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Where to Visit in Vietnam for the First Time?

Over the years, Vietnam has become one of the most popular and exciting tourist destinations in Southeast Asia and Indochina. Once war-torn and desolate, this beautiful country has risen to new heights in its tourism industry, which is second to none. And for anyone who is making their first ever trip to Vietnam, there are certain locations, destinations, and attractions that are definite “must-see” locations for the first-timer itinerary.

The Must-See Tourist Sites in Vietnam for First-Time Travelers

The top sites in Vietnam are those that you don’t want to miss, and should be part of every first-timer’s itinerary, no matter how long or short your trip.

Halong Bay is the first must-see location, with its beautiful sparklingly-clear waters and amazing karst limestone formations strewn across the bay. Take a boat tour around the islands to see the best of the location’s attractions.

Halong Bay boat trip
Halong Bay boat trip

Discovering Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, is another first and must-see for tourists. Bombed into ruins during the Vietnam War, it was rebuilt after the war into a modern and vibrant new city, and was given a new name to match.

Hue is one of Vietnam’s most historic towns, and is full to the brim with amazing relics from the 19th-century Nguyen Emperors. Lying on the banks of the Perfume River, the Imperial Palace Enclosure is one of the most outstanding sites in Vietnam.

Hue Imperial
Hue Imperial

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is one of the best places in Vietnam for visiting caves, and is listed as a World Heritage Site for its dramatic karst formations and the honeycombs of huge caverns.

phong nha ke bang park
phong nha ke bang park

The most atmospheric city in Vietnam, Hoi An is one of the most amazing sites for ancient historic architecture. An important trading port since the 15th century, the town was a hub for Japanese and Chinese trade merchants. And the most famous attractions is the delightful Japanese Bridge at the western end of Tran Phu Street.

Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, is the frantic heart of the nation, and it winding streets, motorized frenzy, and clamor of street vendors is enough to confuse even the most ardent explorer. And that is part of its unique charm. For anyone who wants to really dive into Vietnamese city life, Hanoi is the place to be.

If There is More time, you Should not Miss out These Tourist Sites

For anyone with a little more time on their hands, there are also a number of places you can visit that are also well worth taking the time to visit.

An ancient ruin from the Cham era of Vietnam’s history, My Son is an ancient temple city and Hindu religious center that dates back to the 4th century CE. Consisting of around 20 sandstone temple structures, most of which are in varying states of damage and decline, this beautiful site is surrounded by lush jungles protecting it from the modern world.

My Son Santuary
My Son Santuary

In the northwest of Vietnam lies the Sapa region, renowned for its hiking trails and the amazing rice terraces that provide staple food for the entire region in the northwest. Sapa is also home to a diverse mix of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities, which include the Hmong, Giay, and Red Dzao tribes.

beautiful landscape in Sapa
beautiful landscape in Sapa

King of the Beaches, Nha Trang is a well-maintained beach that stretches out for more than six kilometers along the central Vietnamese shores, and in summer is jam packed with local tourists on vacation. One of the best beaches in the world, this is a must-visit location for families with kids.

A remnant of the Vietnam War, the Cu Chi Tunnels is an amazing experience for any travelers to the country. Extending for more than 250 kilometers of tunnels, these tunnels allowed the troops of the Viet Cong Army to operate in secret around the area of Saigon.

Walking in the Cu Chi Tunnel
Walking in the Cu Chi Tunnel

Ba Be National Park is one of the most outstanding areas of natural beauty in Vietnam. Consisting of three interlocked lakes and ringed by the jagged peaks of karst formations and thickly forested hillsides, the park is the idea place for some well-earned relaxation.

The Must-do Activities When Visiting Vietnam for the First Time

While you can find plenty of places to visit in Vietnam, that is not always enough, and there are some activities that are a “must-do” while in the country, if you can.

Some experiences are worth trying, and in Vietnam, you haven’t traveled the country properly until you’ve done it like a local, on a motorbike. Motorbikes are a common site across the country, and are a cheap and fast way of getting around. Most are small scooter or moped types that are easy to operate, and it is fun to zip around the cities and towns on a scooter you can rent locally.

Nothing beats a good meal, but in Vietnam, the street foods are the best you can find. From the famous Bánh Mi (Vietnamese Baguette ) filled with a variety of delicious fillings to the delicious Vietnamese Pho Noodles, this country has some of the most interesting and tasty street foods to try.

street food in vietnam
street food in vietnam

If you are traveling around Mũi Né, then a little opportunity arises to allow you to rent a dune buggy and race around the desert-like sand dunes not far from the famous beaches. And you can try sand surfing on the same dunes if you are really adventurous.

The market at Bac Ha is not just an ordinary Vietnamese market. Every Sunday, this market opens up for the tribes to become the biggest ethnic market in Vietnam. Ethnic tribes people from the Flower Hmong, Black Dzao, Nung, Phu la and Tay tribes come to town to sell their hand-crafted goods and to trade for things they need. A living museum of color and cultures, this is the best opportunityto learn more about these tribes and their culture, customs, and traditions.


Vietnam is an amazing country with so many things to see and do that you will end up coming back time after time to make the most of this beautiful land. And don’t worry if you can’t fit it all into one trip. Vietnam will be there waiting for your next trip to come and explore her fully.

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