Despite its turbulent history, Vietnam has recovered to become a major player on the Southeast Asian tourist circuit. Unsurprisingly for a country this long and skinny, there is still plenty of variety on offer: gemstone paddy fields and white-sand beaches, bustling cities and redoubtable pagodas, limestone islands lurking significantly out of the sea, massive grottoes, jagged mountain ranges, and sociable minority communities – complete with intricate tribal outfits and age-old customs. With Vietnam travel guide, you will be greeted with warmth and interest. Add to it some of the most sophisticated food in the region, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
While Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and the other main cities are all interesting, it is Vietnam’s stunning countryside that truly stands out. Rugged mountains border Cambodia and Laos to the west, and the South China Sea – or the East Sea, as the Vietnamese call it – to the east. To the north and south, the land fantails out into the magnificent deltas of the Red River and the Mekong, and it is in these areas that you will find the iconic pictures of Vietnam, such as paddy fields, dragonflies, buffaloes, and conical-hatted farmers.
In terms of wildlife, the recent discovery of various previously undiscovered species of plants, birds, and animals demonstrates Vietnam’s biodiversity. This makes enhancing access to the country’s national parks all the more appealing to those who wish to visit Vietnam.
Travel facts about Vietnam
- Vietnamese is the spoken language (majority of population).
Dong (VND) is the official currency.
- 95 million people live there. Despite the fact that two-thirds of the population lives in the countryside (one of the greatest rural population densities in Southeast Asia), the country has a literacy rate of approximately 95 percent.
- Tourist numbers have increased from two million in 2000 to fifteen million in 2018.
- Politics: Vietnam’s Socialist Republic (capital Hanoi) is one of the world’s few remaining one-party Communist governments. It has land borders with China, Laos, and Cambodia and covers about 330,000 square kilometers with over 3400 kilometers of coastline.
- Vietnam contains eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. Hang Son Doong, the world’s biggest cave, is located in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
Vietnam travel guide
When you visit Vietnam, you will realize that there is no shortage of gorgeous and exciting sites to see. Experience the rush of energetic Ho Chi Minh City or enthralling Hanoi, with its colorful Old Quarter and mouthwatering street cuisine, while the seductive riverside village of old Hoi An in central Vietnam offers a more relaxed atmosphere.
The Central Highlands provide wonderful hiking and other outdoor activities, with the breezy mountain town of Da Lat serving as a perfect base, whilst a trip to the isolated highland regions of central and northern Vietnam is likely to focus on the ethnic minority that live there.
Explore the Mekong Delta’s pancake-flat rice farms, complete with magnificent floating marketplaces, and meander through Ha Long Bay’s spectacular limestone wooded islands.
A trip to Vietnam would be incomplete without some relaxed beach time. Choose among the beautiful golden beaches in the south, such as Doc Let beach on the Hon Khoi Peninsula, and enjoy some excellent swimming and snorkeling, as well as delicious seafood.
When is the best time to visit Vietnam?
Vietnam is long and slim, with different parts experiencing varying weather conditions at any one moment, making determining the ideal time to visit Vietnam difficult.
The climate of the nation is tropical monsoon. The driest months to visit the south of the nation are between December and April, whereas the driest months to visit the north are spring and fall.
Regional variances exist within this broad weather picture, with changes in height also playing a role in altering temperatures. Whereas the south has a tropical environment all year, the north has significantly colder winters.
You may still visit Vietnam during the rainy season, but keep in mind that if you want to go hiking, monsoon downpours can cause floods in certain locations, and transportation might be severely interrupted. You’ll also have to deal with an increase of mosquitoes. There are less tourists, which is a bonus. Learn more about when is the ideal time to visit Vietnam.
How to Travel to Vietnam
The number of foreign flights to Vietnam has been rapidly increasing in recent months, indicating the country’s growing attractiveness as a tourist destination.
The great majority of travelers fly into Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, while a sizable proportion still opt for the less expensive alternative of an indirect trip through Bangkok, Singapore, or Hong Kong.
If there are no direct flights from where you want to go, taking an indirect trip may be your only alternative. While direct flights are available from London, there are no direct flights from Ireland, North America, New Zealand, or Australia. Consider Skyscanner for alternatives.
If you’re traveling from a neighboring country, you may fly from numerous places, taking advantage of the low-cost flights offered by budget carriers.
Alternatively, you can enter Vietnam by land from China, Laos, or Cambodia. It’s rather straightforward as long as you have the necessary visa, and this option allows you to visit more of the region than if you simply flew in.
Vietnam at its best
This itinerary will give you a taste of everything: large cities, historical and cultural sites, stunning beaches, boat tours, interesting caverns, pristine countryside, homestays in rural communities, and more. Allow sixteen days, or longer if you choose to go at a slower pace.
Begin your journey in Vietnam’s capital, which is both busy and relaxed. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the neighboring One-Pillar Pagoda, the Military History Museum or the Ethnology Museum, and the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s main Confucian temple and ancient center of study. Wander around the Old Quarter and around Hoan Kiem Lake. Try some tasty street cuisine and enjoy a classic water puppet play in one of the city’s famed theaters.
2. Ha Long Bay
Take a two-day boat excursion of some of the World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay’s two thousand or more stunning limestone islands and interesting caverns.
3. Ninh Binh and Mai Chau
The Mai Chau valley is only a few hours by car from Hanoi and is virtually untouched.
Explore the nearby rice farms set against wooded mountains on a bicycle, then meander around Mai Chau’s lively morning market. Then, spend the night at a guesthouse in one of the surrounding White Thai communities.
Drive to Ninh Binh, the excellent starting point for seeing gorgeous Tam Coc, which is effectively a smaller landlocked version of Ha Long Bay and is only a short cycling ride from Ninh Binh. Take a boat ride through limestone tunnels and between karst hills to Tam Coc’s three long tunnel caverns.
Travel to Hue and enjoy a day cruise along the Perfume River to see the Thien Mu Pagoda and Hon Chen Temple, the Imperial City, and the Tu Duc tomb. At the end of the day, stroll through the bustling Dong Ba Market.
The next morning, take a bicycle or cyclo tour down the north bank of the river to the peaceful Kim Long hamlet, where mandarins and other Imperial officials constructed their residences surrounded by lush gardens in the late nineteenth century.