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Vietnam Travel Guide | Places to Visit in Vietnam

Vietnam Travel Guide | Places to Visit in Vietnam – Vietnam Travel, Vietnam Tour, Vietnam Travel Agency

Best time to travel to Vietnam

Vietnam is long and slender, with different regions subject to different weather conditions at any one time, which makes figuring out the best time to visit Vietnam somewhat tricky.

The country has a tropical monsoon climate. If you’re visiting the south of the country the driest months tend to be between December and April, while the north of the country is typically driest in spring and autumn.

Within this broad weather picture are regional variations, with differences in altitude also key to varying temperatures. Whereas the south tends to have a year-round tropical climate, the north is considerably cooler in winter.

You can still enjoy a visit to Vietnam during the rainy season, but it’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re intending to go trekking, monsoon downpours can mean flooding in certain areas, and transport can be severely disrupted. You’ll also have to put up with a lot more mosquitoes. On the plus side, there are fewer visitors. Find out more about the best time to visit Vietnam here.

How to get to Vietnam

The number of international flights heading to Vietnam has been steadily increasing of late – a fair sign of the country’s burgeoning popularity as a tourist destination.

The vast majority of visitors fly into Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, although a fair chunk of visitors still take the cheaper option of an indirect flight routed through Bangkok, Singapore or Hong Kong.

Taking an indirect flight might be your only option if there are no direct flights available from where you intend to travel. While you can fly direct from London, for example, there are no direct flights from Ireland, North America, New Zealand, and very few from Australia. Take a look at Skyscanner for options.

If you’re coming from one of Vietnam’s neighbouring countries, you can fly from several cities, taking advantage of the low cost flights available through budget airlines.

Or, you can enter Vietnam overland from China, Laos, or Cambodia. It’s pretty simple as long as you have the appropriate visa, and this option means you can see more of the region than you would if you simply jetted in.

There are several options for travel within Vietnam. Though still a little rough around the edges, its transport network is continuing to improve. Comfortable buses operate regularly and fares are cheap, or you can travel by coach. If you’re going long distances, booking a berth on an overnight train could be an appealing option. Or, there are cheap domestic flights available, making it possible to visit different ends of the country in a short space of time. Read more about how to get to Vietnam and how to get around Vietnam.

View of Ha Long bay, Vietnam

Bout tours around Ha Long Bay © S-F/Shutterstock

Top 7 best places to visit in Vietnam

1. Sample Hoi An delicacies

Little Hoi An has an almost bewildering selection of mouth-wateringly good restaurants, offering up specialities, such as Cao Lau – rice-flour noodles in soup flavoured with mint and star anise, topped with slices of pork, bean sprouts and pork-rind croutons. The elegant restaurant Morning Glory is one of the best places to try it, along with other superbly prepared dishes, for a reasonable price. You can also try your hand at Vietnamese cooking by taking one of many cookery classes available in town.

Discover 10 Vietnamese foods you need to try.

2. Cruise around Ha Long Bay

An exploration of Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam is a must for any visit to Vietnam. Dramatic limestone rock formations which jut straight up from the water make up the two thousand or so forested islands. Visit the enchanting caves via one of the tours available and, if you can, make time for one of the three-day tours, as you get to spend a night at sea. Swimming and kayaking around the bay’s bright green waters is a glorious experience.

3. Trek around Sa Pa

On a clear day the views around Sa Pa in the far north of Vietnam are breathtaking. Lush terraced rice fields line the steep valley and mountains loom from all sides. It’s the gateway to fantastic trekking country and the reason most visitors come here. Explore the Hoang Lien Son Mountain range, home to Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest mountain, and visit the small ethnic communities still living a traditional way of life.

4. Relax on Phu Quoc Island

Picture postcard Phu Quoc island in the Gulf of Thailand is no longer a well-kept secret. Word is out about its powdery white-sand beaches facing glorious sunsets, its dense jungle, and the laid-back atmosphere of the island. But even though visitor numbers are up, there is still plenty of unspoiled creamy soft sand in which to dig your toes. You can also paddle around the bays in a kayak, or dive around the reefs, weaving among colourful tropical fish and perhaps a hawksbill turtle.

Around half of the island is part of a UNESCO-listed national park and remains pretty much untouched. You’ll find hiking trails in its tropical rainforests, and a fantastic array of wildlife.

Zipping on a motorbike is a great way to explore the island’s back roads and quiet fishing villages.

5. Hike and bike around Da Lat

Dubbed the city of Eternal Spring for its year-round cool climate, this former hill station in the Central Highlands, with its winding streets and French colonial-era villas, is the place to head when the heat in cities below becomes stifling. Combine a visit to the splendid Bao Dai’s Summer Palace with the Crazy House, a fairytale riot of twisted cement.

But it’s the area surrounding Da Lat that’s the big draw. Fragrant pine forests and dramatic waterfalls beckon, and alongside hiking there’s the opportunity for mountain biking and rock climbing – or, for those seeking greater thrills, canyoning. You can also rent a motorbike for a bit of adventure, and it’s a great way to explore more of the area.

For a more sedate experience, enjoy the beautiful view via the cable car to the Truc Lam Pagoda.

6. Stay in a Stilthouse on The Pu Luong Nature Reserve

This spectacular nature reserve in the northern coastal area of Vietnam is as yet comparatively unknown to outsiders. Trek amid magnificent rice terraces, and visit the white Thai or Muong minority groups, some of which offer home-stay accommodation. You can help prepare a meal and join in with family life, and then bed down in a thatched stilthouse.

7. Soak up the sights and smells of Hanoi

A visit to Vietnam wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its capital city. Hanoi, with its constant buzz of motorbikes and general hubbub is the place to experience city life at full throttle. Wander the sinuous streets of the Old Quarter, with its narrow red roofed tube-houses, temples and pagodas, and whir of street vendors. Perch on a plastic stool and watch the hectic world go by over a cup of Vietnamese coffee or glass of beer.

Check out the atmospheric French Quarter, with its impressive Opera House, and visit the many cultural and historical sites, such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum of Ethnology.

Everywhere you go you’ll be hit with the scent of delicious street food, such as the traditional breakfast dish of pho, a beef noodle soup.

Busy streets of Hanoi, Vietnam

Busy streets of Hanoi © John Bill/Shutterstock

Vietnam travel itineraries

The carefully created travel itineraries in our Vietnam travel guide will inspire and help you make the most of your trip. Combining the classic tourist sights and busy cities with laidback beaches, quiet temples and remote mountain villages, where you’d be hard-pushed to find another visitor, there’s an itinerary to match your interests and suit your time frame – whether you have a month to travel in Vietnam, or just a week or two. And don’t worry about seeing everything – each of the routes will give you a good taste of the country.

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