Vietnam boasts some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world, the friendliest population and an absolutely divine local cuisine. Its long, complicated history has shaped its culture, creating an enchanting mix of historically significant sites that are preserved in contemporary society. A number of these sites are actually listed as World Heritage Sites - in fact, Vietnam is proudly home to 8 of these. They range across all of the World Heritage Site criteria: cultural, natural, mixed. Travelers who crave world history, travelers who need spectacular scenery and travelers who want everything in between will all find a reason to fall in love with Vietnam at these sites.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park - this expansive stretch of landscape sprawls to the border of the Peoples Democratic Republic of Laos. It consists of terrestrial and aquatic habitats, primary and secondary forest, tropical dense forests and savanna. And of course, a wondrous amount of diverse wildlife call this National Park home.
Ha Long Bay - this site is one of Vietnam’s most famous - and for good reason. This uninhabited and totally pristine natural wonder in the Gulf of Tonkin is actually comprised of 1,600 islands and islets. While there are regulations to protect the activity in the waters surrounding this site, visitors can see the limestone pillars of Ha Long Bay up close and personal from boats.
Citadel of the Ho Dynasty - this Citadel was built in the 14th century but granted World Heritage status in 2011. It was constructed using the principles of feng shui, which was made popular when neo-Confucianism took over Vietnam.
Complex of Hué Monuments - these monuments are found in Thua Thien-Hue Province in the geographical centre of Vietnam. They were constructed along the Five Cardinal Points (centre, west, east, north, south), the Five Elements (earth, metal, wood, water, fire), and the Five Colours (yellow, white, blue, black, red).
Hoi An Ancient Town - this small-scale trading port was active the 15th to 19th centuries and it has been incredibly well preserved. It earned its listing status in 1999. Visitors can see the town exactly as it was originally structured and constructed with influence from Southeast and East Asia.
My Son Sanctuary - these striking remains from the ancient Champa Kingdom were constructed between the 4th and 13th centuries. They illustrate a part of Vietnam’s religious history that was influenced by Hinduism. Their surroundings are breathtaking, as they are set among the mountainous region of Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam.
Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - this site in Hanoi earned its listing in 2010. It is a perfect reflection of Vietnam’s influences from China and the ancient kingdom of Champa. Built on the Red River Delta, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long dates back to the 11th century, but it was built on the remains of a Chinese fortress that dates all the way back to the 7th century.
Trang An Landscape Complex - the Trang An Landscape earned its listing status in 2014, but its history goes back tens of thousands of years. It is a natural set of limestone karst peaks dotted with valleys and remarkably steep vertical cliffs. But its significance comes from the findings of archaeologists; there have been uncovered traces of human activity over more than 30,000 years, indicating that this landscape was inhabited by hunter-gatherers through many historical ages who needed to adapt to the Earth’s changing climate and geological formation.