The best time to visit the country and explore Vietnam tourism is between December to March and from August to October. There is hardly any rainfall during this time and it’s the best weather to explore the beautiful country. If you are a trekking enthusiast, you can book your trip between February and April and include treks and hikes in your Vietnam tourism itinerary. One can also say that Vietnam is a year-round destination with a pleasant climate throughout the country. However, if you are planning to explore the northern side of Vietnam tourism, you may want to ensure that you avoid the rainy season. The best time to visit North Vietnam is between September and November and from March to May.
Getting a Vietnamese visa is an easy process. Travellers from most European and Asian countries can get a visa on arrival and the maximum duration of your stay will depend on your home country. Since 2017, Indian passport holders are eligible to obtain a visa on arrival when visiting Vietnam. The process is fast and without any hassles but we highly recommend filling the online visa form well in advance.
Vietnam Visa on Arrival (VOA) is a legal document approved by the Vietnamese government. One can apply for it online via any of the e-commerce websites offering a Vietnamese visa. After approval, you will receive a corresponding approval letter that needs to be shown at the airport to pick up the visa. The visa can be picked up at one of the three international airports in Vietnam – Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Da Nang. The requirements for submitting the VOA application include a valid passport with at least six months validity.
Hoi An can’t be missed or ignored when you are planning your Vietnam tourism itinerary. This city is an erstwhile port city and a growing tourist attraction, renowned for its Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated along the Thu Bồn River, Hoi An is home to archaic temples, quirky cafes, bustling markets and inviting homestays. We recommend spending at least three days in the city so that you can explore the neighbouring countryside as well as enjoy the bliss of spending a few warm afternoons at the beach. Travellers also recommend enrolling in a few cooking classes in Hoi An if you want to experience the local way of life.
Cycles are common in the city and are a popular means of transport for most travellers. Whether you want to explore the nearby An Bang Beach or take a longer trip to the countryside through rice paddies, cycles are your best bet. There are numerous cycling tours that take place throughout the year and more so during the tourist season. We recommend booking one the moment you arrive before the temptation of spending all your time in cafes takes over. Shopping enthusiasts should keep some time in their Vietnam tourism itinerary to explore its vibrant markets. Handmade souvenirs, local apparel, herbs, coffee and spices are some of the things that Hoi An is known for. As the sun sets, the city transforms into one big street glittering under a kaleidoscope of lights. Street food vendors, shopping kiosks and small restaurants replace cycle-filled streets and make way for the long celebration, every night.
Hoi An is the perfect example of a traditional Vietnamese town that has seamlessly integrated modern comforts and we promise it will be difficult to bid adieu to this beauty. You can expect a busy itinerary when in Hoi An but some of the highlights that should be in your list are Fujian Assembly Hall, the Old Town, the Japanese Covered Bridge and My Son Sanctuary. You can hire a taxi to reach Hoi An or choose to fly to Danang. Danang is the closest city to Hoi An with an airport and a railway station.
Hanoi may not be the largest city in Vietnam but it’s certainly the most popular. An undeniable part of Vietnam tourism, the capital city of Hanoi is a beautiful destination worth exploring. It is situated along the Red River and is home to numerous ancient temples, pagodas and more than ten lakes. Hanoi was once ruled by the French, whose influence is visible in the French Quarter. A must-visit for photographers and history lovers, the city offers you a fulfilling experience.
The ‘City of Lakes’ is as charming as it is welcoming and no Vietnam tourism itinerary is complete without spending a few days here. Often called the ‘Paris of the East’, Hanoi’s multicultural vibe is its most attractive feature as are the many food streets. What also puts Hanoi at the top of the list for travellers exploring Vietnam tourism is the variety of experiences it offers. You can enjoy Vietnamese egg coffee in a cafe, dig into traditional Vietnamese cuisine on a village tour and end the day at a bustling bar. Hanoi sums up the Vietnamese experience quite seamlessly and it almost feels as though you have seen the entire country.
Hanoi is divided into different sections namely Old Quarter, French Quarter, Ba Dinh district, Hoan Kiem district and Tay Ho district. You can include guided tours of all the top attractions in your Vietnam tourism itinerary or explore the city on your own. The top highlights that should be part of your itinerary are the Ho Chi Minh Museum, Hoan Kiem Lake, Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo Prison and Bach Ma Temple.
Halong Bay is an integral part of Vietnam tourism. Most travellers choose a tour of Halong Bay to experience this gorgeous region in North Vietnam. Halong Bay directly translates to ‘the place of descending dragons’ and has gained popularity in the recent past. A natural wonder, it is home to 1600 limestone islands and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The unique diversity and the surreal natural beauty are a delight and exploring Vietnam tourism without Halong Bay is impossible.
There are numerous tours that take you to Halong Bay and you can choose to travel by car or bus from Hanoi. For luxury travellers, there is a helicopter ride available which is mesmerising. There are five tours that you can choose from and we highly recommend an overnight boat tour which gives you a chance to admire a sunset and sunrise. Halong Bay is home to numerous hotels and homestays that are ideal for those who have a longer trip in mind. Kayaking and camping are some of the popular activities that can feature on your Vietnam tourism itinerary when in Halong Bay.
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam. An important part of Vietnam tourism, it is unmissable in most itineraries since it’s home to the biggest international airport in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is where traditional markets and old temples coexist with glittering malls and world-famous restaurants, where motorbikes buzz past you and where street hawkers invite you to try the best banh mi.
Bustling with energy, the city brings together various elements to offer you an unforgettable experience. The first thing that greets you in Ho Chi Minh City is the host of sounds. Packed with honking cars, yelling hawkers and chaotic streets, Ho Chi Minh City is similar to any urban city in the world and yet it preserves its unique character. Situated on the banks of the Saigon River, the city offers an unbelievable cultural experience, especially for history lovers. Ho Chi Minh City was officially called Saigon until 1976 but despite the introduction of the new name, most people still refer to the city by its former name. The best way to explore the city is by walking but you can also rent a car or a motorcycle. There are numerous walking tours that take place throughout the year and if you have the time, we certainly recommend including one in your Vietnam tourism itinerary.
The War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, Saigon Opera House, the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Notre Dame Cathedral are some of the best places to include in your tour of Vietnam tourism when you are exploring Ho Chi Minh City. If you are a shopping enthusiast, we recommend including Ben Thanh Market in your Vietnam tourism itinerary. Offering everything from apparel, souvenirs, packaged foods and beauty products, the market is the ideal place to complete your shopping. Ho Chi Minh City is also well known for the huge number of malls that are located in the city. The malls are home to both global brands and local brands that offer a reasonable shopping tour.
Hue is one of the oldest cities in the country and was once the capital city. During the Vietnam-America War, the city suffered tremendously but in the recent past, it has risen to be a popular tourist attraction. A must-include for history lovers in their Vietnam tourism itinerary, Hue boasts the awe-inspiring Complex of Hue Monuments, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Offering travellers a glimpse into the past through historical buildings and museums, you can easily spend three to four days in Hue.
You can book numerous walking tours to experience the city of Hue. We especially recommend visiting the Imperial City of Hue which is home to a walled fortress and palace. Commonly known as ‘the Citadel’, the palace is a sight to behold despite the damage it underwent during the war. The fort itself is home to a number of buildings including temples, libraries and halls. Some of the other places that you can include in your Vietnam tourism itinerary when exploring Hue are Hue Provincial Museum, the Perfume River, Minh Mang Tomb, Thien Mu Pagoda and Khai Dinh Tomb.
Trek in Sapa
Sapa is one of the most visited places in Vietnam. The hill station is known for its spellbinding views and cultural diversity. A favourite with trekkers, photographers and nature lovers, it’s often said to be one of the most beautiful places that travellers add to their Vietnam tourism itinerary. Surrounded by craggy mountains and marked by rice paddies, the hill station is mostly covered in mist and is remarkably different than other parts of Vietnam. Sapa is home to the Hoang Lien Son range of mountains, which includes the largest mountain in the country – Mount Fansipan. You can either opt for a guided trekking tour here or set out on your own to explore the mesmerising beauty. Another thing that stands out in Sapa is the local culture. The region is home to numerous tribal villages that have retained their tradition and it’s enlightening to interact and learn more about the country when on a tour here.
Trekking is one of the main activities here but you can also include a visit to Hoang Lien National Park in your Vietnam tourism itinerary to explore the local flora and fauna. There are guided forest treks for those who enjoy exploring nature reserves. You can either book these treks in advance or book on the spot if you are travelling with a large group.
Explore caves In Phong Nha
If you want to add a dash of adventure to your Vietnam trip, then you must include a trip to the various caves in Phong Nha in your Vietnam tourism itinerary. Situated in central Vietnam, the city is home to Son Doong Cave, which is one of the largest caves in the world. Exploring these caves is slightly tricky and you will have to plan your trip well in advance if you want to head here.
There are different tours that you can choose if you want to explore caves in Phong Nha but we strongly recommend choosing a reputed tour agency. The most popular tours include a visit to Hang Va Cave, Nuoc Nut Cave and Tu Lan Cave System. You can either choose to visit all over a period of three to four days or stick to a day tour of the most popular ones. Some activities that you can include in your cave tour are kayaking, swimming and camping.
Vietnam tourism is a blessing for budget travellers and backpackers. There are a variety of hotels, resorts and hostels in the country that range from luxurious to budget. You can find accommodation in the country without compromising on comfort or experience. Let's take a look at some of the hotels that are part of Vietnam tourism.
Luxury hotels in Vietnam
If you are on a luxury trip to Vietnam, you can expect a memorable experience. The luxury hotels in the country ensure that guests have an opportunity to experience the local culture and cuisine as well as enjoy the comforts of modern living. Some of the most sought-after luxury hotels in Vietnam tourism are:
Mid-budget hotels in Vietnam
If your idea of a perfect trip is spending more on experiences than accommodation then Vietnam tourism is going to surprise you. There are numerous mid-budget hotels in Vietnam that promise travellers a comfortable and memorable experience. Some of these budget hotels are family-run and offer experiences that help travellers learn more about the local culture. Some of the best mid-budget hotels that are part of Vietnam tourism are:
Budget hotels and hostels in Vietnam
Budget travellers can easily plan a trip to Vietnam without exhausting their budget. The country is budget friendly and offers travellers a hassle-free experience in terms of accommodation and travel. If you are on a solo trip, you can also choose to stay at a hostel – an option that will not only help you save money but will also give you a chance to interact with fellow travellers. Some of the best budget hotels that are part of Vietnam tourism are:
Some of the best hostels in Vietnam are:
Vietnamese cuisine is closely linked with the local culture and you can’t experience Vietnam tourism without trying some of the signature dishes. The country is divided into three regions and the food differs in the north, south and central. While the taste is similar, there are certain differences that ensure food lovers have a unique experience everywhere they visit. The cuisine in Northern Vietnam is spicy, whereas Central Vietnam offers a mix of spicy and herbal flavours and South Vietnam promises a mix of sweet and salty. Most dishes also use nuoc mam, a fermented fish sauce.
Food lovers suggest trying goi cuon that are spring rolls filled with greens and minced pork or shrimp. Pho is another dish that is an integral part of Vietnam tourism and is a noodle soup which is primarily a breakfast dish. You can have the noodle soup with chicken or shrimp. Banh xeo, banh mi thit, bo kho, cao lau, cha ca, banh khot and ga tan are some of the other dishes that you must try when exploring Vietnam tourism. Another thing that most people don’t know is that Vietnam is the second-largest coffee exporter in the world. In fact, most travellers recommend trying Vietnamese coffee in one of the quirky cafes spread across the country. The most popular coffee is cà phê sữa đá that is condensed milk topped with ice.
There are a number of restaurants in Vietnam that should be on your bucket list when exploring Vietnam tourism so you can experiment freely and go with your instincts. Some of the best restaurants in Vietnam tourism are Cuc Gach Quan, Hum Vegetarian Café & Restaurant, Cha Ca La Vong, Dalchini, Quan An Ngon, Full Moon Town, Club Opera Novel and Mango Mango.
Travelling in Vietnam is easy since the country is connected by a strong network of roads, railways and airways. However, it’s not always possible to fly to a place of your choice so you might have to opt for trains or buses. This is also a safe choice for those who are exploring Vietnam tourism on a budget.
Buses and trains in Vietnam offer travellers a comfortable experience. Whether your journey is three hours long or 35 hours long – you can expect a smooth experience. Most of the buses operating in the country offer sleeper seats, washrooms and free Wi-Fi. Air travel within the country is reasonable if you book your tickets in advance but there are a few luggage restrictions that you will have to adhere to.
Taxis are another common means of transport when exploring Vietnam tourism, especially in bigger cities. You can either hire a taxi for the entire duration of your trip or stick to short duration rides. Mai Linh or Vinasun taxis are some of the preferred taxi providers in Vietnam as they use meters to calculate the fares.
Vietnam has always been a budget-friendly destination. However, the growing popularity of Vietnam tourism has led to an increase in travel costs and accommodation. If you are a budget traveller, you may have to devote more time to research in order to have a budget-friendly trip.
Luxury travellers can expect to spend between Rs.10,000 and Rs.15,000 per day when exploring Vietnam tourism. This amount includes transport, activities and food.
If you are mid-budget traveller, you can expect to spend between Rs.5000 and Rs.8000 per day when exploring Vietnam tourism. This amount can reduce if you plan your trip carefully and stick to basic expenditure.
For budget travellers, per day costs of exploring Vietnam tourism can be between Rs.1000 and Rs.3000. This cost can vary depending on the tours that you choose and the places you cover in your Vietnam tourism itinerary.
Written by Kirat Sodhi. She is a proud mom of three cats and lives for lemon tea, a good book and spontaneous travel plans.