Four things I learnt while backpacking in Vietnam

1. Vietnam is a backpackers paradise!

Southeast Asia in general is a very backpacker friendly destination because of the tourism infrastructure. It’s actually difficult to get in a difficult situation – if that makes sense? I learnt that Vietnam is a very established tourist destination and it was so easy to travel around in. Since I was a backpacker myself, I always checked in to hostels, ate street food, joined pub crawls, etc. All the things that “regular” backpackers do. That’s how I discovered that Vietnam is a backpacker’s paradise! There were times when I felt like everything was made for backpackers. Travelers constantly asked me if I had done this and that, if I had done the famous “loop” in the north and if I was buying or renting a motorbike to take me cross country. I hadn’t done any of it. But apparently that was the “must do’s” for backpackers.

All the hostels were also so backpacker friendly and considerate towards solo travelers. The prices were very fair, breakfast was included most of the time (thank God!), they all offered tours, bikes to rent and had tons of social events to make sure that you met other travelers… and bought their beer, I’m sure.

Vietnam is such an affordable destination and that’s why I think it’s attracted many backpackers as well, who doesn’t have the biggest budget to begin with. But in Vietnam you can eat for 50 cents if you want to, you can stay in hostels for 5 dollars and less and transportation is very affordable as well. Not to speak of the landscapes, beaches, jungles, rice terraces and mountains! No wonder it’s a backpacker’s paradise – you can get everything here for a good price.

2. Vietnam is safe to travel around in

As a female solo traveler, I’m always a bit anxious. I always try to do research before I leave and try to plan things ahead. I would normally be more spontaneous when I travel with a friend since it always feels safer when you’re two people or more. But when I came to Vietnam, I had a plan, I booked my accommodation in advance and read a lot about what to do and not do. Although I read that the country was relatively safe for travelers, I didn’t want to take any risks. But as soon as I got to Vietnam and spent a few days in Ho Chi Minh City, I realized how safe I felt. I didn’t even worry about getting mugged (although I don’t think you should walk around flashing your things either). The locals were warm and welcoming, they helped me when I got lost and they always treated me with respect, which I can say doesn’t happen everywhere in the world. Vietnam, or at least the bigger cities, has become a very international country as of lately. There’s tons of internationals who are either working there or are traveling around the country, so you’ll never feel like the only tourist there, which can sometimes be a really good thing or bad, if you’re not very keen on traveling to places where there’s many other tourists.

3. Vietnam is beautiful

I traveled south to north and was stunned by everything I saw in Vietnam. I had heard how beautiful it was, but I didn’t realize how breathtaking the landscape is. I went to islands, relaxed on golden sand beaches, went swimming in turquoise water, saw starfishes, went hiking in the mountains, witnessed when all the lanterns lit up at night in Hoi An, and so much more. Vietnam won’t disappoint you if you want to find a place with beautiful landscapes. What’s also good about traveling around the country is that it has such diversity. As was stated above, you can find almost everything here! There’s even massive underground caves that you can visit and even camp in! After traveling in almost all Southeast Asian countries (I haven’t visited Laos yet), I can safely say that Vietnam was the most beautiful country. At least according to me.

4. You’ll need a visa before arriving to the country

Don’t forget to get your visa! It’s incredibly important to obtain a visa before arriving to the country. Since I’m a Swedish citizen, I have 15 visa-free days in Vietnam, but I decided in last minute that I wanted to stay for longer. So I had to get a visa. I did my research and decided that getting a “Visa on Arrival” was the best choice for me. It’s an online visa that you can apply for anywhere in the world and there’s even “Emergency Visas” that you can apply for if you’re like me and decided that you needed a visa last minute. When it was approved, I got the visa on my email and that was it! You only need to bring cash for the stamp and two passport photos to give the immigration officers and you’re done.

However, if you are planning on arriving to Vietnam by land, you cannot get the online visa and have to go via the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and apply with them. So if you’re for example crossing the border from Cambodia to Vietnam, an online visa won’t be valid then.

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