5 must-see heritage sites in Vietnam

11-Mar-2019

For culture lovers, every small moment of discovery is a step closer to understanding a new and different way of life. Scattered throughout the country, Vietnam's UNESCO Heritage Sites are jackpots for these moments of discovery. Each one promises exceptional beauty and exceptional insight into Vietnamese culture. Of the eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in Vietnam, here are five you absolutely must not miss.

The Complex of Hue Monuments

unesco world heritage sites

In the central city of Hue you'll find the last vestiges of the Nguyen Dynasty. Here, against a backdrop of forested hills with a meandering river at their feet, the Nguyen emperors erected administrative offices, military headquarters, palaces, temples and even their own tombs.

Vietnam’s feudal capital was strategically built along the banks of the Perfume River, with easy access to the sea. Taking inspiration from Beijing’s Forbidden City, the structures within the citadel were carefully laid out to be in cosmological alignment with the five elements, cardinal points and colours.

Take a leisurely amble around the complex and watch Imperial Vietnam come to life in full colour. Imposing statues, priceless treasures and intricate mosaics wait around every corner. Although the Nguyen Dynasty ended in 1945, the symbolic significance of the Hue Monuments–once the political, cultural and religious heart of Vietnam–still echoes today.

TIP: Be sure to charge your camera, as there are more photo opps here than you can count. Want to see more? Rent a bicycle and cycle to the tombs, soaking up views of Hue’s countryside on the way.

Trang An Landscape Complex

unesco world heritage sites

Ninh Binh has long enchanted visitors with a melding of sacred temples, serene countryside, and dramatic karsts. Three elements come together to render this one of Vietnam's top heritage sites: the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital -- the national seat of power in the 10th and 11th centuries -- the Trang An Scenic Complex, and the Hoa Lu Forest.

Ninh Binh's sublime landscape is made of karst peaks and towers, which rise steeply up from the valley below, itself covered in tranquil waterways and lush rice paddies. Traditional sampans rowed by local guides glide gently along the current, beneath dripping grottoes and past dense rainforest. Take a short climb to the mossy pagodas and viewpoints on the cliffs, and you'll have the entire panorama at your feet.

Hoi An Ancient Town

unesco world heritage sites

Hoi An was once a bustling trading port, welcoming merchants from far across the seas. Between the 15th and 19th centuries, Chinese, Japanese and Europeans settled along the banks of the winding Thu Bon River. Today, 30 hectares of this ancient town is preserved as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site.

Hoi An’s unique fusion of cultural influences reveals itself within its narrow streets. Weathered shop-houses squeeze shoulder-to-shoulder alongside ancestral homes, their tiled roofs decorated in exotic wood carvings. Tucked away from the old ferry quay, you’ll find an open market, pagodas and a timber bridge that once connected the town's Japanese and Chinese communities. Hoi An is even better in the evenings, when the faded streets glow in the light of thousands of lanterns.

TIP: Time your visit to Hoi An on a night with a full moon, and join the throngs of locals enjoying dragon dances, boat rides and moonlit revelry on the riverbanks.

Ha Long Bay

unesco world heritage sites

It’s no surprise Ha Long Bay is home to as many legends as it is islands. The name ‘Ha Long’ means ‘descending dragon’ and Vietnamese tell a tale of a dragon that descended from the sky, spitting out thousands of pearls that became the islands and islets we see today.

This spectacular bay and Natural Heritage Site stretches across the Gulf of Tonkin, 165 km from Hanoi. Hidden among more than 1,600 limestone formations, are secret grottoes, sparkling beaches, and jaw-dropping caves. The best way to go is on an overnight cruise. Mornings are for watching the sunrise, practicing tai chi or sightseeing in the caves. Afternoons are spent swimming, kayaking or simply relaxing on the sun deck. Evenings arrive with striking sunsets and soothing sea breeze, and leave behind a sky riddled with stars.

The scenery in the bay is enhanced by the local life that continues in this dream-like setting. Floating villages rest on rafts, children row to school, men fish for a living, and women cook and sell their wares–all in the company of Ha Long’s majestic karsts and emerald waterways.

TIP: Ha Long can be sunny and clear, cold and frigid, or foggy and misty depending what time of year you travel. Check the weather first to make the most of your time in the bay.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

unesco world heritage sites

Part of the Annamite Mountain Range in Quang Binh Province, Phong Nha lures adventure lovers with an outstanding limestone karst ecosystem. The national park covers 126,236 hectares of dense tropical forest, enormous caves, and underground rivers. 

Phong Nha lays claim to the second-largest cave in the world, Hang Son Doong, and is home a wide array of cave types, such as terraced caves, intersecting caves, and suspended caves. Multi-day excursions will take you deep into these spectacular caverns, where you can dive into glowing rock pools and camp beside subterranean rivers. For more gentle exploration, local boats will ferry you noisely through Phong Nha Cave and down the winding Son River.

Apart from scientifically important caves, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park shelters a large number of endemic species. Asiatic black bear, tigers and saola have all been spotted within the UNESCO-protected area, giving nature lovers even more reason to put Phong Nha on their itineraries. 

Related
Clients say about us

“Please find enclosed the questionnaire filled in and commented. Sorry for the delay. I would like to thank you for all the efforts you have done, we really appreciate your support regarding the organization of our trip. All members of my small group are really satisfied and keep many pleasant memories...”

 Susan Nou
Susan Nou
05 Sep 2019

“We had an absolutely fantastic time! I think the absolute best tour we’ve ever been on. You made everything incredibly easy and smooth for us and we really appreciate everyone’s responsiveness. The guides were great and young and fun and energetic which is exactly what we needed. Few random thoughts: Really...”

 Steven Beckman
Steven Beckman
23 Aug 2019

“What can I say about this tour operator, but FANTASTIC!! From the time it took us to decide where and when to tour up until the actual tour Ms. Phuong kept us so well informed with great suggestions and quick responses to all questions mailed to her (and there were many). Nothing was too much trouble...”

 Engelstad Tom & Engelstad Ingrid
Engelstad Tom & Engelstad Ingrid
09 Jul 2019

“I wanted to praise JTA Tours for they commendable services. From trip planning to services on the our Vietnam holiday, it was meticulously planned. A show of appreciation to Ms Nhung for your outstanding service, I really appreciated all your hard work as the trip turned out really really well. It was...”

 Nancroix
Nancroix
22 Jun 2019

“We are returning from a journey for 17 days in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam which we had entrusted the organization, JTA Tours. Knowing that we wanted to avoid the places invaded by too many tourists, they have prepared a dream itinerary with very good hotels and very competent guides. We were well...”

 Mrs Bassanetti Marta
Mrs Bassanetti Marta
19 May 2019

“With 3 weeks to discover Vietnam, everyone was surprised that we had seen so much. No double thanks to the travel agency that had organized everything from the smallest detail. The price was very reasonable. During the trip, we would have revised some routes, days to take the time for visit other...”

 Piotr and Grzegorz
Piotr and Grzegorz
23 Apr 2019

“Quite frankly, we were bowled over from start to finish, the itinerary is jam-packed but it was an entirely stress free trip. JTA Tours ensured all airport meetings and transfers were seamless, private travel arrangements and guides were of a high standard. We began our trip in Siem Reap, and travelled...”

 Richard Michael
Richard Michael
28 Mar 2019

“We corresponded extensively before booking the trip and were given lots of suggestions and alternatives to this tailor made holiday. We started in Hanoi where we were met at the airport and taken to our Hotel as a tour guide. The guides have a good grasp of English and extensive knowledge of their country....”

 Bouchard Line & Dradet Denis
Bouchard Line & Dradet Denis
08 Mar 2019

“Hello Nguyen, Yes we are all settled back home in Australia now. Thank you so much for organising this tour for us. We were very well looked after. While all the accommodation in Vietnam was really good, I wouldn’t recommend the Juliana hotel in Phnom Penh, it was too far away to walk to...”

 Lisa and Lance
Lisa and Lance
17 Feb 2019

“We have had great experience with JTA Tours. When we had private tour: Highlights Of Vietnam Tour - 11 Day arranged by Ms. Phuong. We had a long e-mail correspondence prior to it with her, she being highly professional and helpful. The tour itself was exactly what we wanted, hotels were to our satisfaction,...”

 Mrs. Thibault France
Mrs. Thibault France
05 Jan 2019

“Booked this tour in Myanmar through internet. Must admit when first booked we were a little worried, but from the moment we arrived in Yangon everything ran smoothly with JTA Tours. Tour guides in all areas were very helpful and informative especially "Khin Thet Mar" our guide in Bagan. All hotels...”

 Mr. Stanisław Mikulski
Mr. Stanisław Mikulski
22 Nov 2018

“Our family of 4 people just finished a 2 weeks holiday from vietnam to cambodia, we honestly highly valuate the professional organization & meticulous cares of JTA Tours. From the beginning, we emailed to them to customize a suitable trip with a combination between sightseeing & beach relaxation...”

 Mr. Germain Marc
Mr. Germain Marc
05 Nov 2018

“We had an absolutely amazing time in Myanmar, thanks to JTA Tours and our Guide Aung Aung, the sites we saw were incredible. We want to thank Aung Aung for being so good to us and making this trip worth every minute we were on it. For his expertise in Myanmar history and for always doing his best in...”

 Cotton John David
Cotton John David
01 Nov 2018

“The tour was fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed the walking routes each day, with the mountain from Sapa, the walk at Lao Chai & Ta Van, and the day walk at Hoian/trip to Halong bay my personal highlights. The first nights meal at the winery, and the last 2 at the family at Mekong were amazing. Our...”

 Candler Marie Rosanna
Candler Marie Rosanna
11 Oct 2018

“This agency was recommended by my friend - Mr Jito and they really provide good service. Mr Thang helped us all the way from the moment we touch down the airport until the last day we go home, he never disappoint us and we really enjoy very much. all the itinerary they planed for us never go wrong. this...”

 Ms. Nur
Ms. Nur
29 Sep 2018

“Many thanks Jito for your kind support! My and husband's dream to visit Ha Long Bay was finally fulfilled. Tham from JTA Tours provided a good deal and clear itinerary during for visit Ha Long Bay. It was a last minute deal since we were already arrived in Hanoi and seems most good cruise was no longer...”

 Mr. Budi
Mr. Budi
10 Sep 2018

“Hi Suharjito, we are now fine in Indinesia. Thanks so much for amazing trip to the north of Vietnam including Hanoi, Halong& Ninh Binh also. Excellent experience and very high-level service. JTA Tours took amazing care of us from the moment we landed. Were very open for changes and for every...”

 Mr Gin Gunawan
Mr Gin Gunawan
21 Aug 2018

“Dear Thang, we have now returned back to Australia and the chores of work! – We have very pleasant memories of the sights, sounds, food and people of Vietnam….. We shall treasure for a lifetime I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of our group to say we had a wonderful time – the...”

 David Jonathan
David Jonathan
07 Aug 2018

“Hi Thang, I do apologize that it has take me so long to email you and thank you for yet another super lot of organization on your part which helped to make our time in Vietnam so enjoyable. We really do appreciate so much your professional and reliable services which make our job in taking our small...”

 Annie Garrett
Annie Garrett
28 Jul 2018

““Our trip to Vietnam and Cambodia was superbly organised by JTA Tours. We were met promptly and efficiently by very friendly and helpful guides at each stage of our holiday. Our hotel in Seam Reap, Hoian & Hanoi was lovely. The trips were well organised and in formative. The floating villages were...”

 Ingham Sally - Ann
Ingham Sally - Ann
14 Jul 2018

““We wanted to write to you personally to let you know how much we enjoyed our holiday in Myanmar and to thank you for organizing this memorable trip. We had such an amazing time discovering your diverse and beautiful country, it's people and of course the strange food. We found your tour was...”

 Mr. Edward Francis John Doyle
Mr. Edward Francis John Doyle
01 Jul 2018

“Hi Mr. Thang, “BEST SELLING VIETNAM FAMILY TOUR - 17 DAYS" with JTA Tours, just a quick note to say thank you for an amazing experience! Our participants commented on how wonderfully it was organized and we received lots of positive feedback (along with a few suggestions but it was overwhelmingly...”

 Kristel & Depuyt Paul
Kristel & Depuyt Paul
25 Jun 2018

“I search into Goggle for Vietnam & Cambodia tours, I contacted approximately 5 different companies, it was my contact with Ms Na Na that made me select your agency. She was superb in every way and a pleasure to work with, she had excellent suggestion for myself and three Granddaughters. She is truly...”

 Mrs. Mary Madison
Mrs. Mary Madison
18 Jun 2018

“Hi, thank you for your note. I would also like to make special mention of two of your staff – Mr Thang who prepared the tour for us and the second tour guide that we had, who I only knew as Phuong (he was our guide in both Dalat and Nha Trang). The service we received from both of these people was...”

 Karen Denman
Karen Denman
06 Jun 2018

“Hi Mr. Thang, We are doing fine. We want to let you know that our guide Mr Nam was excellent. He saw to all of our needs and had us back to our hotel on time for our dinner with or tour group. I would highly recommend Mr Nam to anyone that needed a private guide while visiting Vietnam. And, thank...”

 Mr. Rodgers Thomas
Mr. Rodgers Thomas
23 May 2018