by Female Abroad

All of Vietnam's provinces boast some of the best tourist destinations within Southeast Asia on top of breathtaking grandeur, majestic mountains, enigmatic deep forests, raging rivers, and delightfully long stretches of white beach. On top of that, in the middle of the country, you can find cities like Danang with the country's top coastal resort, then both Hue and Hoi An which are magnificent UNESCO sites. If you head north to the mountains then you can find Sapa with terraced rice paddies as well as Halong Bay. Vacations here could easily be a hybrid of a beach vacation, a mountain vacation, a wilderness retreat, and a luxurious resort vacation if you wanted to.

Where can one begin to learn about Vietnam, a lovely country with so many amazing places to see? Well, in this article, I'll focus on two specific cities - Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi as well as their connections with Ho Chi Minh.

Why visit Ho Chi Minh City?

A fantastic place to begin your exploration of Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh. It serves as an introduction to the country as it is developing a particular identity that blends the traditional and urban; it is also the business and financial centre of the nation. This metropolis was once known as Saigon and is currently growing faster than perhaps any other Southeast Asian city with an explosive expansion over the past ten years have made it one of Southeast Asia's most fantastic travel destinations.

Ho Chi Minh City is also thought-provoking, moving, and entertaining; the country's largest city is located in the south with access to the Mekong Delta.

Our favourite things to do:

  1. shopping at Ben Thanh Market in downtown
  2. enjoying dinner at one of the Uptown's bistros and restaurants
  3. Temple of Ten Thousand Buddha's (Chua van Phat): built in 1959 this temple is hidden at the end of a street and features large ornate halls, multiple Buddha's, and floors.
  4. Fito Traditional Medicine Museum: interesting museum that shows the history of traditional medicine in Southeast Asia via 18 exhibition rooms and a replica pharmacy.

Popular sites to visit:

  1. War Remnants Museum (Bảo tàng chứng tích chiến tranh): also known as the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes, this museum focuses on exhibits from the First Indochina war and the Vietnam War.
  2. Reunification Palace: aka Reunification Convention Hall, was once home to the President of the Republic of Vietnam from 1868 to 1966.
  3. Thien Hau Pagoda: built by Chinese immigrants in 1760 who settled in Cho Lon (Chinatown, found in District 5)
  4. Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon: aka Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception. This was built between 1863 - 1880 when the city was home to French colonists.

Things to do Outside of the City:

  1. Day tour of the Mekong Delta
  2. Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Tho
  3. Beach Day: Vung Tau, Ho Tram, Ho Coc beach, La Gi, Quy Nhon, Con Dao
  4. The Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve: aka the Green Lung of Ho Chi Minh City; the world's largest area of reforested mangroves (the Vam Sat Eco Park boat ride is worth it)
  5. Day Trip to a local town: Scorpion Island, My Tho
  6. Cu Chi tunnels: preserved by the government this underground tunnel network constructed by Viet Cong fighters during the Vietnam war and they connect to a longer bunch that snake through the country
  7. Head to Cambodia: it's only a five hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh the capital city of Cambodia and 10 hours from Ho Chi Minh City to Angkor Wat
  8. Exploring Hanoi

Why visit Hanoi?

Also known as Ha Noi

Once home to Ho Chi Minh, the nation's capital and located North of Ho Chi Minh City, is a fantastic place to visit on Vietnam trips if you are interested in culture, the arts, and literature. The city has a slower tempo, peaceful atmosphere, and gentler nature than Ho Chi Minh City and is said to represent the country's heard and soul, making it the ideal place to go exploring.

Our favorite things to do:

  1. Cylo or stroll around the city's ancient streets
  2. Explore the historic shops for souvineers
  3. Take in the French-inspired architecture
  4. Catch some Water Puppet Theatre and the Thang Long Theatre

Popular sites to visit:

  1. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum: final resting place for Ho Chi Minh
  2. Ho Chi Minh Stilt House: simple, humble former home of Ho Chi Minh from 1958 - 1969 with relics, a garden, and a koi pond
  3. One Pillar Pagoda: architectural wonder as it is a pagoda built on just one pillar
  4. Tran Quoc Pagoda: built over 1500 years ago, it is the oldest Buddhist temple in the city
  5. Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature): temple dedicated to Confucius and home to the country's first University which was built in 1070
  6. Ngoc Son Temple (Jade Mountain Temple): built over 500 years ago on the northern part of Hoan Kiem Lake for the greatest military commander in Vietnam's history and one of the most visited temples

Things to do Outside of the City:

  1. Ha Long Bay (Halong Bay): emerald green water, towering limestone islands, evergreen forests, and more that can be explored by Junk (traditional boat)
  2. Sapa (Sa Pa): remote, mountainous region with rice terraces, less humid atmosphere, picturesque hillsides, and more authentic villages