From the limestone dream land of Halong Bay to the enchanting fields of Sapa, Vietnam promises an intriguing and full adventure. With hustling cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh and chill beach towns like Nha Trang this South East Asia wonder is a must do!
Sharing its borders with Cambodia and Laos, Vietnam is home to the Mekong Delta as well as rich history from the Vietnam War and French occupation. Vietnam combines traditional temples with fresh french baguettes making it a diverse cultural experience perfect for all types of travellers!
Here is our Ultimate Travel Guide for Vietnam.




THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT VIETNAM

Getting there: Jetstar often have sale fares to several Vietnam cities and takes around 8 hours from the East Coast of Australia. If you are coming from someone other than Australia I would recommend searching on Skyscanner.com for your cheapest route.
We flew from Hong Kong into Danang as it was cheaper than Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh.

On arrival: You will need to obtain a visa to visit Vietnam.  A lot of travellers organise their full visa prior to arriving. As long as you obtain an approval letter and carry a couple of passport photos you can actually obtain your visa on arrival. We used this service which was a breeze.

Population: Over 89.71 million

Capital: Hanoi

Currency: Vietnamese dong

Exchange Rate: $1.00 AUD to 17,226 DONG (As of April 2017)

Language: Vietnamese

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Religion: Vietnam is officially an atheist country, with Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism widely practised.

When to visit:  Taking into account the size of Vietnam deciding the best time to visit can be difficult. The south sees the monsoon season around May- September whilst the north experiences it from October to April. The best time to visit Vietnam is during the Spring months of Feb-April. The temperatures are moderate, less humid and rainfall is lighter. March and April have the lowest rainfall across all destinations and temperatures are pleasant and get cooler as you go north.

Getting Around: If you are short on time Vietnam local airlines offer cheap airfares. We flew from Hanoi to Nha Trang with Vietnam airlines which was a decent price and took just under 2 hours. I also recommend travelling through Vietnam on a train, you not only get to see a different side to the epic country but it’s also a more eco way to get around.

Related: 10 Tips for Travelling to Asia


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WHERE TO VISIT IN VIETNAM

Vietnam, measuring over 300,000 square kilometres is vastly different from North to South. Deciding where you want to visit can be tricky considering there are so many wonderful places that are equally diverse and beautiful. A lot of people choose one end to start from and then work their way up or down the coast.  Below you will find our top picks for Vietnam destinations.



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DA NANG
Da Nang is located on the central coastline of Vietnam. It is known for its history as a French colonial port and slowly been built up with resorts and tourist attractions like the new waterfront. Here you can visit Marble Mountain, Son Tra Peninsula and My Son Temples.

HOI ANN
Located just 45 minutes south of Da Nang, Hoi Ann is most known for its well-preserved Ancient Town and cute colourful buildings. Walk around the old streets that are lined with lanterns, trendy wine bars, coffee shops and yummy restaurants. Hoi Ann is definitely a must do!

HUE
Hue is a city in central Vietnam that was the seat of Nguyen Dynasty emperors and the national capital from 1802 to 1945. A major attraction is the 19th-century Citadel, surrounded by a moat and thick stone walls, take a local Cyclo (a local means of transport, where a rickshaw is human-powered by pedalling) around the Old Town and get a quick tour from a local. Around 14km northeast of Hue, you will find Thuan An beach, a fairly quiet spot that is lined with local seafood vendors. We stayed at the gorgeous beachfront resort Ana Mandara which was amazing.

 

 

Ho Chi Mihn
Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) is a busy city in the south of Vietnam. Lots of French influence here with Notre-Dame Cathedral made entirely of materials imported from France, and the 19th-century Central Post Office. Spend your days wandering the city and cafe hopping or head to the bustling Bến Thành Market. You can also visit the War Remnants Museum which houses retired military vehicles such as “Huey” helicopters, attack bombers and an M48 Patton tank. Tip: Don’t visit between 12PM-1.30PM as the Museum is closed for lunch 🙂

HANOI
The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is cultural mix known for its old architecture and a rich diversity of South-east Asian, Chinese and French influences.
Visit the chaotic Old Quarter, where narrow streets are lined with local vendors, or temple hop and get lost. Here you can also visit the famous Hoa Lo Prison, nicknamed ‘Hanoi Hilton’ by US prisoners during the American War. Hanoi is also the perfect place to organise your trip to the beautiful Halong Bay.

HA LONG BAY
Embark on a 3-day journey around this majestic place that is made up of around 2,000 limestone islands and emeralds waters. The tours range but usually include all meals, a cooking class, day tours to caves and of course free time to relax! Book a traditional Junk Boat tour, we went with Blue Dragon Tours who were just amazing!

SAPA
A popular trekking base, Sapa is located inland in northern Vietnam. Overlooking the terraced rice fields of the Muong Hoa Valley, this place is not to be missed! Hill tribes, such as the Hmong, Tay and Dao, make up much of the town’s local population, so rich culture will definitely be experienced!

NHA TRANG
Nha Trang is a lovely little coastal town in southern Vietnam known for its beaches, diving sites and offshore islands. Its main beach is surrounded by a lovely park front, restaurants and shops. Take an aerial cable car over to Hòn Tre Island and explore Vin Pearl and the neighbouring islands.

 

DA LAT
Dalat located on the Lang Biang highlands is situated in central Vietnam. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its distinctive temperate climate, take in the relaxing waterfalls, nature hikes and beautiful architecture. The area was developed as a resort by the French in the early 1900s, and many reminders of its colonial heritage remain.

 

Related: “20 Photos To Inspire You To Visit Vietnam



FOOD IN VIETNAM

So much amazing food to try in Vietnam. The Local cuisines are full of fresh vibrant flavours. lots of noodles soups and exotic infusions with remnants of the French influence in pastries and bakeries. Head to the beach town of Nha Trang where you can get fresh seafood on the beach and don’t forget to try the famous Vietnamese coffee made with condensed milk.
MY FAVOURITE VIETNAM DISHES? DEFINETLY THE PHO, BANH MI AND RICE PAPER ROLLS! See Below, some of my favourite restaurants in Vietnam.  AND REMEMBER TO CHECK TRIP ADVISOR FOR TOP PICKS OF EACH PLACE YOU VIST!

+Sailing Club, Nha Trang
Amazing place to enjoy a meal and a cold drink whilst admiring the beauty of Nha Trang Beach. We went here on two occasions the first time ordering the Seafood Platter for two, which was amazing! My boyfriend even called it as the ‘best meal we have had whilst on this trip’. It came with a whole fish, mussels, squid, prawns and was accompanied by wedges and a salad! It was fresh, delicious and filling, we finished our meal off with some ice cream :). On our next visit, we got wraps, they were good. I also got a Berry Smoothie which was delicious! The staff are friendly and efficient, the view is amazing, and the food is great! Definitely, a must do whilst in Nha Trang.

+Bread Of Life, Da Nang
Da nang was not as I imagined. So after a terrible first lunch, we checked trip advisor before venturing out again and decided on Bread Of Life.There were only a couple of others in the cafe when we arrived for lunch but the staff were very warm and welcoming. I got the Mexican chicken dinner- it was a great size and so tasty! I loved all the little elements- the chicken was a little dry but it was so yum I barely noticed. My boyfriend got the chicken burrito- he didn’t seem to enjoy his as much as me haha ( I think he was jealous) but said it was good. They also have a delivery service which I thought was great!

+Hoi Ann Roastery
Excellent rest stop! We needed a pick me up coffee and to have a little sit down. The coffee was delicious- excellent cappuccino. We also ordered shrimp rice paper rolls, they were fresh and tasty. They had a little too much mint and other greens for my liking but just meant I had to put extra sauce on :). Definitely a great place to grab a coffee if your in Hoi An!

+ Morning Glory, Hoi Ann
We were recommended this restaurant by a friend and also by our tour guide and was so glad we took their advice on board. It’s the best meal we have had so far in Vietnam ( been here for a week). It serves street food in a stylish yet authentic way. The atmosphere was great (probably because everyone had a happy belly), the service was good and the meals were a great portion. My partner ordered the pork ribs in 5 spice that came with rice and Vietnamese salad- the ribs were beautifully cooked with a sticky sweet sauce that was accompanied well by the freshness of the salad. I had the roasted Vietnamese chicken which was huge and delicious. It had an incredible spice and the chicken was cooked to perfection – it also came with rice and salad. We highly recommend this place! And if we return to Hoi An I’m stopping in to get that sensational chicken again!

 




VIETNAM HIGHLIGHTS

+Halong Bay 3 night Cruise

+Trek through Sapa

+Explore the old city of Hoi Ann

+Admire the Temples and Pagodas

+Cu Chi tunnel

Photo c/o my lovely friend Kerri from @beerandcrossiants. If you want more info on the Tunnels head to Kerris post here–> “Why You Shouldn’t Miss The Cu Chi Tunnels

+The Mekong Delta

+Take a Cyclo Ride

Travel Guide for Vietnam

+Chill out on Nha Trang Beach
Travel Guide for Vietnam

+Browse the marketsTravel Guide for Vietnam

+ Try the Delicious local dishes
Travel Guide for Vietnam

+Get to know the Smiling Locals
Travel Guide for Vietnam


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Travel Guide for Vietnam


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  • Ashley Hubbard

    This is a wonderfully detailed guide for Vietnam! I’m hoping to make it to Vietnam next year and will definitely keep this for then. Which area was your favorite?

  • Totally agree with Ashley below! Love how detailed this guide is! Wish I had found something like this before my trip there last month! We never made it to the Mekong Delta so will need to go back (hopefully soon!)

  • Sara Alexis

    This makes me so excited to see Vietnam. Just a good little explanation of every spot there. It’s nice to know a little bit about each to see where I should head 🙂

  • Reshma

    Great to find an amazing guide to Vietnam which I came across at the right time, when I’m planning a trip there. I didn’t know about Hue and I can’t wait to try the Vietnamese food. I have heard so much about it now already!

  • Mike C

    What a great guide to Vietnam. I love reading these sort of guides, it inspires the wanderlust in me. I might be heading to Asia this time next year, food for thought.

  • Cat Lin

    I’ve never visited Vietnam so this is a great post to start planning the future trip! The landscape in Sapa is stunning! I will definitely be interested in trying out the local food, esp the pho and banh mi!

  • Sandy & Vyjay

    Each place and city in Vietnam has it’s own charm and story to tell. The best way to traveling get to know Vietnam is try to blend with the locals. And definitely the amazing foods which is really cheap. Your Da Nang shot is simply lovely I must say.

  • Smith Kerry

    Give you some recommend on Money, that i was advised by https://www.vietnam-visaonline.org when i apply their service to get Vietnam Visa, i think it will be helpful.
    Vietnam uses the dong as its currency. Making jokes about your ‘dong’ is a prerequisite for travel here. However, handing over more of your dong is a serious problem for newbies in Vietnam. Be careful.

    22,000 dong = 1 usd

    Remember, 10,000 dong looks a lot like 100,000 dong.
    50,000 dong looks a lot like 500,000 dong.
    Look your bills over twice before handing them off. It’s a small, easy mistake that could cost you a day’s budget.

  • Danik Bates

    Fantastic post and love the information with lots of advice on here. Still need to go to Vietnam so have read this in good stead. 🙂 Cant wait to get out there and mix in with the locals 🙂

  • Vietnam has been on my bucket list for ages. I still haven’t convinced hubby. I’ll definitely show him your article, thank you!

  • Awesome post and very informative! We spent 7 weeks travelling through Vietnam on motorbikes earlier in the year and got to see a lot! Da Nang and Sapa were a couple of our highlights too!

  • Miranda Knudtson

    I never knew Vietnam was officially an atheist country, so I learned something new!

  • Gokul Raj

    A road trip through Vietnam is on my bucket list. This is an informative post. The only place I heard about Vietnam was Halong Bay. You have introduced me to new places.

  • Alyssa

    I’d love to visit Vietnam one day. So beautiful. Tabbks for the great info!

  • Kevan Toombs

    The water and rock formations are such iconic images. The food looks delicious. Outside of pho I am very unfamiliar with Vietnamese cuisine but would like to try.

  • I had no idea the countries population was so high. Those cyclos look like a fun way to get around!

  • Sandy & Vyjay

    There is so much to see and experience in Vietnam, that it is highly likely one may be in the wilderness and confused. This guide is a boon for such situations. Quite a comprehensive one at that. We hope to visit Vietnam some day and this guide is gonna be quite useful.

  • Punita Malhotra

    Sapa is my favorite out of all the places that you described here. I suppose it is the vibrant green terraced of the rice fields that appeals to my senses. Have heard so much about Halong Bay too.

  • Clare

    I loved Vietnam when I visited, especially Hoi An and Halong Bay. I didn’t get chance to visit Sapa or Nha Trang but next time they are on my list. It’s such a beautiful part of the world, I can’t wait to be there again 🙂