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Towns & Cities

People walking in the Temple of Literature in Hanoi

Hanoi

A holiday in Hanoi invites you to discover the country’s French colonial past, ancient Chinese ancestry and a time-honoured way of life which pervades today. Strikingly different to Saigon, Hanoi retains a real poise and elegance amidst the mêlée, which is owed largely to its heritage. Walking down the tree-lined boulevards, visitors will see the canary yellow colonial architecture, and the famous Hoan Kiem Lake which provides a barometer for the mood of the city.

The lake is the place where many Hanoi holidays begin, with the chance to cross the iconic red-painted ‘Morning Sunlight Bridge;’ see locals performing tai chi on the shores and elderly men playing checkers beneath picturesque pagodas. Explore the city’s streets on a traditional cyclo and soak as much of this absorbing city as you can.

Area Highlights: Cyclo Ride, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, ‘The 36 Streets’ in the Old Quarter in which every street is devoted to a single good; from coffins to bird-cages, Van Mieu Temple, Ngoc Son Pagoda, Traditional Water Puppet Show, Hang Gai ‘Thread Street’ where the finest silk in Vietnam can be found, The Ba Dinh Square, Ho Chi Minh’s modest stilt house

Area Activities: Ancient Pagoda & Handicraft Village Tour, Dinner with a local Vietnamese Family, Duong Lam Ancient Village Tour, Folk Music and Love Songs Tour, Golf, Hanoi City Tour, Hanoi Foodie Tour, Tho Ha Traditional Village Tour, Water Puppet Show


The turquoise waters and islets of Ha Long Bay

Halong Bay

Spectacular Halong Bay is known as ‘The Bay of the Descending Dragon’, which is said to have been formed by the flailing tail of the mythological beast, which gouged out the valleys and coves with its claws, forming 1,600 breath taking islets before diving back into the South China Sea. Having absorbed the sheer drama of the setting, visitors board a traditional junk boat for a one or two night cruise. Exploring the waterways you can embrace your magical surrounds and relax on board between stops. You will have the opportunity to swim as well as exploring islands on foot as well as kayaking to explore some of the areas small coves and low-hanging caves with their glittering stalactites. Other highlights include getting to mingle with the local fishermen who sell and cook their catch from floating markets, live in brightly painted house-boats and have children who learn to swim and row before they can walk. This really is a truly wonderful place.

Area Highlights: Junk Boat Trips, Kayaking, Walking, Swimming, Fishing, Caving

Area Activities: Ha Long Bay Junk Boat Tour


Row-boats amidst the golden rice field and towering karts mountains of Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh

Sometimes dubbed ‘Halong Bay on Land,’ Ninh Binh injects equally majestic scenery to a Vietnam holiday, but rather than the emerald sea surrounding its epic limestone stacks, the Hoan Long River passes through it like a silver ribbon en route to the Red River Delta. To experience Ninh Binh in all its glory, most visitors join one of the sleepy flotillas of traditional row-boats, and take a hypnotic two hour loop past golden rice fields and the staggering Karst scenery: all the way to the Tam Toc Cave which tunnels through the mountains. Ninh Binh also has perfect flat terrain for cycling alongside the river, with the chance to stop off at the tomb of Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang, and enjoy superlative views over the Red River Delta.

Area Highlights: Boat Trip, Cycling, Walking


Flower shops in Hai Phong

Hai Phong

Hai Phong is very much a working city, and because of its proximity to Halong Bay, most visitors will simply pass right through it en route to the UNESCO heritage site. Those who dwell a little longer in the city, and venture beyond the industrial working harbour, will discover Hai Phong’s laid-back and unassuming charm. Muddling along beside the Cua Cam River, it has a small colonial quarter with elegant yellow buildings, shady tree-lined boulevards, and sleepy café culture. The city is also known for the boat shaped communal house of Hang Kenh, and the annual Do Son buffalo fighting festival, which dates back from the 10th century.

Area Highlights: Colonial Buildings, Flower Market, Beaches, Pagodas

Sapa Golden rice terrace

Sapa

Bordering China and surrounded by the Tonkinese Alps; Sapa is the gateway to Vietnam’s north highlands. The area gives you the promise of sublime alpine scenery and crisp air,  a total contrast to Vietnam’s chaotic cities. The Sapa hill-station and surrounding regions offer an almost parallel universe to the rest of Vietnam, retaining many of their ethnic traditions even in the presence of French colonialism. Although Sapa is by far the most touristy part of the North Highlands, a holiday here provides an introduction to the unique and colourfully dressed hill-tribes, and gives active people the chance to hike and mountain bike amidst the most spectacular of mountain scenery.

Area Highlights: Trekking, Mountain Biking, Hill Tribes

Area Activities: Trekking


H'Mong women clad in near-fluorescent woven clothes

Bac Ha

At a lower altitude than Sapa, the mountain setting at Bac Ha is not as spectacular as the former, but as a result it’s much less touristy and visitors can encounter the hill-tribes here in a more authentic and less harried fashion on their holiday. Bac Ha is particularly famous for its vibrant Sunday market, which forms a major part of the many hill tribes’ daily life – not only to sell their crafts, but to socialise, and meet potential suitors. Alongside the Phula, Black Dao, Tay, and Nung people, the Flower H’Mong is the most colourful of the tribes, and it is their villagers who trickle down the hills for the market: dressed in their near-fluorescent woven clothes to sell traditional medicines, hand-made dolls, fabrics, and foods.

Area Highlights: Trekking, Mountain Biking, Hill Tribes


Two Vietnamese girls sitting on the back of a water buffalo and laughing

Ha Giang

Ha Giang is one of the most breath taking enclaves of the North Highlands; encircled by a theatrical mountain range, cascading rice terraces, and mountain paths that snake their way along the dizzying passes. As for the unique H’mong communities who live here, they offer a real Shangri-La for travellers seeking an authentic Vietnamese holiday: steadfastly rejecting tourism, modern day industry, and the frenetic pace of life found elsewhere in Vietnam. Ha Giang has very few visitors and is in no way geared up for tourists so a trip here is special indeed.

Area Highlights: Trekking, Mountain Biking, Hill Tribes


Stunning view of Ba Be Lake

Ba Be Lake

Lying 150 m above sea-level in Vietnam’s highlands, the Ba Be Lakes National Park resembles a Chinese water-colour painting: awash with towering limestone mountains, dense forest, grottoes and tranquil lakes. A holiday in the Ba Be Lakes National Park is a real breath of fresh air from the frantic cities. Here visitors will have the chance to kayak through the Hang Puong cave which tunnels right the way through the mountains and is home to over 700 bats; trek to the Thac Dau Dang waterfall, with its spectacular cascades, and generally imbibe the mythology of the lakes as bestowed upon them by the tribal Tay communities (many people do home-stays with the Tay for an authentic taste of minority life).

Area Highlights: Trekking, Kayaking, Ba Be Lakes National Park


Mai Chau valley

Mai Chau

Located within an area with tall mountains, stunning green rice fields and near to water Area Highlights: Trekking

Area Activities: Trekking

Parade walking through charming Hue

Hue

Hue is perhaps the most evocative and poetic city to be visited on a Vietnam holiday: poised on the banks of the Perfume River, and home to the ‘Forbidden Purple City’. A visit to Hue will revolve around the fascinating Imperial walled City which you can cycle to and imbibe the eerie but elegant feel amongst the stone statues, softly trickling lotus ponds, and tombs of emperors including the most famous, Tu Doc. After this, a boat-trip down the Perfume River is highly recommended: drifting past the imposing royal mausoleums and seven storey Thien Mu pagoda, before indulging in the refined, often vegetarian, and spicy cuisine that’s unique to Hue.

Area Highlights: Imperial City, Thien Mu Pagoda, Mieu Temple, Thanh Toan Bridge, Perfume River, Bach Ma National Park

Area Activities: Golf


Beach umbrellas lined up on Da Nang Beach

Da Nang

Not far from Hoi An in central Vietnam, the beach city of Da Nang lies alongside the Han River and was one of the first major ports to be colonised by the French in the 19th century. With its picturesque white sand beaches, and sophisticated café culture, Da Nang offers the perfect breather whilst exploring the tourist trail on a Vietnam holiday. As well as relaxing on Da Nang’s famous China Beach with the Marble Mountains in the background, visitors can stroll along the elegant tree-lined boulevards beside the Han riverfront; sit back with iced coffees, pastries, and gelato whilst watching life on the river.

Area Highlights: Beaches, Golf, Dragon Bridge, Son Tra (Monkey) Mountain

Area Activities: Golf


Hoi An Town

Hoi An

The prettiest of all Vietnam’s towns, world heritage Hoi An was a major harbour for merchants in the 16th century, and now lolls sleepily beside the Thu Bon River with its Chinese-style wooden shop-houses, narrow streets lined with lanterns, and some of the most exciting cuisine to be sampled on a Vietnam holiday. Wandering this chocolate box town is a dream for photographers, and the first stop for many will be the dragon adorned medieval bridge. Visitors can cycle along the waterfront and stop off for a Saigon beer at the laid-back cafes; pop into some of the world’s best tailors or take a relaxed river cruise down the Thu Bon River. By night things are particularly peaceful, with the tantalising aroma of freshly made pancakes, bubbling pork broth, shrimp dumplings, and sumptuous pastries luring the visitor in at every turn.

Area Highlights: Photography, Cycling, History, Tailors, Nostalgia

Area Activities: Authentic Hoi An City Tour, Escape Hoi An Bike Tour, Escape Hoi An Bike Tour, Food & Cooking Tour in Hoi An, Hoi An Fishing Adventure, Hoi An Photography Tours, Vietnam Life Cycling Tour,


My Son Temple

My Son

Around an hour from Hoi An in central Vietnam, the UNESCO world heritage site of My Son is sometimes compared to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex. Dating from between the 4th and 13th centuries, My Son was the capital of the Champa Kingdom, and its origins in Indian Hinduism are present in the remaining red sandstone temples which honour Krishna, Visnu, and Shiva. It’s also interesting to see the temples which were used as bases by the Viet Cong, and generally enjoy this peaceful setting beneath the Marble Mountains which is visited only by a select view.

Area Highlights: History, Architecture

Area Activities: My Son Sanctuary Tour


Helicopter used during the Vietnam war

DMZ

The Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone is the strip of land which from 1954 to 1975 provided the border between Communist North and the US-backed South. Having endured some of the most intense fighting in the world, the DMZ forms a sobering but fascinating part of a Vietnam holiday, and whether the visitor is an avid military historian, or simply wants to experience the region on a visceral level, it’s a must for most travellers. The DMZ can be explored on a day-trip from Hue, or – for those wanting a more in depth understanding – by spending a night in Dong Ha. It is vital to have a good guide in the DMZ, preferably one who experienced the conflict first-hand, as he or she can provide a context to the largely fragmentary sites, and also steer you well away from the extremely rare but still evident ordnance remnants.

Area Highlights: History, Conflict

Ho Chi Minh City Hall at night

Ho Chi Minh

Officially known as Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon is the energetic teenage sibling to its wise and composed elder, Hanoi, offering a holiday that’s filled with bright lights, soaring skyscrapers, and whirlwind Vespas. Holidays in Saigon inevitably begin with a foray into the Vietnam War, giving you the chance to sip cocktails on the very same roof-terraces where war correspondents would report on front-line action; eat “peace noodles” in the café where the Viet Cong secretly harboured weaponry, and head out to the extraordinary Cu Chi tunnels where guerrilla warfare was taken to an art form. Whilst the history makes for a fascinating holiday, there’s so much more to Saigon than this. In a city that represents everything that’s cool and youthful about Vietnam, visitors can expect laid-back café culture (frozen coffees are addictive), neon nightlife, amazing markets, and what is frequently dubbed the best street food in the world (must-tries include beef noodles, sticky rice, and Saigon baguette).

Area Highlights: The War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, The imposing Opera House, The French colonial Post Office, Cho Ben Thanh and Cho Lon markets, The Pho Binh “peace noodles” café

Area Activities: Cu Chi Tunnels, Cu Chi Tunnels Jeep Tour, Good Morning Saigon City Tour, Golf, Long Tan Battle Field Tour, South Vietnamese Cooking Class, Vespa Night Food Tour, Vespa Cooking Class


Palm tree lined Nha Trang Beach

Nha Trang

On the south central coast of Vietnam, famous Nha Trang is the show-off of Vietnam’s beach holiday scene, with infinite stretches of white sand beach, a scattered archipelago beyond, and forested mountains behind. During the Vietnam War, the beach city of Nha Trang was where US soldiers would head for some R&R, and today it’s got a real sense of fun and swagger, asking little more of visitors than to lie back on the beautiful beach with an iced-sugarcane drink; enjoy the amazing diving and snorkelling, or – if feeling particularly energetic, to trek Hon Ba Peak amongst primary forest and waterfalls.

Area Highlights: Beaches, Na Trang Cathedral, Po Nagar Towers, Amusement Park, Hot Springs


Phan Rang Beach

Phan Rang

South of Nha Trang in the Ninh Thuan province, the coastal town of Phan Rang doesn’t have the prettiest of beaches, but it’s an excellent base for anyone who wants to inject some history into their Vietnamese holiday, along with some breath-taking natural sites in the nearby Nui Chua National Park. Dotted around Phan Rang are some of the best preserved Cham towers in the country: red brick vestiges of a civilisation that was largely ousted by the Khmers (but whom still live in small communities around Phan Rang, with the men wearing traditional white head-dresses). A holiday here may also include a trip to the hanging lake which lies on the peak of Chua Mountain, the surrounding craft villages, and the pre-historic coral reef where turtles can be seen nesting on the arid shores.

Area Highlights: History, Beaches, Cham Temples, Traditional Fishing Vilages, Vinh Hy Bay


The red sand dunes of Mui Ne

Phan Thiet

Anyone visiting Than Thiet, one of the most southerly beach towns in the Binh Thuan Province will be struck straight away by the different landscape, which compared with the lush green rice paddies further north in Vietnam, instead has a mixture of cactus-peppered desert and mangroves. This landscape makes for some of the most beautiful palm tree lined beaches in Vietnam (particularly the 2km Mui Ne beach, which lies in a rippling lake of sand-dunes), whilst the exposed shores make Than Thiet amazing for wind-surfing. Aside from this, visitors to Than Thiet will discover the same charms that Saigon-ites seek for their laid-back weekend holidays, with traditional round boats to be seen bobbing around the peaceful shores and of course amazing sea food.

Area Highlights: Beaches, Water Sports

Sampan on the waters of the Mekong Delta

My Tho

70 km from Saigon, My Tho is the first major city in the Mekong Delta, sitting alongside one of the larger tributaries of the mighty Mekong River or one of the nine tails of the dragon, as legend would have it. My Tho’s is all about getting in a traditional sampan to discover the areas waterways; you will pass along coconut canopied canals, past stilted houses, squirming fish markets, and exotic fruit orchards. For those who’d like to explore My Tho in a little more depth on their holiday, you can also visit the 19th century Vinh Trang Pagoda (truly beautiful with its ornamental gardens); cycle into the surrounding lanes and rice paddies, or just sit and relax at My Tho’s large man-made lake where you’ll often get chatting with the locals.

Area Highlights: Boat Tips, Vinh Trang Pagoda, Floating Markets

Area Activities: Cycling & Walking Tour


Colorful floating market of Can Tho

Can Tho

If My Tho is the place to see the Mekong Delta’s watery ‘alleys,’ then Can Tho is the place to see its sprawling floating market ‘squares.’ The biggest city in the Mekong Delta, and with the largest branch of the delta (the Hau River) running right the way through it, Can Tho requires a little more time to explore on a Vietnam holiday. Can Tho is reached by driving over the famous cable bridge (the largest of its kind in South East Asia). Your first stop has got to be the historic working port of Ninh Kieu, which is known for its mind-boggling array of sea-food, and small but frenzied factories making everything from rice paper, coconut sweets, fish sauce, and noodles. After this, a sunrise trip to the famous Cai Rang floating market is an absolute must and a perfect end to any day.

Area Highlights: Floating Markets, Boat Trips, Traditional Factories

Area Activities: Mekong Delta Boat Tour


Fishing boat anchored near the beach of Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc

The island of Phu Quoc actually lies in the Gulf of Thailand and has some of the most stunning beaches on offer in the whole of Vietnam. Relatively untouched by tourism, this sleepy island has long been a bolt-hole for those wanting to escape the masses, including Nguyen Anh who fled here to escape the Tay Son brothers in the 18th century. Much of the island is covered by a National Park, with the thick jungles and mangroves doing their best to protect the unspoilt white sand beaches and impossibly clear waters. Many of these beaches can only be reached by basic dirt tracks, meaning that visitors will rarely be disturbed by others as they dive and snorkel the incredible coral reefs (some of the best in the world); watch the legendary sunsets, before driving past pepper plantations and heading up into the mountains to swim in the streams and waterfalls.

Area Highlights: Beaches, Waterfalls, National Park


Two sun chair overlooking the ocean

Con Dao

A diving and snorkelling heaven, the Con Dao archipelago is made up of 15 stunning islands in the South China Sea, most of which are barely inhabited and lie within protected marine national parks. The Con Dao Islands offer beautiful beaches, and the chance to get back to nature and totally relax on a Vietnam holiday. The island which is simply stunning does have a chequered past as it was once used as an island prison by the French and Americans for VC soldiers. However now it is classed by many who visit as paradise on earth and is a perfect beach destination for anyone visiting Vietnam.

Area Highlights: Beaches, History, Caves, Island Hopping

Hanoi

Hanoi

Halong Bay

Halong Bay

Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh

Hai Phong

Hai Phong

Sapa

Sapa

Bac Ha

Bac Ha

Ha Giang

Ha Giang

Ba Be Lake

Ba Be Lake

Mai Chau

Mai Chau

Hue

Hue

Da Nang

Da Nang

Hoi An

Hoi An

My Son

My Son

Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone

Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone

Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh

Nha Trang

Nha Trang

Phan Rang

Phan Rang

Phan Thiet

Phan Thiet

My Tho

My Tho

Can Tho

Can Tho

Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc

Con Dao

Con Dao

Towns & Cities in Vietnam

Have a look at all the cities and towns of Vietnam

Vietnam has no shortage of captivating destination to visit on your holiday. Refer to our Towns & cities guide to plan the perfect trip.

Essential Vietnam Travel Information

(Check out our helpful travel information before leaving home)

Our Favourite Hotels in Vietnam

There are so many beautiful hotels to choose from in Vietnam. So we have selected a few of our most favourite and characterful hotels; giving you a taste of what you can expect.

Our most popular Activities in Vietnam

Browse through our Vietnam Activity suggestions and get some inspiration.
We can then add any activity you want and tailor-make a Vietnam holiday just for you!

Our most popular Vietnam Holidays

Browse through our Vietnam holiday suggestions and get some inspiration.
We can then tailor-make a Vietnam holiday just for you!

Cambodia & Vietnam Boat Cruises

Cambodia & Vietnam Boat Cruises

3 to 8 Day Cruises
Price from: $POA per person

Vietnam Joining Group Tour (Solo Trips)

Vietnam Joining Group Tour (Solo Trips)

13 Days / 12 Nights
Price from: $2,459 per person

Ride & Row Vietnam Adventure Tour

Ride & Row Vietnam Adventure Tour

12 Days / 11 Nights
Price from: $1,699 per person

Vietnam Wildlife Expedition

Vietnam Wildlife Expedition

8 Days / 7 Nights
Price from: $1,599 per person

Vietnam Vitalisation Wellness, Yoga & Spa Retreat

Vietnam Vitalisation Wellness, Yoga & Spa Retreat

8 Days / 7 Nights
Price from: $1,499 per person

Highlights of Vietnam

Highlights of Vietnam

15 Days / 14 Nights
Price from: $3,399 per person

Amazing North Vietnam Highland Adventure

Amazing North Vietnam Highland Adventure

14 Days / 13 Nights
Price from: $3,259 per person

Historical & Natural Vietnam

Historical & Natural Vietnam

10 Days / 9 Nights
Price from: $2,199 per person

Changing Landscapes of Vietnam

Changing Landscapes of Vietnam

11 Days / 10 Nights
Price from: $2,299 per person

Discover the real Vietnam

Discover the real Vietnam

15 Days / 14 Nights
Price from: $3,099 per person

Vietnam by Train

Vietnam by Train

15 Days / 14 Nights
Price from: $2,359 per person

North & Central Vietnam Adventure

North & Central Vietnam Adventure

10 Days / 9 Nights
Price from: $1,699 per person

From One Million Elephants to 2000 Islands (Laos & Vietnam)

From One Million Elephants to 2000 Islands (Laos & Vietnam)

14 Days / 13 Nights
Price from: $POA per person

Following the Nine Tailed Dragon (Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam)

Following the Nine Tailed Dragon (Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam)

18 Days / 17 Nights
Price from: $POA per person

Heritage of Indochina (Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia)

Heritage of Indochina (Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia)

15 Days / 14 Nights
Price from: $POA per person

South Vietnam & Phu Quoc Island

South Vietnam & Phu Quoc Island

11 Days / 10 Nights
Price from: $1,999 per person