions are accessible by foot or bike, saving on taxi fares.
  • Pay in VND: While USD is accepted, paying in the local currency (VND) often results in better rates.

Ho Chi Minh City offers an immersive experience in Vietnamese culture, history, and daily life. It’s a city that’s as vibrant in the day as it is at night, with something to cater to every type of traveler.

My Son

My Son in Vietnam

My Son, a significant archaeological site located in Central Vietnam, offers a unique glimpse into the ancient Champa civilization. Nestled in the lush valley of Quang Nam Province, it’s about 40 kilometers southwest of Hoi An. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned for its intricate brick temples, many of which date back to between the 4th and 14th centuries.

Traveling to My Son is an adventure in itself. The most common way to reach My Son is from Hoi An, a charming ancient town that serves as a perfect base for exploring the region. You can choose from various transportation options, such as renting a motorbike, hiring a taxi, or joining an organized tour. Motorbike rentals typically cost around $5 to $10 per day, offering the freedom to explore at your own pace. For a more comfortable journey, taxis or private cars can be arranged at varying prices, usually around $30 to $50 for a round trip.

Organized tours are another popular option, offering the convenience of a guided experience. These tours often include other nearby attractions and cost around $20 to $30 per person, including entrance fees to My Son, which are about $5.

Accommodations in Hoi An cater to a range of budgets and preferences. Budget travelers can find hostels and guesthouses starting from as low as $10 per night, while mid-range hotels typically range from $20 to $50. For a more luxurious experience, upscale hotels and resorts are available, with prices starting at $100 per night.

While in My Son, indulge in local cuisine at small eateries or pack a picnic to enjoy amidst the historical backdrop. Meals at local restaurants are reasonably priced, usually around $2 to $5 per dish. Souvenirs and handicrafts are also available, though it’s advisable to budget accordingly and bargain to get the best deals.

Lastly, remember to dress modestly and comfortably for the visit, as My Son is not only a historical site but also a spiritual one. The weather can be quite hot and humid, so wearing light, breathable clothing and good walking shoes is recommended.

Visiting My Son is a captivating experience, offering a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. With careful planning and a sense of adventure, it can be a highlight of any trip to Vietnam.

Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam

The Cu Chi tunnels, a vast network of underground tunnels in the Cu Chi District of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, offer a unique and profound experience for travelers interested in history, especially that of the Vietnam War. These tunnels, once used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, and living quarters, now stand as a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of the Vietnamese people during the war.

To visit the Cu Chi tunnels, travelers typically start from Ho Chi Minh City. The journey is relatively straightforward, with options ranging from organized tours, which are plentiful and can be booked from any hotel or travel agency in the city, to self-guided trips using public buses. Tours often include a guide, which can provide valuable insights and a deeper understanding of the tunnels’ history. Prices for these tours vary but are generally affordable, usually around $20-40, depending on the package.

For those preferring public transport, buses from Ho Chi Minh City are a cheaper alternative, costing only a few dollars. The bus journey can take about an hour and a half, and the final stop is a short walk from the tunnel entrance.

Accommodations in Ho Chi Minh City cater to a wide range of budgets. Backpackers can find hostels for as little as $5-10 per night, while mid-range hotels typically charge between $20-50. For those seeking more luxurious stays, high-end hotels can cost upwards of $100 per night. It’s advisable to stay in the city and make Cu Chi Tunnels a day trip, as the area around the tunnels is quite rural and doesn’t have many accommodation options.

Other expenses during the trip may include food and souvenirs. Vietnamese cuisine is both delicious and affordable, with street food options costing only a couple of dollars. Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City offer a wider range of prices, but it’s generally easy to find a good meal for under $10. Souvenirs, such as traditional crafts or war memorabilia, are also available at the tunnels and throughout the city, with prices varying based on the item’s quality and uniqueness.

Visiting the Cu Chi tunnels is not only a journey into the past but also an opportunity to see the resourcefulness and endurance of the Vietnamese people. It’s a humbling experience that combines historical education with the vibrant culture and hospitality of Vietnam.

In conclusion, after exploring the top 10 places to visit in Vietnam, it’s clear that this country is not just a travel destination, but a full-on sensory extravaganza. From the hustle of Ho Chi Minh City, where crossing the street feels like an Olympic sport, to the serene waters of Halong Bay, which make you wonder if you’ve accidentally paddled into a fantasy novel, Vietnam offers a blend of experiences that can leave any traveler spellbound (and occasionally bewildered).

Remember, while in Hanoi, try not to confuse your pho (a delicious noodle soup) with a ‘faux pas’ by refusing a local’s scooter ride offer – it’s like saying no to an adventure on a magic carpet. And let’s not forget the ever-whimsical Hoi An, where you can get a tailor-made suit or dress faster than you can say “banh mi” (which, by the way, is a must-try street food).

Vietnam is a land where dragons seem real enough to touch in the mystical landscapes, and the coffee is strong enough to make your spoon stand up and do the tango. It’s a place where each city has its own soundtrack, from the gentle symphony of the Mekong Delta’s floating markets to the energetic pop tunes blaring from Da Nang’s vibrant nightclubs.

So, pack your bags, bring your sense of humor, and maybe a phrasebook (or a good mime skills), and dive into the rich tapestry that is Vietnam. You’ll leave with not only souvenirs and memories but probably a few hilarious stories about getting lost in translation, which, let’s face it, are often the best souvenirs of all. And who knows, you might even come back knowing how to expertly navigate a roundabout with more motorbikes than you ever thought could exist in one place – now that’s a skill worth bragging about!