8 beautiful rivers in Vietnam

Vietnam’s topographic features include most of the land area being hills and mountains in the West, narrow plains in the middle, and the sea in the East. This characteristic has created favorable conditions for the formation of many rivers throughout Vietnam. On average, every 20 km of the country’s length will have a river.

Among the many rivers throughout the country from North to South, these eight names stand out as the most proud. Vietnamdrive evaluates the most beautiful Vietnamese rivers based on the criteria of water clarity, landscape on both sides of the river, and the actual value of the river to the lives of the local people.

1. The Son River in Quang Binh

son river in quang binh province
Looking at the Son River scenery. @rulynbaby

The number 1 on the list of the most beautiful rivers in Vietnam is the Son River in Quang Binh province. As soon as you arrive here, the peaceful beauty of Vietnam will attract you. The scene appears like an oil painting with a lovely green river, a few simple roofs on both banks, along with cassava fields and richly colored corn fields. Behind the peaceful village are majestic, rolling mountains.

The unique thing about the Son River is the blue cleanness of the water. Its water is so clear that you traveling on boats can still see the bottom. Although, in the rainy season, the river becomes red with alluvium, after going through all the rainy and windy days, the Son River returns with a clear beauty that attracts people’s hearts.

Along the Son River upstream, it takes you to the world’s leading natural wonder – Phong Nha Cave. This distance is probably the most beautiful section of the Son River when the scenery opens before your eyes like a charming mountain and water masterpiece.

To enjoy the beauty of this river, you need to stop by Phong Nha boat station and get a boat ticket to visit the caves here. You will get on the boat to experience the feeling of slowly floating on the clear, green water, with the gentle breeze blowing amidst fresh, majestic nature. And certainly, you will feel the reason why the Son River is ranked first in the list of the most beautiful Vietnamese rivers.

2. The Perfume River in Hue City

boat on perfume river
Dragon boats carry tourists on the Perfume River. ©Vietnamdrive

The Perfume River, also called the Huong River, has become a symbol and pride of the Hue people. This one is a rare river in Vietnam located in the heart of a city that still maintains clean, unpolluted water. Therefore, the Perfume River is not only a source of domestic water for the entire city of Hue but also creates a poetic beauty for this ancient capital.

Although the Huong River is quite long and wide, the flow speed on the surface is slow and gentle. For that reason, the river creates a feeling of leisure and calmness, not rushing, not noisy, and not in a hurry.

Along with that, both sides of the river are green, airy parks interspersed with many architectural works bearing the historical imprint of nearly 150 years of the feudal Nguyen Dynasty. They could be the tranquil Imperial Citadel, the quiet Van Lau wharf, Ancient Thien Mu Pagoda, Quoc Hoc High School – which used to be the boy’s school and Hai Ba Trung School – Dong Khanh Girls’ School in the past, French architectural villas still retaining their splendor throughout; or the solemn system of royal tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty.

All create a unique beauty for the Huong River that cannot be found anywhere else. Its pure and peaceful charm mixes with a bit of serenity and antiquity amid a new urban area.

Coming to Hue, you can choose a Dragon Boat as a means of transportation from the city center to Thien Mu Pagoda. The journey will help you discover the poetic beauty of the Perfume River, feel the calm flowing water, and admire the beautiful parks and ancient architectural works along both sides of the river. Who knows, you may have the opportunity to realize how much your soul is pampered.

In addition, you can also choose to walk on the walking paths along the banks of the Perfume River, such as Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, Lim Go Bridge, and Ban Nguyet Bridge at dawn, at sunset, or under the shimmering night lights.

3. The Han River in Da Nang City

han river in da nang city
The bridges add beauty for the Han River. @_tthu98_

Located between Lien Chieu district in the West and Son Tra in the East, the Han River divides Da Nang City into two distinct parts. Historically, the East and West banks of the river used to be two completely opposite, between prosperous urban life and struggling coastal countryside. Up to now, along with the development of marine tourism and the continuous urbanization process, both sides of the Han River have a spacious and modern urban beauty.

In terms of the beauty of the river itself, the Han River is nothing outstanding. Its charm comes from the many bridges that make the well-known name of a city and a river. Highlights include Han River Bridge – the first and only cable-stayed swing bridge in Vietnam; Dragon Bridge – the bridge with the most unique and novel design; and Thuan Phuoc Bridge – the most modern and longest suspension bridge in Vietnam. Or it is simply a love bridge located on the East bank of the Han River – an ideal dating place not to be missed for couples in love.

To enjoy the beauty of the Han River, you can choose to walk along both sides of the river, take photos at the Love Bridge, or try an enjoyable meal on the boat at Bach Dang Cruise Terminal. You also have the opportunity to watch the Dragon spraying water and fire performance at Dragon Bridge, which is one of the well-known bridges in Vietnam. Look at the sparkling river under the city lights right in front of the doorstep to the sea. You can wait until midnight to watch the Han River Bridge rotate and feel the awe of construction.

4. The Ngo Dong River in Ninh Binh

ngo dong river in ninh binh
The Ngo Dong River does not have banks, just the rice fields.

Mentioning the Ngo Dong River means telling a very Vietnamese landscape with clear blue water winding between two rows of golden rice waiting for a bountiful harvest. Everything is surrounded, embraced, and comforted by rolling, undulating mountain ranges.

The Ngo Dong River has no banks; instead, there are rice fields imbued with an alluvial taste. If you are lucky enough to come here in May and June, you will have the opportunity to see the golden color of ripe rice right on the riverbank. The fragrant scent of rice and the gentle taste of the river mixed with the vast nature of the mountains and forests will be a unique scene that captivates people’s hearts and makes them remember forever.

A nice thing about the Ngo Dong River is that local people are very conscious of protecting the environment of this lovely river. Although every day there are hundreds of visitors using the boat service here to sightsee and travel to the caves of the Tam Coc Bich Dong complex, boat owners do not use boats with engines running on industrial fuel, the locals row them. That, the people affirmed, is to avoid affecting the scenery and ecosystem of the Ngo Dong River.

It is not too difficult or expensive to enjoy the beauty of the Ngo Dong River. You only need to buy a ticket for 50,000 VND, which includes 30,000 VND for cave admission and 20,000 VND for boating services (joining service). Then, the local people will guide you to the boat and take you slowly on the water, passing through beautiful landscapes like giant silk painting carpets. You will have to love this place as part of your love for your homeland.

However, as a tourist, you need to note that the boats here are quite small. Although this feature ensures environmental friendliness, it does not guarantee absolute safety if you do not follow the boater’s instructions. It is better to wear life jackets, sit firmly, and avoid moving or standing on the boat.

>> Please see more: How to travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh?

5. The Thu Bon River in Hoi An

thu bon river in hoian town
In the late afternoon or at night, many guests use small boats at this distance on the Thu Bon River. ©Vietnamdrive

The Thu Bon River is one of the longest rivers in Quang Nam province, which owns a big source of alluvium for fields located along both sides of the river.

When flowing into the heart of Hoi An, the Thu Bon River takes on a new beauty. The rushing water of the long flow suddenly seems to slow down when it comes here, hiding under the old streets. Just a short river distance is enough to demonstrate the graceful combination of nature to create the shimmering charm of the scenery of the Thu Bon River – Hoi An Town.

Sunset is the most beautiful time to explore the beauty of this river. Board small wooden boats owned by local people, and they will take you around the rows of ancient houses. From here, a new perspective opens up about colorful Hoi An, the color of bustling local life. The colors of the whole world converge on the different skin colors and the voices of tourists bustling throughout the streets. The color of the lantern is silhouetted against the yellow wall with traces of time. This very real, very alive scene will remind people of the bustling and prosperous shopping port of previous centuries.

In addition, you can also choose a tour to explore Thanh Ha Pottery village by boat or take a ferry to visit Kim Bong carpentry village and Cam Kim agricultural village. This activity is a good choice that contributes to enriching your memorable experiences.

6. The Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City

explore saigon river
Explore the Saigon River on the boat. ©Saigon Waterbus

Being different from the gentle beauty of the Perfume River, the Ngo Dong River, and the nostalgic features of the Thu Bon River, the Saigon River brings the dynamic, bustling vitality of Ho Chi Minh City – a leading modern and crowded urban area in Vietnam.

Although it is called Saigon, with its total length of 256km, the section of the river flowing through the heart of ancient Saigon and today’s Ho Chi Minh is only about 80km. The rest of the river passes through Tay Ninh and Binh Phuoc provinces. At the downstream, this river merges with the Dong Nai River to form the Nha Be River.

In comparison with the cleanliness of rivers in the Central region, the Saigon River gets an unfortunate minus point. However, it becomes understandable based on calculations with the condensed population, high level of urbanization, and lots of industrial factories in the city.

The best time to fully feel the beauty of the Saigon River is when the sun begins to set and gradually gives way to shimmering electric lights.

The perfect places to admire its charm are high locations, such as the High-Sky Garden & Lounge Coffee Shop in the Landmark 81 building, Thu Thiem Bridge, and Ba Son Bridge. Or, go to Saigon Waterbus at Bach Dang Wharf (on Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City) to buy a cruise ticket to start exploring the river.

You can also combine dinner on the cruise to enjoy the view of the Saigon River at night while enjoying delicious food in an attractive and novel space. It deserves to be an exciting activity in HCM City that you should try.

7. The Can Tho River in Can Tho City

daily life on can tho river
The local’s daily life on the Can Tho River.

As a branch of the vast Hau River, the Can Tho River flows into the heart of Can Tho city, creating a charm for this region. With a total length of only about 16km, the Can Tho River originates from the inland area West of the Hau River and ends at Ninh Kieu Wharf to return to the main Hau River.

It is nothing special if we mention the Can Tho River as a small tributary carrying heavy alluvium. The point that makes this river impressive is the Cai Rang floating market. The floating market here clearly shows the personality and lifestyle of the local people, contributing to creating the unique beauty of this small river branch.

Therefore, discovering this river’s charm is discovering the unique features of the Cai Rang floating market. You can catch small boats, follow the rowing rhythm of the indigenous people, and weave their way into this typical market.

Amidst the water, the rhythm of trading takes place in a strangely exciting way. There is a full range of items here, from fresh fruits to necessities and countless delicious dishes with strong flavors of the Mekong Delta.

In addition, in the evening, you can stroll at Ninh Kieu Wharf – an iconic place in Can Tho City. Walk across the Ninh Kieu pedestrian bridge, also known as Can Tho Love Bridge, to immerse yourself in the harmonious rhythm of life in the river region. Many guests choose to visit Du Thuyen restaurant as a great solution to enjoy dinner right in this lovely setting.

Come to Can Tho to experience the fascinating things that this river offers. It is because only you, yourself, can realize how beautiful the people and scenery here are.

8. The Red River in Hanoi

red river hanoi

Belonging to one of the two largest river systems in Vietnam, the Red River flows through the provinces of Phu Tho and Son Tay before flowing into the heart of Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital.

Life on both sides of the Red River is quite different in terms of development level, urbanization, and population density. If Hanoi is on the right side of the river, where urban life is busy and expensive, the pace of life on the left side of the river is much more peaceful and gentle.

On the Red River, there are not a lot of outstanding entertainment and tourist activities. Therefore, it will be up to you to discover its beauty. You can choose a coffee shop near Chuong Duong Bridge to sip bitter drops while admiring the peacefulness of the river. Or, book a bicycle tour along the river, through Bat Trang pottery village, and feel the life of people here.

With hundreds of large and small rivers in Vietnam, we select the most prominent rivers to help you save time researching. If you are planning your trip to this country, don’t forget to take the time to explore the beautiful and poetic rivers that we have introduced.

Each river has its beauty and will be the most beautiful at the right time when its charm is highlighted. Therefore, you should give yourself the most appropriate time frame during your journey to fully feel the charm of each one.

  • Come to Can Tho River to explore the Cai Rang floating market in the early morning.
  • Release lanterns on Thu Bon River in Hoi An at sunset.
  • Watch the Saigon River in HCM and walk around the Han River in Da Nang when the city lights up.
  • Spend your time on the clear summer days enjoying the Son River in Quang Binh, the Perfume River in Hue, and the Ngo Dong River in Ninh Binh.
  • Exploring life on both sides of the Red River in Hanoi during the daytime will also bring you an unforgettable experience.

You can’t rush if you want to capture the hidden charm of each river.

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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.