What’s in our Vietnam Travel Guide?
Vietnam Travel Basics
Vietnam is an extremely memorable destination for us. When I think of Vietnam, I think of amazing food (and healthy too!), chaos on the streets, motorbikes, natural beauty and friendly locals with an entrepreneurial drive to achieve more. Vietnam holds a special place in my heart as we took my Dad on his first overseas holiday here. It’s a very long country, so it can take some time to travel in between each city or town. But Vietnam is definitely a country worth exploring! We have spent over 6 months in Vietnam on three trips and love the country.
Below you will find information to help plan your trip to Vietnam; from when and where to go, what to pack, what to eat and things to do. We also have printable Vietnam Travel Guide PDF’s below.
Places To Visit In Vietnam
There are so many different destinations to visit in Vietnam, from city to beach to countryside. The big cities are Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, some of the beach areas include Mui Ne, Nha Trang and Hoi An. Hoi An also has an old town which is beautiful. Beautiful scenery can be found in Ninh Binh, Sa Pa and Halong Bay. Here’s some more information on Where To Go in Vietnam. Below you will find some of our favourite Vietnam destinations, things to do in Vietnam and our Vietnam Travel blog posts.
Ho Chi Minh City
Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) // Take a boat trip down the Mekong River // Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels // Discover Ho Chi Minh City on the back of a moped
Ho Chi Minh City Articles
Things to do in Nha Trang // Relax on the beach // Walk up to Long Son Pagoda // Eat all the delicious seafood
Nha Trang Articles
Things to do in Hoi An // Explore the streets of UNESCO site Hoi An Ancient Town // Bicycle around the surrounding rice fields and temples // Taste delicious Vietnamese street food like Banh Mi and Cao Lau
Hoi An Articles
Things to do in Hue // Explore the Imperial City and Citadel // Visit the Dong Ba markets early in the morning for vibrant local life // Visit the tombs of the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty
Things to do in Ninh Binh // Take a boat trip through caves at Trang An or Tam Coc // Explore Ba Dinh Pagoda // Visit Mua Caves
Ninh Binh Articles
Things to do in Hanoi // Visit Ho Chi Minh’s House // Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter // Sit streetside for Bun Cha or cook it yourself BBQ’s
Things to do in Halong Bay // Spend a night or two on a boat journey around Halong Bay // Visit the floating villages // Go kayaking or start your day with Tai-Chi on the deck
Things to do in Da Nang // Explore Marble Mountain // Visit Son Tra Peninsula and Lin Ung Pagoda
Others Vietnam Destinations // Phú Quoc / Mekong / Mui Ne / Da Lat / Sa Pa / Ha Giang / Cao Bang / Mai Châu / Moc Chau
Other Vietnam Travel Blog Posts
Vietnam Travel Resources
We love getting around Vietnam on the train so we can see all the beautiful scenery this country has to offer. We prefer to book our train tickets in advance online so we get the train time and seat class that we want. We book most of our train tickets through Baolau.com.
In Vietnam, we love staying in anything from homestays to apartments to luxury hotels, there is such an amazing range of accommodation and experiences. We book most of our homestays and hotels through Booking.com.
When we want our own little apartment, we book through Airbnb. We’ve done this in Hanoi and loved the neighbourhood experience. We also got to have a beautiful dinner with our hosts. Sign up here to get $50 credit off your first booking.
Skyscanner is a great website to compare all the available flights to Vietnam.
We have flown with a few different domestic airlines within Vietnam, but by far, Vietnam Airlines is the one I would recommend.
Travel Insurance + Health
We have spent over 6 months in Vietnam and with that, the chances of getting sick increase. I have therefore been to the Family Medical Practice in both Da Nang and Hanoi and been happy with each of them for my needs. They also have a practice in Ho Chi Minh City.
We have travelled with Good2Go Travel Insurance for many years and have made a few claims (including the ones mentioned above) that have all gone smoothly.
Getting Chinese Visas In Hanoi
We needed to apply for our Chinese visa in Hanoi at the Chinese Embassy as we were travelling overland from Hanoi to China. The catch with this is, in order to get your Chinese Visa, you need to have purchased your transport to China, but as we were travelling by train, in order to buy the train ticket in Hanoi we needed to have a Chinese Visa. So catch 22. To get around this, we paid for a confirmation letter for a train booking to China through Vietnam Impressive. So this was not a ticket but was good enough to show the Chinese Embassy that we had a confirmation for a train to China. This process was all done online and over email with Vietnam Impressive and was very simple.
Vietnam Packing List
Find your Vietnam printable packing list here to make life easier.
Find all the travel resources we use to plan and book our travel here. We also check the Australian government site Smart Traveller Vietnam for current advice, Vietnam travel warnings and other information. You can visit the official Vietnam tourism website for more information.
Things To Know Before Going To Vietnam + Vietnam Travel Tips
When To Go To Vietnam?
Weather: Due to the length of Vietnam, weather varies greatly between north, central and Southern areas.
North (think Hanoi): The cooler, drier months are November to April and the warmer months are May to October, although there is also more rainfall.
Central (think Hoi An and Danang): The optimal months to visit are February to April, however January and May are also good.
South (think Ho Chi Minh City): The south remains warm all year round, but they experience both the wet and dry seasons. The wet season runs from May to October, whilst the dry season runs from November through to April.
Our Experience: We have visited Vietnam in April and found the south, north and Central Vietnam to be pleasant. Ho Chi Minh City, Danang and Hoi An were hot but bearable, and Hanoi whilst warm was notably cooler. April seems to be a happy medium in terms of weather for visiting Vietnam. We have also visited Ho Chi Minh, Nha Trang and Hoi An in February/March and this was also nice. We have also been in Hanoi in May and although quite hot at times, this was also bearable.
How Long To Go For?
Vietnam may not be a huge country but it is very long. For this reason, leave a little extra time for travel in between destinations. Most people work there way from south to north or vice versa. Depending how many places you choose to stay, I would say 2 weeks is a good minimum length for a first trip, up to a month if you want to explore more or take it slower.
To enter Vietnam as an Australian Citizen, you will need a Visa. You can apply for a 30 day Visa online here but if you need a longer visa you will need to fill out the application online here, print it out and take it to your local embassy or consulate of Vietnam. Fees will vary depending on your length of stay. Length of stay for a tourist visa for Australian citizens is one month or three months. Your passport should have 6 months validity from your time of departure from Vietnam.
Vietnam Sim Cards
We have used Vinaphone sim cards when travelling around Vietnam for internet on our phones. For 120 000 VND, we got 1 month of unlimited internet. There are, of course, shorter plans available.
Tipping In Vietnam
Tipping in Vietnam is not required however it will be appreciated for good service.
Scams in Vietnam
Whilst we haven’t had anything happen to us (except the Cylco one), these are some things we have heard or seen. Phone snatching by motorbikes is apparently common (we saw this happen in Ho Chi Minh City) so be mindful. If you get your shoes shined, you may get the full treatment, including repairs, and before you know it the price will be a lot more than you expected. Cyclo’s may try and take advantage of tourists and will try and charge you more than what you agreed to. Either agree to a price and write it down or just avoid them all together. With Taxi’s, stick to Vinasun or Mai Linh.
Getting To Vietnam
Vietnam has three main International Airports, Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang and Hanoi, however, it’s most common to start either in the North (Hanoi) or South (Ho Chi Minh City) and make your way in the one direction. Otherwise, if you are combining your Vietnam trip with other Asian countries, you can reach Vietnam easily from Cambodia (Bus, boat or flight), Laos (bus or flight) or China (train or flight), as well as other destinations via flying.
Getting Around Vietnam
We have used trains, planes, buses and boats to get around Vietnam on past trips. Flying between big cities like Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang and Hanoi is a good option if you are pressed for time (we were happy with Vietnam Airlines). However, if you have the time to spare, we’ve loved taking the train. It may be a fair bit longer, but it saves going to the airport, and you also get to see more of the countryside. As for buses, I’d use as little as you need to, but then again these are just our preferences. We have been on boats down the Mekong River and around Halong Bay, both of which were amazing.
Getting Around Each Destination
By Foot | Walking around the streets is one of the best ways to take in the local culture.
By Bicycle | This is a great way to get around in quieter places, such as Hoi An and Ninh Binh.
Taxi | Taxies are readily available and one of the easiest ways to get around cities. Mai Linh or Vinasun are best.
Cyclo | A 3-wheeled bike with a seat on the front that can usually fit one or two people. Pushed by the locals, this is not the most convenient way to get around. More of an attraction within itself.
Motorbike | I wouldn’t recommend hiring a motorbike yourself unless you’re an experienced, licensed rider with travel insurance to cover. However, locals may offer you a ride on the back to get from A to B for a small fee. We did a tour on the back of a motorbike and it was a fabulous way to see the city. Even if you aren’t driving yourself, travel insurance is a must.
Let us know if you have any questions about our Vietnam Travel guide in the comments below…
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