Cities of Vietnam // An Introduction to Vietnams Biggest and Most Beautiful Cities

The Biggest and Most Beautiful Cities of Vietnam

Vietnam is a country of serine beauty, with so much to see and do. With that being said today we want to introduce you to some of the cities of Vietnam you need to know about!

Lex the Lion

The three most widely-known cities in Vietnam are Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon), and Da Nang.

We’ll cover them first and them visit 3 more cities you have to discover.

Hanoi, in the North of Vietnam, is the capital of Vietnam whilst Ho Chi Minh is the economic hub of Vietnam, and is based in the South.

Da Nang is one of the most popular tourist destinations and based right in the heart of Vietnam.

In this article, we will explore the differences in the local customs of these three cities.

Cities of Vietnam | Hanoi

Cities of Vietnam | Ho Chi Minh City

Cities of Vietnam | Da Nang

Cities of Vietnam | Other Honourable Mentions

Cities of Vietnam | FAQ’s

Did you know you can study Vietnamese online with LTL too?!

Cities of Vietnam – Hanoi

Hanoi, on the banks of the Red River, is one of the world’s most historic capitals, with well-preserved colonial structures, old pagodas, and one-of-a-kind museums in the city centre.

This French-colonial city is noted for its wonderful cuisine, exciting nightlife, silks, and handicrafts, as well as a multi-cultural community influenced by Chinese, French, and Russian people.

It’s a terrific spot to explore on foot, especially the Hanoi Walking Streets.

Top five bars in... Hanoi, Vietnam - The Spirits Business

Hanoians have their own customs that separate them from other cities.

For example, the way they speak is more poetic and subtle which leads to some funny phrases like “Hà Nội ngàn năm văn vở!”.

This refers to the men of Hanoi who constantly “move the line” whilst lying and flirting with girls etc.

It is a sarcastic phrase, but gives you a basic idea!

The city of Hanoi boasts a population of around 5 million so it’s certainly not a small city by any stretch of the imagination.

It’s actually located not too far from the Chinese border as you can see from the map below.

There’s a lot of very cool things to do in Hanoi, some of the most popular being:

  • Visit the Old Quarter
  • Check out the Hanoi Opera House
  • Pay your respects at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
  • Kick back at Hoan Kiem Lake
  • Discover the stunning Saint Joseph’s Cathedral

When it comes to food and comparing Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh it’s generally noted that Hanoi is the city that includes the more traditional cuisine, whereas Ho Chi Minh caters to a more diverse and international palette.

DID YOU KNOW – The iconic Vietnamese pho (rice noodle soup) originates from Hanoi

As Vietnamese cuisine is so damn good though, you’ll not be going hungry anywhere in this glorious country (as you’ll see from the article below).

Vietnamese Noodles // 5 Dishes Other Than Phở 🍜 Thumbnail

Vietnamese Noodles // 5 Dishes Other Than Phở 🍜

Today we are going to look at the best Vietnamese Noodles – that aren’t Phở (because you all know about that we assume). Here are five of the very best.

Speaking of Ho Chi Minh, let’s take a trip right down south and check it out!

Cities of Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City (or more commonly, Saigon) is Vietnam’s business and financial centre, having a long and illustrious history dating back hundreds of years.

Its original name is Sai Gon but was renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the Vietnamese Communist Party’s spiritual head.

Nonetheless, in daily conversations, people prefer to call it Sai Gon (maybe because it’s shorter and easier to remember).

8 Neighborhoods to Explore in Ho Chi Minh City

Due to its unique culture, classic French architecture, sleek skyscrapers, and elaborate temples and pagodas, Ho Chi Minh City has become a famous tourist destination for travellers all over the world.

Rooftop bars with views of Saigon and beyond are in abundance, while superb restaurants serve a fusion of French, Chinese, and of course, indigenous Vietnamese cuisine.

If you have followed our previous articles, you may have seen the article we wrote about the “Top Vietnamese Songs” in which we shared the song “Sài Gòn cà phê sữa đá”.

If not check it out, it’s a song that shows the love Vietnam has for Iced Coffee – or more specifically, the residents of Saigon!

Here are some interesting side notes about Saigon also:

  • Iced coffee is a signature of the Saigon people
  • Saigonese are more straightforward and direct in their day to day communication
  • There are only two seasons in Saigon! The dry and the wet – there is no inbetween!

During the wet season, there are always extreme floods while in the dry season, there is no rain but frequent sunshine.

You can see from the map below Ho Chi Minh City is located far away from the aforementioned Hanoi, in the south of VIetnam.

Whilst Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City differ sharply, both are very much well worth the visit.

After all, you want to be discovering how life differs in the north and south of Vietnam, and trust us, it does!

One important footnote is the dialect. This can vary greatly as you can find out here…

Vietnamese Dialects // North or South? Thumbnail

Vietnamese Dialects // North or South?

North vs South? Vietnamese dialects can vary quite significantly. This is one of the very early questions a Vietnamese learner asks themselves.

Here are some of the most popular things to do in Saigon:

  • Check out the Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Visit The Reunification Palace
  • Discover and explore the Ben Thanh Market
  • Find the oldest temple in Saigon, the Giac Lam Pagoda
  • Tour the War Remnants Museum

If you want a simple and quick summary of the differences between Hanoi and Saigon this is probably as good a guide as any.

HanoiHo Chi Minh City
FoodTraditionalDiverse
ShoppingMarketsShopping Malls
LifestyleTraditionalWesternised
NightlifeCasual BarsRooftop Bars & Swanky Clubs
AttractionsTemples & Natural LandscapesWar Museums & Colonial Structures

So which city of Vietnam do you think suits you best? Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh? Drop us a comment below and tell us why.

Anyway, with that being said, it’d be unjust to just talk about the big two cities and disregard the rest of Vietnam.

This is a beautiful country with a lot to uncover and this next city is one of the best in the whole country!

Cities of Vietnam – Da Nang

Da Nang is located midway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in the centre of Vietnam.

It is a beautiful city with a population of just over a million people.

This makes Da Nang Vietnam’s fourth largest city, but it is the most popular for its beautiful sandy beaches with crystal clear water.

Apart from various shopping opportunities and historical sites, most visitors come here for the beauty of the My Khe Beach, Lang Co Beach, Hoi An, and My Son beaches.

Hue City Tour: My Khe beach - a beautiful beach on the way from Da nang to  Hoi an

The best time to visit Da Nang is during March-April when the weather is mild, not too hot for quality time on the beach.

You can travel to directly Da Nang from abroad because the city has its own international airport, adding to its appeal for foreign tourists as well as local ones.

Upon arrival, you can hire a Grab driver to take you to every corner of Da Nang at an affordable price.

DID YOU KNOW | We wrote an article about the best apps to download for life in Vietnam and Grab was our #1 featured app. It’s everywhere in Vietnam!

Da Nang is a tourist city so the price may be higher compared to others so we suggest you download these apps mentioned in the article above for an easier life.

Vietnam Apps // The Ones You Need To Download For Life in Vietnam Thumbnail

Vietnam Apps // The Ones You Need To Download For Life in Vietnam

Coming to Vietnam anytime soon? Great choice! Today you will discover the most important Vietnam Apps you need to download with our comprehensive guide.

Anyway, aside from the beautiful beaches there are still plenty of things to do in Da Nang which include:

  • Visit the Ba Na Hills
  • Climb the Marble Mountains
  • Watch the show at Dragon Bridge
  • Check out the sublime views at the Hai Van Pass
  • Discover the Cham Islands

Cities of Vietnam – Other Honourable Mentions

Whilst we’ve covered the 3 most well known cities of Vietnam, there’s still plenty more to see in between, so before leaving we wanted to shout out a few more cities of Vietnam we really love!

Hội An

A gorgeous coastline city, no Vietnam blog is complete without a mention of Hội An which is located just south of Da Nang.

In fact the distance between the two is less than 50 kilometres, making the journey from both cities super convenient.

If you visit one, you must visit the other!

The city of Hội An is most famed for it’s Full Moon Lantern Festival, but there’s plenty more to see and do here as well.

Cooking classes are always popular. Who wouldn’t want to be able to cook this quite wonderful cuisine. There is also a superb ancient town to visit in the centre of the city which include a tonne of street vendors and multicoloured paper lanterns.

If you plan to travel the cities of Vietnam, Hội An is a must add to your list.

How to Read a Vietnamese Menu // Your Complete Guide (By Native Speakers) Thumbnail

How to Read a Vietnamese Menu // Your Complete Guide (By Native Speakers)

Our native speaking Vietnamese teachers show you how to become a pro when reading a Vietnamese menu. Download our free cheat sheets also.

Huế

Heading back north, ever so slightly, we stumble across another gem of Vietnam – welcome to Huế.

Why not treble up a trip to central Vietnam by visiting all three of the cities we mentioned!?

Why Huế though?

DID YOU KNOW | Huế was Vietnam’s capital city from 1802 to 1945.

Because of this the city is jam packed with beautiful buildings from the colonial era. The jewel in the crown?

The Citadel, which is also known as the Royal Palace.

Changing of the guard at Hue Imperial Citadel - VnExpress International

Now we’ve touched on food a lot already haven’t we?! Because we love it, but get this…

Hue is often said to have some of the best food in all of Vietnam.

In all the wonderful cities of Vietnam, this is the one you need to sample the most! You know what to do.

TOP TIP | There’s a lot of culture to see in this gorgeous city, but to wind down after a long day on your feet make sure you check out the Alba Thanh Tan Hot Springs also!

Nha Trang

We end our tour of Vietnam with the popular backpacking city of Nha Trang.

Given the geography and shape of Vietnam it’s no surprise that Nha Trang is another city with a beautiful coastal line to boast!

Trek the wondrous waterfalls, go diving, chill on the beach, go sailing… you can see why Nha Trang is such a popular city in Vietnam.

There’s even a Monkey Island to visit and if you fancy getting your hands dirty why not go paint balling?!

Nha Trang is also home to only half a million residents so it’s a good chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the major cities and wind down.


That concludes our look at the cities of Vietnam. Of course there’s more, much more.

Nevertheless, this is a perfect introduction and gives you plenty to see in do in the meantime.

Vietnam is a quite brilliant place to spend your holidays and we can’t wait to see you here!

Have you been to Vietnam? Which cities of Vietnam did you like best? Tell us below.

Cities of Vietnam – FAQ’s

What are some good things to do in Hanoi?

Visit the Old Quarter

Check out the Hanoi Opera House

Pay your respects at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Kick back at Hoan Kiem Lake

Discover the stunning Saint Joseph’s Cathedral

Is Saigon and Ho Chi Minh City the same?

Yes they are. Saigon is the old name and Ho Chi Minh is the more recent name for the city.

Many locals still refer to the city as Saigon though.

What is the population of Vietnam

The population of Vietnam is more or less 100 million.

That’s 30 million more than Thailand and only 25 million less than Japan.

What are the primary tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City?

Check out the Notre Dame Cathedral

Visit The Reunification Palace

Discover and explore the Ben Thanh Market

Find the oldest temple in Saigon, the Giac Lam Pagoda

Tour the War Remnants Museum

What should I do in Da Nang?

Visit the Ba Na Hills

Climb the Marble Mountains

Watch the show at Dragon Bridge

Check out the sublime views at the Hai Van Pass

Discover the Cham Islands

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  1. Ms Daswani
    Reply

    Buzz of Ho Chi Min central area is more Scooters than cars! casual modern dressing and rare to see local dresswear and local architecture is mostly European . Night life blasts on long street blaring with English Pop music on both sides of foothpaths on known night streets - offer fine indoor, & outdoor street stalls on low plastic chairs- have non stop hyper peppy dancers entertaining passersby at thier door entrances!
    it's Rare to see Vietnamese architecture & dresswear ( except at the Post Office few ladies) Mostly European architecture and modern casual dressing - People seem very nice but difficult to connect in intl English even simple words like hot, cold, milk, near far not understood Only the notable Post Office had few ladies in local wear Notre Dame building bells ringing

    1. Max Hobbs

      Good summary there! HCMC is certainly abuzz with so many bikes, way more than cars. It takes sometime for a newbie to get used to for sure!

      A base knowledge in the language (restaurant, ordering etc) can go a long way to helping without doubt.