Visiting a country for the first time can be quite daunting as there are many things to consider. If you are considering ticking Vietnam off your traveling list, maybe consider reading this. It will surely be necessary to know these tips before your Vietnam trip here.
Vietnam has a distinctive culture, with many ethnic groups coexisting as well as the characteristics of each region contributing to the traits of its people. Nature, in particular, is a captivating aspect of Vietnam for you to discover.
A trip of 10 - 12 days is quite enough for exploring Vietnam. A month is ideal. But, of course, go for as long as you want, because each trip can be a unique experience you will remember for a long time. (Photo: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's most bustling city)
Vietnamese is more difficult to learn than English because there are many tones, difficult pronunciation, and complicated grammar. Teaching Vietnamese to foreigners necessitates the use of appropriate methods to assist them in understanding and communicating in Vietnamese (Photo: woman selling Banh Ran in the northern mountain of Vietnam.)
Learning some simple words is never a bad idea. Vietnamese people love it when you can speak their difficult language. Below are some common phrases you can use in Vietnam:
Vietnam's north might almost be a year-round tourist destination. The best time to travel the north is from Feb-April, and from late Sep-Dec with cool winds, and mild sunny days. Summer, from June to August, on the other hand, is hot and humid weather making it uncomfortable for outdoor activities (Photo: Cat Ba Island in North Vietnam on a sunny day)
January to June is the best time to visit the Central region when the days are beautiful and dry making it ideal for sightseeing. It's also a great time to go cave exploring and relax on white sandy beaches. However, storms are seen in the Central region during the rainy season, especially from July to October.
The best time to visit the South is from December to April. April to June is the fruit season when street vendors sell many kinds of fresh fruits on the streets. The rainy season is from June to November but it often rains in late afternoon and lasts for a couple of hours so this is still a good time to visit the South.
Coming to the North of Vietnam, visitors will discover and visit the ravishing natural landscapes. Here lies the capital city - Hanoi, the UNESCO Heritage Site of Halong Bay, and Mu Cang Chai, considered the most colorful destination in the world according to Cntraveler. The northern mountains in Vietnam are said to have desirable tourist destinations for travelers to discover and enjoy its majestic nature.
With the advantage of being adjacent to the sea and a coastline, the central coast and southern provinces boast some of the most untouched beaches in Vietnam. Besides, the West offers distinct and special activities for every season to provide you with the most intriguing and enjoyable experiences (Photo: Terraced rice fields in Mu Cang Chai).
Rade-hailing is popular in Vietnam, such as Grab, Gojek, GoViet, or Be. Moreover, there are traditional taxi brands that you can see everywhere on the streets of Vietnam which Mai Linh Taxi and G7 Taxi have been trusted the most. They also have developed an app for you to download. GSM Taxi is the first electric taxi brand in Vietnam for those who are concerned about the environment. While traditional taxi prices are fixed, the taxi price on apps varies depending on the time of day, and the price is higher when it rains.
People who like to be more flexible can think of mobile taxi service which is popular in apps as well. Mobile taxi costs only about $2-$3 for each booking if you travel in the city only.
Vietnam has 4 domestic airlines that you can choose to travel with. Vietnam Airlines (VNA) is a government-owned airline that operates the most domestic flight sectors, with hundreds of flights per day. Pacific Airlines (BL) is a branch brand of Vietnam Airlines aiming at the low-cost market segment and is a relatively old airline. VietJet Air (VJ) is quite affordable with rather good quality for its price. Bamboo Airway (QH) is a rather new airline in recent years which delivers pretty good service.
If you don’t have to worry about budget, it is recommended that you fly with Vietnam Airlines or Bamboo Airways.
The official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong. There seem to be a lot of denominations in Vietnam, and the most commonly used are VND 10,000, VND 20,000, VND 50,000; VND 100,000, VND 200,000, and VND 500,000. Money can be changed in banks, airports, hotels, and money exchange stalls. Bear in mind that if you are traveling to the mountainous or remote provinces, it is advised to always carry cash.
The VND 20,000 note and VND 500,000 note look quite similar. Look twice before you pay.
It is important to keep in mind to be aware of what the culture values, you can avoid doing things that are in opposition to those values. Coming here, consider refraining from being arrogant or boastful about your wealth, and choosing your attire carefully when going outside. Provocative text or symbols on tank tops, shorts, or shirts may be considered offensive. You should dress simply, especially if you are going to rural areas or places where life is still difficult. Furthermore, respect for the elderly is widely seen across generations so be sure to give honor and appreciation to them when possible.
There are numerous hotels to choose from in big cities such as Hanoi, Saigon, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hue, and Hoi An. Airbnb is popular at these places for you to consider if you want some local touches. It is advisable to take into account the price, facilities, location, and customer feedback of your rental property thoroughly.
If you are looking for a beach resort during your stay, Vietnam has many magnificent ones that may be a fantastic option. You will be overwhelmed by the luxuries as well as the splendor of romantic scenes here and understand why these places are considered the most beautiful beach resorts in Vietnam. (Photo: Avana Retreat in Mai Chau, Vietnam)
You might have heard of Vietnam traffic being quite wild and dangerous and is said to be a shocking experience for foreigners. This mostly occurs in large cities across the country during busy hours, especially Hanoi and Saigon (or Hochiminh City). You might see locals passing through anywhere on the roadside, but please follow the road markings once you are on the streets.
Because of the difficult roads in mountainous areas, it is best to avoid self-driving during the rainy season. Also, because of the narrow mountain road and numerous unexpected turns, self-driving is not encouraged.
Vietnam is a safe destination for all visitors due to the rarity of protests. There have been no terrorists in the decades since unification. Even during major political events, such as visits by foreign presidents, the security order in Vietnam is always 100% guaranteed. Additionally, the rate of theft and violence in Vietnam is relatively low. You can absolutely go for a nighttime walk without fear. As a result, because of the country's safety, tourists can travel freely without fear of security issues and is one of the ideal places for women to travel solo in South East Asia.
There are three types of visas to be considered when visiting Vietnam:
Tet Holiday is a traditional New Year to mark the transition from the old to the new year, based on the lunar calendar, and while the transition between two years is only a few minutes, Vietnamese people celebrate their new year for several days. They clean the houses, buy flowers, dress in new clothes, prepare lucky envelopes, and cook the food. By experiencing the whole festival from the first preparations for Tet to the end through the popular food for Tet, New Year’s traditions, and customs, visitors can understand Vietnam thoroughly.
Food is taken seriously by Vietnamese people. Vietnamese cuisine culture, like historical anecdotes, has evolved dramatically with human progress over the years. Aside from the traditional recipes, different regions are creative with local ingredients, which has resulted in many delectable dishes.
Vietnamese cuisine is truly unique in its approach to making food that is not overly spicy, sweet, or fatty while remaining extremely delicious. American late chef Anthony Bourdain reintroduced the world of Vietnamese street food. People from all over the world, inspired by his shows, have traveled to Vietnam for its food. In June 2023, Michelin awarded the four restaurants in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with one star for the first time to honor the country's culinary quintessence.(Photo: Bun Cha, Hanoi's culinary jewel)
Besides savoring Vietnamese street food, visiting traditional markets and participating in a cooking lesson can be an extraordinary experience. Not only can you have a lot of fun, but you can also bring home some Vietnamese recipes. It is best to have the class with a local chef so that your effort will be as close and as tasty to the authentic ones as possible.
Coffee culture has become a concept so dear and close to the Vietnamese people. Looking at the streets in Vietnam, it is not uncommon to see people on sidewalks sipping iced coffee leisurely throughout the day. Even though the country has changed over the years, traditional coffee remains the same. The highlands, Buon Ma Thuot for example, produce the best coffee beans in Vietnam.
The UNESCO Heritage Site of Halong Bay is known as a must-visit place once in lifetime. Coming here, you will see the breathtaking scenery of thousands of rocky islands emerging from the turquoise water. And hidden in the mountain's heart are magnificent caves that will captivate anyone who visits for the first time. Embark on one of the most luxurious Halong Bay cruises that offer unique routes to explore the bay at its best.
The mighty Mekong River is one of the largest rivers in the world, originating in China, flowing through Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia, and emptying into the East Sea in Vietnam. As essential to southern agriculture as it is, this region is also a cultural breeding ground for historical records, geographical features, and inhabitants. Consider taking a trip to the Mekong where you can cruise on a wooden boat, walk through villages, visit temples, and participate in hands-on experience with local traditional crafts.
Nha Trang, a coastal city in the heart of Khanh Hoa province, has long been one of Vietnam's most popular tourist destinations. However, if you want to visit pristine beaches with gorgeous sunsets of the Central region, visit Phu Yen (150 km from Nha Trang). The weather in this area is ideal for sightseeing, and authentic local life, and fresh seafood are some of the many good reasons to visit Phu Yen. (Photo: Phu Yen Beach)
Son Doong Cave might be Vietnam’s most famous national park but not many people know that Vietnam has 33 others. Nature's diversity has resulted in landscapes such as green forests, limestone mountains, caves, marine ecosystems, and caves. Vietnam’s best national parks are surely ideal destinations for adventure enthusiasts and family vacations. (Photo: Tourists exploring Son Doong Cave)
So what are your initial thoughts? Vietnam could be worth a visit in the future, don't you think? Considering there are many beautiful things waiting to be discovered, come to this tropical country for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation!