The storied land of Vietnam, once a previous annexation of China and a French colony, the independent nation we now know today is a beautiful and energetic country. With jaw-dropping natural scenery and exciting metropolitan areas, there’s no excuse to say you’re bored (or hungry) in Vietnam.
Vietnam isn’t small though, so here’s the 5H we recommend you could start with:
Ho Chi Minh City
Down in the South is Ho Chi Minh City, commonly abbreviated as HCMC, and known formerly as Saigon. This buzzing city is endlessly exciting, streets abuzz with hordes scooters and street vendors amidst a modern skyline.
When you’re here, do check out the many museums and monuments here that show the city’s diverse history, such as the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, the centuries-old Thien Hau Temple, and the Ho Chi Minh Museum. Just outside of the city are the Củ Chi Tunnels, a monumental system of tunnels that undoubtedly charted the fate of the Vietnam War.
Moving up north, we would find Hội An in central Vietnam. The Old Town Hội An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consisting of beautifully preserved buildings and the elaborately built Japanese Bridge. You can also score some of the best meals for under US$2 here.
There is also a monthly lantern festival, where it happens on the 14th day in each lunar month. Then, you could also participate in releasing paper lanterns onto the river, said to bring about good fortune.
Just a short distance northwest from Hội An you’ll find Huế, where the UNESCO listed Imperial City lies. The expansive grounds within the citadel are home to remnants of Vietnam’s imperial history, such as the Purple Forbidden Palace as well as numerous gardens and temples.
While here, consider taking the time to visit the tombs of the former emperors too. They’re located just outside the city, and the sheer opulence and grandiosity of some of the tombs are well worth the detour.
The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, drips in Chinese, and French influence evident from the monuments and structures throughout the city.
In the Old Quarter, the streets are flanked by mouthwatering food stands, vibrant craft shops, and just about any store you can think of, always abuzz with activity.
The city is also idyllically beautiful. There are serene lakes like Hồ Hoàn Kiếm, where the Temple of the Jade Mountain sits, and impressive pagodas like the distinctive One Pillar Pagoda, to be found in Hanoi.
Hạ Long Bay
The breathtaking Hạ Long Bay, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the perfect place to end off a trip with a relaxing time lazing on the beach or sailing in the bay.
You could book a night (or more) aboard a cruise or take part in a kayaking tour. Just eastward of the Northern city of Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay invites you to revel in the spectacular views of towering limestone karsts and isles scattered all over the bay. Sail through the pristine waters and take in all that Hạ Long Bay has to offer.
This list certainly isn’t comprehensive, with many other amazing locations throughout Vietnam such as Đà Nẵng and Đà Lạt. However, the 5H is undoubtedly a great introduction to this remarkable country bound to dazzle you and leave you wanting more.