Among our favorite countries in all of SE Asia, Vietnam features natural beauty, friendly people and incredible food. What surprises travelers the most is how friendly the people are despite a dark history of colonialism, communism and, most famously, war. It’s the perfect country to explore by motorbike, if you’ve had experience riding before then there is no better way to soak in the natural beauty than buying a bike and driving the length of the country.
Hostels, guesthouses and budget hotels are all widespread. Hostels start at 100,000 VND, of which there are a surprising amount of decent quality, usually including a basic breakfast, wifi and A/C in the dorms. Double rooms in budget hotels start at 250,000 VND but they do vary quite wildly in quality, nice hotel rooms will be about 400,000 VND which normally include breakfast, satellite TV and A/C.
Money Saving Tips
I’d recommend that you buy and sell a motorbike. If you’re lucky and you don’t buy a dud you can travel the entire country purely for the cost of petrol, which is incredibly cheap.
Eat food from a street cart. Some of the best meals are from a small street carts serving up one dish, whether it’s Pho (noodle soup) or a Banh Mi (Vietnamese baguette), you’ll be sure to save yourself some cash when eating for 20,000 VND a meal.
Barter for everything, it’s a way of life for the local people. You can barter for tours, transport, souvenirs and everything else in between. Walk away if you don’t get the price you want as chances are someone will give you that price.
Use the night buses, you’ll save on accommodation costs and won’t waste a day sitting on a bus.
Buses can be an excellent way to get around the country if you aren’t on a motorbike. Generally speaking buses cost 20,000 VND per hour you are on them. Night buses are very common but again some are awful, some are OK, sometimes it is worth paying a little bit extra to make sure the bus is a nice one. Long range buses into Cambodia or Laos cost in the region of 400,000 VND. Remember that you can always negotiate for the price of a bus ticket.
Where To Eat
Street food is the cheapest way to eat as per usual in SE Asia. Vietnamese food is delicious and features noodle soups, baguettes and dishes influenced by the French and local delicacies in every region. You can get a good meal for 15,000 VND ($0.60) on the street, the most you should ever pay for a Banh Mi is 20,000 VND
Beer: It’s very cheap, each region has its own local beer all of which are decent. In a shop it’s 10,000 VND for a can, you can get draft beer in bars for as cheap as 5,000 VND
Local Spirits: a bottle of vodka is 60,000 VND
Cocktails: 50,000 VND is a general cost in bars
Best Time To Visit
Due to the size of Vietnam the weather varies pretty drastically across the country. The north has two distinct seasons cold winters and hot summers that are humid and fairly wet. The best time of year to visit is March to June and September/October. The south is good to visit year round although you may be hit with downpours between May and November.
4G coverage in Vietnam is pretty incredible, you can save money by skipping the sim card as Wifi is decent all over the country, the best two providers are:
Mobifone: Arguably the best coverage, Unlimited Internet for a month is 200,000 VND
Vinaphone: Decent coverage throughout Vietnam, 5GB internet package is 100,000 VND which is valid for a month
Hello: Xin Chao (Sin Chow)
Thank you: Cam on (Gam on)
How are you?: Ban co kwe khong? (Ban Co kwey kon)
Fine, Thank you: Cam on ban toi kwe
Vietnam is budget friendlyy, including buying and selling a motorbike we spent $900 in 30 days, making $30 (650,000 VND) a day a reasonable budget to stick to as long as you stay in hostels or budget guesthouses, eat street food and don’t drink too much!
Hostel: $5.28 (120,000 VND)
Lunch and Dinner: $3.52 (80,000 VND)
2 x 1.5 liters of water: $0.45 (10,000 VND)
Transport: $3 (60,000 VND)
Misc (beer, snacks, soft drinks): $5.28 (120,000 VND)
Entrance fees / activities: $5.28 (120,000 VND)
Leaving $7 for various costs
Vietnamese Religion is primarily derived from the Chinese; including Taoism and Confucianism, as well as a strong tradition of Buddhism.
Vietnamese, Czech Republic, and English
Phong Nha National Park
This national park is home to the biggest caves in the world. The scenery is splendid, Paradise Cave is magical and the Dark Cave is action packed. Spend a few days exploring the natural beauty of Phong Nha.
Explore Hoi An
The quaint old town in Hoi An is perfect for wandering around and exploring. Get some custom clothes made, head to the beach or people watch in a cafe. Packed with historical shop houses, temples and culture it’s a relaxing spot to spend a few days escaping the chaos of Hanoi or Saigon.
Visit The Ancient Capital in Hue
The old capital of Vietnam up until 1945, Hue is sure to be on every first time visitors list of places to go in Vietnam. Visit the Citadel and explore the Tombs built for the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty to learn more about the rich and interesting history of Vietnam.
Embrace the chaos of Hanoi
The streets of Hanoi can be insane, there will appear to be more motorbikes here than people! They move through the streets like shoals of Fish! Embrace the chaos of Hanoi, it’s old quarter is charming and there are so many interesting museums to visit. The combination of French colonialism with influences from the East make this an alluring city to explore
Visit My Son Temple Complex
Built between the 4th and 13th century by the Champa people the My Son Temple ruins are of great historical and cultural significance. Visit as a day trip from Hoi An and find out more about the interesting history of the Cham people.
Learn more about the Vietnam War
A visit to Vietnam wouldn’t really be complete with learning more about the wars that plagued Vietnam for many years. The war remnants museum in Saigon is well worth a visit in spite it being heavily anti-American. To get up close and personal with how the war was fought visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, a network of tunnels employed by the VC.
Chase Waterfalls in Dalat
Chill out, literally and figuratively, in the mountainous town of Dalat. Drink delicious coffee, try out local wine and chase incredible waterfalls. Our top waterfall picks are Datanla and Pongour
Drive a Motorbike over the Hai Van Pass
Literally meaning ‘ocean cloud pass’ the Hai Van pass is the most famous road in all of Vietnam, largely due to the UK show Top Gear. No visit to Vietnam is complete without driving a motorbike and where better to do it than one of the best roads in all of Vietnam, rivaled only by the drive across the Central Highlands.