3 Amazing Vietnamese Cities Off the Beaten Track

It’s no secret that Vietnam is becoming a popular destination for holiday makers and travel enthusiasts. A huge part of this attraction is because there is a diverse range of cities, each with their own unique character. 

Vietnamese cities have something for everyone. There’s the charm of Hanoi, where history and tradition collide with modernization. The picturesque romanticism of Hoi An’s architecture. Or the beach life vibe of Da Nang.

Also, the rabbit hole of urban Vietnam goes deeper than most people are willing to fall. In this blog, we aim to drop your Google pin in 3 lesser known cities that will still satisfy your appetite for adventure.

Here’s the Deal

I’ve lived in Vietnam as an English teacher for over 2 and a half years. In that time, I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the country. When I talk to my friends or other travelers about my experiences here, a common question that I get asked is, “Which city is your favorite?”

Now I’ve never liked choosing favorites, and this is no exception. What I will say is that if you don’t limit yourself to only the well-known cities, your favorite may well end up being a place most people drive past whilst trying to get some shut-eye on a sleeper bus.

Epic Views in Quy Nhon, Vietnam.

Photograph courtesy of VNExpress

Quy Nhon

Quy Nhon is a peaceful, beach-side city on the coast of Southern Vietnam. Nestled between Da Lat and Da Nang, this destination is great for sand and sea lovers who also want to feel like life has had the brakes put on. Quy Nhon is well known to Vietnamese locals who say the sea-food is some of the best in the country. You will also be spoiled for choice with places to visit, sites to see, and excursions. Landmarks include Thap Doi (Twin Towers), Ong Nui temple, and Long Khanh Pagoda to name but a few.

Nature lovers could seek to take in the beautiful view from the top of Vung Chua mountain. Those looking to open their purse or wallet could try one of the many markets or visit the Nguyen Nga center, a charity that provides disabled locals with a steady job hand making souvenirs and comfortable accommodation. Speaking of accommodation, you will find a large selection of beautiful places to stay that suit all budgets and tastes.

Quy Nhon’s reputation is growing fast so be sure to get there before it gets too crowded!

What Do Dong Hoi & Phong Nha Have to Offer?

Photograph on left by Phong Ban Ve. Photograph on right by World Nomads.

Dong Hoi

Dong Hoi is another beach-side city, but who’s going to complain about too much beach time? Located roughly 150km north of Hue in central Vietnam, Dong Hoi has all the ingredients of popular cities like Da Nang. Just without all the people and tourist infrastructure. The city itself is very relaxed and clean with little reason to get flustered like you might in Hanoi or HCM. There are many restaurants situated in quiet streets serving quality cuisine from around the world, and of course local food. Why not grab yourself some Banh Trang Nuong when lazily strolling along the beachfront?

Another reason to visit this city is its proximity to Phong Nha National Park which is only an hour away by car or motorbike. Arguably one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam, Phong Nha boasts stunning scenery of towering limestone mountains, exotic and rare wildlife, and an intricate river system that carved the largest cave in the world. Dong Hoi is home to many reasonably priced hotels and home-stays that are ideally located along the coastline. There are also a few backpacker hostels, but expect this number to rise as Dong Hoi grows in popularity.

Waterfall Views

Photograph courtesy of Yeudulich

Buon Ma Thuot

Now let’s go inland and change up the scenery. If you’re looking for a good place to party, Buon Ma Thuot is happy to disappoint. On the other hand, if you’re looking for friendly locals and beautiful countryside, get your party hat on.

It’s no lie that Buon Ma Thuot isn’t the most convenient destination to travel to. Located in Southern Vietnam close to the Cambodian border, from Da Lat, it will take you roughly 6 hours by bus to get there along windy mountainous roads, although this does make for great window watching. A Vietnamese friend once said to me that Buon Ma Thuot has the best coffee in Vietnam.

Considering Vietnam has some of the best coffee in the world, caffeine lovers will be in for a treat. The surrounding countryside of Buon Ma Thuot is littered with coffee farms which make for a great day out. Roughly an hour away from the city is the Dray Sap waterfalls. Not only is it a beautiful place to swim in small lagoons, but also a great place to have a BBQ and take some photos that will turn your friends green with envy.

You won’t be spoiled for choice for accommodation but there are some great home-stays where you can have an authentic experience of how the locals live. I would highly recommend Happy Homestay, the name really does suit it.

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