Everything you need to think about before planning your trip to Vietnam.
On our journey through Vietnam we travelled from north to south. We started in Hanoi and passed through Cat Ba Island, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh city, before travelling down the Mekong Delta into Cambodia. One of the highlights of our trip was staying on Cat Ba Island and visiting Halong Bay. You can read a full post on the best way to see Halong Bay here.
For me, Vietnamese people are some of the friendliest people I have ever met in my entire life. They just want to chat, laugh and drink with you and the children are adorable. Literally every child we walked past waved and said hello. The food in Vietnam was some of the most delicious and cheapest I’ve ever tasted. Fresh spring rolls are my absolute favourite and you can’t go wrong with fried rice packed with veggies after a long day of sight-seeing. Also, you will be able to find a lady cooking bahn mi on every street corner; this sandwich can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner and is absolutely delicious, give it a try!
Things to remember.
Please do not forget to get comprehensive travel insurance. We met so many people on our trip who do not travel with insurance and it quite literally blows my mind. The roads in Vietnam are absolutely insane; they are complete chaos in which only a local can fully understand. I met many people who were run over or fell off motorbikes along the way. Also, I would not recommend getting a motorbike in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh unless you are a very experienced rider.
Haggle. Pretty much nothing is fixed price in Vietnam and you’re going to have to get ballsy if you want a good bargain. It’s hard at first but you’ll get the hang of it, especially if you’re shopping for clothes or souvenirs in a market. If you’re not happy with the price just walk away and if they really want the sale I guarantee they will call you back.
Check your visa. I believe that if you’re staying for less than 15 days, and have an onwards flight booked out of the country you can get a free visa on arrival. However, if you are staying for longer you can sort one out online beforehand. The last thing you want after a long flight is to be stood in yet another queue at an airport waiting to sort your visa.
Take a little time to get your head around the money. You will end up a millionaire at some point, and within a day you are likely to spend hundreds of thousands. You will get used to the money within a few days, it’s just that initially a 50,000 and a 500,000 can look uncannily similar. It is also worth contacting your bank before you visit regarding using ATM’s in Vietnam, you can often get stung with pretty high charges for withdrawing money.
What I’d do differently.
Personally, I don’t think Nha Trang was a great choice for a backpacker. It seems to be a fantastic holiday destination and is very popular among Russian tourists but doesn’t have much culture or many food spots to write home about. However, the beach is fantastic and there are some awesome snorkelling trips you can do from there so we did actually have a fantastic few days.
I would not recommend taking any internal flights. The domestic flights in Vietnam are very cheap, but were just not worth it for the amount of time (and money) we ended up spending over the 3 weeks. The flights were all delayed for a long time and taxis to and from airports can work out to be very expensive. Often taking a night bus would be the best option. Although slow and sometimes a little uncomfortable, they get you to where you want to be and save you a nights’ accommodation.
Of all of the countries in South East Asia the pull for me to come back to Vietnam is the strongest. Its extremely affordable and there is still so much of the country I didn’t get the chance to see including the areas of Saba, Hoi An and Mũi Né.
I had an absolutely fantastic time in Vietnam and can’t wait to go back. Have you ever been? What did you think of the country?
PIN IT FOR LATER: