Traveling Doesn't Have to Be Expensive.

Ethical, Affordable Adventures

10 Best Places to Visit in Vietnam and Cambodia

Sep 5, 2022 | Asia, Cambodia, Vietnam | 0 comments

Looking for the best places to visit when traveling to Vietnam and Cambodia? Located adjacent to one another, Vietnam and Cambodia offer a wide range of attractive destinations, so much so that it is hard for travelers to pick just one.

So, in this post, we will break down the ten best places to visit in Vietnam and Cambodia, so you don’t have to choose.

For each city destination, examples of things to do in the city are provided, to get an idea of what you might experience.

Best Places to Visit in Vietnam

1. Ha Long Bay

A trip to Vietnam is incomplete without a trip to Ha Long Bay. A UNESCO heritage site, Ha Long Bay is home to beautiful blue waters and incredible limestone islands and caves, which are both by boat and on foot. If you wish to travel by boat, several cruise companies operate in Ha Long Bay, with one-day trips starting at around $40 at the time of writing.

Luckily, Ha Long Bay has a relatively temperate climate year-round. Still, you should be careful when traveling to Ha Long Bay from July to September, as it is the rainy season, so if the rain is a deterrent to you, be aware.

2. Hanoi

Hanoi holds tremendous cultural and historical significance as Vietnam’s modern and historical capital. Because of this, there is no shortage of things to do and explore in Hanoi, especially when it comes to learning about the history and culture of Vietnam. Below are three of the most popular attractions that Hanoi has to offer.

Experience the History of the Old Quarter

In the Old Quarter of Hanoi, you can explore streets that have stood for a thousand years, smelling the aromas of the delicious food being sold, just as has been done throughout the Old Quarter’s old existence.

Why not stop at one of the local food stalls and grab some lunch or take a guided tour through the area and learn everything that has happened on those streets?

As a traveler on a budget, the streets are yours to explore and learn about, and the local food is incredibly cheap (and tasty).

Gaze Down at the City from the Lotte Observation Deck

Want the perfect spot to take a photo to share with your friends while in Hanoi? Look no further than the Lotte Observation Deck. Located 267 meters in the air, you are able to get an incredible view of the city, with a unique perspective that you can only observe there.

Take a Look at St. Joseph’s Cathedral

The construction of St. Joseph’s Cathedral first began in 1886 by the French. Today St. Joseph’s Cathedral stands as an artifact of the period of French rule that Vietnam underwent. Although still used today, tourists can look at St. Joseph’s Cathedral to gain a glimpse and understanding of the impact that French Colonial rule had on Vietnam.

3. Saigon

While Hanoi was the capital of North Vietnam, Saigon, now officially Ho Chi Minh City, was the former capital of South Vietnam. Today, the city is the most economically significant city in Vietnam. Much like Hanoi, Saigon has many destinations for the curious traveler to explore, broken down below.

Tour Independence Palace (also known as Reunification Palace)

Independence Palace was the home and office of the President of South Vietnam during the war, the victory of North Vietnam, and the Fall of Saigon occurred when North Vietnamese forces took control of the Independence Palace. Thus, today Independence Palace stands as a site of historical and national significance. If you have a chance, stop by and tour this historical site.

Go through the Cu Chi Tunnels

During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong famously created a very intricate and effective tunnel system, making them incredibly illusive. The Cu Chi Tunnels are a great network of these tunnels, which is only one part of a more extensive set of tunnels throughout Vietnam. Today, tourists can take tours through these tunnels and get a further glimpse into the fascinating history of Vietnam.

4. Ba Be National Park

Located in North Vietnam, a little more than 150 miles from Hanoi, Ba Be National Park is an ASEAN heritage park, cementing its status as one of the most beautiful and crucial parks to protect in the ASEAN region. Like Ha Long Bay, Ba Be National Park is home to limestone mountains and caves.

However, while Ha Long Bay is more of a beach destination, Ba Be National Park is much more of a forest and mountains destination. There are opportunities to hike throughout the park, go kayaking, take a boat tour on its waters, or go spelunking through some of its many caves.

5. Hue

Nestled along the Perfume River, named for its sweet fragrance in Autumn from falling flowers, Hue was the capital of the final dynasty of Vietnam, the Nguyen Dynasty, which ruled from 1802 to 1945. However, their government was largely symbolic after the creation of French Indochina. Within Hue, you can walk the streets and visit sites that allow you to revisit this history and better understand the history of Vietnam.

Take a tour of the Imperial City

Due to its historical significance as the political center of the Nguyen Dynasty, the Imperial City of Hue is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Nguyen Dynasty ruled Vietnam independently for roughly 80 years until the French carved up Vietnam and other nations to create French Indochina. For the next 60 years, Vietnam would see French rule, although the Nguyen Dynasty persisted until 1945, when Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of Vietnam from France.

Thus, the Imperial City is the last marker of dynastic rule in Vietnam. Any travelers interested in Vietnam’s history and independence should take a tour of this historic site.

6. Phu Quoc Island

Located in Southwestern Vietnam, Phu Quoc Island is the largest island in Vietnam. Of course, with this, it is the proper beach destination on this part of the list. So, if you are looking for a classic beach experience, look no further.

Phu Quoc Island’s long beach is roughly 12 miles long, giving plenty of space for all the tourists to do any number of activities. You could keep it classic and relax on the beach, or get adventurous and go swimming, kayaking, or diving. What’s more to explain? Who doesn’t want a beach getaway to recharge during their trip?

Are you interested in more spots in Vietnam? Check out our other posts on Vietnam here.

Best Places to Visit in Cambodia

7. Angkor Wat

Abandoned for unknown reasons in the 1400s, the “world’s biggest religious complex,” Angkor Wat, is the undisputed best place to visit in Cambodia. Furthermore, Angkor Wat is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, showcasing its relative historical and cultural significance. Anyone interested in history, culture, or architecture will not be disappointed by a trip to Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat will surely spark the imaginations of any that walk its grounds.

8. Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia. With this, there is much to explore and experience, especially in culture, art, and architecture. Moreover, Phnom Penh captures some of Cambodia’s beauty in an urban environment, making it an attractive destination for those who want a lovely urban setting to relax.

Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda

The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda sit next to each other and are relatively modern markers of history. These buildings were built in 1866 when the capital was moved from Oudong to Phnom Penh. In fact, to this day, Cambodia is still a constitutional monarchy, much like England. To this day, this building is the home of the King of Cambodia, and it shows. The building is stunning, with colors that jump and please the eye, and it is clear that the architect gave every bit of attention to detail to its design.

9. Battambang

Battambang is a less-known city that still deserves a spot on this list due to its more low-key feel and access to great foods and beautiful scenery. As your trip to Vietnam and Cambodia winds down, so too is it time for you to allow yourself to slow down once again.

In terms of food, Battambang produces the most rice of any province in Cambodia, solidifying it as a place with excellent cuisine that will make any traveler’s mouth water. Moreover, because Battambang is a little off the beaten path, these destinations are more affordable but still of excellent quality.

10. Kep

Last but certainly not least on this list is Kep, a rural beach town that is more off the beaten path. Much like Phu Quoc Island, it is a great place to unwind and recharge after spending some time sightseeing and being on the move. A few days of eating fresh seafood, walking the beach and countryside, and taking a break from all the touristy destinations are sure to help you gain a feeling of serenity before getting ready to move on to the next destination or to travel home.