With beautiful forests, bustling streets, white sandy beaches, and delicious street foods, Vietnam deserves to be on every traveler’s bucket list. In this guide, we will give you options of the top 15 best cities to visit in Vietnam, with 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. There is an international airport (VCA) offering routes to Taipei and Bangkok, and it plans to add routes to Singapore in the near future.
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 to shop for authentic goods in the floating markets will give you an excellent countryside memory. You can also go to the night market to try street foods and see the locals’ nightlife here. We suggest you visit Can Tho from December to April to avoid the tropical monsoon climate.
2. Ben Tre – The Land of Coconuts
Ben Tre, located in the Mekong Delta, is famous as the land of coconuts. Cruise the sampan down the river, and you will see ranges of coconut trees along the sides. Besides the waterway exploration, the coconut workshop is the most-visited place in this city and province.
The city is known for products from coconuts, such as carpets made from coconut fibers, coconut candy, coconut oil, and cosmetics made from coconut oil. The workshop shows how the coconuts are processed, divided into different parts, and made into various products.
3. Ho Chi Minh City – The City That Never Sleeps
Ho Chi Minh City is fascinating in the daytime and 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 at night. The first thing 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 come to enjoy in Ho Chi Minh City.
Secondly, you can walk and take selfies on Nguyen Hue Walking Street. Many joyful activities are organized in this perfect place, such as music bands playing, joined by youngsters practicing roller skating or performing their dances.
Last, 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 symbolic of different regions. And it would be best if you did not miss out on many delicious dishes here, such as BBQ, seafood, and soup noodles.
4. Con Dao Islands – Tranquil Islands
To get to Con Dao Islands, located in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, you must take a boat from Vung Tau or a short flight from Ho Chi Minh City. But this trip is worth your time if you’re looking for a remote island away from it all. Con Dao Islands are one of the most natural tropical paradises where you can immerse yourself in the clear ocean, bathe 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 is the Con Dao Prison and Tiger Cages, where a dark period in the Vietnam War‘s history is contained.
5. Phan Thiet – The City of Fishing Villages and Beach Resorts
Phan Thiet is a coastal city that is not only famous for its beautiful tropical paradise beaches and dunes but also a place where you can see the locals’ daily life, earning a living hood with their fishing skills. Suppose you are looking for a luxury getaway among the top cities to visit in Vietnam. In that case, you will find beautiful white sandy beaches and various resorts. But at the same time, if you want an authentic experience, 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 from Ho Chi Minh City. Each year, flower festivals are held in Da Lat to display and promote their flowers as products.
Surrounded by a calm, 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 is a pretty lake named Xuan Huong, which means the fragrance of spring. This highland is also decorated with rows of pine trees, waterfalls, and evergreen forests.
Not only is it famous for its beautiful nature, but Da Lat is also a place with many attractive architectural structures. The two most well-known buildings 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
Buon Ma Thuot is the largest city in central Vietnam’s highlands and is famous for its coffee. You can easily find the best coffee in local cafes in Buon Ma Thuot. You will also learn about the history of coffee, the difference in coffee-drinking cultures of Vietnam and other countries, and especially the art of tasting. It is an off-the-beaten-track trip that is worthwhile. Buon Ma Thuot is the place to go if you need a “little black” to start your day.
8. Nha Trang – The Coastal City
Nha Trang is 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 as one of the top cities to visit in Vietnam. Additionally, the weather is a big factor that makes Nha Trang one of the most desired tourist destinations. It has a cool temperature of around 23 degrees Celcius, the least rainfall in the country, and, unlike other cities in Central Vietnam, it 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. Otherwise, you can visit the Alexandre Yersin Museum, who dedicated 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
Hoi An is a small city about 30 km south of Da Nang and is 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 spectacularly mixed architecture, with wooden houses, mossy walls, and street vendors. One of the most visited attractions is the Japanese Bridge, which has a small shrine inside. If you want to travel a bit further back in time, My Son Sanctuary and Hindu temples are your places.
Hoi An’s scenery is completed with beautiful lanterns at night. When the sun goes down, the city streets, restaurants, and shops are lighted with colorful lanterns. You can walk along the river and try delicious street foods, or go for a boat ride along the river to relax and enjoy the romantic atmosphere that Hoi An brings.
10. Da Nang – The City of Bridges
In Da Nang, as the economy and tourism are growing, many bridges are built to connect all the locations in the city. And that is how it got the nickname – the city of bridges. Among them, the Han River Bridge is the first bridge designed by Vietnamese architects.
Another bridge worth mentioning is the Thuan Phuoc Bridge, the longest cable-stayed bridge, across the Han River in Vietnam. Its primary function is to facilitate the transportation of goods between the local markets and ports. Besides, Nguyen Van Troi Bridge is an old bridge renovated to an unusual design with a single supporting inclining tower. Last but not least, a new symbol of Da Nang, the Dragon Bridge, in the shape of a golden dragon, showcases a dazzling display of lights, fire, and water every Saturday and Sunday at 7 PM.
11. Hue – The Imperial City
Hue is in Central Vietnam, about 700 km south of Hanoi and 1,100 km north of Ho Chi Minh City. The fact 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 see here largely reflect its exciting history. Attractions that you can miss out on are the Imperial Citadel, the Imperial Tombs, and Thien Mu Pagoda.
You can take a bike ride through the countryside, stream down the Perfume River on a dragon boat, visit the local markets, or even go 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, the capital of Vietnam, is the most famous place for tourists coming to the country. UNESCO gave it the title “City for Peace” in 1999. With its long history and cultural traditions, Hanoi 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 many places where you can look for a tranquil atmosphere, like museums, pagodas, and old French-style architecture.
Some famous attractions in Hanoi are Hoan Kiem Lake, One Pillar Pagoda, and museums like the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and the Vietnam Fine Art Museum. Another prominent location is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – a place to learn about the life of Vietnam’s first and most-talked-about president.
13. Ha Giang – The Gate to Heaven
Sharing a border with China, Ha Giang is the northernmost point of Vietnam. It has majestic and poetic scenery for those seeking nature’s pure beauty. 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, about 50 km 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 immersed in a sea of clouds.
14. Sa Pa – The City Hidden in the Clouds
Near China’s border, Sa Pa is a small town situated 300 km 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 rare 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 many mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and rice terraces are breathtaking views as well. Sa Pa also has excellent 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 primary purpose is to improve service providers’ attitudes, behavior, and professionalism, thus creating an attractive destination.
At Ha Long Bay, there are numerous caves and caverns with diverse geology and 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 has an S-shaped stretching 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 on your travel wishlist and visit one or all of them.
Have a blood-rushing feeling to discover all the magnificent cities in Vietnam? Check out more travel information in Vietnam with our guides to prepare for your journey.