With beautiful forests, bustling streets, white sandy beaches, and delicious street foods, Vietnam deserves to be on every traveler’s bucket list. In this Vietnam guide, we will give you many options to indulge yourself in wandering and discover all of the top 15 best cities to visit in Vietnam, in no particular priority.
1. Can Tho – The City of Nine-Dragon River Delta
As the fifth-largest city in Vietnam and the largest city in the Mekong Delta, Can Tho deserves to be on the list of one of the top cities to visit in Vietnam. This city is also where transportation to different regions is most convenient. You can go by car or mini-van in approximately 4 hours from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho. This city even has an international airport (VCA) offering routes to Taipei and Bangkok, and it plans to add routes to Singapore in the near future.
Cai Rang Floating Market
The highlight of a trip to this city is the floating market, the rice paper-making village, and picturesque rural canals. A pleasant boat ride on the extensive canal system and shopping for authentic goods in the floating markets will give you a great countryside memory. You can also go to the night market to try street foods and see the nightlife of the locals here. We suggest you visit Can Tho from December to April to avoid the tropical monsoon climate.
2. Ben Tre – The Land of Coconuts
Sampan tours in Ben Tre
Ben Tre, located in the Mekong Delta, is famous as the land of coconuts. Cruise the sampan down the river, you will see ranges of coconut trees along the sides along with other fruit trees of jackfruit and banana. Besides the waterway exploration, the coconut workshop is the most-visited place in this city and province.
A lot of products from coconut are made such as carpets from coconut fibers, coconut candy, coconut oil, and cosmetics from coconut oil. At the workshop, you can see for yourself how the coconuts are processed, divided into different parts, and made into different products.
3. Ho Chi Minh City – The City That Never Sleeps
Ho Chi Minh City is interesting in the daytime with various historical and cultural attractions, but it also comes alive at night. If you are in this sleepless city – one of the top cities to visit in Vietnam, here are the things to do there at night that we highly recommend for you. The first thing to do is go to the backpacker district, the area formed from the streets of Pham Ngu Lao, De Tham, Bui Vien, and Do Quang Dau with rows of pubs, bars, and restaurants lining up one next to another. Its lively rhythm, bustling sounds, and colorful lights are what most people, especially tourists come to enjoy and experience the pavement life of Ho Chi Minh City.
Secondly, you can walk and take selfies on Nguyen Hue Walking Street. There are many joyful activities organized in this perfect place, such as music bands playing drums and guitar and joined by youngsters practicing roller skating or performing their dance choreography.
Last but not least, besides all the destinations above, you can discover Ben Thanh Night Market starting at 7 PM. It is located in the area around Ben Thanh Market’s building. There are many stalls of handicrafts, souvenirs, and delicious street foods. You can easily find all kinds of Vietnamese gifts that are symbolic of different regions. And you should not miss out on a lot of delicious dishes available here such as BBQ, seafood, and stir-fried or soup noodles.
4. Con Dao Islands – Tranquil Islands
To get to Con Dao Islands, located in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, you will have to take a boat from Vung Tau or take a short flight from Ho Chi Minh City. But this trip is worth your time if you’re looking for a remote island to be away from it all. Con Dao Islands have been known as one of the most natural tropical paradises where you can immerse yourself in the clear ocean, take a bath on the sunny and sandy beach, and enjoy fresh seafood.
Water activities are not the only options; a trip to explore the forest exploration could be a highlight of your vacation to the top cities to visit in Vietnam. You will get to see different kinds of animals and sea creatures. Besides, there are other things you can experience in this city like the locals’ lifestyle and history. One of the must-visit destinations on Con Dao Islands is the Con Dao Prison and Tiger Cages where a dark period in the Vietnam War‘s history is contained.
Get your ticket to travel to Con Dao:
5. Mui Ne – The Fishing Village
Fishing village in Mui Ne
Mui Ne is a coastal city that is not only famous for its beautiful tropical paradise beaches and sand dunes but also a place where you can see the locals’ daily life, earning a living hood with their fishing skills. If you are looking for a luxury getaway among the top cities to visit in Vietnam, you will find beautiful white sandy beaches and various resorts with their customer service in Mui Ne is a perfect choice. But at the same time, if you want to have an authentic experience of the life of locals in Vietnam, you can head to the fishing village and watch the fishermen sailing their boats and catching seafood. Besides, there are plenty of activities like walking along the Fairy Stream, learning kite surfing, riding quads on White Sand Dune, visiting nearby attractions like Poshanu Cham Tower, and eating delicious seafood.
6. Da Lat – The City of Flowers
Da Lat is the capital city of Lam Dong Province, about 300km away from Ho Chi Minh City, where you will be impressed by so many kinds of beautiful and gorgeous flowers. Each year, flower festivals are held in Da Lat to display and promote their flowers as products.
Surrounded by a cool, fresh, tranquil, and charming atmosphere, with valleys covered by a thin layer of mist almost all year round, Da Lat is an ideal local honeymoon spot. At the center of the city, there is a pretty lake named Xuan Huong, which literally means the fragrance of spring, which is one of the most romantic spots for couples. This highland is also decorated with rows of pine trees and is blessed with many waterfalls and evergreen forests.
Not only is it famous for its beautiful nature, but Da Lat is also a place with many attractive architectures. The two most well-known buildings among them are King Bao Dai’s Palace, a French colonial-style villa, and Hang Nga Villa (also known as Crazy House), a unique design built by a Vietnamese architect.
7. Buon Ma Thuot – The City of Coffee
Coffee plantation in Buon Ma Thuot
Buon Ma Thuot is the largest city in the central highland of Vietnam and is famous for its coffee. You can easily find the best coffee in local cafes in Buon Ma Thuot. Not only will you get to have a good cup of coffee, but also learn about the history of coffee, the difference in coffee-drinking cultures of Vietnam and other countries, how to harvest, process, and prepare coffee beans, especially the art of tasting as well. It is an off-the-beaten-track trip that worthwhile. If you need a “little black” to start your day, Buon Ma Thuot is the place to go.
Dray Nur Waterfall – around 30 minutes away from Buon Ma Thuot
8. Nha Trang – The Coastal City
Nha Trang’s beach
Nha Trang is a sunny coastal city and the capital of Khanh Hoa Province, located on the south-central coast of Vietnam. It is well known for its pristine beaches with 6 km along the shoreline and magnificent scuba diving. The stunning coastline here explains why Nha Trang proudly deserves its title of the top cities to visit in Vietnam. Besides the beautiful beach, the weather is an important factor that makes Nha Trang one of the most desired tourist destinations. It has a cool temperature of around 23 Celcius degrees, the least rainfall in the country, and unlike other cities in Central Vietnam, experiences fewer storms. Thus, it quickly becomes a popular destination for local and international tourists.
You can choose to swim in the designated swimming areas or to soak up in the sun and sand. Another option is going to the ancient Po Nagar Cham Towers, a place of worship since the 7th century, located in the north of the city, across Xom Bong Bridge. Otherwise, you can take time to visit the Alexandre Yersin Museum dedicating to his work in discovering the cause of the bubonic plague and in the establishment of Nha Trang‘s Pasteur Institute.
9. Hoi An – The Ancient City of Colorful Lanterns
Fujian Assembly Hall in Hoi An
Hoi An is a small city, about 30 km to the south of Da Nang, situated roughly halfway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This little city was originally a trading port for Chinese and Japanese merchants. So it is easy to understand their influences through the whole of spectacularly mixed architecture, with wooden houses, mossy walls, and street vendors. One of the most visited attractions is the Japanese Bridge with a small shrine inside. If you want to travel a bit further back in time, My Son Sanctuary, another UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Champa Kingdom and Hinduism temples is the place for you.
Hoi An’s scenery is completed with beautiful lanterns at night. When the sun goes down, the city streets, restaurants, and shops are lighted up with many colorful lanterns in different shapes and sizes. You can walk along the river and try tasting delicious street foods at local stalls for a low price, or go for a boat ride along the river to relax and enjoy the romantic and tranquil atmosphere that Hoi An brings.
10. Da Nang – The City of Bridges
Dragon Bridge in Da Nang
In Da Nang, as the economy and tourism are growing, many bridges are built to connect all the tourist locations in the city. And that is how it got the nickname – the city of bridges, including the Han River Bridge, Thuan Phuoc Bridge, Nguyen Van Troi Bridge, Dragon Bridge, Tien Son Bridge, and Nguyen Tri Phuong Bridge. Among them, the Han River Bridge is the first bridge to be designed by Vietnamese architects and workers, and the local people’s pride. The bridge symbolizes the new vitality and the desire to develop Da Nang City.
Another bridge worth mentioning is the Thuan Phuoc Bridge, the longest cable-stayed bridge in Vietnam. It is constructed on the coast of Vietnam, across the Han River; its main function is to facilitate the transportation of goods between the local markets and ports. Besides, the Cinderella of Danang, Nguyen Van Troi Bridge is an old bridge that has been renovated to an unusual design with a single supporting inclining tower. And last but not least, a new symbol of Da Nang, the Dragon Bridge in the shape of a golden dragon is known as the longest bridge in Vietnam, showcasing a dazzling display of lights, fire, and water every Saturday and Sunday night at 7 PM.
11. Hue – The Imperial City
Royal Citadel’s garden
Hue is in Central Vietnam, on the banks of the Perfume River, about 700 km to the south of Hanoi and 1,100 km to the north of Ho Chi Minh City. That the city was known as an Imperial City makes it one of the top cities to visit in Vietnam. Most of the things you visit here largely reflect its interesting history. Attractions that you can miss out on are the Imperial Citadel, the Imperial Tombs, and Thien Mu Pagoda.
You can also do some activities like taking a bike ride through the countryside, streaming down the Perfume River on a dragon boat, visiting the local markets, or even going as far as the Demilitarized Zone in Quang Tri Province where there is the border used to divide the North and South of Vietnam.
12. Hanoi – The City for Peace
Hanoi St. Joseph’s Cathedral
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is the most famous place for any tourists coming to the country. It was given the title “City for Peace” in 1999 by UNESCO. With its long history and cultural traditions, Hanoi evidently emerges as a fascinating blend of East and West. Its bustling streets are now full of bicycles, motorbikes, and cars, and the Old Quarter is crowded with backpackers at night. However, there are also many places in the city to look for a tranquil atmosphere like museums, pagodas, and the old French style architecture.
Some popular attractions in Hanoi are Hoan Kiem Lake, One Pillar Pagoda, the museums like the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and the Vietnam Fine Art Museum – unique presentations of Vietnamese ethnic groups, history, and arts. Another famous location is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – a place to learn about the life of the first and most-talked-about presidents of Vietnam.
13. Ha Giang – The Gate to Heaven
Ha Giang’s Tham Ma Mountain Pass
Sharing a border with China, Ha Giang is the northernmost point of Vietnam. It has majestic and poetic scenery for those who seek the pure beauty of nature. Mountains and valleys covered with evergreen grass and trees and carved with curvy rivers and roads are truly Mother Nature’s works of art. From Ha Giang City, you can go to Quan Ba District, which is about 50 km to the north in about 1 hour and a half. This place has the best mountainous views among the top cities to visit in Vietnam. At Heaven Gate’s highest peak, you can see rice paddies, mountains, and zigzag roads weaving between clouds and mountains. And on top of Quan Ba’s Twin Mountain (Fairy Mountain), you will feel like you are immersed in a sea of clouds.
14. Sa Pa – The City Hidden in the Clouds
Temple on Fansipan Peak in Sapa
Close to China’s border, Sa Pa is a small town situated 300 km to the northwest of Hanoi. At the height of 1,600 meters above sea level, the weather in Sapa is quite pleasant for some Westerners. It is cool in summer and cold in winter with an average temperature around 15 – 18°C. In Sa Pa, it is not a rare thing to see the city covered in clouds, fog, and snow in winter.
Not only the mysterious fog that makes Sa Pa’s landscape stunning, but a lot of mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and rice terraces are breathtaking views as well. Sa Pa also has great routes for hiking and trekking such as Hoang Lien Son Range, Muong Hoa Valley, Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Waterfall, Love Waterfall, Rattan Bridge, Bamboo Forest, and Ta Phi Cave. If your physical health can withstand the harsh conditions, you can go as far as to conquer the Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam, 3,143 meters high. Otherwise, there is now a cable car option to reach Indochina’s highest peak.
15. Ha Long Bay – The City of Smiles
To celebrate 20 years of Ha Long Bay as a UNESCO–recognized natural heritage site, Quang Ninh Province authority has officially launched a campaign with the message “A smile coming from the heart”. The main purpose is to improve the attitude, behavior, and professionalism of service providers, and thus, create an attractive destination.
At Ha Long Bay, there are numerous caves and grottos with diverse geology as well as historical and cultural sites to visit. Its fresh seafood and proximity to international gateways are other things that make Ha Long Bay one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist destinations. The best time to come here is from September to November and April and May. It is when the weather is dry and the temperature is pleasant for all activities.
Summary of Top 15 Cities to Visit in Vietnam
Vietnam is a country with an S-shaped, stretching over the length of over 3,200 kilometers, with most of its mainland border facing the sea. The climate is diverse from north to south, deltas to highlands, mainland to islands on the sea. Besides the big names like Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, and Da Nang, there are many cities to visit in Vietnam such as Hoi An, Hue, Sapa, Mui Ne, and Con Dao. You will have unique experiences and things to do at each place. Note them down on your travel wishlist and make a trip to one or all of them.
Have a blood-rushing feeling to discover all the magnificent cities in the whole of Vietnam? Check out more travel information in Vietnam with our guides to prepare for your journey.