Vietnam is a country that everyone should have on their bucket list of places to visit. Lush green landscapes, dramatic mountains, beautiful beaches and vibrant cities all combine to make it an absolute joy to discover. We think the best way to experience it in all its glory is on foot, since this will give you an unparallelled chance to get up close to the places and landmarks that interest you most.
Planning your itinerary through a specialist company is usually the most reliable way of ensuring you have the best experience. After all, doing so allows you to draw on a wealth of local knowledge. It’s also worth bearing in mind there’s lots of flexibility here too – yes, you can go on a pre-arranged tour, but you can also opt for a tailor-made adventure that’s completely based on your personal preferences (you’re able to find out more about these here).
Below, you can check out some of the best places to visit during your trip. While the choice is completely yours, as a quick tip we do recommend dividing your itinerary between northern and southern areas, since they have a quite different feel to one another. The north is typically more traditional and has a wetter climate, with the south is more modern and tends to be more tropical in terms of weather.
First up is Hanoi, the capital of the north. This historic city is best experienced with a visit to the Old Quarter, where you can get lost in a maze of winding streets. You should also take the time to visit some of the city’s famous museums, including the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum – a vast marble building where you can learn all about (and see) the nation’s father.
We also recommend visiting lesser known options like the wonderful Museum of Vietnamese Women, where you can learn all about the role of women in traditional society – not to mention find out about some of the ways they have fought back at their oppressors.
It’s also worth including a visit to Bat Trang on your itinerary – a village that’s famous for its ceramics. The people here have been making ceramics for thousands of years, with pottery making being one of their most renowned skills. It’s known for having a distinctive look, too, so Bat Trang is a good place to pick up authentic souvenirs that’ll really remind you of your time here.
Hoi An is one of Vietnam’s most captivating towns. Historic and elegant, it is absolutely perfect for exploring on foot – particularly as it is home to so many grand buildings that date back to its time as a major port. Today, it is still a really cosmopolitan area, which you can get a feel for with a walk around the Old Town, where you’ll come across Chinese temples, tea warehouses and Japanese merchant houses.
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is the major metropolis in the south. Formerly known as Saigon (though that’s what a lot of locals still call it), this place is alive with sights and sounds. Expect streets packed with motorbikes, French colonial buildings and ultra-modern skyscrapers. While there’s heaps to do here, one place you really cannot miss is the War Remnants Museum, which focuses on war crimes committed by Chinese and American troops, giving you a rare chance to hear what happened from the voices of the victims.