Vietnam – Travel Tips

vietnam

  • See the Vietnam Wikitravel page
  • To cross the roads in Vietnam, slowly walk into the traffic allowing it to flow around you – if you move too fast or hesitate, it’ll confuse the drivers. I hired a scooter for 75,000 Vietnam Dong per day, but you may not share my death wish.
  • The quickest overland route between Hanoi in the north, and Ho Chi Minh City in the south, is by train and it takes over 17 hours. Most tourists take the bus and stop along the way. If you’ve only a couple of weeks, consider sticking to either the north or south. Hanoi is a good base for visiting the attractions up north, and is generally preferred to the south.
  • Hanoi– Stay in the ‘Old Quarter’, check your room before agreeing to it. You’ll find dorms for around 45,000 Vietnam Dong. Hanoi Backpackers is a good option – there is a map on their website. As well as tours to Ha’Long Bay, trips to Sapa are also popular – the mountain scenery, trekking to ethnic minority villages and Bac Ha Sunday market are all worth seeing. The museums are great and very cheap, some accept student cards and some charge for, or prohibit, camera use. Check out Ho Chi Minh President Mausoleum and Museum (the Mausoleum is closed between October and December for annual re-embalming.). The One Pillar Pagoda is also within the complex – the opening hours of the mausoleum are very limited so check beforehand. Also pay a visit to the Army Museum with Flag Tower (if only for the propaganda). Van Mieu (The Temple of Literature) is beautiful; The Hanoi Hilton Prison is interesting and also loaded with propaganda (it is where John McCain was detained). Other attractions include the Opera House (French style building), the Old Quarter – great to walk around the markets, Hoan Kiem Lake and the Ngoc Son pagoda, St. Joseph Cathedral and the brilliant Water Puppet Theatre (unmissable!).
  • Ha’Long Bay – It’s much cheaper to book ahead in Hanoi for your transport to Ha’Long Bay. The 2-day tour is enough and it’s very competitive and so dirt cheap – remember, you get what you pay for, try and find a reputable company.
  • Hue – I took a bus from here to Savannakhet in Laos.
  • Da’Lat – This hill town has a ‘British’ climate – it is refreshing to spend a few days here. Read up on the ‘Easy Riders’, they’re brilliant but try and ensure you get a genuine original guy, not just any old bloke with a scooter who reckons he is one. There are only around 100, I ended up with a ‘fake’ Easy Rider, but you still see the same things (the Crazy House, Chicken Village, waterfalls, indoor market etc…)
  • Nha Trang – Full Moon Parties at the Sailor’s Club are great, watch out for pickpockets when you leave at 4am. Go for a day out on a boat, it’s overrated but a must-do.
  • Ho Chi Minh City – Bigger than Hanoi but not the capital, the museums here are great. Pay a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels and one of the water parks. It is easy to get a bus from here to Phnom Penh in Cambodia or vice-versa

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Download all of my Southeast Asia tips as a PDF.