Where street food rules, the history is rich, and breathtaking landscapes are some of the world's best.

While lumped together with Southeast Asia for geographic and tourism purposes, Vietnam stands out as a destination unique among its neighbors. Each region balances the other. The frenetic chaos in Saigon is just a stone’s throw from the sleepy colonial towns in the Mekong Delta. Hoi An’s charming, historic ancient town is a mere 40 minutes from the fast-growing and friendly Danang. History and tradition infuse every aspect of life in Vietnam—from food to religion—and the culture and people are remarkably welcoming to tourism, having built a thriving industry.

Although I had spent years traveling other regions of Asia, Vietnam was my final country to visit on mainland Southeast Asia. What an incredible experience. I have travelled from south to north, discovered cities across the country highlighting various aspects of Vietnam’s long history, from the War Remnants museum in Ho Chi Minh City to the Japanese and Chinese influenced Hoi An to the French-influenced coffee and baguette culture throughout. Vibrant, unique, chaotic, traditional—no single word sums the experience of traveling Vietnam.

Travelling Vietnam Essentials

Visa: Travellers are advised to arrange Vietnam Visa before their departure from Home Country

Food: A foodie paradise, light on the pocket, and soul-stirring, street food in Vietnam is an experience you must not miss.

Costs: The cost of travelling in Vietnam is pretty cheap although can vary very different from traveller to traveller depending on experience. Many Vietnamese have no problem trying to extort as much money out of tourists as possible so its not uncommon to be quoted a heavily (sometimes 500%) price for simple items like water or food.

Weather: Very humid and hot around 32°C when I was there in May.

Transport: The scooter should be their national symbol as they are used so much. I definitely would not have trusted myself to drive one on the streets of Hanoi as it seemed there are no rules of the road. At traffic lights, there is a speaker explaining the rules of the road to drivers, however, this does not seem to have a huge impact. Taxis are the way to go, haggle with the taxi drivers and get a fixed price before departure.

Shopping: Lots of markets where you can haggle. A lot of cheap knockoffs such as t-shirts, shorts and runners.

Guide to Vietnam Popular Destinations

Depending on where you enter Vietnam you will probbably start off in either Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in the south or Hanoi in the North and work your way towards the other.

Ho Chi Minh City – The old capital of the south and largest city in Vietnam, referred to locally as its former name Saigon.

Hanoi – Second largest city and the countries capital. Located in the north it is a popular spot with travellers to start of end their journey.

Hoi An – Small riverside city in the central area. Famous for its clothing makers and small town charm. A very relaxing place to hang for a few days while somebody makes you a cheap suit. (Read our post on buying a suit in Hoi An)

Ha Long Bay – Famous for its gorgeous scenery and often included in lists of the natural wonders of the world. Very pretty bay in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Nha Trang – Beachside hang popular with tourists and expats. Lots of bars but still a good size city with a good mix of locals and foreigners.

Hue – The Imperial city, a riverside setting with the old walled city and the nearby tombs of the kings attracting lots of visitors.

Sapa – Popular trip from Hanoi on the Chinese border nested away in the peaceful mountains.

Good To Know When Travelling Vietnam

Sim Cards - Data and calls within Vietnam are very cheap and coverage is good in most of the country. Suggest you to go for Viettel SIM Card

Travelling During Chinese New Year - Carefully decide if it is the right choice for you to travel during Tet (Chinese New Year). On one hand, there are lots of shows, parades fireworks and events and it is the most important event on the Vietnamese calendar.It is a great cultural insight. On the other hand its expensive, hotel prices shoot up and transport is either full booked or significantly more expensive than usual. Many places are closed and many locals leave the city to go back to visit family. It can be a wonderful experience but it is a double edged sword.

When is the best time for visiting Vietnam for the first timers:

Don't let weather to be the reason for your first time travel to Vietnam become uncompleted. To enjoy your first trip to Vietnam, get to know which time is the best to travel and what to expect in what month.

Vietnam Climate:The country is located in tropical area and divided into three distinctive climate zones

North and North Central: With the influence of monsoon season, these two areas have four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter

Central of Vietnam: Tropical Monsoon known as a tropical wet climate or a tropical monsoon and trade-wind littoral climate

South of Vietnam: Hot and humid for the whole year with only two seasons: Dry and Rainy seasons. All three regions can be affected by typhoons, floods and storms. North and Central Vietnam see the most number of storms hit on land annually.

Best time to visit Vietnam - You can visit Vietnam almost for all year round. Most apt time to visit though will be from November - April

First Time in Vietnam Safety tips:

Vietnam is a safe country even for first-timers. The people here are friendly and helpful and welcoming toward foreign tourists. Vietnam also has the reputation for having zero terrorism threats which makes Vietnam much more safer tourist destination than many Western countries. Threats that tourists would most likely be exposed to are petty crimes, traffic incidents, and tropical infectious diseases. Here are some tips to reduce the risks and stay safe during your trip in Vietnam:

  • Avoid travel to mountainous regions during the rainy season.
  • When crossing the roads in Vietnam, just keep going slowly and the traffic will naturally avoid you. Don’t make sudden movements.
  • Motorbiking driving can be an exciting experience but can be dangerous in mountainous areas. Tip is to drive slow and obey the traffic rules.
  • Petty crimes happen mostly in major cities and tourist destinations like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang.... Take good care of your belongings and put the bags in front of you when in crowded places. Check your surroundings before holding up your cameras.
  • To avoid infectious diseases like dengue fever, prepare yourself with long-sleeved shirts, pants, and protect yourself with a 10 to 30 percent concentration of DEET.

Mistakes to avoid when traveling to Vietnam for first time:

  • Riding motorbikes to mountainous areas with no experience: riding motorbikes in Vietnam is a fun experience and worth trying at least once. Even you're inexperienced, you can learn to drive a scooter around the cities pretty quick but be cautious.
  • Not asking prices before buying: for those who are looking for a gift to bring back home, you might be the target of the sellers in your first time in Vietnam. One thing you should do every time you want to buy anything or use any service in Vietnam is to ask the price.
  • Visit too many places in a short period of time: It's a not wise to visit too many places in Vietnam in a short period of time in your first time travel to Vietnam. We recommend you to travel Vietnam in depth and to discover not only Vietnam's nature but also the culture and people.

You can visit Vietnam anytime of the year, which is a land of staggering natural beauty and cultural complexities, of dynamic megacities and hill-tribe villages, Vietnam is both exotic and compelling.

© copyright Paradizo Holidays(BCUBE Venture LLP) | All Rights Reserved