Vietnam is an incredibly popular destination for holidaymakers. In 2016 alone, the country welcomed over 10 million visitors, an increase of 26% on the previous year. With both an economy heavily reliant on tourism, not to mention an incredibly wide range of natural and man made attractions, visitors to the country can easily feel overwhelmed.
Here then is a brief run down of the top attractions and sights in Vietnam that simply can’t be missed!
You know that you’re visiting something truly special when it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This magnificent seascape, carved over millennia by waves and wind provides simply stunning views. The bay area is home to literally hundreds of jagged, limestone islands and the water here is a gentle, dreamlike turquoise.
Best experienced from a boat, you really need to allow at least one overnight stop here to even have a chance of seeing, and appreciating, this natural beauty.
Ho Chi Minh City
From the natural wonder of Halong Bay, we step straight into the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City.
Whilst New York is famous as the city that never sleeps, Ho Chi Minh City could also happily carry that same moniker. It also has a sense of frenetic energy that is frankly missing from a city like New York. The streets here teem with cars, motorbikes and brave (or half mad) pedestrians.
As the commercial centre of the country, this city is very much the heart beat of Vietnam, and it almost seems to posses a personality all of it’s own – and very different from the other, natural wonders to be found in quieter parts of the county.
For those seeking to experience urban Vietnam, but perhaps at a slightly more sedate pace than is offered in Ho Chi Minh City, them Hue could be a great middle ground. This historical town and former Imperial Enclosure simply teems with history. Its location on the Perfume River provides both a naturally stunning backdrop – but also the opportunity to explore the local area via river cruise.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Back to the natural wonders for this entry, and another World Heritage site. This one however, is underground. Located within a mountain formation, this vast range of naturally formed caves and caverns is a truly unique site to behold.
The main attraction here, Paradise Cave, extends an incredible 31 kilometers underground!
No, you won’t be able to see everything here – even if you spent a week! But what you will see and experience will provide unique memories that will live on long after you have left the country.
Dating to the 4th century, this Hindu religious centre has been abandoned since the 13thcentury. Despite this, around 20 brick and stone buildings remain, all once part of the sprawling temple complex.
A truly breathtaking site, nature has done it’s best to reclaim the temple grounds but not quite succeeded, providing an amazing mixture of man made and natural beauty.
There is also an excellent onsite museum to explain the context of the buildings – but it is the visuals that you will take away with you.
Finally, hardly any trip to a country is really complete without taking in the capital city, and this certainly also holds true in Vietnam.
Much like Ho Chi Minh City, life is lived here at an extremely fast, sometimes confusing pace. However, if you truly want to experience Vietnam, nowhere are the sights, sounds, smells and stories of the country drawn together like in it’s capital.