Vietnam is just south of China, and it is best known for its beaches, rivers, Buddhist temples, and sprawling cities. It’s also a great place if you’re interested in history, as it’s full of Vietnamese War museums and the Củ Chi Tunnels used by the Viet Cong soldiers. There are 10 places you absolutely must see if you’re traveling abroad to Vietnam.
Ha Long Bay
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ha Long Bay is home to several kinds of limestone caves and views that would make you feel like you’re in the movies. It’s a geologist’s dream! You can explore the numerous caves, kayak among the rocks, and sightsee for the wildlife of the area.
Ho Chi Minh City
While it’s not the capital city of Vietnam, it is still known as the commercial hub of the country. This is where you’ll find the crowds, along with the best shopping the country has to offer. That’s not all there is to see in Ho Chi Minh, though. The city center, Dong Khoi, is where most of the sights are. This is where you’ll find your history museums and old French colonial architecture. This is a must-visit place for all visiting history buffs.
Another historical stop, Hue is a town full of relics from the 19th century Nguyen emperors. This town sits on the banks of Perfume River, and it’s still sitting within imperial walls. Check out the Thai Hoa Palace when you are there, along with the Dien Tho Residence where queen mothers lived. Even ceiling murals are preserved, in the Halls of Mandarins.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
This national park in Vietnam is another World Heritage site and one of the world’s best caving destinations for those who enjoy geology and cave exploration. This park is a mountain formation consisting of huge caves with stunning stalactite and stalagmite displays. The Paradise Cave is the most popular of these, and it goes 31 kilometers beneath the ground. In some of these caves, you can even swim through the rivers of the cave systems or access certain areas by boat.
There’s no shortage of intrigues for the history-loving travelers in Vietnam, that’s for sure. My Son is a ruined temple city from all the way back into the 4th century. It fell into complete decline in the 13th century, but it is still a Hindu religious center full of old temple structures.
Sapa Rice Field Landscape
This countryside is made up of rice fields and mountains and boasts a spectacular view of a different side of Vietnam, away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and away from the ruins of cities before. This sprawl of countryside is bordered by the Hoang Lien Mountains, and this is the top hiking destination in the country, with tiny villages spread out among stops.
You’d be remiss to travel abroad to Vietnam without making a stop in the country’s capital city. The business of the city can be overwhelming to many travelers, so be prepared for a lot of hustle and bustle, large crowds, and lots of motorbikes. However, this is the place to experience the local scene. Check out the history museums, and get a feel for the culture of the city and the people of Vietnam in Hanoi.
Nha Trang Beach
If the beach is what you’re looking for, Nha Trang is your place. This is a well-known, 6 kilometer beach along the southern coast of Vietnam. The beach is part of a resort town, so it’s kept clean as a hub for local visitors in the summer just as much as it is for foreign visitors – that should attribute to how great of a spot it is. You can also find a museum here, dedicated to the work of Alexandre Yersin who discovered the cause of the bubonic plague.
Củ Chi Tunnels
You don’t have to be fascinated by history to be enamored by these tunnels. They make up an extensive network of more than 250 kilometers that allowed Viet Cong troops to operate and travel beneath Ho Chi Minh City. A guide can walk along the tunnels with you, by accessing them through one of two small villages.
And finally, you have to visit the Mekong Delta. It’s located in the far south of the country and there are paddy fields and mangroves to see. You can also experience the fun of floating markets by boat and head to the U Minh Mangrove Forest and Cau Mau Nature Reserve.
Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AAsia_Cruise_Junk_in_Halong_bay.JPG