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LIST: 10 places to visit in Vietnam if you're a first-time visitor

By Saihjee Galang Published Apr 13, 2024 5:35 pm

Are you curious to know why tourists love going back to Vietnam?

For one, a visa is not required for Filipino citizens. Getting there by plane is easy and convenient, too, as the flight does not take more than four hours. Vietnam Airlines also announced that it will be opening direct flights from Manila to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh this June.

The Southeast Asian country boasts breathtaking scenery—from picture-perfect beaches to dramatic mountains. Add in the vibrant culture, with delicious cuisine and bustling markets overflowing with local treasures. History buffs will be captivated by Vietnam's ancient cities and heritage sites, while those seeking a beach escape can unwind on pristine islands or discover hidden coastal gems.

They call it the "Switzerland of Asia" for a reason—Vietnam boasts stunning landscapes, a rich culture, and friendly locals.

Ahead, check out some destinations you should add to your itinerary when heading to Vietnam.

Halong Bay

Located in the northern eastern of the country, Halong Bay, translated to “descending dragon,” is the largest limestone island ecosystem in Asia as it consists of 1,969 islands and islets. 

Exploring the Bay would require at least an overnight tour as a day tour will surely be not enough to witness the caves, lakes, the formation of limestones, and the jungle vegetation of the different islands.

Hang Sung Sot or the “Cave of Surprises,” Trinh Nu or the “Virgin Cave,” and Thien Cahn Son Cave have three caverns with unique formations of stalactites and stalagmites are some of the alluring caves to visit along Halong Bay.  

Con Dao Island

If you want to seek serenity and peace of mind with the sound of the waves of the ocean, the small archipelago consisting of 16 islands located on the southern coast of Vietnam would be the perfect haven for you. Down southeast is the archipelago of Con Dao.

Con Dao island's dry season usually occurs from December to May wherein the weather is warm, and the skies are clear, making it an ideal time to conduct water activities and explore the beauty of the island under the vibrant sun.  

Meanwhile, the rainy season usually begins from May to November wherein rains and strong winds can be felt. The turtle hatching season occurs during rainy seasons around mid-March to late-October.

Aside from relaxation by the beach, there are plenty of activities that you could try such as diving, island hopping, trekking in the national park, learning about the island's history by visiting the old Con Dao Prisons and museums, and turtle-watching.

Con Dao is indeed a paradise to explore and experience!

My Khe Beach

The 10-kilometer-long coastline of My Khe Beach and its clear blue water, gentle waves, peaceful ambiance, and scenic views of the sunset and sunrise all year long surely wouldn’t miss a spot on your travel list.

The alluring My Khe beach was tagged as one of Vietnam’s most beautiful beaches. It also gained lots of recognition as Forbes Magazine called it “one of the most attractive beaches on the planet.”

My Khe Beach’s wide seashore and waves make it an ideal place to conduct beach and water sports including surfing, beach volleyball, windsurfing, parasailing, and many more. 

The coastline of My Khe Beach belongs to the 30-kilometer coastline of Da Nang that extends from north to south.  

Cham islands

Located in Hoi An City, the protected area of Cham Islands enabled nature to flourish, giving tourists and visitors a wonderful nature experience.

The island has several tourist spots that exhibit Vietnam’s rich culture and religions including The Ancient Well of the Cham People, wherein it is believed that people who consume water from the well would be favored in terms of love and childbirth.

Hai Tang Temple wherein people pray to survive the challenges of life, Tan Hiep Market which offers fresh seafood, and The Temple of the Nest Craftsman which pays tribute to artisans of crafting nests.

Cham Island indeed has a lot to offer in terms of destinations and experience.

Bac Ha Market

Have a very interesting Sunday at Bac Ha Market! Every Sunday, the locals from the highland of Bac Ha in Lao Cai province sell artistically made ethnic clothes, woven dresses and coats, rattan products, and silver jewelry.

They also offer cropped goods such as corn and potatoes and produce their own wine, honey, and teas.

More than that, you could also have a taste of their delectable dishes as you visit Bac Ha Market.

Temple of Literature in Hanoi

This temple in Dong Da District in Hanoi is dedicated to the great philosopher Confucius and pays tribute to the excellent scholars of Vietnam.

The temple was established in the 11th century and displays traditional Vietnamese architecture, which also houses Vietnam’s first university. Students usually come to the temple to pray for good grades. Various spots of this house of worship, including the garden and courtyards, are used for graduation photos.

Marble Mountains

A group of five summits in the South of Da Nang that are named after the five elements of the earth, water, air, wood, and fire.  

Several caves can be found in the mountains, with some serving as sanctuaries and shrines for Confucians and Buddhists. Beautiful stone sculptures that hold stories can also be found within the mountains making it one of the tourist attractions in the area.

Ho Chi Minh City

For city explorers, you will surely enjoy wandering around Ho Chi Mihn City!

The economic center of Vietnam, previously called Saigon, fuses old and modern elements of Vietnam. Some of the tourist attraction includes the Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Opera House, and Jade Emperor Pagoda.  

Food lovers would also definitely have a great time as streets are usually flocked with stalls and dining places varying from various cuisines including French, Mexican, and Vietnamese.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

If you are the type of person who seeks thrilling adventures as you explore new places, the National Park of Phong Nha-Ke has a variety of activities waiting for you to try – from land to aquatic activities, they have it all!

Majestic caves could be explored such as Son Doong, the largest cave that has London’s Big Ben-sized stalagmites; Tu Lan cave system which has an endless network of tunnels; and Hang Va and Nuoc Nut which have rock pools.

If you are down for a jungle-like adventure, you will surely enjoy walking and hiking in Phong’s lush landscape.

Hoi An

Visiting Hoi An is like walking in the streets of Vietnam back in centuries as it exhibits historic architecture that holds various stories. It was also named by UNESCO as Asia’s Leading Cultural City Destination.

Hoi An’s architectural facade has been preserved for decades—it has merchant houses that date back to the trading era in the 15th century. The old town was also tagged as “Venice of Vietnam” as canals and rivers are still used for trade and tourism up until this day.

The Yellow City was also known for silk, where numerous clothing stalls offered myriad fabrics and clothes in different colors and styles.