Vietnam Travel Tips: How to Plan a Perfect Trip to Vietnam

Wondering how to plan a perfect trip to Vietnam?

You have come to the right place! This Vietnam Travel Tips guide is a one-stop guide to help you to plan a perfect and safe trip to Vietnam.

Here you will find all you need to know, from how to travel around Vietnam, safety around the country, prices to plan your budget, what is the best time to visit, and much more tips to travel to Vietnam. Especially if this is your first time, this guide is extremely helpful!

Vietnam is certainly a country that has a lot to offer with many types of adventures to suit any taste. It’s a great place to visit with your family, and friends, as a couple or solo. Vietnam is very diverse and offers a mix of big cities, lush countryside, a rich history, and a coastline with beautiful beaches. The amazing food is a fusion of Asian with French influence, the people are amiable and they will make you feel welcome.

I have planned my 2 weeks itinerary to Vietnam for months, and I can tell that planning a trip to Vietnam can be a little trickier than you expect. Between the challenging geographical shape of the country, to travel scams you should avoid, I get you covered in this very helpful Vietnam Travel Tips guide

Vietnam Travel Tips

Vietnam Travel Tips Essentials

LANGUAGE: Vietnamese is the official language; English is increasingly favored as a second language. French, Chinese, Khmer, and various highlander languages are also spoken. Between 85-90 % of Vietnam’s residents are ethnically Vietnamese.

CURRENCY: The currency in Vietnam is Dong (VND) – Check here for the latest conversion rate.

CREDIT CARD: credit cards are accepted in many restaurants, hotels, and shops in Vietnam’s big cities. Visa, Master Card, JBC, and American Express are the most common credit cards honored in Vietnam.

ATM IN VIETNAM: You’re certain to find an ATM to withdraw from in any of Vietnam’s major cities, but smaller towns have also begun to bring their A-game.

TIPPING IN VIETNAM:  Major hotels and restaurants in Vietnam add a 5% service charge to bills, so you can choose not to tip at these places. Elsewhere, small tips are always a good thing.

PLUGS: If your device has “100-240, 50-60Hz”, it means that it is compatible with all the different voltages used in the world, including Vietnam. I recommend buying this universal adapter and using a converter for hair dryers. 

WI-FI IN VIETNAM: Internet and wifi are available everywhere in Vietnam. Something of 98% of all hotels and hostels has Wi-Fi, only in very remote places, it is not standard.

SIM CARD IN VIETNAM: You can buy a SIM card in Vietnam at the airport, upon your arrival in the country. You’ll find dozens of kiosks selling SIM cards as soon as you exit the baggage claim area in any of Vietnam’s international airports.

HUAWEI E5577s-321 Mobile WiFi Router

I recommend buying this WiFi router. Doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can insert any SIM card, and it shares data across all your devices, up to 10, via WiFi and the battery lasts up to 12 hours.

Vietnam Travel Tips: Orientation & Map

It is important starting this very helpful list of Vietnam travel tips by saying that you should not underestimate the size of Vietnam. Getting from one location to another in Vietnam may take longer than you expect. Just to give you a rough estimate, travel by train between Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi takes approximately 35 hours!

Overall, Vietnam can be divided into 3 major regions: North, Central, and South Vietnam. Now if you are wondering how long you need to plan a trip to Vietnam, my recommendation is to plan around one week per region.

What is the Visa Requirement to travel to Vietnam?

A visa is required and is easy and cheap to obtain, but since the regulations are constantly changing, double-check before preparing for your trip. You can request your visa prior to your trip online (e-visa), or upon your arrival in Vietnam. I found the iVisa the easiest way to get through immigration.

Pay very close attention if you plan to leave and re-enter the country again. If that is the case, you will need another type of visa, other than one entry into the country. I learned it in a bad way. I paid for one entry, left Vietnam to travel to Cambodia, and when I tried to re-enter Vietnam, I learned that my visa would only allow me to enter once only! Guess what? I had to spend 2-days “living” at the airport in Vietnam, and the officials hold onto my passport. Not a good experience folks!

Visa on Arrival (VOA): This is the most popular option for visitors arriving by plane. Go to to fill out an online application and pay the US$20 fee. You will receive an email with the VOA letter that you print out and show upon your arrival in Vietnam, and you will need to pay for your visa stamping in US dollars, cash only. The single-entry stamping fee is US$25, and the stamping fee for a multiple-entry visa valid for up to 3 months is US$50.
E-Visa: Citizens of around 80 countries, including the USA and UK can apply for a single entry e-visa valid for 30 days and costs US$25.

Vietnam best travel tips

How Much Does a trip to Vietnam cost?

Vietnam is a very inexpensive place to visit! Depending on your travel style, you can spend as little as US$20 a day per person if you choose to stay at a Hostel and eat (delicious) street food.

I would say I’m more on the average traveler side, (meaning, I don’t stay in a hostel but also, do not stay in a classy hotel). I like to explore the culinary offerings by eating at restaurants and also sampling street food. The average I spent per day including accommodation transportation and food is between US$30 to US$50 per person (3 meals, Uber rides, and a basic hotel). Below you can see the breakdown of my expenses during my 2 weeks in Vietnam.

If you are planning to visit different areas in Vietnam, keep in mind that you will have additional costs with domestic flights, night trains or buses, activities, tours, and of course, shopping for some local souvenirs.

One of my most important Vietnam travel tips for you is that buying souvenirs in Vietnam is very cheap. I suggest you practice your bargaining skills, as haggling is normal and expected. Be respectful and have fun with it. It is not uncommon for sellers to start out at 2 to 3 times the price they are really willing to accept.

LODGING$20 – $40 – per night
STREET FOOD$5 (per meal/ person)
RESTAURANT FOOD$20 (per meal/ person)
FLIGHTS$50 per flight (per person)
HALONG BAY TOUR$300 (per person for 3 days)
ATTRACTIONS$200 (total for 2 weeks/ person)

Flights to Vietnam

It depends on where you plan to start your itinerary in Vietnam, the main international airports are Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) in Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam. Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, and Da Nang International Airport (DAD) in Da Nang, a popular tourist destination in central Vietnam.

There are many airlines that offer flights to Vietnam from different parts of the world. When searching for flights to Vietnam, it’s important to compare prices and flight times from different airlines to find the best deal. It’s also important to check the visa requirements for your nationality, as Vietnam requires visas for citizens of many countries. Some of the major airlines that fly to Vietnam include:

✈️ Vietnam Airlines: This is the airline I used to travel from the US to Vietnam, and also, domestic flights within Vietnam. They are the national flag carrier airline of Vietnam with direct flights to major cities in Vietnam.

✈️ Cathay Pacific: a Hong Kong-based airline that offers flights to Vietnam from various destinations around the world

✈️ Emirates: a Dubai-based airline that offers flights to Vietnam with a stopover in Dubai.

Vietnam Travel Tips
Hoi An

Getting Around and Transportation in Vietnam

When you are looking for very important Vietnam travel tips, you will find that it is very easy to get around Vietnam. I traveled from South to North and I found it very convenient. If you are short on time, I would recommend flying from one region to another since flights are very cheap. If you have more time, you also can rent a motorbike, take a bus or even an option for a night train such as to Sapa.

For day trips, or side trips you have the option to hire a local guide to drive you for a meager price, just check with your hotel front desk or at local travel agencies. Since I was in Vietnam during the peak season, I booked my cruise on Halong Bay in advance, but you also have the chance to book while you are there. You can find Uber for a very low price. While in Hoi An I rented a motorbike for US$5 per day and I found it safe and easy to drive.

🚗 BY CAR: If you have seen some of my other blogs, you already know I am a big fan of road trips. But not in Vietnam. Remember about the traffic being challenging? Also, an international driving license is not accepted in Vietnam and it is not customary to rent a car.

✈️ BY PLANE: It is one of the most popular ways to explore Vietnam. They are normally around a 2-hour journey and will cost around US$50 per person if you book in advance.

🚌 BY BUS: This is an option if you have plenty of time and don’t mind about comfort. Also, keep in mind that the traffic in Vietnam is crazy, and traveling via Vietnam’s rickety roads might not be for you. Check here

🚆BY TRAIN: Trains normally are more expensive than buses in Vietnam. If prefer, you can take the Reunification Express that runs from Hanoi to HCMC, but keep in mind that it takes about 30 hours. There are many segments that you can use as a train. I took the night train from Hanoi to Sapa and it was very comfortable and safe.

Vietnam Travel Tips

Plan Well Your Itinerary in Vietnam

During my planning for the Vietnam 2-week itinerary, I researched the internet and also, bought some books and maps to help me with my itinerary in advance. An excellent guidebook that I used during my itinerary preparation is the Lonely Planet Vietnam Guidebook, as it has tons of great information.

One of my top Vietnam travel tips for you as that you include to visit at least one big city to get the vibe of the unstoppable lifestyle in Vietnam. I booked almost everything in advance – flights, accommodations, trains, and tours to Sapa and Halong Bay.

Remember that pre-planning, researching, and understanding what you are looking for will help make your travels far more successful and safe. I have spent a good amount of time researching, and traveling around Vietnam, and these articles will be extremely helpful with tons of Vietnam Travel Tips for you:

2-week trip itinerary in Vietnam
Mekong Delta boat tour

Accommodations in Vietnam

I used a mix of hotels and homestays during my trip to Vietnam. The accommodation is in general cheap and you have many options to choose from, it will depend on what is your preference.

In the major cities, I was well-located and walked to the sites in the city. I have found that walking is a great way to explore a city and get to really see it. When needed, I took an Uber and it worked great at a very low rate, I super recommend it.

Renting a scooter is an option, but unless you grew up in a major city in Vietnam, I would not recommend it. Traffic rules are very different and the roads are super congested.

I used a hotel in the center city for Ho Chi Ming City as it offered more options to explore. I used a local house during my stay in Hoi An, in a common neighborhood as it offered a more authentic experience. During my trip to Sapa, my choice was a homestay with a local family. If you check my Vietnam itinerary, I make the best accommodation recommendations for each region.

Vietnam travel tips

What is the best time to visit Vietnam?

Vietnam is a great destination all year round. Deciding the best time to visit Vietnam greatly depends upon how far north or south you plan to go, as well as other factors such as festivals and holidays. The best time to visit Vietnam is from December through February when temperatures are milder and rain is minimal.

Despite being a small country, Vietnam is 1,650 kilometers long which makes the country very diverse with weather that varies from North to South. Here is a simple plan based on the variability of the temperature, as during the summer it is incredibly hot.

The Northwest of the country’s dry season is from October to March, and it makes the best time to visit. While in the North of the country can get cold, and even snows in Sapa between Dec to Jan.

The weather in Vietnam can be split by region:

  • In Hanoi & the north, May to October is hot and humid with high rainfall; November to April is cooler and dry.
  • In the far north, December & January can be particularly cold.
  • Central Vietnam experiences hot, dry weather between January & August when temperatures can hit the mid-30 °C; whilst high levels of rainfall can occur in September, October & November.
  • Southern Vietnam is generally dry and hot from November to April, and warm and wet between May & October, with the highest rainfall in June, July & August.
Vietnam Travel tips

Best Tours in Vietnam

One of the most important Vietnam travel tips to keep in mind is that you don’t need to book a tour to travel around Vietnam. You can use helpful resources, such as this blog 😉 to plan a trip to and around Vietnam.

But for some activities, keep in mind that you will need to book a tour with an operator or a private local guide. My suggestion is to avoid booking tours with your hotel as the prices are typically higher, and most likely you will be joining a tour with a lot of people who they will be rushing you, and you won’t have a good experience.

Lastly, make sure you book in advance to guarantee you get the tour you choose to go on. And use a reliable source such as GetYourGuide or Viator. They offer a cancellation policy and excellent customer service. These are the services I use and recommend, and below are some tours in Vietnam that you should consider:

Cu Chi Tunnel and Ho Chi Minh City Full-Day Tour

This excellent Cu Chi Tunnels tour is the excellent tour that I choose and recommend it runs in both the morning and the afternoon and includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, an English-speaking tour guide, your entrance ticket, and transportation. It’s an easier option than catching the public bus to the tunnels!

Luxury 3 Days 2 Nights Cruise in Halong Bay

This Stellar of the Seas luxury cruise is one of the longest cruise options in this guide, yet they also offer 4 & 5-day options. For those who are opting for the 3-day tour, you don’t have to worry as the itinerary is action-packed. Above I’ve outlined some of the destinations you’ll visit and there are plenty of them!

Evening Walking Food Tour in Hoi An

This walking food tour is limited to twelve people and you’ll get to visit some of Hoi An’s best foodie hotspots. Not only will you get to try authentic cuisine but you’ll be given other recommendations during your stay!

Safety in Vietnam

I found Vietnam a very safe country to visit. One of the main concerns for travelers to Vietnam is traffic accidents. The traffic in Vietnam can be chaotic, with many motorbikes and cars on the roads, and traffic laws are not always followed just like any other place we travel, we should follow the same rules:

👉 Take precautions such as keeping valuables secure, not carrying large amounts of cash, and being aware of their surroundings.

👉 do not wear jewelry (I never travel with my wedding ring) and dress modestly

👉 Pay close attention to your bag, especially in big cities as pick-pocketing may occur

👉 Take precautions such as keeping valuables secure, not carrying large amounts of cash, and being aware of their surroundings.

👉 When carrying your camera, wear a shoulder strap across your body, and the same for your backpack

Backpack Travel Anti Theft with USB Charging Port

To keep your belongings safe during your travels, I recommend this anti-theft backpack. The hidden theft-proof pocket designed on the back sits up against the wearer’s body. Anti-Pickpocket back pocket is difficult to steal personal items. It fits my 15.6” laptop with a bit to spare.

What to Pack from Vietnam

Like any other country in Southeast Asia, do not over-pack, even if you are like me and think that you may need more, you can buy whatever you need there. I like to wear comfortable clothes and shoes since I walk a lot. Because of the high possibility of rain, humidity, and hot weather I prefer to use dry-fit clothes.

  • Cities: comfortable and conservative clothes, consider covering your knees and arms if you are planning to visit temples
  • Mountains of Sapa: Light and comfortable clothes for the summer, a rain jacket, and hiking boots. During the winter pack a warmer jacket, a layer of merino, and a fleece sweater because it gets cold.
  • Halong Bay and beaches: Light clothes like dresses, shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, and swimsuits. Also, a pair of pants and a jacket if you are visiting during the wintertime.
My Son Vietnam Temple Ruins

Pack Light & Smart when you Travel to Vietnam

Here is one of the most important Vietnam travel tips to keep in mind. I recommend packing in a backpack if you are planning to travel around Vietnam. Consider that you will be traveling from point A to point B on public transportation. Or even if you fly, it is easier to just have a carry-on item with you. Pack light and smart is always my rule of thumb!

I love traveling with my Osprey Backpack, and if you are taking a backpack, I recommend rolling your clothes and using small packing cubes separated by categories (pants, tops, socks…), so you don’t need to empty the backpack every time when you are trying to reach to the items you need. Here are the best backpacks for travel that I recommend.

What is the Food in Vietnam?

If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, be prepared to delight in fresh and delicious food. Vietnamese cuisine is known for its flavorful and fresh ingredients, which are heavily influenced by the country’s geography, climate, and history. Vietnamese food is typically characterized by a balance of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors.

Street food is also a big part of Vietnamese cuisine, with vendors selling everything from grilled meats to sweet desserts. Overall, Vietnamese cuisine is diverse and flavorful, with a wide variety of dishes to try and enjoy. Here are some of the most popular dishes to try in Vietnam:

Street food: is cheap and generally safe. While in Vietnam try as many dishes as you can and appreciate the experience of eating locally

The breakfast:  was my favorite part, with fresh eggs and fruits and a cup of Vietnamese black or egg coffee, oh simply the best coffee in the world! The typical local breakfast is Pho and you find it on any corner and a bowl will cost less than US$1.

Pho: is one of the most popular dishes in Vietnam. It is delicious noodles with meat, broth, and delicate spices and you can pretty much eat it any time of the day, you need to try it!

Bahn Mi: Have you ever tried a Bahn Mi before? If not, please do! I like to describe it as an explosion of flavors. Bahn Mi is THE sandwich and you can also find it everywhere in Vietnam. There are a variety of options including, chicken, beef, and pork.

What else: Vietnamese are big on steamed rice, noodles, and vegetables. For protein, you can find options for chicken, pork, seafood, red meat, and tofu.

They also have some peculiar cuisine, which I was not even curious to try, but if you are more adventurous than me, you have plenty of options such as stomach, heart, intestines, and even brain.

Final Vietnam Travel Tips

  1. Book in Advance – Especially if you are traveling during the high season. You will have more options to choose from accommodations, and you will have a better plan for activities and transportation options. You can use this easy travel planning guide to get the best services and discount prices.
  2. Plan Smart: I recommend to spend 1-week in each area to make sure you see the best in Vietnam and plan your Vietnam itinerary in advance!
  3. Halong Bay – I recommend doing the 3-day cruise, as you can see more of the majestic beauty of this place and also, relax during your busy travel schedule.
  4. Visit Hoi An – Even if you are short in time, prioritize Hoi An as it has so much to offer and the side trips are amazing.
  5. Homestay in Sapa is amazing – If you have the time, include Sapa in your itinerary. Read here more about my experience with homestay with a local tribe.
  6. Go on a Halong Bay Cruise: I really recommend taking an overnight cruise to the 7 New Wonders of the World! You won’t regret it!
  7. Mind the weather – Don’t underestimate the weather, as it can be extremely hot in the summer and very wet.
  8. Crossing the streets – In the big cities, the traffic is INSANE. Traffic lights don’t mean they will stop for you. Please, be careful!
  9. Cover up – When you visit temples and pagodas.
  10. Bargain – Negotiating price is not rude, it is expected!
Vietnam travel tips
Halong Bay Overnight Cruise

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