Vietnam Destinations

Most of the cities in Vietnam are a mixture of traditional buildings and French colonial architecture left from French Indochina. Buddhism permeates the country’s social fabric, and barefoot monks in saffron robes taking alms and offering blessings are a common sight.

We have only listed cities that are included in the itineraries of our tours, and many major cities and potential places of tourist interest have been left out. For guests building their own tours and needing information on cities not listed here, please mention that in the comments section of your tour inquiry form.

Hanoi Luxury Travel Information

Hanoi is the vibrant heart of Vietnam where ancient aesthetic and modern sensibility blend in a unique mix of Asian and French colonial style.

Three potent ingredients make up the luxurious fabric of Hanoi’s city scape: ancient history, architectural legacies from the colonial French era, and blooming modern infrastructure and buildings. In between the hustle and bustle of this dynamic city, a host of parks and lakes provide soothing views and shady places to rest.

Hanoi has been the capital of Vietnam for numerous dynasties, both domestic and foreign in origin, for centuries. Each ruler left his mark on the city in the form of shrines, palaces, fortresses, and monuments; many of which are well preserved despite the numerous conflicts that have taken place in the city over the last century.

The amazing sights and experiences in Hanoi include the Ba Dinh Square,and political and historical structures around it, including the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House.

Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword) is the center piece of the historic heart of Hanoi known as the Old Quarter. The Old Quarter is an intriguing mix of French colonial and traditional Vietnamese architecture. Local legend holds that the lake is the final resting place of a magic sword that helped the Vietnamese drive the Chinese from Vietnam.

Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of the Jade Mountain) rests on an island near the center of Hoan Kiem Lake. Reached by a wooden foot-bridge, the small, traditional temple is dedicated to the Vietnamese general Tran Hung Dao who stopped a 13th century Mongol invasion.

The Hai Ba Trung Temple, just south of Hoan Kiem Lake, was founded in 1142. The temple is dedicated to the Trung sisters who led a rebellion against the occupying Han Chinese dynasty in the early 1st century.

West of Hoan Kiem Lake, the Temple of Literature is a traditional Vietnamese structure from 1070 AD. The Confucian temple was founded by the Emperor Ly Thanh Tong to honor scholars and writers, and became the site of Vietnam’s first university in 1076. The temple grounds are studded with a series of 82 stelae (carved stone markers) that denote accomplished scholars and their works.

There are numerous, well-tended museums across Hanoi. The National Museum of Vietnamese History chronicles the country’s past in a series of displays spanning from ancient dynasties to the early 20th century colonial French rule of Vietnam. The Vietnam Museum of Revolution details the history of the Vietnamese Communist Party from its inception in 1858 through the country’s modern era. The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology preserves the culture and history of the country’s 54 ethnic groups in a series of well curated displays.

Best Time to Visit Hanoi

: From February to April, Hanoi is humid with light, refreshing rains that often fall in the early morning and afternoon. May to August the city’s temperature steadily rises, and short bouts of rainfall are common. Fall, September to November, is warm. From December to January the city is typically cool and dry.

How to get to Hanoi

: Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam in Southeast Asia. It’s best reached by international flight landing at Noi Bai International Airport about 25 miles north of Hanoi. From the airport, guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam are picked up by one of private vehicles and taken to their hotel.

Hanoi Highlights

: Ancient history, stunning French colonial architecture, and burgeoning modern luxury make Hanoi a wonderful get away with a plethora of sights and excursions to experience. History and architecture buffs will have plenty of explore via the numerous temples, shrines, and museums, and there are plenty of scenic lakes and parks for nature lovers to enjoy.
Appropriate Attire: Visitors should dress for warm weather and bring along a light rain jacket as brief showers are common throughout most of the year.

Halong Bay Luxury Travel Information

Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with more than 1,600 islands, most of which are caped with towering stone Karst formations rising from the green waters of the Gulf of Tonkin.

Local legends say the bay and its chain of islands were formed by a rampaging dragon that sundered the countryside so deeply with its claws and tail the entire area flooded after the dragon dove into the ocean.

Travelers flock to the emerald waters and stunning rock formations en-masse throughout the year. Day cruises through the chain of islands are popular, but overnighting on luxury Chinese junks is one of the best ways to experience the refreshing environment.

A number of the islands in the Holang Bay are hollow, and have excellent opportunities for caving excursions. Sung Sot Cave is the most renowned of these natural structures. Located on Bo Hon Island, the cave is naturally partitioned into two distinct areas. The first area is a theater-like hall with thousands stalactites hanging from the ceiling. Following a narrow path, travelers reach the second area where sunlight shines through a natural skylight bathing the chamber in an otherworldly ambiance.

Cat Ba Island is the largest of the 1,600 islands dotting the emerald waters of Holang Bay, and generally the busiest. The island offers a number of excursion activities including cycling, climbing, and sailing, but treks through Cat Ba National Park are some of the most talked about experiences the bay has to offer. The nearly 100-square-mile park is a rugged jumble of limestone peaks and dense forests clinging to rocky outcroppings. The park is home to the exceedingly rare Cat Ba Langur. There are numerous lakes and waterfalls waiting to be discovered, and there are plenty of stunning grottoes to be found along the limestone hillsides.

Paddle boats and kayaks are very popular ways to explore the smaller islands clustered throughout the bay like Dog Island, Incense Urn Island, Ga Choi Island, Finger Island, and Hoa Cuong Island.

Best Time to Visit Halong Bay

: The best weather to visit Halong Bay is between March and October when the skies are generally clear, and the temperatures are warm. Between December and February the temperature is cooler, but still balmy.

How to get to Halong Bay

: Halong Bay lies in the Northeast of Vietnam. It’s best explored while traveling on a luxury tour of Vietnam by departing from the port city of Halong on a private Chinese junk. Halong can be reached in as little as 2 and one-half hours via private vehicle departing from Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi.

Halong Bay Highlights

: The islands and their skyscraper-like karst formations are often heralded as the most stunning to be found in Southeast Asia. The timeless and striking beauty of Halong Bay prompted UNESCO to add the area to the World Heritage list in the 90s, which places the bay on the list of the most stunning natural wonders on the planet. It’s a must-see while traveling on a tour of Vietnam.
Appropriate Attire: Swimwear is a must while exploring Halong Bay.

Hue Luxury Travel Information

Hue is a central Vietnamese city with a rich, imperial history.

From 1802 to 1945 Hue served as the imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, which controlled the entire nation of Vietnam for more than a century.

Imperial influences are readily found alongside modern developments and infrastructure in Hue. Old imperial palaces, Buddhist pagodas, and royal tombs are nestled alongside modern high-rise apartment buildings and the occasional skyscraper on both sides of the gorgeous Perfume River that divides the city between north and south. The plethora of ancient structures, monuments, and temples from the Nguyen Dynasty and earlier eras led UNESCO to declare the city a World Heritage Site in 1993.

The Imperial Citadel (Dai Noi) is actually a super structure containing and protecting several small fortresses in its walls. The sprawling complex just north of the Perfume River contains numerous temples, pavilions, walls, gates, and even museums and galleries that display artistic works and styles of dress from multiple eras of Vietnam’s history. Much of the ancient fortress was destroyed between the French and American wars in Vietnam (U.S. bombings took a particularly devastating toll in 1968 during the Tet Offensive), but conservation efforts have been underway for some years, and decent progress is being made. The forbidden Purple City, Thai Hoa Palace, and the Truong Sanh Residence are a few of the buildings that are still in excellent shape.

To the south of the citadel across the Perfume River, the Tombs of the Emperors are splendid examples of Vietnamese Buddhist architectural style. The tombs of Tu Duc, Min Mang, and Kahi Dinh are the most celebrated of the burial structures, and the best preserved buildings. Many of the other tombs are in the process of being restored. A river cruise along the Perfume River is an excellent way to reach the tombs.

West of the citadel, the Thien Mu Pagoda rests atop a hill with a striking view of the Perfume River. The nearly 70-foot-high structure was completed in 1884, and the entire seven story structure is dedicated to various Buddha incarnations.

Best Time to Visit Hue

: The best time to visit Central Vietnam is between October and March when the skies are generally clear, and the weather is balmy. The temperature steadily rises between May and September, but rainfall provides cooling relief in the mornings and afternoons.

How to get to Hue

: Hue is the capital city of Vietnam’s Thua Thien-Hue Province. Located in Vietnam’s central region, the former Imperial capital is best reached by a short flight from Hanoi while traveling on a luxury tour of Vietnam. Once reaching the city, our guests are chauffeured in a private vehicle between monuments.

Travelers can easily reach destinations like the Demilitarized Zone, where Vietnam was formerly dived between capitalist south and communist north, from Hue City.

Hue Highlights

: Hue is an intriguing mix of old and new, ancient and modern. The cuisine, influenced by both imperial heritage and Buddhist tradition, is often highlighted by travelers for its excellent presentation and tangy spice. Many of the residents of Hue hold to Buddhist diet, and eat only vegetarian meals at least twice a month. This means there’s a plethora of excellent vegetarian restaurants to enjoy in town.

From a historical and geopolitical perspective, Hue played an important role in Vietnam from the 17th century through the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Though the scars of the last century’s conflicts are particularly evident in Hue due to both North Vietnamese shelling and U.S. bombing, there are still plenty of ancient and recent structures to enjoy exploring while traveling on a Vietnam tour.

As with any UNESCO World Heritage Site, we consider the city of Hue a must-see for our guests.
Appropriate Attire: Western-wear is fine for most excursions, but Hue is still in many ways a very traditional Vietnamese town. Travelers visiting any areas of religious importance, including tombs, should dress conservatively by covering their shoulders, arms, and legs while on hallowed ground.

Hoi An Luxury Travel Information

Hoi An is a picturesque old port city bursting with the cultural remnants and merchant-style houses of Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, and Vietnamese traders who thrived here between the 15th and 19th centuries.

Hoi An served as the principal port of the Cham Kingdom, a Hindu state largely influenced by the cultures of nascent Indian kingdoms. Then known as Faifo, the city flourished from the Southeast Asian spice trade, and in later centuries the port city became a major international shipping hub as Portuguese, British, Dutch, and French traders began calling at the harbor to break into the lucrative spice, ceramic, and silk trades of the South China Sea.

Today, much of the town’s medieval cosmopolitan atmosphere still exists in the narrows streets of the Hoi An’s Old Town. Two story Chinese merchant-shop houses rest beside Japanese and colonial European structures in the historic part of the town, and there are a number of locally curated museums that chronicle this once bustling port’s egalitarian history.

In 1999 Hoi An was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status because of its diverse, multicultural history and well preserved structures, many of which date back to the 15th century. Once a month as the sun is setting, Hoi An’s buildings go dark as the town’s residents prepare for the regular lantern festival. The harsh light and grating drone of modern electrical devices are replaced by the soothing ambience of traditional gem-colored Chinese lanterns and the soft lick of waves on the shore. A stroll through the Old Town during the lantern festival feels more like time-travel than a quick trip down the strip.

Thanks to the tourism boom that revived the town’s fortunes after most of the shipping business moved up the coast to Da Nang in the 19th century, Hoi An has an excellent selection of shops and markets specializing in local craft goods for travelers to enjoy.

The amazing sights and experiences in the Hoi An region also include an excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of My Son Sanctuary.

Best Time to Visit Hoi An

: Between October and March the weather of Central Vietnam is generally warm and temperate, with slight chances of quick rain showers. From May to September temperatures rise along with the chance of rain in the late mornings and early evenings.

How to get to Hoi An

: Hoi An is a coastal city in Central Vietnam. Guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam usually reach the city using our private vehicle service departing from the city of Hue some 50 miles to the north. Alternatively, the nearby city of Da Nang can be reached by international or domestic flight, and travelers can reach Hoi An overland from there.

Hoi An Highlights

: There are plenty of historical and cultural sights to take in along Hoi An’s narrow, pedestrian friendly streets, but the real draw for travelers on Vietnam tours is the timeless atmosphere that permeates the ancient port city’s aesthetic, especially during the monthly lantern festival.
Appropriate Attire: Though portions of the city are fairly modern, the governing body in charge of Hoi An’s historic Old Town asks travelers to dress modestly in clothing that covers shoulders, arms, and knees while sightseeing in Hoi An.

Ho Chi Minh Luxury Travel Information

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a vibrant metropolis brimming with cultural ruminants from multiple eras.

Vietnam’s largest and most developed city, Ho Chi Minh’s skyline and streets seamlessly transition from ancient pagodas and French colonial structures to modern skyscrapers. Lively markets selling everything from traditional silk garments to modern electronics and even spare helicopter parts are comfortably nestled beside high-rise buildings and apartment blocks.

The centrally located French colonial area, called District 1, is the most heavily visited section of the city. The Reunification Palace (also known as the Independence Palace) housed the President of South Vietnam before the fall of Saigon and the close of the Vietnam War in 1975. The original colonial French structure that occupied the grounds was destroyed when a pair of South Vietnamese pilots rebelled and bombed the building in an attempt to kill the incredibly unpopular President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1962. Diem ordered the current structure rebuilt in the style of the 1960s, but never lived to see its competition. He was executed by his own troops less than a year later. The tank that crashed through the gates and ended the Vietnam War can still be seen on the grounds.

Next door to the Reunification Palace rises the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral. Completed in 1883, the neo-roman church named for the Virgin Mary has some excellent stained glass windows that somehow managed to survive the Vietnam War.

The Saigon Central Post Office was constructed with materials imported from France in the late 19th century while Vietnam was still part of French Indochina. The building was designed by Gustave Eiffel, who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and its vaulted ceilings, beautiful tile floor, and gorgeous edifice make it one of the most striking structures in the city.

Another excursion not to be missed in the Saigon region is a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels.

Best Time to Visit Ho Chi Minh

: Ho Chi Minh City’s best sightseeing weather is between December and April. The area’s temperature steadily increases between May and November, but frequent showers in the mornings and evenings help cool the atmosphere considerably.

How to get to Ho Chi Minh

: Ho Chi Minh City is located in Southern Vietnam. Guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam typically reach the destination by flight from the city of Dalat to the north. Upon arrival, our guests navigate the city in private, chauffeured vehicle.

Ho Chi Minh Highlights

: There’s something for everyone in Ho Chi Minh City. The beautiful colonial structures, world class accommodations, 5 star restaurants, and thrilling markets barely scratch the surface of the secrets the city holds for travelers to discover.
Appropriate Attire: Ho Chi Minh City is a vibrant, modern city, and western-style clothing choices are typically fine to sight see in, but if you’re planning to visit any of the Buddhist or Taoist temples that remain, it’s best to dress conservatively in keeping with traditions of modesty.

Da Nang Luxury Travel Information

Da Nang is a thriving port city in Central Vietnam bounded by the Marble Mountains and stunning beaches of the Son Tra Peninsula.

The ancient Champa Kingdom, a Hindu state that was heavily influenced by Indian culture, flourished in the region between the 4th and 17th centuries. The people that inhabited the Champa Kingdom mostly worshiped the Hindu deity Lord Shiva, and created numerous temples filled with splendid sculptures heavily influenced by the aesthetics of early Indian kingdoms. Da Nang’s Museum of Cham Sculpture is an excellent repository of artifacts and sculptures found in the region. Several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, like the ruins found in My Son, are splendid examples of the now extinct Champa civilization that can easily be reached from the city.

Da Nang’s Son Tra Peninsula is a stunning beach resort area on the edge of the city’s coastline. The undeveloped beachfront areas give travelers a chance to play castaway a stone’s throw from the bustling heart of Da Nang. The Linh Ung Buddhist Temple on the peninsula features splendid views of the ocean and bay area, and is worth a visit.

The Marble Mountains to the south of Da Nang shelter a number of Buddhist and Hindu grottoes filled with religious iconography. The pinnacle of Thuy Son Mountain can be reached by climbing a series of 156 steps. The summit offers pilgrims and travelers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Best Time to Visit Da Nang

: The weather in Central Vietnam is generally at its best between October and March when the temperatures are warm, and the weather mostly dry. The ambient temperature steadily rises along with the chance for rainfall between May and September.

How to get to Da Nang

: Da Nang rests on the coast of the South China Sea in Central Vietnam about halfway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The city can be reached by direct flight to Da Nang International Airport, or by overland travel using our private vehicle service while on a luxury tours of Vietnam.
Da Nang Highlights: Da Nang is a bustling modern city studded with both ancient remnants of bygone civilizations and colonial French architecture. While it’s generally used as transport hub by most travelers, the vibrant mix of ancient history, thriving city life, and pristine beaches means there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Central Vietnam’s largest city.
Appropriate Attire: For most excursions Western-style clothing choices are fine, but if you’re planning to visit any of the religious sites in the Marble Mountains it’s best to dress modestly by covering arms, shoulders, and knees while sightseeing on holy ground.

Nha Trang Luxury Travel Information

Nha Trang is Vietnam’s gleaming jewel of beach destinations.

A thriving metropolis on the coast of South-central Vietnam, Nha Trang’s thrumming nightlife, pristine beaches, stunning bay, and verdant mountains have made this beautiful beach resort a favored destination for international travelers. The turquoise waters of Nha Trang Bay host a plethora of maritime activities including kayaking, sailing, and cruises to the numerous islands that dot the seascape. There’s also a bevy of excellent resort spas strung along the beach promenades for travelers in search of luxury pampering to complement their fresh tans.

The surrounding mountains and countryside offer splendid scenery and a few ancient cultural sights worth visiting. Yang Bay, Ba Ho, and Fairy Spring Waterfalls are gorgeous and very swimmable outdoor destinations easily reached from the beach resort area.

For those looking to add a little cultural spice to their stay in Nha Trang, the ancient Po Nagar Cham Towers, dating back to the 7th century, are well worth an exploration. The ancient stone structures were erected to honor the queen of the long-gone Champa civilization that ruled this region of current-day Vietnam. The towers are the thriving heart of Buddhism in Nha Trang, and the grounds are filled with the hum of monks at prayer and scent of burning incense.

Best Time to Visit Nha Trang

: Nha Trang’s beaches and bay are at their best between the months of October and March when the skies are clear, the sea is calm, and the weather temperate. Between May and September the temperature steadily rises, and the waves in the bay can be choppy due to rainfall.

How to get to Nha Trang

: Nha Trang is located in South-central Vietnam’s coastline. The beach resort destination is best reached by guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam by a direct flight from Da Nang further north.

Nha Trang Highlights

: Nha Trang is a beach lover’s paradise filled with luxury amenities and pampering. Fresh seafood, world class snorkeling and diving, and a thriving nightlife make this a favored sun-soaked getaway for our guests on Vietnam tours.
Appropriate Attire: Beach-ware is advised while enjoying Nha Trang’s tropical splendor.

Can Tho Luxury Travel Information

The city of Can Tho is the beating heart of the Mekong Delta region that’s often referred to as Vietnam’s “rice basket.”

Nearly half the rice farmed in the country comes from the Mekong Delta, and the majority of Vietnam’s fish catch also comes from the delta’s many tributaries that wind through the fertile flood plain. The delta region produces a plethora of agricultural products including bananas, coconuts, and lychee.

Just a few miles up the river from Can Tho, the Cai Rang Floating Market is where the bounty of the Mekong Delta is sold. Traders from throughout the Mekong Delta region arrive daily to sell the fat of the land they’ve painstakingly carved from the fertile earth and waters of the area.

Best Time to Visit Can Tho

: The best weather for exploring the Mekong Delta region is between December and April during Vietnam’s dry season. Temperatures begin to rise in May and the mercury continues to rise through November, but the warmer weather comes with increased chances of afternoon showers that cool the area considerably.

How to get to Can Tho

: Can Tho is the largest city on the Mekong Delta, and the fourth largest in country. It can be easily reached by guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam in a private vehicle traveling from Ho Chi Minh City.

Can Tho Highlights

: The river cruises through the Mekong Delta that depart from Can Tho are some of the most talked about experiences in South Vietnam. It’s a thrilling excursion that should not be missed while traveling through the area.
Appropriate Attire: Western-style clothing options are fine to explore the city in, but it’s advisable to wear light clothing that you don’t mind getting wet during a boat cruise.

Vietnam Sights

Ba Dinh Square

Ba Dinh Square is the epicenter of politics in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi.

The large, well-kept lawns of the square are bordered by broad streets purpose built for communist style military parades. Some of Hanoi’s most important political and historical structures are around the square including Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, The Presidential Palace, The National Assembly, and several Vietnamese government offices.

The square was named after the Ba Din Uprising, a failed late 19th century rebellion against French colonial rule in Vietnam.

On September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh read Vietnam’s Declaration of Independence from French rule on what would later become the square. The square is often viewed as a symbol of national pride and resilience by the Vietnamese.

Best Time to Visit Ba Dinh Square

: Hanoi’s weather is temperate year-round making it an excellent sightseeing destination regardless of the season. From February to April the weather is humid, but light rains often provide cooling relief to travelers enjoying the city. May and August are the months with the highest temperatures, and the weather gradually cools from September through January.

How to get to Ba Dinh Square

: Ba Dinh Square is centrally located in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh District. There are numerous sightseeing monuments in the area that we recommend guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam take the time to visit. The square is best reached via our private vehicle services.

Ba Dinh Square Highlights

: Ba Dinh Square’s central location and proximity to numerous other historic monuments and buildings mean it’s a must-see on our travel itineraries.
Appropriate Attire: While western style clothing options are fine to wear when visiting the square, some monuments and buildings in the area, like Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, require shoulders, arms, and knees to be covered upon entry or accessed will be denied. The mausoleum also requires photo and video equipment to be checked into secure lockers before entering the tomb.

Ho Chi Minhs Mausoleum

Like the other communist leaders of the Eastern Hemisphere, Ho Chi Minh was buried in a towering marble structure after his death in 1969.

In his will, Ho Chi Minh (often cited as the father of communist Vietnam) stated he wished to be cremated and have his ashes spread across the four cardinal points of Vietnam, but the government countermanded the leader’s wishes posthumously. Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum was built in the center of Hanoi on the edge of Ba Dinh Square in 1975 to hold the revolutionary leader’s embalmed remains. The entrance of the mausoleum roughly marks the spot where Ho Chi Minh read Vietnam’s Declaration of Independence in the fall of 1945, which eventually led to the partitioning of Vietnam into Communist North and Capitalist South.

The mausoleum is a three story structure is comprised of marble and granite blocks. Ho Chi Minh’s body is entombed on the second floor resting in the same set of simple clothes he wore daily as both prime minister, and eventually president of Northern Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

Best Time to Visit Ho Chi Minhs Mausoleum

: Hanoi’s temperate weather makes the city a great sightseeing destination year-round. Between February and April the weather is humid and light rain is common in the early morning and afternoons. The temperature rises steadily between May and August, and finally gives way to cooling winds and occasional showers September through November. The winter months, December through January, are usually dry and cool.

How to get to Ho Chi Minhs Mausoleum

: Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is located on Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi, Vietnam. Guests traveling on our luxury tours of Vietnam can reach the structure using our private, chauffeured vehicle service to navigate the hectic streets of Hanoi.
Ho Chi Minhs Mausoleum Highlights: Travelers, particularly from the Western Hemisphere, are well served by visiting Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum for political and historical perspective of the ideological conflicts that have shaped Vietnam’s geopolitical landscape in the last century.
Appropriate Attire: Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum has a strict dress code, and guests entering must cover their shoulders, arms, and knees, or be denied entry. Cameras and cellphones are also bared inside, but can be checked into a protected locker for safety near the entrance of the tomb.

Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House

Ho Chi Minh, the man heralded as the father of the communist revolution in Vietnam, eschewed the opulent architecture of the mustard-yellow Presidential Palace in Hanoi for a traditional Vietnamese stilt house constructed in the gardens at the rear of the presidential compound in 1958.

The simple structure, standing amidst a lush garden filled with Mango trees, is where the Vietnamese government claims Ho Chi Minh lived from the early years of the Vietnam War until his death in 1969. Though it’s likely Ho Chi Minh actually spent most of his time in a nearby bomb shelter, (American bombers would have desolated the entire presidential compound during any of the numerous air raids of Hanoi during the Vietnam War had they felt the president was residing in such an easy target) the house has been constantly used over the last few decades by the Vietnamese government to promote the leader’s reputation as a man of the people that lived a simple life.

The house is small, and the majority of the rooms contain little more than sunshine and air, but there are more than a few reminders of the structure’s supposed importance during the decades long Vietnam War, which include numerous hot-line telephones to various war and state departments and a helmet said to be Ho Chi Minh’s soul protection against U.S. bombings.

Best Time to Visit Ho Chi Minhs Stilt House

: Hanoi’s weather is excellent for sightseeing year-round. Between February and April the city is warm, and there are often light showers. Temperatures begin to rise in May and continue through August. September to November the weather is dry and balmy, which leads to the cooler months December through January.

How to get to Ho Chi Minhs Stilt House

: Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt-House is located in the garden behind the Presidential Palace in Hanoi. The area can be easily reached by our guests on luxury tours of Vietnam using our private vehicle service to navigate Hanoi.

Ho Chi Minhs Stilt House Highlights

: Vietnam’s last century has been rife with conflict, and Ho Chi Minh’s house, whether he actually lived there or not, is an integral setting of the modern history of one of the last communist governments in the world. It should not be missed while sightseeing in Hanoi on a Vietnam tour.
Appropriate Attire: Western-style clothing choices are fine to wear inside the presidential compound, but it’s always a good idea to keep a rain jacket handy in case of rain.

Central Post Office

The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City is one of the best preserved French colonial structures in District 1.

Designed by none other than Gustave Eiffel, best known for creating the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Central Post Office is a favorite among travelers exploring the colonial architecture leftover from French Indochina. The building’s neo-classical façade is as pristine as the day it was completed in 1891. The vaulted ceilings inside the Central Post office are as grand as anything found in gothic churches, and the tile work on the floor is kept beautifully polished.

Best Time to Visit Central Post Office

: The best weather to visit the area is during the dry months between December and April. High temperatures start in May and run through November, but the afternoon rain showers help keep the atmosphere cool in the evenings.

How to get to Central Post Office

: The Central Post Office is centrally located in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1, where the majority of the intact colonial architecture can be found. Guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam reach the area in a private vehicle, and usually visit the Central Post office while exploring other historic buildings like the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, which is located just across the street.

Central Post Office Highlights

: The Central Post Office is one of the favored stops in French colonial area of Ho Chi Minh City. It should not be missed when touring the area.
Appropriate Attire: Western-style clothing options are fine to visit the Central Post office in, but if you’re planning to stop by the Notre Dame Cathedral before or after, it’s best to dress conservatively.

The Imperial City

The Imperial Citadel in Hue is a massive fortress compound that served as Vietnam’s seat of power from 1802 to 1945 under the rule of the Nguyen Dynasty. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site called The Complex of Hue Monuments since 1993, the Imperial Citadel is one of the city of Hue’s most prominent features, and one of the most visited sightseeing destinations in Vietnam.

Nguyen Phuc Anh, who would later change his name to Emperor Gia Long, consolidated control of Vietnam for the first time in nearly three centuries after defeating the Tay Son Dynasty that controlled the northern reaches of Vietnam in 1802.

In honor of his victory, and the unification of Vietnam, Nguyen consulted with a group of sages who used geomancy – a kind of mystic divination – to select the Imperial City’s location on the northern banks of the Perfume River as an auspicious and defensible site.

The Imperial Citadel is ringed with a moat fed by the scenic Perfume River to the south of the fortresses’ main gates. The fortress is ringed by high walls stretching over a mile around the compound.

The citadel was originally comprised of four inner-compounds. Kinh Thanh was full of administrative buildings charged with governing the empire. Hoang Thanh was comprised of shrines, temples, and palaces owned by the Emperor’s courtiers. Dai Noi was the inner city area of the citadel comprised mostly of market shops and housing. But the heart of the entire complex was Tu Cam Thanh, the Forbidden Purple City, which was strictly for the Emperor’s residence.

The citadel was a bustling structure filled with the hum of daily life even through the early 20th century as most of the compound was still being used by the Nguyen Dynasty for the governance of Vietnam.

Sadly, the 1968 Tet Offensive wrought massive amounts of collateral damage to the citadel’s structures. Of the original 148 structures inside the citadel, only about 20 remain standing and in good condition. Efforts to restore and reconstruct the historic monuments and structures are an ongoing task.

Best Time to Visit The Imperial City

: Central Vietnam’s best weather falls between October and March. Between May and September the weather is hot, but short bursts of rainfall are common, which helps cool the region considerably.

How to get to The Imperial City

: The Imperial Citadel is centrally located in the Central Vietnamese city of Hue. Guests traveling on our luxury tours of Vietnam reach the city via a short flight from the Northern Vietnamese city of Hanoi, and are then chauffeured through the city’s sights and monuments by our private vehicle services.

The Imperial City Highlights

: UNESCO World Heritage Sites represent the world’s most stunning and important works of culture and architecture. History and architecture enthusiasts are at the top of the list of travelers who enjoy visiting Hue’s Imperial Citadel, but as with any UNESCO site, we consider the citadel to be a must-see while enjoying one of our Vietnam tours.
Appropriate Attire: Western-style clothing choices are fine inside the remaining structures. Due to the size of the compound, it’s best to dress in light clothing, especially during the warm summer months.

My Son

Between the 4th and 13th centuries the Champa Kingdom flourished in what is now known as Central and Southern Vietnam creating a unique culture heavily influenced by the Hindu religion.

Champa profited greatly from the goods traded through the kingdom’s main port city now called Hoi An (Faifoo), and the Kings of Champa began funneling their wealth into a towering series of temple structures in an a mountain basin ringed by rugged peaks called My Son. The Champa Kingdom was heavily influenced by the Hindu religion from India, and the sprawling temple complex the Champa people erected in Central Vietnam was dedicated to the pantheon of Hindu gods.

The Champas used bricks and mortar to complete the towering edifices of hundreds of temples cunningly built to resemble Mount Meru (the spiritual and physical center of the universe in Hinduism) in India. The largest and most complex of these temple structures were dedicated to Lord Shiva, the greatest of the Hindu deities. Artisans cut bas-relief sculptures into the exteriors and interiors of the temple structures depicting mythological stories as well as daily life signifying the temple compound as the religious and creative heart of the kingdom.

By the 14th century the Kingdom of Champa and Hinduism were falling out of sway, and the growing power of the Nguyen Dynasty of Central Vietnam was eclipsing Champa’s former glory. By the 15th century, Hinduism had all but vanished from the region, and My Son was abandoned to be consumed by the forest that birthed it.

My Son was left largely to ruin until the 20th century when colonial French archeologists began conservation and restoration efforts in the area. These efforts were put on hold, and finally completely abandoned when the First French Indo-China War broke out. During the Vietnam War Viet Cong forces used the temple complex as a base, and U.S. carpet bombing led to many of the ancient structures being damaged.

In 1999 My Son was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, and reconstruction and preservation efforts are ongoing.

Best Time to Visit My Son

: For the best weather, plan on visiting Central Vietnam during the temperate months between October and March. The temperature steadily rises from May until September, but the chance of early morning and afternoon rainfall is equally high, and this often cools the region considerably.

How to get to My Son

: My Son is located in Central Vietnam. The ancient complex of Hindu temples can be reached by guests traveling on our luxury tours of Vietnam via a private vehicle leaving from the city of Hui An on the coast of the South China Sea.

My Son Highlights

: My Son is a unique cultural destination in Central Vietnam that does not have a counterpart within the country. While other Hindu influenced temple complexes exist in Southeast Asia, few are as old or as well preserved as My Son. As with all UNESCO World Heritage Sites, we consider My Son to be a must-see on our Vietnam tours.
Appropriate Attire: While My Son was the heart of religious activity in Central Vietnam for almost 1,000 years, today the numerous temples no longer have active parishioners. This means western-style clothing options are fine while exploring the ruins, but we recommend wearing a stout pair of shoes as some light hiking will be in order to fully appreciate the sprawling temple compound.

Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi is Ho Chi Minh City’s northernmost suburb. The mostly rural area is filled with dense forests and rice paddies, but it’s the winding tunnel passages dug by Viet Cong guerilla soldiers that draw tourists to the area.

During the height of the Vietnam War the tunnels stretched 155 miles through the earth from the border of Cambodia to the edge of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City after the end of the war in 1975). Mostly hand dug, the tunnels seem to twist endlessly through the earth with special excavation areas that served as hospitals, dinning rooms, weapons lockers, kitchens, and even homes for the guerilla forces of the Viet Cong.

After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the government turned the tunnel network under Cu Chi into a war memorial. The booby traps that proved such a hindrance to U.S. forces trying to clear the tunnels were removed, and the safer areas of the tunnel network had florescent lights installed so visitors can navigate the complex safely. There are displays for the different types of booby traps that once infested the tunnels, as well as miniature models of the entire network. Nearby, a gun range offers tourists the chance to squeeze off a few rounds from AK-47s and M-16s left from the war.

Best Time to Visit Cu Chi Tunnels

: The best sightseeing weather for Ho Chi Minh City and its surrounding suburbs falls between December and April when the weather is dry. The wet season follows with increased temperatures starting in late May and running into November, but short showers in the afternoons are common during this time, which help keep the atmosphere cool.

How to get to Cu Chi Tunnels

: There are two tunnel sights in Chu Chi that have been turned into memorials by the Vietnamese government. Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc can both be reached in as little as 40 minutes by private vehicle departing from downtown Ho Chi Minh City.

Cu Chi Tunnels Highlights

: Few places so thoroughly outline the tenacious spirit of the Viet Cong forces that fought against the technologically superior U.S. forces. During the war, the soldiers who dwelled underneath Chu Chi in the sprawling tunnels faced and survived insect and snake infested tunnels, diseases, and one of the most concentrated bombing efforts in the history of war fare. The tunnels are a living piece of recent history that should not be missed.
Appropriate Attire: Western-style clothing choices are fine to wear inside the complex.

Notre Dame Cathedral

SThe Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City is a 19th century Catholic church constructed for French colonists.

After the conquest of the area in 1864 under Napoleon III’s government, most of today’s Southern Vietnam became the French colony of Cochinchina. The colonists built a number of structures in French architectural styles over the course of their 85-year-rule. Most of these structures are found in Ho Chi Minh City’s centrally located District 1.

Built on the former sight of a Vietnamese pagoda, the Notre Dame Cathedral was constructed using materials imported from France. The church was completed in 1880 after three years of construction, and consecrated on Easter Sunday. A set of bell towers, complete with six bronze bells a piece, was installed in 1895 that still ring daily.

Best Time to Visit Notre Dame Cathedral

: From December to April, the dry season descends on Ho Chi Minh City, which is the best time to sightsee in the area. The wet season follows from May to November, and the extra rainfall helps dampen the higher temperatures that pervade this time of year.

How to get to Notre Dame Cathedral

: The Nortre Dame Cathedral of Ho Chi Minh City is centrally located in the French Colonial area called District 1. Guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam reach District 1 in a private, chauffeured vehicle along with their tour guide.

Notre Dame Cathedral Highlights

: The Notre Dame Cathedral is a stunning, and well preserved example of French colonial architecture. The red brick edifice is surprisingly well preserved despite the decades of conflict in the area, and there are even some excellent remaining stain glass windows inside well worth a view. It should not be missed while exploring downtown HCMC’s District 1.
Appropriate Attire: Western-styles of clothing a generally excepted, but it’s best to err on the side of modesty when touring Catholic churches.

Reunification Palace

The Reunification Palace (Independence Palace) housed the Presidents of South Vietnam before a tank smashed through the front gate in 1975 drawing the Vietnam War to a close.

The original structure that stood on the grounds was a French colonial building erected in 1873 to house French Governors of Cochinchina (the area that is today called Southern Vietnam).

In 1962, two Vietnam Air Force pilots rebelled and bombed the colonial structure in an attempt to kill the incredibly unpopular President of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, who had taken power after a fraudulent election. Diem survived the attempt on his life, and ordered the modern structure that stands on the grounds today to be built, but he was assassinated in a military coup before its completion in 1966.

The modern structure has been left largely the same as it was the day a North Vietnamese tank crashed through the front gates and ended the Vietnam War. Its early 1970s interior motifs are still as loud and vibrant as they were before the war, but the most intriguing part of the building is the network of tunnels beneath that lead to the communications center and war room.

Best Time to Visit Reunification Palace

: The best sightseeing weather in Ho Chi Minh City is between December and April during the dry season. The wet season starts in May and runs through November with higher temperatures that are usually quenched by afternoon showers.

How to get to Reunification Palace

: The Reunification Palace is centrally located in Ho Chi Minh City’s former French colonial area called District 1. Guests on luxury tours of Myanmar can reach the former presidential palace in a private vehicle along with their guide and chauffeur.

Reunification Palace Highlights

: The Reunification Palace has been the sight of some of the most pivotal moments in Vietnamese history. Its intriguing architecture and throwback interiors should not be missed.
Appropriate Attire: Western-style clothing options are acceptable to wear to the Reunification Palace.