The ultimate guide to exploring Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage

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Vietnam, located in Southeast Asia, is rich in history, tradition, and culture. It serves as a melting pot of diverse cultures, boasting 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Among these, 5 are dedicated to cultural heritage, 2 to natural heritage, and 1 to mixed heritage, making it the sole mixed heritage site in Southeast Asia.

Ftrip Vietnam aims to introduce you to these 8 UNESCO world heritage sites in Vietnam, following its distinctive S-shaped geography. It will highlight the unique features of each site and suggest the best times to visit, helping you make an informed decision about which destinations to explore. Let’s begin our journey!

Top 8 Best Unesco World Heritage Sites In Vietnam

Now, let’s dive into the top 8 UNESCO world heritage sites in Vietnam below:

Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, situated in one of the oldest capital cities in Southeast Asia, was constructed in the 11th century with the purpose of fortifying against foreign attacks. Over its 1,300-year history, it functioned as the seat of power for the Ly, Tran, and Le dynasties before being recognized as a Heritage Site in 2010.

Visitors to the area can explore significant historical landmarks such as the Doan Mon Gate, Hanoi Flag Tower, and the Kinh Thien Palace. For those interested in delving deeper into the rich history of this well-preserved ancient capital, a visit to the Citadel’s museum is highly recommended!

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Hue Complex of Monuments

The Hue Complex of Monuments is an impressive collection of temples, tombs, and fortresses situated along the Perfume River. Covering over 500 hectares, it includes notable structures such as the Citadel, Forbidden Purple City, and Imperial City. Inspired by Vietnam’s deep reverence for nature, this architectural marvel reflects a unique blend of human creativity and environmental harmony.

Recognized by UNESCO, the Hue Complex is lauded for its embodiment of “late feudal urban planning” in East Asia, showcasing how societies once coexisted harmoniously with nature. 

The Citadel, with its imposing walls and expansive moat, stands as a testament to the architectural prowess of the time. Beyond its fortifications lie palace pavilions and courtyards that have endured through centuries.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, the preservation efforts of the national government have been instrumental in restoring the capital’s war-ravaged heritage, particularly after the Vietnam War. 

Visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of the Complex by taking a tranquil boat ride along the Perfume River, offering a unique perspective on these historical treasures.

Citadel of the Ho Dynasty

The Citadel of the Ho Dynasty, situated amidst the scenic landscapes of Thanh Hoa Province in Vietnam, is a captivating historical site.

Despite appearing weathered by time at first glance, this citadel boasts a rich history, having been constructed in the late 14th century when it functioned as Vietnam’s capital during the brief six-year rule of the Ho Dynasty.

As visitors explore the citadel, they are struck by the stark contrast between its gray limestone structure and the vibrant greenery of the surrounding paddy fields. This contrast symbolizes the harmonious blend of human-made architecture with Vietnam’s natural beauty. 

Notably, the citadel’s strategic placement, nestled between the Ma and Buoi rivers and flanked by the Don Son and Song Tuong mountains, reflects the influence of feng shui principles in its design.

An impressive feat of architecture, the Citadel of the Ho Dynasty was built entirely without mortar, with its interlocking stone blocks held together through precise cutting and sheer force. This achievement stands as a testament to the ingenuity of the Ho Dynasty.

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Beyond its architectural marvels, the citadel served as the hub of governance and residence for Vietnamese emperors. Divided into the Inner Citadel, where the imperial government and residence were located, and the Outer Citadel, which housed government officials, merchants, and other individuals associated with the emperor, the citadel holds significance both historically and architecturally.

Hoi An Ancient Town

Located in Quang Nam province, central Vietnam, Hoi An Ancient Town enchants visitors with its rich history and vibrant atmosphere. Once a bustling trading port attracting merchants from China, Japan, and Europe, it now draws tourists with its beautiful architecture, diverse culture, and delicious cuisine. Prepare to be captivated by the timeless charm of this enchanting destination.

Hoi An resembles a scene from a Wes Anderson film, with its colorful buildings, decorative lanterns adorning the streets, and cobblestone roads – a testament to Vietnam’s commitment to preserving its heritage. Unlike the modern streets of Hanoi, Hoi An exudes a unique charm that transports visitors back in time.

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, alongside the Hue Complex of Monuments and My Son Sanctuary, Hoi An boasts significant cultural and historical importance. A visit to Hoi An would not be complete without seeing the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge, dating back to the 16th century. This bridge symbolizes the blending of Vietnamese, Japanese, and Chinese influences and serves as a picturesque backdrop for memorable photographs.

Believed to have been built to connect the Japanese and Chinese quarters of the town, the Japanese Covered Bridge is just one of the many notable landmarks in Hoi An. Visitors can also explore the Quan Cong Temple, the Museum of Trade Ceramics, and the Tan Ky House, each offering insight into the town’s fascinating past.

Halong Bay

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, Halong Bay boasts over 1,600 limestone islands and islets, creating a stunning landscape of towering cliffs, tranquil waters, and ancient caves waiting to be discovered.

One of the must-visit spots is Thien Cung Cave, renowned for its spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. Evidence suggests human habitation in the area for thousands of years, with traces of ancient fishing communities and naval battles carved into the rocks. However, recent studies indicate that the rock formations predate human civilization, dating back as far as three million years.

Dive deeper into the beauty of Halong Bay by engaging in activities like snorkeling and scuba diving, allowing you to marvel at the diverse marine life thriving beneath the bay’s surface.

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If you are considering an ultimate Halong Bay tour, check out the detailed guide on Halong Bay Holiday Packages 2023. You will immerse yourself in nature by floating in the middle of the sea with a kayaking adventure and many more in Halong bay Vietnam holiday packages!

Trang An Landscape

Trang An Landscape Complex, nestled in Ninh Binh Province, covers an expansive area of 10,000 hectares. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, this complex boasts an impressive collection of limestone karst formations, intricate caves, meandering rivers, and sacred temples – all accessible via boat tours.

During your serene boat journey, be prepared to be enveloped by the verdant scenery and towering cliffs that line the riverbanks. 

As you glide along, you’ll encounter a plethora of floating lilies and other aquatic plants thriving in the flourishing ecosystem. Marvel at the intricate network of caves scattered throughout the complex, formed over millions of years and adorned with enchanting stalactites and stalagmites, creating a truly surreal landscape.

After your tranquil river excursion, take the opportunity to visit the revered Trinh Temple and Khong Temple, both steeped in cultural significance. These ancient temples are a must-visit for travelers looking to immerse themselves in Vietnam’s rich heritage and spirituality.

My Son Sanctuary

My Son Sanctuary holds significant importance as part of the ancient Champa Kingdom’s relics, functioning as a center for Cham religious and cultural practices dating back to 300 AD. Over time, the site’s terrain has become uneven, so it’s advisable to wear appropriate footwear for a comfortable visit.

The intricate structures found within the sanctuary reflect the artistic skill of the long-gone civilization. Recognized by UNESCO in 1999, this site boasts Hindu-inspired temples, shrines, and towers, showcasing remarkable craftsmanship considering they were constructed solely from red bricks and adorned with elaborate carvings.

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Among the notable attractions are the Tower of K, the Gate Tower, and the Temple of the Warriors, each holding its own historical significance. Additionally, visitors have the option to explore the Thu Bon River via boat trips, providing further insights into the history and culture of the Champa Kingdom. It’s best to plan visits during cooler times to avoid the heat of the afternoon.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, boasts remarkable ecological diversity and a rich geological history. Carved by the Mekong River over millennia, this stunning landscape showcases an array of caves and grottoes adorned with magnificent stalactites and stalagmites.

One of the park’s highlights is Phong Nha Cave, renowned for its expansive chambers and enchanting underground rivers, showcasing nature’s intricate artwork through its rock formations. 

For those seeking adventure, Paradise Cave awaits, stretching over 30 kilometers. And for the most daring explorers, there’s Hang Son Doong, the world’s largest cave, offering a surreal experience in an otherworldly setting.

Key things to explore UNESCO world heritage sites in Vietnam

Money and Currency Exchange in Vietnam

Vietnamese currency is referred to as the “Dong” or “VND” in currency code. Coins are no longer in circulation, with only paper and polymerized bills being used, making it convenient for carrying around.

However, Vietnamese banknotes often have several zeros, with the smallest denominations being 500 VND, 1,000 VND, 2,000 VND, and 5,000 VND, and the largest being 500,000 VND.

Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in establishments like restaurants and hotels, as well as other public amenities, though they may not be usable at street-food stalls. ATMs are readily available throughout the country. The most common exchange rate for travelers in Vietnam is from US dollars (USD) to Vietnamese dong (VND). 

Transportation in Vietnam

Vietnam’s transportation network is quite complete with international and domestic airport systems in many provinces, the “famous” North-South railway system, and the extensive road system with the backbone of National Highway 1A. Below is a transportation map in Vietnam with train stations and airports.

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Cost of living in Vietnam

Living affordably in Vietnam is entirely feasible due to its relatively low cost of living. Most goods and services are priced at less than half of what you’d find in Western countries, or even cheaper compared to some popular tourist destinations in Asia. 

While expenses in major cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi can be higher, there are ample opportunities for a comfortable lifestyle on a budget, especially if you’re open to local cuisine and adapting to the Vietnamese way of life. 

Living outside of these urban centers can further reduce expenses. Ultimately, your lifestyle choices will dictate your cost of living, but Vietnam offers a competitive job market for both locals and expatriates, along with moderate living expenses. 

With steady employment and reasonable financial management, individuals can expect a satisfying quality of life and the flexibility to explore travel opportunities.

Internet and Telecommunication in Vietnam

Vietnam boasts widespread internet coverage, making it easy for visitors to stay connected. Wi-fi is readily available throughout the country, including in restaurants, cafes, convenience stores, and even at street food stalls. This ensures that travelers can stay connected to the online world while exploring Vietnam.

Moreover, numerous providers offer 4G data services through SIM cards, catering to those who are frequently on the move or need to maintain communication. Notable telecommunication companies include Viettel, Mobifone, and Vinaphone. 

SIM cards are typically priced between 50,000 to 100,000 VND (approximately 2 to 4.5 USD), with affordable data packages starting from just 30,000 VND for unlimited access.


Exploring UNESCO world heritage sites in Vietnam Ftrip listed above is a rare chance not everyone gets. Luckily, Vietnam has many more hidden gems beyond these sites. There’s a whole world of adventure waiting for you! With countless destinations to explore, let Vietnam captivate you as you plan your upcoming trip.

Reviewed by

Diep Van

Phone: +84901166884


Diep Van

Founder & Photography Guide

Specialties: Culture, landscape, portrait, hiking, active and adventurous tour

Besides my unlimited passion for traveling, a professional tour guide for over a decade, I have been taking photographs since sitting at Hanoi of the University of Culture in the early 2000s. Photography started as a hobby but it was seriously taken due to my work relations and my significant passion for the beauty of our world, especially in Southeast Asian parts such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

Within a few years of taking photographs, my works began to be recognized by many reliable international publications such as AFAR Travel, The Times, and The Daily Telegraph newspaper. In addition, I continuously add to my growing profile by winning numerous major awards: 3rd Position of The Independent Photographer 2018, 1st Position of Amateur Photographer of the year 2018, Grand Prize Winner of the AFAR Travel Photography 2019, and a Gold Award of San Francisco Bay International Photography 2020.

I photograph a wide variety of subjects, from travel to landscapes to street scenes. I enjoy documenting the East’s rich cultural heritage and its land soaked in glorious sunrise or sunset light in remote and secluded spots. And, I am very happy to share my knowledge and experience with you. You can visit Luminousvietnamtour to explore tour!

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