Vietnam has some amazing locations spread all over the country: glorious beaches, ancient temples, amazing food, friendly locals, stunning wildlife, and more than a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites. But for a limited holiday, where should you choose to start your journey: North, Central or South Vietnam?
To choose your next destination in Vietnam, you will need to think about what interests you. Do you want to spend your holiday on beautiful beaches? Or in some authentic Viet rural areas? Ancient ruins? Vietnam War locations? The stifling Mekong Delta? Or do you just want to experience the bustling and hustling capital? Find what fancies you can be difficult so read on as each region of Vietnam will be revealed in this post.
Each of the 3 regions of Vietnam has its distinct differences in culture and climate. The north tends to experience cool, damp winters and hot dry summers, whereas the south has more of a consistent tropical climate that is broken by a rainy season between May and November.
An ideal time to visit North Vietnam is between August to December when it isn’t too humid and not yet cold. Hanoi - the capital of Vietnam tends to be really hot in the summer and really cold in the winter.
For the foodie lovers, Northern Vietnam is the birthplace of some of the signature dishes of the country such as pho, banh cuon, bun rieu, and bun cha. The most famous dish is properly pho – the world-wide famous dish of Vietnam. Locals enjoy Pho at any time of the day and you can find delicious Pho everywhere in Hanoi.
As the cosmopolitan capital of Vietnam, many visitors fly into Hanoi and use it as the starting point to explore the country's northern regions. With its rich history of more than a thousand year, Hanoi is home to ancient Buddhist temples, national museums, and long and varied traditions.
Hanoi Old Quarter - the busiest hub of this capital is well worth a visit. Remained the old value, all the streets are named after the various trades and retail goods once sold on them. This is also where most festivals in the city are held.
For the eager backpacker, the Vietnamese capital does offer some amazing sights, as well as some amazing food! Most travelers to Northern Vietnam choose Hanoi as the home base and then go to Sapa, a mountainous rural area that can be reached by train, and Halong Bay, the ever-touristy UNESCO World Heritage Site, which can be reached from Hanoi by car in a few hours.
Halong Bay - a UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its outstanding natural beauty and unique biological importance. Cruising along Halong Bay, you will encounter formations of limestone islands rising from the emerald sea water. It’s a dramatic sight you cannot miss.
Many of the rocks are hollow, with huge caves clustered inside them. Some sea activities are popular here such as kayaking, swimming, and rock climbing. Kayaking is a fun thing to do to explore this area.
If small traditional towns with mountain views and majestic scenery of rice terraces are what draw you to Vietnam, then head to Sa Pa. From Hanoi, you can go to Sapa by buses or night train but remind that this is a long hours journey.
However, it’s worth it though, as Sa Pa feels like a step back in time to a more traditional Vietnam. Here you can find the ethnic minorities of Vietnam with their unique traditions, culture, and customs. The locals are friendly and visitors can trek by verdant rice paddies, dense forests, and spectacular waterfalls.
Different from North Vietnam, Central Vietnam is most well-known to have amazing beaches and plenty of luxury hotel resorts. But don’t worry if you’re budget travelers, there are enough attractions here in the central parts of the country to keep you occupied.
Central Vietnamese cuisine is noted for being bold while retaining some of the flavor and techniques you commonly find in the south. Central Vietnamese cuisine the spiciest, flavorful and complex in the country. Some of Vietnam’s signature dishes produced in the region include bun bo hue (soup containing rice vermicelli and beef), mi quang (part noodle, part salad with an assortment of vegetables), cao lau (another noodle dish with pork and local greens) and banh khoai (cake made from cassava, sugar, salt and coconut milk).
Da Nang - the fourth largest country in Vietnam - marks the halfway point between the capital in the north, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City in the south. Da Nang’s coastline stretches 30 kilometers, renowned for calm, cool waters and also popular for fishing, water-skiing, diving, and yachting. Some of the main destinations that keep travelers coming here are the well-known My Khe Beach, Lang Co Beach, My Son.
The beautiful Lang Co Beach is lined with palm trees, crystal-clear ocean water lapping onto white sand. It is a peninsula with a sparkling lagoon on one side, and the beach on the other. Lang Co Beach is fairly under-developed, and you can see the pure beautiful nature untouched by human here.
Another beach in Da Nang, My Khe Beach is more developed than Lang Co Beach. This beach used to be a popular spot for American soldiers seeking entertainment during the Vietnam War. Lots of water activities take happen here so that the beach can get very crowded over weekends and holidays.
Used to be the capital of Vietnam in the old days, this deeply evocative city still resonates with the glories of imperial Vietnam, even though many of its finest buildings were destroyed during wars. In Hue, we have the old Imperial City, with its regal relics on display for all to see. Also the splendid royal tombs, where Emperors of old are buried and remembered.
Hue owes its charm partly to its location on the Perfume River – picturesque on a clear day, atmospheric even in less flattering weather. Hue remains a tranquil, conservative city with just the right concentration of nightlife.
Hue definitely has a different vibe from any other cities in the country. Hence, it comes as no surprise, then, to discover that Hue is a firm favorite among backpackers.
Hoi An Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. As an ancient town, Hoi An has its rich value of history and culture. Its buildings and streets reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce this unique heritage site.
There is no train or flight that go directly to Hoi An. You can only hire a taxi from Da Nang and then go to Hoi An Ancient Town. We have a wide selection of hotels for you to choose from in both Cua Dai Beach and Hoi An City, whatever suits your pocket and style.
South Vietnam has temperate weather all year round so you can visit it at any time without worrying. However, rainy season from May to November can be a little bit annoying for the trip but it tends to be short-lived.
For the food, things definitely get sweeter to the south. It’s said that the food in this area is influenced by Cambodia and Thailand. Also, the south of Vietnam is more open and energetic than the north and the central. People here are more friendly, generous and open-minded.
Ho Chi Minh City as the largest city in the country is a bustling and at times chaotic place! You can catch a scene of scooters wheezing in and out everywhere in the city, even more, chaotic than Hanoi.
Ho Chi Minh City is a wild and wonderful place, with huge shopping malls, a huge variety of dining options and fantastic nightlife. It’s lively and loud living amidst this energetic city.
You know what, Da Lat is the city of love. Many Vietnamese people refer to it as the most romantic and beautiful of the whole country. The temperature of Da Lat is cool all year round. It can be hot in the day time and gets a little cold at night.
Da Lat is also called ‘the city of eternal spring’. It’s not just the pleasant climate that draws in the crowds either; Dalat is surrounded by rolling countryside, huge waterfalls, and forests and was once the playground for the elite of French colonial society. With countless nature sites, beautiful landscape, evergreen forests and minority villages, Da Lat gives off a very tranquil and romantic vibe.
Nha Trang is perhaps the most renowned beach resort town in the south of Vietnam. Popular with expats and international tourists alike, it’s more urban than other beach resorts in Vietnam, and for that reason is a sensible place to head for those who enjoy their creature comforts. You can also head here if you'd like to try a bit of scuba diving too!
Covering the southwestern portion of Vietnam, the expansive Mekong Delta is simply mind-blowing. Mekong Delta is like a comma-shaped flatland stretching from Ho Chi Minh’s city limits southwest to the Gulf of Thailand. To the Vietnamese, Mekong Delta is known as Cuu Long, “Nine Dragons”, a reference to the nine tributaries of the Mekong River.
Boat trips down the Mekong River propel you straight into old-world Vietnam, and homestays in the area are becoming a popular option for those who want to really feel like they’re getting away from it all. Completely focused around the water, the Mekong Delta shows you a way of life that has continued unchanged for hundreds of years. You’ll see fruit orchards, rice paddies, and floating markets – every inch is filled with life.