Explore the history and cultures of Vietnam
Vietnam is a country rich in history, arts, and culture. Embark on a journey to discover this wealth through specially designed tours for those thirsty for knowledge. It is ideal for history and culture enthusiasts, as well as for those who are not particularly fond of beaches or hiking!
The strengths of our tours ? Definitely the diversity of visits : archaeological sites, architectural styles, religious sites, historical heritage, museum tours, encounters with ethnic groups and their traditions.
All our tours are private, catering to those who want to discover Vietnam in a privileged manner, guided by English-speaking guides who passionately explain the customs and traditions of their country.
Below, explore our cultural travel ideas in Vietnam and contact us to personalize them!
Our cultural travel ideas in Vietnam
The main cultural destinations of Vietnam
Si vous envisagez un circuit culturel au Vietnam, il y a quelques destinations à ne pas rater pour s’instruire de l’histoire du pays et de sa diversité culturelle.
Mountains in the North of Vietnam
Even if you are not avid sports enthusiasts and prefer to avoid hiking, we still recommend spending a few days in Northern Vietnam to discover village life and the ethnic minorities. It is indeed a highly enriching cultural immersion experience, especially if you are traveling with children.
If you don’t have the time or inclination, you could visit the Ethnographic Museum in Hanoi, which provides detailed descriptions of the customs and traditions of the country’s 53 ethnic minorities. Outdoor reconstructions of traditional houses have even been created in the museum’s gardens.
Hanoi is, of course, the cultural and historical capital of Vietnam. Through visiting the city’s monuments, you will trace the entire history of Vietnam: the influence of Confucianism with the Temple of Literature, the vietnamese imperial dynasties with the Thang Long Citadel, the colonial period with the Long Bien Bridge or the Opera House, and more. You will also have the opportunity to learn about Vietnamese cults and beliefs through visits to Tran Quoc Pagoda and several other temples in the city. You certainly won’t forget to explore the Old Quarter of Hanoi, which was the city’s economic hub for a long time and remains a unique place in the world.
The city of Hue in Central Vietnam is another must-visit stop for those who want to learn about the history of the country. It was in Hue that the Nguyen dynasty built its Imperial City in the 19th century. It flourished, adorned with a significant artistic and intellectual reputation, until the arrival of French troops in the 1880s. The Imperial City was largely destroyed, and many valuable items such as furniture and manuscripts were stolen or burned. Subsequently, the wars of independence against the French and Americans further devastated the cultural and historical heritage of Hue…
Fortunately, for several years now, extensive renovation efforts have been carried out, and it is now possible to once again stroll through a resplendent Imperial City! In addition to the Imperial City, you will have access to many other significant monuments, including the tombs of the Emperors, each of which requires a few hours to visit !
While Hoi An is primarily a tourist city today, it was an important port from the 15th century onwards. Due to its location, Hoi An experienced various influences that can be seen in the architecture of its old town. The old town of Hoi An has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999 and boasts an impressive 844 listed buildings of interest. You will likely not have enough time and patience to visit them all! However, several of them are must-see attractions: the Japanese Covered Bridge, built in 1593 to connect the Japanese and Chinese quarters of the city; Tan Ky House, the oldest house in Hoi An and the first to be recognized as a Historic Monument in 1985; and the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, which was once the gathering place for the community from the Fujian Province.
Ho Chi Minh City
The main historical sites of Vietnam
In addition to these cities that are a must-visit during your cultural trip to Vietnam, there are other historical sites that might interest you during your journey. We have listed below 10 sites that could be included in your tailor-made itinerary in Vietnam.
Cham Museum in Da Nang
The Champa Kingdom lasted for over 10 centuries, from the 5th to the 15th century. It was only fitting to have a museum that honors the memory of this great Cham civilization! Da Nang was chosen to host this museum due to its proximity to the My Son Sanctuary. In this museum, you will find no less than 300 artifacts, including objects that reflect the art of Cham sculpture.
My Son Sanctuary
To extend your day dedicated to the Cham civilization, you could visit the ruins of the My Son Sanctuary located 35 km west of Hoi An. My Son played a very important role in the religious life of the Champa people, as successive kings adorned the site for over 10 centuries. Although the site has not been spared by history – we can mention the explicit purpose of the American attack in 1969, which was to destroy the monuments! – it is a must-visit for those who want to learn about the history of ancient civilizations.
Temple Of Littérature
As the influence of My Son declined in the southern part of the present-day country, Confucianism reigned supreme in Northern Vietnam. It was in the 11th century that the first university in Hanoi was built, with the purpose of teaching arts and morality to the children of the kings of the first Ly dynasty. The establishment of this university marked the entrance of the mandarinate into Vietnamese elitist culture. Young men selected to enter the university became high-ranking officials serving the nation and the state. Upon graduation, these young men became the “sons of the nation” (Quoc Tu Giam).
In the 19th century, the university was transformed into a temple dedicated to Confucius. Several restoration projects of the buildings were carried out with the assistance of the French School of the Far East in 1920 and 1947. Further renovations have been undertaken since the end of the Indochina and Vietnam Wars.
Even today, students come to the temple to pray or celebrate good academic results.
Hoa Lu, the ancient capital
Hoa Lu was the first capital of Dai Co Viet, the “Unified Vietnam,” between 968 and 1010. It was Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang who chose this location to establish it as the main city of his empire. Two other emperors, Tien Le and Ly, succeeded him before King Ly Thai To decided to transfer the imperial citadel (Thang Long) to Hanoi. However, he did not forget to build a large number of temples in honor of his predecessors in Hoa Lu. It is these temples that you will discover when visiting the ancient capital today.
Thang Long citadel
Among the other historical sites that testify to the millennia-old city of Hanoi, we find the Thang Long Imperial Citadel. The citadel was built by King Ly Thai To, who thereby gave birth to the city of Hanoi. The first king of the Ly dynasty had it erected on the remains of a Chinese citadel as a symbol of his domination over the Chinese invaders whom he had just defeated. It is an essential visit if you want to understand the origins of Vietnamese civilization and its development over the centuries.
Hanoi old quarter
A few centuries later – in the 13th century – Hanoi began to attract artisans from neighboring regions who soon organized themselves into craft cooperatives and guilds. From that moment on, the residents of each village gathered and operated on the same street, giving each of them a homogeneous aspect that can still be seen today. The “36 Streets Guild District of Hanoi” was born. The streets belonging to a guild of artisans were named “hang” (goods), followed by the name of the product in which the guild specialized. Since that time, this district has always been the heart and economic center of the capital. It remains a must-visit for all travelers today. Beyond the cafes, bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops, you can discover a large number of sites that tell the history of this neighborhood. For example, “The Ancient House at No. 87 Ma May Street” is a late 19th-century dwelling in the old quarter of Hanoi.
Imperial City of Hue
As we have seen, the city of Hue is rich in history, as it was the capital of the Nguyen Lords of the South in the 16th century before becoming the capital of the reunified Vietnam in the early 19th century under the reign of Gia Long. It was Gia Long who founded the famous Nguyen Dynasty and built their Imperial City. The dynasty thrived for over a century, adorned with a significant artistic and intellectual reputation, until the arrival of French troops in the 1880s. By visiting the Imperial City, you will immerse yourself in Vietnam before French colonization.
Long Bien bridge
The French presence, which lasted for nearly a century, has significantly marked the landscape and architecture of Vietnam. Among the most important sites, we can mention the Long Bien Bridge, which has become one of the symbols of the capital city, Hanoi.
Originally called the “Paul Doumer Bridge” after the Governor-General of Indochina at that time, it was inaugurated on February 28, 1903, after four years of construction. Contrary to a popular misconception, Gustave Eiffel was not the originator of this bridge. The Daydé and Pillé company was responsible for its construction, and it later became part of the Eiffel Group in the second half of the 20th century. At the time, this bridge was the first steel bridge to cross the Red River. It was a symbol of the engineering capabilities of the French at that time and was the fourth longest bridge in the world.
Hoa Lo prison
Among the many museums dedicated to the war against the French and later the Americans, one can mention the former Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi. The prison, now a museum, depicts the sufferings endured by Vietnamese revolutionaries during the French colonial period. Interestingly, the prison later became a place of detention for the Americans, who also experienced interrogations and torture by the Viet Minh.
Cu Chi tunnels
The Cu Chi Tunnels are a symbol of the resourcefulness and resilience of the Vietnamese people during their war against the French and later the Americans. Created by the Viet Minh during the French occupation, this tunnel system was further developed during the conflict against the Americans, spanning an impressive 250 kilometers! At the height of the war, more than 15,000 people sought refuge in the tunnels, and these underground passageways were known as the endpoint of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
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