12 hidden gems of Vietnam tourist attraction
Vietnam is the top destination in Asia tourist attraction. Popular tourist destinations include Hanoi, Sapa, the former imperial capital of Hué, the World Heritage Sites of Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, Hội An and Mỹ Sơn, coastal regions such as Nha Trang, the caves of Hạ Long Bay and the Marble Mountains.
Hanoi can charm you so effortlessly with its poetic and romantic feel, especially in autumn. It must be the reason why there are so many beautiful songs and poems written about the capital. This city is a must-go destination if you want to discover Vietnam’s historic and cultural delights. Take time to enjoy the unique blend of colonial and pre-colonial architecture, historical and cultural museums, local shows, concerts and various temples and pagodas.
While in Hanoi, try to explore as much exotic local cuisine as possible but be sure not to miss the delicious and authentic Pho, which is every local’s staple dish. Also don’t miss the unique and surprisingly pleasant tasting “egg coffee” – one of the 10 best drinks in the world. After that feast of flavors, you are ready to engross in the fascinating maze of streets in the Old Quarter – the heart of Hanoi.
In the heart of the capital city of Hanoi the One Pillar Pagoda was built in 1049 to resemble one seen in Emperor LyThai Tong’s dream, this dream like Buddhist temple appears to float above a lotus pond. It is built of wood and stands on a small single pillar, the temple is designed to look like a lotus blossom and has ornate beautifully painted carvings. The One Pillar Pagoda we see today is a reconstruction of the original which was destroyed in war.
2, Halong Bay
Halong within the still waters rise up out of the water 3000 island limestone formations in all manner of shapes and sizes. The water is often covered in mist giving it an eerie atmosphere. The Karst limestone formations can be seen by taking a cruise in a traditional wooden junk, you can also canoe or swim here. There are some beautiful caves in the small islands which are lit making the area even more mysterious.
Sapa is one of the most breathtaking hill stations in Vietnam which reflects the signature of French architecture and colorful hill tribal cultures. This is home to stunning mountain landscapes, verdant rice terraces, unique stilt villages and Indochina peak, the Fansipan. Travellers are invited to enjoy the best of Sapa all the year round with different taste of seasons and exciting outdoors.
What makes Hue one of the best places to visit in Vietnam probably is its special look and feel. This ancient capital of Vietnam is the home of the emperor’s residence. The glorious time of Nguyen Dynasty is still impressively reflected today, in its culture, architecture and cuisine.
Hue is well known for delicate royal cuisines and the gentlest ladies in the country. Beautiful slim girls in traditional Ao dai riding bicycles along the Perfume river is the signature image of this city. If you are fascinated by historical and cultural discovery, the city is perfectly filled with palaces, royal tombs, pagodas and temples to explore and admire. And don’t leave Hue before you taste Bun bo Hue (beef noodle soup), Com la sen (rice with lotus seeds in lotus leaf) and various yummy rice cakes. Hue is famous in the country as the place that boasts the largest collection of various rice cakes. If you have some extra time to spare, explore an off the beaten track place not too far from Hue – Lang Co. It is a beautiful tranquil beach village.
Once the hub of the Nguyen Dynasty the tranquil collection of temples, ceremonial gates, streams, moats, pavilions, bridges, gardens and pagodas make this a beautiful site with plenty to see. The Thai Hoa Palaces and the Truong Sanh Residence are two of the most beautiful structures here as well as the ornate Thien Mu Pagoda isolated over the river. The beautiful city displays the essences of Vietnamese artistry.
The tombs are not far from Hue and are spread out along the banks of the Perfume River. It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Vietnam and I personally think the most beautiful of the tombs are Minh Mang, Khai Dinh, Tu Doc, Thieu Tri and Dong Kanh. The tombs were built according to religious outlines including symmetrically balanced geometrical angles and symbolic motifs. Each tomb has its own character with surrounding gardens, small bridges and walkways. In the Khai Dinh tomb you can see intricate ceramic and glass work and it is perhaps the most beautiful of the tombs.
This nature reserve is recognized by UNESCO and is the location of Son Dong, the largest cave in the world as well as another 300 caves and grottos. Within Son Dong is a 13 meter long underground river and beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations. Other significant and beautiful caves in the park include Tien Son Cave, Thien Duong Cave and the Von cave system. The unusual and beautiful rock formations are due to the area being in a 2000km square limestone zone. Enjoy the tropical vegetation and evergreen forests with 500 year old trees.
6, Hoi An
Dating back over 2000 years, little alluring Hoi An is a dreamland for those who wish to have an ancient town experience. Walking around its atmospheric Old Town’s winding lanes is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the blend of Cham, Chinese and Vietnamese architecture and culture.
Filled with charming shops, traditional wooden houses, flower garlands and lanterns, this town boasts an elegant beauty and was voted one of the best cities in the world. Many consider it to be Vietnam’s culinary capital for its famous Cao Lau, various tasty street foods and plenty of cooking courses.
Lavish forested hills, rice paddle fields and fishing villages are just a bit outside the town waiting for you to discover. Also, golden sandy beaches in Cua Dai, An Bang and China Beach are not to be missed while you are here in Hoi An
7, Nha Trang
This favorite spot of “sun and fun” seekers is located on one of the most beautiful bays in Asia. Adorned with lush islands, beautiful turquoise coastline and colorful coral reefs, Nha Trang is a great fun place for various water sports and outdoor activities.
Want to enjoy Nha Trang the local way? Sail to the ocean, catch fish, grill and enjoy them on board!
Here is a challenge for foodies, find the most special dish: Bo La (stewed beef in 5 spices over a sun dried egg served with Vietnamese baguette). It’s an amazing mix between French and local tastes. You can be very proud of yourself if you can have this delicious dish, not only because of the taste, but also because this rare dish is mostly unknown, even by the locals. A feast of fresh seafood cooked in spectacular local recipes is another must while you are here.
A bit further out from town, Cam Ranh Bay – one of the world’s finest deep-water harbors, is a hidden gem that is worth the 40 kilometers drive. And if you want to add a touch of romance to the trip, spend a night at Ninh Van Bay. It’s a golden sand paradise for honeymooners set along the bay with beautiful green hills.
8, Phu Quoc island
This tropical paradise is a perfect destination if you long for some peace and romance. Floating aimlessly in crystal clear lukewarm waters of the Gulf of Thailand is just the best way to calm your mind and ease your body. Walking barefoot on silk-soft white sands and emerald green waters or simply lying back in a hammock with a good book, are other great ways to immerse yourself in this beautiful and untouched marine environment.
Phu Quoc is as peaceful as it gets, and yet, this astonishing island is full of entertainment that will delight your adventurous side. Beach sports and water activities here are fantastic. Check out jet skiing, wind sailing, fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling. For more daring souls, don’t miss the chance to experience squid fishing. And when the night falls, the seafood night market is a must-go. Steamed wild fish and many local specialties found here definitely offer you a feast of heaven on earth.
Ladies, while here, check out the famous pearl farm. Properly adorned with the local accouterments, you will look so stunning after a wonderful trip to Phu Quoc.
The beautiful beaches of Vietnam deserve a place on this list. A few years ago Nha Trang was one of the most popular beaches in the country, but for a more pristine and tourist free beach try Phu Quoc Island. Apart from the dense inland forests the coast of Phu Quoc has long stretches of white sandy beaches and translucent water. The beauty continues under the water in the surrounding coral reefs. The 99 Peaks mountain range covered with unique plants, trees, waterfalls and inhabited by seldom seen indigenous animals are the best place to see the island from.
9, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City
What makes Saigon so irresistible is its essential vitality. As the biggest commercial hub of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City has a special vibe that pulsates and refuses to rest. Thanks to its complex blend of different cultures, historical traits and Western influences, the city offers a mix of architecture, culture and street life that will at times fascinate and at other times thrill. While in Saigon, make sure you explore the Vietnamese coffee culture and experience the exciting nightlife, with plenty of street restaurants where you can have fruit, ice-cream, barbeque and hotpot, all late at night when the local Vietnamese finish their work and populate the lively streets.
In Ho Chi Minh City there are great opportunities to immerse yourself in the kitchens of Vietnam, with a wide range of cuisines that come from all over-the-country. Also, don’t miss the chance to enjoy the very affordable-luxuries you can’t find at home, such as romantic dining on a boat, healing therapy massage, a feast of fresh seafood, tailor-made suits and many other nice treats at surprisingly good prices.
10, Mekong Dalta
Mekong Delta – the “Rice bowl of Vietnam” is a land of enchanting floating markets, lush green rice fields, bird sanctuaries, fascinating villages and endless fruit gardens. A typical one-day trip from Ho Chi Minh City is not merely enough for you to explore the most fertile region of the country. There is no place else in Vietnam where you can enjoy such an abundance of fruit, vegetables and river fish of all kinds. There is an endless list of treats to sample the local taste, but do your best to try the fish hotpot, grilled snails in black pepper sauce and the famous Ben Tre coconut.
If you have a chance to stay with a local family then don’t be surprised (and shouldn't refuse) when the host just gets everything they can find in the house (or in the market) to treat you to a proper feast. Warm and sincere hospitality is the core nature of Mekong people. Pamper yourself with cruising the delta at dusk, dining with grilled fish and enjoying a refreshing beverage while watching the sunset - it’s about as good as it gets.
The fertile land around the delta has allowed plant life to run wild, apart from the agricultural opportunities the delta offers untouched nature reserves. Explore the river life of floating markets and small villages as well as the islands close to the delta mouth. The beautiful landscape includes rice paddies, small rivulets and water channels meandering through the countryside towards the sea.
11, Street foods
A collection of the best and most delicious recipes from the streets of Vietnam. Stepping onto the streets of Vietnam is like entering a big, bustling kitchen - everywhere, something is being rolled, boiled, steamed, or fried; pots of hot, fragrant pho sit over coal burners and balls of peanut-studded sticky rice are steamed and wrapped in newspaper. The food is fast, fresh, fragrant, and second to none in terms of its diversity and availability. Vietnamese Street Food represents everything enticing there is to eat on the streets of Vietnam. It contains more than sixty well-loved and authentic recipes from Prawn and Rice Paper Rolls to Crab Wontons, from Classic Noodle Soup with Chicken to Salt and Pepper Squid, and Crunchy Baguettes Filled with Skewers of Lemongrass Beef. Alongside these recipes are the stories of people who run some of the most legendary street stalls, providing a glimpse into their lives and daily routines. The variety of dishes and cooking methods, be it rolled, boiled, steamed, or fried, combined with gorgeous photographs of every dishful will have you creating unpretentious, fresh, and flavorsome food for any occasion.
12, Nigh market
When coming to a certain region of Vietnam, you will surely want to visit the night markets, the most prominent landmarks where culture and food exchange... of those areas. Some night markets that can not be ignored in all parts of the country such as: Night Market in Old Quarter in Hanoi, Hoi An Night Market in Quang Nam, Nha Trang night market, Ben Thanh night market in Ho Chi Minh...