10 MUST-VISIT PLACES IN VIETNAM. SOUTH TO NORTH.

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10 MUST-VISIT PLACES IN VIETNAM. SOUTH TO NORTH.

Vietnam South to North

MUST-SEE Places in Vietnam

Vietnam – that so much stereotyped country. But be sure – there is not only war-talks, communism, and conical hats. This country has real natural beauty. Northwest shore of magical limestone islands and national parks having even the biggest cave of the world. Endless rice terraces, juicy jungle, green forests, and undiscovered hills. Beaches, dynamic megacities, and less-known hill-tribe villages. There is so much to explore! Vietnamese culture is very diverse and complex at the same time. You can feel colonial time breath in French architecture and Chinese impact in those many marvelous temples across the country. And as diverse is the nation as same is the cuisine with its spices and herbs that all together make you consider spending most of the time in the restaurant. Vietnam – the country that you probably didn’t expect it to be. Come here, travel and get surprised!

Must-See places in Vietnam? Let`s be honest – those are countless. But in case you are taking a route through Vietnam from South to North or from North to South, we can give you some useful tips of places and transportation as we have gone the same path!

1. Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam. It was the capital of the French protectorate of Cochinchina and of South Vietnam. The city lies along the Saigon River and has developed into a spectacular place that you shouldn`t miss!

See there:

  1. Explore the markets – Ben Thanh Market and Binh Tay Market
  2. Take a tour around the city`s religious buildings such as Jade Emperor Pagoda, Notre Dame Cathedral, Thiên Hậu Temple and others like Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, Giac Lam Pagoda, Cao Dai Temple, Ha Chuong Hoi Quan Pagoda and many of beautiful cathedrals and churches
  3. Get to know the city`s diverse architecture by visiting the Central Post Office, Reunification Palace, Saigon Opera House, Bitexco Financial Tower & Sky Deck
  4. Enjoy the food, drinks, and nightlife in Bui Vien walking street

Around it:

*Floating markets will bring you to a totally different world apart from the one you will experience in the city. Floating markets here have existed for hundreds of years and has always been a part of the local life in the Mekong Delta. Hundreds of ships and boats are floating there daily. From the Ho Chi Minh City, you can reach Cai Be floating market, located in Cai Be district on the giant Tien river. Here you will find a variety of seafoods, local dishes, and other different goods. Get there by one of the tours offered by the tour companies across the Ho Chi Minh City or look for the bus in the bus station till Cai Be bridge. Once you reach the floating market you will be able to find boat tours, both private ones and for groups.

*The other place you should visit once you are in Ho Chi Minh City is Cu Chi Tunnels. This is an immense network of tunnels which were used as a base in the war. And now it is possible to crawl around the safest parts of the tunnel system and get that really tingling feeling of Vietnam`s tuff times.

Moving around: Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne

  1. There are many tour companies that offer a bus ride to the Mui Ne. If you choose the Sinh Tourist company`s buses, there are several rides per day and takes about 5 hours to travel, but it all depends on traffic, so this can take even longer. There are morning and evening buses that will cost you 119.000 VND and a bus at 14:00 that is the cheapest one for 99.000 VND. The tour company buses will bring you straight to Mui Ne.
  2. The local bus. There are two local bus stations – Mien Dong bus station (where you can find bus rides to North of the country) and Mien Tay bus station (where you can find bus rides to the South of the country). There are buses to Phan Thiet city for around 150.000 to 160.000 VND, but after you have to get to Mui Ne yourself (how to do that see below at the 3rd point)
  3. The fastest option is to take the train from the Saigon Railway Station to Phan Thiet city that takes around three hours of travel. There is only one train a day and it leaves early in the morning. The best is to buy the tickets in advance in the train station. There you can choose sleeper or sitting car, the sitting one will cost you 145.000 to 169.000 VND. You have to be in the train station 30 minutes in advance. The station is not big, you won`t get lost, but the train usually arrives early.

How to get from Phan Thiet to Mui Ne? You need to take a bus. There are two options. First, when you exit the train station, you will see many taxi drivers who will tell you there are no buses. Do not believe them! Just behind all those taxis, there is a bus stop where a red bus is stopping and that goes to Mui Ne town.

If there is a day when the red bus is not arriving in some kind of unknown reason, you have to walk to the city center that is 2 km away from the train station. In the Phan Thiet city you should reach Co.opmart Phan Thiet – it is a bus stop on the crossroads of Nguyen Tat Thanh street and Tran Hurng Dao street. There is a bus number 1 that costs 16.000 VND and will bring you to Mui Ne.

2. Mui Ne

If you are in Southern Vietnam and you are there for the beach – choose Mui Ne! Mui Ne is a geographical cape, located in the city of Phan Thiet, and a wonderful beach destination. This small town offers a wide variety of activities, relaxing options, places to stay and to enjoy the most unusual seafood.

See there:

  1. The Sand Dune
  2. The Fairy Stream
  3. Beach and party
  4. Mui Ne Cape
  5. Mui Ne Fishing Village Market and Fishing Harbour

Around it:

*Ta Cu mountain park is around 60 km from Mui Ne and if you are keen for some hiking and nice views, take a day off from the beach and travel to the mountain. There is a cable car going up the mountain or you can go for a 2-hour hike to see the rice fields and dragon fruit plantations. At the top, the giant Buddha statue will welcome you as well as an amazing panoramic view of the Phan Thiet city.

*Van Thuy Tu Temple is located in Phan Thiet city. The interesting story about this temple is that here you can find a skeleton of a 19-meter long whale – the animal which is a divine being for fishing communities.

Moving around: Mui Ne to Nha Trang

  1. There are plenty of tour companies in Mui Ne that offer the bus rides. If you choose the Sinh Tourist, they have two buses to Nha Trang daily. One leaves at 13:00 and costs 119.000 VND and the other one is the night bus that leaves at 1:00 at night and costs 178.000 VND. It is five hours of the ride. There is one toilet stop. Three rows of chairs in the bus, not very comfy though.
  2. There is very limited information about the local buses. Though there is one bus company that can be found in Phan Thiet and Mui Ne – it is called the Futa Lines (Phuong Trang). As the reviews we have studied says, it is easy to take either soft-seat or sleeper bus there and the buses are quite frequent.
  3. If you take the train, first you need to get from Phan Thiet city to Binh Thuan and there will be a railway station named Muong Man. There are 7 trains daily, the ride takes less than 4 hours. The cheapest trains are SQN4 at 10:35 for 80.000 VND, SE10 at 18:42 for 82.000 VND, SE8 at 9:31 for 110.000 VND.

3. Nha Trang

Nha Trang is the country’s most popular beach destination. This is a huge city and it’s not quiet at all! Sun, beach, party, beer. And some great sites, amazing food, loads of tours and even more tourists. Yeah, you might feel like in some European city because of those people you will see on the streets. All tourists! But the good thing about it – where is the tourist, there so different opportunities appear!

See there:

  1. Get amazed by the impressive religious buildings like Ponagar Temple, Long Son Pagoda, and Nha Trang Cathedral
  2. Enjoy the Nha Trang Beach!
  3. Be with nature and visit Hon Chong!
  4. Go shopping in Dam Market

Around it:

*Suoi Do Pagoda is a Buddhist temple, located outside the city and reachable by your own vehicle – in this case, the locals can help you with directions. And the other option is to take a tour or a bus in one of many bus companies in the city.

This temple was built to honor the Chinese Goddess of Mercy – Quan Am. The legend says that there was a young girl that actually saw the goddess while playing with her friends at a stream running down the mountain. Therefore the Suoi Do Pagoda was built nearby the stream. The temple itself is located on the hill, so get ready for some stairs! But in the end, you will see panoramic views on hills and banana plantations. Wow!

Entrance Fee: Free

*Mud Baths is another popular thing you can find in Nha Trang. Those are located in different places, the best is to take a taxi or join a tour. There are also buses available at the bus companies. This is one effective therapeutic cleansing and day of fun after all! There are several places around the city where to enjoy the mud fun like Thap Ba Spa, 100 Eggs Mud Baths, Galina Mud Bath & Spa (located in the Nha Trang itself) and I-Resort Spa. There are common baths and private mud baths, a bit more expensive.

Entrance Fee: The fees differ, usually starting from 180.000 VND. But besides the mud baths in the mud complexes, you will also find swimming pools, jacuzzis, massage opportunities and other activities on the spot.

*Ba Ho Waterfalls are located around 30 km away from the city. “Ba Bo” actually means “three pools” and it is possible to swim in those waterfall pools. There is quite a challenging hike up the waterfall. In one and a half km you should reach the first pool. And then around half an hour hike will follow to reach the other pools. Waterfalls are reachable from the city by your own personal vehicle or taxi. It is also possible to take a local bus of blue, white or yellow colors and pay 24.000 VND per ride.

Entrance Fee: 15.000 VND

*You will find Hon Khoi Salt Fields if you take a tour or drive an hour away from the city. This place is special because here it is possible to experience how mounds of natural salt are manually harvested from fields along the Doc Let Beach. The salt is directed from the East Sea to the fields and then left there to evaporate for about 10 days before it is collected in wicker baskets. Though the best time to visit Hon Khoi Salt Fields is between January and June, in other months nobody will be working there.

Entrance Fee: Free (as it`s an industrial area). But you need to talk to the employer of the salt field workers to get inside the area and also the security guy can ask you for a certain fee.

*Vinpearl Land Amusement Park is located on an island across the bay from Nha Trang Beach and is reachable by 3.320-meter long cable-car that will bring you from the city to the island.

This is one super-huge amusement park with water slides, aquarium, a variety of rides and roller-coasters. Food, sunbathing and fun all day long!

Entrance Fee: Two-way cable car 880.000 VND. One-way cable car 800.000 VND

Moving around: Nha Trang to Hoi An

  1. There are many tour companies offering a ride from Nha Trang to Hoi An. If you choose the Sinh Tourist bus then know that there is one bus to Hoi An daily. It leaves at 19:00 in the evening and takes around 11 hours of the ride, costs 219.000 VND
  2. There is no information about the local buses.
  3. There are no straight trains from Nha Trang to Hoi An. If you choose the train ride, you have to go to the Da Nang city and after get to Hoi An from there. Three cheapest trains from Nha Trang to Da Nang are SE10 23:51-9:48 for 246.000 VND, SE22 20:04-6:15 for 278.000 VND and SE8 13:33-10:49 for 314.000 VND. There are six trains daily in total. When you reach Da Nang, take a local bus to Hoi An. Local buses are waiting just outside the railway station. The ride takes about 40 minutes and costs 20.000 VND.

4. Hoi An

Hoi An is a small port town and one of 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Vietnam. Even if the port was officially established in the 16th century, traces of human habitation of the area date back more than two thousand years. And, as it is the coastal town, many cultures have reached this place and mixed in Hoi An, so the architecture will surprise you. Moreover, bright markets, delicious food, and cheap beer come along!

See there:

  1. The Old Town
  2. Night Market
  3. Central Market and the riverside
  4. Chua Long, Martyrs Cemetery and Silk Village tour
  5. An Bang Beach

Moving around: Hoi An to Da Nang

From Hoi An you can easily move to Da Nang – it is less than an hour ride away. Just take a local yellow bus from the Bus Station in the crossroads of Le Hong Phong and Nguyen Tat Thanh streets near the Martyrs Cemetery. Buses go very frequently, but remember that the bus driver might ask you for an extra charge as a tourist. It is best if you keep precise money in the pocket which is 20.000 VND per person and 10.000 for the luggage.

5. Da Nang

Da Nang is the biggest city in central Vietnam and one of the biggest in the whole country. It is also the leading industrial center of central Vietnam with its GDP per capita one of the highest in this country. At first, Da Nang was a small trading port – same as Hoi An, but it grew rapidly and now has become the largest commercial port in the region. Yeah, now you might imagine how big is the city. And it’s not that easy to get around it because of the limited public transportation. Though, if you have arrived here or even if you are close, you shouldn’t miss this place!

See there:

  1. Walk on the bridges and see the Sculpture Park!
  2. Explore the Son Tra Peninsula
  3. Get around locals in Con Market and Han Market
  4. Visit religious buildings like Chua Phap Lam, Chua Bat Nha, Da Nang Cathedral, Chinh Trach Cathedral
  5. Relax at the beach and see Chua Buru Dai Son Temple

Around it:

*The Marble Mountains are marble and limestone hills in a place between Hoi An and Da Nang, easily reachable by bus. Here you will be able to hike and explore the caves, tunnels and Buddhist shrines. This place will bring you joy for a whole day if you are eager to climb to the top of the hills. The entrance fee is 20.000 VND per person.

*Bạch Mã National Park – a protected area in central Vietnam that covers 220 km2 and comprises three zones: a strictly protected core area, an administrative area, and a buffer zone. Pine forests, wilderness, and jungle – if that is what you like, do not miss this place! Entrance Fee: 40.000 VND

Da Nang to Bạch Mã National Park

There are local buses going from Da Nang central bus station, the direction is Hue town, you will need to go out of the bus before its destination of Hue. The stop that you ask is Bach Ma. The ride costs 80.000 VND and the bus drops you off 3 km from the entrance of the park in Cau Hai village. From there you walk or take a bike-taxi for 20.000 VND

There is another option to travel from Da Nang to Bach Ma National Park. Take the Sinh Tourist bus that goes to Hue for 99.000VND and ask them to drop you off just by the park. They might reduce the fee of the bus as you are not taking the whole distance and the good thing that you will be just by the entrance of the park.

Moving around: Da Nang to Hue

  1. Sinh Tourist buses go there twice daily at 9:15 and 14:30, the ride costs 99.000 VND
  2. Local buses are leaving from the Da Nang bus station every 30 minutes and cost 40.000 VND

3. There are many trains going from Da Nang to Hue, cheapest are SE22 6:30- 10:10 for 54.000 VND, SE10 10:03-12:58 for 65.000 VND and SE20 18:45-21:24 for 70.000 VND

6. Hue

The capital of the Nguyen emperors that still shows the beauty of imperial Vietnam. This place is most well-known for its historic values. Hue has also been recognized as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

See there:

  1. Hue Citadel, The Imperial City
  2. Emperors Tombs
  3. Pagodas like Thien Mu Pagoda, Tu Dam, Tu Hieu, Huyen Khong
  4. The Perfume river
  5. Dong Ba Market

Around it:

*Bạch Mã National Park – a protected area in central Vietnam that covers 220 km2 and comprises three zones: a strictly protected core area, an administrative area, and a buffer zone. Pine forests, wilderness, and jungle – if that is what you like, do not miss this place! Entrance Fee: 40.000 VND

Hue to Bạch Mã National Park

There are local buses going from Hue, the direction is Da Nang city, you will need to go out of the bus before its destination of Da Nang. The stop that you ask is Bach Ma. The ride costs 60.000 VND and the bus drops you off 3 km from the entrance of the park in Cau Hai village. From there you walk or take a bike-taxi for 20.000 VND

There is another option to travel from Hue to Bach Ma National Park. Take the Sinh Tourist bus that goes to Da Nang for 99.000VND and ask them to drop you off just by the park. They might reduce the fee of the bus as you are not taking the whole distance and the good thing that you will be just by the entrance of the park.

Moving around: Hue to Ninh Binh

  1. There is no Sinh Tourist company in Hue, the only bus company is Hoan Long. Through the online searchers, this company offers a ride to Ninh Binh for 374.000 VND. But it is possible to walk around the town and check out the tour company offers that can give you a bus ride to Ninh Binh for 270.000 VND. Though be aware – nobody is recommending to take the bus in this route – in most of the cases rides are awful and dangerous because of low developed transportation system between these towns.
  2. No local bus for such a long distance
  3. There are four trains daily. Three cheapest are SE8 01:39-13:09 for 318.000 VND, SE20 21:10-09:21 for 385.000 VND, SE6 5:00-16:48 for 390.000 VND. During the high season, there are six trains going to Ninh Binh daily.

7. Ninh Binh

Hundreds of limestone cliffs, rice fields, and charming rivers. This is the place where you can explore the rural side of Vietnam! This is a small city in the Red River Delta that you most probably won`t ever forget!

See there:

  1. Tam Coc
  2. Hang Mua Peak
  3. Trang An Landscapes
  4. Bich Dong Pagoda
  5. Hoa Lu temples

Around it:

*Cuc Phuong National Park is located in Ninh Bình Province close to Ninh Binh town. This was Vietnam’s first national park and is the country’s largest nature reserve. The park is covering the large area so several days would be the best to choose for the hike or better cycling or biking around the park. The park is one of the most important sites for biodiversity in Vietnam and also home to some of the nation’s most endangered turtles.

Ninh Binh to Cuc Phuong National Park. From the main bus station in Ninh Binh, there are local buses going to this national park. But be very careful! Never trust the bus drivers or others that are willing to “help” you with the directions and prices. Go straight to the ticket counter and buy the ticket for the bus to Cuc Phuong National Park. People in this region are not that friendly and honest, they most likely will just try to cheat you. The bus goes straight to the entrance of the park. But the park is very huge, it would be almost impossible to go walking, so the best is to rent a bike by the entrance of the park and explore it this way.

Hanoi to Cuc Phuong National Park. If you choose to go to this national park from Hanoi, go to the main bus station Giap Bat and take a bus to Nho Quan, which is the closest village to the national park. And again, the best option is to rent a bike there and go explore the park this way.

Moving around: Ninh Binh to Hanoi

  1. There is no Sinh Tourist company in the town, but you can choose others, mainly the rides are for 135.000 VND, e.g. if you use X.E Vietnam company.
  2. There are local buses going to Hanoi every hour from Ninh Binh main bus station for 70.000 VND
  3. There are four trains daily (6 trains daily in the high season). Three cheapest are SE20 09:24-11:55 for 75.000 VND, SE8 13:12-15:30 for 80.000 VND and SE6 16:51-19:12 for 90.000 VND

8. Hanoi

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. Called also the City of Lakes because of its many lakes and rivers. What a rich place! History, architecture, culture, cuisine and that Bia Hoi on every corner. Yes, this is a city in Vietnam you shouldn’t miss. Enjoy that amazing food that has come and mixed in Hanoi from all the other regions. Enjoy the cheap and fresh Vietnamese beer in the Bia Hoi corner. And explore the city itself!

See there:

  1. Stroll down the streets of the Old Town
  2. Explore the area of Ho Tay Lake
  3. Discover the area of Hoan Kiem Lake
  4. Go shopping in Hanoi markets
  5. Take a walk along the Ceramic Mosaic Wall

Around it:

*Tam Dao National Park is a part of a larger mountainous area in Northwest region of Vietnam. There are more than 20 peaks in this national park with altitudes over 1000 meters! The highest peak there is more than 1500 meters and offers beautiful panoramic scenery all around. How to from Hanoi to Tam Dao National Park? One option is to book a tour in Hanoi. But you can reach the park with the local buses that leave from Giap Bat bus station in Hanoi. You need to take the bus to Vinh Yen town and then change another us as there are no straight rides. In Vinh Yen town get the bus No7 to Tam Dao National Park and you are there!

Moving around: Hanoi to Ha Long Bay

  1. Take any tour in the tourism offices around Hanoi, we would recommend Sinh Tourist buses. The bus to Ha Long Bay would cost you around 250.000 VND, there is a free pick-up from your hotel and then the bus ride straight to the ferry that will bring you to the Cat Ba Island. The bus from Sinh Tourist office leaves at 8 AM and reaches the ferry around 1 PM. Important to remember: tourist bus doesn’t go to Ha Long City, but straight to the ferry which is 13 km away from the Ha Long City. The ferry goes to Cat Ba Island, the most touristy spot of exploring the bay.
  2. Take the local bus. Giap Bat is the main bus station in Hanoi, reachable by public transport. There are plenty of buses running to the Ha Long City daily. The bus will cost you 95.000 VND and the ride will be 5 hours long with one stop in between. Important to remember: local bus won’t take you to the ferry, but to the Ha Long City which is 13 km from the ferry that goes to the Cat Ba Island.
  3. Take the train. The train ride would be the most difficult one. There are no straight train rides from Hanoi main station to Ha Long City. But you have three options here.

– You can go to the town of Kep and there change the train to the Ha Long City. From Hanoi to Kep there are only small trains with two cars going once per day at 7:05 and cost 34.000 VND to 45.000 VND. There is a train from Kep to Ha Long City at 7:16 daily and cost 56.000 VND. But this means you have to spend a night in Kep.

– You can go to the Yen Vien train station and there is a train to Ha Long City at 4:55 in the morning, it reaches the destination at 11:41 and costs 80:000 VND.

– You can take a straight train from Hanoi to Hai Phong (city near the coast). There are also buses going to this city and are several trains to Hai Phong daily, they cost 70.000 VND. And then take a bus to Ha Long City or take a speed boat from Hai Phong to Cat Ba Island that will cost you around 250.000 VND.

9. Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is a huge area that stretches over 1,5 thousand square kilometers and contains almost 2 thousand islets, from which many hasn’t have a name and which haven’t even explored because of their steep and rocky surface. Though this is a real miracle – one of Vietnam’s most biodiverse zones that have been written in UNESCO World Heritage Sites and was classified as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2012. And what else can we say – this is the most wonderful place in the whole country and definitely “a must”!

See there:

  1. Ha Long City
  2. Cat Ba Island
  3. Cat Ba Town
  4. Cat Ba National Park
  5. Trung Trang Cave

Moving around: Ha Long Bay to Hanoi

  1. If you wish to take the tour company`s bus, you should walk around the Cat Ba Town and explore as mainly those buses go straight to the ferry, not stopping in Ha Long City. So, on the island, it is possible to book a bus that would bring you straight to Hanoi.
  2. To take the local bus you have to go to Bai Chay bus station in Ha Long City. There are several buses daily that go straight to Hanoi for around 100.000 VND
  3. There is one train from Ha Long City to Hanoi daily. But it is not going straight to the center of Hanoi, but to Yen Vien, which is around 10 km from the center. The cost is 80.000 VND, the travel time 13:50 – 20:31

10. Sapa

Sapa is a small mountain town near the border of China. This is home to different ethnic tribal groups, but not only the bright culture of these local inhabitants are attracting the visitors, but also forest treks and those marvelous rice terraces. This is a natural beauty you shouldn`t miss! Though the best is to go to Sapa is between March and May. January and February are the foggiest, so you would miss nice views if you visit the park in these months.

See there:

  1. Hoang Lien Son range
  2. Fan Si Pan Vietnam`s highest peak
  3. Cat Cat Village and Tha Phin Village
  4. Muong Hoa Valley
  5. Sapa Love Market

Moving around: Hanoi to Sapa

  1. There are many tour companies offering bus rides to Sapa, the cheapest is Sinh Tourist. It has a bus for 219.000 VND three times daily at 07:00, 13:30 and 22:00
  2. There are no local buses for such long distances
  3. There are two trains daily, four during the high season. SP1 21:35-05:30 and SP3 22:00-06:05 both for 385.000 VND.

Vietnam will surprise you. This is an exciting country to visit, and many leave saying this was the best destination ever. And what about you?

We hope that this article will help you in your journey across Vietnam (remember that the transportation timetables and prices may vary depending on the season). For more detailed information about these TOP destinations, you can find in other articles on our homepage under the “Vietnam”! Enjoy!

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