Vietnam Travel Guide
- Everything you need to know for your trip to Vietnam-
Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is a country in Southeast Asia known as the land of blue dragon. When it comes to Vietnam, the first things that come to the mind are countless wars in this land that you may watched in movies but now, this country offers a combination of rich history, stunning nature, and fantastic food to the visitors, which is far beyond your expectations.
Why Visiting Vietnam?
Vietnam is the most ancient country in southeast Asia, which dates back to 2000 BC. The countries that have had an influence on Vietnam were China, India, and Khmer. Vietnam also had been colonized by French. Vietnam has suffered from many wars and the war with the U.S. is the highlight. Vietnamese remember the war as the process of decolonization. Defeating French and retreat of Americans is part of the national creation myth in this country. There are many war sites in Vietnam, which are worth the visit such as Ba Dinh Square, Cu Chi Tunnels, War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, Ho Chi Minh Stilt House, etc.
You will not get bored in Vietnam at all! There are so many activities in this country for you. From kayaking and swimming in Ha Long Bay to scuba diving and windsurfing in the beach towns of Nha Trang. The activities in Vietnam are not limited to the beach activities. There are many adventure activities in Vietnam as well such as sledding down the Mui Ne sand dunes or exploring Vietnam on a Russian-made motorcycle.
You can find any types of natural landscape in Vietnam. From amazing mountain ranges especially in Sapa surrounded by beautiful lush forests, stunning lakes, amazing rivers, and great fields of rice to limestone cliffs in Ha Long Bay, you can always find something fantastic in Vietnam. Interestingly, the biggest natural cave in the world, Dong Hoi, is located in Vietnam. On the other hand, fascinating national parks such as Cuc Phuong are not something you want to miss.
Like other southeastern countries in Asia, there are stunning beaches in Vietnam. Coastal areas like Ha Long Bay, Nha Trang, and Da Nang are very popular in Vietnam. In beach areas of Vietnam, you can experience many activities like scuba diving or kayaking along with getting relaxed on the beach.
Vietnamese cuisine is popular around the world. In Vietnam, you can experience the fantastic street foods with unbelievably cheap prices. We can find the reason behind the amazing food in Vietnam through history. The influence of countries like China and French in Vietnam have created some of the best Vietnamese cuisines such as Cao Lau noodles and banh mi. Besides, beers in Vietnam are also incredible. There are many kinds of beer in the country depending on the location such as Huda in Hue and eponymous brews in Saigon and Hanoi.
Culture & Festivals
Vietnamese have over 1 thousand year of history. During this time, the culture of Vietnam has become rich and it can be seen from amazing festivals around the year held in the country. Some of the famous festivals are Perfume Pagoda Festival, Hoi An Full Moon Festival, Hue Festival, etc.
Vietnamese people are among the kindest and most friendly people you can find in Asia. Vietnam is known as “the land of endless smile” and visitors can always see Vietnamese smiling in the street and offering help for tourists. They are such kind that you think they are your family!
If you are a coffee lover, Vietnam can be a great destination for you. Here, you can try one of the best coffees in your life. High quality condensed milk is used in this coffee, which makes it fantastic. It doesn’t matter you love cold or hot coffee because this is just incredible.
In Vietnam, you can buy ethnic fashion and fantastic handicrafts. Also, there are high-quality silk, rice paper products, etc. Street Night Market, Quang Ba Flower Market, Dong Xuan Market, and Bat Trang Pottery Village are among the best places in Vietnam for shopping.
Cost of visiting Vietnam is really cheap, even in comparison to other Asia’s southeastern countries. Surprisingly, a hotel room in Vietnam will cost under $5 and a beer in a good bar costs a few cents. You can have your meal at about 2$. The costs you have in Vietnam in a week is somehow equal to one-day costs in some other countries.
Vietnam Top Destinations
Click on each Vietnam’s destination to read the full travel guide of the city.
Best Time to Visit Vietnam
The climate in Vietnam is maintained according to the region. In Vietnam, we can’t choose the right or wrong time as you can face both sunny and rainy kinds of weather during the year. Vietnam is typically warm and humid; however, the weather can be different significantly according to the region
- Cities: Sapa, Ha Giang, Bac Ha, Mu Cang Chai
In far north of Vietnam, there are two main seasons; the dry season in October – March and wet season from April – September. Try not to travel in this region in December and January as the weather will be freezing. The best time for visiting this part of the country is during the dry season, but not in December and January!
- Cities: Hanoi, Halong Bay, Cuc Phuong, Mai Chau & Ninh Binh
In the northern cities like Hanoi, there is distinct weather in summer and winter. The winter in this region is from November to April. Summer in the north of Vietnam starts from May to October. The weather in this season is hot and rainy. From July to September, traveling to the Hanoi is not recommended as it is the wettest time of the year in this region.
- Cities: Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Dalat, Quy Nhon & Nha Trang
- Cities: Ho Chi Minh City, The Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc & Con Dao, Phan Thiet & Mui Ne, Ho Tram & Long Hai
In the south, there are two main seasons including dry and rainy. The dry season includes the time from November to April and the wet season is between May to October. Major rainfalls in the south occur from June to August. The temperature in the south can be 25 – 35°C on average.
Best Vietnam Tours
Things to Do in Vietnam
Begin Your Journey in Hanoi
Generally speaking, the northern areas of Vietnam are some of the best and most important places to visit. There are amazing hiking spots to go on tours or your own as an adventure. The most important place in the north is the city of Hanoi.
Other recommendations in Hanoi:
- Shopping in Dong Xuan Market
- Visiting the Temple of Literature
- Learning the Legend of Hoan Kiem Lake
- Watching the Water Puppet Show
Ride Boats in Halong Bay
Right after visiting the capital city of Vietnam, it is time for a destination that all travelers will fall in love with! Halong Bay is one of the most beautiful attractions of Vietnam classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO with 1600 limestone islands. You can take boat rides on the torques waters of the bay with your friends or just explore on your own. It is also possible to take a three-day cruise and spend these days in the bay, which is recommended if you enjoy boats and calm waters.
Try Photography in Hoi An
When going to the beautiful city of Hoi An, make sure to pack your camera! The city has several historic sites with a theme of traditional architecture.
Things to do in Hoi An
- Explore and discover
- Try some of their coffee and the local traditional cuisine
- Try to visit during the new year festivals to join the fun and excitement as people celebrate.
Learn About Vietnamese Wars Ho Chi Minh City
The city of Ho Chi Minh is a great place to see parts of Vietnam’s history. There are museums such as the War Remnants Museum and Gia Long Palace, where you can learn a lot about the wars and sacrifices of Vietnamese people in defense of their homes. The city outskirts offer several popular attractions with their historic value.
Explore Cu Chi Tunnels
Near the city of Ho Chi Minh, also known as Saigon, you can step into the Cu Chi tunnels and tread in the same place where many men have once walked. If you enjoyed the city itself and want to indulge yourself further, you cannot miss these tunnels. Although the Tunnels are parts of Ho Chi Minh, they are very unique and therefore deserve to be considered as one of the top places to visit to learn about the history and their past wars.
Enjoy the Landscape of Phong Nha National Park
Still, have time to explore Ho Chi Minh? Then visit the town of Phong Nha and the Phong Nha Ke Bang National park. Among the many sites listed in UNESCO, the Hang Son Doong cave is classified, also known as the largest cave in the world. However, it is not just the cave that attracts tourists. You can indulge yourself in other activities such as exploring the jungles and seeing the waterfalls in the area. Just make sure to visit the Phong Nha National Park before leaving for other parts of Vietnam.
Appreciate Ban Gioc Waterfall
Speaking of natural elements of Vietnam and waterfalls, make sure to visit the Ban Gioc Waterfall in the Northern areas of the country. Besides its beauty, it is also an important part of the country as it is on the border of China and Vietnam. But that is not all, the beauty of the waterfall is partly because it is actually two waterfalls that are colliding in the same place, giving a magnificent and unique view. It is not just like any other waterfall you find in your travels; therefore, it is one of the must-see sites of the country.
Fall in Love the Love Market
If you are looking to participate and see some traditions of Vietnam, make sure to visit the Sapa Love Market! Your eyes do not deceive you! There is an old tradition in which, the youth used to sing and dance for the opposite sex to find their love! Of course, the Sapa Love Market is not the real deal and is just an event to represent this old tradition for tourists to see and enjoy their time.
Make Sure to Try Cuisine of Vietnam
The local and traditional Cuisine of Vietnam is not something you want to miss during your travels. Their food is rich with flavors, but also have a balance between ingredients and tastes. They make good use of fresh herbs, chili peppers, and vegetables to make some of the most delicious foods you have tasted in all of Asia! The food culture of Vietnam is an important part of the trip which you simply must try. Restaurants or street stalls, just try them all, you will not regret it.
Have a Coffee in Vietnam
Surely one can find coffee in all countries, but having Coffee in Vietnam is one of the top things you should look for. While in one of the major cities, having some of their world-famous egg coffees is considered an attraction; that is unless you hate coffee! Vietnam is well known on a global scale for producing some of the best coffee you can find. Besides, it is always a good idea to get some caffeine to restore your energy as you travel.
Visit the Floating Market
Getting a boat ride is a fun activity in many areas of Vietnam especially when you go shopping in the Floating Market. The best of these floating markets in Vietnam is found in the Mekong Delta. Since the visit to the Floating Market can take some time, it is best to do it if you are not in a hurry and have several days to spare. Nevertheless, it is a fun activity to indulge in this cultural part of the country.
Have a Cyclo Ride
Served as taxies during the history of Vietnam, a Cyclo Ride is now part of the traveling experience of Vietnam that is found in almost all of the cities. You can get a Cyclo tour in some of the historic sites such as the area around the Hue, or as a means of transportation in the major cities such as Hanoi. It is both a means of transportation and fun activity which will help you rest your feet while riding around!
Get Relaxed in Beaches and Bridges of Da Nang
One of the beautiful cities of Vietnam with both modern elements as well as ancient and traditional parts is the City of Da Nang. It is one of the best places to visit the beach and relax. Other than that, it is a place to take some great pictures on the Dragon Bridge and the Golden Hands Bridge during your travels.
Take Boat Ride Tam Coc Village and Enjoy its Rice Fields
Being an important part of their cuisine and culture, rice and the Rice Fields of Tam Coc are UNESCO-listed sites, and they are among popular attractions. One of the calm and relaxing experiences in Vietnam is taking boat rides in the Ngo Dong river and admiring the sight of the farms and paddy fields on both sides of the river.
Have a Nice Time in Phu Quoc Island
Last but not least, after a long journey in the mainland, you can head for a small paradise amidst the waters to the western areas to the south of Vietnam. Away from all the noise of the cities, you can get some calm in this tropical island, or if you are up to it, go and visit its national park and see the wildlife of the island.
Transportation in Vietnam
In Vietnam, taxis are safe, apparent, and cheap. There are many official and unofficial companies providing taxis with the meter. Taking unofficial taxis is not recommended. You should be familiar with some of the official companies like Mai Linh taxi and Vinasun in order not to be scammed.
Domestic flights in Vietnam are really affordable. For instance, a two hours flight between the two cities in Vietnam can cost only 590,000 VND/25 USD. There are three international airports in Vietnam including Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, Tan Son Nhat Airport in Saigon, and Da Nang Airport in Da Nang (with very limited international flights). Also, there are some other domestic airports in the country as well.
The train is one of the most popular means of transportation in Vietnam as it’s cheap, comfortable, and safe. Also, the route provides a great landscape and scenery from countryside locations in Vietnam. You can reach most cities in the country through the Vietnamese railway network.
City buses, minibusses, tourist buses, long-distance buses, and night buses are working in Vietnam. The long-distance Bus network in Vietnam is very convenient. It starts from Hanoi and has stops in Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Mui Ne, and Ho Chi Minh, respectively. The bus system in the cities can help you to reach anywhere you want with the exception of mountainous regions.
Cyclo is the bicycle rickshaw in Vietnam, which is an ancient way of city transportation. You can experience the ancient culture of Vietnam by taking these Cyclos. This method of transportation is unbelievably cheap in Vietnam.
You can rent a bicycle in Vietnam as well. Like other means of transportation in this country, bicycle renting is very cheap and even cheaper than other transportation methods.
Taking a boat is more popular in the northern part of the county. There are two types of boats including freighters and tourist boats. The second one is proved to be more comfortable. When visiting Mekong Delta, the best transportation method is boat riding. Taking boats can be more expensive than taking a simple bus in Vietnam.
Flights to Vietnam (HAN)
Vietnam Travel Costs
|Hostel||Starting at around 100,000 VND (4 USD) per night (will be doubled for a nicer place)|
|Hostel (Private Rooms)||At least 350,890-425,000 VND (15-20 USD) per night for a double room|
|Hotel (double room)||Around 225,000 VND (10 USD) per night.|
|Restaurant Meal||45,000-95,000 VND (2-4 USD) – luxury restaurants will cost more|
|A liter of water at a convenience store||15,000 VND (less than 1 USD)|
|Beer or soda at a restaurant||20,000-35,000 VND (1-2 USD)|
|A glass of coca-cola in a restaurant||Around 20000 VND ( less than 1 USD)|
|Public Bus||4,000 VND (less than 1 USD) per ride|
|Overnight Buses||100,000-600,000 VND (4-25 USD)|
|Taxi||Start at about 12,000 VND (less than 1 USD) per kilometer|
|$40 to $50 per day||Eating at local restaurants and visiting major attractions|
|Around $50 per day||more luxurious food, drinks, activities, and hotel rooms|
|$60 to $100 per day||Four-star hotel room, having meals in mid-range to high-end restaurants, and visit most activities and attractions.|
|$150 per day||5-star travel, very luxurious hotels, and restaurants.|
Best Hotels in Vietnam
Find the best hotels in Vietnam using our best price search engine, or go with one of our All-inclusive tours with 4 Star hotels included. You can book our guaranteed hotels for your extra accommodation; before or after your tour days.
Vietnam Travel Tips
In small villages, taking a video camera can be considered intrusive and locals are so polite to ask you to stop filming.
When you are visiting a temple or pagoda, you should bring a scarf or wear more proper clothes to cover your shoulder as it’s a worship place. Some of these places offering loose robes, which you can rent for your visit.
Except the restaurants, luxury malls, and high-class hotels, you need to have cash with yourself because Vietnam, like other southeast Asian countries, is a very cash based society.
Ask people if you want to take their photograph. Vietnamese usually love having their photo taken. Also, there are some places that photography is not allowed like Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and military places.
Traveling by train is one of the most popular ways of traveling around Vietnam; however, they can be late and the train smell is sometimes unpleasant.
Learning the language fluently is an unreasonable idea; however, you can learn some keywords to decrease the probability of having a problem. Vietnamese are friendly people that would love to help you.
For taking a taxi or finding your hotel, it’s important to have the card of your hotel or hostel. Also, you may want some recommendations when you are visiting an attraction, shop, etc. In these cases, your hotel staff can help you
Have some toilet paper with yourself every time because many public toilets in Vietnam don’t have toilet paper. Also, in some restaurants, especially local restaurants, you will encounter this problem as well.
|Ambulance – First Aid||115|
|Domestic long-distance telephone service||101|
|International telephone service||110|
|General information service||1080|
|Law Consultancy service||1088|
|Phone number inquiries||116|
Health & Safety Tips
Vietnam is a very safe country for tourists and criminal cases are very rare; however, it’s better to keep these points in your mind in order to prevent any major problem.
Count your changes
Try to count changes as there is a huge difference between the USD and VND and vendors may think that you cannot notice the differences! You may be shocked but 500000 VND costs only 21.50 USD!
Don’t ride motorbikes
59% of road collisions in the country are related to motorbikes. Although most tourists won’t face any problem with using the motorbike, it can be a real threat to your life! However, if you rent one or take a motorbike taxi, make sure to wear a helmet.
Wear bags with thick and two straps
Bag snatching in Vietnam can be a real threat. Try to use bags with double and thick straps in order to avoid problems. Be aware of your bag and try not to bring a lot of cash. Using backpacks is highly recommended.
Cross the street slowly
Driving in Vietnam, especially at the time of huge traffic jams, is terrible. You should be cautious about this matter. You cannot wait until the traffic decreases because in this case, you should wait forever! Take small steps, don’t step back, put your hand up, and wave it to move safely!
Seat in the back of taxis
There have been some reports about taxi drivers assaulting women, who were alone in a taxi and sited in the front seat.
Be aware of your smartphone or expensive gadget
When using hotspots or calling in the street, make sure to be careful as there can be many thieves waiting to find a careless visitor to get their devices. They are unbelievably fast and professional! Try to take photos or use hotspots in less crowded places.
Don’t drink tap water
This is the recommendation for most Asian countries. Try to drink bottled water or boiled water as the tap water can be inedible. Interestingly, locals don’t drink tap water as well. you can buy bottled water anywhere in Vietnam.
Be careful about foods
Soup-like dishes are very popular among Vietnamese. These kinds of foods, if served hot, are usually safe. It’s recommended to clean your cutlery with a napkin, especially in Saigon as the weather in this city is somehow bad. Try to have only cooked foods and don’t eat raw meat. There can be many restaurants, which serve foods like sushi properly; however, it can be a risk! As for fruits, it’s better to eat fruits with inedible skin like banana, orange, watermelon, etc.
Make sure about the high volume of street stalls
Street foods in Vietnam are safe; however, there are some considerations. First, try to buy foods from street stalls with high volume and turnover. The more busy stalls, the more fresh food they serve. You can see the hygiene of the stalls. If your plate or the food preparing process was nit as good as your standards, it won’t worth the risk. The vessels they use is another important factor. If the vessel was wet or washed with tap water, it won’t be a good choice for you. Make sure to read the comments and ideas of other travelers in order to prevent any illnesses or problems.
Currency & Money Tips
Vietnamese dong (VND) is the official currency in Vietnam. VND banknotes have many zeroes! VND 10,000 is the smallest polymer bill you can find in the street; however, there are still 1000, 2000, and 5,000 banknotes as well. The biggest banknote in Vietnam is VND 500,000.
Major currencies can be exchanged in Vietnam; however, you should be careful about the place you are exchanging the money. Airports and banks change your money at a high cost in comparison with a simple jewelry shop. So, do research about the best place for changing your currency.
Vietcombank is a governmental bank in Vietnam, which can help you to exchange US dollars, Euros, British Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Singapore dollars. Also, other banks in major cities of Vietnam like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh have services for exchanging foreign currencies and traveler checks. The commission in the bank is between 0.5 to 2 percent. Try to bring undamaged notes because if you have damaged notes, you have to pay an additional 2 percent of commission for them.
Hotels usually have exchange services; however, the larger hotels have competitive rates with banks but smaller hotels may take additional fees for exchanges.
These shops offer great exchanging services with no fees! These shops are usually located in Hanoi’s old quarter’s neighborhood streets like Hang Bo and Ha Trung streets as well as Ho Chi Minh City’s Nguyen An Ninh Street.
You can easily find ATMs in the major cities but it may be hard to find in small cities in Vietnam. If you are spending more than a few days in Vietnam, it’s better not to change all your money and get withdrawals each a few days because your money can be at high risk of theft.
Credit cards can be used in many many restaurants, hotels, and shops in big cities of the country. Master Card, JBC, and American Express are the most popular credit cards accepted in Vietnam. For credit card transactions, you will need to pay 3-4 percent.
You don’t need to pay tips in restaurants and hotels as they add 5 percent to your bill already! However, tips with American coins are appreciated for porters. Also, you don’t need to pay a tip for taxi drivers.
Food & Drink (Vietnamese Food)
One of the best destinations you can select for food tourism is perhaps Vietnam. The country offers a wide variety of types of meat, vegetables, herbs, and other ingredients. You could even say eating something other than the local and traditional cuisine is a crime (!) because you can find something for all tastes. One prominent feature of Vietnamese food is the balance between the flavors and the ingredients used in their cuisine.
The two most important parts of their food are rice and noodles, but their land is so rich to offer numerous types of food. You can try their tasty fish, beef, or pork along with fresh vegetables that come with various healthy herbs. Whether it’s on the side of the streets or roads, or in a fancy restaurant or your hotel, try some of our top recommendations (along with anything else that catch your eye) or you will miss out on this important piece of your traveling experience:
The variety of what you can eat is so much, but the dishes are mostly for all tastes; therefore, you do not have to worry about too spicy food or tastes that you cannot bear. But in case you have allergies or do not eat meat, make sure to check the ingredients so that you will enjoy everything you try in Vietnam.
The most popular dish of Vietnam, and an absolute ‘must-try’ in all regions of the country. It looks simple enough but has beef, chicken, or fish that comes with a bowl of noodles and a lot of herbs. This dish may have many different varieties depending on the city or town you try it. It can be sweet or hot as well. Which is why we recommend trying it at least once in each region you visit.
If you are looking for something that is prepared quickly and is quite tasty, then you need to try Banh Mi. It is influenced by the French during their time in Vietnam and is now found all around the country. Found in almost all the street stalls, it contains meat (beef, pork, chicken, or all at once) which is barbecued, along with pickled vegetables, chili, and hot peppers as well as soy sauce, inside a baguette. It is a must-try food either as a snack on the side of the road or as a meal, depending on your taste.
Com Tam is rather cheaper and simpler as compared with other foods of Vietnam but also very popular. The literal translation of the name is ‘Broken Rice’ which does not offer much insight into the contents other than the rice. For this food, meat, various vegetables, onions, and a fried egg, are put next to rice. You can try it as breakfast or a meal as you take to the streets.
In a bowl of vegetables on top of the meat, shrimps, boiled eggs, and rice noodles and a lot of fresh herbs make a Mi Quang. This dish is very rich and nutritious, and it is found in most of Vietnam’s restaurants. It can also get some minor variations in the type of meat and local herbs (like most other foods of Vietnam), but these differences are not that much.
Banh Xeo is a snack that can also be taken as a meal that is known as Vietnamese Pancakes or Omelet, but it is actually neither. First of all, a wrapping of rice flour with turmeric and sometimes even coconut milk is prepared to contain several ingredients. Vermicelli noodles, chicken, pork strips or beef slices, shrimps, onions, bean sprouts, mushrooms, along with vegetables such as mustard leaves, lettuce leaves, mint leaves, and basil are among the things you can see inside a mouth-watering Banh Xeo. Once the ingredients are prepared and fried, they are put in their rice flour and fried again, which gives it a yellowish color.
Wrapped in rice paper, Goi Cuon is a national dish of Vietnam and a must-try. It is simply made of shrimps or minced pork with some vegetables and herbs. Very light and quite tasty, perfect as an appetizer or a simple snack. You can have several types of sauce right next to these delicious rolls and fall in love with them.
Bun Cha is a dish belonging to the northern regions of the country, made from rice vermicelli noodles plus grilled pork along with fresh vegetables. This popular food of the north became even more famous when Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain tried it on a TV show. You can have this dish as a simple yet tasty lunch while exploring Hanoi.
When you are in Hue, you simply have to try their special Com Hen dish. Simple, cheap, and with a unique flavor. This dish mainly includes rice and clams and sometimes with vegetables and herbs. It may be a little light for some, which is why by many standards it is taken as a small and simple snack in the afternoon.
Banh Cuon is famous among travelers as well as the locals and for good reason. They are very soft and slippery due to their rice flour shells that hold Cha Lua (a type of Vietnamese ham), minced chicken, shrimp, or pork, onions, and minced wood ear mushrooms. To make it even better, it is served with Nuoc Cham sauce.
Ca Kho To
If you love seafood, you have to try Ca Kho To; If you are not in love with seafood, you should try it anyway! It is large pieces of fish that are cooked in a clay pot. Other than the fish, there is a variety of oil, garlic, sugar, onions, spices, salt, soy, fish sauce, and coconut milk in the pot which all depend on the city you try the Ca Kho To. Once done, it can be served with vegetables.
Bun Bo Hue
Originated in Hue, Bun Bo Hue is a dish that looks very much like a soup with pork, lemongrass, shrimp paste, thick noodles, herbs, and vegetables. You can use beef instead of pork or even add chili to spice it up. Other than recommending it in Hue, it can be a great breakfast. You can get some of this tasty dish from the street vendors as you go exploring.
The specialty of the most beautiful city of Vietnam, Cao Lau is a nutritious dish of rice noodles with pork and vegetables on top. It does not sound special? Does it sound like an ordinary noodle and meat dish? Then try it out in Hoi An and taste the difference! The city itself is a must-see, which makes it a very wonderous experience along with this must-try Vietnamese dish.
It may look odd, it may not fill you up, but you must try Oc for at least once! Oc is literally translated to ‘Snail’ which is prepared in as many varieties as there are people in Vietnam! If you are going out for a beer or want to have something new in an afternoon, be sure to look it up and give it a try.
Perhaps more like a snack and less like a meal, Xoi Xeo is a type of sweet and sticky rice that can come with many other things like pork, beef, and vegetables. Of course, there are hundreds of other types of Xoi that are also worth a try, but if you are looking for something sweet after your meal, Xoi Xeo is just the thing.
Want Some More Local Food?
The list can continue further as the land has a lot of things to try and many places to try them. Some of these foods may not be to the liking of everyone but they are no less than the items mentioned on the list. While in Vietnam, it may be a good idea to try these dishes as well:
- Cha Ca
- White Rose Dumplings
- Thang Co
- Com Ga
- Hu Tieu
- Banh Cong
- Bun Rieu
- Nem Cua Be
- Bot Chien
- Nem Nuong
- Chao Tom
- Gio Lua
- Bo La Lot
- Bun Thang
- Banh Trang Nuong
- Bun Dau Mam Tom
- Sup Bap Cua
What’s a trip to a new country if you do not try some of there local and famous drinks? Especially since Vietnam has some famous coffee and some popular types of beer. We have two recommendations as must-try drinks in Vietnam but there is always more to try.
Vietnamese coffee itself is a must-try and very famous, but other than that, you can go for some Egg Coffee in the capital city of Hanoi. It has the Vietnamese coffee as a base and, on the coffee, egg yolk, and condensed milk. You can add some sugar to this frothy mix and have a rich and sweet drink, originated in this part of the world.
There may be nothing special about Bia Hoi which translated to ‘fresh beer’ other than it being chap and low with alcohol. What makes this a must-try is mostly due to the experience and feel of the beer especially in the Old Quarters of Hanoi. After a long walk, sit down next to the locals in the ancient Old Quarters and relax with a beer that is also an ancient part of Vietnam.
Mobile & Internet
Buying a SIM Card
You can find and buy prepaid SIM cards easily in the street markets as well as airports.
SIM card providers
- Viettel (recommended)
Viettel has the largest network between other companies and it provides the best coverage, good data speed, and reasonable prices. Vinaphone is the second-largest company.
Where to buy a SIM card?
You can find and buy prepaid SIM cards in airports and street stores in the city. However, as the government has determined some new conditions for buying SIM cards including registration, it’s better to buy them from official stalls, especially in airports. The reason is that unofficial stores cannot register the SIM card for you. After registration, make sure to check your registration information by texting TTTB to 1414.
SIM Card Costs
The SIM card itself costs 50,000 VND (~$2.20); however, for data, you need to pay more:
- 3GB of 4G/LTE data valid for 30 days: 70,000 VND ($3)
- Up to 15GB: 200,000 VND (~$9)
Holidays & Festivals
Some of Vietnamese holidays are based on lunar months; therefore, their times might changes every year.
|Holiday & Observations||Date in 2020||Date in 2021||Date in 2020|
|International New Year’s Day||Jan 1||Jan 1||Jan 1|
|Tet Holiday||Jan 23||Feb 13||Feb 2|
|Vietnamese New Year’s Eve||Jan 24||Feb 11||Jan 31|
|Vietnamese New Year||Jan 25||Feb 12||Feb 1|
|Tet holiday||Jan 26-29||Feb 13-14||Feb 2-5|
|Valentine’s Day||Feb 14||Feb 14||Feb 14|
|Hung Kings Festival||Apr 2||Apr 21||Apr 10|
|Liberation Day/Reunification Day||Apr 30||Apr 30||Apr 30|
|International Labor Day||May 1||May 1||May 1|
|Vietnamese Family Day||Jun 28||Jun 28||Jun 28|
|Independence Day||Sep 2||Sep 2||Sep 2|
|Vietnamese Women’s Day||Oct 20||Oct 20||Oct 20|
|Halloween||Oct 31||Oct 31||Oct 31|
|Christmas Eve||Dec 24||Dec 24||Dec 24|
|Christmas Day||Dec 25||Dec 25||Dec 25|
|International New Year’s Eve||Dec 31||Dec 31||Dec 31|
Shopping in Vietnam
What to buy in Vietnam?
Ao dai is the national costume in Vietnam, which includes both traditional and temporary styles. Hanoi, Hue, Hoian and, Ho Chi Minhn are the best places to buy this fantastic costume. It can be a great gift for women of all ages. The price depends on the design, material, etc.
Handmade rice papers
You may find rice papers in all of the world; however, having an original and handmade rice paper can be a good idea as it’s one of the most popular souvenirs among Vietnamese.
The silk used to be a very luxurious material used only by high-class society. However, these days, silk has become one of the most important materials for fashion designers in Vietnam. You may have heard about the reputation of Chinese, Italian, and Japanese silk, but remember that Vietnamese silk also has great quality.
Handmade shopping bags
You can find various kinds of fabulous handmade shopping bags in Vietnam made by locals. You can bring them home and use them for your shopping or even give them as a gift to your family and friends.
Bamboo and woody products
Bamboo and woody products are handmade in Vietnam and they can be found in any tourist site of the country. These products are among the most popular souvenirs in Vietnam. These products include baskets, bowls, hats, decorative objects, chopsticks, furniture, etc.
Pottery is another kind of Vietnamese souvenir, which is very popular among tourists. Pottery products include a vase, bowl, dish, cup, and many other objects, which are handmade and beautiful made of ceramics usually.
Vietnam is the second coffee producer in the world after Brazil. Most of the Vietnamese coffees are made of Robusta that, unlike Arabica, has more caffeine and has a stronger bitter taste. Buying this coffee is highly recommended but you should also buy a Vietnamese coffee filter as well.
Conical hats are the symbols of Vietnam with over 3000 years of history. Locals use this hat on rainy days as an umbrella and sunny days as a sun protector. These hats have different designs for you and you can buy them as a gift for your loved ones.
Hand fan or paper fan
A hand fan is a common and useful item in Vietnamese daily lives. These fans are made of sturdy bamboo, paper, or silk and can be used as a decorative item for your home.
Do paper products
Traditional paper in Vietnam was Do paper, which is made of the bark of Rhamnoneuron balansae plant known as Do tree. Nowadays, this paper is used for producing ethnic greeting cards, watercolors, folk paintings, bamboo-bound notebooks, etc. Bamboo notebooks made of this traditional paper can be a lovely gift.
Other products that are worth buying in Vietnam
- Green rice cakes
- Vietnamese tea
- Pop-up cards
- Snake and scorpion wine
- Nuoc Cham sauce
- Vietnamese Embroidery
- Wooden Clogs
- Sand Paintings
- Musical Instruments
- Bamboo Dragonfly
- Propaganda Posters
The Best Shopping Districts & Malls in Vietnam
The Night Market is very popular in Vietnam offering a wide range of clothing, footwear, fashion accessories, household appliances, arts, and crafts at very reasonable costs. Also, you can find the great street food here such as bun thang, La Vong grilled fish, pho, banh mi, and bun cha. Generally, the night market is great for cheap shopping.
Dong Xuan Market
This is a two-story indoor street market offering a wide range of seafood, meat, vegetables, T-Shirts, handbags, fashion accessories, Vietnamese handicrafts at reasonable prices.
- Location: Dong Xuan Street, Hoan Kiem
- Opening Hours: 06:00 – 19:00
Bat Trang Pottery Village
Bat Trang Pottery Village is a great place for buying different kinds of potteries such as vases, bowls, dishes, cups, and many other objects. This is the best shop for buying souvenirs from Vietnam.
Hang Gai And Hang Bac Street
If you are interested in Do paper products, then don’t miss Hang Gai And Hang Bac Street. Here, you can find various kinds of greeting cards, watercolor and folk paintings, bamboo-bound notebooks, table lamps, etc. Hanoi Moment shop is an air-conditioned indoor shop in this street specializing in Vietnamese souvenirs
- Location: Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi, Vietnam
Hanoi Night Market
Hanoi Night Market is one of the best shopping districts in the capital of Vietnam specializing in street food, handicrafts, and accessories. Also, many musical events are held in this street every year.
- Location: Hang Dao Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Opening Hours: 18:00 – 00:00
Binh Tay Market (Cholon)
This market is great for experiencing and feeling Buddhist culture. Here, you can buy a wide range of handicrafts, lacquerware, textiles, and fresh produce as well as street foods
- Opening Hours: 6:00 – 19:00
- Location: 57 Thap Muoi, District 6, Ho Chi Minh City
Quang Ba Flower Market
If you are a flower lover, Quang Ba market is a great place for you. Usually, there are not many markets in the world completely dedicated to the trade of flowers. Daisies, cherry blossoms, roses, orchids, and sunflowers are the best flowers you can find here. The atmosphere is great and makes sure to bring your camera!
- Opening Hours: All Day
- Location: Au Co, Nhat Tan, Tay Ho, Hanoi
Here, there are many kinds of tropical and fresh fruits such as bananas, mangoes, durian, and jackfruit as well as local specialties such as chili paste, Ly Son garlic, rice crackers, and dried squid. As a general fact, you can buy any delicious food you want to try in Vietnam.
- Opening Hours: 7:00 – 19:00
- Location: 119, Tran Phu Street, Hau Chai District, Da Nang
An Dong Market
An Dong Market is an indoor market specializing in fabrics, clothing, carved incense burners, animal figures, tea sets, coasters, etc. The market has parking for customers as well.
- Location: District 5
- Opening Hours: 7:00 – 18:00
Cai Rang Floating Market
Cai Rang Floating Market is a whole market in boats specializing in fruit, vegetables, and fish as well as authentic pho breakfast. It’s better to visit this market in the morning to avoid a crowded time.
- Opening Hours: 4:00 – 9:00
- Location: An Bình, Cái Rang District
Nha Trang Market
Nha Trang Market is one of the busiest markets in southern Vietnam offering a wide range of handmade clothes, trinkets, handbags, watches, sneakers, etc. Here also is a great place for trying local raw and cooked foods.
- Opening Hours: 5:00 – 18:30
- Location: Van Thanh, Nha Trang