VIETNAM What to See and Do

VIETNAM What to See and Do – Guide 2024

Things to see in Vietnam , South East Asia , and things to do and visit, offer an incredible travel experience in a distant land, offering experiences for all tastes. Among the things to see in this wonderful country on the border with China and overlooking the Pacific Ocean , don’t miss the wonderful jungle , cruises , UNESCO heritage archaeological sites and immense landscapes on the rice fields . Between ancient temples and modern metropolises , Vietnam is waiting for you. So let’s see together in our guide the things to see and do during your trip to Vietnam and in how many days , thus making your itinerary to discover the major places of interest unique.

Vietnam, Why Visit It

In our article Vietnam what to visit you will discover that the reasons for visiting Vietnam, thanks to its things to see and do, are truly many. A Socialist Republic , this Southeast Asian country borders Laos and Cambodia to the west, China to the north, the South China Sea to the east and south and, for a short stretch, the Gulf of Siam . Since 1989 , Vietnam, thanks to a series of political and economic reforms, has opened up to economic integration and the free market , growing economically and demographically and increasingly opening up to tourism. During a trip to Vietnam, don’t miss the main locations and attractions.

From the metropolises of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi , to the tropical paradise of Nha Trang and Phu Quoc , on the Mekong Delta and the beauty of Sa Pa . The pearl of Indochina rises between water, enchanting bays where you can sail and endless rice fields. Among the things to do in Vietnam, don’t miss a cruise among the fjords of Halong Bay and sail on the Red River Delta . Explore wonderful villages frozen in time and discover the history of the country in My Son , the ancient capital. Furthermore, among the things to visit in Vietnam you will discover ancient civilizations, through the Champa ruins . Definitely a trip that will remain in your heart forever!

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Read also: 12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Hanoi

What to see in Vietnam – 10 Things to see

After the introductions, let’s go and see together what to see in Vietnam during our trip . In fact, this Indochina country will be able to accommodate any travel desire based on your interests. For those looking for a relaxing , adventurous experience or to delve deeper into the culture and history of the proud Vietnamese people.

1. Hanoi

Among the things to see in Vietnam, its capital Hanoi is unmissable. Between ancient centuries-old architecture and modern structures influenced by French and Asian styles , it is a melting pot of different cultures. Chaotic city, but which offers a lot to see among various commercial activities in the old quarter , where you can buy your souvenirs to take home after your trip to Vietnam. In this city you can find numerous things to do in Vietnam during your visit, allowing yourself to be enveloped by the dynamism of the place. In addition to more modern architecture, there are ancient temples , such as the one that pays homage to the legendary horseman Bach Ma .

If you want to visit a quiet place in the capital of Vietnam, however, don’t miss Hoàn Kiếm lake , sitting down to admire the landscape and walking along the road that runs alongside it. Furthermore, this place is one of the main meeting points for citizens. Among the places not to be missed in the capital, visit the  Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum , the funerary monument of the former Vietnamese president in the city’s main square. Furthermore, to delve deeper into Vietnamese history, don’t miss the Hoa Lo Prison and the Temple of Literature , an oasis of peace amidst the chaos of the city. Among the particularities of Hanoi, visit its St. Joseph’s Cathedral : doesn’t it remind you of the Parisian Notre Dame with its Gothic style?

2. Ninh Binh

Let’s move 80 km south of Hanoi to discover the province of Ninh Binh. In this area, a must see during your trip to Vietnam, there are marvelous karst reliefs , fertile plains in the center and the coast that faces the Gulf of Tonkin to the east . Furthermore, there are the cities of Ninh Binh and Tam Diep , also including the wonderful Cuc Phuong National Park . Furthermore, the wonderful province was also the birthplace of the two most important Vietnamese imperial dynasties . Among the things to see Vietnam here, don’t miss the UNESCO heritage area of ​​Trang An and its reliefs, together with the ancient capital of the kingdom Hoa Lu . Inside, in fact, there are the main archaeological sites of the country.

Furthermore, within the Trang An landscape complex you will find Tam Coc and its incredible vertical formations, which stand out above the rice fields creating a unique landscape. But not only that, in fact these formations have also generated caves , which can be explored thanks to a boat excursion. Near this site, don’t miss the Bich Dong Pagoda . Inside this archaeological site, you will find ancient pagodas from the 15th century. Furthermore, in 1892 , the   Phat Diem Cathedral was built here , still a point of reference for the Catholic community in the area today. But the main attraction of Ninh Binh is undoubtedly the Cuc Phuong National Park , the largest nature reserve in Vietnam.

ninh Binh

3. Go back

Among the places to visit in Vietnam, located on the coast in the center of the country, Hoi An is popular for its old town , with wonderful canals and buildings in a perfect state of conservation. An ancient crossroads of sea trade , the city contains various types of architecture, styles and eras. From the colorful Chinese wooden shops , to the French colonial style structures , passing through the Japanese pagodas . In short, a visit to Hoi An is absolutely among the things to see during your itinerary in Vietnam. In addition to the old part, which has preserved over 800 historic buildings thanks to the intervention of UNESCO and its Japanese-style Chua Cau covered bridge , which houses a temple inside, don’t miss the Phung Hung house .

This structure near the bridge is one of the most popular Vietnamese historical houses. Dating back to 1780 , it was once a fabric and spice shop frequented by Europeans and Orientals, now under the eighth generation of owners. Another iconic and unmissable place in Hoi An is the Meeting Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation , with its wonderful structure and numerous maritime wall paintings inside. Finally, visit Quan Cong Temple and Hoi An’s oldest pagoda, dating back to 1454 . Sea lovers, a few kilometers from the centre, will find the city’s famous lido, where they can spend a few hours relaxing or simply stroll along the seafront of An Bang Beach .

4. Temple of Literature

Among the most popular places to visit in Vietnam, a place to absolutely include among the things to see in our travel guide, the Temple of Literature is much more than a simple place of worship . In fact, this was the first Vietnamese university , located in the country’s capital. Today, as in the past, precious relics are found inside , conferences are held and it is considered a cultural heritage of humanity . Due to its historical, artistic, institutional and much more value, this complex also represents the essence of the feudal period, embodying numerous values ​​of Vietnamese traditions.

This place was built by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong in 1070 to honor Confucius and, in 1076, it became the first Vietnamese university. Originally, the place was reserved only for nobles and, from 1442, it was opened to all social classes of the country, teaching the principles of Confucianism , poetry and literature. The most iconic parts of the complex are the  1802 Khue Van Pavilion and the Well of Divine Clarity : a small artificial lake within it. The temple is open to the public every day from 8.00 to 17.00 at a price of around 1 euro. Being a place of worship, it is important to wear respectful clothing , remove your hat and shoes when entering the sanctuary.

5. My Son

Among the most important archaeological sites in all of Vietnam, absolutely among the things to visit during your trip to the country, we find My Son. Located in Quang Nam province, Duy Xuyen district and 25 km from Hoi An, the area sits on over 140 hectares and is the most important site regarding the Champa civilization and their kingdom since 1999 Unesco Heritage . Temple complex dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva , called Bhadreshvara , is made up of 71 structures built from the 4th century to the 14th century AD. Important cult ceremonies took place here and it was also the place where the rulers were buried.

The Kalan towers , the sanctuaries of the temple complex, certainly represent the most iconic part of the place. Symbol of the sacred mountain, Mount Meru , the center of the universe for Hindu cosmology , are made entirely of bricks. The My Son site is divided into 5 distinct areas, while the structures are divided into 10 groups, identified by letters. C1 is the one with the best preserved reliefs. In tower B5, sacred relics are still present inside. The phallic symbols that can be observed overall are a symbol associated with creation and Shiva, uniting Prakriti , masculine, and Purusha , feminine. Unfortunately, during the Vietnam War, much of the structure was damaged due to bombings.

6. Hue

The ancient capital of Vietnam before 1945 , Hue is among the must-see things in the country. This stage, in fact, encompasses the culture and history of the country, as well as being full of places of interest to retrace the events of the Nguyen dynasty . With exotic and solemn architecture at the same time, in the streets of Hue you will enjoy a unique and chaotic atmosphere, between street food stalls and buildings that recall the imperial past of the place. Very similar to the Forbidden City in Beijing , home of the Nguyen emperors from 1902 to 1945 , until the last ruler, Bao Dai . The city, in fact, is fortified , enclosed within high walls and a moat, as well as being a UNESCO heritage site since 1992 .

Even after the damage caused by the Vietnam War and the fire of 1947, this place is incredibly full of charm, also thanks to the massive restoration works , which saved countless buildings. Among the main attractions to visit in Hue, don’t miss the Chuong Duc Gate , one of the 5 in the citadel. Retrace the streets of the citadel imagining stories between eunuchs, concubines and royalty. Also, don’t miss the tombs of the seven emperors and the mausoleum of Emperor Tu Duc . Finally, go to Thien Mu Pagoda , on the hill overlooking the Perfume River .

photo of gray arch scenery

7. Ben Tre

A province located on the Mekong Delta , Ben Tre is a quiet and hospitable place, a small village not far from Ho Chi Minh where coconut palms reign . Among the places to absolutely visit in Vietnam if you want a day immersed in tropical nature , observing placid canals flowing through the jungle and small villages hidden among the greenery. Coconut , as you can imagine , plays a fundamental role in the life of the locals and in the economy of the area. In fact , thanks to the presence of 4 tributaries of the Tien , the islets that arise here are the perfect place for the growth of these plants.

A true paradise immersed in the jungle on the Makong Delta, where life goes on peacefully and it is possible to stop and rest in one of the many hammocks inside the taverns. Furthermore, the place is also ideal for those who love walking or cycling . This location is also infamous for being the place where the Second Indochina War, i.e. the Vietnam War , officially began . In 1960 , the Viet Cong attacked here , controlling the then Kien Hoa province . Today, numerous excursions along the rivers depart from here with the typical streamlined boats . Through these trips it is possible to observe local life and the population at work in the fields. Don’t miss the typical desserts made with coconut milk and coconut candies!

8. Golden Bridge

Among the iconic places among the things to see in Vietnam during your visit, don’t miss the majestic Golden Bridge. Called Cau Vang by the locals and inaugurated in 2018 , it attracts numerous visitors every day for its spectacular appearance. Located in the Ba Na Hills area , near Da Nang in Thien Thai Gardens , this bridge stands at 1400 meters high and appears as if supported by enormous aged stone hands , which emerge from the hill. Thanks to this incredible image, the bridge appears enchanted, surrounded by a spiritual and divine aura.

Walking on the Golden Bridge we will have the sensation of walking on the clouds , supported by the giant hands of a stone colossus . The bridge measures 150 m and is made up of 8 spans . Along its entire perimeter there are wonderful flowers, which certainly increase the wonder of this enchanted place. Absolutely among the things to visit in Vietnam.

golden bridge what to visit in vietnam
The giant stone hands holding the Golden Bridge

9. Friends

Ancient capital in the 10th century of the three Banmite dynasties Dinh, Le and Ly, Hou Lu is located approximately 120 km from Hanoi . Founded in 968 AD by the first emperor Dinh, it covered an area of ​​over 300 hectares and was made up of two fortified citadels inside which there were buildings, royal palaces and temples, of which we can still observe few today. Among these, we can observe the temples of the emperors Đinh Tiên Hoàng and Lê Đại Hành and some tombs near the Mã Yên mountain . Hoa Lu is certainly among the most important archaeological sites and historical places in Vietnam, as well as one of the most important destinations in the country for travelers who go here.

The site can be reached via the Golden Dragon River, the Hoang Long , joining Hoa Lu to the sea through numerous canals. Thanks to the karst reliefs surrounding the citadel, protection against attacks from the Champa kingdom and the Chinese Empire was guaranteed . Beyond this natural protection, walls over 10 m thick and 15 m thick were built ! In addition to the main temple of the Emperors mentioned above, the Temple of Dinh Tien Hoang’s Daughter and the Nhat Tru Pagoda are still present within the complex .

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The landscapes of the Hoa Lu district

10. Ho Chi Minh

Known primarily as Saigon , Ho Chi Minh is the most populous Vietnamese city. Located to the south and overlooking the western bank of the river of the same name, it was annexed in the 17th century and became the capital of the state of Vietnam between 1949 and 1955. Today, it is considered the hub of the country’s finance and trade. Originally, Saigon was part of the Kingdom of Funan , like all the southern territories of Vietnam. During the 11th century, under the Champa kingdom, it was called Baigaur and, in the 12th century, it was conquered by the Khmer empire , taking the name of Prey Nokor, making it one of the main ports of the empire. Under the French colonial period , its main infrastructures were built in the city, including important palaces, taking the name of Pearl of the Far East in the 20th century .

During World War II , the government agreed to Japanese occupation and, at the end of the conflict, Vietnamese independence was proclaimed by Ho Chi Minh , starting the First Indochina War, which ended in 1954 . Following this event, the division of Vietnam occurred, ending with the Vietnam War. In 1975 the troops of national hero Ho Chi Minh entered Saigon, surrendering and reunifying the country, defeating the colonists. Among the main attractions to see in Saigon, don’t miss the Buu Long Pagoda , the Jade Emperor Pagoda and the Notre Dame Cathedral . Finally, to delve deeper into Ho Chi Minh’s history, visit the Cu Chi Tunnels and the War Museum .

ho chi minh city
The main square of Ho Chi Minh

5 Things to do in Vietnam, experiences not to be missed and what to see

During your stay in Vietnam, in addition to visiting the main attractions and cities described previously in our guide , we also want to tell you what to do in Vietnam, thus making your stay truly unique. Between culture , adventure , tradition and local food , a trip to Vietnam will certainly be able to unite the desires of all travellers.

So let’s not waste time and discover together the 5 experiences not to be missed in Vietnam .

1. Cruise in Halong Bay

Among the things to absolutely do in Vietnam to make your travel experience truly complete, don’t miss a cruise in Halong Bay . For many people this is the best moment of the whole trip to the country! Thanks to this experience, it will be possible to observe the wonderful karst landscapes of incredible charm, as well as discover the history and meaning of this place for the locals, through the numerous legends linked to the area. Ha Long Bay is located southeast of the capital, in the Gulf of Tonkin . In this place wonderful islets emerge and there is a rich impenetrable vegetation, which hides an incredible biodiversity .

The largest island that can be visited here is Cat Ba , a popular destination for nature lovers. Excursions for this cruise usually depart from Hanoi . During navigation you will observe unforgettable places, the bay is in fact considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

2. Water puppet show

Among the numerous traditions of Vietnamese folklore , among the things to do in Vietnam don’t miss the water puppet show! These puppets, thanks to the skill of their puppeteers, move on the surface of the water , creating one of the oldest entertainment shows in the country. But not only that, in fact this art is extremely complex and great practice is required to practice this type of theater. Art originally from northern Vietnam, today it is possible to witness this show in every area of ​​the country. During the 11th century , this puppet theater was practiced by rice farmers on the Red River Delta . The puppets were built for the entertainment of families, celebrating the end of the harvest season.

Furthermore, according to legends, these shows also served to distract bad spirits , preventing them from carrying out acts against the harvest, ruining it. The Vietnamese tradition of puppets dancing on water is said to have arisen following the floods that seasonally affected the rice fields. The cultivators then saw the water as a large stage , allowing them to conceal the mechanisms that made the puppets move. Following their diffusion, real theatrical competitions began between the various villages , which led the various theater companies of puppeteers to guard their secrets more and more jealously.

puppets on the water
A water puppet show in Hanoi

3. Navigation on the Mekong Delta

Among the most popular things to do and visit in Vietnam during your trip is a river excursion along the Mekong Delta . During this trip you will explore the south of the country and the enchanting landscapes of the place, immersed in the thick lush jungle . Once the site of the terrible Vietnam War , today it is among the most popular destinations for travelers from all over the world due to its natural beauty. This territory is wonderful, but also very complicated to visit due to its vastness over an area of ​​over 39,000 km². Winding through streams, impenetrable vegetation and markets built on the water, creating one of the richest biologically rich areas in the world.

An excursion to the Mekong Delta will allow you to observe the place in navigation, from a unique point of view. Through this experience you will be able to explore the canals that wind through the jungle, closely observe the locals at work and the floating cities. Also, don’t miss the Tra Su forest , an enchanted place and natural heritage .

4. Trekking

Among the various things to do in Vietnam, the country offers walking lovers many trekking routes during which they can observe incredible landscapes. Certainly exploring the town on foot is the best way to immerse yourself in the culture of the place and live a unique experience. Among the most popular routes we find that of Mount Fansipan , at 3143 m, and that of Ha Giang , a mountainous stretch where there are around 20 different ethnic groups. In the Sapa area , however, there are routes that cross the wonderful valleys of Lao Chai Ma Tra and Ta Phin, with decidedly quieter walks.

In the eastern area of ​​the North , you will find routes that cross the wonderful landscapes of Cao Bang , surrounded by greenery and observing the high rock formations. So lace up your shoes, backpack on your shoulders and discover the incredible nature of Vietnam by walking, immersing yourself in its true essence! You will cross mountains, majestic terraced rice fields and thus come into contact with the hospitality of the Vietnamese.

VIETNAM What to See and Do
Trekking is a unique way to discover the landscapes of Vietnam

5. Try local cuisine

Finally, a trip cannot be considered absolutely complete if you have not tried the local cuisine . Among the various Asian cuisines, Vietnamese is most likely the tastiest and, obviously, a bowl of rice , the so-called com , will never be missing . For typical Vietnamese dishes, rice is used in many recipes, from pasta, for pastries and sauces, to the many tasty soups based on fish, meat and especially pork, where noodles are then added. Traditional Vietnamese dishes are numerous and demonstrate the variety that can be found in the country. Certainly the Chinese influence has greatly influenced the local cuisine, but here we will find much more intense fragrances, colors and flavors.

In fact, the philosophy of this cuisine is based on the 5 elements . In each dish there must be 5 ngũ vị , that is, the fundamental flavours : sour, spicy, salty, sweet and bitter. These are linked to 5 organs and the 5 basic nutrients . Furthermore, in traditional dishes you will always find the 5 colours : red, black, white, green and yellow. Furthermore, traditional cuisine presents various differences within the three regions , but always shares the same principles. For the Vietnamese, the freshness of the food, the presence of vegetables and the consistency are always essential . In short, don’t miss the main dishes of Vietnamese cuisine among the things to do during your trip to Vietnam!

What to see in Vietnam, recommended itineraries

So, after seeing what to see, visit and do in Vietnam you are ready to pack your bags and leave !

Therefore, let’s discover the itineraries together based on your needs. Here’s what to visit in Vietnam in 10 and 15 days !

Group Tour Vietnam: Enchantment Vietnam

In short: Vietnam group tour to discover the most significant places.
Itinerary: Hanoi, Halong Bay, My Son, Hoi An, Hué, Saigon.
Duration: 12 days – 9 nights
Confirmed Departures
Code: VIARCH1005

With 10 days at your disposal to discover the country from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi, don’t miss our Classic Vietnam Tour, delving into the natural and cultural beauties of this wonderful country.

Tour Vietnam Classico

In short: Classic Vietnam Tour to discover the most significant places.
Itinerary: Ho Chi Minh, Ben Tre, Hoi An, Halong Bay, Hanoi.
Duration: 10 days – 7 nights
Confirmed Departures
Code: VIARCH1001

What to See in Vietnam in 15 Days

If you also want to discover Cambodia during a visit to the main places in Vietnam, with a 15-day itinerary, we recommend our Grand Tour Vietnam and Cambodia.

Grand Tour Vietnam and Cambodia

In short: Tour Vietnam and Cambodia to discover their beauties.
Itinerary: Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Hué, Saigon, Siem Reap, Angkor Wat.
Duration: 15 days – 12 nights
Confirmed Departures
Code: VIARCH1206

If you want to experience a unique, adventurous trip that will take you to authentic places in Indochina, we recommend our Grand Tour Vietnam Laos Cambodia. During this itinerary, you will discover wonderful places in Southeast Asia.

Grand Tour Vietnam Laos Cambogia

In short: Tour Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to discover Indochina.
Itinerary: Luang Prabang, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh, Angkor Wat.
Duration: 18 days – 15 nights
Confirmed Departures
Code: VIARCH1904

Finally, if you wish to discover nearby Laos together with the wonders of Vietnam, we recommend our Grand Tour Laos and Vietnam.

Gran Tour Laos and Vietnam

In short: Tour Laos and Vietnam to discover their wonders.
Itinerary: Luang Prabang, Kuang Si, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Saigon.
Duration: 15 days – 12 nights
Confirmed Departures
Code: LAARCH1501

Available DaysWhat seeRecommended Tours
What to see in Vietnam in 10 daysHanoi, Ninh Binh, Red River Delta, Halong Bay Cruise, Hoi An, My Son, Hue, Mekong Delta, Ben Tre, Cui Chi

Saigon, Mekong, Ben Tre, Cu Ch, Hue, Hoi An, Hanoi

Hanoi, Baia di Halong, Hoi An, Hue, Saigon, Mekong Delta

Group Tour Vietnam: Enchantment Vietnam

Tour Vietnam Classico

Tour Vietnam Bridge April 25th / May 1st

What to see in Vietnam in 15 daysHanoi, baia di Halong, Hoi An, My Son, Hue, Delta del Mekong, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom

Luang Prabang, Hanoi, Halong Bay Cruise, Hoi An, My Son Archaeological Site, Hue, Mekong Delta,
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap Temple Complex, Angkor Thom

Luang Prabang, Mekong
Hanoi, Baia di Halong
Ninh Binh, Fiume Rosso
Hoi An, My Son, Hue, Saigon

Grand Tour Vietnam and Cambodia

Grand Tour Vietnam Laos Cambogia

Gran Tour Laos and Vietnam

How to Visit Vietnam?

Now that you have a clearer idea of ​​what to see on your trip to Vietnam, before leaving we recommend that you find out as much information as possible about the documents needed for entry. Visit our Safe Travel section for all the necessary information and the various restrictions.

Furthermore, thanks to its climate, the best time to visit Vietnam is in the months  from February to July . In this way, you will be able to visit the country in the best way, avoiding the monsoons and the rainy season.

Read also: 12 best places to visit in Vietnam

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