In May of this year, I traveled from south to north Vietnam in 10 days. I visited the most important tourist attractions. I would like to categorize Vietnam into three parts, the southern Ho Chi Minh City as a “base”, the middle cities such as Na Trang and Da Nang that facilitate excursions to nearby attractions and the northern city of Hanoi, known as the capital. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to visit everything I wanted to see during this trip so I had to choose my plans wisely. In this article, I will share useful tips you should know before visiting Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is a very busy city with lots of honking cars and mopeds. Fun fact: There are more than 8 million mopeds in Vietnam! This is a common source of transportation for most locals in order to quickly get through all the insane amount of traffic. The city center is easy to explore by foot.You can take a nice walk to see all the beautiful old buildings. I suggest to head to the local market to try some Vietnamese delicacies.
I stayed at Sunland Hotel Ho Chi Minh City for 4 nights. This capsule hotel is located near the city centre, close to all the historical buildings and tourist attractions in the city. Besides capsules, the hotel also offers standard rooms and suites.
You don’t like the busy life in the city? Then make a full-day excursion to the nearby Makong Delta. I highly recommend this! You will be able to see a lot of unique architecture, animals and nature.
In addition to major cities and attractions, Vietnam also has beautiful beaches. Na Trang and Da Nang are very popular beach holiday destinations, also for the locals. I decided to visit Da Nang. The picture below is taken from the A La Carte Beach Hotel Da Nang.
Da Nang is a great beach destination and has been under construction during that last couple of years. The city offers opportunities for day excursions. For example, you can visit the Marble Mountains in less than 10 minutes from the beach.
Within a few hours of driving you will see two popular places: Hoi An and Huë. Hoi An is very similar to Venice and is very touristic. I decided to go to Huë because it is recognized as having very unique architecture. This place is not very touristic yet, but still definitely worth visiting.
Ha Long Bay
This is undoubtedly Vietnam’s most popular attraction. This bay has beautiful views and lies about 400 kilometers east of Hanoi. A day trip from Hanoi is possible, but you will spend at least 8 hours on the bus. Therefore, I decided to do a two-day excursion so I would be able to spend more time there. I got to see quite a lot of the bay. For this trip, I paid about $ 120, – which included meals and a private bedroom on the cruise! During these days I took too many photos so I’ll show a few. The picture below was taken at Titop Island.
You should definitely visit this island during your excursion to the Ha Long Bay. Besides a beautiful view of the bay, there is also a beach and souvenir shops. Later that afternoon, I took a kayak and was able to see the bay from a very different view.. As you can see on the picture below, the weather was very nice!
I also recommend you to visit the Sung Sot caves. I finished that day with an excellent dinner on the cruise and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
Hanoi is the second largest city in Vietnam and since the reunification of Vietnam on 2 July 1976 it has become the capital of the country. I think it is a great place to rest when recover from your long flight when you have just arrived. You will find many political and historical buildings such as the Presidential Palace and the Opera House.
At the Hilton Garden Inn, the hotel where I stayed, I booked a full-day excursion to wander the city. I especially liked visiting the Hoa Lo Prison. In this former French prison, now a museum, you will learn a lot about the history of the country and the war of independence. The guide could also provide you with a lot of historical information.
Traveling within Vietnam
Vietnam is a big country and distances between the most important places are far away from each other. The aircraft is popular to use within Vietnam. Vietnam Airlines offers many direct flights, but I have noticed that these flight tickets are relatively expensive. You will not be able to earn miles on the lowest booking classes of many frequent flyer programs within SkyTeam.
However, there has been a growing market in low-cost flights in Vietnam in recent years. The two main airlines are Jet Airways Pacific and Viet Jet. I had a flight with both companies. I was especially positive about the excellent service and price-quality ratio of Viet Jet. For a small surcharge you can choose a SkyBoss seat. This gives you extra legroom and you can check in 1 piece of checked baggage of 20 kg. For a few dollars, I selected a menu when booking the flight and the food tasted great. You also have access to the Vietnam Airlines lounges with this SkyBoss fare, for a small surcharge on a domestic flight!
What is your experience with traveling through Vietnam? Is there any particular place you would like to visit? Let me know in the comments below.