There are few places on Earth that can offer such a life-changing cultural experience as Vietnam. From the lush forested mountains down to the strikingly beautiful rice terraces, Vietnam has a distinct cultural mixture of Chinese, the Cham, mountain tribes, and the Khmer from Cambodia in the south. This collage of cultural influences has shaped the food and lifestyle into a unique cultural experience that can’t be found anywhere else. The combination of beauty and affordability makes Vietnam one of the most desirable places in the world to vacation. Here are the 7 best places to vacation in Vietnam.
1. Ho Chi Minh City
Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the hub of international business in Vietnam. Located in Southern Vietnam near the Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh is the largest city in Vietnam, and offers a nice blend of modern attractions and nightlife with the historic culture and dining. The best view of the city can be found on one of the many skybars gracing the top of the city’s skyscrapers.
2. Mekong Delta
Located in southwest Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is known as “Vietnam’s rice basket”. The region features many streams and canals that are fed by the Mekong Delta. You can find rice paddies, fruit orchards, quaint villages, and even floating markets in the area, giving an agricultural feel to it. Over a third of the country is fed from the Mekong Delta’s fish farms, rice, and orchards.
Known for its breathtaking views of majestic mountains, and rice terraces, Sapa is the home to a diverse group of hill tribes in the northwest of Vietnam. The small town of Sapa is typically used as a base for trips to the nearby Hoang Lien Son Mountains or touring the traditional villages and rice paddies. There are plenty of organized hikes that will take you through the mountains to see shimmering waterfall views, or you can have a more cultural experience with the customs, food, and lifestyle of the local tribes.
4. Hoi An
Located in South Central Vietnam off the coast of the South China Sea, the city of Hoi An can be dated back 2,000 years ago to the Champa Kingdom. The Old Town area is the cultural heart of the city. The small area features narrow, winding lanes lined with historic houses and architecture, and there are plenty of shops dotting the area to get some custom-made souvenirs to take with you.
The booming capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi’s Old quarter is a rich cultural experience unto itself. The extraordinary Asian and French colonial architecture has survived Vietnam War bombings. The area features Saint Joseph Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, and the Grand Opera House.
6. Ha Long Bay
The absolutely flawless beauty of the aqua-green water and over 2,000 lush, jungle covered islands makes Ha Long Bay a mesmerizingly stunning sight to see. The unique formations of the natural islands make the view straight out of a fantasy. For a better view, hire a kayak to explore the caves or find your own deserted bay to relax on.
For a truly magical cultural experience, exploring the tombs, temples, and dilapidated palaces of Hue is the way to go. It once served as the imperial capital of the Nguyen dynasty, and you can still visit the emperor’s private residence, the Citadel. The Forbidden Purple city is also a popular tourist destination, as it is where the emperor housed his many mistresses. After catching some historical sights, you can take a cruise down the Perfume River and watch the sunset.
Vietnam is known as one of the most budget-friendly tourist destinations around. Many of the tall, narrow homes there have been converted to hostels or hotels. You can easily find a decent hotel from $10-30 per night, and that will usually include a hot breakfast. If you are looking to get complete holiday packages, eShores have packages from just £1195, so it can be done for a reasonable price too. The homestays are even cheaper, and if you are really on a budget, you can look into “couchsurfing”. There is a network of people through Vietnam who will lend their couch to you absolutely free. There are even websites where you can book your couch! So now you have absolutely no reason not to come to Vietnam and experience the rich culture and beauty that awaits.
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