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An Introduction to Vietnam: Top Tours in Vietnam for First-time Travelers


With mouth-watering local cuisines, enchanting natural landscapes, together with the nation’s rich history, charming tradition and culture, Vietnam has gained its worldwide reputation as one of the top choices for a travel destination. It could be overwhelming for new travelers to pick out which tourist attractions are the must-sees, and thus we have narrowed down the essential top tours in Vietnam you shouldn’t miss out on to truly experience the beauty of Vietnam and all it has to offer.

Ho Chi Minh City Tour

Top tours in vietnam ho chi minh city

The Independence Palace in Ho Chi Minh

Formerly known as Saigon, the original “Pearl of the Orient” is the most vibrant, cosmopolitan metropolis of Vietnam. This melting pot of culture with a dynamic, fast-paced, loud, high-energy lifestyle can mesmerize tourists with impressive skyscrapers, luxurious restaurants, and shopping malls, as well as exciting nightlife with a wide range of bars. Nevertheless, the beautiful traditions and history of the city are still preserved through ancient pagodas, temples, churches, and historical landmarks such as the Independent Palace, the Dragon Harbor, and various museums.

For a quality, safety-first, off-the-beaten-track experience that is personally tailored to suit your budget, check out our top private tours in Ho Chi Minh City.

Find the best hotels in Ho Chi Minh City:


Cu Chi Tunnels Tour

Top tours in vietnam ho chi minh city

Inside Cu Chi Tunnels

Do you want to learn more about the Vietnam War? Want to personally experience the struggle, and hardship of Vietnamese soldiers to survive during wartime? Come dig through the Cu Chi Tunnels, one of the top tours in Vietnam recommended for history enthusiasts. This unique underground network reaches 10 meters below surface level, with complex branches spread out like cobwebs extending to nearly 250 kilometers. This giant labyrinth acted not only as a bunker, shielding the soldiers from the constant rain of bombs and bullets, it was also constructed with a dormitory, infirmary, kitchen, ammunition storage, and deadly traps.

Hunching over while trying to navigate around this dark, narrow space you will be amazed by the perseverance, bravery, and resourcefulness of the soldiers who operated here. As the visit comes to an end, you can also practice your shooting skill at the firing range or purchase handcrafted souvenirs made from bullet shells and bamboo.

Located 60 kilometers northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, you can get here by motorbike, or bus, however, the most convenient way to visit the tunnels is to go on a private guided tour.

Note that there are two tunnels, the tourist-packed Ben Dinh Tunnels, and the Ben Duoc Tunnels, which are 30 minutes further away, but can offer travelers a more authentic experience as there are fewer altered original sights. It is recommended that you should visit Cu Chi Tunnels during the dry season from November to April. The entrance fee is VND 110,000/person.

Hoi An Ancient Town Tour

Top tours in vietnam ho chi minh city

Hoi An Ancient Town street at night

As one of the top destinations in Vietnam, Hoi An remains ancient and taciturn thanks to the great maintenance of its unique architecture - a combination of Japanese, Chinese, and European architectural influence with the indigenous culture. Nowadays, there are still over 1,000 well-preserved wooden and brick houses with traditional motifs along with architectural monuments like pagodas, churches, family ancestor worship houses, and bridges.

When traveling to Hoi An, you will feel as if you’re inside an artistic, abstract folk painting. From the Japanese Covered Bridge, Phuc Kien, Trieu Chau, and Quang Dong Assembly Hall, to Hoi An Museum of History and Culture and Hoi An art craft manufacturing workshop, those are just a few of many essential attractions you shouldn’t miss. Other than its unique architecture, Hoi An also preserves its oral and intangible heritage in the form of culture, customs, costumes, festivals, exquisite local cuisine like Cao Lau, Mi Quang, Banh Bao, Banh Vac, signature rice chicken and so much more.

The best time to visit Hoi An is between February and April when the climate is mild with few chances of rain as the temperature in the summer can be very high, and there will be lots of rain from October to November. Especially, if you visit Hoi An on the 14th day of the lunar calendar every month, you will have the opportunity to participate in the Hoi An Lunar Festival. Every street and corner will be lit by beautiful bright red lanterns. People also drop floating candle lantern ships down the river for good fortune.

Check out more activities you can do in Hoi An.

Hue the Former Imperial Capital

Top tours in vietnam ho chi minh city

Hue Imperial Citadel

Located right in the center of Vietnam, this was the old capital of South Vietnam in 1802 and the main base of operation for the Nguyen Dynasty until 1945 with the last reigning king Bao Dai. The number one thing to cross off your travel bucket list when visiting Hue is without a doubt the Imperial Citadel. Even though the citadel is now just a shadow of its former glory as a result of the Vietnam War, the amazing architecture, historical artifacts or just its sheer massive size is enough to both amaze and give you a glimpse into Vietnam's feudal past.

Another must-see attraction is Thien Mu pagoda, this seven-story pagoda is not only the home of many monks but is also the subject of folk rhymes and songs about Hue. Thien Mu Pagoda also provides the perfect view of Ha Khe Hill and the famous, picturesque Perfume River. If this sparks a desire for more natural beauty, you can rent a motorbike or bicycle to go on a leisure ride around the city to see the lush rice paddies. At the end of the day, treat yourself like royalty and book a royal banquet dinner where you can dress like Vietnamese royalty, enjoy traditional music, and feast on intricately-carved dishes.

Check out more activities you can do in Hue.

Hanoi the Capital of Vietnam

Top tours in vietnam ho chi minh city

Hanoi's Flag Tower

In this historical, cultural heart of Vietnam, the fascinating contrast between the old and new lifestyles collides. Hanoi is full of scenic lakes, with spectacular leafy boulevards where ancient pagodas and antique 11th-century monuments stand side by side with modern high rises and contemporary villas. The list of essential must-see tourist attractions in Hanoi includes world-famous sites like Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and One Pillar Pagoda is endless.

Together with a long list of must-try signature northern dishes such as green sticky rice, smoked buffalo meat, bun cha, and bun dau mam tom. We have carefully crafted a 3-day travel guide to Ha Noi so that you won’t miss out on any exciting adventure.

You can visit Ha Noi any time of the year as there are interesting activities, festivals, and events to do year-round, however August to October is considered to be the best time to visit Ha Noi, when the rainy season is over, and the weather is mildly cool.

Check here for the best day trips from Ha Noi.

Ha Long Bay Cruise

Top tours in vietnam ho chi minh city

Magnificent view of Ha Long ocean and mountains

Often regarded as the pride jewel of Vietnam’s scenic crown, Ha Long Bay is considered to be one of the most breathtaking natural wonders of the world. Prepare to dive into the fresh, refreshing, crystal clear, emerald water of this certified UNESCO world heritage if you are planning to visit. Discover thousands of limestone peaks and isles covered with green trees rising magnificently from the ocean on your own with a kayak boat or rock climbing. Blend in with kind, peaceful, welcoming locals in beautiful fishing villages to understand their way of living on unique floating houses. Experience the life of a fisherman for a day and learn how to catch fish and squid, if Lady Fortune smiles upon you, you can feast on your own freshly caught achievement.

Get your ticket to travel from Hanoi to Halong:

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Lastly, your adventure to Ha Long Bay couldn’t be completed without a visit to the world-famous, spectacular limestone karst caves, filled with beautifully shaped stalactites, stalagmites each have their own history and story. The top 5 most well-known and worth-visiting caves are Sung Sot Cave, Dau Go Cave, Hon Trong Cave, Day and Night Cave, and Luon Cave. Some tours even include a romantic and memorable dining experience inside the cavern. With so many sights to discover, as well as endless activities for the adventure of your life, it’s no wonder that Ha Long is among the top tours in Vietnam to cross off your bucket list when visiting the country.

Sapa City of Cloud

Top tours in vietnam ho chi minh city

The charming town hid in the mist

Located in the highland region of Lao Cai Province, over 300 kilometers from Hanoi, this humble, charming town hidden in the mist holds many magnificent, heart-stopping natural wonders with mountain ranges that stretch out as far as the eyes can see, endless green luscious terraced paddies. Lying 1,600 meters above the seawater level, the most special thing that Sapa can offer visitors is a fresh and clean atmosphere, with an average temperature of around 15 - 18°C and even a chance of snow in the winter.

Check out our Sapa Travel Guide for more information.

Make sure that you take a trip to Sapa’s market before the trip to prepare the trekking gear for the difficult mountainous terrain or afterward to buy beautiful handicrafts, jewelry, and fabric as a souvenir. After you are fully geared up, check out Jaw of the Dragon then climb to Cloud Yard, the highest peak of Ham Rong, looking down at the surrounding of Sapa when the fog sets in will make you feel as if you’re on cloud nine.

Other essential tourist attractions are The Silver Waterfall, The Sky Gate, Rattan Bridge, Lao Chai, Cat Cat, and Ta Phin Village where you can meet friendly local ethnic minorities (the Hmong, Dao, Ra Glay, etc.) and participate in their local festivals. Adventurous travelers can also use this opportunity to conquer Mount Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam at 3,143 meters above sea level. Sapa’s specialty cuisines include various kinds of fresh fruit and vegetable; freshly caught river fish; free-range pig, horse, and cow meat; the unique black chicken; as well as local special wine and siracha that you can purchase as a gift.

Conclusion on Top Tours in Vietnam

These are the top tours in Vietnam that you should definitely check out when visiting this S-shaped country. Not only will these tours provide you with an authentic insight into Vietnamese culture, tradition, and history, but also will they satisfy anyone’s curiosity for adventure to see all the beauty in the world and create lasting memories that will stay with you forever.

Check out more reasons to try Vietnam private tours.

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Guest - Danny Chanlor on Tuesday, 10 March 2020 17:51

Good to know. Lots of things to learn about to visit Vietnam

Good to know. Lots of things to learn about to visit Vietnam
Guest - Hilary Grey on Monday, 06 January 2020 13:45

Ho Chi Minh City is a great first stop to learn about Vietnamese culture and lifestyle

Ho Chi Minh City is a great first stop to learn about Vietnamese culture and lifestyle
Guest - Ralph Ruiz on Saturday, 26 October 2019 15:24

the city tour was great to learn about the city

the city tour was great to learn about the city
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