Are you thinking about taking a trip to Vietnam? If so, you are guaranteed to be amazed. This is a place that has so much to offer, from the incredible natural beauty on display to the interesting culture. However, there is also no denying that such a holiday requires some pre-planning too. With that in mind, read on to discover everything you need to know about visiting Vietnam, from securing a visa to some of the things you can do while in the country.
Why Should You Visit Vietnam?
There are a lot of different reasons why Vietnam is the perfect holiday destination. It’s one of my favorite countries that I’ve ever visited and it simply has so much to offer. Whether you like hiking in nature, exploring caves and caverns, eating amazing food, or you love the buzz of a big city, Vietnam has it all.
On of the places that people usually tell you is a must are the natural karst walls in Halong Bay. Yes it’s touristy, yes it can be busy, and yes it will be the most expensive tour you do while you’re in Vietnman, but it really is stunning. When I went on my trip, we stayed overnight on the boat for the first night. The second night we stayed on a private island where we got to go kayaking, swim on empty beaches, and play beach volleyball as the sunset over the karsts. I kept pinching myself because I genuinely couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be seeing this sort of stuff up close. The natural beauty is just something that cannot be done justice with words. It is geologically rich, from north to south.
Of course, the Vietnam War history is fascinating as well as incredibly dark and sad. It’s something I think everyone should learn more about, but especially fellow Americans.
Where Should You Visit in Vietnam?
There are lots of incredible places to visit in Vietnam, which can make it difficult when narrowing down your search. Some of the best areas to consider, though, are as follows:
- Halong Bay – We have already mentioned Halong Bay in the former paragraph as a great place to enjoy some adventure activities. Not only is there a lot to do here, but also you can enter caves at this UNESCO World Heritage site, which is a great experience. It also offers you one of the most amazing sea views you will ever see in your lifetime. This is reason alone to visit the limestone islands around here.
- My Son – Combining amazing scenery with an interesting history, this is a ruined temple city. It features a number of different Hindu temples, which are abandoned and partially ruined. These date back as early as the 4th century, and so they are a fascinating sight to behold.
- Hanoi – Another place that is well worth a mention is, of course, the capital of the country. There is a lot going on in Hanoi, from the various dining options to the museums. The town has a great atmosphere and charm too.
- Mekong Delta – The fourth and final suggestion is the Mekong Delta, which is an ideal choice for those who want a genuine and authentic Vietnam experience. You can get a true sense of local life amongst the paddy-field vistas and mangroves. A standout feature here has to be the floating markets, which is an interesting thing for any traveler to experience while they are on holiday in Vietnam.
- Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) – If you love the hustle and bustle of a big city, it doesn’t get much better than Saigon. This was the last stop on my trip through the country and it left me wanting more. It has amazing food, the little neighborhoods are each unique and vibrant, the history there is some of the most haunting, and did I mention the food? It was probably the place in Vietnam that I would most like to go back to.
Travel Tips for Visiting Vietnam
If you are planning on visiting Vietnam, there are a number of different factors you need to take into account. Here are some tips to help you with your trip:
- Don’t forget to secure your visa before you go – You will need to get a visa if you are going to visit Vietnam. Your requirements and the visa you need will depend on where you are traveling from so do keep this in mind and organize it at the earliest opportunity. You will also need travel insurance for visa requirements and for your own personal peace of mind, so make sure you secure this in advance too. When choosing a policy, don’t assume worldwide coverage means worldwide – check the covered countries to be certain Vietnam is in there. Moreover, if you plan on doing any adventure activities or sports, choose a policy that will cover this.
- Know your night buses – Getting familiar with the night buses is a great way to save money and cover long distances. They also enable you to make the most of cheaper accommodation too once you know your way around using them. Nevertheless, do be mindful regarding where you sit – basically, you won’t want to be near the toilet at the back or at the very front where you’ll be able to see all of the traffic lights all night.
- Be wary of taxi scams – Motorcycle taxis are great in Vietnam, enabling you to see the thronging streets of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. However, there is no denying that motorcycle taxi scams are also rife. Therefore, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, do not carry a lot of money on you. Secondly, make sure you choose a motorcycle taxi rider who knows the English names of the main tourist attractions. Thirdly, if you do believe you are going the wrong way, tell your driver to stop and get on a different motorcycle.
- Don’t drink the tap water – Last but not least, unless you want to spend all of your holiday throwing up, or even worse, in a hospital bed, don’t drink the tap water. While bottled water is the easiest way, I also recommend getting yourself a filter bottle to avoid using so much plastic. Unfortunately, the dark side of tourism is that so many travelers pass through the countries in South East Asia and the amount of plastic that is used is enormous. Try to reduce your footprint as much as possible.
Hopefully, you now feel more prepared for your trip to Vietnam. As you can see, this is a place that has so much to offer, from the stunning scenery to the amazing people and fascinating culture. However, if you are to have a holiday to remember for all of the right reasons, make sure you take note of all of the pieces of advice that have been provided above.