It’s safe to say that Vietnam is well on its way lớn being one of the safest destinations for post-pandemic travels! After all, this country has successfully prevented any COVID-19-related death — an utterly impressive feat, if you’d ask anyone. In the meantime, you should definitely consider it as your next travel stop. This then begs the question: which đô thị in Vietphái nam should you visit, especially if it’s your first time? 

For most travellers, this often comes down lớn two cities: Hanoi City and Ho Chi Minch City (otherwise called Saigon). The former is the capital city, while the latter is the largest thành phố in the country. Still, deciding which thành phố in Vietphái nam khổng lồ visit first will depover on your personal taste, of course. That said, read on for our comparisons per category to lớn help you make the right choice! 

1. Must-see attractions

The Tran Quoc Pagodomain authority sits on a small islvà in the West Lake.

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The Vietnamese capital is teeming with Buddhist shrines và picturesque lakes. There’s the millennia-old Imperial Citadel of Thang Long & the grand Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. As for religion/spirituality, there’s the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, và Tran Quoc Pagoda. (Just make sure khổng lồ dress accordingly when visiting these sites!) Meanwhile, legover has it that Hoan Kiem Lake is where a giant turtle reclaimed a magical sword from Emperor Le Loi! 

Ho Chi Minh City

The Temple of Literature in Hanoi (left) & the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon (right).

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Apart from must-visit spots, we’ll also take a look at the local culture & lifestyle. Hanoi has managed to remain loyal lớn its original roots — save for some Chinese influences here and there. On the other hand, Ho Chi Minh City has always embraced the foreign, from French culture to rapid Western urbanisation. 


Image credit: Jim 陳

Ho Chi Minch City is somewhat the polar opposite, with its reputation as an emerging megađô thị. One look at impressive skyscrapers like Landmark 81Bitexco Financial Tower, & you’ll see why! Apart from that, it’s got quite the burgeoning art scene. So, you might want khổng lồ visit a contemporary exhibit or purchase a local artisan’s work while you’re there. 

3. Food & dining

Image credit: Hien Nguyen

If there’s one thing we love sầu equally about Hanoi & Ho Chi Minch City, though, it’s the vast selection of mouth-watering dishes! In Hanoi, street food is king (just ask Obama and Bourdain); from roadside stalls to hole-in-the-wall eateries in narrow alleyways. You’ll also find lots of homegrown restaurants, most of which have sầu belonged khổng lồ the same family for decades! 

Ho Chi Minc City


Image credit: MomentumDiem

Of course, the coffee in Vietphái mạnh deserves its own criterion! And while it was the French who introduced coffee lớn this country, the Vietnamese definitely perfected it. That said, grabbing a cuppage authority is a great way lớn refuel while exploring. But for true-xanh aficionados, you might want to lớn spend a whole day sampling the best coffee around the city! 

Expect coffee concoctions that are as imaginative as they are potent. Aside from ca phe sua nong (classic Vietnamese coffee) & ca phe sua domain authority (Vietnamese iced coffee), the yoghurt coffee, egg coffee, & coffee with coconut milk are also a must-try. 

Ho Chi Minc City

Image credit: travel oriented

In Hanoi, there’s Café Giang A.K.A. trang chủ of the OG egg coffee! Its founder Nguyen Van Giang came up with the drink baông chồng when there was a milk shortage during the war. Also, while HCMC has the wider selection, Hanoi has a cooler climate that’s more apt for café-hopping (more on that later) — your call! 

Also read: The Beginner’s Guide khổng lồ Vietnamese Coffee

5. Climate

The farmers in Northern Vietphái mạnh wear hats and thichồng jackets during colder seasons.

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Hanoi, on the other hand, has all four seasons! It can get especially cold during winter — yep, single-digit temperatures included. (Though, if you want to lớn experience actual snow, you’ll have sầu to lớn go khổng lồ nearby mountain areas!) If you prefer moderate seasons — i.e., spring và fall — then head over between February & April, or September and November

Also read: My Unexpected Winter Experience in Hanoi: Bloopers và Realisations

6. Day trips


When it comes to day trips from Ho Chi Minc City, the most popular would be the historic Cu Chi Tunnels: an elaborate network of tunnels that helped the Vietnamese win against both French and American forces. Further south lies the Mekong Delta (pictured above), where you can rent a long-tail boat to see floating markets & local villages amidst lush waterscapes! Looking for a beach getaway? Vung Tau is your best bet for a fun, sun-soaked time. Don’t forget to indulge in fresh seafood while you’re at it! 

7. Shopping và nightlife

Image credit: HĐ

In between Ho Chi Minc attractions, make sure to lớn drop by some of the shopping spots. If you’re all about ‘the more, the merrier’ when it comes lớn options, then you’ve come to lớn the right đô thị in Vietnam! Go to: Ben Thanh khô Market for countless, interesting souvenirs; Dong Khoi Street (pictured above) for indie boutiques and art galleries; Saigon Square for affordable retail finds; and Vincom Center for all things luxe pháo. End your day with a drink or two at a rooftop bar in District 1… or buổi tiệc ngọt the night away at Bui Vien Street.


Image credit: ConvertKit

Since Vietnam giới is in continental Asia, it’s not uncommon for travellers lớn travel by land to another country right after! Hey, if you have the time and resources to lớn hit two (or three) birds with one stone, then why not? 


So, if you’re planning a multi-country trip, then you’ll definitely have sầu to consider which city in Vietnam giới is closer khổng lồ your preferred next destination. For Hanoi, that would be Laos & China. However, for the latter, the travel convenience will likely depend on how much ‘powers’ your passport has. But hey, if you’d lượt thích to venture beyond Southeast Asia, then go for it! 

Ho Chi Minc City

Meanwhile, HCMC makes for a good starting point for an Indochina trip. From there, you can take a six-hour bus ride khổng lồ Cambodia — which isn’t so bad, considering that you’re headed lớn another country! Then after a few days, make a beeline for Thailand. And if three countries still aren’t enough (okay, we gotta admire your energy), then take your piông xã between MyanmarMalaysia for your last stop. 

Also read: Portugal lớn Vietphái nam by Train: An Easy Guide to lớn The World’s Longest Land Journey

The TZ verdict

In case you haven’t noticed, we didn’t exactly keep score on which thành phố in Vietphái mạnh ‘won’ for each category. That’s because at the end of the day, it honestly depends on your travel preferences. But anyway, let’s sum it all up, shall we? 

So, Hanoi is igiảm giá khuyến mãi for travellers who want something traditional and laidbachồng with some cultural exposure in between. Oh, & also those who prefer a cooler (climate-wise) side of Southeast Asia for a change! Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minch City is best for those who love an ever-buzzing metropolis with a fancy dash of European influence. If you enjoy urban-centric travel, then this should be your first stop in Vietnam! 

Also read: What lớn Expect When Travelling to Vietnam: Expectations vs Reality

So, have you decided which major đô thị in Vietphái nam is perfect for you? Or if you’ve sầu been to both cities already — which would you say is better for a first-time traveller with similar preferences as you? 

While you’re at it, you might also want lớn kiểm tra out cool places you can stay in Hanoi và in Ho Chi Minch City. Hey, a little ‘window-shopping’ never hurt anyone!