It's no secret that Vietnam is a beautiful country. From geological sites that have been around for years, like Ha Long Bay, to more recent, man-made feats such as Da Nang's Golden Bridge, it's a corner of the world that just keeps on delivering photogenic places. And because of its 1,650 km north-to-south length, Vietnam spans multiple climates, so whether you're personally more drawn to beaches or mountains, caves or mangroves, you'll find your scenery here. Here's our list of the most breathtaking sites in Vietnam.
Golden Bridge, Da Nang
Opened in June 2018, the Golden Bridge, or Cau Vang, is a giant structure of open hands holding a (functional) bridge in Da Nang. The 500 ft-long bridge is suspended almost 4,600 ft above sea level in the heart of the country, in the Ba Na Hills. Visitors can walk through the distressed, weathered hands that appear as though they've stood in place for centuries rather than just one year. However, the bridge is not necessarily the peaceful getaway that images portray: it's located above the Thien Thai Gardens in Ba Na Hills Resort – which consists of around 200 villas plus an alpine roller coaster and the world's longest nonstop, single-track cable car – so expect some crowds.
Golden Bridge in Da Nang © Chompoo0991 Shutterstock
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Hoi An, Central Vietnam
Despite ever-increasing tourist numbers, Hoi An and its delightful Old Town has retained its charm and beauty as a top-rated destination in Vietnam. With graceful bridges (in contrast to the other-worldly Golden Bridge), canals and ornate temples, if there's one place you can't skip on your trip, it's here. What makes this already stunning place on the central coast even more impressive is the Lantern Festival. Taking place every month on the full moon at nightfall, candles are placed in colourful paper lanterns and released to float down the river as an offering and worship to ancestors. You'd be hard pressed to find a more casually magical spectacle.
Hoi An's Lantern Festival lights up the Old Town © Jason_yu/Shutterstock
Mekong Delta, Southern Vietnam
The Mekong River flows through six countries, with the sprawling Mekong Delta in Vietnam as its last push to meet the South China Sea. The maze of waterways, mangrove forests and colourful floating markets waking up with the dawn makes this area a truly unique experience; take a sampan boat through the narrow, tunnel-like canals between lush, towering palms. There are plenty of villages where you can base yourself, such as My Tho or Ben Tre, where you'll get the best sense of local life.
Cruising down the Mekong Delta in sampan boats © ImaginativeGifts/Shutterstock
Ha Long Bay, Northeast Vietnam
You might wonder whether this highly popular attraction is really all it's cracked up to be. The honest verdict? Yes, it is. Though there may be more people than there once was, there are ways to avoid the crowds at Ha Long Bay and appreciate how this is still one of Vietnam's most beautiful locations. Stay on a boat overnight in the bay itself, kayak alongside the limestone karsts, or hike to a viewpoint to get more of an all-encompassing bird's-eye view; take you're pick, they're all worthwhile. And don't worry if it's not clear and sunny – when Ha Long Bay is shrouded in mist, it's at its most atmospheric.
An aerial view of Ha Long Bay © Tonkinphotography/Shutterstock
Cat Ba Island, Ha Long Bay
Cat Ba Island is the largest island in Ha Long Bay, but it deserves its own spot on this list of the most breathtaking sights in Vietnam. Not only is the view of the bay from the island's Cannon Fort viewpoint spectacular, but the island itself offers plenty of beauty in its jungle treks, waterfalls, little villages and hidden beaches. Avoid the main town when you first arrive onto the island and head straight into nature to fully soak up the best this little location has to offer, from hiking the national park to spotting golden headed langurs and flopping on its beaches.
The beaches are often quiet at Cat Ba Island © Creative Family/Shutterstock
Sa Pa, Northern Vietnam
Famed for its adventure activities, mesmerising for its rice terraces, Sa Pa is in the far north of Vietnam, and visiting this breathtaking place is certainly worth the effort it takes to get there. Part of the scenery includes Mount Fan Si Pan, Vietnam's highest peak – and it's not the only peak around; the array of conical mountains create one of the most beautiful vistas of the country, best experienced by riding a motorbike through the area. Sa Pa is also a good place to slow down – it's often used as a base to visit villages which still live in traditional ways.
Sa Pa © Voraorn Ratanakorn/Shutterstock
Da Lat, Central Highlands
In the central highlands of Vietnam, Da Lat is a quintessential hill station on Lake Xuan Huong. Lined with pine trees, French Colonial-era villas, beautiful waterfalls and hikes and some of the best sunrises in the country, this part of Vietnam is a slice of heaven, but often gets overlooked for the more classic traveller stops. Head to Pongour Falls for a picturesque hike, or visit Golden Hill for the beautiful fog-framed sunsets. Da Lat is nicknamed the 'City of Eternal Spring' for its consistently temperate climate.
A Da Lat sunrise from Golden Hill © TBone Lee/Shutterstock