There are 8 UNESCO World Heritages in Vietnam including 5 cultural sites, 2 natural sites, and 1 mixed site. Visiting these heritage sites are great chances to learn about Vietnamese history and culture, or enjoy yourself in the miraculous landscape that this land has been blessed with.
Address: 18 Hoang Dieu, Quan Thanh Ward, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Year of inscription: 2010
Opening hours: 8 AM - 11:30 AM, 2 PM - 5 PM (Monday off)
Entrance fee: VND 30,000/person
Located at the heart of the capital city which is becoming more and more bustled due to the fast-paced development, the well-preserved Imperial Citadel of Thang Long still has a peaceful atmosphere of the era when it was constructed. The site is inevitably one of the most important UNESCO World Heritages in Vietnam.
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is a destination that you should not miss out when visiting Hanoi
Thang Long was first chosen to be the capital city in the Ly Dynasty in the 11th century but had long been a political center since the 7th century. It remained that political position for almost 13 centuries, witnessed the ups and downs of many feudal dynasties.
In the 18 Hoang Dieu Archeological Site, the excavators found different levels of the remains, and many artifacts have been proved to be originated from separate eras. The city gates such as North Gate, Hau Lau Gate, Doan Mon Gate are the few relics that are almost intact. The rest could not keep its original form because of the effect of historical events. However, thanks to the effort of the historians, the stories about the old grounds which were once the locations of key institutes have been discovered.
Since January 2018, the local authority has developed an application for smartphones called Imperial Citadel of Thang Long to help tourists get to know this site easier. You can easily install this app from your Play or App Store.
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Location: Vinh Loc District, Thanh Hoa Province
Year of inscription: 2011
Thanh Hoa is a province in Central Vietnam, about a 3-hour drive from Hanoi. Ho Quy Ly, the first king of the Ho Dynasty, directed the construction of the citadel while he was still the prime minister of the previous dynasty. After taking over the Tran Dynasty, he moved the capital city from Thang Long (Hanoi) to Thanh Hoa. Although this shortest Vietnamese dynasty only lasted for 7 years, its citadel still shows important cultural and historical values through the architecture.
One of the crucial factors that help Citadel of the Ho Dynasty remains its conditions is the large hard rocks that were used to build many parts of the imperial sites, especially the gates and the walls. While the parts that were built by bricks and woods have been destroyed and collapsed, the rock structure has shown integrity through the impact of time.
The building process of the Citadel of Ho Dynasty remains as a mystery for descendants
There have been a lot of theories of historians and archeologists about how the rocks were transports and what technique the contemporary people used to build such a firm, monumental construction in only 3 months. These large rocks were carefully polished, some of them can have up to a 6-meter length and weigh up to 20 tons. The average weight of them is no less than 15 tons and the length is over 1 meter. Although they are neatly stacked over one another without any adhesive, the construction they built up has stood strong for more than 600 years through numerous seismic activities and effects of shrapnel.
Location: By Huong River, Thua Thien - Hue Province
Year of inscription: 1993
This province has been long famous for the romantic and ancient vibe and the delicate characteristic in its culture which is displayed through its cuisine, arts, and the local people’s daily lifestyle.
The Complex of Hue Monuments sits on the bank of Huong River, both of which are the icons of this thousand-year-old province. While Huong River gives out an overview of Hue and its people, the monuments represent the glorious history and the cultural identities of this land. Among the UNESCO World Heritages in Vietnam, this site was the first to be recognized, which proves the values it contributes to the national culture.
The antique beauty of Hue Ancient Citadel
The complex includes many buildings that were important administrative institutions during the feudal era. Some of the significant sites that are now famous attractions are Hoang Thanh (the Imperial City), Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Purple City), Quoc Tu Giam (Imperial Academy), and related royal temples. They are respectively the working places of the kings and the mandarins, the dwelling of the royal families, and the national education institute. Inside Hoang Thanh, there are also lots of spiritual temples to worship the ancestors and some public areas for the royal relatives to gather and entertain.
Outside of Hue, there are many important monuments of the last kings of the Nguyen Dynasty - the final Vietnamese feudal dynasty. These monuments were built under the direction of the kings themselves while they were still in their positions. Therefore, each of them has distinctive features that were carefully designed and conducted to show the power and taste of each king. They are not only the burial location but also the places for the kings’ getaway.
Besides the Complex, Hue still has a long list of historical and cultural relics waiting to discover. Take a look at our blog for 8 Best Things to Do in Hue.
Location: Hoi An City, Quang Nam Province
Year of inscription: 1999
Entrance fee: VND 120,000/person (access to all streets, activities, a night market, and sightseeing 5 attractions - valid during the whole stay and only 24 hours in case of visiting attractions or free if you are just walking around without going inside the ancient houses)
Located just 45 minutes away from Da Nang, Hoi An Ancient Town is one of the rare UNESCO World Heritages in Vietnam that is well-preserved.
Sitting near the mouth of the Thu Bon River, Hoi An is where you can escape from the busy urban life and enjoy the peaceful ancient atmosphere. You will have the chance to travel back in time while walking through the narrow paths, visiting hundred-year-old pagodas, antique houses with mustard walls, reddish-brown tile roofs, and colorful lanterns. The roads and buildings are set up like a chessboard, so it will take a while to explore every corner.
A peaceful corner of Hoi An
Walking around Hoi An, you can find many types of artistic souvenirs such as lanterns, pictures, clothing, or jewelry. Exploring the cuisine like Banh Mi, Cao Lau, and Com Ga (Chicken Rice) is also a must. Although the dishes can be found in other places in the country, only in Hoi An could you find such unique variants which are enriched by the scare antique atmosphere and the taste of local chefs.
Check out our Hoi An Travel Guide for more detailed suggestions on what to do in this beautiful city.
Location: Duy Phu Ward, Duy Xuyen District, Quang Nam Province
Year of inscription: 1999
Opening hours: 6 AM - 5 PM
Entrance fee: VND 150,000/ person
Located in a valley surrounded by ranges of mountains and hills, it takes about 1 hour 30 minutes going by car to My Son Sanctuary from Da Nang, a large city of Central Coast with an international airport. It consists of more than 70 tower temples which were built and developed during the 4th century to the 13th century. In the era of Champa Kingdom, the sanctuary was the venue for most of the important spiritual ceremonies and also for the tomb of the royal family.
The technique and the materials that were used to construct remain as a mystery for the descendants. They are the key elements that help preserve the quintessence of the Champa civilization’s culture, architecture, history, and arts since despite being abandoned for many years and destroyed by the impact of time and war, they still depict the heyday of its Kingdom.
Visiting My Son Sanctuary, you are not only able to admire the ancient architecture and learn about history through one of the meaningful UNESCO World Heritages in Vietnam, but also enjoy the unique values of the intangible culture of the Champa. Your trip should include the show of Aspara, a traditional and spiritual dance of Hinduism. The dance plays such an essential role in the culture of Cham people that you can easily found the image of the female dancers sculptured on the Hindu tower temples sitting in the sanctuary.
My Son Sanctuary is the evidence of the existence of a flourishing Champa Kingdom
If your trip takes place in July 1st of the Cham calendar (around September 25th - October 5th of the Solar calendar), you can join the Kate festival, one of the significant events of Cham people. It is a chance for you to observe the cultural rituals and the special forms of entertainment of the Cham community in Vietnam.
Location: Quang Ninh Province
Year of inscription and extension: 1994, 2000
Halong Bay is an unspoiled land with thousands of islands, top Vietnamese beaches for summer vacation and picturesque landscape. Attached with a myth about a weyr of dragons coming to support the locals, the outstanding features make this land become not only the pride of the locals but also an appealing attraction for nature lovers.
There are many ways to get to Halong from Hanoi. After arriving, you can explore the scenic limestone caves with odd-shaped stalactites and pristine islands with great biodiversity. Across the shore is the fishing villages where you can know about the daily life of the fishermen, learn how to paddle or cast a net, and enjoy freshly-caught seafood.
With a variety of entertaining activity, Halong is a good choice for a vacation
Read more in our Comprehensive Halong Bay Travel Guide.
Location: Quang Binh Province
Year of inscription and extension: 2003, 2015
Entrance: VND 80,000 - VND 250,000/person (varied among caves)
Mother Nature has bestowed this land with magnificent limestone caves and great tropical biodiversity.
There are a large number of caves in Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, and every single of which is worth a visit since both of their beauty and natural characteristics are distinct. Some of the outstanding attractions are Phong Nha Cave, Tien Son Cave, Thien Duong Cave, Son Doong Cave.
Phong Nha Cave, which is also given a proud name as First Cave, is the most well-known destination for tourist. This water cave is recognized as the cave with the longest underground river. Following the flow, travelers can observe the magical beauty that has brought up the title for the cave.
Phong Nha Cave is a popular destination for tourists when exploring Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park
Tien Son Cave is said to be the dry version of Phong Nha Cave. Besides the splendid scenery, a feature that makes Tien Son Cave special is the natural sound from the limestone pillar, which resembles the sound of gongs and drums.
Thien Duong Cave - the longest dry cave in Asia, or Heaven Cave, has earned the title as the Underground Imperial Palace. Through thousands of years of geological influence, the stalactites have been formed into magical shapes that remind us of other natural creatures and landscapes.
The beauty of Thien Duong Cave has impressed the public when it was discovered
Son Doong Cave is an excellent work of nature that has just been officially discovered and become approachable for tourists in recent years. It is an ideal destination for those who love trekking. Although many plans and projects have been announced to make Son Doong available for mass tourism, strong objection campaigns have been conducted in order to protect the primitive beauty of this heaven on earth. Until now, exploring this spectacular site requires high expenses and qualified health conditions.
The pristine scenery of Son Doong Cave is nowhere to be found
Location: Ninh Binh Province
Year of inscription: 2014
Among the list of UNESCO World Heritages in Vietnam, Trang An Landscape Complex is the only mixed heritage which contains both natural and cultural sites. The complex includes three prescribed area: the Hoa Lu Ancient Citadel, the Trang An - Tam Coc - Bich Dong Scenic Landscape, and the Hoa Lu Special-Use Forest. From Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, you can arrive in Trang An within 1 hour - 2 hours going by car or coach.
The splendid scenery of Trang An - Tam Coc - Bich Dong Scenic Landscape would please the toughest natural-oriented travelers. The complicated system of magnificent caves, clear azure lakes, and mighty mountains would keep making you surprised every place you go by. The most popular way to explore the primitive beauty of the landscape here is by boat. Floating on the translucent rivers, you can see the miraculous limestone caves with various myths behind.
Surrounded by might mountains, verdant forests, and splendid rivers, Trang An would make you feel immersed in nature
For those who are interested in learning about the local culture and history, the Hoa Lu Ancient Citadel, together with numerous temples and Pagoda Complex are what you should look for in Trang An. While Hoa Lu is the very first capital of Vietnamese feudal dynasties, the Pagoda Complex with the most significant representative Bai Dinh Pagoda reflects a part of Vietnamese culture which is strongly influenced by Buddhism.
When in Trang An - Ninh Binh, don’t miss out Com Chay - a specialty originated from a moving love story.
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All UNESCO World Heritages in Vietnam offer a great deal of knowledge about this beautiful country. Cultural sites like Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Citadel of Ho Dynasty, Hué Monuments, Hoi An Ancient Town, and My Son Sanctuary tell stories about a period in Vietnamese history and helps describe the regional culture. Nature destinations such as Ha Long Bay and Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park surprise tourists with their outstanding landscape. Trang An Landscape Complex is the only mixed heritage, which creates chances for you to explore both the nature and learn about the people of this land.
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© Written by Mai Bui for itourvn.com