Ten Tips for Backpacking Vietnam

A Traveler holding and looking the map for travel in Hanoi

An extremely popular backpacking destination but unlike its very touristy neighbour, Thailand, it still has that untouched feel. Known for its varying landscapes ranging from rolling mountains in the north to rivers, beaches and bustling cities. Its natural beauty, culture and history mean Vietnam is only bound to get even more popular as a backpacking hotspot. The dynamic country offers visitors an intense glimpse at Vietnamese life from ethnic minorities in tribal villages in Sapa to cities full of skyscrapers. Be prepared to try incredible food, meet fellow travellers and stay at very backpacker-friendly hostels with rates to match.

1. Enjoy the Food

It seems like an obvious one but it’s so easy to be drawn towards the ‘safe’ option whilst travelling but Vietnamese food is truly delicious. Street food is extremely cheap, it would be a shame not to try it. As well as street food, there are plenty of local restaurants as well as more expensive establishments, depending on what you would rather experience.

2. When to go?

If you plan on travelling the whole country, it can be difficult to decide when to go. The best time to go to Vietnam is during Spring (February to April) or Autumn (August to October), the temperature is moderate and rainfall lighter. Having said that, Vietnam can be visited at any time of the year but for optimum weather, these are the best times to go.

3. Drink Up

Vietnam is hot which means it’s so important to stay hydrated. Always keep bottled water on you or pick one up as you go. It’s so cheap to buy and is available in different sizes. Whether you’re doing activities or not, the heat can get to you very quickly.

4. Travel by Train

A tourist in Vietnamese hat looking the train in Vietnam
A tourist in Vietnamese hat looking the train in Vietnam

Combine your travel and accommodation by taking a train during your journey. As well as the main route between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, there are links with other parts of northern Vietnam. Travel, sleep and get fantastic views on the way. Prices differ depending on the train and type of carriage you require, with faster trains being more expensive.

5. Always Ask ‘How Much?’

Prices always seem to be changing in Vietnam so be sure to ask how much something is ahead of buying it. Agree on a price before you reach for your wallet then you won’t be disappointed. It’s very easy to get taken advantage of whilst travelling through a foreign country and even though something may be cheap, it could be a lot more expensive than it’s meant to be.

6. Learn to Barter

This is vital whilst travelling through Vietnam. Bartering is a part of everyday life, whether you’re buying fruit at a market or looking for souvenirs. It’s definitely a skill that needs to be worked on but once you get the hang of it, it can be really fun.

7. Rent a Motorbike

A tourist on motorcycle
A tourist on motorcycle

Seeing the country by motorbike is a very popular method of transport in Vietnam. However, it’s important to be very careful as the roads can be dangerous and busy. Navigating the road, other drivers and pedestrians can be difficult. It’s possible to rent motorbikes in most cities so you can explore the area without having to commit to buying a motorbike. The Hai Van Pass, the route connecting Da Nang and Hue is particularly beautiful and very calming.

8. Learn Some Vietnamese

Vietnamese is a difficult language to grasp but it’s common courtesy to try and learn some conversational basics. Be sure to learn hello and thank you before heading to Vietnam, anything else you learn along the way is a bonus.

9. Pay Close Attention to Your Money

The currency in Vietnam is Dong and notes go into the millions. The notes can look quite similar so be careful when paying for items and check the zeros on the notes to ensure you don’t overpay. It’s an easy yet unnecessary way to lose money, with a simple double check you can keep track of your Dong.

10. Triple Check Your Visa

Last but not least be sure to triple check your visa requirements and make sure that your visa is in place before heading to Vietnam. There are a number of different types of visas available for entry into Vietnam ranging from one month to a three-month multiple entry visa. eVisa-Vietnam.com can arrange everything for you so you don’t need to worry about your visa before travelling. The easy-to-use service clearly lists visa requirements for all nationalities. Simply pay for the visa you require and your E-Visa or Visa on arrival will be arranged for you.

Whether you plan on seeing the entire country from the south to the north or intend on visiting Ha Long Bay, these travel tips will help prepare you for your journey to Vietnam.

Getting visa on arrival Vietnam at Noi Bai Int'l airport in Hanoi city
Getting visa on arrival Vietnam at Noi Bai Int’l airport in Hanoi city