Vietnam travel guide: Everything you need to know before you go

A region popular for the variety of its landscapes as well as its foods, record and temples, Vietnam is a wallet-helpful spot which encompasses South East Asia’s best bits – you’ll under no circumstances be much from some mouth watering avenue foods, a heritage web site or a pagoda, and the sprawling museums – numerous of which are in previous palaces and federal government properties – in monument-packed metropolitan areas these kinds of as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are amazing places to study about the country’s previous.

Travel constraints and entry needs

At the moment (as of October 2022) mask donning is continue to compulsory in community. Neither tests nor proof of vaccination are essential to get into the nation, no matter of vaccination standing.

Greatest time to go

Vietnam’s weather varies in accordance to region, but as a rule, March and April are great months to go – rainfall is normally lower and temperatures are cooler. July and August are high period, with warm and humid weather conditions. Lodges should really be booked very well in advance and selling prices can maximize by 50 for each cent.

Vietnam has hundreds of yearly festivals and celebrations. The Buddha’s Birthday is one particular of the country’s most essential functions. It’s held in April or May (the precise date is dependent on the lunar calendar). All through the celebrations, temples are adorned with lavish decorations and there are vibrant street parades, the most vibrant of which get place in the coastal city of Hội An.

Major areas

Phú Quốc

In new a long time Phú Quốc, a Vietnamese island off the coastline of Cambodia, has reworked into a well-liked winter season solar place. Don’t count on extensive tracts of wilderness or options for history fixes in this article – most people today come to sprawl on the seashore, even though web-sites really worth examining out involve its (somewhat pungent) fish sauce factories and Phú Quốc prison, where Vietnamese troopers were after imprisoned (and tortured in various horrific methods) by French and American troops.


Vietnam’s capital is lesser than Ho Chi Minh Metropolis and has retained a smaller-city experience. Parks and lakes (which includes Hoàn Kiếm Lake, with the gorgeous Ngoc Son Temple in in the center) fill its centre, and its leafy streets are lined streets with heritage properties. The Old Quarter is the most effective position for a heritage fix (it’s in which you will discover Hanoi’s attractive French-developed Opera Property) and excellent road food items. Hanoi’s most visited web-site is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

Ho Chi Minh

Vietnam’s most significant metropolis has the country’s finest inns and the tallest skyscrapers, although reminders of its past are omnipresent – in destinations these types of as the Reunification Palace (also acknowledged as the Independence Palace). In 1975 North Vietnamese tanks crashed by means of the gates, sparking the drop of Saigon. Locations open to the public include former reception rooms, the president’s dwelling quarters and the basement telecommunications centre. For even further insight into Vietnam’s previous, pay a visit to the War Remnants Museum for a intriguing (albeit harrowing) appear at the US invasion of Vietnam.

Hạ Lengthy Bay

Indeed, Hạ Lengthy Bay, in North-East Vietnam, has develop into somewhat crowded of late, but you can not fall short to be amazed by the limestone islets and pillars which gained this location its UNESCO Entire world Heritage standing. There are 1,600 islands, although most people base by themselves on Cat Ba Island, the region’s premier. Well-liked functions incorporate working day cruises, kayaking and explorations of caves such as Tien Ong cave, which is made up of stone artefacts courting back again to 10,000 BC.

Underrated destinations

Sa Pa

Sa Pa is a really town in Northern Vietnam which is utilised by a lot of travellers as a base by hikers eager to trek as a result of Lào Cai Province’s hills. Close to the border with China, it is property to the Hmong folks, numerous of whom act as guides. Despite its site in Vietnam’s considerably north, receiving there is fairly very simple – there are frequent bus expert services, although we recommend the 8-hour sleeper practice provider which departs from Hanoi.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang Nationwide Park

You are going to uncover this UNESCO-detailed park in the Quang Binh province in north-central Vietnam. It straddles the border with Laos, and its numerous landscape incorporates limestone plateaux, tropical forests and cathedral-like caves. Most people keep in a person of the quite a few homestays near to the park.

My Son

My Son is a UNESCO-detailed assortment of Hindu temples in central Vietnam. The temples, constructed among the fourth and thirteenth centuries and famed for their intricately carved layouts, had been rediscovered in the nineteenth century by the French and were partially broken by bombs dropped during the Vietnam war. Inspite of this, the site is definitely worthy of a visit. It is positioned 70km south of the coastal city of Da Nang.


Huế is a former feudal hilltop cash built by the Kings of the Nguyen Dynasty. This laidback central Vietnam town is filled with temples, pagodas and monasteries, and there are a good deal of historical palaces to check out out, as well. Its architecture is brain-bogglingly varied – a single leafy road is remarkably like to have both a pagoda and an artwork déco mansion.

Greatest issues to do

Look at out Hanoi’s practice road

Head to Hanoi’s centre to sip a chilled bottle of Saigon Red beer at a rickety trackside table and wait for the railway worker to seem the alarm that a teach is approaching (albeit very little by little). Avenue food stuff vendors and bar entrepreneurs will rapidly fold absent their tables to make way for the practice, right before changing them the next it’s trundled earlier.

Pay a visit to the Củ Chi tunnels

The most effective way to see these tunnels, on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh, is on a guided tour. The tunnels have been dug by the Viet Cong army and you’ll see some of the fearsome booby traps they created for the American “tunnel rats”, who struggled to comprehend how the Vietnamese troopers appeared from nowhere then promptly disappeared. You are going to also get the likelihood to crawl along just one of these claustrophobia-inducing passageways. Excursions usually consist of a cease-off at a rubber plantation and there’s a firing selection a couple metres from the tunnels for anybody eager to fire off a number of rounds from an AK-47.

Pay your respects to Hồ Chí Minh

The human body of Vietnam’s previous president, saved in a glass coffin in the Hồ Chí Minh mausoleum, is in incredibly superior shape, many thanks to frequent re-embalming classes. The mausoleum is portion of a advanced which incorporates the Hồ Chí Minh Museum, where by reveals focus on Vietnam’s earlier struggles from different overseas powers.

Having around

Vietnam’s comprehensive rail network incorporates loads of spectacular sleeper prepare products and services, most of which have a selection of different cabin styles. For instance, choose for an overnight prepare between Hanoi and Sapa, a well-known trekking place in the north, and your options include the Sapaly Express trains, with its roomy, wooden-panelled cabins the affordable-and-cheerful Aspiration Categorical trains and Chapa Specific trains, with smaller but ornate cabins. Charges for this journey variety from £31 to £140 1-way. Alternatively, think about a long-distance coach. Most main places are related by mentor, and they’re exceptionally inexpensive – assume to pay all over £12 for an 8-hour journey. One particular of the most significant operators of sleeper coaches in Vietnam is The Sinh Tourist – their vehicles address huge components of Vietnam and, like most contemporary sleeper coaches in the region, have armchair-like reclining seats.

How to get there


Vietnam Airways flies immediate to each Hanoi (two times a 7 days) and Ho Chi Minh (once a week, although a 2nd route will start in December 2022).


If you’re in neighbouring Cambodia, there are numerous long length bus routes which join the state to Vietnam.

Money-conserving suggestion

US dollars may well be the most commonly-utilized currency amongst travelers in Vietnam, but we recommend working with Vietnamese Dong. You are going to get superior trade premiums and, provided that costs are ordinarily shown in Dong, it will be simpler to check out your change and to pay the actual amount of money.


What’s the climate like?

In the north, it’s scorching and humid amongst May and October and interesting and dry between November and April. December and January are the coldest months – specially in the considerably north. In the south, dry period lasts involving November and April and rainy time lasts from Could to November. In central Vietnam, the wettest time period is concerning June and November.

What time zone is it in?

Indochina time (GMT+7).

What currency do I want?

Vietnamese Dong.

What language is spoken?

Vietnamese, even though English is broadly spoken.