Vietnam is an amazing country to visit. Filled with rich history, old, historic towns, beautiful beaches, friendly people, and some of the best street food in Asia, there is something here for everyone. Sail through Ha Long Bay on a Junk cruise ship, rent a motorbike and ride through the quaint town of Hoi An, witness the sunrise markets on the Mekong Delta, crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnels, or walk the crowded, fascinating streets of the Old Quarter of Hanoi. You will never have a boring moment in Vietnam!
Things to Know
Vietnamese (official), English (as a 2nd language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer. Many people we met spoke English so communicating was not an issue for us.
Voltage 220 V 50 Hz. Power sockets A, C, and G.
Vietnamese Dong, VND. $1 USD roughly equals 23,000 VND.
The requirements for a Visa to Vietnam is rapidly changing. Tourists from the United States most other countries are required to have a Visa to enter Vietnam. The Lonely Planet website has excellent, detailed information on this topic, which you can read about here.
Vietnam is a very safe country to visit. Pickpocketing and petty thievery do occur. Do not leave your valuables unattended. There have been reports of theft on beaches when belongings are left unattended. Also, we heard reports of men on motorbikes snatching bags and cameras from tourists as they drove by. To prevent this, wear your shoulder strap across your body with your bag to the inside of the sidewalk.
Most people travel by motorbike
We saw more motorbikes here than in any other country we have visited. Families of four will all travel on one motorbike and people will use their motorbikes to transport anything from small trees to widescreen TV's to enormous bundles of trash. It is something to see!
Visiting Vietnam during Tet
Many travel sites will warn against visiting Vietnam during the holiday season of Tet. We disagree. We spent one month in Vietnam, from the beginning to the end of Tet and it was a very positive experience for us. This is a very festive time to be in Vietnam and with proper planning, visiting during Tet can be very enjoyable. For more on visiting Vietnam during Tet, read our post Should I Travel to Vietnam During Tet?
Cruise on Ha Long Bay. Take a 2-day or 3-day junk cruise on iconic Ha Long Bay. This is one of the most beautiful areas of Vietnam and cannot be missed. Activities include fishing, taking a cooking class, kayaking, and hiking.
Old Quarter of Hanoi. Walking these gritty, bustling streets can be an eye opening experience. Check out the markets and the street food, go shopping, and don't forget to bring your camera!
Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. Located just outside of Ho Chi Minh City, tour this historical area where the Vietnamese hid from US forces in a series of underground tunnels. You also will have the chance to shoot AK-47's and other rifles at the end of the tour.
Wander the ancient city of Hue. Hue is home to the Imperial City of the Nguyen Dynasty. Take a tour or wander the palace on your own. Afterwards, have dinner at the DMZ Bar, a popular restaurant in the heart of Hue.
Hiking in Sapa. Known for its trekking through rice terraces and alpine territory, Sapa is located in northwest Vietnam.
Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta is located in southern Vietnam. Every morning, thousands of Vietnamese converge here, buying and selling produce. Watch the hustle and bustle of the sales, then tour the smaller tributaries by rowboat and short walks.
Hoi An. If you have time to visit only one city in Vietnam, Hoi An gets our vote. This picturesque town has it all...fabulous shopping, superb restaurants, history, nearby rice paddies to cycle through, and a beautiful beach just a few kilometers away.
Phu Quoc Island. Off the normal tourist track, this island is located off the coast of Cambodia and Vietnam. If you want to go somewhere a little different, consider Phu Quoc. We recommend staying in a nicer place (4 or 5 star hotel) to make the most of your visit.
My Son Sanctuary. Located in central Vietnam, My Son Sanctuary is an important historical site with ruins over 1000 years old.
Visit Da Nang. Located just north of Hoi An, Da Nang makes a quick day trip. The beach was beautiful and deserted, our visit to the Lady Buddha give us another glimpse of the Chinese-style architecture commonly found in Vietnam, and we loved the technicolor Dragon Bridge.