Planning a trip to Vietnam
Wondering where to go in 2021? We’ve got you covered. Read our Vietnam travel guide compiled with 30 years’ worth of advice and top tips to find out why this country should be first on your 2020 travel list.
Where is Vietnam and how do I get there?
Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia, underneath China and bordered on the west-hand side by Laos and Cambodia. The coastline runs an astonishing 3200 km (2060 mi) length, with the sparkling East Sea to the east and the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand to the south.
Vietnam’s location makes it popular to combine with other Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, or East Asian countries like Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. And with three international airports located throughout the northern, central, and southern regions, visiting Vietnam has never been easier.
The two most popular airports to book your ticket from the Americas or Europe are Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport and Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport, however, central Vietnam’s Da Nang International Airport is very well-connected with Asian cities like Seoul, Bangkok, Taipei, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore.
Vietnam Travel Tip #1 – Savvy travelers should book an open-jaw international ticket, which means flying into Hanoi and out of Ho Chi Minh City, or vice versa. This gives you more time to enjoy your time in Vietnam without worrying about catching multiple domestic flights, which can be prone to delays!
Why should I travel to Vietnam?
Thailand has its beaches and islands, Cambodia –Angkor Wat– and Indonesia has Bali. But did you know Vietnam’s history stretches back to 1010 and is chockfull of historical ruins and interesting blends of cultures and traditions? Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Animism and Christianity all function within the country to varying degrees, giving Vietnam a vibe unlike any of its other Southeast Asian counterparts.
Are you a foodie? Vietnamese cuisine has been rated one of the most healthiest (and delicious) in the world! Slurp down bowls of pho, cha ca, and bun rieu in Hanoi, then head down to Hue where the elegant art of imperial cuisine can be found in dishes like bun bo hue and banh khoai. Hoi An’s eclectic fusion of French, Chinese, Portuguese, and Vietnamese flavors come together in wonton and white rose dumping dishes, while Ho Chi Minh City’s banh xeo and hu tieu will leave you wanting more!
Maybe it’s adventure you’re after. In that case, Vietnam is home to some of the world’s largest caves, unbelievably high mountain pass roads, and remote ethnic minority villages hidden behind mountains, terraced rice fields, tropical jungles, and lush forests. Destinations like Sapa, Phong Nha, Ha Giang, Mu Cang Chai, Pu Luong, Moc Chau, and Lan Ha Bay remain largely undeveloped, giving travelers a real chance for cultural immersion and active experiences in secluded, pristine scenery.
Interested in sport holidays? Vietnam has those too! Home to Southeast Asia’s largest marathon (Vietnam Mountain Marathon), there are an assortment of races between 10km-70km to choose from all over the country, from Sapa to Da Lat. If you’re interested to join one of these races with laid-back pre-race activities and interesting post-race experiences to celebrate a personal best, click here for more information.
Vietnam Travel Tip #2: There’s so much to do right? Feeling overwhelmed? Find a local Vietnam travel agency and browse their sample itineraries to get a feel of how much time you need in each destination. If you only have 7 days, we recommend choosing 2-3 destinations to make sure you have enough time to relax and explore. With 10 days, you can already go to most major destinations in Vietnam with great ease. But if you have 2-3 weeks, you’ve hit the travel jackpot and will be able to have it all, from remote mountain hideaways to barefoot luxury beach escapes, sprinkled with a little bit of history and educational moments.
When Should I Go to Vietnam?
We’ve already covered a more detailed breakdown in our Vietnam Weather Guide but generally speaking, the best time to travel to Vietnam on a complete country tour from north to south is from March until early September. This ensures you’ll get that perfect snapshot of bright green rice paddies and sunbathed beaches as well as lots of time to explore ancient ruins and historical attractions. While the months of June and July are the hottest in northern and southern Vietnam, this just means you’ll have more opportunities to find a cute café to indulge in the national drink, caphe sua da (iced coffee with condensed milk).
Vietnam Travel Tip #3 – Vietnam is a year-round destination depending on what you want to see and do. If you’re big on culture and jaw-dropping landscapes, head to northern Vietnam between March – May and September – December for impressive views and plenty of opportunities to meet ethnic minorities. Conversely, if you’re more of a beach bum, Da Nang’s gorgeous beaches are in peak form from April until late September (before typhoon season starts), with just enough culture in Hoi An and Hue to make you feel less guilty about traveling 1000s of miles “to do nothing”. Hit up Southern Vietnam from September until December to make the most of the leftovers of the wet season in the Mekong Delta, and to enjoy cosmopolitan city life in Saigon before heading to the sun-drenched islands of Phu Quoc and Con Dao.
Vietnam Family Travel – Can I Bring my Kids?
Of course! Vietnam is INCREDIBLY family-friendly in terms of safety and family-centric tours. There are all-inclusive beach resorts, naturally rich outdoor activities, and plenty of educational experiences to round-out any world-school curriculum.
Secondly, the price is unbeatable. In most hotels/resorts, children under age 4 can stay for free, while rates are heavily discounted for children between the ages of four and twelve. You can save money on multiple hotel rooms by renting reasonably priced villas or interconnecting rooms/large family rooms in hotel chains.
Vietnam Travel Tip #4: Vietnam is often thought of as a DIY destination due to its low price and general ease of booking tours and transport. However, not everyone likes or has the time to become an expert travel planner in order to do this! That’s why you can save lots of time, effort, and money to book a complete package with a reputable Vietnam travel tours company. With sample itineraries like this, you’ll hit all the major highlights filled with off-the-beaten track moments, taking all the headache out of wondering what will keep the kids entertained and how to get from point A to point B.