I visited Vietnam in 2018 for an internship, and believe me when I say, it was the best trip of my life so far. People are extremely humble and generous and I came back with a lot of new friends and boundless memories. One can never fall short of new places to explore when it comes to this country. Whether you’re looking for backpacking or a luxe experience, Vietnam has something for everyone.
From the traditional culture of Hanoi, the buzz of the vibrant Ho Chi Minh City, incredibly scenic landscapes of Sapa, white sand beaches of Ha Long Bay, breezy mountain views of Da Lat, or the alluring beauty of the riverside town of Hoi An, Vietnam has it all.
Vietnam is a Southeast Asian country known for its white-sand beaches, rivers, emerald paddy fields, Buddhist pagodas and bustling cities. The diverse culture, one-of-it’s-kind food and stunning landscapes make Vietnam a destination worth visiting.
Currency – Vietnamese dong
Capital – Hanoi
Exchange rate – 1 Vietnamese dong= 0.000043 USD
Time zone – GMT+7
Language – Vietnamese
Religion – Vietnamese folk religion, Buddhism and Christianity
Travel Adapter – Types A, C and F
Top 5 places you must include in your itinerary when planning a trip to Vietnam:
The capital of Vietnam, Ha Noi is famous for its authentic Vietnamese traditions, temples and pagodas, museums and amazing food. Some of the must-visit places include- Ho An Kim Lake, The Opera House in the French quarter, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, The Central Jail, and The West Lake. If you have extra time, make sure to take a trekking trip to Ba Vi National Park.
You simply cannot miss out on the famous egg coffee, local beer, and the famous street food.
2. Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh, also known as Saigon is a must-visit for youngsters, or people looking for a luxury experience.
The lit rooftop bars, malls and museums with the essence of history and culture pretty much sum the vibe of the city. The craft beer here is a must-try!
3. Ha Long Bay
Visiting Ha Long Bay is a must when in Vietnam. Swimming and kayaking around the bay’s green waters and scenic limestone rock formations is a spectacular experience. The cruise takes you to experience different islands, the tourist guides show you around different places including pearl farms which are so unique!
Halong Bay tours usually start around 50-100 USD for two-day trips which are inclusive of all meals, island tours, complimentary wine, cooking classes and kayaking.
4. Hoi An
Also known as the yellow city, the town of Hoi An is amongst the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can rent a bike and ride through the town and watch the sunset at the beach. This town is famous for its night markets, puppet shows, beaches and diverse culture.
5. Sa Pa
Go for a trek to Sa Pa which is close to Hanoi, for an ultimate scenic experience. The alluring beauty of Sa Pa is made up of lush rice fields, steep valleys surrounded by mountains. Things you can do in Sa Pa include Hiking, visiting tribal villages and national parks, Fan Si Pan mountain and experience the enduring beauty of this part of Vietnam.
People often ask, which city is better- Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh?
My answer to this would be that Hanoi is ideal for people looking to experience a more traditional lifestyle while Ho Chi Minh City’s urban landscapes are best suited for luxury travellers.
Hanoi has an old quarter and a French quarter. You get a nice mix of both the traditional side of the country and its nightlife. However, the nightlife is better in Ho Chi Minh. If you are looking for an authentic experience I would suggest you start with Hanoi.
Vietnam travel costs
I suggest you go for homestay accommodation if you are a solo traveller, to understand the typical culture of Vietnam and make new friends. My homestay experience was incredible as Vietnamese people are extremely generous and kind.
Hostels- Starting around 100,000 VND (4 USD) per night.
Private rooms- Starting around 350,000 – 425,000 VND (15-20 USD) per night.
I booked my visa for Vietnam online and according to me, it’s the most convenient way. You can refer to the website vietnam-evisa.org
Bus travel is very cheap in Vietnam. They usually cost 1-2 USD for a bus ride. The most popular form of transport, however, are bikes taxis which are safe and cheap. Cab taxis are another popular form of transport.
Buying a sim card in Vietnam
You can get your sim cards at the airport. Hanoi airport has a wide selection of mobile data plans in the arrival hall. However, you can find a lot of local shops in the city too which sell the same.
A sim card is usually 50,000 dongs (2.14 USD) with no credit loaded. However, you can go for Viettel which usually has good tourist offers. It is the cheapest and the best sim card.
The best month to visit Vietnam
The natives suggest that the best time to visit the northern region is between March and May, and from September to November when the weather is pleasant and fine.
The period between March and May is Vietnam’s spring season and the countryside surrounding Hanoi is in full bloom. The weather in Vietnam, however, can be considered unpredictable. So my suggestion would be to always carry an umbrella with you.
Should I exchange money before going to Vietnam?
My suggestion would be to carry USD with you and exchange it to Vietnamese Dong (VND) after you reach Vietnam airport as you get the best exchange rate that way. While in Vietnam, paying in Vietnamese dongs gets you better value than paying in dollars. So it’s better to spend day-to-day using VND and reserve a stash of dollars around for an emergency.
Is there wifi in Vietnam?
Finding a good internet connection is very easy in Vietnam. You can get access to free wifi at the airports, restaurants and cafes with good connection speeds.
Safety in Vietnam
Vietnam is a fairly safe country and people are very helpful. However, I’ve heard very few cases of theft so it’s always smart to take precautions. The shopkeepers also tend to rip off tourists especially at the night markets. So bargain as much as you can!
Basic Vietnamese for travellers
I love learning new languages before I go to a new country. It’s always a good idea to learn about a new culture and respect it. Another reason why you should learn some basic Vietnamese is that not a lot of people except the youth speak in English. So this might come in very handy!
Also, Vietnamese is quite easy to learn. So this shall be fun!
· Hello = Xin Chao (Sin chow)
· How are you? = Ban Khoe Khong (Ban Kwe Khom)
· Thank you = Cam on (Calm uhn)
· Sorry = Xin Loi (Sin Loy)
· No Problem = Khong co gi (Khong koh zee)
· Goodbye = Tam Biet (Tarm Byeet)
· No, Thank You! = Khong! Cam On (Khom, kahm uhn)
· Can you speak English? = Ban noi tieng anh duoc khong? (Banh noi thien an durkh khom)
Basic Vietnamese phrases for shopping in Vietnam (English to Vietnamese)
· How much? = Bao nhieu? (Baow nyew)
· It’s too expensive = Mac Qua (Mac wa)
· Can you reduce the price? = Giam gia duoc khong? (zam za duoc khom)