Vietnam Travel Guide

Remarkably exotic and undeniably intriguing, Vietnam is a land of gorgeous panoramas, rich culture and a street food scene that is well worth exploring – and that’s just the beginning. There are unforgettable beaches. History calling to be uncovered. Tangled backstreets filled with French-colonial architecture. Friendly faces that make you feel instantly welcomed. This is your adventure. 

The Highlights

  • Hanoi

    Vietnam’s capital will not disappoint, as there is so much to see. After enjoying breakfast as the locals do (with a bowl of phở), start your day at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and learn about the man who led the movement for Vietnamese independence. Next, visit the One Pillar Pagoda and later, amble through the Old Quarter and observe the French colonial architecture. 

  • Phu Quoc

    This dreamy island is located near Cambodia, and if you’re searching for the best marine life in Vietnam, Phu Quoc is the perfect place to get acquainted with crustaceans, puffer fish, anemones, moray eels and octopuses. The option is here to either snorkel or dive, or you can simply laze about on the powdery white sand beaches. Whatever activity inspires you, you’re winning either way. 

  • Hoi An

    Vietnam as a country is a food lover's delight. But, it’s the small UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An that captures the heart (and taste buds) of travellers – and for good reason. With a timeless charm, Hoi An is the only place in Vietnam where you can sample Cao Lau and Com Ga along with other Vietnamese favourites. Consider booking a cooking class to flex your culinary skills. 

  • My Son

    While the temples of My Son might be falling apart, their significant role in history does not seem to falter. Set against a verdant jungle landscape, the remaining Hindu structures – there once stood 68 and now only 20 – were built between the 4th and 13th-centuries by the Kings of Champa and were dedicated to worship the god of Shiva. Today, they are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

  • Mui Ne

    If you’re short on time and only have time to explore the south of Vietnam – but you’re still hoping for a beach escape – Mui Ne is a favourite among travellers. You can go diving. Snorkelling. Kitesurfing. Or, simply dig your toes in the sand and relax. Once a sleepy fishing village, the town is home to many beach-front properties that offer an unparalleled view of the nine-mile beach.

  • Ho Chi Minh City

    Ho Chi Minh City is the hub of activity in Vietnam and while it’s easy to be overwhelmed, it really is an exciting, charismatic and vibrant city. To fill your day, hop on one of Vietnam’s most charming modes of transport (a cyclo, of course) to explore Chinatown and visit the visit the Ong Pagoda or the Cha Tam Church or maybe stop at Ben Thanh Market for local handicrafts and souvenirs. 

The Basics

When to Visit

when to visit
  1. Peak Season

    June to August

    While Vietnam is a small country, the temperatures vary greatly between the north and south regions. But, despite the varying seasons, Vietnam is a year-round destination and you just need to make sure you pick the right time to suit your travel needs. June through August is when Vietnam is at its hottest and for travellers who prefer to avoid extreme heat, it would be best to travel at another time. For sun lovers, this is your time to shine – but be aware that it will rain heavily in the south but the north should be clear from the rain. If you’re on a budget, avoid August as school holidays will cause accommodation prices to rise. 

  2. Low Season

    November to January

    In the northern part of Vietnam, travellers will face the possibility of snow accompanied by cool temperatures. On the other hand, if you travel in the south, the dry season tends to last from December to late April and the climate will be warm (minimum 20°C on average) so it really does depend on where you want to explore most. If the weather patterns of Vietnam have only left you confused, the best time to explore the country overall would be during spring (March and April) or autumn (September or December) for the most favourable climate. 

Vietnam Tours

  • Visit Responsibly

    Travelling responsibly means respecting the communities, culture and environment of the places you visit. Keep these tips in mind when travelling to Vietnam:

    Go green. Be environmentally conscious on the road by taking short showers; turning off the lights in your hotel room when you leave; and resisting the urge to collect any plants, seashells, or other natural flora.

    Respect cultural differences. Before travelling, read about the local culture and customs – even just knowing the dress code and a few basic phrases in the local language will go a long way.

    Support local businesses. Enjoy a more authentic experience and directly support the local economy by travelling with a local guide, eating in local restaurants, buying from local artisans, and staying in locally-owned and operated accommodations.

    Wherever possible, avoid single-use plastics. Pack reusable items such as your own shopping bags, utensils, a water bottle, and a straw. These items are typically lightweight and compact, and will greatly reduce your consumption of plastics.

    Be conscious of overtourism. Opt to visit the lesser-known regions of Vietnam or travel outside the peak season – you'll likely even get a better deal and won't have all the crowds!

  • Sustainable Tourism in Vietnam

    Vietnam’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
    Based on its development context and priorities, Vietnam has turned the 17 global SDGs into 115 Vietnam SDG (VSDG) targets. In particular, Vietnam strives to promote social equality for people from vulnerable groups like the poor, people with disabilities, women, children, and ethic minorities – so that no one is left behind.

    Sustainable Tourism in Vietnam
    No longer a marketing trend, sustainable tourism is now considered a way of life for many tour operators in Vietnam. They aim to restore and protect the environment through sustainable practices. For example, tour operators now offer eco tours – smaller, local tours that offer a more ethical and environmentally friendly experience with as minimal disruption to the landscape and local people as possible.

    Center of Hands-on Actions and Networking for Growth and Environment (CHANGE)
    CHANGE is a local NGO under the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA). Its mission is to save and preserve the environment through creative promotions such as awareness campaigns. Moreover, it seeks to empower Vietnamese youth to develop initiatives and build environmental movements throughout Vietnam.

FAQs about Vietnam

  • Do you tip in Vietnam?

    There isn’t much of a tipping culture in Vietnam (compared to the likes of North America), but it is recommended to leave a tip to show your gratitude and appreciation for the food or service. Tips of USD $3-5 per day is recommended for tour guides. 
  • What is the internet access like?

    Internet connection can range in quality, but you should have no problem with day-to-day tasks like emailing or surfing the web while in Vietnam. WiFi is available in many cafes, hostels and hotels for free, but outside urban areas, this is not as common.
  • Is the tap water safe to drink?

    No. Buy bottled water, or you can boil the tap water or use water purification pills. Also be careful about washing fruit and some ice cubes while in Vietnam. 
  • Can I use my credit cards?

    Yes, credit cards are widely accepted throughout Vietnam. Please check with your bank about any foreign transaction charges.
  • What are the public holidays?

    Vietnam celebrates New Year’s Day on January 1, Lunar New Year in February, Hung Kings Commemoration Day on April 25, Reunification Day on April 30, Labor Day on May 1, National Day on September 2 among other regional holidays. 
  • What are the toilets like?

    Most toilets in Vietnam are Western-style toilets but don’t be surprised if the occasional squat toilet appears across rural parts of the country. Be prepared to carry your own toilet paper. 
  • Is Vietnam a safe country to travel solo?

    Most definitely! Vietnam is frequently listed as one of the best places to travel solo given its friendly people and popular backpacker hostels where you can meet other like-minded travellers. As with many destinations, visitors must always use common sense and practice due caution when travelling.
  • What scams should I avoid?

    Often times vendors will offer to let you snap a picture with them but then demand exorbitant payment in return. Always decide on the cost of service with cyclo drivers to avoid conflict later. Finally, be careful of websites selling fake train tickets and vendors selling fake sunscreen.