Choosing where to stay in Vietnam based on vibe, budget, and interests to plan the perfect trip
Vietnam is an outstanding country that attracts tourists and expats alike. Its rich culture, pleasant weather, tropical nature, and friendly people have made it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Since it used to be a French colony, Vietnam is an interesting mix of western and eastern cultures and you will get to know both its sides. From French architecture and Japanese influences to ethnic tribal artifacts and remnants of the Vietnam War, Vietnam is one of the rare places in the world with so many faces. Whether you are a foodie, culture vulture, party animal, or a beach hopper, you will have the time of your life in this amazing country.
Photo credit: itscolumk
5 best cities to stay in Vietnam
Vietnam is not a small country and there are dozens of cities worth visiting. The culture is exceptionally diverse and each city has a distinct lifestyle and atmosphere. These variations are especially notable between the northern and southern cities due to their historical differences. The north proclaimed its independence early, so authentic Vietnamese culture is present everywhere. The south, however, remained under the French rule until the end of the Vietnam War, so the French influences are still very noticeable. In the end, when choosing the best city in Vietnam, it all comes down to your own interests and preferences.
To help you make the best decision, we have selected our five favorite Vietnamese cities:
- Ho Chi Minh City
- Hoi An
- Da Nang
- Vung Tau
We made our picks based on the following criteria:
- Overall atmosphere of the city
- Cultural and historical significance
- Cost of staying and living
- Interesting things to see and do
Where to stay in Vietnam
Where to stay in Vietnam
|Best for nightlife||Hanoi||Vibrant capital of Vietnam offers hundreds of bars and clubs|
|Best for the first time||Ho Chi Minh City||Historical center full of tourist attractions and entertainment options|
|Best on a budget||Hoi An||A coastal town with a rich history and fascinating attractions|
|Best for bohemians||Da Nang||A seaside city with a distinct culture and lots of trendy places|
|Best for long-term stay||Vung Tau||A peaceful coastal town in the vicinity of Ho Chi Minh City|
Photo credit: juanjoletone
Where to stay in Vietnam for the first time—Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is the perfect starting point for your visit to Vietnam. The so-called Pearl of the Far East is a fascinating city in every way and showcases Vietnam’s rich history. As the main representative of Vietnamese independence and the war, it is full of museums and landmarks devoted to these bloody events. The city mixes modern and traditional culture. You can explore the remnants of the French Colonial era and experience the indigenous Vietnamese lifestyle.
What to see and do in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is an amazing city to visit as it offers something to everyone: whatever your interests may be, the city will offer you something you won’t forget. Culture vultures will fall in love with its museums and galleries, foodies can experiment with local snacks, and party animals can dance all night in its lively bars and clubs. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our favorite places:
- War Remnants Museum
- Ho Chi Minh City Museum
- Cu Chi Tunnels
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Ben Than Market
- Saigon Opera House
- Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas
- Pham Ngu Lao Street
- Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum
- The Tan Dinh Church (the Pink Church)
Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi Tunnels are an extensive tunnel network that stretches over 70 kilometers. The tunnels served as a military base and hiding spots for Vietcong guerillas during the Tet Offensive of 1968. The tunnels are now one of Ho Chi Minh’s main tourist attractions. You can visit most of the underground chambers and experience Vietcong living conditions during the war.
Photo credit: steve_chaz_photography
Ho Chi Minh City Museum
If you want to explore the city’s rich and violent history, you shouldn’t miss the Ho Chi Minh City Museum. Its many artifacts showcase Vietnamese resistance to French occupation, as well as Ho Chi Minh’s traditional culture. You will find whole galleries dedicated to the War, as well as ceramics, ancient maps, and marriage costumes of different ethnic groups.
Photo credit: henrytamtam
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City
Since Ho Chi Minh is such a large city, there are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation. The outskirts are cheap but the central area is a bit pricier. Still, staying in Ho Chi Minh is surprisingly budget-friendly and the average night in the city costs around $45. Check out our top picks:
Budget option: this affordable riverside studio.
Midrange option: this spacious apartment.
Luxurious option: this beautiful apartment in the very center.
You can find more accommodation options here.
Where to stay in Vietnam for nightlife—Hanoi
Just like in most countries, the capital is the best place to experience Vietnamese nightlife. Hanoi is a magnificent city with outstanding cultural and historical value, which makes it one of the best tourist destinations in the world. Unlike some smaller cities, Hanoi also offers a wild, vibrant, and totally unique night scene. Although most places close at midnight due to the country’s strict laws, there are several places that break the rules and stay open until the authorities show up to close them.
What to see and do in Hanoi
The city is known for its many attractions that are well worth visiting, including the Imperial Citadel, Hai Ba Trung Temple, and the Women’s Museum. As for its nightlife, the options are endless. If you’re a backpacker who wants to experience traditional night fun, you will adore sipping local beer in Hanoi’s crowded streets. Those looking for a more intensive action will be glad to hear that Hanoi is full of fantastic bars and clubs. If you can’t make up your mind, here are some ideas where you could spend your nights in Hanoi:
- Apocalypse Now
- Bia Hoi Junction
- Bia Hoi 68 Hang Quat
- Water Puppet Theater
- Dragon Fly Bar Lounge
- King Pirates Pub
- Binh Minh Jazz Club
- Le Pub Hanoi
If you like to dance until the sun rises, Apocalypse Now may be the best place in Hanoi for you. This is the only club that’s officially open all night so most people visit it after midnight. The atmosphere is crazy and the dancefloor crowded at all times. Both locals and foreigners frequent the club so you can hear all sorts of music and meet all kinds of people. The only issue with this club is that alcohol is quite pricey.
Photo credit: nashik_nightlife
Bia Hoi Junction
Bia Hoi Junction is a must-visit place for any nightlife lover. This junction is known for its many bars and is crowded all day and night. If you visit it in the evening, you will find hundreds and hundreds of tourists and foreigners alike sitting on plastic stools, sipping Vietnamese beer, and tasting local snacks. The atmosphere is so lively you may feel like you’ve visited a carnival.
Photo credit: johnlowe
Where to stay in Hanoi
Hanoi offers a wide range of accommodation options, from extra cheap to high-end. The prices vary from neighborhood to neighborhood but on average, you need to pay around $50 for one night. Here are our top picks:
Budget option: this affordable room in a townhouse.
Midrange option: this cozy studio.
Luxurious option: this gorgeous apartment in the Old Quarter.
You can browse for more AirBnBs here.
Where to stay in Vietnam on a budget—Hoi An
Hoi An is a wonderful coastal town, ideal for budget travelers because of its low cost of living. The town is known for its slow-paced, relaxing lifestyle so you will get the peace of mind you don’t even know you need. Hoi An has an incredibly rich history, best seen in its architecture and cultural heritage. You will get to know the authentic Vietnamese lifestyle, as well as the remnants of Chinese, Japanese, and French eras. Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which serves as proof of its cultural significance.
How to spend your days in Hoi An
Although it is more quiet and peaceful than major Vietnamese cities, there are plenty of things you can do in Hoi An. If you like exploring exotic cultures, you’ll find this town heaven sent. There are myriads of interesting museums, temples, and galleries to visit. The nightlife is not as rich as in big cities but there are enough pubs and bars to make your evenings more than interesting. Hoi An’s beautiful nature and pristine beaches are also wonderful, so we suggest you check them out. Here are our Hoi An top picks:
- Japanese Covered Bridge
- Old Town
- Phung Hung Ancient House
- The Hoi An Night Market
- Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum
- Tan Ky family house
- An Bang beach
- Champa ruins
Japanese Covered Bridge
Japanese Covered Bridge is unique in every way. Who would have thought that you can find the world’s only covered bridge that serves as a temple in this little town? The bridge was built by the Japanese and Chinese merchants as a symbol of goodwill and has distinct Japanese architecture. The bridge is covered by carvings and statues of animals that will capture the heart of any art lover.
Photo credit: sayumi87
Champa ruins are located outside Hoi An but they are absolutely worth renting a motorbike to get there. In Champa, you will find My Son Vietnam, a group of centuries-old temples that are nothing less than extraordinary. This sacred place was the heart of the Champa Kingdom and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site was bombed during the Vietnam War but the ruins are still marvelous.
Photo credit: _albertorossi_
Where to stay in Hoi An
Accommodation in Hoi An is quite affordable and the average price for one night is around $35. Some parts of the town are even more budget-friendly, so you can easily find a nice AirBnB without breaking the bank. Check out our top picks:
Budget option: this super cheap private room.
Midrange option: this rustic Ancient Town house.
Luxurious option: this trendy hotel room.
For more AirBnBs, visit this page.
Where to stay in Vietnam for bohemians—Da Nang
Da Nang is a wonderful coastal city where you can experience a completely authentic Vietnamese experience. Although it is the third-largest city in the country, it is not as popular with tourists as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. We think it’s totally underrated as this city has plenty to offer. It has wonderful beaches, exotic nature, delicious cuisine, and an enormous historical and cultural value. Da Nang is close to Hoi An and Champa ruins so you can easily go on a day trip to these fantastic places.
What to do and see in Da Nang
Da Nang is full of interesting places to visit so you will never get bored in this fantastic city. From sunny beaches and glorious mountains to a bridge that breathes fire (we kid you not), the city has something for everyone. After a long day of exploring the city, you can unwind in one of its trendy rooftop bars or hip nightclubs and have the time of your lie. Make sure to check out these places:
- The Marble Mountains
- Ba Na hills
- Dragon Bridge
- Museum of Cham Sculpture
- The Da Nang Museum
- Sun World Ba Na Hills
- Monkey Mountain
The Marble Mountains
The Marble Mountains are undeniably one of the most breathtaking places in Vietnam. As their name suggests, they are comprised of marble, as well as limestone. You can hike to the top for a mesmerizing view of the city, explore various tunnels and caves, or admire gorgeous Buddhist shrines. You will also find hundreds of stalls selling marvel carvings and sculptures, which makes this place ideal for souvenir shopping.
Photo credit: kuts.mariia
Museum of Cham Sculpture
Da Nang is home to many nice museums but the Museum of Cham Sculpture is our top pick. It is around one century old and contains hundreds of wonderful sculptures that were made between the 7th and 15th centuries. The collection of terracotta and stone works is impressive as well. If you want to get familiar with the fascinating Champa civilization that ruled Southern Vietnam for over 1600 years, make sure not to miss this amazing museum.
Photo credit: museum_of_chum_sculptu
Where to stay in Da Nang
Da Nang has hundreds of available AirBnBs so you can easily find an option that suits your budget. The average price per night is around $50. Here are some ideas where you could stay:
Budget option: this cheap riverside house.
Midrange option: this beautiful apartment.
Luxurious option: this cute and cozy house.
Browse for more accommodation options here.
Where to stay in Vietnam long term—Vung Tau
If you want to stay in Vietnam for a while or turn into a digital nomad, you should consider settling in Vung Tau. This town is becoming more and more popular with expats every year, and for good reasons. The cost of living is super low and the town is safe and peaceful, far from the hectic lifestyle of big cities. Still, it won’t take you more than two hours to get to Ho Chi Minh City by bus, so you can easily experience that big city atmosphere whenever you want. Add its gorgeous beaches and beautiful nature to the mix and you get a fantastic town to live in.
What to see and do in Vung Tau
As Vung Tau used to be a crucial port back in the day, it has great historical value. There are plenty of interesting sights to enjoy, all without the irritating presence of thousands of tourists. You will also find many bars and interesting restaurants, so you don’t have to worry about getting bored. Here are some places that we highly recommend:
- Statue of Jesus Christ
- Martyr’s Memorial
- Vung Tau Lighthouse
- Thang Tam Temple
- Villa Blanche
- Ho May Culture & Ecotourism Park
Statue of Jesus Christ
Overlooking the town from the Nui Nho mountain, the Statue of Jesus Christ is a fascinating Vietnamese take on Rio de Janeiro’s famous statue. The statue is 105-foot-tall and you can see it from most parts of the town. Adventurists at heart should try hiking to the top of the mountain, although we have to warn you: it’s not an easy feat. Still, it’s absolutely worth it as you can enter the statue, climb its many steps, and look at the city from its shoulder.
Photo credit: teresa.vu98
Villa Blanche, also known as the White Palace, was the summer home of General Paul Doumer, a French governor. The villa is the most interesting remnant of the French Colonial era in this town and was the location of many important historical events. It is the best place in Vung Tau to explore how the French colonialists used to live. The architecture is fascinating and you will see many carvings and beading, as well as interesting Hellenic statues.
Photo credit: engiepham
Where to stay in Vung Tau
In Vung Tau, you can find super cheap AirBnBs as well as some more luxurious accommodation options. On average, one night will cost you around $50. If you’re not sure where to stay, check out our top picks:
Budget option: this affordable apartment near the beach.
Midrange option: this cozy studio.
Luxurious option: this elegant home.
For more AirBnBs in Vung Tau, visit this page.