Vietnams elongated shape makes it a wonderfully easy place to travel, basically you only have two choices to do your way - do I travel north to south or south to north? It is surprisingly easy to explore as an independent traveler, but there are also many groups that you can choose to join. Here is a list of must-see destinations on your itinerary.
Hanoi - My favorite city must be the capital of Hanoi. The list of more touristy things to do here is the show of watercraft and also a war museum, as the west is most enlightening. Its not often well see a war and all its propaganda through another lens. Similarly, if not a small macabre, is a visit to see the preserved body of Ho Chi Minh. Away from the visitors sights are some wonderful streets to explore and some great restaurants. True, Hanoi has its fair share of pizza and western leaders, but there are restaurants with no other tourists in them and you do not have to go too far off the beaten track to find them either.
Halong Bay - Hanoi is also the obvious starting point for a trip to Halong Bay with its very impressive limestone formations. Most people explore the area on a traditional Vietnamese garbage. In addition to crossing some amazing landscapes, you also get the chance to explore some naturally formed limestone caves. The top end junk tends to be quite luxurious, with top class food and beautiful cottages to start.
Sapa - Another popular side trip from Hanoi is Sapa, in the northeastern corner of the country. Achieved by a simple overnight train from Hanoi, this colorful coal station is home to local backstones gathered in the thriving market to sell their goods. The valley in the valleys and green green terraces is a welcome overnight stay from the polluted cities, and many people in Hanoi choose to fly here on weekends to avoid the heat of the city.
Color Image - This city saw some of the most important fighting in the Vietnam War, Tet Offensive, and is a must see destination on your trip. Not much of the ancient citadel, which was home to the Forbidden City when the city was the capital, has survived, but you can still wander around the grounds and get a feel for the place and visit a cultural show. From Hue you have the opportunity to take a boat ride on the perfume river to visit the Thien Mu Pagoda and the royal Nguyengravarna, these, while being popular with many tourists, should not be missed. From Hue you can also take a guided trip to visit some of the tunnels used by Viet Cong during the war.
Hoi An - This city is a very picturesque and beautiful place to visit. With probably the best fusion of Vietnamese, Chinese and French influences there are amazing restaurants to eat in and some beautifully maintained Chinese style houses to visit. The city is also famous for its shopping, with shoe stores and tailor-made a lot to recreate any clothes you want.
Mui Ne - This quiet and sleepy resort welcomes travelers from all walks of life, from backpacker to more upscale, there is something for everyone here. Unlike the beachfront Nha Trang, further up the coast, Mui Ne has a more relaxed and cool atmosphere. The sandy beaches are the perfect spot for sunbathing, while the winds make this a popular destination for windsurfers. For those who just can not sit still, take a walk to the nearby sand dunes and slide on the plastic ladder.
Ho Chi Minh City - This city used to be called Saigon and is famous for its role in the Vietnam War. When you visit the city, you can not help remembering the desperate scenes outside the US embassy back in the 1970s. Now, however, the city has recovered into a busy and lively focal point. Missing, given Hanoi charm, it is still worth a visit and will almost certainly work on your itinerary. In addition to the reunification palace and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, there is a busy Ben Thanh market to visit to sample some local food. While youre here, find the time to wander around the countless art shops full of students who reproduce famous paintings. Never in your whole life you see so many Mona Lisa staring at you!
Mekong Delta - A river trip exploring the great Mekong Delta is a must do on your trip to Vietnam. You can either spend a day looking at the highlights, or go further afield of the lost track that lives in a traditional homestay on an overnight trip. You will see another side of Vietnam, visiting local families living outside the river, either through fishing, incense or tourism. For those with time on your hands you can catch a boat to the Cambodian border and travel to Pnomh Penh.