Sarah Latham Copyright Hanoi Train Street Vietnam

Looking to put together an itinerary for your first time in Vietnam? While you can spend months exploring Vietnam in-depth, when you’re visiting Vietnam for the first time (or have a smaller time frame of which to travel), make sure you include these essential Vietnam sights by following First time in Vietnam: The best things to do in Vietnam for first-timers.

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Where to stay in Vietnam?

There are a variety of accommodation options in Vietnam from the budget to the boujee. Your accommodation makes a real difference to your experience and you can find all ranges of accommodation across Vietnam on here.

1. Hanoi

Starting in the northern part of Vietnam, Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and is a must do for those visiting Vietnam for the first time. Spend a few days wandering the busy streets, and make sure you visit the famous Hanoi Train Street (suggested read: How to get to the famous Hanoi Train Street) and the Instagram famous The Note Coffee cafe while you’re here. Discover the best things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam here.

2. Ninh Binh

Found just south of Hanoi, Ninh Binh is a must do for all Vietnam first time itineraries. You can choose to either stay in Ninh Binh, or due to its closeness you can visit on a day trip. The scenery here is outstanding.

Ninh Binh Vietnam Sarah Latham COPYRIGHT

3. Ha Long Bay

An obvious must do for a Vietnam first time itinerary, it is likely that seeing images and hearing stories of Ha Long Bay is what made you want to come to Vietnam for the first time. Situated 3 hours drive west of Hanoi, Ha Long Bay is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to the gorgeous limestone mountains that rise out of the water. Many people visiting Vietnam for the first time will try and squeeze Ha Long Bay into a day or overnight trip, but I would recommend at least two nights exploring Ha Long Bay to avoid being very rushed!

Ha Long Bay Vietnam Sarah Latham COPYRIGHT

4. Abandoned Theme Park in Hue

One for the Instagrammers out there, the abandoned theme park in Hue is a particularly cool spot – and famous on Instagram. Situated just outside of Hue, the abandoned theme park (that is actually called Thuy Tien Water Park) is an incredible sight to view and explore! Getting in can be a bit of a hit and miss, however, as it depends on the security guard on at the time. When we visited, the security guard stopped us but then let us go through so it’s worth trying your luck!

Hue Abandoned Theme Park Vietnam Sarah Latham COPYRIGHT

5. Hoi An

Another famous Vietnam town and a must do Vietnam first time itinerary! Hoi An is the magical lantern town situated roughly in the middle of Vietnam (on the east). Each night the river is lit up with lanterns floating down, which is exceptionally beautiful. Due to its popularity, this place is very touristy but it is a great spot to spend a good few days on your first time in Vietnam exploring and enjoying the scenes.

6. Da Nang

Slightly north of the famous Hoi An (and home to the airport you can fly into to get to Hoi An) is Da Nang. While it’s not as well-known as other towns, Da Nang should be added to your first time Vietnam itinerary because there are a number of cool things to do here. From the Instagram famous giant hands bridge (suggested reads: How to get to the Golden Hands Bridge in Vietnam and Before you go to the Golden Hands Bridge, do this) to the fire breathing dragon bridge (yes, really! You need to time your visit with when the fire display is on) to exploring the incredible Marble Mountains. When putting together your first time in Vietnam travel itinerary you shouldn’t miss a day or two in Da Nang.

Sarah Latham Copyright Golden Hands Bridge Vietnam

7. Ho Chi Minh City

And finally, Ho Chi Minh City is a must do for all those visiting Vietnam for the first time. The madness of this city is apparent with the scooters and traffic (crossing the road can be a very fun game) and be sure to check out The Cafe Apartments and Tan Dinh Church when exploring on your first time in Vietnam.

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