The Great 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vietnam
So, you have decided to book a holiday to Vietnam and need a must see list of destinations adding to your itinerary. We can certainly advise you where is best to go in Vietnam & also where to avoid bad weather. In addition to this, when you employ our services we will also advise how long in each destination is best.
However, if you are looking for inspiration in where to travel in Vietnam, we would suggest Vietnam UNESCO sites.
So, how many UNESCO World Heritage Sites are there in Vietnam? As of 2020, there are currently 8 UNESCO Vietnam sites to explore. Five are awarded for culture, 2 for Natural and 1 for both and all in the north and central regions.
Definitely check out our list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites Vietnam below. Or, check out our recommended Vietnam Bucket List for even more great insight.
We all have our favourite Vietnam UNESCO sites, which are yours?
Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi (2010)
The citadel of Thang Long is located in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, it was built in the 11th century by the Le Dynasty. This marked the independence from the Dai Viet and an extremely important part of Vietnam's history.
The central sector is a well preserved part of the Imperial Citadel which has been honoured by the UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding universal value. This landmark was introduced as a Vietnam UNESCO site in 2010.
The Thang Long Citadel was built on the remains of a Chinese fortress dating back to the 7th century. The site contains many artifacts dating back to the 6th century along with ancient roads, ponds, wells and old palaces.
The Hanoi Flag Tower is a clear recognizable structure when approaching the Thang Long Citadel. It is a 40 foot stone structure with great views of Ba Dinh Square. This is situated on Dien Bien Phu street. At the south side of the citadel complex.
Within walking distance from Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Vietnam Military History Museum and Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum.
Citadel of the Ho Dynasty (2011)
The citadel of the ho Dynasty is located in the province of Thanh Hoa in Vinh Loc. This is around 1 hour & 30 minutes drive from either Cuc Phuong or Ninh Binh.
The citadel was from the Ho Dynasty period & built in the 14th century between the Ma and Buoi rivers. It comprises of inner and outer walls which were built in limestone.
Adopting the Confucian philosophy, which in a dominant buddhist culture shows the power of the royal existence.
It was previously the capital of Vietnam between 1298 & 1407. Also the cultural centre of North Central Vietnam in the 16th - 18th century.
Mostly in ruins except for its gates, but still an important historical site. The Citadel of the Ho Dynasty was the last of the Vietnam UNESCO sites to be introduced in 2011.
It can be accessed any day by private car on a visit including Cuc Phuong via Tam Coc. This trip can be included in your itinerary, ask for details!
Complex of Hue Monuments (1993)
Previously known as the capital of Vietnam in 1802, Hue was the cultural & religious centre until 1945. The beauty created within the city stems from the Perfume River meandering through the Imperial City and Forbidden Purple City.
The complex of Hue Monuments was given UNESCO World Heritage status in 1993, the first in Vietnam.
A visit to Hue is on many travellers to Vietnams bucket list and is understandably so.
Such a wonderful setting from the Ngu Minh Mountain, also known as the Royal Screen to the monuments of Hue.
The Hue citadel in the centre is home to the Imperial Residence, the Imperial City and the Forbidden Purple City.
Two defensive fortresses were built to protect attacks from the river and sea mainly Tran Binh Dai and Tran Hai Thanh.
Just outside Hue are several monuments of equal importance such as Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) , Royal Area (Ho Quyen), Temple of the Roaring Elephant (Den Roi Re) and the Esplanade of Sacrifice to Heaven and Earth (Dan Nam Giao).
Furthermore, up the Perfume River, are the Royal Tombs of the dynasty emperors. This is our recommendation along with the Citadel to add to your Vietnam itinerary.
Hoi An Ancient Town (1999)
Hoi An ancient town is situated in Quang Nam province just south of Danang City around 40 minutes by car.
A small scale trading port in its day and immaculately preserved today. This romantic setting comprises ancient cobbled streets lined with boutique shops and local markets. A river flowing through the town with bars, cafes, restaurants & landmarks such as the Japanese bridge.
Joined the ranks of UNESCO in 1999 reflecting its fusion of indigenous & foreign cultures namely Chinese and Japanese.
A walk around this town gives architecture lovers and real buzz with many French colonial style buildings on offer. This is what gives Hoi An its charm & unique look & clearly recognised all over the world. Besides the yellow buildings, tiled roof & wooden structures giving a slightly jagged look. You have a romantic setting by the river & local markets to explore too.
This is the most popular destination for our guests 2 week Vietnam itinerary. We can certainly add this as part of yours and advise on when best to come to Hoi An. We would advise that October - December is not the best time due to it being the raining season.
My Son Sanctuary (1999)
My Son Sanctuary lends its spiritual origins to Indian Hinduism between the 4th and 13th centuries. These remains situated around 42km south west of Hoi An, are an ideal half day trip from Hoi An in your Vietnam itinerary.
Situated in a basin and surrounded by a ring of mountains in the district of Day Xuyen. Also with the Thu Bon river flowing past the My Son Sanctuary and it’s monuments gives this area a beautiful outlook.
The tower temples were designed with different architectural thoughts symbolising greatness and purity of a mythical mountain home of Hindu gods. Constructed with fired brick and stone pillars, decorated with sandstone depicting scenes of Hindu mythology.
Developed over 10 centuries, this is an amazing group of unique architecture and unequalled anywhere in Southeast Asia.
Halong Bay (1994)
Halong Bay is most probably a favourite of many a Vietnam traveller. Located in the Gulf of Tonkin in the province of Quang Ninh, just 165 km from Ha Noi. It is frequented by more tourists than any other Vietnam UNESCO site.
Halong Bay is part of three bays including Lan Ha Bay & Bai Tu Long Bay. All of which make up over 1600 limestone islands mostly uninhabited and spread over an area of 43000 hectares.
This natural wonder became only the second of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vietnam acquiring its status in 1994.
Most tourists will travel to Halong Bay for a day trip from Hanoi or an overnight cruise on one of many cruises.
Choose any from the three bays gives plenty of diversity for the Vietnam tourist. Either Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay or Lan Ha Bay, the last two being the least populated for cruises. Lan Ha Bay offers the more luxury of cruises which also sails from Hai Phong, with less transfer time!
For a more relaxed time in Halong Bay we would suggest at the very least an overnight cruise from Hanoi. Check out our cruises today!
Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park (2003)
Phong Nha is situated in the Quang Binh province deep in the middle of the Annamite Mountain Range. Stretching over an area of 123,000 Hectares, filled with tropical dense forests and home to many large caves. Namely the worlds biggest cave Son Doong, which is large enough to fit a 40 storey skyscraper. It is so unique that it even has its own rivers & climate, often with clouds forming inside.
There is more to Phong Nha than just caves and exploring this vast area is best done by motorbike or car. You can visit many natural viewing points along the way and can stumble across some spectacular scenery.
To reach Phong Nha requires you to arrive at Dong Hoi airport or train station and then take an hours drive to Phong Nha centre.
We have many packages which can include a trip to Phong Nha, staying at a beautiful Lakeview bungalow.
Trang An Landscape Complex (2014)
Trang An is another spectacular landscape not to be missed on your holiday to Vietnam in 2021. Also the latest addition to the Vietnam UNESCO sites list in 2014.
Situated in Ninh Binh just two hours drive from Hanoi. Trang An is another dreamy destination filled with stunning limestone peaks. An unbelievable location and one which was used recently in the Hollywood blockbuster “Kong” in 2017.
Along with Tam Coc, Hoa Lu and Bich Dong Pagoda, Trang An makes up this diverse cultural and natural landscape.
You can see many rowing boats piloted by local Vietnamese people. Gliding in and out of subterranean waterways in the limestone peaks. A ride will cost in the region of 220k VND per person.
The rising limestone peaks draped in lush tropical rainforest tower over rice fields. Gliding down river is an amazing sight. Selfie opportunities at pagodas and historical landmarks within the complex.
We can offer our personal recommendations for which Vietnam UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit. But this also depends on your particular interests. You may prefer historical buildings or stunning scenery, somewhere quiet or not too fazed by popular hotspots in Vietnam.
Here are our recommendations for UNESCO in Vietnam in order of preference;
UNESCO in Vietnam by Travel Agent Hanoi
- Halong Bay - for that relaxing romantic cruising experience, we would definitely suggest at least an overnight cruise.
- Phong Nha - such a vast area to explore, some above ground and some under, in the huge caves.
- Hoi An - a favourite for our family with excellent hotels & walks around the ancient streets at night watching the lanterns floating along the river.
- Trang An - For that experience in amongst the limestone cliffs but not wishing to go on a cruise. This is the perfect alternative to view the beautiful peaks of the National Park.
- Hue Monuments - all history buffs willing to explore the monuments, royal tombs and try the exquisite food that Hue has to offer would be top of their Vietnam bucket list.
- Thang Long Citadel - While in Hanoi city it would be a shame not to visit this historic citadel. Being that it is very close to the mausoleum and on the route of the hop on hop off city bus services.
- My Son Sanctuary - A pleasant half day trip from Hoi An and one which will bring calmness and tranquility from the music performed by the cham community. Along with viewing some magnificent. temple ruins which will get any keen architects snapping away for photos.
- Ho Dynasty Citadel - a quite barren destination and long distance from most other popular destinations. But, to the historians among you, who maybe travelling to all UNESCO World Heritage sites in Vietnam, this would be a box gladly ticked.