Top Destinations in Vietnam Series 2 – Historical & Cultural Places

Everyone has different purposes and is driven by various aspects when travelling a new country. In the first series of “top destinations in Vietnam”, I covered a list of best beaches and islands from south to north for those beach lovers. And this second series will be for those interested in history and culture. 

Travellers with aspirations for discovering and understanding unique local culture and history can be reassured with plenty of destinations to visit and learn about Vietnam’s people and background through a great range of experiences.

I’ve been living in Vietnam studying its language for a year now and I am often fascinated to find out historical facts and stories that help me understand the local people and their way of life better. I’m hoping to travel around Vietnam again because I feel I could appreciate and comprehend the history more earnestly and deeply.

So below is the list of cities with historical and cultural significance and these are the places I’d love to revisit in the future.

Historical & Cultural Destinations


Imperial citadel of Thang Long (source: FV Heritage)

Being the country’s capital city for over 1,000 years, Hanoi was once called Thang Long city. During Thang Long, the city and its people prospered with boost in trading and education. It is home to the first national university of Vietnam and there are historical sites and museums around the Old Quarter. Your time in Hanoi will be no short of amusement and you can best plan your time in the city with the articles about 1 to 3-day itinerary and list of tourist attractions

Ho Chi Minh

Admire the French architecture of People's Committee building (photo by Alex Ling)

Being the biggest city of Vietnam in terms of population and economy, Ho Chi Minh city played a crucial role during the country’s recent history of colonisation by the French and Spanish. Its former name was Saigon and it is still called by this name by the local people, but the name was changed and named after the country’s late leader, Ho Chi Minh. In and around this city can be found architectures and museums offering visitors insights of the country’s journey during war and independence. Check out these articles about DIY walking tour around the city and a visit to Cu Chi tunnel.


Imperial City of Hue (photo by Nong Thanh Toan)

Hue was a capital city of Vietnam two times during 1738 – 1775 and 1802 – 1945. Located in the central Vietnam, this city is famous for its ancient citadel from the 19th century built by the Nguyen dynasty. The relics of this Imperial City is a World UNESCO heritage and along with the preserved culture from this era you can feel as though you travel back in time and witness how the people of Hue value and respect the customs of its capital times.

Hoi An

Ancient Town of Hoi An by the dazzling river at night (photo by Patrick Pellegrini)

This beautiful and small city of Hoi An is one of the top tourist destinations in Vietnam for its well-preserved historical architecture and vibrant lanterns that add the magical atmosphere to the town. It was a central port for trading from the 15th to 19th centuries and flourished in wealth serving as a prominent port for ceramic trading between Europe, China, India and Japan. The old town of Hoi An is a magnificent town both visually and historically. 

Ninh Binh

Hoa Lu ancient citadel (photo by Jonathan Ouimet)

Ninh Binh was an ancient capital of Dai Co Viet, which is the name of the first united nation of Vietnam in the 10th century. Although it was a capital of Vietnam for only 42 years, it was a geographically advantageous choice as this city has mountainous regions to protect from external forces and hosts a rich range of topography from river to rice paddies typical of northern region. Hoa Lu ancient citadel is an absolutely fascinating tourist attraction with remnants of three dynasties of Dai Co Viet and Bai Dinh pagoda is the buddhist centre of Vietnam being the largest pagoda in South East Asia.

Da Lat

Da Lat city centre (source: Dalat Trip)

Da Lat town is 1,500m (4,900ft) above sea level and is located in Central Highlands of Vietnam. Because of its cool and mild weather all-year-round, it is also known as the “city of eternal spring” and it was chosen as a perfect holiday destination for the French colonists from the tropical climate in the south of Vietnam. French and Swiss-style resorts, schools and leisure facilities were built in the 20th century and these architectures are still to be found attracting both domestic and international tourists wanting a cool weekend away from the heat and also a sneak peek of the French influence in Da Lat. 

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