Located in Southeast Asia and Vietnam is bordered by popular Asian destinations like China, Laos, and Cambodia. With dramatic limestone mountains, artfully arranged rice fields carved into hills, and breathtaking ocean views from North to South, Vietnam is one of the most striking countries in the world.
While affordability is an obvious perk, travelers visit Vietnam from around the world to taste the delicious cuisine, explore the natural wonders and challenge themselves to become immersed in a unique culture with a long, complex history. Whether it be through a street-side bowl of noodles, multi-day cruise, or a day in one of the country's many museums, you will find countless opportunities to learn about and experience the local life and magnificent landscape.
What makes Vietnam travel so popular is that it has so much to offer any type of visitor. The nature lover, the foodie, the adventure junkie, the history buff -- Vietnam will keep you busy. Here are popular tours to consider when planning your trip:
From rock climbing and cliff repelling to multi-day trekking or sand boarding large red and white dunes, Vietnam offers exciting tours for active travelers seeking adventure. One of northern Vietnam's most popular multi-day tours for example, guides travelers through the rice fields of picturesque Sapa, with overnight stays in local houses just a few hours from the Chinese border.
The quintessential Vietnam experience is buying a motorbike for cheap in the North or South and weaving your way to the other end of the country, passing remarkable landmarks along the way. Tours companies have taken note of this and lead similar, shorter experiences for groups. Explore the coastline of Vietnam and cruise through rice fields, mountains wrapped in fog, tiny local towns, major cities, and towering ocean cliffs with expansive sea views.
Culture & History Tours
The Vietnam war is a sensitive part of the country's past, however many remnants offer fascinating looks into how the country was impacted, and can be explored by travelers today. In addition to museums throughout the country, expansive tunnel structures such as the Cû Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh, or the Vinh Moc Tunnels in Hue, have been preserved for visitors to explore, serving as an eery portal into the country's past.
Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, and Hoi An are some of the world's most beautiful places to go Scuba diving in Vietnam. Divers have the chance to see exotic marine life such as barracuda and bamboo sharks living in colorful coral reefs, in waters that visitors typically don't explore. The best time to go diving in Vietnam is March through October.
Planning Your Trip
There's so much to see and do in Vietnam that visitors will be kept busy for the duration of their stay. Take a glance at some of these tips below to help plan your trip to Vietnam.
Best Time to Visit Vietnam
High season is typically from March until May and October until December, when the weather is most favorable. From July until September it’s considered high season for domestic travel, since a lot of children have time off from school and their families take vacations within Vietnam.
Northern Vietnam is most beautiful from September to December, while southern Vietnam is most beautiful from January to March. Keep in mind that during the rainy season everything will be green and lush, yet outdoor activities may be limited due to rain. During the dry season, conditions will be more favorable but rice paddies may not look as you pictured.
Regardless, Vietnam has something unique to offer during whichever season you decide to visit.
What to Look For in a Tour to Vietnam
Whether you want to be lost in the hectic cities of Vietnam or rough it for a few days in the jungle, there are many different opportunities for visitors. When choosing a travel package, look into how much autonomy you are given during the tour. Will you have time to explore on your own? Will you be able to experience the motorbike culture or other local interests? As always, be sure to check reviews, accepted payment methods, and cancellation policies before booking.
Typical Tour Cost
Tour packages to Vietnam range from $150 - $2,500 depending on the number of days for the tour. According to U.S. standards and cost of living, most experiences are considered affordable and include 2-4 star accommodations.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
Southern Vietnam is typically hot during the year, while northern Vietnam is colder. If you're planning on traveling through the entire country, pack for hot, cold, and rainy weather.
Gear for scuba diving, trekking, and rock climbing is easy to rent and will save you traveling with additional items. Clothing can also be cheap to purchase, so if you prefer not to travel with heavier cold weather clothing, consider waiting until you reach the Northern regions and buy something there.
Other Tips for Travel in Vietnam
- Budgeting and currency: Vietnam uses the Vietnamese Dong. Food is incredibly cheap in Vietnam, with some meals, mainly street food, costing only 50 cents. The portions are huge and delicious! Budget travelers can live comfortably on $10-$20 a day, since transportation, housing, and food is cheap. Keep in mind, however, that tours are the greater cost in Vietnam travel, so some days you will spend more than others.
- Transportation: Travelers in Vietnam have the luxury of train, bus, plane, taxi, and motorbike transportation options -- all of which offer access to astonishing views of the mountains, cities, ocean, and/or jungle throughout the journey.
- Accommodation: Most tours will arrange housing for you. If you decide to plan separately, budget hotels and hostels in Vietnam typically cost around $5-6 per night; average hotels start at around $25; rural guesthouses charge $9-16; and more luxury hotels can cost about $100. You can also rent an apartment for relatively cheap in any of the major cities, for around a couple hundred dollars a month. Be sure to have cash when booking lodging.
- Visa: The United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, and Spain are all granted a free 15-day visa exemption. If you are not from any of these countries, you are required to obtain a Vietnamese visa before arriving in Vietnam. The one month, single-entry visa costs around $40, and the three-month single entry visa costs around $60. If already in the region, you can get these in person in neighboring countries, or apply online.
Health & Safety
No vaccines are required for Vietnam, but make sure you’re up to date on your routine vaccinations. Visitors from certain countries may be asked to provide a proof of Yellow Fever vaccination (this can change). Some areas also have a risk of malaria, so speak with your doctor to determine if your trip will require you to take malaria pills.
Be careful not to drink tap water and make sure any street beverages you consume are made with filtered water. Also take care to only eat food (in the street or a restaurant) at a place with high turnover to avoid food poisoning, and steer clear of items such as salads that may have been washed with tap water. Soups and items that have clearly been boiled are safer than raw foods.
Vietnam is a very safe country for group and solo travelers. Vietnamese locals treat foreigners very warmly and there is little danger in the major cities, though it is very important to watch your belongings at all times. Be careful of theft and scams, especially on overnight trains and buses, and women should always wear purses with a cross-body strap, placed in front of your body and away from the street. Also pay attention to motorcycles driving by that may try to grab a purse or camera.
If you decide to motorbike through Vietnam, make sure to check if your travel insurance covers this (many don't). Be aware of the risk you are taking, and always wear a helmet. Make sure to learn the unwritten "rules of the road", and ask those who have done it before for advice on how to drive and which sections or highways to avoid.
Keep in mind that heavy traffic in Vietnam make this a challenging journey that is only recommended for those capable of driving a motorbike, and comfortable with high-pressure congestion and unpredictable roads. For those who want a little less commitment, you can book a single or multi-day tour for just a portion of the route, and ride on the back of a bike with a local guide.