Comprehensive Guide to Vietnam Map & Regions: Explore North, Central & South

Comprehensive Guide to Vietnam Map & Regions: Explore North, Central & South

Vietnam is a country with a long and rich history, a diverse and vibrant culture, and a stunning and varied natural beauty. Whether you are interested in exploring its ancient temples, colonial buildings, modern cities, ethnic villages, or scenic landscapes, you will find something to suit your taste and curiosity. But how can you plan your trip to Vietnam and make the most of your time there? One of the best ways is to use a Vietnam map that shows you both the touristic and geographic features of this amazing country. In this blog post, you will have a complete guide to Vietnam that will help you plan your trip and enjoy your adventure. Let’s get started!

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Written by Tieu Bao (Local Expert) Updated on 27-05-2024
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1. Geography of Vietnam

Located in the heart of Southeast Asia, Vietnam is a relatively small country, covering an area of 320,000 square kilometers. Its shape resembles that of an S or a dragon, exceptionally long and stretching nearly 2,000 kilometers from north to south. Its maximum width is only 600 kilometers in the northern part, while the minimum width narrows down to a mere 50 kilometers in the region of the Phong Nha National Park and underground caves in the central area. It shares its borders with China to the north, Laos to the west, Cambodia to the southwest, and is also bordered by the Pacific Ocean, specifically the East Sea, as well as the Gulf of Tonkin to the north and the Gulf of Thailand (or Siam) to the southwest.

vietnam map
Vietnam is a country shaped like an S

2. Tourist Map of Vietnam

Vietnam boasts about a dozen must-visit destinations throughout its expanse. The ancient millennium-old capital, Hanoi, the magnificent mountains, the famous Halong Bay, or its terrestrial counterpart in Ninh Binh are destinations not to be missed in the North (the upper part of the country). In the Central region, one should not overlook the former imperial capital of Hue and the old port town of Hoi An.

In the South, there are also essential stops for all itineraries, including the Mekong Delta. Especially the bustling metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and the white sandy beaches of the islands of Phu Quoc or Con Dao. Therefore, if one wishes to explore Vietnam from North to South (or vice versa) while visiting its major destinations, it is advisable to plan a stay of at least two or three weeks.

Panoramic View of Vietnam Map
Panoramic Tourist Map of Vietnam

>>> Want to explore the country from north to south? Check out our 2-week North to South Itinerary.

Since Vietnam shares its border with Laos to the west and Cambodia to the southwest, you'll easily have the opportunity to extend your journey to these two countries. From northern Vietnam, you can travel overland to Luang Prabang, the former capital of Laos. Additionally, from the southern Mekong Delta, you can journey upstream along the Mekong River to Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, and then continue your trip to Siem Reap, either by land or air.

3. Vietnam Map in 3 Regions

Vietnam is divided into three main regions: the North (the largest portion at the top of the S-shape), the Central region (the longest and narrowest section in the middle), and the South (the lower part of the country). Mountains and highlands, which predominantly occupy the northern and western areas, form a natural border with China and Laos, covering three-quarters of the territory. The highest points, such as Mount Fansipan, are located in the northwest; the "roof of Indochina" towers over the Hoang Lien Son range at an altitude of 3,000 meters.

Map of Vietnam Divided into 3 Regions
Vietnam Map: Three Distinct Regions

The dragon-shaped country also encompasses two deltas near its two ends: the Red River Delta in the north and the Mekong Delta in the south. The former is the cradle of its civilization linked to irrigated rice. However, the primary "granary" for this essential grain for its population is mainly situated in the mouth of the Mekong, covering an area nearly three times larger.

The eastern part of the country is bordered by a coastal coastline adorned with numerous bays, beaches, lagoons, and aquaculture zones spanning over 3,000 kilometers. The most beautiful seaside spots for swimming - such as those in Nha Trang, Phu Quoc Island, or Con Dao Island - are located in the Central and Southern regions.

vietnam family tours

4. The North (Northern Vietnam Map)

The northern region of Vietnam is dominated by the northern mountains and the Red River Delta, which form the "head" of the country. The northern mountains extend across two sub-regions, first the northwest (the western wing of the north), including places like Nghia Lo, Mai Chau, Mu Cang Chai, and Sapa. This part of Vietnam is renowned for its breathtaking terraced rice fields that seem to stretch endlessly. It is also home to Mount Fansipan and the historic battlefield of Dien Bien Phu. These lands are adjacent to Laos, making it very convenient to visit by crossing the border posts of Tay Trang to Dien Bien Phu or Na Meo. These are off-the-beaten-path routes that allow travelers to appreciate extraordinary landscapes and cultures in every sense of the word.

Map of Northern Vietnam
Northern Vietnam Map: Explore the Beauty

The northeastern region, the eastern wing of northern Vietnam, is equally magnificent, boasting breathtaking and wild landscapes. You can admire these landscapes in places like Ha Giang or experience Ha Giang Loop and the Dong Van Geopark, or at the Ban Gioc Waterfalls and Ba Be National Park, for example. The inhabitants of this region also have fascinating lifestyles and customs to explore.

North Vietnam tours

This vast, northern, mountainous region, consisting of both east and west parts, is indeed the homeland of various ethnic minority groups such as the H'Mong, Dao, Tay, Giay, and Lolo tribes. It is a great destination for hiking enthusiasts, with natural attractions and villages that are less frequented by mass tourism. These areas offer wonderful opportunities for friendly encounters with the local population. Learn more about the ethnicities of Vietnam.

les ethnies du Vietnam
The ethnic groups of Vietnam.

Hanoi is the starting point for all northern excursions, traversing the Red River Delta. From the political and cultural capital, it's also easy to access the terrestrial Halong Bay on land (Ninh Binh), an area known for its limestone formations, karst landscapes, and breathtaking flooded rice fields. Not to mention the marvelous Halong Bay itself, with a similar topography but on water, featuring hundreds of islands and islets. It remains a "must-visit" for all travelers looking to explore Vietnam.

 

riziere du delta du mekong
Terraced rice fields in the northern mountains of Vietnam.

5. The Central Region (Central Vietnam Map)

The Central region, nestled between the Pacific Ocean to the east and Laos to the west, is renowned for its abundance of natural and cultural sites, some of which are classified as UNESCO World Heritage. This narrow part of Vietnam is home to the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, featuring the splendid Phong Nha caves, particularly the gigantic Son Doong Cave.

phong nha ke bang national park

On the other hand, the ancient imperial city of Hue stands as a living testament to the history of the Nguyen dynasty. Further south, the ancient town of Hoi An is considered the most charming city in the country, famous for its lantern-adorned streets. The region's first metropolis, Da Nang, is also worth a visit due to its vibrancy and long stretches of white sandy beaches, as paradisiacal as many others in the Central region. For more details on Da Nang, click here.

The map of Central Vietnam and its tourist attractions.
The map of Central Vietnam and its tourist attractions.

6. The South (South Vietnam Map)

Bordered by Cambodia and the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, the South is divided into three sub-regions: the highlands, the Mekong Delta, and the coastal area. The highlands, thanks to their altitude, enjoy a temperate climate in tropical latitudes. The city of Da Lat (or Dalat), its capital, is a legacy of the colonial era, which has made it a resort town favored by Europeans. The Southern Highlands have become tourist attractions with renowned features such as elephants and plantations of coffee, tea, and rubber trees.

The map of Southern Vietnam and its tourist sites.
The map of Southern Vietnam and its tourist sites.

The southern coastal region of Vietnam stretches from the city of Hoi An to Vung Tau, north of the Mekong Delta. It boasts beautiful beaches, especially in the coastal cities of Quy Nhon, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, and their surroundings.

nha trang mui ne

The third sub-region in the South is the Mekong Delta, a unique world that combines both land and water. It is a fertile area thanks to the alluvial deposits from the tributaries and branches of the mighty Mekong River. The Mekong River originates thousands of kilometers away from Vietnam, in the Himalayas and Tibet, traversing several Southeast Asian countries before dividing into two major branches and flowing into the sea near Ho Chi Minh City. The lives of the delta's population are deeply influenced by this watery environment, especially along the canals. A prime example of this is the floating markets, which involve unusual means of transportation and commercial activities. Visiting these markets is an interesting way to immerse oneself in the unique characteristics of this sub-region.

>>> 🌏 Discover the stunning southern coast and vibrant Mekong Delta with Kampá Tour 🇻🇳✨: Our 2-week Vietnam itinerary takes you from Hoi An's historic charm to the floating markets of the Mekong! 🏖️🚤

delta du mékong
The beauty of the Mekong Delta.

To conclude, travelers can journey up the Mekong River, eventually reaching Cambodia after a few hours on a fast boat. This route offers a "two-in-one" experience, highly appreciated by tourists. Check out our suggestions for Vietnam-Cambodia tours.

7. Conclusion

Vietnam is incredibly diverse geographically, climatically, and culturally along its S-shaped length. Jagged "alpine" peaks define the northern provinces, while a pancake-flat river delta enriches the endless rice fields of the extreme south. Limestone hills pockmarked with caves rise above the central belt, and dense tropical forests line its western border. The Vietnam maps above are insufficient to capture the myriad attractions in each region of Vietnam. Practical experience is the best way to grasp them.

To facilitate your journey and customize each itinerary to your preferences, we would be delighted to assist you in creating a tailor-made trip. Please feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

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4/5.Where is Vietnam located?
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<div class=fs18>Mrs Duong Thi LAN</div>Travel Consultant
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