The Ancient Town of Hoi An, lined with bright yellow shophouses and beautiful lanterns of various shapes, sizes and colors was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
Admission. The Hoi An Old Town entrance ticket costs 120,000 VND (5 USD) per person (per duration of stay not per day) which goes towards the maintenance and preservation of the city. It is mandatory for entry to the Old Town. It allows all access to the streets within the Ancient Town. It also includes admission to only 5 sightseeing places (heritage buildings, museums and a theatrical performance, whatever you choose). If you wish to visit more than 5, you need to purchase additional tickets.
For more information about Hoi An Old Town Tickets, click HERE.
The Imperial Citadel is the former seat of government and Hue’s prime attraction, Within the Citadel grounds is the Forbidden Purple City which was almost entirely destroyed during the Tet Offensive in 1968.
The Thien Mu Pagoda (Pagoda of the Celestial Lady) with its iconic 7-storey Phuoc Duyen Tower, is regarded as the unofficial symbol of the city of Hue.
Built on the side of a mountain, the Tomb of the Nguyen Emperor Khai Dinh, is unique among the royal tombs in Hue because of its flamboyant and monumental style, with a blend of Eastern and Western architecture.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the My Son Sanctuary is a cluster of ruined temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva in a tropical jungle setting. The complex belonged to the kings of the Champa Civilization, which had its peak between 7th-11th century AD, ending when the final vestiges of the kingdom were absorbed by modern Vietnam in 1832.
Eat. White Rose dumplings, Locally known as Banh Bao Vac, are one of Hoi An’s culinary specialties. They are made from meat or shrimp, wrapped in rice paper that resemble flower petals, hence its name.
Tan Ky House, located at 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, near the Japanese Covered Bridge, features an interesting combination of Vietnamese, Japanese, and Chinese architectural elements, built in the 18th-century. It was the first old house recognized as a cultural historical relic by the Ministry of Culture in 1985.
Do. Visit Tan Ky House at the beginning or end of the day and have coffee at one of the shops nearby.
The most interesting museum in Hanoi, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology offers an insight into the 54 different ethnic groups of Vietnam in a variety of exhibitions relating to the traditional Vietnamese way of life, religion and rituals. Some of the highlights of the museum are the full-scale replicas of ethnic minority homes in the outdoor area.
Female members of the Black Hmong wear long blouses and short trousers, and wrap long scarves around their legs. They are famous for making cloth from hemp and dying it a deep indigo blue.
Female members of the Red Dao usually shave their eyebrows and have similar hairstyles – long on top, with the rest smoothly shaved. They also wear a distinctive red triangular headdress.
Originally built by the Emperor Ly Thai Tong who ruled from 1028 to 1054, the One Pillar Pagoda rises in the center of a square shaped lotus pond.
Ha Noi's ancient Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) was built in 1070, under Ly Thanh Tong’s dynasty to honor Confuciu. The Temple of Literature hosts the Imperial Academy, Vietnam's first national university.
The 36 streets of the Old Quarter (although they number up to 70) may have had its roots in the 15th century, when they developed from 36 guilds or workshop areas, each having a different function and characteristic. When streets were later developed, the guild names were applied.
Drink. Skip your Starbucks (during this trip it has not penetrated the Vietnamese market yet), have some local ca phe instead. Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world and local coffee is xxx times better than any Starbucks drink ever will be.
According to legend, Hoan Kiem Lake is where Emperor Le Loi returned his magic sword to the Golden Turtle. At the northern end of the lake is an islet which stands the Turtle Tower (Thap Rua), which honors the turtle that still guards the sword of Le Loi. Sightings of the lake’s rare enormous soft-shell turtle named, Cu Rua (great-grandfather turtle) is believed to bring good luck. Unfortunately, it died in 2016, bringing the species one step closer to extinction.
Book. Handspan is located at 78 Ma May Street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Reputable and highly recommended, the company arranged my excursion to Sapa and Halong Bay.
Ha Long Bay which literally means "Descending Dragon Bay," is located in Northeastern Vietnam and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features thousands of spectacular limestone rock formations and islets.
Do. Opt for an overnight cruise, rather than a quick day tour to truly enjoy this place.
Pham Ngu Lao did not give a very good first impression of HCMC. After almost 2 weeks of hopping from one city to the other, i was on the verge of a breakdown. I will always remember this day as the time I had an epiphany that backpacking was not meant for me. I had to get out of the area only after one night and get settled in a different part of the city.
Happy Hour. Between 4:30-6:30 (2 cocktails for the price of 1) at the 23rd floor is not to be missed. The Sheraton has one of the best views of the city, specially during sunset. Arrive before happy hour to get a good seat.
After a miserable day in Pham Ngu Lao, I walked around Dong Khoi in District 1, a much better neighborhood, and found the Grand Hotel, where i had no second thoughts about checking in. Long story short, I was such in a better mood after a long hot bath.
Book. Choose a room in the Old Wing in One of HCMC’s historic hotels offering modern comfort with a very classic French atmosphere.
The Reunification Palace, formerly called the Independence Palace, is a 1960s government building designed for General Ngo Dingh Diem, the president of South Vietnam during the American-Vietnam War. It was the site of the end of the war after a North Vietnamese communist tank crashed through its gates during the Fall of Saigon in April, 1975.
The most popular museum in the country, The War Remnants Museum feature the horros of war and how it has shaped moden Vietnam.
Note. Expect to be depressed after visiting this museum.