Major cities in Vietnam act as the vital foundations leading the economy and forming remarkable cultural features for the whole country.
Studying the outstanding features in these cities will greatly help you plan a suitable itinerary to explore this beautiful country.
We now check the highlights of these destinations. And, Vietnamdrive ranges them in order from the biggest city to the smallest one.
1. Hanoi City
- Area: 3,358.6km2
- Population: 8.3 million people (in 2022)
- Location: Northern Area
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, having the largest area of any Vietnamese city, but owning the second-largest total population of the country after Ho Chi Minh City. Many regions are formed to meet the needs of economic development, life, and tourism. In which, Hanoi Old Quarter, also known as 36 streets, has become the center of attraction for most tourists to experience culture and cuisine.
The cultural feature of this city lies in the beauty of the Hanoi people, politeness and courtesy in speech and manner of communication.
A popular and exciting activity you should try is walking around the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake. You can discover the local life and the ancient beauty of the houses here. Don’t forget to stop at an egg cafe near the lake to taste a typical drink, but unfamiliar to most visitors and yourself.
With the outstanding advantage of owning an international Noi Bai airport, this city is very convenient for most international visitors to start their journey to discover Vietnam. From Hanoi, you can easily visit famous neighborhoods, such as Ha Long Bay, Tam Coc Bich Dong, and Sapa.
2. Ho Chi Minh City
- Area: 2,061km2
- Population: 9,166,800 people (2021)
- Location: Southern Area
Ho Chi Minh City is the second largest city in Vietnam, after Hanoi. You will be surprised by the crowded population, and the biggest number of motorbikes in Vietnam concentrates here.
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, has become a major economic and administrative center, attracting many people from neighboring provinces in South and Central Vietnam to live and work, which creates cultural diversity, tasty cuisine, and a colorful lifestyle. Bustling here, sometimes feeling a bit messy.
You have to be more careful with your personal belongings and phone on the street. It is better to answer a call in a restaurant or store than to stand on the sidewalk to talk.
Many famous attractions in Ho Chi Minh await you, including the War Museum, Cu Chi Tunnels, and Fine Arts Museum. Planning a journey to explore this city cannot be done without a motorbike tour through the busy lines, it can be a great experience.
And don’t forget to miss the bustling nightlife of Saigon at Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien walking streets in District 1, which will be a great stop for those who love activities at night.
3. Hai Phong City
- Area: 1,562 km²
- Population: 2,053,493 people (2021)
- Location: Northeast area
Owning the largest seaport in the country, Hai Phong is branded as a port city, where heavy ships import and export goods to and from Vietnam. The city is only behind Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi in terms of population size and economic activities.
Having activities mainly on the sea, the character of the people here is very straightforward. It’s because they often face waves and wind, and the mentality of some people is somewhat unruly and strong.
When traveling to this area, it is impossible to ignore activities on the sea and enjoy fresh seafood dishes. However, it is necessary to ask the price before buying any seafood so that the rate is not unusually high.
Recently, Lan Ha Bay, which is located east of the Cat Ba Island of Hai Phong City, has become a prominent tourist destination for those who love to explore the sea and islands. Luxury cruises are always ready for an exciting overnight experience.
4. Can Tho City
- Area: 1,439 km²
- Population: 1,235,500 people (2019)
- Location: Mekong Delta Area
Can Tho is located on the Mekong River which is full of water all year round and brings alluvium to this fertile land. It is the life associated with rivers and canals, so the locals’ personalities are quite friendly, open-minded, and generous.
Coming to Can Tho, you should not miss visiting the famous Cai Rang floating market, which is among the top famous markets in Vietnam. So, you should put this typical trading place on your top list if you want to understand more about the cultural diversity and trading habits of the South Vietnamese.
Although there is an airport, to get to this city, most tourists use a car to travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho for a 2-day-1-night trip. Of course, you can stay longer to discover more beauty in the lives of the local people.
5. Da Nang City
- Area: 1,285 km²
- Population: 1,195,500 people
- Location: Central Region
Da Nang city owns a beautiful location, situated right in the middle of the country, with one side bordering the sea in the East, West and North surrounded by the Truong Son mountain range and Hai Van Pass. There are a North-South railway and an international airport, creating favorable conditions for transportation and developing tourism by sea, air, road, and rail.
Da Nang is a young city, developing strongly in the past 15 years. Therefore, the roads are wide, and the people’s lives are a bit modern, open-minded, and hospitable.
Owning many beautiful beaches creates strength in sea tourism for this city. You can easily find many international 5-star hotels and resorts along the coast here.
In addition, the golden bridge in the famous Ba Na tourist area in recent years has also been a place not to be missed. Moreover, the Marble Mountains and Non Nuoc Stone Village will give you exciting moments for climbing activities and admiring the technical stone sculptures.
6. Hue City
- Area: 266 square kilometers
- Population: 609,000 people
- Location: Central Vietnam
If compared with Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, Hue city is a much smaller one. But, you feel here is more space for commuting and living because life is less busy.
Hue city has become the cultural and historical center of Middle Vietnam, bearing in it the ancient beauty of the palaces and tombs of the kings of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945). In particular, the poetic Perfume River drifts slowly through the city, contributing to the formation of the human personality here that is very deep and gentle.
Coming to Hue, you should give priority to enjoying the local food with the famous Hue beef noodle soup or the crispy fried pancake. The dishes here have a blend of street food and royal style, as well as a harmony of full of flavors: sour – spicy – salty – sweet.
Besides, do not miss the opportunity to ride a cyclo to slowly explore the green shady streets. You can check out a typical food tour at Hue Flavor, which is a combination of a half-day cyclo and a food experience.
7. Nha Trang City
- Area: 251km2
- Population: 535,000 people (2020)
- Location: South Central region
Belonging to the South Central region, Nha Trang is one of the beautiful coastal cities, owning many large and small islands with plenty of unspoiled beaches selected in the list of beautiful beaches in Vietnam.
Nha Trang can be seen as a new land, where many people from all over the country come to live and contribute to the development of this region. Thereby, these conditions create the own personality of the indigenous people: Open-minded but very clever in communication, upholding personal ego, and respecting their own rights. Therefore, it is easy to make a friend here, but it is very difficult to find someone to become your best friend.
With its favorable nature, if you are a lover of sea travel, you cannot ignore this city during your vacation in Vietnam. Many luxurious resorts are waiting for you, beautiful, airy, and peaceful. And don’t miss the opportunity to find many seawater fishes to taste and don’t forget to join a tour to explore the peaceful islands located in Nha Trang Bay.
8. Da Lat City
- Area: 394.6 square kilometers
- Population: 425,000 people (2020)
- Location: Central Highlands area
Da Lat city has an average altitude of 1,500m above sea level, located on a beautiful plateau in the Truong Son range. It’s because of its ideal altitude, this city often has cool weather all year round, making it a perfect resting place. So, it’s crowded with guests traveling from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Lat on weekends and public holidays.
Perhaps, because the weather is cool, Da Lat people have a slow lifestyle, not in a hurry, but full of friendliness and gentleness. You will come across airy cafes where you can sip a cup of Vietnamese coffee and enjoy the view or read a book, letting the time pass.
When traveling to this mountainous city, you cannot miss exploring a few flower gardens. The flower gardens in Da Lat have become a unique feature, which makes many people call this place the “City of Thousand Flowers”. In addition, waterfalls in Dalat also attract many tourists, such as Dantala waterfall, Pongour …
One thing to note, although there are many interesting local foods, such as grilled rice paper, also known as Pizza Vietnam, you should not look for seafood here. Since this place is a city in the mountains, seafood prices are usually more expensive than in other regions in Vietnam.
9. Hoi An City
- Area: 61.48 km²
- Population: 98,599 people
- Location: Central Region
Hoi An belongs to one of two cities of Quang Nam province, 35km southwest of Da Nang city. Despite having a small population and area, this town has become one of the must-stop stops in the journey to discover Vietnam for many domestic and foreign tourists.
Prominent in the local culture of Hoi An is the lifestyle of the traders, honest and open-minded in communication. This contributes to the attraction of this destination because most visitors feel very friendly and comfortable like where they live.
A definite place not to be missed is Hoi An Ancient Town, where many ancient Chinese-style houses and assembly halls are kept. The neighborhood of just 1 square kilometer becomes a place for walking and shopping that is great for all tourists.
You can also enjoy relaxing on the beautiful beaches in Hoi An or cycling through the fields and quiet country roads. And visit a clothing store to tailor yourself a lovely outfit as a souvenir for your trip to this lovely town.
10. Sapa City
- Area: 6.25 km2
- Population: 9,412 people (2019)
- Location: Northwest area
Sapa is the smallest city in the list of 10 famous cities in Vietnam that Vietnamdrive introduces to you, tiny in area and population. This mountainous city owns the typical beauty of ethnic minorities in the Northwest.
It’s because this place has rich cultural customs and traditions of ethnic minorities, when visiting Sapa, you need to pay attention to taboos such as not entering people’s houses by yourself, not giving children gifts but giving them to their parents, need to ask for seats when visiting the locals’ houses…
The highlight that attracts many tourists to Sapa is the terraced fields. Not as majestic as the terraced fields in Mam Soi Hill (Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai), the rice-field beauty of Sapa lies in the depth, closeness, bold local culture, and unique life of the Northwest mountainous people. So, April to September every year is the right time for you to visit the beauty of the terraced fields here.
Among the Vietnamese cities above, 5 of them are directly controlled by the National Government. They have the largest economic scale and area in the country, including Hanoi, Hai Phong (in the North), Da Nang (in the Central region), Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho (in the South).
This information provided, hopefully, helps you have an overview of the cities you want to visit. However, you should note that the population statistics mentioned in the article for each city are approximate estimates, for example, in Ho Chi Minh City, the real population may be more than the above number.
Due to the limitation of the article, we only outline the common features and select the most outstanding attractions and activities to introduce to you in each city. However, each place has much more for you to discover.
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