#vietnam #halong #hue #hanoi
Vietnam is dreamy, charming, exotic, and has a peculiar blend of natural structures and immense cultural diversity. You could see rugged peaks that stand tall among high mountain passes as well as plains and plains of paddy fields. The rural areas of Vietnam are loaded with the most scenic sights that you could only dream of. The metropolitan cities on the other hand are places where you get an amazing taste of the culture and the culinary expertise of Vietnam. There are even places where adventurers could partake in thrilling activities such as hiking, trekking, and mountain biking. There are so many places to see in Vietnam and here is our list of some of the most charming places that you have to have in your Vietnam itinerary.
Halong Bay is one of the most fascinating karst seascapes in the world! It is so impressive to look at that it is even listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The bay is situated in the Gulf of Tokin and you can see tons of small limestone islands sitting tight throughout the bay. The limestone has been eroded by the activities of wind and water for thousands of years and has given way to jagged, rocky structures. The best way to look into the wonders of the bay would be to take a boat ride through the waters- this will get you some o the most mesmerizing views of the entire bay! You should also be careful to remember that a small day trip does not do justice to the beautiful magnificence of Halong Bay and you should plan at least an overnight stay to get into all the intricacies of this stunning location. A fun thing to do while exploring the bay would be visiting the many caves which are open to access by the general public. Notable among the caves is the Hang Sung Sot where you get to see three massive mammoth caverns and the Hang Dao Go where you get to see beautiful stalactites and stalagmites formations.
Ho Chi Minh City
Being the commercial hub of the country, you will witness a crazy time while you are in Ho Chi Minh City- however, a trip to Vietnam is incomplete without a visit to this busy, buzzing lifeline of Vietnam. You will find exactly what you expect in a big city- traffic-clogged streets with motorbikes crisscrossing through it, excellent cafes and restaurants that will satiate all your taste buds, and shopping opportunities so grand that you will never leave the marketplaces.
The city center, Dong Khoi, is a must-visit place while you are exploring the city. It is a small area and very easy to navigate through and holds some of the most famed attractions that the city has to offer. Be sure to take a trip to the amazing HCMC Museum if you want to witness the tale of the city through an elaborate display of various artifacts collected over the centuries. The Norte Dame Cathedral, which was built in the 19th century is also an exceptional place to visit while exploring Dong Khoi.
The nearby Da Kao district is also worth your visit where you get to see the last remaining examples of the French architectural styles from the colonial era. The Jade Emperor Pagoda is serene, vibrant, and peaceful and has a brilliant collection of Buddhist and Taoist iconography. If you are still up for a dose of history, a visit to the History Museum is a great way to look into various archaeological excavations.
The nearby Reunification Palace on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street with its intact 1960s furnishing is also a great place to visit. Previously known as the Independence Palace, this used to be the president’s residence and also the spot where the North Vietnamese tanks stopped on 30th April 1970.
A visit to Hue would be fulfilling and wholesome and give you great insights into the history of Vietnam. Hue was under the rule of Nguyen emperors and the city abounds in 19th-century relics. The city is built along the banks of the Perfume River and the Imperial Enclosure, protected by a 2.5 km long wall is one of the most magnificent features of the city.
There are so many interesting places to look at when you are exploring the city. If you are short on time, you could go for a day trip into the city and catch the major attractions. However, you should take time to visit the many exciting sites the city has to offer. Of the many notable tourist attractions, the Ngo Main gate has gorgeous architecture while the Thai Hoa Palace has some of the most brilliantly lacquered interiors. You should also visit the Dien Tho Residence which was the home to the Queen Mothers as well as the Halls of Mandarin wherein you could see stunningly well-preserved ceiling murals. All of these sites are with the Imperial Enclosure- you will find many more attractions outside the enclosure.
An easy way to explore the many beautiful sites the city has to offer would be to take a day cruise on the Perfume River. It will take you through the interesting pagodas and the important royal tombs. If you do not have time to visit all of them, be sure to at least take a walk through the 21 m high Thien Mu Pagoda and visit the Tomb of Tu Doc.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
If you are looking forward to doing something unique in Vietnam, a visit to the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park could be it. Just a short distance away from Son Tranch, these karst caves are naturally made, exotic, and listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites with a terrific display of stalactites and stalagmites. Paradise Cave is a major location within the caves which have caves that extend deep down into the earth up to 31 km. you could also visit the Tu Lan Cave for an adventurous experience- this is a wet cave and you have to swim through the cave river to reach your destination. The Phong Nha Caves are also impressive and you have to also access them through the waterways, albeit on a boat this time.
My Son, a ruined temple city could be accessed from Hoi An and displays wholesome cultural confluence. It dates back to the 4th century AD when the place was ruled by the Cham and has many ruins of Hindu Temples. In fact, these temples were in service as late as the 7th to 10th century AD and had declined into absolute abandonment during the 13th century. Around 20 of the ancient temple structures still stand and show an excellent amalgamation of culture and architecture from various empires such as Indian and Malay. The temples are crafted from bricks or sandstone and have intricate details carved on them. The Group B temples are the most ancient ones in the region while the Group A area is comprised of the important monuments which were deliberately destroyed by the US during the Vietnam War.
In the 15th century, Hoi An used to be a very important port town and trading center- it served as the center of confluence for Japanese and Chinese merchants who used to frequent the place for the local silk. The old merchant houses are well-preserved and could still be seen standing tall. They have also been opened up to the public such that visitors can flock to the place and get a taste of the past. The most notable among the merchant houses is the Tan Ky House, which was built in the 17th century and features wonderful architectural displays.
One of the most impressive structures the city has to offer is the Japanese Bridge situated towards the western side of Tran Phu Street. The nearby Assembly Hall belonging to the Fujian Chinese Congregation is one of the most highly decorated temples of the old town. There are also many small museums and pagodas spread throughout the small town. However, Hoi An’s singular charm resides in the well-preserved facades that the town has to offer.
The Sapa countryside could be regarded as one of the most visually appealing rural vistas that Vietnam has to offer. The place is bordered by the Hoang Lien Mountains and features miles of green paddy fields making way for one of the most peaceful spots away from the cacophony of everyday life. This place is also culturally extremely rich featuring several minority groups residing in the deep valleys including the Hmong, the Giay, and the Red Dzao ethnicities. The nearby, bordering mountain range features the tallest peak in Vietnam, Mt. Fansipan. Sapa is serenely beautiful and the ultimate venue to go on hiking trips in Vietnam. There are so many trails extending between the small villages that you could go for a day trip, a long hike, or whatever your heart desires. Sapa is the base from where you start and is a busy tourist town, quite in contrast to the expanse of calm, peaceful countryside out there waiting for you.
If you want to get a grand taste of the lifestyle and culture of the Vietnamese people while also enjoying the perks of city life, Hanoi is the place for you to begin your trip. This is the capital city of Vietnam and you could feel the busy, bustling heartbeat of the city at every nook and corner of it. The old town part of the city is beautiful and has excellent history lessons for the history buffs in store. Even if you are not that fond of history, you should visit the place to get a first-hand view of the charm of the city from ancient times.
While you are in Hanoi you should also visit the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and the Vietnam Fine Art Museum. These are excellent places to begin your tour into the tale of Vietnam. You should also visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum which is built in tribute to the founder of modern-day Vietnam.
Ba Be National Park
The Ba Be National Park is a delight for any nature lover out there and one of the most tranquil places to find yourself in this whole world. The national park is marked by the interlinking Ba Be lakes right at the center and lined with karst peaks giving off a lush green, jagged look. Visitors arriving in the national park could enjoy boat or kayak rides on the lake and explore the many caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites. If you are very active and fond of adventures then you could go on hiking and trekking expeditions in the area connecting the small villages. Be sure to stay the night in this area since you get to sleep in one of those traditional stilt houses from yore along the shores of the lake and enjoy the simplicity of life.
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