Vietnam offers a unique traveling experience like few countries in the globe. It offers culture and buzz in its cities, unique environments where you can find yourself heading from the beach to the mountains in a day or less, and hundreds of years of history from a proud and independent people. Backpackers can see a rising, friendly country with delicious food, low prices, and easy transportation.Vietnam travel guide with everything you need to know before visiting this awesome Asian country.Take a look at short Vietnam travel guide.
But before you hop onto a plane, how should you prepare? Here are some key tips to help you ensure that you have a great time.
Vietnam Travel Guide
If you are traveling to Vietnam from Japan or most Western European countries such as the United Kingdom, France, or Germany, you can get a free visa which lets you stay for up to 15 days. If you are from the United States or Canada or wish to stay for longer, you must be approved for a visa.
The best method to get a visa if you are arriving to Vietnam through air is to get a Visa On Arrival (VOA). The process is simple. You fill out an application online, pay some fees, and receive a letter which you can show to Vietnamese immigration authorities. You pay for either a 30-day or 90-day stay.
Furthermore, Vietnam is also introducing e-visas which you can access through this official government website. Citizens of 80 countries can use this approach, including the United States, Canada, and most European countries.
Safety and Scams
Let us just get this out of the way: if you are new to backpacking or even traveling outside of your home country, Vietnam can be a challenging country to visit. Yes, Vietnam is safe. It rates as a 1 on the State Department Travel Advisory above countries like France and Italy. The worst you may experience is some petty theft.
But while you may not be kidnapped or detained, there are backpackers with horror stories of how they were constantly ripped off or disrespected. Vietnam has scammers aiming to rip off rich Westerners, and every Westerner is rich in their eyes. Hotels.com has a few example of scams which some Vietnamese will try, from fake goods to arbitrary prices.
None of this is to suggest that Vietnam should be avoided, but make sure to take precautions when you travel Hanoi to Sapa. Always figure out prices before you buy anything from food to a taxi ride, and do not feel afraid to walk away. And while there are some unscrupulous Vietnamese as their living standards rise, understand that most of them are friendly if you can show yourself to be more than some rich Western tourist.
The Best Destinations
Now that those negative details are out of the way, let us talk about some of the best places to go to in Vietnam.
Vietnam is a rising country as noted above, with many of its cities being an interesting mix of modern globalization and a more quaint past. Streets can be a crowded, intense mixture of cars, scooters, and bikes unlike any Western city. Some main cities to visit are the capitol Hanoi, the largest city Ho Chi Minh City (the modern name for Saigon), and the ancient imperial capital Huế.
Ho Chi Minh City is the biggest tourist destination in Vietnam, and can be a fantastic shopping place with a cheap and wide variety of goods. It also has some of the most famous sites in Vietnam, from the Notre Dame Cathedral to museums depicting the country’s rich history. Hanoi is a bit more quaint, but is a better depiction of Vietnamese city life while Huế contains a number of historical sites such as the Imperial Enclosure.
Keep in mind that visiting all three of these cities may be challenging due to geography. Vietnam may not be the United States in size, but the distance from the northern to the southern border is 1,025 miles, about the distance from Seattle to Los Angeles. If you only have time for one spot, head to Ho Chi Minh City.
If there is one single reason to go to Vietnam, it is their food. Pho and Banh Mi may already be famous worldwide, but there are all sorts of dishes like Bun Cha, Bun Bo Hue, and seafood everywhere. And the food is delicious whether you go to high-class restaurants for a meal that will still be cheaper compared to what you pay at home, or street vendors who sell filling, delicious meals.
If you are looking at street vendors, go to the ones with long lines of locals instead of one with no lines. And while Vietnamese food is delicious, avoid drinking tap water as it is contaminated. Even brushing your teeth should be done with bottled water. If you need a cool drink, asked for cold tea instead.
As noted above, Vietnam is a country with a rich nature of beaches, mountains, and jungle. The most famous location is Ha Long Bay in north Vietnam, a UNESCO World Heritage site often described as a dragon. There are caves, islands, rice paddies, waterfalls, mountains, and just about anything which you can think of in these Vietnamese countryside
Natural wonders are best explored with a tour guide, especially since English speakers are rarer outside of the big cities. If you are going to use a tour, look at companies before you land in Vietnam instead of trying to find one when you are in the country. A bad tour guide hired hastily can lead to a miserable trip.
Get out and explore
With so much to do and see, Vietnam is a place where you can find adventures all on your own backpacking on a budget. The people are friendly, the food is delicious, and land contains all the nature and history one could ever hope to see. Make sure to learn some Vietnamese phrases before you go, and get your affairs in order before you travel. And then head out to Vietnam, a small but rising jewel in Southeast Asia.