A country with a rich, sometimes violent, history, Vietnam has more than enough sites and experiences to keep travelers entertained and interested for a lifetime. Go the outdoor route and spend time soaking up the sun hiking, climbing, or exploring on a boat. Go the urban route, and see temples that have seen more than you could ever imagine, and have stood the test of time, evidence of a country’s rich past. Whatever you could want, Vietnam has something to offer you.
Read on to hear some of our top picks for things to do and sights to see while in Vietnam!
Ha Long Bay
Clear emerald waters, towering mountains, and a lush green rainforest all contribute to why Ha Long Bay is one of the top rated things to do in Vietnam. The clear waters give tourists a great opportunity to take boat or sea kayak tours, and the impressive landscape and fun- shaped islands dotting the waters make the expeditions interesting enough for even the pickiest explorer. Don’t want to be on top of the water? Well, get in! The clear water also lends itself to dazzling scuba diving expeditions. Don’t want to be near the water at all? Climbing and hiking are two of the most popular activities in the area as well.
The Imperial City, Hue
With construction beginning over 200 years ago, the Imperial City Hue is a sight to behold. The walled palace, located within the citadel of the Imperial city Hue, is impressive both in size and method of construction. In many of the large stone walls, there are still bullet holes to be seen, remnants of the Vietnam War. A palace that has seen its fair share of wealth, violence, and bloodshed, the Imperial City Hue is not a site to be missed.
The Marble Mountains
Also known as the “Five Element Mountains”, the Marble Mountains are a cluster of five marble and limestone mountains located in Vietnam. They are aptly called the “Five Element Mountains” due to each mountain being named after an element: Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire), and Tho (earth). Out of the five of the mountains, it is possible to climb to the top of Mt. Thuy. All five mountains have caves and tunnels to explore, as well as several Buddhist sanctuaries.
The Cu Chi Tunnels
For a little more immersive of a history experience, take a visit to the tunnels of Cu Chi. These tunnels were used extensively during the Vietnam war, and provided shelter and strategic hiding for the Viet Cong soldiers during the war. The tunnels were not just a method of shelter, however, but were integral in the Viet Cong’s war strategy. Used as both shelter and underground routes connecting one part of the country with another, these tunnels are vastly complex and housed hundreds of North Vietnamese fighters at one time, and also contained hospitals, food storage space, and weapon storage. Though at the time of the Vietnam War the tunnels were rife with booby traps and infested with vermin and poisonous insects, the (safe) part of the tunnels have since been restored and preserved, and are now open for the public to explore. There are now low power lights illuminating stretches of the tunnels, and many sites display different kinds of booby traps that were used in the tunnel warfare.
Pagoda of the Celestial Lady
A historic temple in the city of Hue in Vietnam, the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady is considered an unofficial symbol of the city. With its towering seven- stories, the pagoda is a giant, recognizable by anyone that is familiar with the area. The Pagoda was constructed in 1601, supposedly because of the vision one of the governors at the time had of a woman (a Thien Mu, or “celestial lady”) dressed in red and blue sitting at the site of where the Pagoda now stands. The governor was told that a pagoda would be erected by a lord at the site, and would be used as a site to pray for the country’s prosperity.