Located in the easternmost part of the Indo China Peninsula, Vietnam is one of the oldest countries in South East Asia with a rich and glorious history and is home to eight world heritage sites. In addition, this is a country of breathtaking natural beauty with a spectacular coastline. The people are warm, energetic and welcoming and the cuisine is exotic. This makes Vietnam a compelling destination to experience.
Here are the must see places on your Vietnam itinerary:
Being the capital of Vietnam and second largest city in the world, Hanoi has a lot to offer to its visitors. Summers (May to September) in Hanoi are hot and humid, receiving the majority of the annual 1,680 millimetres (66.1 in) of rainfall. The winters (November to March) are relatively mild and dry.
Tourist attractions in Hanoi:
Hanoi has various entertainment centres that include modern and traditional theatres, cinemas, karaoke bars, dance clubs, bowling alleys, and an abundance of opportunities for shopping provide leisure opportunities for both locals and tourists.
Tourist attractions in Vietnam include Colonial Hanoi, VietClimb, Old Quarter, Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural, Duong Lam, St. Joseph's Cathedral (Nha Tho Lon), Quan Thanh Temple various lakes like Hoan Kiem Lake and various museums like Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
For shopping, popular spots in Hanoi include Trang Tien Plaza, Vincom Center, Parkson Department Store, The Garden Shopping Center, Royal City Megamall and Times City Megamall.
2. Halong Bay:
Recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Halong Bay consists of thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. The climate of Halong Bay is tropical and wet. This is due to hot and moist summer, and dry and cold winter. The average temperature is from 15 °C to 25 °C, and annual rainfall is between 2 meters and 2.2 meters.
Tourist attractions in Halong Bay:
Tourist attractions in Halong Bay include Bai Tu Long Bay, Sung Sot Cave, Dau Go Cave, Ti Top Island, Dong Thien Cung, Soi Sim Island and Castaway Island.
3. Sa Pa:
Sa Pa (or Sapa), a frontier town and capital of Sa Pa District, is one of the main market towns in the area, where several ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao (Yao), Giáy, Pho Lu, and Tay live. It has subtropical climate in the summer and a temperate climate during the winter.
Tourist attractions in Sa Pa:
Tourist attractions in Sa Pa include Muong Hoa Valley, Love Waterfall, Ta Phin Village, Tram Ton Pass, Thac Bac Waterfall (Silver Falls), Quang Truong Square, Holy Rosary Church (Stone Church), Ham Rong Mountain, Sapa Ancient Rock Field and Ho Chi Minh Friendship Monument.
Hue was the capital of Vietnam when Vietnam was ruled by Nguyễn Dynasty. Located near Perfume River, Hue features a Tropical monsoon climate under the Köppen climate classification. The dry season (March to August) has high temperatures of 35 to 40 °C (95 to 104 °F). The rainy season (mid-August to September), is followed by a flood season (October to December). The average rainy season temperature is 20 °C (68 °F), sometimes as low as 9 °C (48 °F). Spring lasts from January to late February.
Tourist attractions in Hue:
Tourist destinations in Hue include Imperial City, Thien Mu Pagoda, Tomb of Khai Dinh, Quoc Hoc Hue high school for the gifted, The Mieu, Trang Tien Bridge, Mount Ngu Binh, Hue Museum of Royal Fine Arts.
2. Hoi An:
Hoi An is located on the coast of the East Sea in the South Central Coast region of Vietnam. It is recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The city possessed the largest harbour in Southeast Asia in the 1st century and was known as Lâm Ấp Phố (Champa City).
In Hoi An, calm mild weather can be experienced between May/June to end of August when the seas are calm. Wind changes direction and comes from the South. The remainder of the year the weather is intermittent between rains & cold and hot & mild. Most pleasant weather is between the end of May to end of August.
Tourist attractions in Hoi An:
Tourist destination in Hoi An include Dragon fountain, Quan Cong temple, Museum of Sa Huynh culture, Phung Hung house, Cua Dai beach, Chaozhou Hall, Japanese covered bridge, Quan Thang, Trieu Chau, Thuan Tinh Island, Hoian Silk Village, An Bang Beach, Cua Dai Beach and Bana Hills.
3. Nha Trang:
Nha Trang is well known for its beaches and scuba diving. It is a must visit for those who love scuba diving.
Nha Trang has developed into a popular destination for international tourists, attracting large numbers of backpackers, as well as more affluent travellers on the Southeast Asia circuit; it is already very popular with Vietnamese tourists. Nha Trang is also rich in wildlife with wild animals present in various areas.
Nha Trang has a tropical savannah climate with a lengthy dry season (January to August) and a shorter wet season (September to December), when 1,029 millimetres (41 in) of the city‘s total annual rainfall of 1,361 millimetres (54 in) is received from the northeast monsoon.
Tourist attractions in Nha Trang:
Vinpearl resort is a paradise for tourists in Nha Trang. It is located in Hòn Tre Island that Vietnamese administration considers as a part of Khánh Hòa Province, of which, Nha Trang is the capital. It has various villas and luxury rooms for tourists. Cable cars, ferries and powerboats thrill visitors coming to Vinpearl.
Other tourist attractions in Nha Trang include Long Son Pagoda and Po Nagar.
1. Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City):
Founded in 1698 AD, Saigon being one of the most popular cities in Vietnam was renamed as Ho Chi Minh City in the honour of Vietnamese revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. When Vietnam was partitioned into North Vietnam and South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh was the capital of South Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City has a tropical climate, specifically a tropical wet and dry. The rainy season (May to late November) and dry season (December to April) broadly classify the climate of Ho Chi Minh.
Tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City:
Tourist destinations in Ho Chi Minh City include War Remnants museum, Independence palace, Pham Ngu Lao Street, Notre Dame Cathedral, Dam Sen park, Giac Lam Pagoda, Gia Long palace, Suoi Tien theme park, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, An Quang pagoda, Saigon zoo and botanical gardens.
2. Cu Chi Tunnels:
Cu Chi tunnels are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Củ Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City. Preserved by the government of Vietnam, these tunnels have been turned into a war memorial park with two different tunnel display sites, Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc.
During the Vietnam War, these tunnels were used by Vietnamese as well as Americans.
Tourist attractions in Cu Chi Tunnels:
Above-ground attractions in the area surrounding Cu Chi Tunnels feature caged monkeys, vendors selling souvenirs, and a shooting range where visitors can fire a number of assault rifles, such as the M16 rifle or AK-47, as well as a light machine gun like the M60.
3. Mekong Delta:
Mekong Delta is the region in south-western Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. Being a low-lying coastal region, the Mekong Delta is particularly susceptible to floods resulting from rises in sea level due to climate change.
Tourist attractions in Mekong Delta:
Tourist attractions near Mekong Delta include Vinh Trang Temple, Quang Duc Pagoda, Sam Mountain, Huynh Thuy Le Ancient House, Ong Temple, Binh Thuy Communal House, Tram Chim National Park, La Maison De Huynh Thuy, Tham Tuong Church, Mui Ca Mau, Tin Lanh Baptist Church, Gao Giong Eco-tourism Park and Bai Bien Ba Dong.
You can also get an experience of enjoying Vietnamese art by visiting Viet Artisans where artisans showcase marvellous handicrafts made by them.
Best time to visit Vietnam:
Climate is different all over Vietnam throughout the year. Rainfall, summer and winter vary in terms of time and intensity from area to area. The mountainous Far North Vietnam can be visited from April and September. The best time to visit North East region of Vietnam (that includes Ha Giang) is from October to April. The best trekking conditions in Sa Pa and the northwest region are from September to November and from March to May.
For North Vietnam, the best time is November to December if you want to avoid hot summer (that ends in October) and wet winter because from January, winters becomes colder and it is not dry. November and December experience moderate and dry winter.
With Nha Trang and adjacent cities in Central Vietnam experiencing a longer dry season, the best time to visit is between December and early half of January when winter as well as rainfall are moderate. You can also visit in September when summer is ending and moderate winter commences.
The best time to visit South Vietnam is November to May if you want to avoid the cold weather and rainfall. During this period, February is the hottest month and hence, you should avoid visiting South Vietnam in February.
How to get to Vietnam from India:
Jet Airways is going to start a new flight from India to Vietnam on 5th Nov 2014 which would be the first direct flight from India to Vietnam. However, you can also fly via the Far East hubs of Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
Recommended two-week itinerary to experience Vietnam:
Day 1 Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) arrival: Transfer from the airport to the hotel. Rest of the day at leisure.
Day 2 Saigon city visit & Cu Chi Tunnels: After breakfast, enjoy a two hour drive northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, through urbanized areas and typical lush southern Vietnamese countryside, to the famous Cu Chi tunnels. Here you will see various memorials related to Vietnam War that are of historical significance. Return to hotel for lunch. After lunch, you can take another drive to see Reunification Hall and Dong Khoi street. Then you can go to Ben Thanh Market for shopping.
Day 3 Saigon – Full day Mekong delta excursion: Cai Be is located in Tien Giang province, a two hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City. Here you can see deep in the heart of the Mekong Delta and notice lush rice paddies and fruit farms emerging alongside the highway. On arrival to Cai Be, you can hire your private wooden boat or a wooden motorboat, which will help you have a closer look to the daily life and agricultural activities along the Mekong River. Visit the small colorful Cai Be floating market, experience how people exchanging goods, fruit and many other commodities on their boats. Have lunch in Mandarin house.
Day 4 Saigon > Danang – Hoi An: Check out from hotel. Driver will drop you to airport. Board a flight from Ho Chi Minh City airport to Danang. Arrive on Danang and meet your new guide at airport. Have your breakfast. Then see Cham Museum and Marble Mountains. Visit Hoi An that is close to Cham village. Enjoy the sight of buildings that symbolize architectural fusion of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European styles.
Day 5 Hoi An Walking tour: Walk with your guide and see the narrow lanes and gain an insight into Hoi An’s illustrious past as you explore this heritage listed town. See the old merchant houses with influences from Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture. See the 400 year old Japanese Bridge, a unique covered structure built by the Japanese, and the only known covered bridge with a Buddhist pagoda attached to the side.
Day 6 Hoi An visit: Have breakfast at the hotel. After that, you can take a cycling tour to see the scenic beauty of Hoi An. Or you can participate in a culinary event where you will take cooking lessons from a local house wife.
Day 7 Hoi An free day: Have breakfast at the hotel. As Hoi An has the status of World Heritage Site, you can use the full day to explore this beautiful town.
Day 8 Hoi An – Hue: Have breakfast at the hotel. Depart for Hue. You will get to see various ancient temples. After lunch proceed to see Khai Dinh and Tu Duc Royal Tombs.
Day 9 Hue visit: Have breakfast at the hotel. After that, you can take a cycle ride around the city and see the Imperial Citadel. Enjoy the architecture and gardens. Your guide will tell you historical facts about the buildings and gardens. Traditional garden houses will intrigue you. After lunch, you can visit Ming Mang Royal Tomb near Hue. After seeing the tomb, you can see Thien Mu pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument.
Day 10 Hue – Hanoi: Have breakfast at hotel. After that, your driver will drop you to the airport. Take your flight to Hanoi. In Hanoi, you can see buildings that showcase the French colonial architecture, tree-lined boulevards, scenic lakes and a bustling Old Quarter. As Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, you can visit various museums here that showcase items related to the all important historical events of Vietnam. Hanoi has many great restaurants with French, Vietnamese and international cuisines available.
Day 11 Hanoi city visit: After breakfast in hotel, visit Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. Near Mausoleum, you can see Ho Chi Minh‘s house. After lunch in a restaurant, you can visit One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature, Museum of Ethnology, Buddhist Tran Quoc and Quan Thanh Temple. After that, you can drive to central Hanoi to see Old Quarter and take a walk there to see the local life. In Thang Long theater, you can see a Water Puppet performance before you go back to your hotel and retire to your room after dinner.
Day 12 Hanoi – Halong Bay: Check out from the hotel after breakfast and take a flight to Halong Bay. Once you reach Halong Bay, you can explore the farmlands near Red River Delta. Here you can see the rural Vietnam, go fishing and test your cooking skills while interacting with local people.
Day 13 Halong bay – Hanoi: If you have woken up early, then after breakfast, you can attend a Tai Chi demonstration. After that, you have to go to airport and take the flight back to Hanoi.
Day 14 Hanoi departure: Enjoy your breakfast. You have all day to your leisure until it is time for your transfer to the airport. Leave with wonderful memories of your holiday in Vietnam.
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