Vietnam has become a hot spot for budget-loving travelers. It’s hard not to fall in love with this incredible Southeast Asian country. It certainly stands out as a unique destination among its neighbors, and it’s a great starting point if you’re planning on traveling around Southeast Asia. What makes Vietnam stand out in the crowd is the spectacular landscapes, the incredibly tasty food, welcoming locals, diversity in things to do and see, vibrant cities, and the 8 World Heritage UNESCO Sites that can be found throughout the country. Are you interested to find out what and where they are? Then read on!
1. Complex of Hue Monuments
Hue used to be the former capital city of Vietnam and was the center of cultural, political and religious influence of the Nguyen dynasty. These days, you can visit the Imperial city, a walled palace within the citadel which was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1993. The complex has suffered the effects of 3 wars, yet still stands strong. It’s located along the Perfume River, an icon in Hue. If you’re a fan of arts, architecture and history, it’s a particularly fine place to visit. The Imperial City is serene, beautiful to look at and there’s surprisingly little people here in comparison to the other, more popular tourist attractions in Vietnam. Perhaps it’s because not many people choose to stop by Hue. But it remains one of the most important sites in Vietnam and is more than worth a visit.
2. My Son Sanctuary
A few hours away from Hue lies the My Son Sanctuary. Most people tend to start in either Da Nang or Hoi An and make their way to My Son. It was developed from the 4th to 13th century and consists of several Hindu temples. However, the war deeply affected My Son so there’s only a few remaining temples who are still standing strong. The others were ruined during the war. However, parts of the temples have been rebuilt and the locals are working hard to make sure that this World Heritage Site remains intact. It makes for a fantastic day trip from Hoi An.
3. Trang An Landscape Complex
Just by the south of the Red River delta lies the stunning Trang An Landscape Complex, a breathtaking area made of karst limestone peaks, valleys and rivers. It’s been inhabited for more than 30,000 years by humans. If you’re in Hanoi, you can take the bus 90 km southwest before you arrive to your destination in Ninh Binh. Since it’s quite close to the capital city, it might get a bit crowded during holidays, vacations or festival times. However, during normal weekdays, it’s usually much less people and you can have the picturesque landscape all to yourself. Trang An is sometimes called “Halong Bay on land” because of its similar limestone islands. Besides marveling at the nature here, hop on a boat and cruise around, enter the grottoes, visit tribal villages and visit pagodas. There’s so much to discover in this beautiful area.
4. Hoi An Ancient Town
Perhaps one of the most popular places to visit in Vietnam, the Ancient Town in Hoi An leaves everyone speechless. It served as an important trade center from the 15th to the 19th century, and both local and foreign traders has left their marks here. You can tell by the unique architecture. It’s been influenced by the French, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese. Although Hoi An is very hyped, you’ll instantly see why the minute you arrive. There’s not many places in the world that are as colorful, charming and beautiful like Hoi An. If you think it’s pretty during the day, wait until night falls when all the thousands of lanterns light up. It’s a view you’ll never forget.
5. Halong Bay
If there’s one place that shouldn’t be missed in Vietnam, it’s Halong Bay. With more than 1,600 limestone islands and islets rising from the sea, vertical cliffs and a surrounding jungle, it’s hard not to love this World Heritage site. Halong Bay is famous around the world for its beauty and is also a haven for biodiversity. The most popular way to experience Halong Bay is by going on a cruise. There’s several overnight cruises, but if you’re on limited time, you can also do a day cruise. The landscape here is unlike any other place in the world and it’s hard not to be impressed when you get to see it.
6. Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park
The oldest karst formation in Southeast Asia can be found in Phong Nha Ke-Bang National Park. There are 65 km of caves and underground river. Just driving through the national park is a sight in itself, but don’t miss out on exploring the underground caves and make sure to swim in the river too. It’s a ton of fun!
7. Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi
There’s more to the capital city than just hectic traffic and shopping. There’s also the impressive cultural site Thang Long Imperial Citadel, which remained a political center in Vietnam for 13 centuries. In 2010, it was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO.
8. Citadel of the Ho Dynasty
Perhaps the lesser known of the Heritage sites in Vietnam, the remains of the citadel of Ho Dynasty used to serve as the capital of Vietnam during the 14th century. When Prime Minister Ho ruled, he wanted the capital to be in a more central countryside location and so began the construction of the Citadel of the Ho Dynasty.