What is Vietnam known for?

Vietnam is known for being a popular tourist destination because of its beautiful beaches, it’s culture, amazing food (like pho), and friendly people. Vietnam is also famous for the Vietnam War, motorbikes (86% of households have one), Vietnamese coffee, floating markets and rice terraces.

Most travellers choose to journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, or vice versa, traversing the destinations along the coast on the way. This type of travel allows visitors to explore a different side of Vietnam, learning all about what it is famous for as they go.

Whether you want to know more about Vietnam before adding it to your bucket list or just want to find out some fun facts for your quizzing trivia, this article will tell you all you need to know. Read on to discover what Vietnam is known for and why you should visit.

1. The Vietnam War

choppers in the vietnam war


Unfortunately, one of the things that Vietnam is still most famous for is the Vietnam War, a long battle between North Vietnam and their communist allies China and the Soviet Union, and South Vietnam and their anti-communist allies America.

As the Vietnam War took place between 1955 and 1975, it is still fresh in many people’s minds and is, therefore, a sensitive topic to broach while in the country.

If you want to learn more about the Vietnam War, you can visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, the War Remnants Museum, the Con Dao prisons, the Son My Memorial and the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ).

2. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

ho chi minh mausoleum


The grand President Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum stands in the centre of Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi and is the resting place of Vietnamese Revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh. Inspired by Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow, the building features large granite columns with both the name of the President and the words “Nước Cộng Hòa Xã Hội Chủ Nghĩa Việt Nam Muôn Năm” / “Long live The Socialist Republic of Viet Nam” inscribed on the facade.

Inside, the embalmed body of President Ho Chi Minh is presented in a glass case that is open to visitors each morning.

3. Halong Bay

a view of halong bay


On a lighter note, Vietnam is also known for having some breathtakingly beautiful natural landscapes, the most famous being Halong Bay in the north of the country.

Halong Bay is an inlet of water off the coast of northern Vietnam that is peppered with towering karst limestone peaks protruding out of the water. These magical cliffs make this UNESCO World Heritage site a must for those visiting Vietnam, and travellers can take a boat ride through the bay to soak up the beauty of this natural wonder.

Visitors can explore natural caves and grottos by kayak, recline on island beaches and float serenely through the bay as the sun goes down on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to this bucket list destination.

 

4. Sapa

vew from Fansipan Mountain
View from the summit of the Fansipan Mountain, Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

The rolling rice paddies of Sapa are another of Vietnam’s stunning locations, with walking trails, homestays and local delicacies making this remote destination absolutely unforgettable. Travellers can discover the vast valleys and rural villages of Sapa by taking a tour, choosing whether they want to opt for far-flung luxury in the form of a five-star hotel, or a more authentic homestay with people from the H’mong tribe.

Sapa is located 350km north-west of Hanoi, at an altitude of 1600m above sea level. This means that Sapa’s climate is quite unlike elsewhere in Vietnam, with temperatures ranging from -1C to 29C and everything in between!

Mt. Fan Si Pan is the highest peak in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, standing at a height of 3143m. This is, therefore, a challenging hike for walking enthusiasts and offers spectacular vistas of the region (if the clouds part!).

5. Motorbikes - Try Crossing the Road

a lot of motor bikes on the street in vietnam


If you’ve ever been to Vietnam or have seen photographs of central Hanoi or HCMC, you’ll know that Vietnam is known for having millions of motorbikes that rule the roads! Most Vietnamese people bustle around on their bikes in the city, with almost all adults owning their own motorbike. When you add that to the number of tourists riding mopeds, it’s not surprising that Ho Chi Minh City is thought to have more motorbikes than people!

The coastal route of Vietnam is also a favourite for motorbike riders, who come here to navigate the winding sections of road with incredible panoramic views. These routes take in mountain roads, beaches, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and much more, so will undoubtedly make for the bike trip of a lifetime.

6. Hoi An - The Yellow City

Traditional boats in front of ancient architecture in Hoi An, Vietnam.
Traditional boats in front of ancient architecture in Hoi An, Vietnam

The stunning city of Hoi An in Central Vietnam is one of the real highlights of any visit to this Asian gem. The UNESCO World Heritage town is famed for its ochre-coloured buildings, ancient temples, floating lantern celebrations and lively markets, not to mention its food scene which is second to none!

The town, which offers a blend of French colonial and Asian architecture, was a bustling port town between the 15th and 19th centuries, trading in silk and spices with India, China and beyond. It’s therefore not surprising to learn that Hoi An is the place in Vietnam to have clothes tailored and to dine on exquisite local cuisine.

7. Vietnamese Coffee

vietnamese coffee dripping


If you’re in Hoi An are looking for an afternoon treat, sit down in one of the many riverside cafés to enjoy a traditional Vietnamese coffee. This classic drink can be served hot or cold, and you can choose whether you want it black (ca phe den) or in the signature Vietnamese style, blended with sweetened condensed milk (ca pha sua da).

The process of making a Vietnamese coffee is an art form, and you should watch as the ground, roasted coffee beans and filtered through an aluminium cup with boiling water, before dripping through to make a rich, dark brew.

8. Vietnamese Cuisine

Pho
Pho

Another highlight of visiting Vietnam is the food, with dishes like Pho (noodle soup), summer rolls (rice paper spring rolls), Bao buns (sticky pork or vegetables in a lightly steamed bun) and Banh Mi (baguettes stuffed with meat and crisp veggies) being favourites among locals and tourists alike.

In recent years, Vietnamese restaurants have popped up all over the world, but there’s nothing quite like trying these traditional dishes in their native home.

As Vietnam also has strong French colonial influences, the country boasts some divine patisseries too!

 

9. Beaches by the Bucket Load

Hammock on the beach
My Khe beach, Danang, Vietnam

Thanks to Vietnam’s position stretching down the eastern edge of Indochina, the country features a whole host of beautiful beaches that are just longing to be explored. Most of the popular tourist destinations along the classic north-to-south route are on the coast, so whether you’re visiting Hue, Hoi An, Da Nang or Nha Trang, you’re never too far from a beach!

Nha Trang is one of the more famous package holiday beach destinations in Vietnam, with water sports, nightclubs and family resorts, but there are also plenty of smaller spots for those seeking a quieter vacation.

Vietnam also boasts some spectacular islands such as Phu Quoc, Vung Tau, Hon Lon in the Nam Du archipelago and Binh Ba. These are the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and are popular honeymoon destinations.

10. Friendly Locals

smiling child


Like many South East Asian countries, the Vietnamese are known for being friendly and welcoming; always having a smile on their face! Whether you speak to children wanting to improve their English, rural tribes wanting to tell you about their community or people in fishing villages explaining their traditional methods for catching fish, you’re sure to interact with some lovely locals.

Vietnam also offers some authentic homestay opportunities, everywhere from Sapa to the Mekong Delta, so you’ll be able to see first-hand what it’s like to live in this wonderful country.

11. Famous Floating Markets

pineapple being cut in a boat - vietnam


If the markets of Hanoi and Hoi An weren’t special enough for you, then you’re in for a treat in the Mekong Delta as this area is known for having floating markets such as the Cai Rang Floating Market near Can Tho. These colourful markets are a place for the rural communities of the Mekong to sell their harvests, with everything from mangoes and durian fruit to oranges, pineapples and coconuts.

The market starts early, with vendors setting up their boats from around 4am, so you’ll want to get their early to really soak up the busy local atmosphere. These markets are not a place to purchase souvenirs, it’s more about enjoying the spectacle of seeing buyers and sellers interact on the water.

 

12. Tombs, Temples and Pagodas

Buddhist temple in Ninh Binh province
Buddhist temple in Ninh Binh province

As Vietnam’s history is rich and varied, there are hundreds of tombs, temples and pagodas throughout the country that represent different legends, emperors, gods and communities. One of the largest historical complexes in Vietnam is the Hue Citadel, a walled city of palaces, pavilions, temples, gardens and shrines.

Other intriguing sites include My Son, the Ngoc Son Temple, the Bich Dong Pagoda, the Temple of Literature in Hanoi and the Cao Dai Great Temple near HCMC.

Now you know all the top things that Vietnam is famous for, you’ll probably be wondering when you can visit! Let us know what you’re most excited about seeing on a trip to Vietnam, or what new things you learnt about Vietnam from this article.

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