Globalgrasshopper, a popular site for international tourists, has
listed the top ten must-see destinations in Vietnam.
1. Son Tra Peninsula
Son Tra Peninsula, about 10km from the central city of Danang, is a special
gift of the god to Danang. It is an ideal place for tourists to travel to the
city to get away for the day and enjoy the real feeling of a different Vietnam.
Son Tra looks like a mushroom of which the cap is Son Tra Mountain and stalk is
a beautiful sandy beach that affords an ideal area for bathing, swimming,
playing sports and fishing.
Son Tra acts as a giant screen protecting Danang from storms and cyclones coming
from the sea. Son Tra is put under the national protected forest regulation
since it is a natural preservation area.
The peninsula is famous for its plentiful plants and fauna as well as the
attractive scenery. It is said that fairies used to come here for singing,
dancing and playing chess, so Son Tra is also called Tien Sa.
On this mountain, there still remain more than 30km² of natural forests, nearly
300 types of plants and several hundred kinds of fauna, including rare animal.
From the top of the mountain, you can get a panoramic view of Danang City,
Marble Mountains, Ba Na – Mount Chua.
Suoi Da (Stone Stream) lies by the side of the mountain, fine sandy surfaces run
round the peninsula, several breaks of waves are running steadily up and down
and washing up on the stones heaped up around the seaside. All are attractive
spots for tourists. It is so majestic, so romantic, so wide and really
2. Royal tombs of Nguyen dynasty
The Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) is the last of the Vietnamese dynasties. In
total, there were 13 emperors, only seven of which had tombs however: Gia Long,
Minh Mang, Thieu Tri, Tu Duc, Duc Duc, Dong Khanh and Khai Dinh.
The seven imperial tombs are located in a hilly region southwest of the Citadel.
The tombs of Minh Mang, Tu Duc, Dong Khanh and Khai Dinh belong to the major
touristic destinations in Hue.
Each of the tombs was constructed during the reign of the emperor it was named
after. All the tombs are equipped with statues and monuments in perfect Feng
Shui harmony to create a natural setting, in the architecture of which the
respective emperor's philosophical tendencies are often reflected.
The general elements incorporated in all the tombs are: walls, triple gate (Tam
Quan Gate), Salutation Court, Stele House, temples, lakes and ponds, pavilions,
gardens, and finally the tomb.
King Khai Dinh tomb is considered the most beautiful.
3. Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc is part of the southern province of Kien Giang province. The island
is 50 km long (from north to south) and 25 km wide (from east to west at its
Surrounded by more than 40 km of white beaches decorated with coconut palms, Phu
Quoc is Vietnam’s largest island. Its western coastline is sparsely populated
while the interior is largely covered with jungle and mainly deserted.
A stay on Phu Quoc Island would not be complete without visiting one of the
factories producing nuoc mam (fish sauce), one of the most popular ingredients
of the Vietnamese cooking as well as one of the pearl farms with panels
describing the formation of pearls and shops selling pearl jewelry.
The island has a unique species of dogs, the Phu Quoc ridgeback, which has a
ridge of hair that runs along its back in the opposite direction to the rest of
the coast. Much of this island’s nature is still protected.
Around 70 percent of the island, an area of 31,422 hectares, became a national
park in 2001. The rainy season on Phu Quoc is from July to November and the peak
season for tourism is midwinter, when the sky is blue and the sea is calm.
4. The Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong
River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries.
The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of
39,000 square kilometers. It has recently been dubbed as a 'biological treasure
trove.' Over 10,000 new species have been discovered in previously unexplored
areas of Mekong Delta.
The region lies immediately to the west of Ho Chi Minh City, roughly forming a
triangle stretching from My Tho in the east to Chau Doc and Ha Tien in the
northwest, down to Ca Mau and the East Sea at the southernmost tip of Vietnam.
It displays a variety of physical landscapes, ranging from mountains and
highlands to the north and west to broad, flat flood plains in the south.
This diversity of terrain was largely the product of tectonic uplift and folding
brought about by the collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates about
50 million years ago.
The soil of the Mekong River basin consists mainly of sediment, deposited over
thousands of years as the river changed its course due to the flatness of the
Coming to the delta, visitors will discover the daily life of local people and
5. Tram Ton Pass (Heaven Gate)
Tram Ton Pass is Vietnam’s highest mountain pass. On a clear day, the view
Don’t be deterred by mist in Sapa. Conditions on the pass are frequently
different to those in town. The temperature can also rise quite a bit on the
pass as you break away from the cooler air of Sapa.
Thach Bac (Silver) waterfalls are a compulsory stop for local tour groups and
can be pretty busy. The falls are beautiful but probably only warrant a visit if
time permits and in conjunction with a visit to Tram Ton Pass 3km further along
6. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Phong Nha-Ke Bang is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in the
central province of Quang Binh, about 500 km south of Hanoi.
The park is noted for its cave and grotto systems as it is composed of 300 caves
and grottos with a total length of about 70 km, of which only 20 have been
surveyed by Vietnamese and British scientists; 17 of these are located in the
Phong Nha area and three in the Ke Bang area.
After April 2009, the total length of caves and grottoes is 126 km. Before the
discovery of Son Doong Cave, Phong Nha held several world cave records, as it
has the longest underground river, as well as the largest caverns and
The park derives its name from Phong Nha Cave, containing many fascinating rock
formations, and Ke Bang forest. The plateau on which the park is situated is
probably one of the finest and most distinctive examples of a complex karst
landform in Southeast Asia.
This national park was listed in UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in 2003 for its
geological values. The world's largest cave, was discovered by a team of British
cave explorers in April 2009.
7. Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a popular travel
destination, located in Quang Ninh province. The bay features thousands of
limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes.
Ha Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2, including 1,960–2,000 islets, most
of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 with a high
density of 775 islets.
The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in
different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst there has
taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate.
The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity,
including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem. Ha
Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species.
Historical research surveys have shown the presence of prehistorical human
beings in this area tens of thousands years ago.
The successive ancient cultures are the Soi Nhu culture around 18,000–7,000 BC,
the Cai Beo culture 7,000–5,000 BC and the Ha Long culture 5,000–3,500 years
Ha Long Bay also marked important events in the history of Vietnam with many
artifacts found in Bai Tho Mout, Dau Go Cave and Bai Chay.
In 1994, the core zone of Ha Long Bay was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage
Site, and listed for a second time.
8. One-pillar pagoda
One Pillar Pagoda is a historic Buddhist temple in Hanoi. It is regarded
alongside Perfume Pagoda, as one of Vietnam's two most iconic places of worship.
The pagoda was built by King Ly Thai Tong, who ruled from 1028 to 1054.
According to the court records, the king was childless and dreamt that he met
the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who handed him a baby son while seated on a
The King then married a peasant girl that he had met and she bore him a son. He
constructed the pagoda in gratitude for this in 1049 by erecting a pillar in the
middle of a lotus pond, similar to the one he saw in the dream.
The structure was built of wood on a single stone pillar 1.25 m in diameter, and
it was designed to resemble a lotus blossom, which is a Buddhist symbol of
purity, since a lotus blossoms in a muddy pond.
In 1954, the French Union forces destroyed the pagoda before withdrawing from
Vietnam, it was rebuilt afterwards.
9. Da Dia Rapids
Da Dia (Stone Plate) Rapids are located in Tuy An District, the south
central province of Phu Yen.
With strange rock formations, foamy rapids, a fissure with multi-colored fish
and a deep cave, Da Dia Rapids was listed as a National Heritage Site by the
former Ministry of Culture and Information, now the Ministry of Culture, Sports
Da Dia Rapids is a baffling and beautiful riddle of nature, and set in stone for
all time. It’s like a giant jigsaw, irritatingly made of the same shaped pieces,
and forming a solidified structure that has proved more than just a curiosity
The stones in Da Dia Rapids are bazan stones of dark black and light yellow.
There are stones of different sizes with different shapes such as round,
pentagon, and polygon and so on.
In the middle of the rapids, there is a small fissure filled with rain and sea
water. In this fissure, rocks stick out at odd angles. Hence, when travelling to
this area, visitors can also enjoy the fresh air and refresh after a long drive.
Visiting Da Dia Rapids – you will have the chance to learn about many species of
marine creatures, especially jam seaweeds.
10. Hue ancient capital
On December 11, 1993, UNESCO recognized the architectural ensemble of Hue as
a World Cultural Heritage site.
That was the first time a Vietnamese city had ever received such a title. Hue
was the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), the final feudal regime of
Situated 638 km to the south of Hanoi, only with 6,777 hectares in area and
280,000 in population, this historical ancient capital has become one cultural
and tourism center of Vietnam and the world.
The most amazing thing about Hue is the blend of royal-folk architecture and
This romance is all evident in the beauty of the Huong River, Ngu Mountain,
chanties and folklore songs, ancient citadels, palaces, temples, pagodas,
ancient garden houses, special cuisine only found in Hue, court music and
dancing, Hue chanties on the Huong (Perfume) River and especially in the souls
of the people here.
Beautiful nature, ancient architecture, and elegant people are combined together
to make Hue a heaven of poems, music and paintings, and a World Heritage site
that serves as an everlasting inspiration for generations of artists.
Source: Vietnamnet/VOV online
3/Mountainous border land full of surprises
The Ho Chi Minh Highway across the provinces of Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Nam
is considered dangerous and also spectacular, with hundreds of kilometres of
high mountains and deep valleys. Visiting this land is a journey of discovery.
Huynh Van My reports
The road passing the Truong Son mountainous area bordering Laos, home of many
ethnic minorities, stands out with all of the place names starting with the
"A" is a buffer to pair with another word; by itself it means nothing," says
Arat Hon, an ethnic Co Tu translator in Tay Giang District, Quang Nam Province.
A Luoi, A Sau, A Bia and A Co are the "fire lands" that consumed much ink of
foreign and domestic press in the years of the American War. But today these
lands evoke the peace of bright airy realms that connect with many other
Along Highway 49 just over two hours by motorbike from Hue, we arrived in A Luoi.
On the 63km long section of Highway 49, there are three passes: Kim Quy, Ta
Luong and A Co. A Co is worth mentioning: the 15km long A Co Pass is dangerous
and impressive, with countless "elbow" curves.
After passing A Co Pass, A Luoi Valley surprises newcomers as it is immense and
surrounded by the high mountains.
"Before, A Luoi was the name of the land where A Luoi Town is now. The place
where US troops were once stationed is now the grounds of Primary School No 1.
With a big military station and a field airport, the district was named A Luoi
in 1976," says Le Phuc Tai, 70, a Kinh man from the lowlands of Quang Dien
District who has worked and lived in A Luoi for nearly 50 years.
As it is a narrow plateau with many hills stretching between two mountains –
eastward to the lowland, westward to the border with Laos, A Luoi occupied a
strategic position in the war. Ho Thanh Xoa, 74, a local retired Ta Oi man,
recalls: "In 1959 Sai Gon regime soldiers forced local people to build a road to
link with Hue, and another road to A Sho army position. About 200 people
including me were forced to do it."
Looking at the tremendous valley, flanked by the tranquil villages and cheerful
town, no one would think it was a land of "blood and fire".
"In the past, the US troops had many military posts here. In addition to A Luoi
and A Sho stations, there are many other smaller ones. The A Sho station was
knocked down in 1966 by the liberation force. From 1969-1970 the Americans had
to withdraw from other posts," says Xoa.
In a few words he recalls the names "Hamburger Hill", "Bloody Waterfall" and "Me
Oi Pass" that American soldiers and the press at that time used to call the
horrorful battles in A Luoi. It was these battles that shaped public opinion and
that of the American Congress, which in turn contributed to the signing of the
Paris peace agreement, leading to the total withdrawal of US troops from South
Viet Nam in 1973.
Like its western borderlands, the early morning in A Luoi is always in thick
with mist and fairly cold.
This is the charm of the forest of A Luoi and "thanks to the weather, the
mountains and forests here are green under the hot sun. We also have vegetables
from this fog and coldness", explain indigenous Ta Oi, Pa Ko and Co Tu who live
in villages around the town and carry vegetables to the morning market.
When I came, A Luoi Valley was resoundingly green, with paddy fields spread
along the road. Villager Tai talked about the land reclaiming in the past:
"After liberation day, the people from lowland districts of Thua Thien-Hue came
to settle here. It was very hard. But because of the scarcity of arable land in
their home villages, everyone tried to stay."
These new settlers have helped reclaim the fields and allowed local residents to
develop more advanced techniques besides slash-and- burn farming methods.
Reclaiming land in A Luoi is a miracle because it is not just a conquest of
nature, but also the dangers hiding under the ground.
"When we reclaimed land here, each team of youth volunteers was required to have
a group of soldiers who swept mines and other unexploded ammunition for them.
Honestly, throughout Thua Thien – Hue Province, nowhere suffered from as many
bombs as A Luoi," Xoa says.
As A Luoi experienced a hard time of war, everyone who comes here now is amazed
by how much it has changed.
In Hong Quang and Nham communes adjacent to the border station, green coffee
plantations are spread out. In A Roang, Huong Nguyen and Hong Ha, large rubber
plantations expand throughout the region.
Some Co Tu, Pa Ko and Ta Oi locals who used to use rua (large bush hooks) for
farming now become farm owners.
A Luoi is adjacent to Khe Sanh – a well-known US base during the war and
destination of many tourists, especially those who have experienced and wanted
to search for their memories of war.
It is a wonder that on the Ho Chi Minh Highway's section passing A Luoi, Tay
Giang and Dong Giang districts, many people come to explore.
To meet the tourists' accommodation demands, these districts have a system of
hotels, motels and restaurants.
In addition to a hotel, there are nine guest houses and seven restaurants, A
Luoi Town is considered "rich" in choices for tourists.
P'rao Town in Dong Giang District has fewer hotels and restaurants, but both
places have the same "criteria": reasonable prices, guests treated kindly, and
About 20km from A Luoi to the south is A Roang Tunnel. From here we visit the
"Heaven gates" on a more than 60km long road leading to "gate" A Tep – the
border between Thua Thien – Hue and Quang Nam provinces on Truong Son Mountain
Ho Chi Minh Highway in A Pat, A Moong and A Tep has a very exciting landscape of
imposing heights and a grandeur of the primitive forests.
On my way, I occasionally encountered some Westerners riding motorcycles who
waved and said hello.
Like me, they travelled slowly to watch and enjoy the feeling of discovery on
the pass through the "no-man's land" during the war.
From A Vuong Bridge, I travelled along the new road upstream, where "there are
plenty of strange stories of forests", according to many people.
The first story I heard was about Colau Bhlao who had built a road. As the
mountains are extremely rugged, traditional life of the Co Tu inhabitants was
suffering in that to purchase necessities, they had to sleep four or five nights
in the forest on the journey to P'Rao Town.
In 1982, Bhlao spent four months looking for and constructing a shortcut to
reach this town.
He used no maps or compass, only the intelligence of a highlander with a pick.
Bhlao worked like an expert and he succeeded: a road passing four communes was
built based on the path that he cleared.
Across the expansive land, metal-roofed houses stand side by side.
"In the past, we lived in the mountains and jungles so we had to build our
houses on stilts to avoid fierce animals. Today we live in a levelled area
beside the highway, so it's more comfortable to live in houses like that of the
lowland people," says a villager.
The Co Tu villages along the highway have experienced some changes in the way
people live, but they still retain their original identities.
Along with restoration of guol (the Co Tu's communal house), residents also have
restored traditional festivals and brocade weaving, which highlights the
identities of a sacred forest land.
The A Vuong River running below the high mountains in Ma Cooih Commune
accumulates water here to serve the A Vuong Hydro-electricity Plant – a main
electricity supply in the Central region.
A So is the last of a series of names beginning with the letter A along Ho Chi
Minh Highway from A Luoi District of Thua Thien-Hue to Quang Nam.
It is difficult to cite all these places. It would be interesting for anyone who
has the opportunity to explore this land of many myths.