To be honest, I didn’t expect to fall in love with Vietnam. I gave myself a week to explore the country toward the end of a Southeast Asia trip. I figured I was in the area, so why not? To my surprise, I left wanting more!
Vietnam is full of beauty and has so much to offer. It’s a mix of modern and ancient. It has mountains, caves, lakes, and rice fields. Luckily, Vietnam is pretty affordable and easy to get around, so I was able to do a lot in a limited amount of time. If you find yourself on a time crunch and are determined to get that perfect shot, I suggest checking out these five very instagrammable spots.
1) GOLDEN BRIDGE
Cau Vang, or “Golden Bridge” as it is more commonly known, is located almost 1000 meters above sea level in Vietnam’s Ba Na Hills in central Vietnam. The closest major city is Da Nang, which is about a forty minute cab ride, costing roughly $15 USD.
Golden Bridge is actually part of Vietnam’s popular mountaintop amusement park, Sun World Ba Na Hills, and the only way to access the bridge is via cable car. Admission to the park ($30 USD) is required to board. The cable car is actually really impressive and almost worth the entrance fee alone. It holds multiple world records, one being the longest non-stop, three-rope cable car in the world and the views from it are stunning! Although I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who has a fear of heights.
After learning that the Golden Bridge was part of an amusement park I was somewhat reluctant to visit, but I found myself with some spare time in the area and decided to give it a go! It was a decision I did not regret. Golden Bridge is absolutely as beautiful as it looks in photos! I would recommend arriving as soon as the gates open. The morning mist over the mountains is especially beautiful and I had about thirty minutes to enjoy the bridge before large crowds started to arrive.
2) HALONG BAY
Halong Bay, located in northeast Vietnam, is a gorgeous emerald bay, made up of more than 1,600 limestone islands. It is one of the most photographed places in Vietnam and rightfully so. The islands are topped with thick, jungle-like vegetation and some are even hollow, allowing you to walk through large cave systems.
I recommend doing a two day/ one-night cruise, at the minimum, in order to fully experience what the bay has to offer. There is definitely no shortage of boat tours and choosing an operator can actually be a little overwhelming. I chose Vega Travel and had a wonderful time. Their route through the bay differs slightly from the others, so although I was able to see the same things, it was a lot less crowded.
I had the opportunity to kayak, swim at the beach, hike to the top of Ti-Top Island, and visit a couple of caves. I also experienced Halong Bay’s amazing sunset and sunrise, since I did an overnight!
3) HOI AN ANCIENT TOWN
So this isn’t exactly a specific spot (it’s a tiny town), but it is one of my favorite places in Vietnam and there’s an abundance of Instagrammable locations! Hoi An is a city on Vietnam’s central coast and is known for its well preserved Ancient Town. It was an active trading port between the 15th and 19th centuries and for this reason, a combination of Chinese, Japanese and European influences can be seen.
For a few dollars, a ticket to Ancient Town can be purchased, giving the holder access to five out of the twenty-two heritage attractions of their choice. These include museums, assembly halls, and ancient houses. I also recommend just walking the town and getting lost in its incredibly cute alleys.
Great locations for photos include the Japanese Covered Bridge, Fukian Assembly Hall and any of the town’s golden colored walls. It is especially beautiful at night when the lanterns are lit up!
4) TOPAS ECOLODGE
Topas Ecolodge has been designated as one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the world. It is located in northwestern Vietnam, close to the Chinese border and near the beautiful area of Sapa. Sapa is a quiet town, high up in the mountains, and is home to a handful of different ethnic minority groups. These groups work the land and the area is known for its beautiful rice terraces.
Topas Ecolodge is special because it’s a distance from the touristy parts of Sapa and provides a truly relaxing experience. It’s extremely quiet, peaceful, and really allows one to get away from it all. There are thirty-three small bungalows scattered among the hillside and one incredible infinity pool. In addition to being environmentally friendly, the lodge also employs the local people.
There are lots of activities you can partake in around the lodge, including trekking through rice paddies and the forests of Hoang Lien National Park, biking through the mountains, riding a cable car to the top of Mount Fansipan, or exploring Sapa Town. If Topas Ecolodge is out of your budget, there are some beautiful homestays in Sapa, with equally beautiful landscapes.
5) HOAN KIEM LAKE
Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the major scenic spots in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. The freshwater lake, located in the center of the city’s old quarter, serves as a focal point, giving the otherwise bustling city, a sense of calm.
The locals love to tell the story of the lake’s legendary turtle, named Cu Rua, or Great-Grandfather. The sacred turtle, a large, soft-shelled species that is endangered, lived in the lake for 120 years before dying in 2016. The tower, in the middle of the Hoan Kiem Lake, is actually referred to as Turtle Tower. After the turtle’s death, a lake clean up and renovations took place. Today, the lake is an amazing spot to stop and relax or hang out with friends.
Vietnam is an incredibly special country. Hopefully, you find yourself with more time there than I did and are able to add to this list of Instagrammable spots!
Have you ever been to Vietnam? If you have any additional tips for our readers or questions please leave these in the comments below.
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