(QNO) - Vietnam is an astonishing mix of natural highlights and cultural diversity.
1. Ha Long Bay
The karst seascape of Halong Bay is one of the best places to visit in the world for spellbinding sea views and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thousands of limestone islands sit within this bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, eroded into jagged pinnacles by wind and water action over millennia.
2. Ho Chi Minh City
The streets are an insane clog of motorbikes and cars, the restaurant and café scene is incredibly cosmopolitan, and the shopping is the best in the country.
One of Vietnam's most historic towns, Hue is packed to the brim with relics from the reign of the 19th-century Nguyen emperors.
4. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
One of the best places to visit in Vietnam for caving, World Heritage-listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a dramatic karst mountain formation honeycombed with huge caverns, which are home to superb stalactite and stalagmite displays.
5. My Son
Surrounded by lush jungle-covered mountains, My Son is a ruined Cham era temple city that dates from the 4th century. This old Hindu religious center was still very much in use during the 7th to 10th centuries and only fell into complete decline and abandonment during the 13th century.
6. Hoi An
Beautiful Hoi An is the most atmospheric city in Vietnam, with bags of surviving historic architecture. The old town quarter is a joy to explore, packed to the brim with well-preserved merchant houses that hark back to Hoi An's trading center heyday of the 15th century, when the town was a major meeting point for Japanese and Chinese merchants who flocked here for the local silks.
7. Sapa Countryside
The verdant rice field countryside surrounding Sapa, bordered by the jagged peaks of the Hoang Lien Mountains, are home to Vietnam's most beautiful rural vistas.
Vietnam's capital is the frenetic heartbeat of the nation and a place that befuddles travelers as much as it charms them.
9. Nha Trang
For sandy fun in Vietnam, Nha Trang is king. The well-maintained beach trundles for six kilometers along the shoreline of central Nha Trang city and during summer is jam-packed with local families on vacation, as well as foreign visitors.
10. Cu Chi Tunnels
Two short sections of the network can be visited with a guide who'll take you down into the narrow unlit confines, which definitely are not for claustrophobia sufferers.
11. Ba Be National Park
Tranquil Ba Be National Park is absolutely stunning with the three interlinked Ba Be Lakes at its heart, rimmed by jagged karst peaks and thickly forested slopes.
12. Mekong Delta
Incredibly lush, with paddy field vistas and mangroves, and full of local life, with chaotic floating markets to explore by boat, the delta is one of the most interesting regions for travelers to discover.
13. Cat Ba Island
This is the best place to visit if you want to organize cruises and kayaking trips in Lan Ha Bay, which lies off Cat Ba's southern coast.
14. Ha Giang
The emerald-green karst mountain landscapes along Ha Giang's mountain passes make this far-north province prime territory for scenic road-tripping by either motorbike or car.
15. Phu Quoc Island
Sitting 45 kilometers off the southern coast of the country, in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc is a densely forested island, speckled by sweeps of white-sand beach that attract plenty of sunseekers during the winter dry season.
16. Con Dao Islands
Much of the Con Dao Islands, and the surrounding water, is a protected wilderness area, with the island shores home to nesting turtles, and dense forest still covering the island interiors.
17. Mui Ne
Once a sleepy coastal fishing town, Mui Né has developed into a beautiful beach resort town and a prime destination for windsurfing, sailing, and kitesurfing.