10 Well-known Cities in Vietnam

Major cities in Vietnam act as the vital foundations leading the economy and forming remarkable cultural features for the whole country.

Understanding the outstanding characteristics of each city will help you plan your itinerary to explore beautiful Vietnam and prepare for a certain business or investment project.

In the top 10 most prominent Vietnamese cities that we choose to introduce, there are five cities directly controlled by the Central Government with a huge economic scale and area in the country, including Hanoi and Hai Phong in the North, Da Nang in the Central region, and Ho Chi Minh and Can Tho in the South area.

Please check the outstanding features of each city!

1. Hanoi City

  • Area: 3,358.6km2
  • Population: 8.3 million people (in 2022)
  • Location: Northern Area
Hanoi is a unique city in Vietnam
Hanoi is a unique city in Vietnam. ©Ngoc Ha

Hanoi is currently the largest city in its area and second-biggest population in Vietnam. As the country’s capital, this place is responsible for the most important political, cultural, and economic center.

This large city is divided into many functional areas to meet different needs for economic development, culture, life, and tourism. In particular, Hanoi’s Old Quarter is the main tourist center, attracting a large number of visitors to visit and experience its culture and cuisine.

The typical cultural characteristics of this city lie in the beauty of the Hanoi people. People who are polite and courteous in every word they speak and how they address them.

Popular activities that you should try include:

  • Walking around the old town and Hoan Kiem Lake to explore people’s lives or the beauty of ancient houses,
  • Stop at an egg cafe near the lakeshore to enjoy this unique drink with a unique local flavor,
  • Taste a few famous Hanoi foods, such as pho, banh mi, draft beer, and bun cha.

Hanoi also owns Noi Bai International Airport, one of the strengths that attracts international tourists to this city. This city is also a convenient starting point for the journeys to explore Vietnam for tourists from many parts of the world. From Hanoi, you can also easily visit nearby famous destinations, 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 in vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is the second largest city in Vietnam by area, after Hanoi. However, this city has the largest population in the country and is much more crowded than Hanoi. You will be surprised at the high population density and the dense number of motorbikes concentrated in this place.

Playing the vital role of the economic center in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City attracts a large population from neighboring provinces in the South, Central, and North to live and work. From there, this unique feature creates diversity in culture, cuisine, and lifestyle for this city. A bustling site sometimes feels a bit chaotic.

Coming to Ho Chi Minh, you need to be more careful with personal belongings and phones when going out. It is better you should only answer your phone calls in restaurants or hotel areas instead of standing on the sidewalk, which makes you and your phone safer.

Ho Chi Minh City has many breathtaking attractions waiting for you, such as the War Museum, Cu Chi Tunnels, Fine Arts Museum, Reunification Palace, and Ben Thanh Market.

Besides, an exciting experience for you to try is choosing a motorbike tour to weave through the bustling crowds, see the streets, or go to famous restaurants to taste local foods.

Don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the bustling nightlife of Saigon. Pham Ngu Lao Walking Street and Bui Vien Street in District 1 will be thrilling stops for those who love nightlife in this most vibrant city in Vietnam.

3. Hai Phong City

  • Area: 1,562 km²
  • Population: 2,053,493 people (2021)
  • Location: Northeast area
hai phong city vietnam

Thanks to owning the largest seaport in the country, Hai Phong has the brand “Port City”. This city has become a famous trading place for heavy ships exporting and importing goods to and from Vietnam.

Hai Phong is only behind Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi in terms of population size and economic activity.

Since life depends mainly on the marine economy, the locals’ character is outspoken, straightforward, somewhat arrogant, and strong.

Based on inherent natural advantages, beach travel has become the main strength attracting tourists to Hai Phong. Among them, the prominent name that many people mention is Lan Ha Bay, located in the East of Cat Ba Island. This address is suitable for those who like to explore the sea and islands. Here, there are always luxury cruises ready to serve tourists visiting the islands or experiencing the feeling of spending the night on Lan Ha Bay.

Besides exploring the sea and islands, Hai Phong is also an appropriate place to enjoy fresh seafood. However, you need to pay attention to asking the price before ordering any dish. This action will help you avoid the risk of price gouging or unusually high prices.

4. Can Tho City

  • Area: 1,439 km²
  • Population: 1,235,500 people (2019)
  • Location: Mekong Delta Area
can tho city in vietnam

Can Tho city is located in the western region of the river, on the Mekong River, full of alluvium all year round. The most outstanding feature of this city is reflected in the life associated with the dense system of rivers and canals. That’s why the people here are friendly, open and generous.

Coming to Can Tho, you should not miss the opportunity to visit the Cai Rang floating market, which is on the list of the most famous markets in Vietnam. It is a typical beauty in the overall vibrant cultural colors of Vietnam.

Although an international airport in this city has the ability to serve 3-5 million passengers per year, 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 in vietnam

On the geographical map of Vietnam, Da Nang City is located in the middle of the route from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi and is an important economic center of the Central region.

Da Nang possesses a favorable geographical location with the east side facing the sea, the north and west sides surrounded and shielded by the Truong Son mountain range and Hai Van pass. The city also has Da Nang International Airport, National Highway 1A, and the North-South railway running through to help traffic connect smoothly. It is a good condition for transportation and tourism development by sea, air, road, and rail.

Da Nang, a young city, has had far-reaching developments in the past 15 years. The infrastructure system of this city is quite airy, and the personality and life of the people are very open-minded, modern, and hospitable.

In particular, Da Nang has good marine advantages for developing beach travel. A series of 5-star hotels and resorts in Danang along the coast always receive high reviews from international tourists.

Besides, there are also the Marble Mountains, Non Nuoc Stone Village, and Golden Bridge in the Ba Na tourist area, which are fascinating tourist destinations not to be missed. Coming here, you will have moments of rest, relaxation, or climbing mountains, exploring nature, and admiring impressive sculptures.

6. Hue City

  • Area: 266 square kilometers
  • Population: 609,000 people
  • Location: Central Vietnam
hue city in vietnam
Hue Imperial City in Vietnam. ©Vietnamdrive

Compared to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, Hue City is much smaller but great for those who love the peaceful life, freshness of green nature, and slow pace of life.

As the cultural and historical center, Hue City possesses ancient beauty thanks to the royal palaces and mausoleums built by the Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945) and left to this day. In particular, the poetic Perfume River flowing lazily through the city center makes the landscape more peaceful and romantic. This feature also contributes to establishing the gentle, loving, and profound personality of Hue people.

Coming to Hue, you should prioritize enjoying the cuisine with many typical delicacies, such as Hue beef noodle soup, crispy pancakes, and fragrant grilled pork (Nem Lui). In Hue food, there is a blend of street food and royal-style cuisine, also a harmony of full flavors: sour – spicy – salty – sweet.

Besides, sitting on a cyclo to slowly go through the tree-lined streets also brings you various relaxing emotions. You can check out Hue Flavor‘s cyclo street food tour, a perfect combination of experiencing the streets by cyclo and exploring Hue cuisine in half a day.

7. Nha Trang City

  • Area: 251km2
  • Population: 535,000 people (2020)
  • Location: South Central region
nha trang city vietnam
A temple in Nha Trang City. ©Vietnamdrive

Belonging to the South Central region, Nha Trang is a beautiful coastal city with many large and small islands. This place is also famous for its pristine beaches, constantly appearing in the list of beautiful beaches in Vietnam.

Nha Trang is a new land, so it brings together a large number of people from all over the country to make a living and contribute to exploring and developing the culture and economy. Since then, the personality of the Nha Trang people has become open-minded but very clever in communication, promoting personal ego, and valuing their own rights. Therefore, it is easy to make friends with someone here, but hard to find a true close friend.

If you love sea activities, you cannot miss this city during your vacation in Vietnam. Many luxurious, airy, and peaceful resorts are ready to welcome you. In addition, when coming to Nha Trang, do not miss the opportunity to find many seawater fishes to taste and join a tour to explore the beautiful islands.

8. Da Lat City

  • Area: 394.6 square kilometers
  • Population: 425,000 people (2020)
  • Location: Central Highlands area

Da Lat city is on a beautiful plateau in the Truong Son range, with an average altitude of 1,500m above sea level. This ideal altitude has helped the weather in Da Lat City to be cool all year round, and the trees are green, and flowers bloom in almost all four seasons. Thanks to that, this location becomes the perfect getaway for all tourists. Specifically, there are a lot of guests traveling from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Lat on weekends, public holidays, and in summer.

The weather and landscape of Da Lat are cool and green throughout the four seasons, helping to form a slow, friendly, and gentle lifestyle for the people here. You can easily see a lovely cafe hidden under the shade of green trees. It’s the perfect place to sip a cup of Vietnamese coffee, read a few pages of a book, admire the peaceful natural scenery, or let yourself freely drift through space and time peacefully passing by.

Da Lat is also known as the “City of Thousands of Flowers” because flowers are grown throughout the city with countless species and are present all year round. Many flower gardens in Da Lat are big in terms of area, quantity, and types of flowers grown. Therefore, when traveling to this area, you should take the time to visit the typical flower gardens here.

Besides, there are many waterfalls in Dalat, such as the Dantala waterfall and Pongour, which are worth spending time on. Also, other famous destinations are waiting for you to explore, including Clay Tunnel and Valley’s Love.

One thing to note, although there are many interesting local foods, such as grilled sweet potatoes and grilled rice paper – also known as Vietnamese Pizza, you should not look for seafood in Da Lat. Because this is a mountainous city, seafood prices are often more expensive than other cities.

9. Ninh Binh City

  • Area: 46.75 km2
  • Population: 132,728 people (2021)
  • Location: Northern area
hang mua in ninh binh
A beautiful landscape in Ninh Binh. ©Vu Hung

Ninh Binh is located about 90km south of the center of Hanoi City. This city has become famous with natural attractions engaging almost all tourists. Ninh Binh is also associated with the ancient capital Hoa Lu – the old capital of Vietnam under the Dinh – Early Le – Ly dynasties (from 968 to 1010).

Long-standing cultural traditions and natural characteristics combining harmonious rivers and surrounding majestic mountains have created unique features: gentleness, sophistication in communication, softness, and openness with those around. This personality trait also contributes to the beauty of Ninh Binh.

The most prominent place in Ninh Binh for tourists is the Trang An natural scenic complex. The cave system, which combines with the natural landscape of rivers and mountains, creates an unstoppable attraction for domestic and international travelers. Coming to Ninh Binh, almost all visitors take time to explore this place.

In addition, there are many famous attractions nearby to spend your time, such as Hoa Lu ancient capital, Tam Coc Bich Dong complex, and Thung Nham eco-tourism.

10. Hoi An City

  • Area: 61.48 km²
  • Population: 98,599 people
  • Location: Central Region
Hoi An is a famous city in Vietnam
Hoi An is a famous city in Vietnam with an old style. ©Vietnamdrive

Hoi An, one of two cities in Quang Nam province, is located 35km south of Da Nang City. Although it has a small population and area, this city has become one of the must-see stops in the journey to explore Vietnam for domestic and foreign tourists.

The unique cultural highlight of Hoi An people lies in their honest and open-minded personality in communication, along with the agile and fair lifestyle inherent in merchants. These factors contribute to the attraction of Hoi An, a friendly, close, and sociable destination like the second home of every tourist.

The central tourist attraction of Hoi An is the Old Quarter, about 2km2 wide, where streets, houses, assembly halls, and architectural works in ancient style are well-preserved. You can stroll, see the old town, explore unique Asian cultural beauty, combine shopping, and enjoy delicious food.

Hoi An also has beautiful beaches for tourists to relax, such as An Bang Beach. You can also cycle through the green, peaceful fields. Visit the Tra Que vegetable village, where many organic vegetable gardens show a fragrant and fresh atmosphere. Or go to a fabric store to measure and sew your lovely outfit that fits your preferences as a valuable souvenir for your trip to this lovely city.

Hopefully, the information provided above will help you have an overview of the city you want to visit. However, you need to note that the population statistics in each place are only approximate estimates, for example, in Ho Chi Minh City, the actual quantity of people may be larger than the number above.

We have also outlined the popular features and selected the most outstanding attractions and activities to introduce to you in each city. However, each site has much more to offer than that.

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    About the author

    The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.