Photos to Make You Want to Go to Vietnam

Street vendor in Hoi An, Vietnam

Street vendor in Hoi An, Vietnam

Going to Vietnam changed my life. Before our taxi blasted its way through the traffic-clogged streets of Ho Chi Minh City, my sensory perception of the universe was on a muted wavelength. Much like doing psilocybin mushrooms (I can only imagine), Vietnam heightened my senses: colors were brighter, noises louder, smells and tastes more pungent. It sounds cliche, but the country was on a wavelength completely different to the chilled-out vibes of the California coast I've lived on for the last twelve years. 

Sunset in Da Lat, Vietnam 

Sunset in Da Lat, Vietnam 

Vietnam was not an easy country to travel: the visa is pricey, tourist infrastructure is lacking, and the language is completely different from English, except it uses the Roman alphabet. 

Best meal of 2016: street dumplings in Saigon

Best meal of 2016: street dumplings in Saigon

But Vietnam is more than that. Vietnam is a beautiful, complex, and fascinating place with millions of people working, eating, building, making art, etc. The food culture is one of the greatest on the planet, and the coffee is something else entirely. 

While Vietnam might not be offering the greatest architectural sights on earth, especially compared to its temple heavy neighbors of Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos, Vietnam offers natural beauty: Ha Long Bay, Phong Nha KeBang Caves, and the sand dunes of the central coast.

Elephant falls outside of Da Lat, Vietnam

Elephant falls outside of Da Lat, Vietnam

Because Vietnam is a long narrow country on a north-south axis, the climate and environment varies from north to south. The central highland city of Da Lat offers a cool respite from the stifling heat of the Mekong delta, Ho Chi Minh City, and the mugginess of Hue.

Imperial architecture in Hue, Vietnam

Imperial architecture in Hue, Vietnam

Hue, once the imperial capital of Vietnam, is a must for any history buff or architect junkie.

Lanterns in Hoi An, Vietnam

Lanterns in Hoi An, Vietnam

If you're into seeing Vietnam Disney-style with handicrafts, greasy street food, and a lot of white people, then head over to Hoi An, a short bus ride from DaNang, the once bombed-out city on the coast.

Hoi An is known for its hand-painted lanterns. 

Hoi An is known for its hand-painted lanterns. 

DaNang with its ardent dedication to neon and riverfront walk was one of my favorite cities. 

Nightime in DaNang

Nightime in DaNang

Floating market on the Mekong

Floating market on the Mekong

Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City

Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City

Woman making rice paper 

Woman making rice paper 

Buddhist temple outside of Da Lat, Vietnam

Buddhist temple outside of Da Lat, Vietnam

Statue in the middle of downtown Da Lat

Statue in the middle of downtown Da Lat

Crazy house in Da Lat; you can actually stay here for the night. 

Crazy house in Da Lat; you can actually stay here for the night. 

Woman performing traditional weaving techniques of the central highlands.

Woman performing traditional weaving techniques of the central highlands.

View from the train going through the Hai Van Pass

View from the train going through the Hai Van Pass

Banh mi from Ho Chi Minh City

Banh mi from Ho Chi Minh City

Soup ladies outside the market in Hue, Vietnam

Soup ladies outside the market in Hue, Vietnam

Photo shoot at Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City

Photo shoot at Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City