When you think of Vietnam, it’s likely that the first places that come to mind are Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon), Hanoi (the capital), and Halong Bay (the world-renowned natural wonder). However, there are a lot more things worth seeing in this amazing country. Here are five that you may not have heard of (listed from north to south).
1. Hue’s Imperial Enclosure
Hue lies about 700 km south of Hanoi, which means it takes an overnight bus or one-hour flight to get there. The Imperial Enclosure is located inside the city’s Citadel, which is a heavily fortified area surrounded by a moat and thick outer walls. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Complex of Hue Monuments, the large Imperial Enclosure contains several palaces and temples. Allow half a day for exploration and make sure not to miss the particularly impressive To Mieu Temple Complex.
2. Hoi An’s Old Town
Colourful and charming, Hoi An is my favourite place in Vietnam. This small city is located a short bus ride south of Hue. The heart of Hoi An is its well-preserved Old Town, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Meandering through its narrow streets provides a multitude of delicious dining options and shops with unique, artsy items.
3. The Countryside
Rural Vietnam is full of beautiful scenery. Plus, since it has been less affected by modern technology than the cities, it provides a glimpse into a simpler, quieter past. As a day trip from Hoi An, you can explore the countryside by going on a bike tour.
4. My Son Temples
Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, My Son is also a day trip option from Hoi An. This complex of temples, built between the 4th and 13th centuries, was once the religious and political capital of Vietnam’s ancient Champa Kingdom. You’ll likely notice that these temples are reminiscent of Cambodia’s much larger and better-preserved Angkor Temples. However, part of My Son’s unique appeal is the surrounding lush jungle, which provides a great atmosphere for exploration on foot.
5. Floating Markets
In the Mekong Delta at the southern end of Vietnam’s coast, many people live and trade goods on boats. Visiting a floating market and watching locals buy and sell all sorts of produce from one boat to the next is a truly unique experience. From Can Tho, which lies south-west of Ho Chi Minh City, you can take a boat tour to the large Cai Rang market or less crowded Phong Dien market.
As always, happy travels!