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  • Writer's pictureTravel Vietnam Local Guide

Where should I visit first for my Vietnam trip: Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City?

Are you going to visit Vietnam? And you are not sure where you should start your journey: Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City? Let's explore the differences between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and make your final decision for your trip to Vietnam.

Let's explore the differences between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
Let's explore the differences between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City!

A quick comparison of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi

As a foreigner planning your first trip to this beautiful country, you may be wondering where to start: the bustling southern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) or the charming northern capital of Hanoi. Each city has its own unique charm and attractions.


Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)



South of Vietnam

North of Vietnam


Modern, bustling, energetic

Traditional, charming, historical

Historical Significance

War Remnants Museum, Cu Chi Tunnels

Old Quarter, Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Culinary Highlights

Pho, banh mi, fresh spring rolls

Hanoi-style pho, bun cha, egg coffee

Scenic Spots

Landmark 81 (skyscrapers), Saigon River, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica

Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, Long Bien Bridge


Dynamic, vibrant, numerous bars and nightclubs

Quaint, cultural, traditional water puppet shows


Gateway to the Mekong Delta, Vung Tau, Phu Quoc

Gateway to Halong Bay, Sapa, Ninh Binh


Well-developed, extensive bus network, motorbike taxis

Traditional cyclo rides, efficient public transport


Tropical, hot and humid year-round

Four distinct seasons, cooler in winter

Local Culture

Cosmopolitan, diverse

Rich in traditions, cultural heritage

Which city should you choose to start your Vietnam trip?

Ho Chi Minh City might be right for you if:

  • You prefer a modern, bustling city with a lively nightlife.

  • You’re interested in learning about the Vietnam War and visiting historical sites related to it.

  • You want to explore the southern parts of Vietnam, including the Mekong Delta and nearby beaches.

Hanoi might be right for you if:

  • You’re drawn to a city with a rich cultural and historical background.

  • You enjoy scenic landscapes and tranquil spots within the city.

  • You’re planning to explore northern Vietnam, including Halong Bay and Sapa.

If you are planning for a long trip in Vietnam and want to discover around Vietnam, I suggest you should start your Vietnam trip in Ha noi and begin to experience the journey from north to south - from cultural exploration to enjoying modern life in Vietnam.

Let's discover recommended itinerary for Vietnam trip and plan for your own one!

Both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi offer unique experiences and serve as excellent starting points for your Vietnamese adventure. Your choice will ultimately depend on your interests and the kind of experience you’re looking for. Whichever city you choose, you’re sure to be captivated by the charm and beauty of Vietnam.

Travel Vietnam Today


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