Vietnam is a picturesque country in Southeast Asia, occupying part of Indochina. This is the land of full-flowing rivers, high mountains, dense forests and unique architectural monuments.
Things to do in Vietnam
Vietnamese civilization is one of the oldest on earth. Its history is closely connected with the struggle for independence. In the Middle Ages, the country was shaken by internecine wars, in between which the people opposed the Chinese invasion. In the 19th century, Europe began to colonize Asia. Vietnam did not escape this fate and was captured by French troops. The 20th century also brought many shocks.
A country that has experienced many tragedies attracts people interested in military history. They come to see the ancient defensive fortresses, the Kuchi underground tunnels, the military museum in Ho Chi Minh City and the Army Museum in Hanoi.
Today Vietnam is an important part of the new global economy with a growing tourism industry. It owns 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Guests are attracted by the palaces of the Nguyen Dynasty, the Michon Temple Complex, the Hanoi Citadel, and the monuments of Hue.
The main treasure of Vietnam is the most beautiful nature.
Mountains covered with lush forests and turbulent rivers attract connoisseurs of outdoor activities. Travel companies offer excursions in nature reserves and national parks along hiking trails for travelers with different physical fitness. Boat tours on the rivers, rafting or canoeing, visits to rice fields and coconut plantations are available.
Vietnam is washed by the South China Sea, so beach tourism also contributes to the economy. People like clean beaches with yellow and white sand, gentle slopes and warm water. There are many entertainments on the coast of Nha Trang and Danag: diving, underwater fishing, water rides, bars and nightclubs.
To immerse yourself in the atmosphere of real Vietnam, it is worth watching a water puppet theater performance. Colorful performances are shown on Hoan Kiem Lake. Artists skillfully control wooden puppets dressed in bright clothes, creating the impression that they independently tell fascinating stories and move along the water surface.
Architecture and historical sights
At the beginning of the last century, a palace was built in Hanoi for the French governor. The three-story house is decorated with separate gables, thin columns, arched windows and has pronounced features of the Italian Neo-Renaissance. Ahead is equipped with a pond and planted a garden with mango trees. The territory is surrounded by a forged elegant fence with illumination.
Today the mansion is used as a presidential residence. Ordinary tourists are not allowed to enter the inner chambers. Visitors admire the exterior of the palace and stroll through the park.
An important landmark of Vietnam is the Hanoi defensive complex, erected by the Li dynasty 1000 years ago. In the Middle Ages, it included royal palaces, defensive towers, and outbuildings. Because of the wars, many buildings were destroyed.
The central part of the Royal Citadel has survived to this day, consisting of a flagpole tower, ancient walls, stone steps and railings decorated with dragons. Archaeological excavations are underway in the complex. Scientists have discovered the ruins of temples, the Imperial Palace, fragments of the drainage system.
Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh
In the center of Hanoi there is an architectural ensemble dedicated to the President of Vietnam. It includes a mausoleum, a workhouse, a one-pillar Buddhist wooden pagoda, and a museum. The mausoleum has a square shape and rises on a hill. It is surrounded by stone steps on four sides.
Inside is a glass coffin with the body of Ho Chi Minh. In front of the main entrance there is a square with original flower beds. After paying tribute to the ruler, tourists enter the museum, which displays photographs and documents telling about the Vietnamese revolution and the life of the president.
Hoi An old town
Hoi An on the banks of the Tu Bon River is an example of pre-colonial architecture in Southeast Asia. The historic center of the city reflects the culture of the Viet and Cham with clear signs of Japanese and Chinese influence. In the old quarter there are Buddhist pagodas, Chinese temples, ancient tombs, two-story wooden houses with balconies, decorated with animal carvings.
For tourists there are souvenir shops, antique shops, restaurants of national cuisine. In the vicinity of Hoi An, there are traditional Vietnamese villages. Locals are engaged in woodcarving, pottery, paper lanterns.
Hue monument complex
Under the Nguyen Dynasty, Hue was the capital of the country. During this period, impressive historical monuments appeared here. The symbol of the city is the seven-story Thien Mu Pagoda, founded in 1601 and dedicated to the goddess of heaven.
In addition to it, the Imperial Citadel with a rampart and a moat with bridges is also popular. Behind the powerful walls lies the old city with a preserved palace, a ceremonial courtyard, a garden, a pavilion with Buddha statues, a royal theater, Thu-Hyu and Thu-Dam pagodas, as well as the tombs of monarchs.
Pagodas and temples
In Hanoi, it is easy to find the Van Mieu Pagodas, built in honor of the Chinese philosopher and thinker Confucius. In 1076, a university was opened within their walls for the sons of the nobility. Since 1442, the names of students who successfully passed the exam were carved on granite steles and installed on stone turtles in the temple. These ancient tablets are recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
There are 5 courtyards in Van Mieu, representing earth, air, fire, metal and wood. A road passes through them, symbolizing the path of Confucius. Sacred ponds with lotuses, wooden statues of dragons and cranes remained on the territory.
In Nha Trang, on Mount Lao-Lao, the medieval temple of Ponagar rises. It consists of three floors topped with stone towers. The height of the main one is 25 meters. The ancient temple needs restoration, but, despite this, it is open to believers and tourists.
The entrance to it is guarded by the figure of the goddess on a buffalo, holding a lotus flower, a ball of thread and an ax in her hands. In the center stands the Ponagar stone sculpture. The goddess sits cross-legged in a lotus position, ten hands hold various objects.
Long Son Pagoda
Nha Trang is decorated with a magnificent pagoda dedicated to the Buddha. The architectural monument, located at the foot of a hill in the city center, was damaged during the war, but was restored by Buddhist monks. The beautiful temple with a curved roof is surrounded by trees. The outer walls are decorated with colorful mosaics, and the ceremonial hall is decorated with paintings.
Along the hill there is a road to the Buddha. To approach the deity, one must overcome 152 steps. The concrete god, 14 meters high, sits on a wide pedestal in the lotus position. The statue is surrounded by arhats, in front of which seven-meter stone dragons are installed.
My Son Hindu temples in Quang Nam province date back to the 10th century. Shrines erected by order of the Tyampa princes were the religious center of that time. They were built from burnt bricks, using the juice of a tropical tree for fastening.
Today, most religious buildings lie in ruins. Travelers can see temple walls decorated with carvings, fragments of towers, stone columns, sculptures of deities and animals, as well as an ancient road paved with uneven slabs.
In the north of Phan Rang Thap Cham, three beautiful towers from the 9th century rise, considered one of the oldest in the country. From the central fortress, only the foundation and the first floor remained. Other designs are better preserved and are multifaceted structures with carved floral patterns, graceful turrets, columns, statues of gods. These relics are part of the historical heritage of the Champa kingdom that existed in Indochina in ancient times.
Cao Dai is a religion that originated in Vietnam at the beginning of the last century. Her culture-blending philosophy gained a lot of popularity. In Ho Chi Minh City, a temple complex was built that can accommodate up to 50 thousand people.
The appearance of the religious building harmoniously combined the features of a Christian church and a Buddhist pagoda. The temple is decorated with two bell towers, a traditional Chinese roof, frescoes, carved stone columns. In Cao Dai, magnificent church services are held daily, attracting hundreds of tourists.
The Catholic Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City appeared in 1880. It was erected on the site of a Buddhist pagoda for the French colonizers and missionaries. The gothic temple of bright red Toulouse brick has a triangular façade and two square bell towers with gabled roofs. An openwork rose window flaunts above the main gate, a little higher — a round clock.
Inside, the temple is decorated with stone arches, multi-colored stained-glass windows, marble figures of angels. In the courtyard, on a brown round pedestal, stands a white statue of the Virgin Mary with a globe in her hands.
Museum of War Victims
In 1975, a museum dedicated to the victims of the war opened in Ho Chi Minh City. The modern concrete building houses artifacts showing the brutality and senselessness of armed conflicts. The collection includes cages in which political prisoners were kept, guillotines, instruments of torture. Captured equipment is represented by American helicopters, attack aircraft, and tanks.
The exhibitions show photographs of cities and villages destroyed by phosphorus bombs and napalm, as well as photographs of local residents affected by aggression.
Museum of Military History
Hanoi is home to the National Museum of Military History. The exposition halls opened their doors in 1959 on the day of the Vietnamese People’s Army at the initiative of President Ho Chi Minh.
The exhibitions occupy 30 rooms and consist of documents and items that shed light on the history of the formation of the Vietnamese military forces. Among the popular exhibits are soldiers’ ammunition, cannons, small arms, and equipment. A stone’s throw from the Military Museum is the Museum of the Revolution, which tells about the country’s communists.
Bao Dai Villas
One of the symbols of Nha Trang is the summer residence of the last emperor of Vietnam, the Nguyen dynasty. The complex on a hill is built under the influence of European culture and combines Asian and French architectural styles.
In one of the buildings there is a historical museum that tells about the life of the royal family. Antique furniture, imperial ceremonial clothes, porcelain dishes, works of art are put on display. Bao Dai’s villas are surrounded by tropical gardens. A Vietnamese restaurant is located in the shade.
Museum of Ethnology
The Hanoi Museum of Ethnology is dedicated to the culture and life of the peoples of Southeast Asia inhabiting the territory of Vietnam. An excursion here is a great option for a family vacation.
Light boats made of trees, national costumes, looms, ceramic dishes, shell decorations are kept in spacious halls. In the courtyard of the museum there are stone statues and models of residential buildings, typical for different regions of the country.
The French colonialists built a beautiful two-story house in Hanoi to equip it with a historical museum. The number of exhibits gradually grew, and now this museum is one of the largest in Southeast Asia.
The collection includes archaeological finds from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, stone tools, and samples of ceramics. Attention is drawn to the sculpture of the goddess Kuanam with 1000 hands and eyes, the imperial throne, trimmed with jewels, bronze drums, and a stele with ancient inscriptions. In separate rooms there is information about the French colonization and the development of the communist movement.
The main art museum of the country is located in a three-story mansion in the center of Hanoi.
- On the first tier is a collection of temple and secular sculptures, including statues of the Buddha, mythological animals and ordinary people.
- On the second floor there are paintings on rice paper, lacquered wooden figurines, national clothes and embroidery.
- On the third — paintings by Vietnamese masters, painted in oil and watercolor.
The museum regularly hosts exhibitions of foreign artists.
Museum of 3D Art
Da Nang has a great 3D museum that gives you access to a fantasy world of illusions. It contains 130 3D masterpieces painted by talented artists. All of them serve as the basis for colorful photographs.
Visitors can capture themselves and friends against the backdrop of famous architecture, fantastic landscapes and natural attractions. The museum has 9 thematic zones, each of which guarantees a great pastime for the whole family.
Institute of Oceanography
The Institute of Oceanography on the outskirts of Nha Trang, founded in 1923, is dedicated to scientific research. But on its territory there is a museum that introduces the flora and fauna of the South China Sea.
8 thousand representatives of the marine world live in spacious aquariums. Among them are reef sharks, coral fish, seahorses, squids, turtles, jellyfish. The biodiversity hall displays the skeleton of a humpback whale, a stuffed moonfish and a giant stingray.
In the south of Vietnam lies the Dong Nai National Park with an area of 719 km². The protected area is formed from a river, swamps, lakes, bamboo thickets and lowland tropical forests. The park is home to a huge number of mammals, birds, reptiles, butterflies.
Having received permission for the tour, you can see Asian elephants, gaurs, Malay bears, red wolves, clouded leopards, crested gibbons. You will also be able to admire green peacocks, rhinos, pygmy falcons and pheasants.
In the west of the Gulf of Tonkin there is Ho Long Bay, in which there is an archipelago of limestone islands riddled with caves. The largest island is Cat Ba. This is a real reserve of coral reefs, mangroves and tropical forests.
Tourists are attracted by magnificent green landscapes, wild beaches, secluded grottoes with waterfalls, an abundance of animals and birds. Neolithic archaeological sites and the ruins of temples from the Mak dynasty remained in the jungle.
Red River Delta
The Honga River, which flows in northern Vietnam, is part of a biosphere reserve and a migration point for birds flying from Asia to Australia and back. Dense mangrove forests and wetlands stretch along its shores.
The best choice to explore the area is by boat with an experienced guide. During the trip, you can admire the green expanses, go fishing and study birds. Travel companies offer different routes. Many of them include visits to ancient pagodas and riverside caves.
Phong Nha Kebang
The national park in Quang Binh province was created to protect the karst mountains and broad-leaved forests. It consists of mountain peaks, grottoes and caves. Large underground rivers flow inside the caves. Speleologists explored 20% of the area and found amazing natural attractions that are easiest to see by sailing past on a boat.
Among the popular sites are the Son Doong and Phong Nha caves, bizarre stone formations resembling animal figures, underground lakes with sandy beaches, multi-level waterfalls, as well as a real forest of stalagmites and stalactites.
In the vicinity of Nha Trang, an island lurks, overgrown with lush vegetation. In the middle of the last century, a laboratory studying monkeys worked here. When the organization closed, the wards dispersed through the forest and quickly multiplied.
Today, the island is a famous monkey sanctuary offering beach activities and interaction with friendly primates. People who come to rest walk in the jungle, sunbathe on the beach, swim, dine in a restaurant, watch interesting circus performances with the participation of monkeys and elephants.
Underground tunnels in Saigon gained notoriety during the Vietnam War. It was in them that the partisans hid, striking at the troops of the American army. The length of the dungeons exceeds 150 km — Vietnamese soldiers were hiding here without light and normal air flow. To destroy the rebels, the Americans used chemical attacks and carpet bombing.
Now part of the tunnels has been converted into a tourist attraction. People are shown warehouses, a field kitchen, living quarters, a hospital. Those who wish go to the shooting gallery to shoot from military weapons.
Winpearl Amusement Park is located on the island of Hong Che. The tourist area with hotels, restaurants and attractions is surrounded by dense rainforest. Visitors are waiting for a water park with fresh water, high-speed slides, carousels, playgrounds, outdoor musical theater, circus shows. Thousands of guests come here every day.
The connection of the island-park with the mainland is provided by a cable car and pleasure boats.
Mud bath Thap Ba
The pearl of Nha Trang is hot mineral springs. A mud bath has been built near them, which has been receiving patients for 20 years. The wellness center is equipped with modern technology.
Clients enjoy mineral water jacuzzis, mud baths, spacious pools, go for massages and other spa treatments. The courtyard of the hospital is planted with flowers and trees. An artificial pond and gazebos for relaxation are equipped in front of the entrance.