What is Vietnam famous for aside from being the setting of Miss Saigon the Musical?
Vietnam is famous for its bustling Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh cities and Instagram-worthy tourist destinations like Ha Long Bay, the Mekong Delta, and Da Nang. It’s also known for the universal appeal of its rice noodles (Pho) and the ritual-like experience involved in preparing a cup of Vietnamese coffee, as well as its beautiful national costume, the Ao Dai. Vietnam is also known for the Vietnam War, historical cities, and its French-colonial architecture.
As someone who has visited the country, Vietnam’s allure is summed up in 3 V’s: Value, Variety, and Vibe.
Value, not because your $50 makes you a millionaire there after a visit to the money changer, but because, no matter what your travel budget is, as long as you manage your expectations well, you will find your needs met without burning so much cash.
Variety—because Vietnam offers unlimited possibilities when it comes to destination and experiences, whether you are there for the Instagram shots, the flora and fauna, the curiosity about the relics of the Vietnam War, or a mishmash of these experiences.
And finally, Vibe, because Vietnam blends nature, culture, food, and adventure into an arresting experience that is sure to satisfy the soul because of its picturesque land and seascapes, its history that is laced in stories of freedom and bravery, and, of course, the many beautiful ways they do with their vegetables.
Vietnam is known for its rich history
The world has endured many wars, big and small, and when it comes to wars that are flecked by passionate tales and stories, the Vietnam War often comes to mind. What Vietnam is famous for aside from being a travel destination is their journey towards sovereignty.
Up against the powerful forces of the United States and France, the Vietnamese people’s most powerful weapons were their bravery and perseverance. For almost 100 years, they were in constant struggle until the Vietnam War happened and the two powerful countries had to surrender. Vietnam became finally free in 1975, and various monuments, ruins, and relics of the Vietnam War have become staples in a traveler’s usual itinerary while in Vietnam.
Vietnam is famous for its food
Ask anyone who has been there about what Vietnam is known for, and nine times out of ten s/he will start to rave about the richness of Vietnamese cuisine and culture. First, the food in Vietnam—from the market to the street food stalls to the restaurants—the international appeal seems to be pretty consistent: There is at least one Vietnamese restaurant in almost all major cities of the world.
Here are some favorites:
- Pho is not your everyday rice noodle soup. It has its own unique taste and aroma that will remind anyone of Vietnam, and its appeal goes beyond the Vietnamese population.
- Bi Cuon is a kind of Vietnamese spring roll that uses rice paper as a wrap. The filling is a combination of shredded meat, rice, white radish, and carrots.
- Vietnamese Coffee’s appeal has gone beyond Vietnamese coffee drinking culture. Aside from its strong taste, the way the people of Vietnam “drips” their coffee is almost like a ritual.
- Bahn Mi can be found everywhere in Vietnam, and it is more than a baguette as it is often filled with vegetables, sausages, barbecue, cucumber, and spicy sauces.
- Vietnamese Beer (Bia Hoi) Is a must-try beverage and the taste (and the experience that come after) might explain why Vietnam is one of the biggest beer consumers In Asia.
- Che is a must-try dessert. It’s a pudding made from beans and sticky rice—simple yet satisfying, like any food adventure one makes in Vietnam.
Another rice dish, you say? What is Vietnam famous for producing—the answer: anything rice. That is why part of a Vietnamese’s daily meal is rice. They like it steamed, they like it in making sweets, they like wrapping things around it just like most countries in Southeast Asia.
Vietnam is famous for its culture
Now, Vietnamese culture is a whole new encyclopedia, but there are definitely things here and there that are distinctly Vietnam and uniquely Vietnamese.
- Ao Dai, Vietnam’s national costume, can be worn by both men and women. Its frequent exposure in international beauty pageants has given Vietnamese women a distinctive visual identity.
- Traffic jams, though negative, are part of the Vietnamese lifestyle, especially those living in big cities.
- Motorbikes are a popular mode of transportation in Vietnam, and you often see people riding them—and they come in swarms. Adventurous tourists buy motorbikes from the South that they can use to get around places and do various touristy activities in Vietnam. Once they reach the last part of their journey, they resell the bikes for almost the same price they got them for.
- Ben Thanh Market is what Vietnam is famous for in shopping. It has become a shopping icon of Vietnam not only because of the cheap finds, Saigon pearls, and factory overruns that dominate its aisles and aisles of shopping bliss, but also because it gives a quick survey of the various colors that are definitely Vietnam. Its festive atmosphere, punctuated by interactions among locals and between locals and foreigners can be interesting to witness as well. If you want to get the best deals, tag a local along with you.
- Vietnamese people are polite, cordial, and very approachable. Highly industrious and focused on productivity, the values of the Vietnamese people are a national treasure and is another thing that comes to mind when talking about what Vietnam is famous for.
Vietnam is famous for Hanoi
Hanoi, which is located at the bank of the Red River, has been the capital of Vietnam for 1,000 years. Then various wars and invasions happened inside and outside Hanoi in various points of Vietnamese history. When Vietnam reunified after the Vietnam War, Hanoi became the capital.
Hanoi is home to many historical sites that will acquaint any visitor with the totem poles of Vietnam’s liberation. Here are some of them:
The Literature Temple
Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam or The Literature Temple was built under Emperor Ly Thanh Tong in the year 1070. It is the very first university in Vietnam. Because it is also a sacred place to worship Confucius, people go here to offer auspicious prayers to benefit education and employment.
National Museum of Vietnamese History
The National Museum of Vietnamese History is not only the perfect example of Indochinese architecture, it also features many archaeological and historical artifacts and memorabilia that represent past and present Vietnam and the ways of life of its people.
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
UNESCO has declared the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long as a World Heritage Site because this citadel was the headquarters of the government of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum honors Vietnam’s national hero, President Ho Chi Minh who was instrumental in the country’s reunification and independence.
Found in places like Long Biên Bridge and the Hanoi Opera House, the French-colonial architecture gives any visitor a glimpse of Vietnam under its colonizers.
Vietnam is famous for Ho Chi Minh City
Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, located at the south of Vietnam, was the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam. It is one of Vietnam’s famous places. It was named after the pen name of Vietnam’s greatest leader. There are notable historical sites here as well:
The Independence Palace
The Independence Palace, now a popular landmark and cultural relic, still stands as a proud witness of Vietnamese struggles against the French and American colonizers. Its sacred role in Vietnamese history has made the government of Vietnam name it as a special national Monument.
Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi Tunnels is considered a popular place for tourists because of the key role it played during the Vietnam War. It served as a base for Communist attacks and has been a landmark in combat operations.
Vietnam is known for its historical cities
Aside from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, there are other places to visit in Vietnam that attract visitors because of its historical value:
- Binh Dinh – A popular place for Vietnamese martial arts, Binh Dinh is also the birthplace of King Quang Trang, the captain of the Tay Son uprising in the 18th century.
- Ha Long – The Dau Cave is a must-visit not only for the breath-taking view it offers but also because it once became the site of Vietnam’s greatest military victory.
- Ninh Binh – The Hoa Lu Ancient Capital will take anyone back to Vietnam’s ancient eras.
- Phu Tho – The Hung Temple may wow people because of its majesty, but this is also an important place since the first state in Vietnamese history was built here.
- Dien Bien Phu – The battle of Dien Bien Phu is an important event in Vietnamese modern history, especially during the First Indochina War.
- Than Hoa – The Do Mountain is considered as a cradle of Vietnamese civilization, and the Lam Kinh Temple is a relic that honors the life of one of Vietnam’s famous Kings. King Le Thai To.
- Quang Tri – Aside from being the former border of North and South Vietnam, Quang Tri’s Hien Luong Bridge on Ben Hai River is an important setting in Vietnamese history, and it remains a symbol of the country’s struggles and yearning for freedom and victory.
- Hue – This “Imperial City” was the center of culture, religion, and politics during the Nguyen Dynasty.
Vietnam is known for its tourist destinations
Now, let’s complete the bucketlist of what Vietnam is famous for with fun, bewilderment, and adventure because the list of the must-see places in Vietnam goes beyond its main cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh/Saigon and its historic cities. Like many places in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is any travelers dream as it is filled with diverse sceneries, white sand beaches, interesting countryside, and picturesque landscapes from north to south.
- The Vietnam Countryside does not only give you a glimpse of rural Vietnam. The Mekong Delta is a good place to come for this experience where one can explore colorful floating markets, partake in local specialties, and visit beautiful rice fields. It is also called the Nine Dragons River Delta because of the 9 tributaries that nourish the rice fields in the area.
- Ha Long Bay is flocked by tourists for a good reason: It is considered a “natural wonder” and is even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aside from swimming and scuba diving, Ha Long Bay is also known for squid fishing, kayaking, and cooking classes by the beach.
- Phú Quý, an island in the Phan Thiet Sea, offers peace and quietude, and a taste of the simple beach life. Its name translates to “rich and precious” which the island surely bestows to anyone willing to take the 6-to-9-hour ferry boat to get to this secluded paradisiacal Vietnamese island.
- Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park was originally established for the conservation of the Quang Binh Province, but because of its geographical magnificence, it was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its caves and rock formations make it an ideal place for ecotours, trekking, mountain climbing, and cave expedition tours.
- Da Nang, the third-largest city, is the beach lover’s paradise and is home to many interesting resorts and hotels.
- Sapa, on the other hand, is fancied by adventurous trekkers.
- Phu Quoc Island is a premier beach resort that features one of the best scuba diving sites in the country. Its azure blue waters and sweeping beaches, coupled with its laid back atmosphere, makes it a perfect getaway. One can book in the five-star hotels and explore the island’s untouched rainforests and wildlife.
- Hoi An can be a good place to refuel inspiration because of its old-world charm. Best of all, motorbikes are banned in this coastal city, and anyone can enjoy a peaceful late afternoon or early morning strolls without the sound of motorcycles.
If you are looking to experience everything and indulge in what Vietnam is famous for when you are there, prepare for it, and spend at least two weeks to a month (or more!) to tick off many of the items in the Vietnam bucketlist.
And if ever you have been there and you haven’t experienced half of the recommended Vietnam must-try, must-experience, must-eat, must-anything, do not worry. Nobody has ever done that.
Vietnam is that interesting. One discovery will lead you to newfound curiosities and a sense of discovery and adventure. You will never stop wanting to do more in Vietnam, and that is good.
To dive into Vietnamese culture and history before your trip, look into this list of the best books about Vietnam.