Vietnam is a popular travel destination thanks to its natural beauty, energetic cities and UNESCO heritage sites. This guide features the best places to visit in Vietnam including top things to do in each region.
Having traveled extensively through Vietnam, we included useful links and an interactive map to help you plan the perfect trip to this breathtaking country.
Our Vietnam Experience
We spent 30 days exploring Vietnam in October 2018 as part of our 18 month trip around the world. At the time, thirty days was the longest time frame our visa would allow so we took full advantage.
This guide features all of the places we visited in Vietnam including a few still on our bucket list. We decided to travel slow through Vietnam to have the most authentic experience possible.
In August 2023, Vietnam updated it’s visa policies which means visitors can stay for longer than ever before. We will cover everything you need to know including tips to make the most of your time.
Vietnam Visa Requirements
Before we discuss any of the unique places to visit in Vietnam, it’s important you know about the visa requirements because this may limit the amount of things you can see during your trip.
Foreigners are required to obtain a visa to enter Vietnam. This document allows you to enter and travel through the country. You may also have to present this visa when you leave Vietnam (we did).
You can obtain a Vietnam visa in two ways:
- Visa on Arrival
The Visa on Arrival is available to visitors entering Vietnam by air who don’t have enough time to obtain an eVisa prior to boarding. This type of visa is valid for 30 days (previously 15 days) and can’t be extended.
An eVisa is issued to foreigners by the Vietnamese Immigration Department via an electronic system. A $25-50 fee is paid online and this fee can’t be refunded if the application is refused.
When we visited Vietnam, the eVisa was only valid for 30 days. But Vietnam recently updated the eVisa policies on August 15th, 2023 to allow citizens of all countries and territories to stay for 90 days.
The benefit to obtaining an eVisa is that you will be able to stay in Vietnam for a longer period of time. An eVisa is also valid for multiple entries which may suit certain types of travelers.
How To Apply For A Vietnam Visa
We have step by step instructions to help you through the entire process:
- Go to the National Web Portal
- Click the selection: For foreigners
- Upload passport data page and passport photo
- Pay eVisa fee ($25 single entry or $50 multiple entry)
- Look for an email with a registration code
- Application process times depend on # of applicants
- Once approved, print your eVisa and save one copy to your phone
Here is Kristen’s eVisa from our trip so you know what to expect:
Travelers with an eVisa can bypass the Visa on Arrival counters and advance straight to the immigration desks at their point of entry.
If you still have questions about Vietnam Visa requirements, this is a great guide here.
Travel Tip: Traditionally eVisa wait times averaged about 3 working days. But due to recent changes and larger number of applicants, it’s recommended to apply 1-2 weeks before departure if possible.
How To Use This Guide
Vietnam is a beautiful country filled with jaw dropping landscapes that will make you feel as if you have been transported to another planet.
Our 30 day eVisa gave us enough time to travel through northern and central Vietnam, but we ran out of time for the places we were going to visit in southern Vietnam.
Depending on how much time you have and what you want to see, you will have to carefully plan your Vietnam itinerary. Just to give you a baseline timeframe, you won’t be able to visit all of these places in 30 days unless you are very fast.
But if you take advantage of the new 90 day visa stay, you will be able to experience many of the amazing things Vietnam has to offer.
In order to make this guide as helpful as possible, we have broken up the best places to visit in Vietnam by three geographical regions:
- Northern Vietnam
- Central Vietnam
- Southern Vietnam
There is no right or wrong way to travel through Vietnam, but there are so many cool things to experience you will have a difficult time choosing how to spend your time.
Without further ado, here is a quick geography lesson:
Best Places To Visit In North Vietnam
The north of Vietnam is home to lush rice terraces, majestic mountain ranges and various ethnic groups. This region is also home to Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi.
Many people visit northern Vietnam for trekking opportunities, home stays with ethnic tribes and epic views of the famous limestone karsts. This is the best place in Vietnam for nature lovers.
What to see in northern Vietnam:
- Halong Bay
- Ha Giang
- Ninh Binh
Travel Tip: Northern Vietnam is filled with twisting mountain roads home to sharp bends and steep drop offs. If you experience motion sickness, you may need to plan accordingly.
Best Places To Visit In Central Vietnam
Dramatically different compared to the north, central Vietnam is filled with well preserved historical sites, massive cave systems and beautiful coastlines.
Many people visit central Vietnam to explore the extensive cave systems of Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park including the world’s largest cave. This is the best place in Vietnam for adventurous travelers.
What to see in central Vietnam:
- Da Nang
- Hoi An
- Phong Nha
Travel Tip: Visitors can explore numerous caves in central Vietnam ranging from half day tours to multi days excursions.
Best Places To Visit South Vietnam
A visit to southern Vietnam gives travelers a glimpse into the energetic cities or the famous Mekong Delta region where life is essentially lived on water.
Many people visit southern Vietnam to experience the sprawling metropolis of the bustling Ho Chi Minh City and the beautiful islands for diving, surfing or relaxing. This is the best place in Vietnam for beaches and urban cities.
What to see in southern Vietnam:
- Can Tho
- Ho Chi Minh City
- Nha Trang
- Phu Quoc
- Vung Tau
Travel Tip: Ho Chi Minh City is the most populated city in Vietnam. Formally known as Saigon, this is the largest financial and business district in the country.
1. Halong Bay
Halong Bay is an extremely popular UNESCO World Heritage Site. This bay showcases towering limestone karsts hidden among emerald green waters. It’s absolutely stunning.
Most of the islands in Halong bay are uninhabited. This a unique tourist destination that has been largely unaffected by human presence.
For those who love adventure, this northern region is also well known for scuba diving, rock climbing, swimming, snorkeling and hiking in nearby Cát Bà National Park.
We like Halong Bay because you can enjoy a Halong Bay cruise, go sea kayaking and visit a pearl farm. However, it’s not uncommon to see several junk boats in the bay at any given time.
If this sounds like a place you want to visit, here are some of the best things to do in Halong Bay:
- Take a Halong Bay Cruise on a traditional junk boat
- Visit a floating fishing village
- Relax on the gorgeous beaches
- Explore various sea caves (Sung Sot is amazing)
- Paddle out to sea in a kayak
- Swim or snorkel in the emerald green waters
And here are popular tours in Halong Bay:
Further Reading: How To Get From Hanoi To Halong Bay
Hanoi is Vietnam’s vibrant capital city founded over 1,000 year ago. The picturesque Old Quarter dates back to the 14th century which makes Hanoi a must see stop on any travelers itinerary.
Today, Hanoi serves as an industrial and agricultural centre. It’s also a great transport link because major cities in Vietnam connect with Hanoi via multiple roads and railways.
Hanoi showcases a lively atmosphere brimming with cafes, restaurants, art galleries and rooftop bars. History buffs will enjoy the numerous museums and historical sites.
If you are a foodie, you will love Hanoi because it’s one of the best cities in Vietnam for street food. Popular street food dishes included pho, banh mi, xoi, egg coffee and bun cha.
When we first arrived in Hanoi, we were completely overwhelmed. It’s certainly a city that takes some getting used too. We recommend you read our guide on why 2 days in Hanoi is enough before visiting.
If you are interested in this city, here are the top things to do in Hanoi:
- Explore The Old Quarter and St. Joseph’s Cathedral
- Visit Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Pagoda
- Watch a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show
- Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
- Experience the Hoa Lo Prison Museum
- Drink Beer on Hanoi Beer Street
- Hanoi foodie tour by motorbike
And here are popular tours in Hanoi:
Further Reading: Complete Guide To Visiting Hanoi
3. Ha Giang
The Ha Giang province attracts adventure and thrill seekers with its steep mountain passes and winding roads through foggy villages.
This province is home to about 43 different ethnic groups who strive to preserve their culture and traditional way of life. These groups have inhabited the area for centuries.
Ha Giang is one of the most adventurous destinations in Vietnam. The province offers remote experiences and beautiful landscapes anywhere you look.
The numerous ethnic groups give Ha Giang a unique and culturally diverse perspective as a rural mountain community. We rant out of time to visit Ha Giang, but can’t wait to return on a future trip.
If this mountain town sounds like your cup of tea, here are the best things to do in Ha Giang:
- Visit Ha Giang City (beginning of the Ha Giang loop)
- Drive the Ha Giang motorbike loop
- Stop at Lung Cam cultural village
- Experience the Ma Pi Leng Pass
- See the Sa Phin H’Mong Palace
- Shop at the markets of Ha Giang
And here are popular tours in Ha Giang:
4. Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh is a small town located in northern Vietnam’s Red River Delta region. Confusingly, the town of Ninh Binh also acts as the capital city of the entire Ninh Binh province.
So when travelers are talking about Ninh Binh, they are usually referring to the entire Ninh Binh province and not Ninh Binh city.
Known as the Halong Bay on Land, Ninh Binh is another UNESCO-protected site featuring towering limestone karsts rising up from dense green paddies.
Ninh Binh is a cool place to visit because this region showcases rural Vietnam at its finest. Here you can visit 300 year old pagodas, summit epic viewpoints and cruise through the limestone mountains by boat.
We thought Ninh Binh was substantially more beautiful and far less touristy compared to Halong Bay. Not to mention, you can also visit for a fraction of the price.
If you want to visit rural Vietnam, here are the best things to do in Ninh Binh:
- Take a Trang An boat tour (or Tam Coc boat tour)
- Stop at Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
- Climb Hang Mua Peak to Mua Cave Viewpoint
- Try local dishes like mountain snail and Ninh Binh goat meat
- Visit the 300 year old Bich Dong Pagoda
- Explore Cuc Phuong National Park
And here are popular tours in Ninh Binh:
Further Reading: Best Things To Do In Ninh Binh
The town of Sapa is known for its deep valleys surrounded by lush green mountains in the northwest corner of Vietnam. This area is filled with abundant trekking opportunities.
One of the main draws for Sapa are the picturesque rice terraces. This region in Vietnam has some of the most impressive rice fields you will find built directly into the mountains.
Similar to Hai Giang, Sapa offers visitors the chance to explore beautiful scenery in Vietnam and learn from the various ethnic minority communities who have lived in the area for centuries.
Sapa is a great place to visit because the natural landscape combined with the the lovely communities offers travelers unique homestay and hiking experiences with local guides.
If you wan to explore the beautiful countryside of Vietnam, here are the best things to do in Sapa:
And here are popular tours in Sapa:
Further Reading: Best Things To Do In Sapa
6. Da Nang
Located in central Vietnam, Da Nang showcases gorgeous beaches against an impressive backdrop of lush green mountain ranges including winding roads such as the famous Hai Van Pass.
This area is home to some of Vietnam’s top luxury resorts and a thriving food scene which you will find in close proximity to many of the areas top attractions.
Da Nang is a cool place to visit for adventure lovers and beach bums. Most visitors make a stop at the popular Dragon Bridge and one of the stunning beaches scattered along the coast.
Be sure to stop at Da Nang as you head south if you need a place to relax after hiking in northern Vietnam. For those who love seafood, don’t miss the fisherman selling their catch of the day.
If you like the sound of beaches and seafood, here are the best things to do in Da Nang:
- Visit the Marble Mountains
- Relax at My Khe Beach
- Drive the Hai Van Pass
- Take a snorkel tour to Cham Island
- Get your photo at Ba Na Hills
And here are popular tours in Da Nang:
7. Hoi An
Hoi An’s ancient town is one of the best preserved Southeast Asian trading port towns with history dating back to the 15th through 19th centuries.
The ancient town of Hoi An was settled by traders from China, Japan and Europeans. These indigenous and foreign influences have led to its fascinating yet architecturally diverse UNESCO classification.
Hoi An is one of the top places to visit in Vietnam due to its extremely photogenic yellow houses with wooden shutters, colorful lanterns and numerous tailors.
We found Hoi An to be one of our favorite cities in Vietnam because it’s a vibrant place filled with beautiful architecture, amazing cafes and endless photo opportunities.
If this ancient town sounds like a place you want to see, here are the best things to do in Hoi An:
- Explore Hoi An ancient town
- My Son Sanctuary and Thu Bon River cruise
- Design your own tailor made suit or dress
- Vietnamese lantern making class
- Take a photo of the Japanese Bridge
- Tour with a Vietnam War Veteran
- Visit the Hoi An Central Market
And here are popular tours in Hoi An:
Further Reading: Best Things To Do In Hoi An (with itinerary example)
Hue is home to the Imperial Citadel once ruled by the Nguyen Dynasty emperors who used the fertile riverbanks of the Perfume River to build their empire.
This is a unique region in Vietnam because there are numerous historical sites including royal mausoleums and pagodas. But you can also indulge in Vietnam’s most popular culinary scene.
Hue is a cool place to visit because the city is filled with history and delicious restaurants for Vietnam gastronomes. You are never too far from a great meal anywhere in Hue.
One of the best things to do in Hue is explore the palaces and pavilions of the Hue Imperial Citadel. Here you can also visit the tombs of emperors Tu Duc, Khai Dinh and Minh Mang.
If you want to learn about the Imperial Citadel, here are the best things to do in Hue:
- Visit the Tu Hieu Pagoda
- Explore the abandoned water park
- Watch a performance in the Royal Theatre
- Enjoy the Co Ha Gardens
- Tour the Imperial Citadel
- Walk the Perfume River promenade
- Try the Royal delicacies
And here are popular tours in Hue:
9. Phong Nha
Phong Nha is home to Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park and the world’s largest natural limestone cave, Son Doong which has its own climate, river and jungle.
Son Doong was founded by local jungle man Mr. Ho Khanh in 1990. It was officially surveyed by the British-Vietnamese Cave Expedition Team from 2009-2010.
Phong Nha is an adventurous place in Vietnam because visitors can explore the numerous cave systems and beautiful botanical gardens. This central part of Vietnam is filled with natural beauty.
Most visitors in Phong Nha join a tour so they can explore the various caves in the area. These tours range from a few hours to a few days.
If you want to explore this unique region in Vietnam, here are the best things to do in Phong Nha:
- Trek through Son Doong
- Have a mud fight in Dark Cave
- Explore Tu Lan Cave System
- Admire the stalactites in Paradise Cave
- Bike through Bong Lai Valley
- Visit the Phong Nha Botanic Garden
- Feed the ducks at the Duck Stop
And here are popular tours in Phong Nha:
Further Reading: Best Things To Do In Phong Nha
10. Can Tho
Very different from Phong Nha, Can Tho is known for its rice paper making villages, orchards and floating markets that run through its numerous canals or rivers.
Considered to be the western capital of Vietnam, Can Tho sits along the banks of the Hau River. This is a distributary of the larger Mekong River that eventually feeds into the South China Sea.
Can Tho’s popular waterfront location has led to the economic boom and success of the city. Over the years, the area has been divided into the Ha Tien landscape making present day Can Tho.
Many people visit Can Tho to experience life on the Mekong Delta which showcases some of the biggest floating markets in the world.
If you want to see the floating villages, here are the best things to do in Can Tho:
- Cai Rang Floating Market Tour
- Visit the Can Tho Museum
- Take a private Sampan Tour
- Explore Quang Duc Pagoda
- Learn at Binh Thuy ancestral house
And here are popular tours in Can Tho:
11. Da Lat
Not interested in the seaside destinations of Vietnam’s central coastline? Da Lat is a mountain resort town that once attracted the French as a summer getaway retreat.
Da Lat is famous for its countryside charm. It draws couples, outdoor adventures and wellness seekers. Xuan Huong Lake is the star attraction in the region, but there is so much more to discover.
The beautiful mountain town of Da Lat offers visitors a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of other cities in central Vietnam because it sits in the central highlands about 5,000 ft above sea level.
Many people visit Da Lat for the lake, waterfalls, monasteries and beautiful gardens filled with flowers. Da Lat is a great place to stop when traveling from south and central Vietnam.
If you want to enjoy the serenity in Vietnam, here are the best things to do in Da Lat:
- Visit the Crazy House
- Da Lat waterfall tour by motorbike
- Snap a photo at the Clay Tunnel
- Take the Alpine Slide to Datanla Waterfall
- Explore Linh Phuoc Pagoda
- Walk around the Valley of Love
- Ride the cable car to Truc Lam Pagoda
And here are popular tours in Da Lat:
12. Ho Chi Minh City
Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is the main hub in Southern Vietnam. This city forms a metropolis of skyscrapers combined with fascinating culture of temples and pagodas.
Ho Chi Minh City is an eclectic mix of historic and modern showcasing beautiful French architecture and numerous landmarks with historical significance revealing Vietnam’s turbulent past.
Ho Chi Minh City is one of the most popular places to visit in Vietnam because visitors can indulge on delicious food, shop at busy street markets, learn at war museums and enjoy the bustling nightlife.
With a rising craft beer scene, Ho Chi Minh City has become a hot spot for travelers looking to enjoy the buzz of a vibrant city and history lovers who want to visit the various war museums.
If this sounds like somewhere you want to explore, here are the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City:
- Taste of Vietnam Food Tour
- Climb the Bitexco Financial Tower
- Experience nightlife on Bui Vien Street
- Ho Chi Minh private street food tour
- Learn at the War Remnants Museum
- Take a Saigon River Tour
- Crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnels
- Shop at Ben Thanh Market
And here are popular tours for Ho Chi Minh City:
Are you a vegan? You might like this Private Vegan Food Tour.
13. Nha Trang
If seafood is your thing, Nha Trang should definitely be a stop on your Vietnam itinerary. Just off the waters of the Khanh Hoa coast, fresh fish and shellfish are never in short supply.
This is where you will find Vietnam’s best luxury resorts which means relaxation and water sports. Visitors can also appreciate the colorful fishing villages and riverside restaurants.
Nha Trang is a popular spot for sun seekers and those who want to spend their time relaxing. The beach of Nha Trang showcases numerous restaurants, bars and hotels stretching about 7 kilometers.
The beauty of Nha Trang attracts both visitors and tourists alike. The bustling city directly next to the beach makes this region a unique stop in southern Vietnam.
If you want some time on the beach, here are the best things to do in Nha Trang:
- Explore Po Nagar Cham Towers
- Go scuba diving
- Catch the sun at Nha Trang Beach
- Soak at Thap Ba Hot Springs
- Hun Mun Island snorkeling
- Hike to Ba Ho and Fairy Spring waterfall
And here are popular tours in Nha Trang:
14. Phu Quoc
Phu Quoc has earned the nickname of Pearl Island due to its stunning white sand beaches. Protected by a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2006, this southern region has a lot to offer.
If you are looking for a luxurious and relaxed stay, Phu Quoc offers a beautiful coastline with turquoise waters. This is one of the best places to go snorkeling in Vietnam.
Phu Quoc is unique because it offers visitors a relaxing beach setting away from the crowds. This region is also known for its prized fish sauce, pearls and pepper.
Adventurous travelers can hike the gorgeous mountain range, snorkel around the islands or explore the surrounding forests filled with waterfalls, rock pools and caves.
If this sounds like a place you want to visit, here are the best things to do in Phu Quoc:
- Visit Suoi Tranh Waterfall
- Explore Ham Ninh Fishing Village
- Take the Phu Quoc Cable Car
- Check out Phu Quoc’s Beaches
- Tour a pepper farm
- Drive around Phu Quoc by motorbike
And here are popular tours in Phu Quoc:
15. Vung Tau
The quaint seaside of Vung Tau is Ho Chi Minh City’s closest beach resort town. This is a popular fishing town located only about two hours from Ho Chi Minh City.
Here you will find numerous outdoor restaurants similar to Vietnam’s other coastal regions. Adventurous travelers can get to Vung Tau via hydrofoil ride down the Sai Gon River or motorbike through the winding highway roads.
Vung Tau is a cool place to visit because it’s not often included on a Vietnam itinerary. So if you want to get away from the traditional tourist path, Vung Tau is just what you need.
One of the most popular activities in Vung Tau is surfing. The beaches are often packed on Sunday afternoons when everyone hits the waves for their weekly dose.
If you want to explore off the beaten path, here are the best things to do in Vung Tau:
- Surf at Bai Truoc (Front Beach)
- Tour the White Palace
- Visit Vung Tau’s famous Jesus statue
- Ride the Doppel Mayer Cable Car
- Wade out to Hon Ba Temple
- Take photos at Upside Down House
And here are popular tours in Vung Tau:
Best Places To Visit In Vietnam Map
Here is our interactive map featuring the best places to visit in Vietnam.
Click the map to zoom in and out so you can familiarize yourself with the country. You will find icons at the exact locations to all the best places to visit in Vietnam mentioned in this guide.
Or you can access our Vietnam map via this link here.
Planning Your Vietnam Itinerary
We have written numerous Vietnam travel guides that are meant to help you with planning a trip. The best place to start is with one of our popular itineraries.
- 3 x 10 day Vietnam itineraries – Three different ways to explore Vietnam for 10 days
- 3 week Vietnam Itinerary – The perfect northern and central Vietnam route
These itineraries mimic a variation of the trip we took through northern and central Vietnam. Depending on how much time you have, you may have to miss out on some of these cities if you want to visit regions in the south as well.
If you have any itinerary questions, feel free to email us or leave a comment at the end of this guide.
15 Best Things To Do In Vietnam
Everyone will have a different preference about what places to visit in Vietnam. In this section, you will find the best activities for certain groups.
Let’s start high level with the top 15 things to do in Vietnam in each place we listed:
- Book a cruise in Halong Bay
- Wander Hanoi’s Old Quarter
- Drive the Ha Giang motorbike loop
- Take a Trang An boat tour in Ninh Binh
- Hike in Sapa with a local guide
- Get your photo at Ba Na Hills in Da Nang
- Design your own tailor made dress in Hoi An
- Visit Hue’s Imperial Citadel
- Explore caves in Phong Nha
- Shop at the floating markets in Can Tho
- Ride the cable car to Truc Lam Pagoda in Da Lat
- Experience nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City’s Bui Vien Street
- Soak up the sun at Nha Trang beach
- Ride the Phu Quoc Cable Car
- Surf at Front beach in Vung Tau
The nightlife in Vietnam is great in cities like Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and Phu Quoc. We had our fair share of boozy nights in Vietnam which have become some of our best travel memories.
Activity Ideas For Everyone
Are you visiting Vietnam with the entire family? Here are cool things you can do as a family in Vietnam:
- Watch a water puppet show in Hanoi
- Trek in Sapa with a local guide
- Take a Trang An boat tour in Ninh Binh
- Make a paper lantern in Hoi An
- Visit the Crazy House in Da Lat
- Ride the Phu Quoc Cable Car
- Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City
Traveling as a couple? Here are top things to do in Vietnam for couples:
- Have a night out on beer street in Hanoi
- Spend time at Valley of love in Da Lat
- Relax on the beaches of Phu Quoc
- Explore the caves in Phong Nha
- Drive the Hai Van Pass
- Climb Heaven’s Gate in Sapa
- Enjoy a candlelit evening in Hoi An
- Couples cooking class in Ho Chi Minh
If you are looking for adventurous things to do in Vietnam, you might like:
- Drive through Ha Giang by motorbike
- Go canyoning in Da Lat
- Explore caves in Phong Nha
- Scuba diving in Phu Quoc
- Take a Vietnamese cooking class
Of if you want cheap things to do in Vietnam, you might like:
- Vietnam Sleeper Bus Adventure
- Eat delicious street food
- Visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum
- Take a free walking tour
- Window shop at a night market
Things To Avoid In Vietnam
It’s important to mention there are a few things you should not do when traveling in Vietnam.
While Vietnam is generally a safe and friendly place to travel, there are often complaints about scams, aggressive street vendors, reckless driving and tour guides with bad attitudes.
Here are a few important tips to consider for your trip including what to avoid:
- Use Grab over a taxi service. It’s common for taxi drivers to overcharge you by turning off the meter or going the long way so use Grab to ensure a fair price.
- Be careful with street food. While street food is a must in Vietnam, food can spoil quickly due to the hot climate. Look for vendors with high turn over to avoid food that have been sitting around.
- Don’t drink the tap water in Vietnam. Tap water in Vietnam contains harmful pathogens which can make you sick. Bottled water is available everywhere or use a reusable water bottle to cut down on plastic waste.
- Check the seals on bottled water. Some restaurants refill bottled water with tap water so check the seals to make sure you have a closed bottle.
- Donʼt wear shorts or short dresses when visiting temples and pagodas. Dress code is important when entering religious sites and it’s respectful to cover up.
- Take off your shoes when entering a house. In Vietnamese culture, it’s polite to remove your shoes before entering any household.
- Don’t be afraid to barter. Most markets in Vietnam do not advertise prices on products. They often sell based on how much the buyer is willing to spend.
- Tipping is not mandatory. But if you are happy with the service provided, a small tip is very much appreciated.
Travel Tip: Always use common sense and trust your gut when traveling somewhere new.
Best Time To Visit Vietnam
Planning a trip to Vietnam can be a daunting task so we understand if you are feeling overwhelmed. But it’s important you take climate into consideration for your trip.
Because Vietnam is a long narrow country spanning about 1,000 miles from the northern to the southern border, the climate can drastically differ depending on location.
If you are looking to travel in northern Vietnam through Sapa and Hanoi, these areas can be quite cool compared to Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta which are typically hot and humid.
Depending on the places you want to travel and the things you want to do in Vietnam, you should plan around the rainy seasons.
Wet And Dry Seasons In Vietnam
Here are the wet and dry seasons for each region of Vietnam:
- November-April: Dry season with cool temps and clear skies
- May-October: Rainy season brings hot and humid temps with high rainfall
The highest rainfall during the rainy season is July and August with showers in the afternoon or evening. December and January can be quite cold.
- January-August: Dry season and very hot
- September-November: Rainy season with daily showers
Central Vietnam is known for hot and dry weather between the months of January and August where temps range between 70°F (24°C) and 95°F (35°C).
- November-April: Dry season with sunny skies and very hot
- May-October: Rainy season with high rainfall
The temperature remains quite stable in the south with the highest rainfall occurring June to August with heavy but short lasting mid afternoon downpours.
Best Months To Travel Through Vietnam
The best time to visit Vietnam is between the months of November and April. We visited Vietnam from mid-October to mid-November.
Unfortunately, the only time we were limited by weather during our trip was in the mountainous region of Sapa. Since we visited in October, the rice paddies were a little water logged because we just missed the second rice season in September.
Here are the best months to travel in Vietnam based on location:
- Ha Giang: October-May (Dec + Jan very cold)
- Sapa: September-October (Dec + Jan very cold)
- Hoi An: February-April (weather is mild with minimal rain)
- Nha Trang: January-August (avoid Oct + Nov)
- Dalat: November-May (Dec + Jan very cold and Jun to Oct very wet)
- Ho Chi Minh City: December-March (weather most consistent)
- Phu Quoc: Almost anytime of year (but expect rain May to Oct)
You might have to pack a variety of clothing depending on the places you want to visit in Vietnam.
Popular Vietnam Guides
- How to book the best Halong Bay Cruise
- Best things to do in Hanoi
- Things to do in Ninh Binh
- Amazing things to do in Sapa
- Guide to driving the Hai Van Pass
- Stunning things to do in Hoi An
- Best things to do in Phong Nha
More Vietnam Guides
- Guide on how to get from Hanoi to Halong bay
- How to get from Da Nang to Hoi An
- Why 2 days is enough in Hanoi, Vietnam
- Everything you need to know for a Trang An Boat Tour
- How to climb to Mua Cave Viewpoint
- Guide to visiting the Bich Dong Pagoda
- How to book a guided hiking tour in Sapa
- Is Dark Cave in Phong Nha worth it?
- Guide to visiting Paradise Cave in Phong Nha
- An unforgettable tour with a Vietnam War Veteran
- How to find the Abandoned Waterpark in Hue
Want more Vietnam content? Head over to our Vietnam Travel Guides to see example itineraries, tips about Vietnam and popular city guides.
We hope this guide listing the best places and things to do in Vietnam helps with planning your visit to Southeast Asia!
Please let us know if you have any questions about planning a trip to Vietnam in the comments below.
Mark and Kristen
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Mark and Kristen Morgan are travel, hiking and photography experts. Over the last 6 years traveling full time, they have explored more than 40 countries and 30 US states.
Their work has been featured in USA Today, Gestalten, Get Your Guide, CityPASS and Condé Nast Traveler along with various other publications.