travel vietnam tips Vietnam is a fascinating and diverse country that offers something for everyone. Whether you are looking for stunning natural scenery, vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, or historical sites, Vietnam has it all. But before you pack your bags and hop on a plane, there are some things you need to know to make your trip more enjoyable and hassle-free. Here are some travel Vietnam tips that will help you prepare for your first visit to this amazing country.
Visa Requirements travel vietnam tips
One of the first travel Vietnam tips you need to know is about visa requirements. Vietnam has strict entry rules and requires most foreign visitors to have a visa approval before arriving. Depending on your nationality, you may be eligible for a visa exemption, an e-visa, or a visa on arrival. You can check the official website of the Vietnam Immigration Department (https://www.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/en) to see what options are available for you.
If you need to apply for a visa, make sure you do it well in advance and have all the necessary documents ready. You will need a passport with at least six months of validity, a passport-sized photo, an application form, and a visa fee. You can apply online through a reputable agency or at the nearest Vietnamese embassy or consulate.
Best Time to Visit
Another important travel Vietnam tip is to choose the best time to visit according to your preferences and itinerary. Vietnam has a varied climate that changes from region to region and season to season. Generally speaking, the north of Vietnam has four seasons: spring (March-May), summer (June-August), autumn (September-November), and winter (December-February). The south of Vietnam has two seasons: dry (November-April) and wet (May-October). The central region has a transitional climate that can be affected by typhoons from September to December. travel vietnam tips
The best time to visit Vietnam depends on what you want to see and do. If you want to enjoy the beaches and islands in the south, avoid the rainy season when it can be cloudy and humid. If you want to explore the mountains and ethnic villages in the north, avoid the winter when it can be cold and foggy. If you want to experience the cultural festivals and celebrations, plan your trip around Tet (Vietnamese New Year), which usually falls in late January or early February. travel vietnam tips
What to Pack
Packing for Vietnam can be tricky because of the different weather conditions and activities you may encounter. However, there are some essential items that you should bring regardless of where and when you go. Here are some travel Vietnam tips on what to pack:
- Lightweight clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. This is not only respectful of the local culture but also practical for visiting temples and avoiding sunburns and mosquito bites.
- A jacket or sweater for cooler evenings or higher altitudes.
- Comfortable shoes that are easy to slip on and off. You will need to remove your shoes when entering temples, pagodas, and some local homes.
- A hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and insect repellent to protect yourself from the sun and bugs.
- A reusable water bottle and some snacks for long journeys or hikes. travel vietnam tips
- A power adapter that fits the Vietnamese sockets (type A, C, or F).
- A SIM card or a portable Wi-Fi device to stay connected. You can buy a SIM card at the airport or any convenience store for as little as US$3.
- A copy of your passport, visa, and travel insurance documents in case of emergencies.
How to Get Around
Vietnam has a good transport infrastructure that makes it easy to get around by plane, train, bus, taxi, or motorbike. Depending on your budget, time, and comfort level, you can choose the best option for your needs. Here are some travel Vietnam tips on how to get around:
- Flying is the fastest and most convenient way to travel between major cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hue, or Nha Trang. There are several domestic airlines that offer cheap flights such as Vietjet Air, Bamboo Airways, or Vietnam Airlines.
- Taking the train is a scenic and relaxing way to travel along the coast or through the mountains. There are different types of trains that vary in speed, comfort, and price such as SE (express), TN (local), SP (fast), or LC (slow). You can book your tickets online through the official website of Vietnam Railways (https://dsvn.vn) or at any train station. travel vietnam tips
- Taking the bus is a cheap and convenient way to travel between towns and cities or within urban areas. There are different types of buses that vary in quality and service such as sleeper buses, minivans, local buses, or tourist buses. You can book your tickets online through reputable websites such as Baolau (https://www.baolau.com) or 12Go Asia (https://12go.asia) or at any bus station or travel agency.
- Taking a taxi is an easy and comfortable way to get around within cities or short distances. There are many taxi companies that operate in Vietnam such as Mai Linh Taxi (green), Vinasun Taxi (white), Grab Taxi (blue), or GoViet Taxi (red). You can hail a taxi on the street or use an app like Grab or GoViet to book one online. travel vietnam tips
- Renting a motorbike is a fun and adventurous way to explore Vietnam at your own pace. Motorbikes are widely available for rent at hotels, hostels, shops, or online platforms such as Tigit Motorbikes (https://www.tigitmotorbikes.com) or Rentabike VN (https://rentabikevn.com).
Vietnam has a wealth of attractions that cater to different tastes and interests. Whether you are looking for natural wonders, cultural heritage, urban buzz, or beach bliss, you will find something to suit your fancy. Here are some of the best places to visit in Vietnam that you should not miss:
- Halong Bay: This is one of the most iconic and stunning sights in Vietnam, featuring thousands of limestone islands and islets rising from the emerald water. You can take a cruise, kayak, or caving tour to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site1. travel vietnam tips
- Ninh Binh: This is a hidden gem in the north of Vietnam, offering a scenic landscape of rice paddies, karst mountains, rivers, and caves. You can visit the Bai Dinh Pagoda, one of the largest temples in Southeast Asia, or take a boat ride through the Trang An Complex2.
- Hoi An: This is a charming and well-preserved ancient town that reflects the influence of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese cultures. You can stroll along the lantern-lit streets, visit the old houses and temples, shop for souvenirs and tailor-made clothes, or enjoy the local cuisine1. travel vietnam tips
- Da Nang: This is a modern and vibrant coastal city that offers a mix of urban and natural attractions. You can relax on the sandy beaches, visit the Marble Mountains and Son Tra Peninsula, admire the Dragon Bridge and Ba Na Hills, or sample the nightlife2.
- Hue: This is the former imperial capital of Vietnam and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can explore the Citadel, the royal tombs, the Thien Mu Pagoda, and other historical monuments. You can also take a boat trip on the Perfume River or enjoy the royal cuisine1. travel vietnam tips
- Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park: This is a natural wonderland that boasts some of the world’s largest and most spectacular caves. You can visit the Hang Son Doong, Hang En, Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Cave, or Dark Cave. You can also trek through the jungle, bike along the countryside, or kayak on the river1.
- Ho Chi Minh City: This is the largest and most dynamic city in Vietnam and a cultural and economic hub. You can visit the War Remnants Museum, the Reunification Palace, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and other landmarks. You can also shop at the Ben Thanh Market, enjoy the street food, or experience the nightlife1. travel vietnam tips
- Mekong Delta: This is a vast and fertile region that is crisscrossed by rivers and canals. You can take a boat tour to see the floating markets, fruit orchards, rice fields, and villages. You can also visit the Cai Rang Market, Vinh Trang Pagoda, Tra Su Forest, or Can Tho City1.
- Dalat: This is a romantic and charming hill station that is known for its cool climate, pine forests, flower gardens, and French colonial architecture. You can visit the Crazy House, Bao Dai’s Palace, Dalat Railway Station, and other attractions. You can also enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, travel vietnam tips
Vietnam is a paradise for food lovers, with a rich and diverse cuisine that reflects the country’s history, culture, and geography. Vietnamese food is based on five core taste elements: spicy, sour, salty, sweet, and bitter. Common ingredients include fish sauce, shrimp paste, rice, fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Vietnamese food is also low in sugar and oil, and high in herbs and vegetables, making it one of the healthiest diets in the world. Here are some of the must-try dishes in Vietnam that will tantalize your taste buds: travel vietnam tips
- Pho: This is the national dish of Vietnam and one of the most famous soups in the world. It consists of flat rice noodles in a fragrant beef or chicken broth, topped with slices of meat, bean sprouts, herbs, and lime. You can also add chili, hoisin sauce, or vinegar to adjust the flavor to your liking1.
- Banh Mi: This is a Vietnamese sandwich that combines French and Vietnamese influences. It is made with a crusty baguette filled with pate, margarine, pickled vegetables, cilantro, cucumber, and various meats such as pork belly, ham, or grilled chicken. You can find banh mi stalls everywhere in Vietnam1. travel vietnam tips
- Bun Cha: This is a grilled pork and noodle dish that originated in Hanoi. It consists of grilled pork patties and slices served with rice vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, lettuce, and a dipping sauce made of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and garlic. You can also wrap the ingredients in rice paper and dip them in the sauce1.
- Bun Bo Hue: This is a spicy and lemongrass-flavored noodle soup from Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. It is made with beef shank, pork knuckle, blood cubes, rice vermicelli noodles, and a broth seasoned with shrimp paste, chili oil, lemongrass, and annatto seeds. It is garnished with lime wedges, cilantro, green onion, banana blossom, and bean sprouts1.
- Com Tam: This is a broken rice dish that is popular in southern Vietnam. It is served with a grilled pork chop or ribs, a fried egg, shredded pork skin or floss, travel vietnam tips
- pickled vegetables, and a sweet and sour fish sauce. This dish is hearty and satisfying. travel vietnam tips
- Cha Ca: This is a grilled fish dish that originated in Hanoi. It is made with turmeric-marinated fish (usually catfish) that is grilled over charcoal and then fried with dill, spring onion, and shrimp paste. It is served with rice noodles, peanuts, herbs, and lime juice.
- Banh Xeo: This is a crispy rice pancake that is stuffed with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, and herbs. It is cooked in a large skillet and then folded in half like an omelet. You can cut it into pieces and wrap it in lettuce leaves or rice paper, and dip it in a sweet and sour sauce.
- Cao Lau: This is a noodle dish that is unique to Hoi An. It is made with thick rice noodles that are cooked with lye water from a local well, giving them a chewy texture and a yellowish hue. The noodles are topped with slices of roast pork, crunchy rice crackers, bean sprouts, herbs, and a rich broth.
- Banh Cuon: This is a steamed rice roll that is filled with minced pork and wood ear mushrooms. It is served with slices of Vietnamese ham (cha lua), bean sprouts, cucumber, fried shallots, and a fish sauce dip. You can also add some chili or vinegar for extra flavor. travel vietnam tips
What to Drink
Vietnam is not only famous for its food but also for its drinks. From coffee to tea to beer, there is something for everyone to quench their thirst and enjoy the local culture. Here are some of the most popular drinks in Vietnam that you should try:
- Coffee: Vietnam is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of coffee, and coffee culture is an integral part of Vietnamese life. You can find coffee shops everywhere in Vietnam, serving different types of coffee such as black coffee (ca phe den), iced coffee (ca phe da), milk coffee (ca phe sua), egg coffee (ca phe trung), or yogurt coffee (sua chua ca phe). Vietnamese coffee is brewed with a metal filter (phin) that drips the coffee into a cup or glass. The coffee is usually strong and bitter, so many people add sweetened condensed milk or sugar to balance the taste. travel vietnam tips
- Tea: Tea is another popular drink in Vietnam, especially green tea (tra xanh) which is served hot or cold at most meals and social occasions. Tea drinking is considered a way to relax and socialize with friends and family. You can also find other types of tea such as lotus tea (tra sen), jasmine tea (tra nhai), or artichoke tea (tra atiso). Some tea shops also offer herbal teas or fruit teas with various health benefits. travel vietnam tips
- Beer: Beer is the most common alcoholic drink in Vietnam, and beer drinking is a popular pastime among locals and tourists alike. You can find many local and international brands of beer in Vietnam, such as Saigon, Hanoi, 333, Tiger, Heineken, or Corona. However, the most authentic way to enjoy beer in Vietnam is to drink bia hoi (fresh beer), which is a light and cheap draft beer that is brewed daily and sold at street stalls or small bars. Bia hoi is usually served in small glasses and accompanied by snacks such as peanuts, dried squid, or grilled meat.
Vietnam is a country with a rich and diverse culture that reflects its long and turbulent history. The Vietnamese people are generally friendly, hospitable, and proud of their heritage. However, they also have some customs and etiquette that may be unfamiliar or confusing to foreign visitors. Here are some of the most important things to know and do when traveling in Vietnam: travel vietnam tips
- Respect the elders: The Vietnamese culture is strongly influenced by Confucianism, which emphasizes the importance of filial piety, loyalty, and hierarchy. The elders are respected and revered in the family and society, and they are expected to be treated with deference and courtesy. You should always greet the oldest person first, address them by their title or Mr./Mrs./Ms., and avoid contradicting or arguing with them. You should also offer to help them with anything they need, such as carrying their bags or crossing the street. travel vietnam tips
- Dress modestly: The Vietnamese people value modesty and conservatism in their appearance and clothing. You should avoid wearing revealing or tight-fitting clothes, especially when visiting temples, pagodas, or rural areas. You should also cover your shoulders and knees, and remove your shoes when entering a religious site or a local home. You should also avoid wearing anything that has the Vietnamese flag or symbols on it, as this may be considered disrespectful or offensive. travel vietnam tips
- Avoid public displays of affection: The Vietnamese culture is not very expressive or demonstrative when it comes to emotions and feelings. You should avoid kissing, hugging, or holding hands with your partner in public, as this may be considered rude or inappropriate. You should also avoid touching someone’s head, pointing with your finger, or showing the soles of your feet, as these are considered impolite gestures. You should also respect personal space and avoid standing too close to someone or touching them without permission. travel vietnam tips
- Be polite and humble: The Vietnamese people value politeness and humility in their communication and behavior. You should always say “please” (làm ơn) and “thank you” (cảm ơn) when asking for or receiving something. You should also apologize (xin lỗi) if you make a mistake or cause any inconvenience. You should avoid being loud, boastful, or aggressive, as this may be seen as rude or arrogant. You should also avoid criticizing or complaining about anything in Vietnam, especially the government, politics, or religion. travel vietnam tips
- Bargain wisely: Bargaining is a common practice in Vietnam, especially in markets, shops, or taxis. You can try to negotiate a lower price for something you want to buy or a service you want to use, but you should do it politely and respectfully. You should also know when to stop bargaining and accept a reasonable offer. You should avoid being too stingy or greedy, as this may offend the seller or driver. You should also avoid buying counterfeit goods or products made from endangered animals or plants, as this may be illegal or unethical. travel vietnam tips
Traveling in Vietnam can be an exciting and rewarding experience if you follow these tips and respect the local culture and etiquette. By doing so, you will not only enjoy the beauty and diversity of Vietnam but also make friends with the warm and welcoming Vietnamese people.
Vietnam is a country that has a lot to offer for travelers who are looking for a unique and memorable adventure. From its stunning natural scenery to its vibrant culture and cuisine, Vietnam will surprise and delight you with its charm and diversity. However, before you go, you should also be aware of some of the travel Vietnam tips that will help you prepare for your trip and make it more enjoyable and hassle-free. By following these tips, you will be able to experience Vietnam in the best way possible and have a trip of a lifetime.