The Most Beautiful Towns and Cities in Vietnam

© Pierrick Lemaret / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Jessica Dawdy
4 May 2021

Vietnam immediately captivates visitors with its rich heritage and striking natural beauty. Bordered by mountains to the east and the South China Sea to the west, with the Red River and Mekong deltas at the country’s north and south ends, the country’s diverse landscape encompasses white-sand beaches, rice paddies, and lush jungles. Here are some of the best towns and cities in Vietnam, bookable through Culture Trip.

Hội An

Natural Feature
Map View
Hoi An Vietnam, view at night of illuminated riverside bars and restaurants in the historic Old Town tourist quarter of Hoi An, Central Vietnam.
© Michael Brooks / Alamy Stock Photo
Hội An is a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of Vietnam’s most important tourist destinations. With wonderful cuisine, intriguing history, and irresistible charm, Hội An is one of the Vietnam cities that best matches many travellers’ ideas of what Vietnam is like. A major port between the 16th and 18th centuries, it owes its beauty to a combination of Asian and European influences. Small enough to explore on foot, Hội An’s streets are dotted with Chinese temples, lively food markets and wooden-fronted shophouses. Galleries selling local artwork and laid-back open-air cafes add a charming, bohemian element. There is also an annual lantern festival, which takes place along the Hoai River. Electric lights are turned off, and the streets lit by colourful lanterns and the glow of the moon.

Mũi Né

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
Map View
Silhouette of two women carrying baskets across sand dunes at sunset, Mui Ne, Vietnam
© RooM the Agency / Alamy Stock Photo
Once a sleepy fishing village, Mũi Né is now a favourite weekend getaway destination for immigrants living the Vietnam urban life in nearby Ho Chi Minh City, known previously as Saigon. Despite its increasing popularity with tourists, the town retains an invitingly low-key atmosphere. Its nine-mile beach is lined with low-rise resorts, restaurants and shops. The bay is a well-known hot spot for wind and kite surfing, thanks to wind levels that are relatively consistent throughout the year. If you need a break from the beach, take a tour of the surrounding sand dunes. These dunes actually help create the town’s pleasant microclimate, causing rainfall to be relatively minimal even during the country’s wet season.

Đà Lạt

Natural Feature
Map View
Dawn on love bridge overlooking Xuan Huong Lake, Dalat, with the dramatic sky welcomes new day in the tourist city of Vietnam
© Thoai Pham / Alamy Stock Photo

At an altitude of 1.5km (about a mile) above sea level, Đà Lạt offers year-round cool weather and serene mountain scenery. This quaint city was once a favourite retreat of Vietnamese emperors and French colonials eager to escape the country’s summer heat. The European influences are still noticeable in the French colonial architecture found in the city’s central area, where the streets are lined with red-roofed stone buildings. With lovely churches, markets, winding streets and colourful gardens, the city is a wonderful place for strolling. The surrounding area offers lakes, forests and waterfalls – perfect for trekking, biking and rock-climbing.

Nha Trang

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
Map View
Woman on Xom Bong Bridge, Nha Trang, Vietnam, Asia
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
Nha Trang is a city in Vietnam that’s home to some of the country’s top beaches and dive sites. The city’s 6km (4mi) crescent-shaped beach is set against a picturesque mountain backdrop. Aside from soft sands, the shoreline offers a pleasant promenade, sculpture parks, and scenic gardens. Dozens of local companies offer day-trips to the more than 20 islands found just off the coast, where you can enjoy hiking and snorkelling. Towards the centre of the city, you’ll find some fantastic restaurants as well as the Po Nagar Cham Temple, which dates back to the eighth century.

Cần Thơ

Natural Feature
Map View
Cantonese Congregation Pagoda with spiral incense in Can Tho Vietnam
© John Dambik / Alamy Stock Photo

The largest city in the Mekong Delta, Cần Thơ sits at the meeting point of several different waterways. It’s an ideal base for visiting the nearby floating markets, with canals and rivers filled with an astonishing variety of boats and ships. Cần Thơ’s lovely riverfront is lined with sculpture gardens and some of the region’s best restaurants. The backstreets give rise to a few unique temples and a buzzing night market, plus a short trip outside of the city will bring you to beautiful countryside landscapes covered with rice fields.

Vũng Tàu

Architectural Landmark, Natural Feature
Map View
Sunset in Dam Trau beach, Con Dao siland, Ba Ria Vung Tau, Vietnam
© Quang Ngoc Nguyen / Alamy Stock Photo
Located 120km (75mi) south of Ho Chi Minh City, Vũng Tàu is a popular beach destination for locals and expats looking to escape the city. Set in a gorgeous location on a peninsula, with ocean on three sides, the city is pleasantly scruffy with wide boulevards and grand colonial-era buildings. The boardwalk along Bai Sau, also known as Back Beach, is lined with seafood restaurants and shops. The city has a fairly large population of Christians, accounting for the statue of Jesus set towards the north, a smaller version of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.

Châu Đốc

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Canoe on a river between the rice paddies, Mekong Delta, Chau Doc, Vietnam
© Ariadne Van Zandbergen / Alamy Stock Photo

Set at a meeting point of a tributary linking the Bassac and Mekong rivers, Châu Đốc is the closest city to the Vietnamese-Cambodian border crossing. Locals are known for being especially friendly, with the city’s pastel-coloured shop fronts adding to its already-cheerful ambiance. With large Khmer, Cham and Chinese communities, the city is also interesting from a cultural perspective. Check out the vibrant main market and then wander along the pretty waterfront promenade nearby. Take the ferry across the river to visit Chau Doc’s largest mosque.

Bắc Hà

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Vua Meo is a french colonial villa / baroque style palace constructed for a Hmong king in 1914 to 1921. Bac Ha, Vietnam
© Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

A popular day-trip from Sapa, Bắc Hà also serves as a more low-key base for exploring the country’s northern highlands and hill tribe villages. Set at 1.2km (nearly a mile) above sea level, the town is fringed by cone-shaped mountains. This quiet town comes to life on Sundays when ethnic-minority villagers such as the Dao, Flower Hmong, Tay, Nung and Giay people come to the town for its bustling market. Everything from textiles and handbags to livestock is traded. On many market days, Flower Hmong singers perform captivating songs to entertain market-goers.

Huế

Natural Feature
Map View
Stone mandarins in the Court of Honour, Tomb of Khai Dinh, near Hue, North Central Coast, Vietnam, Indochina, Southeast Asia
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Another Unesco World Heritage Site, Huế was Vietnam’s Imperial City and later the capital of the country’s Nguyen emperors. Although the town was devastated by wars with the French and the Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries, it’s still filled with enthralling tombs, temples, and palaces. The Perfume River (Sông Hương) winds through the city, with the Forbidden City looming over its north bank. Dating back to the early 19th century, this citadel stretches for three miles along the town’s waterfront. The Perfume River itself is delightfully atmospheric, dotted with houseboats, long-tail vessels and dragon boats.

These recommendations were updated on May 4, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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