For many, the thought of heading halfway across the world to Southeast Asia on a 20+ hour flight to visit a country can be daunting. But what lays on the other end of that long journey is surely worth the wait. From the contrasting cities of Ho Chi Minh and Hoi An to the stunning natural beauty of Sapa and Halong Bay, Vietnam is a must on any travel bucket list!
Not only is Vietnam filled with natural beauty, bustling cities and cultural history, but it is also one of the most affordable countries in the world. Five star hotels can be found for well under $200 per night, while a full meal and drinks can cost as little as $10 (for a real Vietnamese experience, make sure you try Vietnamese staples pho and banh mi).
Vietnam runs vertically, with cities lining the coast. You can focus on just one particular region or span the entire country. There is no shortage of cities to explore, activities to do, and attractions to see. Below are just a few of the highlights that you can partake in during your trip to Vietnam!
The Beauty of Halong Bay
A trip to Vietnam is not complete without a stop in Halong Bay, located approximately 110 miles (180 kilometers) from the capital of Hanoi. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and internationally recognized as a natural wonder, Halong Bay is filled with thousands of incredible limestone cliffs and inlets throughout its emerald waters. One of the most popular options is to take a one or two night junk boat cruise around Halong Bay, and companies run the spectrum from budget friendly to luxury. Spend your time soaking in the breathtaking views, kayaking, exploring the Sung Sot cave and discovering some of the surrounding islands.
The Rice Fields of Sapa
In the far north Sapa region of Vietnam lie some of the most picturesque rice fields in the world. There, you can partake in multi-day hikes, meet locals, and take in some enchanted views of the fields surrounding you. To make your experience in Sapa truly memorable, spend a night or two in a homestay with locals and learn all about their way of life and the region’s rich cultural history.
The UNESCO World Heritage Town of Hoi An
Located roughly halfway between the major cities of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi is the UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An. Get lost in time strolling through the ancient city, biking the countryside, and relaxing by the beach. You won’t be able to miss the exquisite fluorescent silk lanterns hanging throughout the city, which are lit every night once the sun sets.
Tip: If possible, plan your visit to coincide with the monthly lantern festival (every full moon) for a truly unforgettable experience.
Looking for some custom-made clothes? Hoi An is one of the go to places in Southeast Asia for tailored clothes that can be made for you in just a day! You can also take one of Hoi An’s many cooking classes where your chef will take you to the local market to hand-pick the ingredients for the meal you will cook together.
The Hub of Ho Chi Minh City
If you make it down south to Ho Chi Minh City, you will truly experience what a major Southeast Asia city is all about. From historical sites to hectic streets, HCMC has all of that and more! Take a day to tour the city, visiting everything from the War Remnant’s Museum, where you can learn more about the Vietnam War to the Reunification Palace, where the war came to an end. Day trips to the Mekong Delta or Cu Chi Tunnels are popular ways to get outside the city and learn more what this country is all about.
So, are you ready to take on Vietnam for your next trip abroad? Believe me, it will be one trip you will surely not forget!