Karst scenery

Our guide to Vietnam's top places, plus our lesser-known favourites

1,500 km from north to south and yet barely 50 km wide at its centre, Vietnam offers the chance to combine Asia’s quintessential landscapes with one visa, one currency, and one language.

Vietnam stretches the length of the Indochinese Peninsula, all the way from its cultural heartland in Hanoi, ringed by high mountains inhabited by isolated hilltribes, to the bountiful Mekong Delta in the far south, where floating markets overflow with the region's rich produce.

Central Vietnam boasts many of the country's cultural highlights, including the ruins of an ancient Hindu civilisation, the Citadel of the last Vietnamese emperors, and the evocative, once-great trading port of Hoi An.

Whether you’re trekking through the lush rice terraces of the north, cruising amongst the dramatic limestone pinnacles of Halong Bay, relaxing on Con Dao's deserted beaches or zipping along Ho Chi Minh's colonial boulevards on the back of a vintage Vespa, we challenge you not to be captivated by Vietnam.

“Going to Vietnam the first time was life-changing for sure. Maybe because it was all so new and different to my life before and the world I grew up in. The food, culture, landscape, and smell; they’re all inseparable. It just seemed like another planet; a delicious one that sort of sucked me in and never let go.” — Anthony Bourdain

In Northern Vietnam, high mountain ranges dotted with ethnic minority villages surround the Red River Delta, cradle of Vietnamese culture and home to the country’s capital.

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CENTRAL VIETNAM SOUTHERN VIETNAM NORTHERN VIETNAM NORTHERN VIETNAM HALONG BAY PU LUONG NIHN BINH MAI CHAU HANOI SAPA
Northern Vietnam

Jungle-clad islands cloaked in atmospheric sea mist and 2,000 limestone pinnacles thrusting skywards: Halong Bay is indisputably one of Asia’s great landscapes.

Northern Vietnam

Combining canary-yellow French palaces with colourful and chaotic market streets dating back to the imperial dynasties, Hanoi is the place to soak up the atmosphere of old Vietnam.

Northern Vietnam

Stunningly beautiful yet eminently accessible, Mai Chau’s rice paddy scenery and ethnic minority villages offer an introduction to rural Vietnam that comes with comfy beds, Western loos, and loads of adventurous activities.

Northern Vietnam

Ninh Binh’s landscape of jagged peaks could be taken straight from the pages of Vietnamese legend, but it’s real enough — and whether you explore by boat, bike or foot, it always delivers.

Northern Vietnam

Deep in the limestone mountains southwest of Hanoi, Pu Luong’s landscape of rippling rice terraces and thatch-roofed stilt villages is so perfect we’re tempted to keep it all to ourselves.

Northern Vietnam

The misty mountains of Sapa are Northern Vietnam’s premier hiking destination and the best place in the country to meet people of the Hmong, Dao, Tay and Thai ethnic minorities decked out in their traditional regalia.

Connecting the mountainous north with the tropical lowlands of the south, Central Vietnam has golden beaches, cathedralesque caverns, and the last imperial capital of Vietnam.

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CENTRAL VIETNAM SOUTHERN VIETNAM NORTHERN VIETNAM CENTRAL VIETNAM HUE HOI AN PHONG NHA
Central Vietnam

It may be best-known for its lantern festival and World Heritage architecture but, for us, Hoi An’s true appeal lies in its charming rural outskirts and mouth-watering foodie experiences.

Central Vietnam

As the former capital of the last royal dynasty of Vietnam, Hue is easily the best place in Vietnam to soak up a bit of imperial history – and it’s a great jumping-off point for visiting the war sites at the former border of North and South Vietnam.

Central Vietnam

Covering nearly 3,000 square kilometres of jungle-covered mountains, beautiful and unspoilt Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park conceals some of the most spectacular caves in the world.

Vietnam’s “rice basket” juxtaposes the paddies, palm groves and fruit orchards of the Mekong Delta with the fast-pased life of Vietnam’s biggest city.

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CENTRAL VIETNAM SOUTHERN VIETNAM NORTHERN VIETNAM SOUTHERN VIETNAM HO CHI MINH CITY MEKONG DELTA CON DAO MUI NE NINH VAN BAY PHU QUOC
Southern Vietnam

A short flight south from Ho Chi Minh City brings you to the remote and spectacular Con Dao Archipelago, a chain of 16 islands ringed with white sand beaches, coral reefs and sparkling azure seas.

Southern Vietnam

The yin to Hanoi’s yang, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon to its friends) offers a more internationally minded counterpoint to that northern bastion of tradition — not to mention an exciting base from which to explore Vietnam’s most interesting war sites.

Southern Vietnam

Buzzing with longtail taxi boats and crowded with barges piled with mangoes, pineapples and fresh fish, a trip to the Mekong Delta is all about getting to know the rhythms of life on the water.

Southern Vietnam

Did you know that Vietnam has Southeast Asia’s top kitesurfing destination? Well, now you do. Though it’s long been popular for its busy beach bars and sand dune scenery, Mui Ne’s real appeal lies in its stupendous conditions for wind and water sports.

Southern Vietnam

With its thatched villas concealed amongst tumbling boulders, sandwiched between the jungle and the glittering sea, our visit to Ninh Van Bay felt like stumbling on a hidden paradise.

Southern Vietnam

It may no longer be Vietnam’s best-kept secret, but we love this desert-island gem in the sparkling turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand.