It only takes a cursory look at a map of Vietnam to see that its major axis roughly runs north/south between the Annamite Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean.
Given its geography and the fact that Vietnam’s two major cities are located in the north and south of the country, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most prominent tourist routes go north and south between Saigon and Hanoi. And because Vietnam is so affordable, you can take a bus the entire length of the country for as little as $50, with stops along the way included.
Here are some of the top attractions to visit as you travel up (or down) Vietnam.
1. Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City
Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam. Technically renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the end of the Vietnam War, it is still known as Saigon by locals and visitors alike. Here you can find the war museum, which documents not only the war with the Americans, but also the long struggle against the French as well. With over 7 million people living in Saigon, just the experience of riding a bicycle or a motor scooter can be the highlight of a trip here.
2. Mui Ne
This fishing village is known as one of the best kite-surfing destinations in South East Asia. It is also known for its large sand dunes. Personally, what I found best about Mui Ne was the cheap seafood, which came from the nearby fishing village. High quality and low cost, it is one of the best places in the world for seafood lovers.
3. Hoi An
Hoi An is one of the most popular attractions in Vietnam and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With many vestiges of French Colonial design, it harkens back to an earlier time. Its most popular and photographed attraction is the Japanese Bridge – a covered footbridge attached to a Buddhist temple. It is also within day-trip distance of the My Son Sanctuary, an ancient Hindu temple similar to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Huế is the former royal capital of Vietnam. The citadel here is a UNESCO World Heritage site and forms the core of the old city. It is also the location of the Thiên Mụ Pagoda, the tallest and most iconic religious structure in Vietnam.
5. Halong Bay
Ha Long Bay, with its gorgeous limestone islands and steep cliffs, is known as one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Here you can easily find deals on overnight junks, which will take you into Halong Bay for overnight stays.
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and its second largest city. It is the location of the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh and was another royal capital during the Thang Long dynasty. Hanoi is as busy as Saigon, but with a culture and flavour all its own.
Vietnam has so much to offer: culture, stunning landscapes, and a layered history. G Adventures runs a number of trips to Vietnam, encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater to different tastes. Experience it for yourself today.