Vietnam had been quite a hot spot for tourists and backpackers to visit for quite some time now. No matter what type of traveler you are, Vietnam will definitely have something for you. Leisure, trekking, surfing, kayaking, swimming, you name it. In 2017, the country recorded a total of 13 million international visitors, and this amount is increasing drastically every year. So why is Vietnam so popular among travelers? What’re the reasons to travel to Vietnam?
After I traveled there for 2 weeks+ in January 2018, here are the reasons I think Vietnam should definitely be in your next travel bucket-list right now.
You probably guessed that I’m gonna say this. But still, this is one of the main reasons why Vietnam is such a popular choice when people travel in Southeast Asia. On average, Vietnam is cheapest among all the Southeast Asia countries, considering food, accommodation, transport, and other expenses.
In Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, you can settle for a meal in the street for less than $2. In mid-range restaurants serving Vietnamese dishes, the cost will be around $3-4 depending on what you ordered. However, prices will be higher by a little if you dine in high-end restaurants or inside the Old Quarter. Local beers cost around 15,000 Vietnamese Dong (around $0.75) while local draft beer cost only 5,000 Dong in the Old Quarter.
The prices of accommodation in Vietnam are also relatively low compared to other Southeast Asia countries. It’s not uncommon to settle for a mid-range hotel for under $10 per night for a double room. For a dorm bed? It could be as low as $2 to $3, and of course, depending on where you stay and which hostel you chose.
It is important to note that there are thousands of hotels in Vietnam, the competition between hotels is very strong there, which explains the low price you get, especially during the low season. For my whole Vietnam trip, I use Booking.com to find the accommodation that suits me.
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Editor’s Note: Check out this guide if you’re planning a backpacking trip to Vietnam!
Transport has always been the biggest problem for travelers around the world. Most of the Vietnamese do not speak English, especially outside of big cities and tourist areas. Even if they do know a little, you will probably be having a hard time understanding their accent.
Big cities like Hanoi and Saigon have a very convenient public transport system. But prior to arriving there, you should do some homework about public transport, unless you want to hire a taxi. In fact, there are a lot of travelers and tourists took taxis as they are reasonably priced, however taking public transport can still save you lots of money at the end of the day.
You should know that there are completely no English words on the public transport buses, everything is in Vietnamese, which is why I said you should do your homework.
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Bus From Airport
In Hanoi, there are two terminals in the airport, International and Domestic terminals. However, the bus that departs to Old Quarter (Bus No. 7 and 17) departs from Domestic Terminal (Terminal 1) but not in International Terminal (Terminal 2). There will be a shuttle bus to take you from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 for free every few minutes.
I took Bus No. 17 to Long Bien Bus Station for 90 minutes (the bus stopped a lot along the way, and took the long path) and walked to Old Quarter. It cost 7,000 Vietnamese Dong. If you’re taking other buses in the city and you don’t know how much to pay, the price is always written beside the bus door.
The public transport system in Da Nang city is less convenient than Hanoi. But as always, ask the locals, preferably younger ones as most of them do speak English.
For inter-city transport, you can easily book them through hostel, travel agents and even convenient stores. While it is very easy to get a ticket at last minute in low season, I would suggest buying the ticket one or two days before your departure to next destination during the peak season, which is from March to June and September to November.
You’ve probably heard of the legendary landscape in Vietnam which impressed lots of travelers around the world. If you think that Vietnam is all about cultural stuff, no, it’s not. Limestone hills in Ha Long Bay, Rice Terrace in Sapa, the river caves in Trang An, and so much more, all of them will definitely leave you in awe.
Remember to pay extra attention when you are planning your travel. Coming at the wrong season could leave you disappointed. For example, you can only see the yellow rice terrace in Sapa around May and September every year, other than that time, the rice crops are either green or harvested.
For Ha Long Bay and Trang An, seasons do not really affect the attractions a lot. However, spring and autumn still offer the best chance to really enjoy the view due to warmer days and clear skies.
For Southern Vietnam, there are dry season and monsoon season. It’s best to visit during the dry season, around December to April.
Check out this post on one of the most amazing national parks in Vietnam – Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park!
Needless to say, Vietnamese cuisine is one of the best in the world. It is often featured in TV shows and bloggers all around the world, due to its distinctive flavor and healthy ingredients. Most of the food in Vietnam is made completely from natural ingredients and does not contain MSG, which is common in Southeast Asia.
Pho, Bun Cha, Banh Mi, spring rolls… Feeling hungry every time I think of them, missing Vietnam so much now…
Well of course, as Vietnam is a travelers paradise, the food is also highly influenced by the western culture, therefore it’s not difficult to find a variety of food choices.
If you don’t want to rely on internet reviews or guide books, your best bet is to go for the stalls or restaurants where there are a lot of locals dining in there, this works every time for me.
I also realize that the street food in Hanoi is better than other tourist destinations, like Cat Ba Island, Ninh Binh, Hue, and Da Nang city. Sometimes I feel that I should have spent more time in Hanoi, just to enjoy the street food there.
In touristy areas, coriander is very rare in dishes served by restaurants. I purposely asked for coriander in my dish and I was rejected because they said they don’t have coriander. (What?) So if you don’t like parsley, don’t worry, you are not the only one for sure.
Visit my article on the 8 Best Foods in Vietnam That Will Rock Your World.
History and Historical Heritage
Vietnam is a must-visit destination for those travelers who are particularly interested in the history of the modern world. From the ruling of China at 111 B.C. to the French colonization and eventually the Vietnam War, there is endless history knowledge in this country.
Unfortunately, almost all of the museums in Vietnam do not have details written for the artifacts, equipment, and pictures. My advice is read up the history of Vietnam before visiting, especially the Vietnam War which happened between the year 1955 to 1975, (as most of the artifacts and items showcased in the museum are mostly about Vietnam War) so that you will understand more about the displayed items in the museum.
If you don’t want to study history beforehand, you can always hire a guide to explain everything to you throughout your visit to the museum for a reasonable price. Though I did not do it, I’ve seen a lot of people hiring one to explain to them in their languages.
By any chance you are in Hanoi, I recommend paying a visit to the Vietnam Military History Museum, followed by a visit to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. If you are very interested in temples, never miss out Bai Dinh Temple in Ninh Binh.
Generally, Vietnamese are friendlier than you may think. While most of them will not come up and befriend you by themselves out of nothing, they are more than happy to talk to you if you approach them first. You just have to give it a try, maybe you will make a great Vietnamese friend at the end of the day.
That’s what makes traveling fun and adventurous, right?
In cities, it’s not uncommon if some young people approach you and start talking to you in English. This is quite common practice by them, in order to improve their English speaking ability and make friends. If something similar happens to you, be sure to greet them with a smile!
When I was traveling there, it was the same time that the Vietnamese Under-23 Football team storms into the U23 Asian Cup Final for the first time. The city and towns just went crazy. With national flags and headbands, they were parading all over the city with their motorbikes, honking around, causing a heavy traffic jam.
But none of them matters because the atmosphere was just too good not to blend into the vibe. The charming city was so alive!
If you look at the map of Vietnam, you will notice that the entire nation is almost occupying the whole coastline of the eastern Indochina Peninsula.
In fact, the coastline is Vietnam is 3,444 kilometers long, which means that there are full of beaches all the way from Ha Long Bay to Nha Trang and further south. While the waves are mostly calm and languorous, there are some spots for you if you are a surf fanatic.
My Khe Beach in Da Nang is popular among local and foreign surfers, even though there’s a sign, prohibiting any swimming activities in the sea. However, surfing is somehow allowed. Other beaches further south where you can enjoy the waves on your board are Nha Trang, Mui Ne, and Vung Tau.
To clear your doubts, Vietnam is actually a very safe country to travel in. It’s a paradise for those who are having summer breaks, taking holidays from their work or having their honeymoon. Wi-Fi is also available almost everywhere from urban cities to rural areas. Therefore you need not worry about losing connection with your family, friends or updating your social media.
Wrapping It Up
Been to Vietnam? Share your thought at the comment section below! I would love to hear what you think about the beautiful country. Til next, time!