Nearly two years since Vietnam closed its borders and suspended entry of foreign leisure travelers; the country is finally welcoming tourists back. Fully vaccinated international tourists from 72 countries and territories — including UK, US, Australia, Canada and Singapore — can now visit five of Vietnam’s most popular destinations and enjoy a quarantine-free holiday.
The Vietnamese government recently approved a three-phase roadmap proposed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, to reopen and resume inbound tourism as part of the country’s efforts to revive one of its economy’s major contributors.
In the first phase, which starts this month, foreign tourists can travel to the island of Phu Quoc, the central city of Danang, the ancient town of Hoi An, the beachside town of Nha Trang and the tourist-favorite Halong Bay.
To be allowed entry, foreign tourists need to secure the following:
Proof of complete vaccination (Children under 12 years old traveling with a parent or guardian do not require a certificate of vaccination)
Negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival
Travel insurance worth at least $50,000 (and should include COVID-19)
Confirmed all-in tour package and accommodation
Upon arrival, visitors are required to do a rapid antigen test. If they’ve tested positive, they will be taken to a medical facility, with the treatment cost shouldered by their insurance agencies or their local tour operator.
Those who have tested negative for coronavirus can proceed to their pre-arranged accommodation and enjoy all these five reopened destinations offer.
This teardrop-shaped resort and fishing island holds magic and grandeur that have just been recently recognized by the world. The island, named one of the world’s greatest places of 2021 by TIME and one of the best islands to retire on by International Living magazine, is fringed with white-sand beaches and enveloped in a dense tropical jungle.
Phu Quoc is now a rapidly developing destination from a sleepy island backwater less than a decade ago, with ultra-luxurious resorts, theme parks, and restaurants sprouting everywhere. The whimsical JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort on Khem Beach is a stand-out, while the newly opened Phu Quoc United Center is a theme park, golf course, casino and hotel rolled into one massive complex that operates 24/7.
Beyond the resorts lining the beaches, the island remains a tranquil paradise. Phu Quoc’s clear blue seas are perfect for diving, snorkeling and kayaking, and the natural parks and cultural sites are worth exploring.
Probably the fastest-changing city in Vietnam right now, with all the tall modernist buildings and vast recreational spaces recently built, Danang is an enticing destination, especially for first-time visitors.
The city marks the halfway point between the north and south, and it’s blessed with both natural and manmade wonders. Lang Co, My Khe and Non Nuoc beaches are renowned for their calm, cool waters perfect for almost all kinds of water adventures. The Marble Mountains, a cluster of five limestone and marble hills, are gorgeous as they are culturally significant. They host 17th-century Buddhist sanctuaries and pagodas dotting across the mountain, and caves that make for scenic viewpoints.
And, of course, the Bana Hills in the southwest part. Rising nearly 1500 meters above sea level, this otherworldly destination features one of the world’s longest single cable car systems, a French “village”, an amusement park and the iconic Golden Bridge sitting on two giant hands. Bana Hills also has its own luxury accommodations and restaurants modeled after villages of 19th century France.
Beyond Bana Hills, the award-winning InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is an icon in luxury hospitality and environmental sustainability. Designed by architect Bill Bensley, the nature-centric resort affords the best panoramic views of the Son Tra Peninsula.
Nothing best signifies Vietnam’s unique charm and colorful past than the ancient town of Hoi An in Quang Nam province. Once a major port, the UNESCO World Heritage site boasts well-preserved architecture and a beguiling riverside setting that never fails to leave visitors in awe.
The centuries-old shophouses that line the street, glowing silk lanterns hanging on homes and artisan shops, temples and bridges that serve as tangible legacies of its past dwellers — all these make Hoi An the most enticingly laid-back destination in the whole of Vietnam. Not to mention cars and motorbikes aren’t too common in the town, giving it a more peaceful atmosphere.
While Hoi An features a slow-paced lifestyle, this does not mean there’s less to do there. In our 36 Hours In Hoi An travel guide, we suggested visiting the Japanese Covered Bridge, going on a boat ride at night to see the lanterns light up the town, having a suit custom-tailored and joining authentic Central Vietnam cooking classes as unmissable experiences while in the town.
Amazingly, Hoi An is also home to some of Vietnam’s most luxurious and expensive accommodations. Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, which is just a stone’s throw away from the main town, is a stunning seaside resort famous for its wellness offerings. Oryza Villa, a modernist house nestled among verdant paddy fields, is perfect for those who want some peace and quiet in the midst of nature.
For travelers who don’t want to go too far from the southern metropolis, the Miami-esque vibe of Nha Trang is only a short flight away. Found in the South Central Coast of Vietnam, here is where one can see and feel the mix of a relaxed beach life and a high-energy city.
Having one of the best beach climates, Nha Trang is Vietnam’s quintessential beach destination. Beyond the shores, Champa Kingdom’s remnants, natural hot springs, salt fields, waterfalls, and verdant mountains are perfect for a quick hike. For travelers looking for some fun adventures, try our 36 Hours In Nha Trang travel guide.
In terms of dining, the town offers a wide variety of seafood dishes. Left and right seafood restaurants offer set menus, a la carte orders, and buffet-style of dining.
There is also no shortage of places to stay in Nha Trang. There are hostels and luxury hotels right at the city’s center, and Airbnb houses or rooms along the beach or near the mountainside. Amiana Resort and Villas is a five-star resort found a bit far from the city center, perfect for travelers willing to splurge and want to have privacy while on vacation.
With the more than 1,600 towering limestone monolithic islands rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, Halong Bay perfectly encapsulates what ethereal beauty is. Arguably Vietnam’s most iconic attraction, Halong Bay was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 for its outstanding aesthetic value. It captures the heart of anyone who sails through the maze of passageways amidst the surreal seascape.
The islands are mostly uninhabited, as they’re covered with lush vegetation, but karst towers are the perfect backdrop for a relaxing swim or kayaking. If you’re up for more adventures, you can explore mysterious caves, try oyster farming, climb up a rocky cliff, hop on a bike on Cat Ba, the largest island within the bay, or visit floating villages.
With the millions of tourists visiting Halong Bay yearly, the number of cruises has grown ten folds, offering one up to five days of cruising experience. Luxurious cruisers and budget-friendly junk can take tourists around the bay and into deep grottoes and inland lakes. The extravagant Paradise Peak with spacious suites and wellness facilities and Heritage Line’s Ylang, which includes neighboring Lan Ha Bay in its route, are just a few of the many cruise options available in this marine wonder world.