Hạ Long Bay, Vietnam
Hạ Long Bay, Vietnam

Hạ Long Bay

Hạ Long Bay, in northeast Vietnam, is known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests.
Photo by Ammie Ngo

VIETNAM

Asia

Vietnam Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Hanoi (Ha Noi)

Location:

Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, as well as China, Laos, and Cambodia

Currency:

dong (VND)

Area:

331,210 sq km

Population:

102,789,598 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer, mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)

Religion:

Catholic 6.1%, Buddhist 5.8%, Protestant 1%, other 0.8%, none 86.3% (2009 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC+7

Tel Code:

+84

Weather

Vietnam is a long and narrow country located in Southeast Asia, it has a diverse climate due to the country's length and varying topography. Generally speaking, the country can be divided into three main climate regions: the northern, central, and southern regions.

Northern region

The northern region, which includes cities like Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. The best time to visit the northern region is from September to November when the weather is mild and the rice fields are a lush green color.

Central region

The central region, which includes cities like Hue and Hoi An, has a tropical monsoon climate with two distinct seasons: the dry season from October to April, and the rainy season from May to September. The best time to visit the central region is from February to April when the weather is mild and the crowds are relatively low.

Southern region

The southern region, which includes cities like Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, has a tropical climate with two seasons: the dry season from November to April and the rainy season from May to October. The best time to visit the southern region is from December to February when the weather is dry and comfortable.

In general, the best time to visit Vietnam is from February to April and from August to December, when the weather is mild and the crowds are relatively low. This is the best time to visit the majority of the country, but it's always worth checking the weather forecast for the specific regions you plan to visit.

Transportation

Vietnam offers a variety of transportation options for travelers, including both public and private options. Here are some of the main options:

Plane

Vietnam has a well-developed airline industry, with multiple airports and frequent flights to various domestic and international destinations. It is the most convenient way to travel around the country, especially when traveling long distances or to remote areas.

Train

Vietnam's railway system connects major cities and towns in the country, it is a comfortable and scenic way to travel. However, the train network doesn't cover all the destinations.

Bus

Buses are widely available in Vietnam and are a popular and affordable way to travel between cities and towns. They offer regular service and are available for both short and long-distance travel.

Minivan

Minivans are also a popular option for traveling between cities and towns in Vietnam. They are typically more comfortable than buses and offer a more direct route, but they can also be more expensive.

Motorbike

Motorbikes are a popular way to get around in Vietnam, they can be rented in most cities and towns, it's a good way to explore the countryside and small towns at a more leisurely pace. Be aware of the traffic, it can be chaotic and dangerous, specially in the big cities.

Taxi

Taxis are widely available in cities and towns in Vietnam, and can be a convenient option for short trips or for reaching destinations that are not served by public transportation. They can be more expensive than other transportation options.

Cyclo

Cyclo is a type of tricycle, it's a unique and fun way to get around in Vietnam. They are mainly found in cities and tourist destinations. Make sure to negotiate the fare before starting the trip.

Overall, Vietnam offers a variety of transportation options for travelers, including planes, trains, buses, minivans, motorbikes and more. As a pedestrian, crossing the street in Ho Chi Minh City is an exercise in blind faith!

Accommodation

Vietnam offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Here are some of the main options:

Hotels

Hotels are one of the most popular options for accommodation in Vietnam. They can range from luxury resorts to budget-friendly options and are widely available in major cities and tourist destinations. Many hotels offer amenities such as private bathrooms, air conditioning, and room service.

Guesthouses

Guesthouses are a popular budget-friendly option for accommodation in Vietnam. They are typically small, family-run establishments that offer basic rooms with shared bathrooms. They can be a great way to experience local culture and are a good option for budget travelers.

Hostels

Hostels are also a budget-friendly option that can be found in most major cities and towns in Vietnam. They offer dormitory-style accommodation and shared facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens. They are a great option for backpackers and budget travelers.

Homestays

Homestays are a unique and authentic option for accommodation in Vietnam. They allow visitors to stay in the home of a local family and experience Vietnamese culture firsthand. They can be found in rural areas and are a great way to support local communities.

Resorts

Resorts are also a popular option for accommodation in Vietnam, particularly for those looking for luxury and relaxation. Many resorts offer amenities such as private beaches, swimming pools, and spa services. They are mainly found on the coast, and on the islands of Vietnam.

Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals such as apartments, houses, and villas, are becoming a popular option in Vietnam, especially for families and groups of travelers. They offer more space, privacy, and amenities than hotels, and can be a cost-effective option for longer stays.

Overall, Vietnam offers a variety of accommodation options to suit every budget. Stay at a variety of options to experience the beauty of the country.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Vietnam Open
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Vietnam is a country of contrasts, where lush green landscapes, bustling cities and traditional culture coexist. From the vibrant streets of Ho Chi Minh City to the tranquil beauty of Ha Long Bay, here are just a few of the top things to do in Vietnam that you won't want to miss.

      1. Explore Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

      Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam and a melting pot of traditional and modern culture. Visitors can explore its vibrant streets, historical landmarks, and enjoy the delicious local food.

      2. Visit the ancient city of Hoi An

      Hoi An is an ancient city located in the central region of Vietnam, known for its well-preserved architecture, traditional markets, and beautiful beaches.

      3. Visit the beautiful Ha Long Bay

      Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Gulf of Tonkin, known for its emerald waters, limestone islands and caves. Visitors can explore the bay by boat, swimming and kayaking.

      4. Visit the historical city of Hue

      Hue is a city located in the central region of Vietnam, known for its historical landmarks, including the Citadel, and the beautiful Perfume River.

      5. Visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels

      The Cu Chi Tunnels are a network of underground tunnels located in the Ho Chi Minh City area, used during the Vietnam War. Visitors can explore the tunnels and learn about the history of the war.

      6. Visit the Mekong Delta

      The Mekong Delta is the southernmost region of Vietnam, known for its unique culture, floating markets, and beautiful landscapes. Visitors can explore the delta by boat and discover the traditional way of life of the local communities.

      7. Visit the city of Hanoi

      Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, known for its beautiful lakes, historical landmarks, and traditional markets. Visitors can also enjoy a traditional "cyclo" tour around the city.

      8. Visit the Sapa Region

      Sapa is a mountainous region located in the northwest of Vietnam, known for its beautiful landscapes, traditional hill tribe cultures and trekking opportunities.

      9. Visit the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

      Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Quang Binh province of central Vietnam, known for its beautiful caves and underground rivers.

      10. Visit the city of Hoi An

      Hoi An is a city located in the central region of Vietnam, known for its well-preserved architecture, traditional markets, and beautiful beaches. Visitors can also explore the nearby My Son Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site and an important religious center of the Champa Kingdom.

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