Hidden Content

Discover the best Vietnam travel tips to visit this country full of beauty and hidden treasures. On this complete travel guide that you can download in pdf, we’ll show you some useful Vietnam travel tips so you will be able to plan your trip easily with all the information.

What’s included in this travel guide?

Here you will find the daily budget you need, best things to do, a scenic itinerary, where to stay in Vietnam and much more.

If you want to discover all about Vietnam, keep reading!

Vietnam At a Glance

Best time to visit?: There is no best time to visit Vietnam as it is a country of over 1000km length, which means, that you will encounter different climates depending on the area you are visiting. That’s the reason why you can be backpacking Vietnam all year round. If we have to say a good time to visit Vietnam, we would say in spring (February to April) and autumn (August to October). The dry season in the northwest starts in October and goes through March.

Language: The official language is Vietnamese. In the major cities, they do speak a little english, although if you go out the main destinations, do not expect them to talk in English.

Currency: Vietnamese Dong.

Safety: Vietnam is generally a pretty safe country. We explored it over a month being in really remote areas and never had an issue. In any case, check here to be updated on current safety in Vietnam travel.

Also, for the best medical advice is worth to check Fit for Travel website.

It is important that you have good travel insurance when traveling to these countries to have all the travel essentials covered.

We always travel with World Nomads. You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. It’s designed for adventurous travelers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities

You can get a quick quote here

What to packVietnam can be hot and humid but also really cold and rainy. That is why we would recommend you to be prepared for both, by packing some light clothes but also some clothes that isolate you from really cold temperatures if traveling to the north. As Vietnam has amazing mountain trekkings, make sure that you have with you a good pair of trekking boots or trainers.

How to move aroundMoving around Vietnam is fairly easy. 12GoAsia is from far the best option to move not only in Vietnam but around Asia. It has a platform easy to use plenty of trains and buses. Not to mention, it is also the cheapest way to move around Vietnam. You can check timetables and prices here.

In the cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, you can also use the app Grab on your phone.

In case you need to cover larger distances, then Skyscanner would be the best option to find cheap flights to travel within the country. Check your options in Skyscanner since they have pretty good deals.

Do I need a Visa to travel to Vietnam?:You can check here if you need a visa.

Vietnam On a Budget

zanzibar on a budget

How much cost to travel to Vietnam?

For our Vietnam travel, we had a daily budget of 31$  per person per day for the 42 days we visited Vietnam. This includes the motorbike that we rented at the beginning of the trip, the cruise in Halong Bay and other attractions.  We also took some taxis in Phu Quoc to move from around the island and rented a scooter some days.

If you compared it with the 28$ we spent in Thailand, it does not look fair, since Vietnam is with no doubt cheaper. But the truth is that we did much more things in Vietnam.

In our opinion, is quite easy to Visit Vietnam on budget. We could have even done it much cheaper by staying more in hostels, and not eating so much, but we have a big appetite ?

How is the average price calculated?

It is the total of all our expenses in Vietnam divided by 42 days, which is the time we spent there. That is taking into account:

  • What kind of accommodation? We mainly stayed at guesthouses and only a few hotels
  • How did you move around? We rented a motorbike from Saigon to Hanoi and the rest with buses
  • What kind of food did you have?  We had 90% of the time local food. Which is really cheap, but ate lots ?
  • What do you consider entertainment? Alcohol, tickets for attractions, tour in Halong Bay, etc.

Where to Go in Vietnam

HO CHI MINH

Welcome to the Vietnamese city that doesn’t sleep. Famous for its role during the War with America and its chaotic traffic. Ho Chi Minh City is a perfect place to start backpacking Vietnam. It also has great day trips wich worth checking

HOI AN

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hoi An is one of the most beautiful towns in Vietnam. Small yellow buildings, old canals and its vibrant atmosphere make this city a must visit when backpacking Vietnam. Discover the ” City of Lanterns” at night for its charming display of colorful lanterns

HANOI

Hanoi, the bustling capital of Vietnam! It is known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture. It is not as crazy as Ho Chi Minh though, and the amount of cafes and restaurants by the lake in the old quarter, makes a pleasure walking around the city center

PHU QUOC

Need a break from the mountains and want to have some time to lay back and relax on the beach? If so, Phu Quoc will offer you relax and a wide range of restaurants options and accommodations right in front of the beach

PHONG NHA NATIONAL PARK

Would you like to visit this UNESCO heritage site with some of the most spectacular nature creations in the world? Phong Nha- Ke Bang National offers its visitors the opportunity to visit the oldest karst mountains in Asia with more than 400 million years. This National Park is absolutely 100% recommendable

HALONG BAY

If there is a place which does not need an introduction, that is Halong Bay. Known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests is the top destination in Vietnam for tourists. This is the must do in Vietnam

DALAT

Situated 1500m above the sea level, hidden between valleys and mountains lies Dalat. Due to its advantaged location, Dalat has a refreshing climate compared to other hot cities. Dalat’s main attractions are based on outdoor activities

TRANG AN

Get ready to discover one of the most amazing landscapes you´ve probably ever seen. The most characteristic natural formations of Trang An are huge limestone karst surrounded by paddy fields, which have renamed this place as the Ha Long of the land. Here you can also visit some of the tallest pagodas in the world.

CAT BA

Cat Ba is the largest island in Halong Bay and offers a lesser known, laid-back alternative to the country’s famous. It is a great place to chill for a couple of days. It has a beautiful national park with a nice and easy trekking, together with small but beautiful beaches

Vietnam Itinerary

One of the best Vietnam travel tips we can give you is to think your route thoroughly. It is such a long country with plenty to see. That is why we have done this sample itinerary with the very best of Vietnam. Ideally, to cover all these comfortably, you should allow 30 days for this proposed itinerary. Otherwise, it can also be done in 21 days but you might miss amazing side trips.

Either if you start from North or South, you have a logical progression to see them. In our case, we crossed Vietnam by motorbike, which we really recommend.

This Vietnam travel itinerary is quite well balanced since you got a mix of city, pure nature, beach and mountain. We don’t think you will miss much.

Of course, is not the only one or the best one, but in our personal opinion, we think it covers all the best.

You can take a look in detail if you click in the infographic below where we show some of the highlights in the map of Vietnam

Vietnam itinerary map

Things to do in Vietnam

There is so much stuff you can do in Vietnam and many different kinds of scenery. And although you can find beaches as well, it would not be the place we would choose for a beach escape. Instead, check the top 5 islands in Southeast Asia that you should visit

Our favorite thing to do was crossing Vietnam by motorbike all the way South to North. And if you do have the chance, we really recommend it.

Vietnam travel tips for sightseeing

Soak up some of the rich the Vietnamese culture by getting immersed in this chaotic city full of life. If you feel overwhelmed by the crazy traffic of motorbikes moving around in every direction don’t worry, this city also offers lots of things to do.

Eat with locals. One of the best things to do in Vietnam is eating. Vietnamese people are proud of their exquisite gastronomy based on fresh ingredients. Don’t miss out the opportunity of trying some of the best hot pots in the region (although they taste different in the north)

Learn the history of Vietnam. Visiting the War museum will give you a bit of context of what this country has been through. Even though Vietnamese people seem to be over it, it is important to know the past of this nation.

Explore the underground history. Visit the underground  Cu Chi tunnels that Vietnamese people created during the war with America to shelter whole villages. An absolutely masterpiece worth to visit, the tour includes transport too for 20 $.

Get a taste of Paris in Vietnam. Did you expect to see a Notre Dame Cathedral in South East Asia?? Probably not, however, you can visit the Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh city as one of the traces of the French colonialists from the 1880s.

But first, coffee. Get your batteries charged with Vietnamese coffee. IF you are a coffee lover like us, we will probably enjoy the taste of this coffee. You can have it black or white, hot or cold. No matter which one you choose, you will be totally satisfied. For us, white coffee was our favorite, as it was made with condensed milk combined with the coffee, it tasted like heaven.

Relax on paradisiac beaches. If you are looking for a place to slow down, Phu Quoc is one of the best beaches in Vietnam. This place is increasing its popularity very quickly and that also explains its rapid development during the past years. Phu Quoc offers a wide range of options in touristic attractions, accommodations, and restaurants. We could say that the island has been adapted to meet the needs of its visitors.

However, all the coins have always two faces. What we found in this touristic island was, shockingly, tons of rubbish on the beaches. Every beach we visited, was covered in plastics, either in the white sand and in the crystal clear water what was not only disappointing but also, a completely worry.

Rent a scooter and explore the Island. Although it is a big island to be explored in a couple of days, renting a scooter is what we found the most convenient way to get to know it. Also, pending on the winds, you will be able to choose one beach or another.

Do not go on a snorkeling trip!. We did not do it, so it is not first-hand information, but we did research a lot while there. We both are advanced divers and love a good dive and snorkel. And even though the small islands at the very south of the islands are said to be incredibly beautiful, there are hundreds of comments everywhere about unhappy people looking to see marine life while snorkeling.

Take a boat to the southern islands for true beauty. Although there are a couple of beautiful beaches in Phu Quoc, looks like the best ones are further south. We looked into this option but it was a bit over our budget, so we did not do it. Again, we did our research and if what you look for is amazingly small and pretty islands with crystal clear waters, looks like your deal!

Make the most of the outdoors activities. Dalat is a beautiful city situated 1500m above the sea level, hidden between valleys and mountains. Due to its advantaged location, Dalat called the city with the eternal spring, as temperatures are more refreshing comparing to hot and humid cities like Saigon. No wonder why it has become the favorite getaway to those seeking a break from the suffocating temperatures and looking forward to enjoying a peaceful stay surrounded by pure nature. As a consequence of this rare climate, Dalat’s main attractions are based on outdoor activities.

Walk around Lam Vien Square. As we mentioned above, Dalat is a great gateway for those who are looking for a peaceful break in a quiet place. One of our favorite things to do in Dalat was walking around Lam Vien Square and towards the market where you can grab some delicious local food.

Visit Pongour Waterfalls. For this one, we’d recommend you to rent a motorbike as it is 50 Km from Dalat town. There are more waterfalls in Dalat that you could visit but for us, this one is the most impressive

Walk around the old town. You will probably be captivated by the charming of this old town when you visit it. As the darkness falls into this town, the city dresses up with colorful lanterns and the magic begins. At the riverside, you can also see some people leaving paper candle lights on the water leaving us with a romantic sparkle scenery of Hoi An.

Buy a handmade tailored suite. Another reason for visiting Hoi An is, for its great tailoring services with the cheapest prices so if you were considering buying a suit made by a professional tailor, this is probably one of the best places to get one.

Chill by the riverside for a drink. For us, one of our favorite things to do in Hoi An was sitting by the riverside and sip a delicious local coffee watching the people going by.

Rent a motorbike and explore. You can also rent a bike and ride around the beautiful Hoi An to discover every little corner, and don’t forget to go for a walk at night when all the lanterns are lit up in colors.

Visit Phong Nha caves. One of the reasons why people stop by Phon Nha is to visit some of the most spectacular nature creations you could see. One of the best examples is the oldest karst mountains in Asia which were formed more than 400 million years ago. Phon Nha also is also home of some unique caves with underground rivers to explore. Apart from the scenic part, Phon Nha also offers the possibility to discover some history of the Vietnamese War with America.

Explore the wild nature around. As you can imagine in such a nature paradise, the main activity will be outdoors. Companies have realized the potential of this Natural Park and that’s why you will be able to find endless options to get outside and enjoy this place.

Trang An Grottoes. It is a scenic landscape complex surrounded by a buffer zone of 6,268ha, mostly comprising paddy rice fields and villages. Here expect to find a handful of caves and rocks towering out from a large network of canals and lakes. It is with no doubt the main attraction of Trang An and is something with an extraordinary beauty that we strongly recommend.

Visit Bai Dinh Pagoda. From Trang An, you can also rent a motorbike and head to Bai Dinh Pagoda which is Southeast Asia’s largest complex. As we were traveling with our motorbike we drove all the way there at it was absolutely worth it.  Bai Dinh Pagoda was built from 2003 so it is not a historic monument, however, it is pretty impressive and absolutely worth it the ride. In the complex, you will find different elements, From temples to a Bell Tower, to a massive Buddha, a dormitory area for Buddhist monks, a display of 500 Arahat statues of 2 meters… and so on. This place for us is a masterpiece and we can’t compare it to anything that we have seen before.

Visit Hoa Lu. It was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. The area is composed of ricefields broken by picturesque limestone mountains and is approximately 90 km south of Hanoi. Hoa Lư is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ninh Bình Province

Rent a bike or motorbike and explore by yourself. One of the best things about Trang An is how beautiful and quiet is. It is not big, so really manageable on a bike. Also, the offer of nice restaurants and cheap accommodation will make you want to stay for longer than you though. Don’t you say we did not tell you ?

Visit Halong Bay. You cannot visit Vietnam and miss out one of Seven Natural Wonders, Ha Long Bay. Worldwide famous for its natural beauty, this place attracts millions of people every year who get on board those junk boats and sail the bay for two nights at least most of them. Halong Bay is formed by 1500 islets of karst mountains, hollow jungles, and caves some of them are open to visitors. With your visit, you will have the option to do some extra activities.

Cruise Halong Bay. If you visit Ha Long Bay, the best way of enjoying it is by booking a one-night (or 2) cruise. We booked two days one night cruise in Ha Long Bay with Rosa Boutique Cruise. That included transport from Hanoi, all the meals which were abundant and traditional Vietnamese food. It also includes kayaking for an hour, cooking class where you learn to cook some Vietnamese recipes and a visit to the Pearl Farm where they show you how the get the pearls. Our advice is to check some reviews before booking with the tour operators as there are endless scams with this kind of activities.

Visit and enjoy the French and Old Quarters. What can we say about Hanoi? We totally fell in love with this city since the first moment we stepped in. It is one of the most ancient capitals in the world, with colonial buildings, historic temples, museums, handicrafts, and a unique delightful cuisine all within the city center. There are two main neighborhoods to visit, the French Quarter and the Old Quarter.

Forget the map and get lost. We really enjoyed getting lost in the streets of Hanoi, walking through the Hoan Kiem Lake, watching people dancing, playing a massive Jenga game and all kind of performances…

Try the egg coffee. Something that you cannot miss in Hanoi is trying the famous distinguished egg coffee in one first places where egg coffee was made. The name of this place is Giang Caffee and you can get through a small alley which doesn’t look very appealing and it can also be difficult to find. This place is nothing luxury but you can see years and years of familiar tradition. It has now become the meeting point for young people to have a chat and a delicious and different coffee. For a less traditional but still a charming peaceful café is the Note Coffee. There you will be able to try the famous egg coffee and other types surrounded by walls covered in layers of post-its with messages. Don´t forget to leave yours.

Walk the path which connects Cat Ba beaches. There is a beautiful and peaceful path which connects Cat Ba beaches. It is a pleasant stroll with incredible views. You can also opt to stay in one of them if you are up to a swim

Hike to the top of Cat Ba National Park. It is a relaxed walk which should not take more than a full hour to go to the top, through a dense wood but with a well-marked path. Views from the top are quite impressive and most likely, there won’t be many people with you.

Visit Halong Bay. Cat Ba is also the door to the bay. With less tourist on this side, you can still do the Halong Bay tour from here and will be easier and less crowded. Price wise it might be the same, but it worth to check it just in case

If you are planning on going on high season, you should definitively check Get Your Guide for a complete list with top things to do in every city. The advantage of doing it though is that you can book any tour in advance. If you have limited time, it might be a good idea to take a look, at least to have an idea of the options.

 

Where to Stay in Vietnam

Vietnam has a great offer of accommodation, and from our experience, is one of the best relation quality-price that you can find out there. We have been in crazy cool places for like 5$ each in a private room. We’ve hardly paid more than 15$ each for the best ones. If you check them, you will see that all are more than decent places for a very good price.

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh

We stayed in a hostel in Ho Chi Minh called Snow House. Location wise was good, walking distance from all the key points. The hostel is nothing fancy but it has curtains that you can velcro on your bunk bed, so that comes in handy when you are sharing the room with more people. We recommend this hostel if you are thinking of spending a few days in Ho Chi Minh.

Where to stay in Dalat

We stayed at Huong Mai hotel. The owners were really welcoming and the room was big and clean. We only stayed there for a night but we would come back without any doubt since it was really comfy

Where to stay in Phu Quoc

 We stayed at La Paloma Bungalows when we visited Phu Quoc. We found the room perfect, there are about 10 bungalows and a big reception where breakfast was served. The bungalows where very spacious and clean and the bathroom has outdoors but private so it was different but we quite liked it as it is really hot in the island. It is also super clean!

In terms of location, it was close to one of the beaches and a motorbike ride to some of the restaurants. If you are staying in la Paloma you will need to rent a motorbike or use a taxi to move around as it is far from the action.

Top 9 accommodations in Hanoi

Where to stay in Hanoi.

We stayed in Ha my Homestay . A homestay run by a lovely local family and very attentive. The room was big and spotless, and the relation between quality and price was good. Its location was also very good. It could not be in a better location!

Top 9 accommodations in Hanoi

Where to stay in Hoi An

We stayed at Do River Homestay. It is quite pleasant and tidy, although a bit far by foot to the old quarter. In any case, there is no distance with a bike in Hoi An since is fairly small and the place was really nice and at a very good price

Where to stay in Trang An

We stayed at Trang An Nature House. This was one of our favorite accommodation in Vietnam. The owner was kind and attentive and so it was his wife who cooks the best meals probably in town. The rooms are big and they have views to one of the most scenic parts of Trang An so you can just be sitting in your room having a coffee staring at the huge mountain karsts in front of you. The room was spotless, the bathroom was huge and it had hot water. Breakfast and dinner can be ordered in advance and they will cook it for you from scratch and with love.

Where to stay in Catba

We stayed at Catba Island Hotel.  A small hotel up the hill of Catba. The owners were very welcoming with us, and the room was big enough. It also had hot water and Tv and the location is perfect as it was walking distance from everything.

If you prefer something more according to your style and budget, you can check your options in Booking.

Booking.com

Where to Eat in Vietnam

Pho bowl with noodles

As you probably know, something to love about Vietnam is its food. Rich flavored dishes traditionally cooked and always using fresh ingredients is one of its more important characteristics.

That is why we have done a small Vietnam travel food guide, with our recommendations on where to eat.

Den Long. This is by far our recommendation in terms of where to eat in Ho Chi Minh. Den Long serves authentic Vietnamese homemade food. Not only food is exceptional but also the staff will run you through the dishes on the menu and they will give you some recommendations.  They are so attentive and welcoming that you will feel at home.

Winston’s burgers. Nice burgers, probably not the best you’ve ever had (unless you haven’t eaten as many burgers), but it definitely makes the trick if you are having one of those burger cravings.

Ganesh. This is a chain of Indian restaurants that you can find all around Vietnam. We really wanted to have Indian food in Phu Quoc so we gave it a go and it was really tasty.

So True Restaurant.The best food in Phu Quoc for us. Food is deliciously tasty and the staff is great too. You shouldn’t leave this island without having tried this hidden gem.

No Name Bbq . This restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese food at a cheap price. They also have a barbeque at night with the catch of the day and some fresh vegetables too.

Hanoi Social Club. Fancy a delicious breakfast in a cozy and vibrant space? If so, head to Hanoi Social Club. They also serve delicious lunch and on Tuesdays, they have live music. We visited Hanoi Social Club for breakfast and we loved it. They have got plenty of option in the menu, which they call Food for Soul and we can confirm that.

 Bún Bò Nam Bộ. One of the best dishes we’ve ever tried so far. BunBoo Nam Bo is a stirred beef vermicelli with fried onion, fresh vegetables, chopped peanuts… it is heaven in a bowl.

4 Ps Pizza. A chain of pizza restaurants run by a Japanese chef that will make your mouth water with just the smell of the delicious pizzas. Their specialty is their wide variety of pizza flavors, all very original and their own house-made cheese. We ordered pizza, half parma burrata, and half house-made cheese… it was one of the best pizzas we’ve had. We also ordered salmon pasta which was very tasty too but we preferred the pizza.

Pho 10. Another thing that you should add to your to-do list is having this traditional dish. Pho is a beef soup with noodles and some vegetables which is really rich in flavor. The best way to find the best Pho in town is by going where locals go. So forget about doing any research, walk around the city and wherever you see they are serving Pho and is full of local people, don’t hesitate, that will be the places. If you didn’t have enough time and you want to go straight away to a good one, we loved Pho 10 so you should give it a go

Restaurant & Cafe Tuan. A highly rated restaurant which serves tasty and diverse food. Recommended when visiting Hoi An.

Banh Mi Phuong. Delicious and cheap Vietnamese traditional sandwiches that you should try when you visit Vietnam.

Cafe Bambu. Perfect place to have some great food and relax in Phon Nha.