This section of the web site contains an overview of the many attractions that Vietnam has to offer, designed with tourism and travel in Vietnam in mind. Where comments and opinions are expressed, they are a combination of our subjective views and feedback from former customers.
In general, the best way to enjoy most places in Vietnam is to travel between urban centres and use them as a base to explore the areas in and around them. Long distances and the country’s limited transport infrastructure makes a linear tour impractical if visitors want to experience more than one or two of Vietnam’s regions.
Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi, is just over half the size of its southern counterpart. Like Ho Chi Minh City, it is expanding. It's more stately and calmer than its boisterous offspring, with tree-lined boulevards and large colonial villas, many of which are now embassies or government buildings, and its prices are more reasonable. It is surrounded by many ‘craft villages’, each specialising in a specific traditional craft.
Vietnam’s third city is Hai Phong, with just under two million people. Also in the north, about a hundred kilometres from Hanoi, it is the country’s main seaport. Hai Phong is close to Cat Ba Island and is an entry point to Ha Long Bay.
Ha Long City
Ha Long City has a population is around 200,000. It is a comparatively recent amalgamation of a major tourist area with a heavy industrial mining town: initially uneasy bedfellows, the two elements are now fusing. Apart from being the main access point for Ha Long Bay, it is also a centre for Quang Ninh Province and the northeast.
Dien Bien Phu and Sa Pa
These two small towns are the main centres for the northwest mountains.
Da Nang, in central Vietnam, is an expanding port and industrial area: its population is now well over a million. It is an attractive centre for three World Heritage areas: Hue Imperial City, Hoi An Ancient Town and the My Son Sanctuary, as well as being very close to some excellent coastal resorts.
Hue is relatively small – less than a third of a million - but enjoys the status of being the ancient Imperial City (and the income from armies of tourists!). It is also a centre for visits to Quang Tri Province and the Demilitarized Zone.
Nha Trang, Vietnam’s premier resort with a population of about 320,000, is an attractive destination for beach lovers and divers. It is also the main access point to the Central Highlands from the coast.
On the southern end of the central highland plateau, the temperate climate of Dalat attracts many Vietnamese tourists to swell its 150,000 population. Other small towns further north, such as Buon Ma Thuot, are also important centres for visitors to the Central Highlands.
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, is by far the largest urban centre in Vietnam. It has a population of around five and a half million, a figure that is expanding rapidly as poor people migrate to the wealth of the metropolis. Saigon is the country’s main commercial area: brash, noisy and, in Vietnamese terms, expensive. People seldom seem to be indifferent about it – they either love or hate the place.
Can Tho is a town of about 300,000 people and is regarded as the centre for the Mekong Delta area.