5 Must-See Places in Vietnam

beach

Vietnam is a stunning country whose history is dark but captivating, and a journey around this extraordinary country will never fail to impress and mesmerise any traveller. Following my own backpacking experience around Vietnam, I have put together my list of 5 highlights I experienced on my journey.

1. Hanoi

Vietnam’s hustling and bustling capital city is a great place to begin your adventure. I was exhausted when I first arrived in Hanoi airport; my friends and I had spent at least 24 hours travelling from the UK on just about every mode of transport available. However, once in the taxi heading from the airport through the city to our accommodation, I felt totally rejuvenated by the sights and vibrancy of the place.

It is a captivatingly beautiful city, perhaps not in the way Paris or Venice is, but in the way that it immediately provides a snapshot into, a flavour of, Vietnam.

Not to be missed in the city is a peaceful walk around Hanoi’s central lake at night, when the lake is beautifully illuminated. The Women’s Museum is one of the most interesting and moving museums I’ve been to, whilst the water puppet theatre is a great place to spend an afternoon.

Sapa mountains 1

2. Sapa

This mountainous town in the north of Vietnam is stunningly beautiful, and should definitely be added to your itinerary if you’re looking for a varied experience of the country.

You will certainly be harassed by the good-natured, entertaining local women wanting you to buytheir wares, but embrace the experience – their English is superb! Many lay out their goods in the square in the heart of the town, making the square a hive of activity.

There is ample opportunity to book on to an excursion into the mountains for a hike, to see waterfalls, or to explore local villages nestled in the majestic and mysterious mountain ranges surrounding Sapa. There are many tourism booking offices littered around Sapa, and many hotels and hostels offer trips.

Ha Long Bay 1

3. Ha Long Bay

You absolutely cannot miss a trip to Ha Long Bay, it’s as simple as that! There are countless companies offering excursions around the bay by boat, and that mode of transport is the only way to do it. My friends and I booked our 3 day, 2 night trip in Hanoi via our hostel, and included transportation to the bay and back to Hanoi.

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s easy to see why this place is revered for its beauty. There are hundreds of giant isles and limestone karsts, which will make your trip a unique experience.

As well as sailing around the bay, try exploring some of the caves dotted around the bay, or kayaking to get more up-close-and-personal with what the bay can offer.

Hoi An

4. Hoi An

Hoi An is a quaint little coastal town that is ideal for picking up a few bargain souvenirs and for chilling out and relaxing before you continue to your next stop.

The Old Town is a mass of stalls and shops all selling traditional Vietnamese goods – it’s definitely OK to barter, but I’d recommend you go with what you think is a fair price for the locals!

If you’re looking to develop your culinary skills, Hoi An is the place to do it. There are many excellent cooking lessons available in which you can learn how to make a range of authentic Vietnamese dishes. Many restaurants offer these lessons and often advertise on boards outside so keep your eyes peeled as you explore! Alternatively, you can book online in many cases, if you prefer to do a bit of research first.

Renting a bike makes getting around the town very easy, and I’d recommend taking a trip on it to the beach and take some time to make the most of this town’s laid back atmosphere and really unwind.

5. Ho Chi Minh City

Formerly Saigon, the city is rich in history and museums that testify to the turbulence Vietnam has suffered. One of the most captivating and moving museums I have ever been to is the War Remnants museum. This museum provides a graphic insight into the war in Vietnam but beware, many of its exhibits can be shocking and disturbing.

For more information on the Vietnamese war book an excursion to the Cu Chi tunnels on the outskirts of the city. Venturing into the tunnels will give you an idea of what the Vietnamese soldiers had to endure – avoid it if you’re claustrophobic!

HCMC also boasts a lively night scene, with roof top bars and street parties, so if you’re feeling energetic and in a party mood, this city will certainly not disappoint!

This article was written by Ella Rose West, author of the Selfish Mum blog – Ella posts about all things travel and home related, and believes passionately in mums living life to the full!

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