Ultimate guide to exploring the best of Vietnam
This is the blog I wish I stumbled across before my trip. Created for the traveler wanting to experience Vietnamese culture, food, beaches, scenic views and of course good times!
Sounds like you?
Perfect! Keep reading...
The secret to seeing it all, is planning accordingly.
Best time to travel Vietnam: February – May
Where do you start?
I suggest starting in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and make your way up or down.
What are the most popular destinations?
Ho Chi Minh, Phú Quốc, Mekong Delta, Da Lat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hanoi, Ha long Bay, Mai Chu and Sapa.
Tip: If you're in Ho Chi Minh, you should fly to Phú Quốc; a paradise-like island off the southern end of Vietnam... absolute lush!
How to get around Vietnam
Motorbike, bus, train or fly
Why did I decided to fly?
Because it’s relatively cheap and with only 15 days to spare I wanted more time at each destination, and less time on the road.
Flights are without a doubt the most expensive option but if we're talking about prices in relative to the rest of the word, it's actually pretty cheap! Prices for a one-way ticket range from (50-200$ CAD = 39-156$ US)
Tip: I used sky scanner to book all my flights.
Tip: Book with Vietnam airlines, best airline to travel with in Vietnam, no carry-on weight restrictions.
Cheaper option to get around is by train
Here is the train website
Journeys by train, bus or motorbike can be 10+ hours rides, you could spend entire days this way, but, I'm sure the rides are very beautiful.
Choose the train if you have the time.
Tip: Pay a little extra and opt for the soft berths so you can enjoy a comfy ride.
Why I didn't take the popular route for backpackers and tour Vietnam by motorbike?
It looks like such a fun time. However, I wasn't willing to risk my life on a bike for that long.
Is it dangerous? Well, yes! High risk situations in all weather conditions on hectic roads, need I say more?
Okay, I will...
Guess I should also mention if a foreigner ever gets into an accident with a local it literally DOES NOT matter who’s fault it was, it's automatically yours!
How much money will you need to travel Vietnam?
This was the breakdown of my budget:
- Accommodation: 300$
- Pharmacy: 12$
- Flights: 570$
- Transportation: 155$
- Gifts/ Shopping: 70$
- Food: 300$
- Drinks: 150$
- Tours: 445$
Total money spent: 2002$ CAD = 1550$ US
This does not include the 740$ CAD I paid for my. roundtrip flight.
Budget for a glam traveller ($$$)
This was my budget!
I didn't hold back one bit during my time in Vietnam... Okay, maybe on bubble tea a few times, but that was it!
I wanted know just how much you'd need if you were to go all out!
Total blowout cost me (2000$ CAD = 1550$ US) in a two week time frame.
However, taxis and a room for the night was always split two ways between myself and my friend, which helped us save when it came to staying in nicer places...
We stayed in Airbnb’s that averaged between 35-45$ a night. the most a room cost us was 65$ CAD and this place was a proper fancy resort... like 65$..as if!
Tip: Many hotels offer free breakfast too, take full advantage of this!
Budget for a modest traveller ($$)
I think if you want to see Vietnam on a mid range budget, still see the best parts but don't get too crazy. You'll need at least (1200$ CAD = 929 US$) This would mean eating local food mostly, drinking ocassionally between backpacker and trendier bars, traveling by bus or train, and only doing group tours that made the top of your Vietnam bucket list.
Budget for a serious backpacking traveller ($)
A tight budget in Vietnam is (700$ Canadian = 545 US$) this would mean you bought a motorbike and travelled the coast on your own. Staying in budget hostels, eating only local street food (might I also mention this increases your chances of getting ill if you're not smart about your choices.) The sights you see will mostly be enjoyed from your motor bike, except 1-2 group tours you can't see on your own (example; Ha Long Bay boat cruise)
Is food and drinks expensive in Vietnam?
Honestly, no, I was eating out almost every meal in Vietnam because it was affordable, and so delicious. Prices per meal (3-7$ CAD = 2-5$ US)
Drinks are relatively cheap too, depending on where you are (3-7$ CaAD = 2-5$ US) is standard.
How is the food in Vietnam?
The food is phenomenal, and I have always believed if the food plays a big part of the traveling experience, you need to take full advantage of it!
Vietnam is a country where the food is ridiculously divine.
Tip: Eating clean and maintaining a healthy diet is effortless in Vietnam because local vegetarian food is quite fresh.
Tip: A fare price for sliced-up fresh fruit (mango) from the stands is 25,000 ₫
Tip: Happy Hour takes places practically everywhere. This time is a great opportunity to experience posh bars for less.
Where to stay
Hostel for the social experience it that's important to you.
Hotels and homestay options are endless, no need for my recommendations there's plenty of great ones to choose from, it'd be hard to go wrong.
I went with Airbnb's. It was easy to find what I was looking for and I'm all about reviews! The hosts we're always so amazing at providing me with any info about surrounding areas that I needed.
Each Airbnb was 35-45$ per night, and each (besides one) was lovely!
Tip: Always remember to search for places that have air conditioning, wifi, and are in a central location.
Tip: Download Grab ride share app for cheap transport options
Tip: Wash your vegetables or fruits with boiled or bottled water to prevent food contamination. You'll notice at the markets there's a lot of raw meat & fish hanging around... Who know's what's touched what.
The Highlights of my trip...
These are the tours you can't leave Vietnam without experiencing
- Ha Long Bay over night cruise
- Mau Chi Scenic village tour
- Hoi An Cooking Class
- Relaxing in paradise at Phú Quốc island
- Private Motorbike tour around the countryside of Hoi An and Da Nang
- Chi Chu Tunnels in Ho Chi Mihn
- Floating markets in Mekong Delta
Make your trip extra special by checking out these places...
- Altitude roof top bar in the Sheraton hotel for happy from 5-7 at sunset located in the Sheraton
- Intercontinental hotel pool and bar (Must try the passionfruit mojito)
- Havana Hotel roof top bar & pool
- Great breakfast spot: Alpaca Homestyle café
Ho Chi Mihn
- Ben Thanh street market
- Great spot for breakfast, lunch, happy-hour or dinner: L'usine
- Milk Bar for breakfast
- Organik Cafe
- Saigon Poke
Phú Quốc island
Tip: Rent a scooter for the day and explore the island, the roads are madness like they are in the cities.
Mango bay resort beach... it's paradise!
Check these places to watch sunset and grab tasty drinks
- Chuon Chuon Whiskey Bar
- Rory’s Beach Bar
- Sol Beach House
Gab a bite at these cafes
- Karma Vegan Café
- Quan Chay Dam Vegan Restaurant (you must ask locals where this is you won’t find it on google maps)
- Am Vegan Café
- Rosie's Cafe
- Fisherman's Restaurant & Bar
Full day on a motorbike country side tour, this was my favourite day in Hoi An.
Spend the day chilling at An Bang Beach, and go to the Fisherman Restaurant and bar on the beach for some yummy healthy food and a cocktail.
Learn how to cook traditional Vietnamese dishes during a cooking class, there's heaps to choose from I went with Hoi An Eco Coconut Tour
Grab some food at these tasty places..
- The Hanoi Social Club
- Loading T Cafe
- Wanna Waffle? Cafe
- Buddy Coffee & Travel
From Hanoi make sure you travel to ..
Ha Long Bay
I went on an overnight cruise. I booked with Royal Wings (the dinner on this cruise was amazing, rooms were extremely spacious too)
Tip: If you want to get that picture of the lookout of Ha long bay from up above you must go to the top of Bai Tho Mountain on your own, none of the cruises go to this location) this would mean you must find your own transfer there.
- 4 hour drive from Hanoi, don't hesitate it's definitely worth the drive. If you can I recommend staying over night at one of the Mai Chau Eco Lodges.
Alrighty, I think that's it!
I hope this post inspires you to travel Vietnam and helps plan your trip exactly the way you want it to be.
Which destination in Vietnam would you be most excited to explore?