How many rivers in Vietnam?
Indeed, Vietnam is the country of legendary rivers, which have accompanied the life of Vietnamese for more than 4000 years and witnessed the ups and downs of history.
From north to south, there are 2,360 more-than-10-kilometer rivers with the total length up to 41,900 kilometers, forming fertile deltas on the catchment areas of the rivers. Not only that, the traditional features of Vietnamese culture are nourished and preserved in the peaceful villages as well as the bustling cities on the riverbanks.
Coming to each river, you will have an opportunity to contemplate the stunning scenery along the river, listen to the legend from the local residents and experience the exclusive cultural traits. If the limited time does not allow you to explore all the beautiful rivers in Vietnam, how about considering the top 11 most beautiful rivers in Vietnam on the list below?
I. 11 Major Rivers in Vietnam
1. Mekong River
Mekong River is the largest river in Southeast Asia flowing in Vietnam territory. The river comes through Southwest Region with two major tributaries, which is Tien River and Hau River, then joins The East Sea in nine estuaries, therefore, it is also called Cuu Long River. The total length of Mekong River in Vietnam is about 500 kilometers, with the catchment basin of nearly 71,000 square kilometers, which takes up about more than 8% of the total basin area of Mekong River. In the Southwest Region, people built a canal network for providing water to all the provinces in the delta.
What to Do:
Mekong Delta in Vietnam is not only well-known for its peaceful and multi-colored life but also the exclusive floating markets, which is a part of the culture there, with rustic bamboo boats and plentiful commodities. When coming to Mekong River, there are a variety of floating markets that you should visit at least once such as Cai Rang (Can Tho), Long Xuyen (An Giang), Cai Be (Tien Giang) and Phung Hiep (An Giang). In addition, you should not miss the chance to explore the biodiversity in Southeast Region in Tram Chim, U Minh Thuong and U Minh Ha National Park.
2. Srepok River
Srepok River (Dak Krong River) is the second largest river in Central Highlands of Vietnam, with a length of 406 kilometers (125 kilometers in Vietnamese territory) and a basin of 30,100 square kilometers. As a major tributary of Mekong River, Srepok comprises two tributaries, Krong No and Krong Ana, which means “father river” and “mother river” in the local language. As a legend told by the residents on the two sides of the river, this river is associated with a love story of a boy and a girl whose love was prevented by their clans.
What to Do:
In contrast to the two gentle tributaries, Srepok River seems to be more violent, which makes this river a paradise of magnificent waterfalls. Many of these majestic waterfalls have been exploited for tourism such as Dray Nur, Dray Sap, Gia Long, Seven Branches, and Trinh Nu falls. Not only that, the catchment basin of Srepok River is the home to many kinds of flora and fauna, some of which are endangered species in the world. F
ollowing the course of Srepok River, there are two national parks that are worth visiting: Chu Yang Sin and Yok Don National Park. The best time to visit Srepok River is from November to April, in the dry season, when the heavy rain that interrupts your journey has not come.
3. Saigon River
While most rivers in Vietnam have an attachment to the images of traditional and natural beauty, Saigon River is one of the exceptions. When it comes to Saigon River, many people will immediately bear in their mind an image of a modern and bustling city, a Far-East pearl as French called, which is Ho Chi Minh City. Saigon River is a branch of Dong Nai River, and also one of the two rivers flowing through Ho Chi Minh City. Through the more-than-300-year history of this city, Saigon River has witnessed the rise and fall of Saigon, in order that today, we can see a vibrant and dynamic city on the two sides of this river.
What to Do:
Visiting Saigon River, you can take a Saigon Water Bus at Bach Dang Port to contemplate the stunning view of Ho Chi Minh City. The river winds through towering buildings, crowded residential areas and busy streets, takes visitors to visit the symbolic construction of Ho Chi Minh City such as Nha Rong Harbor, Bitexco Tower and Landmark 81, the highest building in Vietnam. When the night falls, you can have a walk in the riverside park, seeing a sparkling city with colorful lights reflecting on the water of Saigon River.
4. Perfume River
Hue, an ancient citadel of Vietnam, has long been famous for its poetic beauty, which is the inspiration of many poets and writers. When concerning the factors adorning that beauty, it is such a flaw if we do not mention Perfume River, the symbol of Hue City. Rising from the grandiose Truong Son Mountain range, nourishing the antique tradition of the residents on the riverbanks, Perfume River is compared to a young girl with a strong personality on the way to find her lover, Hue City. When entering the city center, the flow of the Perfume River seems to slow down and curve round pristine villages like Kim Long, Vy Da, Nguyet Bieu and Bao Vinh.
What to Do:
Navigating on Perfume River is a must-try experience for you when visiting Hue City. The boat will take you to admire the splendid river landscape of Hue City with plenty of attractions such as Hon Chen Shrine, Ngoc Tran Mount, Truong Tien Bridge, the Imperial City of Hue, Minh Mang Tomb and Thien Mu Pagoda. In particular, when the night falls, in the shimmering light of the two sides, from the boats floating on Perfume River, you can immerse yourself in the melody of elegant music of Hue Citadel, a world intangible cultural heritage.
5. Ngo Dong River
Not being a large river but Ngo Dong River is an attractive one in Ninh Binh Province. It rises from the core zone of Trang An Complex, winds through limestone mountain cliffs and vast rice paddy fields, and finally pours into the Vac River. On the two sides of Ngo Dong River, the imposing mountains day by day quietly sends the gleams to the serene surface of the river, drawing a wonderful ink wash painting of nature. Ngo Dong River is like the smooth hair of a pretty girl oversleeping in the immense fields of Ninh Binh.
What to Do:
Following the course of Ngo Dong River on a boat, you will be taken to Thai Vi Temple and Tam Coc – Bich Dong, which is known as “Nam Thien De Nhi Dong” (the second most beautiful cavern in Vietnam). Visiting the cavern on Ngo Dong River, you would be astounded at the splendid stalactites in a variety of shapes and sizes growing in a hustle, which makes a feeling that the hand of the Creator meticulously arranged every stone there. What delights you about the Ngo Dong River most is the harmonious combination of nature, religion and human, as you are getting lost in a fairy tale with the charming scenery around.
6. Nho Que River
Coming to Ha Giang Province, a mountainous landscape in North Vietnam, besides the notoriously spectacular passes attracting all the backpackers, you will be introduced to a specific river on a ravine – Nho Que River. This river starts from China, flows in the southeast direction into Vietnam territory. Although a part of this river is also in Cao Bang Province, the first part of Nho Que River in Lung Cu Commune, Ha Giang Province is considered as the most breathtaking scenery. Previously, the Nho Que River was not quiet as it is at the moment; it was not until a dam in a hydroelectric project that Nho Que River became more smooth.
What to Do:
To admire the whole beauty of Nho Que River, many tourists choose to stand on the top of Ma Pi Leng Pass, a 20-kilometer favourite pass of all travelers in Ha Giang. Ma Pi Leng Pass is known as a road full of obstacles with high and dangerous sheer rock perched in one side, and deep abyss in the other side. From this pass, you can draw your attention to the majestic view of Tu San Alley, where the blue water of Nho Que River is flowing slowly, curving round the towering cliffs. In addition, you can join a boat trip on Nho Que River, look up to contemplate the soaring cliffs, touch the blue and chilly water of Nho Que River and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of mountains, water and cloud.
7. Han River
It is said that every river in Central Vietnam associates with its unique bridge and Han River in Da Nang City is no exception. When it comes to Danang, a worth-visiting city in world, visitors will immediately think of a modern and dynamic city, a tourist attraction on the banks of Han River. This river has a gentle and seductive beauty of a young girl at the full moon age, with the clear and non-polluted water. On the two sides of Han River, Danang City is growing strongly with high-class tourism areas, skyscrapers and unique constructions that have been the symbols of this city.
What to Do:
Of all the bridges crossing Han River, Dragon Bridge is the most attractive one. Thanks to the construction of the golden dragon, it is considered as one of the most impressive bridges in the world. Besides, there are five other spectacular bridges on Han River: Thuan Phuoc, Tran Thi Ly, Nguyen Van Troi, Tien Son and Han River Bridge, which gives Da Nang the nickname “the city of bridges”. Annually, on the dreamlike sides of Han River, Da Nang International Firework Festival is held with the participation of leading countries in firework performance, attracting many domestic and international tourists.
8. Hoai River
Hoai River is a tributary of Thu Bon River which flows through Hoi An Ancient Town. For local people and tourists in Hoi An, Hoai River is an inseparable character of this ancient town. On the riverbanks of Hoai River, antique houses in yellow and brown quietly reflect on the serene water of Hoai River, which creates a peaceful feeling for you like in a Chinese or Japanese ancient town. Associating with the development of Hoi An Ancient Town for more than 500 years, Hoai River used to play an important role in business activities of this landscape with a lot of merchants from all over the world coming to purchase commodities.
What to Do:
The livelihood of people in Hoi An is attached to Hoai River. Coming to Hoi An Town, you can take a non-motor boat sailed by the locals, navigate on the charming river and admire the exquisite scenery on the riverbanks. Besides, you can have a good chance to listen to the delightful stories told by the ferry drivers in the middle of a poetic ambiance with the sound of the paddles cleaving water. At night, especially on special occasions, Hoai River changes its appearance and turns out to be a sparkling river adorned by the glittering lights of the colorful lanterns hung on the antique houses.
9. Son River
Son River, also called Troc River, is a branch of Giang River in Quang Binh Province. The upper reaches of Son River is a 7729-meter underground river rising from the limestone mountains in the heart of Phong Nha – Ke Bang, a world heritage in Quang Binh. The name “Son” means “unshakably loyal”, which comes from a love story with the faithfulness of a couple in the riverbanks. On the other hand, many people suppose that due to the red color of this river in the flooding season, it was called the name “Son River”. This river witnessed the resilience of Vietnamese people when driving out the invaders of the US army in the 20th century.
What to Do:
Visiting Son River, what could be more exciting than sitting on a boat and traveling along the river to admire the poetic and picturesque scenery and drop in places of interest on the riverside. The main color of the picture on the bank of the river is green: emerald green of water, deep green of the forest, fluorescent green of fertile fields on the two sides. There you can put in the river ports to visit Phong Nha Cave, Xuan Son Ferry and a lot of peaceful small villages with friendly people on the riverside.
10. Ben Hai River
When it comes to the land that had to suffer the most pain and destruction during the Vietnam War, it is exactly Quang Tri Province. Known as the temporary demilitarized boundary of the two parts of Vietnam from 1954, Ben Hai River and Hien Luong Bridge are historical witnesses of the separation and the unification of Vietnamese people during the fierce war. It was not until 1975 with the fall of the Republic of Vietnam that the boundary was abolished, Vietnam was unified and people on the two bridgeheads could travel freely without any obstruction.
What to Do:
More than a half of a decade passed, the fire land in the past has changed dramatically. The battlefield has set room for immense paddy fields and green rubber forests. Up until now, Hien Luong Bridge is still in two colors, yellow and blue, as a way to memorize the future generations about the arduous but magnanimous resistance war of the forebears. On the great ceremony days of Vietnam, coming to Ben Hai River and Hien Luong Bridge, you will have an opportunity to meet the war veterans of Vietnam and even the US, listen to their stories to treasure the value of peace.
11. Lam River
Although it is not as popular as the other rivers in Vietnam for river cruises, Lam River in Nghe An is still considered as one of the best choices for you when exploring Vietnamese rivers. Flowing from Xiangkhoang Plateau in Laos, Lam River, or Ngan Ca River, is one of the two largest rivers in North Central Vietnam. Together with Hong Linh Mountain in Ha Tinh Province, it became the symbol of Nghe Tinh region, a sacred land with extraordinary people in Vietnamese history. The name “Lam River” originates from the indigo-blue color of the water there, which respects the sky and quiet tree lines on the riverbanks.
What to Do:
A visit to Lam River is a memorable experience of Lam Hong culture, the culture of the residents on the Lam riverside. In the villages along Lam River, you can catch the sights of children and buffaloes immersing in the cool water, mothers washing clothes, rudimentary boats spreading the nets to catch fish, the sound of lives stretching out in the quiet water surface. Tien Dien Village (the hometown of Nguyen Du, a world cultural celebrity) and Kim Lien Village (the hometown of President Ho Chi Minh) are two most well-known villages that you should drop in when discovering Lam River.
>> See details about Vietnam Rivers on map here.
III. Frequently Asked Questions
A: The river flows through Ho Chi Minh City is Saigon River. This river merges into Dong Nai River in Ho Chi Minh City before pouring into the sea.
A: The river with the largest river basin in Vietnam is Red River (72,300 km2). The largest river that flows in Vietnamese territory is Mekong River (795,000 km2, in Vietnamese territory: 71,000 km2)
A: No. Saigon River is a major tributary of Dong Nai River, runs from Southeast region and merges into the main flow of Dong Nai River in Ho Chi Minh City.
Mekong River, or Cuu Long River, originates from China, flows through Thailand, Lao, Cambodia to Vietnamese territory in the Southwest region then pours into the sea.
Rivers have played an essential part in the culture of Vietnam for more than 4000 years, nourished traditional values in every landscape they go through. Each river owns a specific story, all the stories combine together to create the unification in Vietnamese culture. If you have a chance to visit Vietnam, don’t forget to spend your time exploring rivers in Vietnam, to know more about the legendary rivers and heroic destinations.