May 08, 2012

Top Five Places in Vietnam That Are Not Hanoi or Saigon



Sure, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) are spectacular, but there’s much more to Vietnam than just those two destinations. Vietnam is filled to the brim with exotic sandy beaches, untapped cultural landmarks and all the rural culture you can handle, from the absolutely stunning beaches and growing nightlife of Nha Trang, to the historical old town of beautiful Hoi An. For those with the adventurer’s sense of traveling, there are more than enough reasons to extend your stay in Vietnam. Here are our top 5 places to go in Vietnam that are not in Hanoi or Saigon.

1. Hue

 
Hue - Vietnam

One of the best regarded cultural landmarks in the country, Hue is packed with wonderful temples, palaces and pagodas, a true delight for those who want to soak in the country’s rich history. Head over to the Imperial Citadel for Hue’s prime attraction and explore its moats’ gates, shops and pavilions. Then follow up the Citadel with the Tombs of the Emperors, also located along the banks of the Perfume River. Cost aside, the walls of the tombs of Thieu Tri, Gia Long and Minh Mang, surrounded by warrior statues and opulent mosaics are a tribute to Vietnam’s great past leaders.

2. Nha Trang
Nha TrangVietnam

If white sandy beaches and island hopping are the name of the game for you, then look no further. Nha Trang is an increasingly popular destination for those looking to catch a little rest and relaxation while taking in the exotic backdrop of gorgeous Vietnamese coast. Take yourself on a full day boat tour for just $6 that includes lunch, music, snorkeling and trips to the local aquarium, before whisking you away to an island beach. The town has also become more and more developed over the years, with a respectable nightlife, including an interesting night market, an ice bar and delicious sea fare all around.

3. Hoi An
 
Hoi An, Vietnam

It is no wonder why the 16th and 17th-century former port city of Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site — it is one of the most picturesque places on the planet. Filled with breathtaking Chinese-style shop houses, each building is as unique as the next. The small but winding city is packed full of great places to do all of your shopping, including garment shops that will hand design pants, shirt, coats, shoes and dresses for pennies on western retail prices. And for the icing on the cake, a 30 minute bicycle ride gets you to a pristine beach with the bestseafood fare around.

4. Sapa
But Vietnam is more than just beaches and cities, take the mountainous and rugged beauty of Sapa. Known for its ethnic heritage and tremendous views, Sapa is a trekker’s paradise. First things first when you go, get to the mountainous view point of Heaven’s Gate – you will never see anything like it ever again. If you go via tour group, it takes about half a day to get there, but the journey is lovely. Afterward, take a tour of the village of Cat Cat, very close by Sapa itself. Here you will get a great sense of the local Vietnamese that inhabit the area, as well as natural sites including art shops and a waterfall – a lovely little hike.

 SapaVietnam 

5. Dalat
Located in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam, Dalat is quite different from any of the other hotspots in Vietnam, as it essentially Vietnam, but built by a Frenchman, a virtual cross between both worlds. The city itself is charming, with a small lake at its core and great peaks in the background. The best way to go here is to take buy a packaged day tour, but if not, make sure you take the cable car to Thien Vien Truc Lam Monastery, see the palace of the last emperor, Bao Dai, and take a ride out to the inspiring countryside

Dalat, Vietnam

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