Have you made 2019 the year when you’re finally traveling to Vietnam? That’s fantastic! It’s one of Southeast Asia’s most beautiful and diverse countries with plenty of attractions to visit and activities to do. Vietnam is a must-see destination for everyone who would like to visit a country with a rich culture, tasty food, stunning landscapes and metropole cities. There’s something for everyone here so get out there and explore it!
Here are the top Vietnam destinations that you must visit in 2019:
The capital city of Vietnam is a must-visit, no matter the year. Most people either start their journey there or end it in Hanoi. But whatever your plan is, you must pay a visit to this vibrant city. Hanoi is the perfect balance of modern and traditional. Although the city has skyscrapers, you can also walk around in the old quarter for example and look at the colonial and pre-colonial architecture, cultural museums, various temples and pagodas. There’s a great mix of internationals and locals in Hanoi too. The expat community is growing fast so you’ll be sure to find a ton of international restaurants, cafés and music venues here. But Hanoi is still very much a local city where you can sit on a plastic chair by the street and zip on an egg coffee. It’s one of the best drinks in the world and tastes way better than it sounds like. Trust me.
Also in the north of Vietnam lies the beautiful Sapa, nestled in the mountains. It’s the perfect place to do a few treks, get to know the Hmong people (Vietnam’s biggest ethnic minority) and enjoy the fresh air. Sapa is beautiful all year round, but if you want to see when the rice fields turn golden, go during harvest season. Also, it’s best to avoid Sapa during the rainy season since it can lead to cancelled tours. But still, tours run in every season and it’s still incredibly beautiful in the rain. If you want to go to Sapa, you can go there by day bus or night train from Hanoi. If you take a direct bus, it’ll take you about 6 hours. But if you stop in Lao Cai, the journey will take 8 hours.
3. Halong Bay
Perhaps the most iconic spot in Vietnam, Halong Bay is a magnificent place where you can see thousands of islands and islets scattered across the sea, grottoes, and underground caves which you can explore. You can also take the ferry to the biggest island Cat Ba and relax on the golden sand beaches. The best way to see Halong Bay is by going on an overnight cruise. There are day cruises as well, but it’s not recommended since you won’t be able to see as much in just a few hours. You can also rent a kayak and paddle along the islands. It’s simply breathtaking and a must when you’re in Vietnam.
4. Phong Nha – Ke Bang
In North Central Vietnam, you can find the beautiful national park Phong Nha – Ke Bang. Travelers go there for the incredible landscapes and for all the caves that you can visit. The town itself is small, but has a ton of charm. As more and more travelers has found their way there, the tourism infrastructure has improved rapidly. Nowadays, you can find hostels, cafés, international food and tour companies who can help you rent a motorbike. Although there tours you can join who will take you with a car around the national park, the best way to truly see it is by renting a motorbike or scooter. The roads are wide, safe and there’s barely any traffic there. Make sure to stop in Paradise Cave and Tu Lan Cave when you’re cruising around the park.
5. Con Dao Islands
It’s about time this place got more attention! Con Dao Islands isn’t just picture perfect, there’s also almost no tourists there, at least if you compare it to Phu Quoc. The islands offers expansive beaches, miles of coastal roads, hiking trails and a ton of thrilling outdoor activities you can do. Unlike Phu Quoc, the coastline is mostly untouched by development.
It’s also here where people say you can find the best scuba diving spots. There are 25 dive sites around the islands. However, the conditions vary depending on the time of the year, so make sure you ask the diving agency before you decide on a spot. Con Dao Dive Center run daily dives and snorkeling trips. They can also arrange for you more advanced dives.
Before you arrive to Vietnam, please make sure that you got your visa sorted out before you arrive to the country. Otherwise, you will be denied entry. There are three visa types you can apply for: Visa on Arrival, E-Visa or go to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and apply with them. It’s highly recommended to get the Visa on Arrival since you can apply for it from wherever you are in the world. Everything is done online so you don’t need to send away any important documents. However, if you’re planning on crossing over to Vietnam by land, from example Cambodia, you’ll have to go via the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and get a visa with them.