When it comes to backpacking in Southeast Asia, there is no place that compares to Vietnam in the region. The country features a vibrant atmosphere, friendly locals, delicious local cuisine, unique culture, rich history, you name it. Equally impressive is the fact that each city has its own unique feature. Regardless of the number of days you plan to spend in Vietnam, it is never enough to see all that the country has to offer, giving you more reasons to go back
Where to Go
When choosing where to go in Vietnam, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Vietnam is one of the most fascinating countries in the world with colorful destinations that will make you want to extend your stay. Here are some of the places to visit in Vietnam in no particular order.
Despite its war-torn history, Hanoi is among the most beautiful cities not only in Vietnam but also in Asia. The capital and largest city of Vietnam, Hanoi is the go-to destination for backpackers. The colorful culture here gives traveler more insight into the rich traditions of the country, as the list of things to see and do is endless.
This is a city that caters to every budget, whether backpacker, luxury traveler or in-between. Highlights of the city include the Old Quarter, the French Quarter and not forgetting to mention the magnificent Ho Chi Minh Complex.
Halong Bay is a world-renowned city in Vietnam and for many, it needs no introduction. Plan your trip to Halong Bay and see for yourself why this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a magical wonder.
There are no other words better suited to describe Halong Bay other than superbly beautiful. The Bay is home to a countless number of limestone islands and cliffs. The best way to visit this magical place is by taking a tour. You’ll find several tour companies offering this service in Hanoi. Also, you can book a solo tour if you wish.
This is, by far, the most popular tourist destination in Vietnam, and for good reason. Hoi An boasts everything you could want for a memorable vacation experience: a vibrant night market, energetic nightlife, exotic riverside restaurants, lovely boutiques and of course magnificent beaches. What more could you ask for? Once you’re in Hoi An you never want to leave.
Located in the northern part of Vietnam, Sapa is among the most spectacular travel cities to see. As a matter of fact, a trip to Vietnam without visiting Sapa will be considered incomplete. Surrounded by fascinating beauty, Sapa has gained world recognition for its rice paddies and rolling hills.
For breathtaking trekking tours, Sapa is the place to be. The most popular being mountain bike tours takes you past rice fields, gorgeous waterfalls and around local villages.
Things to Pack for Vietnam travel
A general rule of thumb particularly when traveling overseas is never to overpack. Just like other countries in Southeast Asia, you basically don’t need to stuff your bags with everything as you will be able to buy things there. Essential items to pack include
- Toiletry bag
- Durable shoes
- Bug repellent
- Waterproof jacket
- Quick-dry towel
- Below the knee skirts or trousers
- First aid kits
- Diarrhea treatment
- Travel pillow
How To Get Your Vietnam Visa
There are a few countries listed that require no tourist visa for visiting Vietnam such as citizens, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Japanese, South Korea, French, Germany, Italy, UK, Spain and citizens of the ASEAN Members (For checking if you are required visa to Vietnam or not, please visit https://www.evisa-vietnam.com/apply/). If your country is not included in the list, then you definitely need a visa to enter the country. Depending on your choice, you can either apply for a tourist visa at a Vietnamese Embassy – the traditional method or complete the process online and get the VOA (Vietnamese Visa On Arrival). The latter is only applicable if you’re entering the country by flight.
Getting a visa on arrival Vietnam
This is perhaps the easiest way of getting a visa for Vietnam. However, this process is applicable to travelers arriving by air. In order to pick up your visa on arrival at the airport, you must hold a pre-approval letter from the Immigration Department of Vietnam. Of course, you’ll find a wide range of Vietnamese travel agencies online saying they can arrange the visa approval letter for your visa on arrival, so it’s advisable that you do a diligent research work to choose a reliable agency.
Now that you’ve found one, the next step is to fill an online form and pay their visa fee. The agency will submit your online application and complete the remainder of the process on your behalf using the information provided. Your approval letter will be sent to your registered email address 48 hours after submission. Prior to boarding your flight, be sure to have a hard copy of the letter. Once in Vietnam, take the letter alongside your passport and some cash to the Visa on Arrival counter to get it stamped.