My favorite out of all the countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam provides travelers with a greater challenge. There are less English speakers in Vietnam, and therefore it is often seen as a rougher and tougher country in comparison to Thailand, yet Vietnam is filled with some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. If you are faced with a problem, Vietnamese people will be able to solve it immediately, whether it’s assisting you with a motorbike accident, or helping you catch a bus. On top of that, it has some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen like in Halong Bay and Phong Nha Ke Ba. I could praise Vietnam all day, so just go.
Currency: Vietnamese Dong ₫ (VND) (click here for current conversion rates)
Visa: Yes (Click here for current Visa information)
Wifi friendly: Yes, there are plenty of coffee shops with wifi as well as many hostels with excellent wifi.
SIM cards: Viettel is the largest network in Vietnam and I found it to be the most effective. Bring your passport when buying.
Dare to Experience: Buy a motorbike and ride it from South to North or vice versa.
Hostels: Hostels are extremely budget-friendly ranging from $5-$8 and do not disappoint. Almost every hostel in Vietnam includes breakfast and sometimes happy hour prices on beer.
Hotels: Budget-friendly hotel rooms start at $11.
Food & Drink
Vietnamese food is extremely affordable if you leave the main backpacker area. Street food will always be cheaper than in restaurants. Pho on Bui Ven in Ho Chi Minh City is around 70,000 dong, but if you leave the backpackers area, you can find some delicious pho for around 20,000 dong. A good quality banh mi shouldn’t cost more than 15,000 dong.
If you want to drink beer, just know that Vietnamese people put ice in their beer. Why? Because their beer isn’t cold. So decide if you want warm beer or the possibility of dirty ice. Cheers= Yo!
Cao Lau- a dish of noodles, pork and local greens and can only be found in Hoi An.
Banh xeo- a sizzling rice pancake similar to a crepe filled with slices of pork, shrimp and bean sprouts
Bun cha- grilled fatty pork served over white rice noodles with a side of herbs and a sauce for dipping. Find in Hanoi.
Banh mi- a Vietnamese sandwich served on a baguette filled with variations of pickled carrots, onions, pork, pate, chicken, and even egg.
How to get there
The international airports are Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) in Ho Chi Minh City or Noi Bai (HAN) in Hanoi. If you are traveling by land, you may take a 25-30 hour bus ride from Laos starting at $12 or 6 hour bus ride from Cambodia for $6-$12.
It is very easy to walk around each city in Vietnam. If you don’t feel like walking though, motorbike taxis or regular taxis may be used, which both require a bit of negotiations. For more taxi tips, click here.
If you have enough time, I suggest buying a motorbike. It’s life-changing. If not, there are inexpensive sleeper buses available. Prices depend on which cities you are traveling. If you are short on time, one way flights between Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi can be as low as $30.
Phrases to know
Hello= xin cháo pronounced seen chow
Thank you= cảm ơn pronounced like come on
How much?= bao nhiêu pronounced ban niew