Vietnam’s Top 12 Experiences

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Vietnam offers terrific experiences that should be on every traveler’s list. Here are Fodor’s top picks for a memorable trip.

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Halong Bay

Thousands of limestone karsts jut skyward from emerald waters in this UNESCO World Heritage-listed seascape. The best way to see it is to hop by boat between islands, including scenic Cat Ba, home to a national park.

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The Imperial City, Hue

The jewel of Hue’s Citadel, this sprawling complex of majestic palaces and evocative temples brings the magnificence of Vietnam’s royal dynasties to life.

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Markets

From Hanoi’s bustling Old Quarter to floating outposts in the Mekong Delta, markets reveal colorful slices of local life. Plunge right in and haggle like you mean it.

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Ho Chi Minh City

Rapidly modernizing, HCMC is a jolt of urban energy unlike anywhere else in the country. The frenetic pace (that traffic!) is tempered by peaceful pagodas, parks, and cafés.

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Street Food

Devour a delicious bowl of pho on a bustling corner or follow the fragrant smoke emanating from a sidewalk brazier, where marinated pork sizzles.

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Vietnam War Legacy

Museums pay tribute, but for a different perspective on the war, look underground—the vast Cu Chi tunnel network is a monu­ment to Vietnamese tenacity.

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Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park

Untamed jungle, vast imagination-defying limestone caves, and underground rivers make this spectacular region irresistible to adventurers.

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Hoi An

French colonial architecture, historic traders’ houses, and atmospheric temples are among the charms of Hoi An that are easily discovered on a riverside stroll.

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Beaches and Islands

Two thousand miles of tropical coastline ensure that the white sands of a postcard are never far away. Islands like Phu Quoc combine idyllic beaches and diving.

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Hill Stations

Built by the French as health retreats, hill stations such as Dalat make a cool contrast to the steamy lowlands—think misty peaks and rugged scenery.

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Sapa

Home to ethnic minorities, this northern mountain town is also the jumping-off point for some compelling sights, including Fansipan, Vietnam’s tallest summit.

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The Mekong Delta

This patchwork of waterways and floating markets, mangrove swamps, and brilliant green rice paddies is best explored by boat, but bike tours provide a fun alternative.

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