In a country where most of its citizens keep potbelly pigs as pets, you’re sure to enjoy the culture as well as the varied environments this country has to offer. The three largest cities are Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Danang and they each offer their own unique cultural experience.
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and offers plenty of attractions for adventure hungry visitors. Whether it’s a historical expedition to the War Remnants Museum or shopping at the Ben Thanh Market, this city has a little of everything to offer.
The next stop on our literary adventure is Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh City is not the only city in Vietnam that offers a plethora of activities for visitors. Hanoi is the nation’s capital and has everything you could want; shopping, cultural events, historical tours, and local cuisine that will knock your socks off. Additionally, visitors can take a trip back through time by taking an expedition to St. Joseph’s Cathedral.
The country is made up of 58 provinces which may seem a little excessive due to the tiny size of the country but with a population hitting close to 90 million some significant organization is required.
The country is a mix of hillsides and flatlands and the weather will vary significantly depending on whether you end up in the north or south of the country. The southern parts are much warmer with temperatures hovering in the 20s for the good part of the year. However move into the northern areas and you will find a significant shift in your numbers during the winter months with temperatures dropping into the low 10s.
Dotted throughout the country you will see representations of the country’s deep spirituality - which is not to be mistaken with religiosity. Beautiful Buddhist temples can be seen throughout the country
Ho Chi Minh City although you may know it as Saigon which was the city’s official name until the end of the Vietnam War. The city is a popular tourist destination and one of the most fascinating things to see is the swath of French colonial-era architecture sitting smack dab in the middle of Ho Chi Minh City as though a chunk of city had been sliced out of France and dropped into Vietnam. Some of the buildings include the city hall and opera house as well as the Notre Dame Cathedral. For a stroll into the 60s check out Reunification Palace which was the Southern Vietnam Presidential Palace prior to the Vietnam War.The palace appears to be frozen in time with all sorts of 1960s furniture and knickknacks. Other popular attractions include the War Remnants Museum as well as the numerous pagodas that dot the city.
Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital and the second largest city in Vietnam. It is home to beautiful French architecture and incredible, old temples that date back to the 11th century. Stroll through the old quarter of the city and you will get a sense of what old Hanoi would have looked like - these days it is home to quaint shops selling luxurious fabrics among artisan-produced goods. The old quarter is also home to the incredible Temple of Literature which is the country’s oldest university and dates back to the 11th century as well as the equally-incredible Hanoi Citadel.
Given Hanoi’s status as the country’s capital, it is also where some of the most country’s most important museums and galleries sit such as the Vietnam Museum of Revolution and the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology.
Our third largest city in Vietnam that travelers must visit is Da Nang. Everything from golfing and clean sparkling beaches to religious monuments and spectacular natural sites can be found in this coastal city. And if you are wondering just how nice the beaches are in Da Nang, Non Nuoc Beach was a 2014 Travelers’ Choice® award winner.
A visit to Quang Binh Province is highly recommended if you are into exploring grottos and caves. The province is home to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park which has one of the largest cave and grotto systems in the world. The park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Regardless of where you end up in Vietnam there are a few things that are uniquely Vietnamese that you must try. First off, the water puppetry shows are incredible and quite unlike any puppetry you will see anywhere else, most of the larger cities will have a theater that performs the art to perfection.
Secondly, the food in Vietnam is considered one of the healthiest in the world, sure with today’s Western influence there are unhealthier versions of traditional dishes but the healthy options still exist. Pho is a rice noodle dish that has exploded internationally, however you haven’t truly Pho’d if you haven’t Pho’d in Vietnam - to go truly local, grab a dish of pho from a street vendor for breakfast.
Additionally, Vietnamese menus can often offer up some dishes that international travelers may find a little unsettling such as snake, dog and a variety of insects. You can be adventurous or not, but whatever you do remember to be respectful of the country’s traditions and food.
Airlines serving the route include Malaysia Airlines, Qantas Airways, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Jetstar Asia, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia, Emirates, Philippine Airlines, Korean Air and Cathay Pacific.
Australia to Vietnam
Popular stopovers include Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Manila, Singapore and Hong Kong.
More information at the Vietnam Holidays guide.