Your Vietnam Travel Guide! Bustling cities, amazing food, beautiful nature and bounty beaches… Vietnam seems to have it all. However, this country was not always paradise. Vietnam has suffered a long history of colonization, war, communism and, of course, poverty.The country’s tourism has, nonetheless, been growing in the last couple of years. Travelers from all over the world come to Vietnam to admire UNESCO World Heritage Site Halong Bay, hike in the hills of Sa Pa and visit Ho Chi Minh City to learn about the war. Due to the rise of tourism traveling in Vietnam is fairly easy, with sleeping busses touring all through the country. Make sure not this miss out on this beautiful country when visiting South East Asia.
Hanoi – There is only one word to describe Hanoi… madness. Hanoi’s traffic is just indescribable, you will see scooters literally everywhere, and rules don’t seem to exist. However, you’ll get used to the constant honking and the “swimming” through traffic. Vietnam’s capital has a lot to offer, there are plenty of museums and the Old Quarter is great for wandering around, make sure to take your time to explore this city.
Sa Pa – a small and growing tourist town in the Lao Cai region in the North of Vietnam. The town it self has almost nothing to offer, besides the many hotels that are currently being build, but it is a great base for exploring the beautiful surroundings of hills filled with rice fields. Sa Pa is a place you should definitely put on your to go list when visiting Vietnam. Explore the area by renting a motorbike or opt to do a trekking and do a home stay, organized by many agencies in the town.
Ha Long Bay – a place that can only be described as picture perfect. Limestone pillars are towering out of the blue ocean forming a view that seems beyond perfection. Kayak between the little islands or enjoy a cruise, there are many ways to explore Ha Long Bay. Ha Long Bay is kind of a must see when visiting Vietnam, and it is a place I can highly recommend to put on your itinerary.
Hoi An – In a country so busy as Vietnam it is hard to find quiet and calmness, it can nonetheless be found in Hoi An situated in Central Vietnam. Hoi An, in my opinion, is the perfect place to relax for a couple of days, enjoy the beach or take a walk through the beautiful city centre before hitting the big cities again. Scooters are not allowed in the city centre, allowing to enjoy a peaceful walk. Maybe you are lucky enough to be in town during the full moon light festival; the town will be shut down from electricity and little candles will be lit to float on the river.
Da Lat – Need some cooling down from all the heat in Vietnam? Da Lat is the place to be, up in the mountains the air will be fresh and temperatures will be significantly lower than on the coastal places. This town is a must stop if you are up for a small adventure or just want to enjoy the serenity of the mountains.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) – Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is Vietnam’s largest city and is situated all the way down in the South of Vietnam. This amazing city has so much to offer, from great food (and coffee), a good night life to enough shops and markets to keep you’ll busy for a couple of days on shopping! And if you are interested in learning more about the Vietnam War, Ho Chi Minh City is the place to be; you can visit museums here or visit the well known cu chi tunnels on a day trip. Don’t forget to wander around the city and enjoy the French colonial architecture such as the Notre Dame Basilica!
Hanoi – Central Backpackers Hostel (Old Quarter) – Vietnam, a budget destination, comes with budget hostels too. Central Backpackers Hostel might be one of the most budget hostels I ever stayed at, and I gladly stayed there for 1,5 weeks! First of all: it has a perfect location, right in the old quarter. Second of all, staff is amazingly friendly and always willing to help. Thirdly, it includes breakfast and free beer for an hour every night. Lastly: it has a rooftop bar with good views, and a great atmosphere making it so easy to meet new people.
Hanoi – Vietnam Backpackers Hostel (Downtown) – Looking for a party? Vietnam Backpackers Hostel is the place to be. While a bit more expensive then Central Backpackers Hostel, it is also a bit more cleaner, the hostel is bigger and the bar is a lot bigger. The hostel has a great atmosphere, and although the dorms are small, the beds are comfortable and well equipped with a light and plug each.
Hoi An – Sunflower Hostel – The lush city of Hoi An has that ultimate relaxed vibe, especially after all those big cities. Sunflower Hostel will help you a bit with that. Although located slightly out of the city, the hostel is equipped with a bar, pool and cycling distance from the beach. Being located between beach and city it kind of gives you best of both worlds!
Da Lat – Mr. Peace Backpacker’s House – If you are going to Dalat you already know you are going on an adventure! Want to make that adventure a crazy adventure? Go stay at Mr. Peace Backpackershouse! Mr Peace is so friendly, welcoming, and he even organizes “family dinners” where he invites the whole hostel and cooks together!
Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam Inn Saigon – Not only does this hostel have a great location, my main reason for advising anyone to stay here would be the rooftop bar. Join your fellow backpackers for a drink or even a pub-crawl in the evening. The hostel itself is nothing special, the rooftop bar and the atmosphere there mainly are is in my opinion.
Ho Chi Minh City – The Hideout Hostel – Clean, great location in the centre of the backpackers area, many bars and restaurants in the area. This hostel has great beds, showers and a chill atmosphere. A bar, where free breakfast is served, is attached to the hostel. A lot cleaner then Vietnam Inn Saigon, but also less of an atmosphere in my opinion.
See Vietnam by Motorbike: One of the best ways to explore Vietnam is by motorbike. Driving a motorbike in Vietnam was by far one of the highlights of my trip… It will give you more freedom to stop anywhere you want, so you can admire the views. Moreover, you’ll likely visit places most backpackers never see. The most well known “backpacker bike” is the Honda Win and can mostly be purchased for around $200 to $300! However, note that driving a motorbike as a foreigner in Vietnam is illegal, even with an international drivers license, and therefore comes with a lot of risk (such as not being insured). Read all my tips here!
Try Vietnamese Coffee: Coffee lover or not, Vietnamese coffee is definitely worth a try! I am not a big coffee drinker, but I wouldn’t pass on Vietnamese coffee ever, the taste is just amazing, especially in combination with the condensed milk, which makes it nice and sweet, just the way I like it. My favorites are egg coffee, which we found in a little cafe (Giangg Cafe, 39 Nguyen Huu Huan) in Hanoi and Vietnamese Ice Coffee, which you could buy on any street corner in Ho Chi Minh City.
Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi: While this was definitely not on my schedule when planning my visit to Vietnam, it was by far one of the most unique experiences I had here. Ho Chi Minh’s wishes were that he was to be cremated and spread over the country so the land could be used for agricultural purposes, but the country chose to embalm his body and to display him in the Mausoleum, build for him, so they could honor their national hero. Ho Chi Minh is one of the few communistic leaders in the world whose body is embalmed and open for the public to visit.
Be adventurous in Da Lat: Go canyoning in the mountains and let yourself float down the river to one of the best adventures you will have in Vietnam! And no worries, the gliding down natural slides, jumping off cliffs and abseiling down a 25m waterfall is all caught on camera (it was in my case at least), so you’ll have enough pictures to show to your friends and family at home.
Explore the surroundings of Sa Pa: Since we had a motorbike we drove around the areas and witnessed views that went beyond my dreams. If you did not came to Sa Pa by motorbike you can always opt to rent one, there are definitely some spots available in the centre of the town. But most travelers will come here to do a 2 to 3 day hill tribe trek tour, which, from what I’ve heard, is definitely a recommendation as well. No matter how you will explore the area, I am quite sure you’ll love it.
Get Clothes Made in Hoi An: Guys, in need of a new suit? Girls, been looking for that perfect dress? Hoi An has it all, you will find tailors on every street corner, just ask other travelers if they have recommendations. Getting clothes made in Hoi An is fast, cheap and easy! They will do their best to do multiple fittings on a day so they can get your suit/dress made within just a couple of days. So make sure you hang around Hoi An for a bit and make sure you have those pics on your phone ready to show the tailors what you want.
Transparency: Some links on this page are affiliate links. This means that buying a product via these links, at no additional costs to you, earns me a small commission; these small commissions are what keeps this website going. I, nonetheless, only recommend products I personally use and believe in!
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