A country of breathtaking natural beauty with a unique heritage, where travel quickly becomes addictive. A tropical country includes three regions with the North has plateau and the Red River Delta, the Central is the coastal lowlands, the highlands of the Annamite Mountains, and the South is Mekong delta. Let’s go with some simple guidelines below, aimed at first-time travellers to the country.
Not just Ha Long Bay and Hoi An, every parts of the country are an interesting destination. If your time is limited, there are some destinations that you shouldn’t miss.
Hanoi: the antique and dynamic capital of Vietnam. With it’s colonial architecture and vibrant street life, Hanoi deserves a visit by those heading to the north. The focal point is Hoan Kiem lake, a green oasis with an island pagoda, steeped in legend and caressed by the fronds of banyan trees. Also Ngoc Son Temple has 100% natural beauty and Ba Dinh Square, the political area where President Ho Chi Minh read the Independent Declaration on the September 2nd, 1945.
Ho Chi Minh City: the largest and most exciting city in Vietnam, is called Diamond of Eastern. Ho Chi Minh City’s architecture and lifestyle is the reconciliation between American and Chinese influence. It has many dots of modernity yet without losing Vietnamese traits and historical. Modern office skyscrapers, amidst Oriental style pagodas and food stalls along the street, create a dynamic urban area in very special sense.
Hoi An: Ancient and peaceful, Hoi An is one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam that caters to travelers of all tastes and across the continents. The little town is just the perfect candidate of what Vietnam tourism ministry is aiming to show to the world. Ancient and peaceful, Hoi An is one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam. The little town is very colorful of lantern but doesn’t lose its ancient beauty. Take a walk or ride bicycle around the town or to the beach with vegetable farm during the way will be so romantic.
Phu Quoc Island: This peaceful tropical paradise, floats in the warm turquoise waters in the Gulf of Thailand, 50kms from the Vietnamese mainland and a 50 minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Dive the reefs, kayak in the bays, eat up the back-road miles on a motorbike, or just lounge on the beach, indulge in a massage and dine on fresh seafood, all is what you deserve.
Can Tho: the biggest city of the Mekong Delta. Floating markets, Buddhist pagodas, delicious food and fresh fruits all make the beauty of the Mekong delta. It’s a very friendly city and a much less crowded with traffic then HCMC. A great place to get a feel for the “real” Vietnam.
Ha Long Bay: The World Heritage seascape of Halong Bay, dotted with jagged limestone pinnacles, is one of Vietnam’s biggest attractions. Lets take a cruise and floating floating past a thousand island and enjoy the wonder that natural bestowed.
Sapa: colorful and charming with characteristics of ethnic minorities, providing the perfect oasis in the midst of a strenuous mountain trek or rice-paddy tour. A popular trekking base, it overlooks the terraced rice fields of the Muong Hoa Valley, and is near the 3,143m-tall Fansipan peak, which is climbable via a steep.
Hue: an historic citadel under Nguyen dynasty. Renowned as the most royal city in Vietnam, Hue has enough charm to keep you staying as long as you can afford the time to visit. The Perfume River winds its way through the Capital City, the Imperial City, the Forbidden Purple City and the Inner City, giving this unique feudal capital a setting of great natural beauty.
Nha Trang: seaside town, becoming increasingly popular in recent years because of its pristine beach with white sand, verdant mountains, and untouched islands. This is the best scuba diving center of Vietnam as well as lots of interesting places and delicious food to enjoy. Nha Trang is home to remnants of the Champa Kingdom, Buddhist temples, and gothic-style Catholic churches while natural hot springs, salt fields, and unique waterfalls offer a myriad of sightseeing and recreational activities.
Da Lat: the City of Flowers with lovely French villas, the fresh air, the beautiful waterfalls and gorgeous lakes sits in a lush and green valley of postcard beauty. The city’s temperate weather stands in contrast to Vietnam’s otherwise tropical climate and Mist covering the valleys almost year.
What to do
Explore historic ruins: remnant of the Cham Empire can find at My Son near Hoi An, or you can see at Thap Cham Nha Trang, and Mui Ne; Kingdom of The Nguyễn dynasty in Hue; The Temple of Literature in Hanoi.
Motorbike around: There are approximately 8 million people in Hanoi and 10 million in Ho Chi Minh city. During rush hour it feels like every single one of them has a motorbike. But it will be the best experience for your trip to Vietnam, feel the city in special way.
The beach – diving and kitesurfing: Nha Trang, Phu Quoc island or Mui Ne is the perfect choice.
Food and cooking class: Food is at the heart of Vietnamese culture and Vietnamese food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world as it mixes together a range of flavors and tastes. And cooking class is always an interesting and fun way to dig in Vietnamese culture.
Trekking and waterfall: more taste for you trip. Let’s take an adventure by trekking at Fansipan Sapa, or canyoning at Dalat. You will overcome challenges of wilderness and get the achievement of excitement, courage and strength.
When to go
The weather in Vietnam can be split by region.
In Hanoi & the north, there are for seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. From May to October is hot and humid with high rainfall; November to April is cooler and dry. From December to February, it may dip down to 5-6°C occasionally, even below zero in mountainous areas.
Central Vietnam has warm temperatures year round. It is hot, dry weather between January & August; whilst high levels of rainfall can occur in September, October & November.
Southern Vietnam has 2 seasons: rainy and dry. It is generally dry and hot from November to April, and warm and wet between May & October, with the highest rainfall in June, July & August.
A trip to Vietnam, you’ll never need to worry about packing cold-weather gear. If visiting from July to November, Vietnam’s stormiest months, bring an umbrella, or enjoy with a poncho – raincoat.
How long to go for
Travel to somewhere is no limit. It depends on how you enjoy your time and if you really love the place or not. Vietnam is a deceptively large country, and at least to discover a whole country you may need 3 or 4 weeks.
If you don’t have much time, 1 or 2 weeks is ok to see quite a bit, then I’m sure you will plan for a longer trip to comeback. But you have to make decision where to spend your first trip, maybe the North and Central or the South and island.
What it will cost
It’s not easy to say how much for the trip to Vietnam. The budget depends on how long you stay here, what is your style, what you want to experience, …
If you are very easy traveler with simple accommodation, street food, no alcohol, cheap transport, it just takes around 15$ per day. There are so many hostel and dorm with the lowest price 5$, and with 2$ you can buy a noodle or rice, a coffee just 1$.
Most of traveler spend a little more for air-con room, the pool, restaurant, VIP bus or short domestic flight. With 40$ it will be more comfortable.
Here we use dong (vnd). 1 USD is around 22.600 Vnd, 1 EUR is 24.000 Vnd, 1 AUD is 17.000 Vnd, 1 CAD = 17.400 Vnd. Traveling here with your money, after exchange to vnd, you maybe so rich here, a Millionaire. Since all prices are in thousands, sellers often say, “twenty-five”as short for 25,000 dong.
What to watch out for
Don’t be scared! These are just things to be wary of, totally safe in Vietnam. So just keep your guard up in case, like you should with any new country you travel to.
Taxi scams: there are few fake taxi service in Vietnam. So make sure you’re vigilant and do some research for the best taxi company. Vina Sun or Mailinh is good. There are some shuttle bus to the central from the airport or you can download Grab taxi (Grab bike) for cheaper price. Check everything before you leave the taxi!
Pickpocketing: Vietnam is a relatively safe country for visitors, including women travelling alone. Many tourist surprised at the warm reception from Vietnamese. petty crime is on the rise but still relatively small. So just take common–sense precautions by watching out your stuff like pocket, camera, smartphone, then nothing to worry.
Traffic: The traffic can be a nightmare for visitors to Viet Nam for the first time. Crossing over the jam is actually not that bad. You will just have to do it. The magic is that no-one will ever run into you. Take it slow, walk in a straight line, keep a steady pace, and traffic will flow smoothly around you.
Money: be careful with 20.000vnd and 500.000vnd, because it looks only slightly different, but the value is a big gap. Keep 500,000vnd separate.