We have received some questions such as “what are the best of things to do in Vietnam? which are the best of places to visit in Vietnam, which are the best of Vietnam tourist attractions or where to go in Vietnam?…” So, in this article, we would like to show you the best places to visit in Vietnam and we also suggest you top things to do when you travel in Vietnam.
What country springs to mind when you see the conical hat? We are sure most people will say Vietnam. The bustling capitol Hanoi located in the north, abounds in lakes, parks and boulevards, reminiscent of the French Colonial influence. The heart of Hanoi is the Old Quarter, a maze of narrow winding alleyways, selling everything from threads to coffins, and awash with street food vendors.
In the south of Vietnam, Saigon is spacious, modern and deliciously busy, having been largely re-built after the last war. Hoi An, for centuries an international port, is an ancient town situated in central Vietnam, whose beautiful old buildings have strong Chinese and Japanese influence.
HA NOI CAPITAL
Throughout the thousand years of its eventful history, marked by destruction, wars and natural calamities, Ha Noi still preserves many ancient architectural works including the Old Quarter and over 600 pagodas and temples. Famous sites include the One Pillar Pagoda (built in 1049), the Temple of Literature (built in 1070), Ha Noi Citadel, Ha Noi Opera House, President Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum…
Ha Noi also characteristically contains 18 beautiful lakes such as Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, and Truc Bach Lake…, which are the lungs of the city, with their surrounding gardens and trees providing a vital source of energy.
Many traditional handicrafts are also practiced in Ha Noi including bronze molding, silver carving, lacquer, and embroidery. Ha Noi has many famous traditional professional handicraft villages such as Bat Trang pottery village, Ngu Xa bronze casting village, Yen Thai glossy silk…
Places to visit and things to do in Ha Noi
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long: The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history and, signifying its historical and cultural importance, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing 40 metres high, the central flag tower is the most recognizable feature of the Imperial Citadel and is often used as a symbol of Hanoi. This was the centre of ancient Hanoi and served as the political centre for eight centuries. Located in Ba Dinh, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is close to many other tourist attractions.
Water Puppet Show: The ancient art form of water puppetry has a long association with Hanoi and there are several theatres where guests can enjoy this uniquely Vietnamese take on Asia’s puppet tradition. The original – and widely regarded as the best – theatre in town is the Thang Long Puppet Theatre. Puppets dance and slide elegantly over the liquid stage, controlled by a whole troupe of puppet masters hiding behind a screen.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum: Ho Chi Minh has left an indelible mark on Vietnamese history and he is revered in Hanoi as the country’s greatest leader. Nicknamed ‘Uncle Ho’ by locals, his preserved body is now laid to rest in a glass case in the Ba Dinh area of Hanoi. This is more than a tourist attraction, it is a part of living history and a visit here stays long in the memory. The sombre building was modeled after Lenin’s mausoleum in Moscow.
Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son: Hoan Kiem Lake (Turtle Lake) is a central feature of Hanoi and is a popular hangout spot throughout the day with locals and tourists. Ngoc Son Temple sits on a small island in the centre of the lake and linked by a bridge, makes a beautiful background for a few photos. Around sunset this area becomes especially busy with joggers and couples enjoying the relaxing views across the lake
Dong Xuan Market: Dong Xuan Market is the largest of its kind in Hanoi. This sprawling complex has several floors of fashion, apparel and souvenirs at some of the best prices in the city. Even if you’re not interested in printed T-shirts or cheap sunglasses, it is still fascinating to see the comings and goings of the local traders, and there is a wet market on the ground floor where the sights and smells of exotic produce assault the senses.
Hanoi Old Quarter: Hanoi Old Quarter is a fascinating area of the city where visitors can enjoy many fine examples of colonial architecture packed along narrow streets. Endless packs of scooters, motorbikes, bicycles and cars weave around traders selling fruit and souvenirs and narrow shop houses sell delicious Vietnamese food for pennies. The Old Quarter brings to life what many people imagine Hanoi to be, and exploring this area on foot is highly recommended for all visitors to Vietnam’s capital city.
Hanoi Opera House: One of the most elegant buildings in all of Hanoi is undoubtedly the Hanoi Opera House in the heart of the French Quarter. Built in 1911, is exudes Parisian charm from its ivory-toned columns, ornate balustrades and Gothic domes. Inside, performances range from opera, to dance, drama and international artists from every corner of the world. Large events are well publicized so keep an eye out and you might get lucky and get to see one of the world’s leading performers in one of the most beautiful buildings in Asia
Temple of Literature: The Temple of Literature is a charming temple complex in the centre of Hanoi that was originally built to be a centre of learning dedicated to the Chinese sage and scholar Confucius. Over the proceeding 1000 years many more buildings have been added and beautified o that now this large area is filled with ornate pavilions, shrines, and a rich garden. It has become a rite of passage for graduating doctors to visit The Temple of Literature and the whole place is steeped in Vietnamese history.
Fine Arts Museum: Tuesday to Sun from 9:15am to 5pm. Only party-approved Socialist art is shown here and most of the rooms have an small board explaining the history, aesthetics, and techniques of the paintings in that exhibit in Vietnamese, French, and English. It is an interesting museum at any rate, with pieces such as the wonderful pictures of soldiers on boats depicted on prehistoric bronze drums, Buddhist art, and revolutionary art of the 20th century wars. Also some interesting silk paintings.
Visitor to Sa Pa in summer can feel the climate of four seasons in one day. In the morning and afternoon, it is cool like the weather of spring and autumn. At noon, it is as sunny and cloudless as the weather of summer. And it is cold in the evening. With no advance warning of a thunderstorm short and heavy rains may come at noon on any summer day. Subsequently, a rainbow appears, transforming Sa Pa into a magic land, which for years has been a constant source of poetic inspiration, lights up the whole region. Sa Pa is most beautiful in spring. Apricot, plum and cherry flowers are splendidly beautiful. Markets are crowded and merry, and are especially attractive to visitors. Minority groups come here to exchange and trade goods and products. Market sessions are also a chance for locals to promenade and young men and women in colorful costumes to meet, date or seek sweethearts.
Places to visit and things to do in Sapa
There are lots of things for you to do in Sapa, some of the most favorite activities are trekking, cultural travelling, home stay, shopping at ethnic minority markets and street food.
Trekking: Of course as a mountainous picturesque district with numerous of wonderful attractions, Sapa is the ideal place for trekking lovers. There are many trekking routes available for travelers, from easy ones such as some walk around the town, visiting some tribal villages to the great achievement of climbing to the top of Fansipan at the height of 3,143 meters above sea level. On the trekking routes, the beautiful scenes of valley, terraced rice fields and numerous fantastic attractions won’t let you down.
Cultural traveling: When traveling to Sapa, the town in northwest part of Vietnam, the home of many ethnic groups, visitors can have the chance to combine some sort of cultural travel tours with their trekking. There are many cultural spots waiting for your exploration.
Home stay: This is really an excellent experience that you will always treasure. Travelers are offered to share the house with the local residents, who are a part of the ethnic minorities in Vietnam. You will have chance to know more about their authentic lives, cultures as well to try some traditional dishes and of course, enjoy the comfortable stay.
Shopping at ethnic minority markets & enjoying street food: If you are looking for some good food, Sapa won’t disappoint you. Many delicious dishes are served at hotels and restaurants around the town. Wandering along the streets, you will have chance to discover the great street food there. One very well known dish named “thang co” is something you should try once when you travel to Sapa. About ethnic minority markets, besides many shops around the town, there are some large markets in the region such as Bac Ha, Can Cau…where visitors can buy good souvenirs for their friends, family.
HA LONG BAY
A visit to Vietnam wouldn’t be complete without a traditional junk boat cruise around spectacular Halong Bay, with its iconic limestone peaks and emerald green waters.
While a peaceful cruise is the perfect way to kick back, relax and take in the iconic views that this UNESCO World Heritage site has to offer, there is plenty else to keep you busy in Halong Bay.
Places to visit and things to do in Ha Long Bay
Learn Tai Chi on deck: The ancient martial art of Tai Chi has been practised for generations in China to promote the health of mind, body and soul through its soft, controlled movements. It is said that practising Tai Chi in the peace and tranquillity of the great outdoors aids in the deep concentration and inner peace many hope to achieve through this art form – and what better place to do it than surrounded by the sublime beauty of Halong Bay?
Visit a traditional floating village: For most of us a cruise on the emerald green waters of Halong Bay is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it may be difficult to imagine living day-to-day life surrounded by the incredible beauty of this famous bay. But for the families of Halong Bay’s floating fishing villages living in a water world is second nature. Rising and falling with the tide, these villages have been home to generation after generation of fishermen who earn their living from the bay’s bountiful supply of marine life and growing tourism in the region. Pay a visit to one of these charming villages, meet grinning fishermen and playful children and learn about their fascinating way of life in Halong Bay.
Discover hidden caves and grottos: Hidden among the thousands of jungle-covered peaks rising dramatically out of the emerald waters of Halong Bay are illuminated caves, isolated grottos and picturesque hidden coves of all shapes and sizes. Hop on board a row boat and venture out to explore these hidden gems for yourself, such as the beautiful Thien Cung Cave – nicknamed the Heavenly Palace Cave, famed for its many stalagmites and stalactites, and Dau Go Cave – known as the Cave of Wonders, featuring fascinating rock formations illuminated by a kaleidoscope of colour.
Kayak between karst limestone outcrops: While a traditional junk boat cruise is an excellent way to enjoy the spectacular scenery of Halong Bay at a relaxed pace, the active among you can get your paddle out on an off-boat excursion and explore the beauty of the bay up close on a kayaking adventure.
Ninh Binh, a city located in the Red River Delta of Northern Vietnam, is a famous base for exploring the nearby limestone karst scenery, particularly at Tam Coc 4 miles (6 kilometers) away. At Tam Coc, or “three caves” in English, limestone formations tower above verdant rice paddies in what is considered one of Vietnam’s most spectacular places. The area is best experienced by sampan on the river meandering through the landscape.
Places to visit and things to do in Ninh Binh
Van Long Nature Reserve: Taking a one hour boat trip in Van Long is a great way to relax and discover numerous species of exotic birds in their natural habitat. You could also witness the endangered monkey living here. Watching the sunset while meandering along the river at Van Long is a great way to end an exciting day in Ninh Binh.
Tam Coc (The Three Grottoes): One of Vietnam’s most spectacular sights. If possible, take the boat ride in the morning before the excursion groups arrive from Hanoi, or late afternoon after the groups have left. Last boats start out about 5:30PM in the summer and 4:30PM in the winter. Its an easy bicycle ride here from Ninh Binh, with no hills. Beware, the floating drink sellers can be very persistent. Most will ask if you would like to buy a drink for the rower. This is usually sold back immediately for half price.
Rowers can usually row with their feet as well as their hands, which makes quite an interest sight. Some boats have boxes loaded upon departure. They are filled with handicrafts (you can check it), and are meant for you to buy. Rowers are paid a minimum wage and have the right to a few tours a week only, so selling the famous Tam Coc hand-made embroideries, which the women rowers make at home, is the locals’ main income. You are not obligated to buy any, but then, you should give the rower a tip, rowing is hard, especially when it is hot ! The area around Tam Coc is equally beautiful, and is best viewed from the back of a motorbike or by bicycle.
In Tam Coc itself, apart from the boat ride, there are 2 beautiful sites to visit ; Bich Dong Pagoda, 2 km after the Tam Coc Pier, built on one of the cliff and which provides incredible views (go all the way to the top of the cliff via the small passage on the right of the last pagoda, which is inside the cliff) and Tai Vi Temple, accessible via the small road on the right of the pier.
Hoa Lu – The Ancient Capital: Ancient capital of Vietnam until 1010, this royal city is 15 km from Ninh Binh and Tam Coc. Not too much remains except for some beautiful archways and the temples of Dinh Tien Hoang, Nhat Tru Temple and Le Dai Hanh.
Trang An Grottoes: Trang An Grottoes is similar to Tam Coc but with many more caves to pass through. Most caves have been widened in order for the boats to pass through and as result their natural beauty has been compromised. The first two caves are the most natural and beautiful but are also tight in places, so watch your head. Lots of concrete structures are being built all over the place and rice paddies are disappearing fast but hopefully this area will not lose its splendor. The site was mainly built for Vietnamese and Chinese tourists, not the most discreet in the world, and does not have the charm as the Tam Coc one.
Hue City is one of places which have many cultural heritage. Up to now, there is no place like Hue remaining a lot of originally historical vestiges as in this ancient Capital City.
On the northern bank of Perfume River has relics consisting of palaces, which were constructed as arc defensive ramparts with 11km length. This valuable construction includes more than 100 architectural works which were extremely reflected the life of Emperors and mandarins under reign of Nguyen. Situated in the middle of hills on the southern bank of Perfume River are very beautiful tombs of Kings Nguyen. Among these tombs are the four famous ones with the name and the arrangements of the tomb reflected each Emperor’s points of view, personality and tastes. This is majestic Gia Long Tomb, imposing Minh Mang Tomb, poetic Tu Duc Tomb and magnificent Khai Dinh Tomb.
Hue is also an important center of Buddhism. In Hue and its surrounding still exist tens of pagodas constructed more 300 years ago, and a hundred of temples and pagodas built in the early century. Besides, Hue is a place where the royal music is originated, and a place with traditional famous dishes and sophisticated handicraft.
As a unique city of Vietnam still remains its form of City under Middle Age and the constructions of monarchic, Hue has become a big and invaluable museum. Therefore, vestiges in Hue ancient capital have been classified by the government as a very precious property and on December 1993 Hue has been recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Places to visit and things to do in Hue City
Forbidden City: Lies on the northern shore of the Perfume River just a 15-minute walk from the Hue Backpackers’ Hostel. At the entrance of the Ngan gate into the Citadel are the Nine Holy Cannons cast from melted down bronze wares from the Tay Son dynasty. The cannons are named after the four seasons and five elements (metal, earth, wood, water and fire) and are known as the “Holy Invincible Generals”. They have never been used for military purposes and are the guardian spirits of the Citadel.
Tombs of the Emperors: 7 tombs in all scatter the countryside around Hue and are monuments to 9 of the 13 rulers of the Nguyen Dynasty, usually built and designed during the emperor’s lifetime. The 3 most visited are Minh Mang, Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. The remaining 4 are less visited but still have interesting features, with Duc Duc, Thanh Thai and Duy Tan being housed in the same tomb.
Thien Mu Pagoda: Also on the north shore of the Perfume River about 3km from the Citadel. You can get there by dragon boat along the river, or for those feeling more energetic, a pleasant bicycle ride. The Thien Mu pagoda is regarded as the unofficial symbol of the former imperial capital. Today it is the home of the Austin motor vehicle which drove Thich Quang Duc to his self-immolation in Saigon in 1963 in protest against the Diem regime. It is still home to many monks and a holy site visited by many everyday.
Dong Ba Markets: The largest market place in central Vietnam, this is definitely a place to visit to immerse yourself in the local culture. Tourists can see all the typical features of a traditional Vietnamese market, such as, the sampan landing, the bus station and the bazaars. Dong Ba market is considered a paradise for snapshots of daily activities as well as for shopping with everything from souvenir items to bronze goods, Hue sesame sweetmeat, conical poem hats, just to name a few. Should you find interest in Vietnamese food or culture, you’d better come here to explore.
HOI AN ANCIENT TOWN
Hội An is a city on Vietnam’s central coast known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, cut through with canals. The former port city’s melting-pot history is reflected in its architecture, a mix of eras and styles from wooden Chinese shophouses and temples to colorful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese tube houses and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge with its pagoda.
Places to visit and things to do in Hoi An
Hoi An Old Town: Once a major Southeast Asian trading post in the 16th and 17th centuries, the seaside town Hoi An is basically a living museum featuring a unique mixture of East and West in the form of its old-town architecture. Among the heritage architecture stand Chinese temples, a Japanese-designed bridge, pagodas, wooden shop-houses, French- colonial houses and old canals. Though large-scale trading had long moved elsewhere Hoi An has been successful in preserving and restoring its charming roots and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in December 1999.
Japanese Covered Bridge: One of Vietnam’s most iconic attractions, Hoi An’s Japanese covered bridge dates back to the 18th century and is a beautiful historical piece of Japanese architecture. It is claimed that it was created by the Japanese then living in Hoi An as a way to reach the Chinese quarter across the water.
The bridge was opened by Nguyen Phuc Chu Lord in 1719 who carved three Chinese symbols above the door in commemoration. The bridge also features the sculptures of two dogs and two monkeys representing the Chinese years in which many Japanese Emperors were born along with the fact that the building of the bridge began in the year of the dog and was completed in the year of the monkey.
My Son Sanctuary: My Son Hindu Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a great sample of the ancient Champa civilization located in the southern part of Vietnam. It was an independent state from around the 2nd to the 17th century, at which time it was occupied by Vietnam.
Hoi An Central Market: Sharpen your bargaining skills and head south east to Hoi An Central Market, one of Vietnam’s best, offering an unmissable shopping experience. Rich in the smell of fragrant herbs and spices and the vibrant colours of Vietnamese silk, delve deep and you are guaranteed a bargain. Prices tend to be more inflated at the stalls closest to the entrance so head right in for the best buys.
Cooking class in Tra Que village: Tra Que village is famous for very fresh vegetables and vietnamese herbs.Most of tropical vegetables cam grow well at Tra Que and their flavor and taste are so distinctive that they can never be mistaken for products of the same kind from other loacalities.You will have a chance to learn how to make tasty traditional dishes from vegetable.
NHA TRANG CITY
The city of Nha Trang has long been renowned for being a sea resort with plenty of historical vestiges and wonderful sceneries: Cham Po Nagar Towers, Long Son Pagoda, Ba Vu Mausoleum, Bao Dai Palace, Hon Chong, Hon Yen, Tri Nguyen Fish Pond, Bai Tru, Suoi Tien, Dai Lanh Beach… and many islets offshore. Nha Trang Bay has been recognized as one of 29 most beautiful bays in the word since 7/2003
Places to visit and things to do in Nha Trang
Snorkel: Snorkeling and diving are probably the most popular things to do at Nha Trang. Tread a little offshore and there are islands which offer both activities. It’s best to avoid the windy season (October and December) though. Nha Trang is a great location for seeing some underwater life, however it’s even better if you want to get a scuba certificate.
Visit Po Nagar: Dedicated to Yan Po Nagar, the goddess of the country, the temple tower was founded sometime before 781 AD and therefore plays a big part in the history and archaeology of the country. With being up a mountain, you get a good view of the beautiful landscapes of Nha Trang.
Lounge on the beaches: If you want a change from the Nha Trang beach, Bai Dai beach or Long Beach is nearby and stretches for six miles of gorgeous white sand. It has a relaxed, breezy atmosphere with little cafes and restaurants gracing its shores and serving seafood. Watch your stuff when you go swimming as thieves are known to steal stuff.
Hike to the Bao Dai Villas: These villas are perched on top of a small hill. From the top, you’ll get a great view of Nha Trang Bay.
MUI NE BEACH
Mui Ne beach is a 12 kilometre-long sweeping bay boasting a wide range of guesthouse and resort options, with the actual village of Mui Ne set at the far eastern end of the bay. With Saigon a mere four hours away, it makes an attractive destination for travellers looking for a quick beach holiday and Saigonese seeking a weekend retreat. The main resort strip is known locally as Ham Tien beach.
Places to visit and things to do in Mui Ne Beach
Visit the early morning fish market of Mui Ne: Mui Ne’s chaotic early morning market provides a fascinating peek into the lives of local Vietnamese fishermen. Every morning they get their catch to the shore. Their wives and family members sort out the catch and sell it to the local traders, restaurant owners, and street food vendors on the spot. It’s like a trading floor right out of a Wall Street institution. Expect to find fishing nets full of seafood, buckets overflowing with fish, shells strewn everywhere, raucous conversation, and plenty of photo-opps.
Sunrise and Sunset at Mui Ne: Early morning isn’t the only time you should visit Mui Ne. This little village is absolutely magical at sunrise and sunset. Dozens of brightly coloured boats adorn turquoise waters. Everything is bathed in a luminescent light – highly recommended!! In fact, this might be our favourite thing to do in Mui Ne and Phan Thiet.
Visit the Red Sand Dunes of Mui Ne: Another great place to catch a gorgeous sunset are the Red Sand Dunes of Mui Ne. If you don’t have the time to venture out to the White Sand Dunes, the Red ones are just a couple of kilometres from the centre and can be reached on foot as well.We still can’t get over the wonders of nature in Mui Ne and Phan Thiet – sand dunes that make you feel like you are in a desert right next to the beach.
Treat your nostrils at fish vats: Mui Ne and Phan Thiet are famous for being the home of fish sauce. This popular condiment might add a great dash of flavour to Asian food, but it doesn’t smell particularly pleasant. In fact, the word vile comes to mind – fermented fish in huge vats – doesn’t exactly remind you of perfume, does it. There are a number of factories in Phan Thiet, but if you are in Mui Ne, you can witness the action close to The Fairy Stream.
Learn Kite Surfing: Mui Ne and Phan Thiet boast of a number of windy beaches that are perfect for kite surfing. In fact, the area is one of Asia’s most popular sites for kitesurfing. There are a number of Kite Surfing schools in the area that offer courses for amateurs and beginners at extremely competitive prices. Moreover, there is no shortage of wide, sandy beaches to practice the sport.
HO CHI MINH CITY (SAIGON)
Today, Ho Chi Minh City is the big tourism center in Vietnam, attracting a large of visitors to Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City has various attractions as Ho Chi Minh Museum, formerly known as Dragon House Wharf, Cu Chi Tunnels, system of museums, theatres, cultural houses… Recently, many tourist areas are invested such as Thanh Da, Binh Quoi Village, Dam Sen Park, Saigon Water Park, Suoi Tien, Ky Hoa…, which draw numerous tourists.
Despite its quite recent past, Ho Chi Minh City nevertheless possesses various beautiful buildings, displaying a characteristic combination of Vietnamese, Chinese and European cultures. These include Nha Rong (Dragon House Wharf), Quoc To Temple (National Ancestors Temple), Xa Tay (Municipal Office), Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theatre as well as many pagodas and churches (Vinh Nghiem, Giac Vien, Giac Lam, Phung Son pagodas…). After more than 300 years of development, Ho Chi Minh City presents many ancient architectural constructions, famous vestiges and renowned sights. It is remarkable for its harmonious blending of traditional national values with northern and western cultural features.
Places to visit and things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
War Remnants Museum: The War Remnants Museum is a sobering and unforgettable museum which details the effects of the 30 year long war between America and Vietnam. There are immaculately preserved tanks, planes and other war machines in the outside grounds, but the really hard-hitting information is found inside. Photographs, exhibits and written documentation show the horrific lengths that the American Army lowered themselves to in order to try and defeat the North Vietnamese Army.
Cu Chi Tunnels: This marvellous tourist attraction lets visitors experience what it must have been like for soldiers who used an extensive network of tunnels to move around undetected by their enemies. There is an informative movie to watch, followed by a guided tour of some mock recreations of daily life for the Viet Cong hiding in the jungle. Burnt out tanks make for a great photo prop and then everyone gets to crawl through a small section of the tunnels which has been widened and supported with concrete.
Cao Dai Temple: Cao Dai Temple is the centre of the Cao Dai faith, a religion that has taken bits of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism and Confucianism. Tourists are welcome to visit the temple and learn more about this faith that is practiced by a few dedicated followers. Each Cao Dai practitioner wears a white robe to enter the temple with an additional sash to signify their previous religion. The temple itself is very bright and colourful with dragons flying up banisters and a cloud mural decorating the ceiling.
Bitexco Tower and Sky Deck: Bitexco Tower is an ultra modern office tower in Ho Chi Minh, with a characteristic oval extension which acts as a helicopter landing pad. Standing at 262 metres tall, this 68 storey building is the highest in all of Vietnam with a sky deck offering 360 degree views of the city and surrounding area as well as a fantastic sky bar called Alto where you can see all of Ho Chi Minh while enjoying a cocktail and some tapas style international dishes. Head up here for sunset and don’t forget your camera.
Jade Emperor Pagoda: Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most revered temples in Ho Chi Minh. Originally built in 1909 by Chinese immigrants this Taoist temple now welcomes Buddhist worshipping and is incredibly atmospheric with incense smoke hanging heavy in the air. Intricate architecture, carvings, statues of Gods and Goddesses and Chinese characters create an exotic and timeless ambiance.
Mariamman Hindu Temple: Mariamman Hindu Temple is a beautiful example of the bright and vibrant architecture of Hindu places of worship. As the only active Hindu temple in Ho Chi Minh, it acts as a community base for the small community of Hindus living in the city. Open every day from 07:00 to 19:00, non Hindus are also welcome to visit, just remember to dress conservatively and take off your shoes before entering the inner temple.
Reunification Palace: The centre of the allied command and the place where the North Vietnamese claimed victory in the American War, Reunification Palace has played its part in some incredible scenes. This ageing palace has essentially been frozen in time since a North Vietnamese Army tank smashed through its gates in 1975. Visitors will get to discover secret rooms, grand reception halls and the command bunker where General Ngo Dinh Diem conducted his war strategies.
Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office: The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh is a glorious example of French colonial architecture, perfectly preserved with as much style as when it first opened in 1891. The building still functions as the city’s main post office and sending a letter or postcard home is highly recommended for a taste of living history. Beautiful from any angle, this building was designed by Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Notre Dame Cathedral: Located next to the Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral is another relic of French colonial times, but it is kept in perfect condition and is still holding masses every Sunday. Many of the building materials were imported from France and it has an unmistakable Gallic touch with two long spires measuring 60 metres tall. In front of the cathedral is a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary or ‘Notre Dame’.
MEKONG DELTA VIETNAM
Located adjacent to Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong River Delta is a particularly important economic – cultural region of the South.
The bustling floating market days in the early morning such as Cai Rang (Can Tho), Phung Hiep (Hau Giang), Cai Be (Tien Giang), Nga Nam (Soc Trang) … or islets with sunny all year round such as Phung Islet, Oc Islet, Tien Islet (Ben Tre), My Phuoc Islet (Soc Trang); Thoi Son Islet (Tien Giang)… are also distinctive beauty of the Mekong River Delta.
In addition, the traditional folk festivals with unique cultural identity such as Ba Chua Xu, Ook om bok, Ngo boat race, Bay Nui cow race… and gentleness and hospitality Southern people are also interesting tourism products for tourists.
To the Mekong River Delta, visitors can enjoy folk art forms including cai luong, tones of ly, ho or traditional songs and dances of Khmer people. In particular, the Mekong River Delta’s provinces also preserve and develop art of Don ca tai tu music and song – Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity recognized by UNESCO.
Visit the Mekong River Delta to experience types of eco-tourism, culture tourism and wallow in green fruit gardens. The Mekong River Delta willingly welcomes visitors to enjoy and explore.
Places to visit and things to do in Mekong Delta
Floating Markets: Floating markets are held every morning from 5:00 to about 11:00. Phung Hiep market is the biggest since it is located at the intersection of 7 major canals. It is also a photographer’s delight because it can be seen above from a bridge. Cai Rang and Phong Dien are two other notable floating markets in the delta. Boats loaded with produce from nearby orchards of the Mekong Delta converge to the floating market. They carry mostly fruits but also coconuts, vegetables and fishes. Buyers are local traders with bigger boats snapping everything by the bushels and resell at local markets or to wholesale dealers from big cities, often for a handsome profit. Large floating markets are not complete without its floating restaurants, floating gas stations and an occasional tour boat filled with tourists.
Mekong Fruit Orchards: The majority of Vietnam’s fruits come from the many orchards of the Mekong Delta. On any given season, one can find a variety of tropical fruits that are produced by farmers of this region in the markets of Saigon, Hue, and Ha Noi. or many tropical fruits, the season is very short because they cannot be picked green and they don’t last long in storage where they quickly loose their aroma. The greatest variety of fruits is available during the raining season, from June to September in the South. After they are picked, the fruits are transported on small boats to floating markets where they are sold to wholesale dealers. In the off-season, many orchards become flower nurseries to meet the peak demand for flowers during the new year celebration in the big cities. The orchards are divided by a myriad of small irrigation canals with delicate bamboo bridges called “Cau Khi” or monkey bridges crossing them.
Homestay at Ba Linh’s house: Travelling to Mekong delta, with great time spending on Vinh Long river, tasting “elephant ear fish” you mind have a night at homestay there. I would rather say “guest house” on Vietnamese style is that of Mr. Ba Linh whose family is very nice and friendly. His house is very clean, it has an ideal setting on the river side. In Mr. Ba Linh’ house, you will have private rooms with clean air, quiet space. You would love nights in with the locals, explore the most authentic moments of the river landscape and the lives of people in the Mekong Delta.
A local house for tourists in Mekong Delta
PHU QUOC ISLAND
Phu Quoc is also called “emerald island” due to its natural treasures and tourism potentials. The island has many beautiful beaches as Truong Beach, Khem Beach, Sao Beach… Especially, Phu Quoc National Park with the area of 31,422ha has a diversified ecosystem of 929 species of flora, 89 species of hard coral, 19 species of soft coral, 62 species of seaweed…
Phu Quoc has harbors of An Thoi and Hon Thom where ships anchor and exchange goods. Phu Quoc Island is also home to many historical sites such as national hero Nguyen Trung Truc’s military base, Phu Quoc Prison…
The island is well known for its high-quality fish sauce. Phu Quoc fish sauce’s smell is particularly good since it is made from anchovy (ca com), with a high level of protein. Besides, Phu Quoc sea also has many precious types of seafood as prawns, mackerels, pomfrets, blue fishes…
Places to visit and things to do in Phu Quoc Island
Visit Ham Ninh fishing village: Located 20km northeast of Duong Dong town, Phu Quoc district, Ham Ninh village is renowned for its breathtaking natural scenery and peaceful daily life of local fishermen. Originally, the residents in Ham Ninh used to solely rely on fishing to make a living, but in recent years, tourism has become a major source of income as they sell seafood and handmade souvenirs to tourists. In hot summer days, traveling to Ham Ninh, visitors are likely to leave their bustling life behind, and be lost in the picturesque scenery here. Stunned by the turquoise sea, tourists are certainly tempted to immerse themselves into the cool water and contemplate small fishes swimming beside them, and seaweed floating in the blue water.
Visiting Ham Ninh, travelers have a golden chance to taste mouth-watering and healthful drinks and seafood like ginseng-seaweed water, “Tram” mushroom (a special kind of mushroom in the island), sea-horse soaking in the liquor and so on. And it is so great to lie on the sand, enjoy boiled flower crab meat and watch the stunning sunset on the beach. Before returning home, visitors can buy flower crabs, a bottle of sea-horse in liquor or some souvenirs made of shell as gifts for friends and family.
Swimming at Dai Beach: With the white sands and the green, clear water, Dai Beach is one of the most beautiful and primitive beaches, as voted by the BBC. Dai beach’s coast is 1500 meters long. Many large trees grow straightaway along to the coast. This beach is new land of great potential which can help Phu Quoc Island develop its tourism.
Sao Beach: On the east side of Phu Quoc lie some of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Getting to Sao beach is a bit tricky. You will need some local help to get here. If you take a taxi, it won’t be so difficult to find the place, however remember that it is a little isolated. There are a couple of restaurants here and one place with basic accommodation.
Explore Phu Quoc National Park: Phu Quoc National park covers more than 50% of the island, so it is definitely worth considering a visit, especially if you would like to escape the heat of the daytime sun, take a walk along a park trail or motorbike on one of roads in the north. It will give you a taste of the natural environment on Phu Quoc.
Learn about Phu Quoc Prison: Phu Quoc Prison was built in 1949-1950 by the French colonists to jail those considered especially dangerous to the colonist government. Many of the high ranking leaders of Vietnam were detained here in their earlier days. It is ranked as a special historical relic of national importance by the government of Vietnam. The most famous site in this prison is the “tiger cage”. The prison covers an area of 40,000 square metres. It was closed after the country united and opened for visitors later.
Go to Phu Quoc Market: The market is bustling from early morning with all kinds of boats providing fruit and seafood. The everyday life of ordinary people on the island can be seen from this market.
Enjoy seafood at Dinh Cau Night Market: The market opens daily from 18h to 23h in Duong Dong town, where you can freely select and taste the delicacies that are not to be missed, such as lobster, herring salad and snails.