In Vietnam we decided to make a little stopover in Hoi an. The opportunity to make some custom clothes, including my wedding dress! :)
Backpacking Vietnam: our best tips for things to see and do in Vietnam
Our 7 weeks backpacking through Vietnam have been one of the best time during our round the world trip! We had initially planned to spend 3 weeks in this country... Going from one highlight to the other, a lot of good times, we finally extended our visa and our stay travel for more than 7 weeks, from the south of Vietnam and the Mekong delta to the north (Hanoi, Sapa, Babe lake)!
At the end of this page you will find all our blog posts written during our stay in Vietnam.
- Vietnam Map
- Travel Budget in Vietnam
- Climate in Vietnam: when to travel?
- Visa conditions for Vietnam
- Getting to Vietnam
- Some Vietnamese basics useful for travelling
- Vietnam Itinerary: best places to visit
- How to get around in Vietnam
- Vietnamese Cuisine
- Useful travel Ressources for Vietnam
- All our blog posts about Vietman
Our Vietnam travel map
Vietnam is a very loonngggg country that lies to the east of the Indochinese peninsula. The capital of Vietnam is Hanoi (you'll find our Hanoi blog post here), which is located in the north of the country. During our round the world trip we arrived in Vietnam from the south (from Cambodia) then we went up the country by bus until we finally reached Laos by the northernmost border of the country.
Here is the map with all our "Vietnam" blog posts:
Travel Budget in Vietnam
Here is what we spent during our backpacking trip through Vietnam.
Date of our trip: end of December 2013 to February 2014.
|Item||Daily budget per person|
That is a total budget of about 18,6€ per day and per person.
You will find more details about how we spent our money in Vietnam in this blog post:
Climate in Vietnam: when to travel to Vietnam?
Vietnam has a "monsoon" climate let's be honest, considering the length of the country the climate is not quite the same everywhere!To begin with, one of the most important points: winter! In the south of the country this notion does not exist, so to speak, because it is hot all year round! On the other hand in the north, and especially if you climb to Sapa for example the days are often pleasant between 10°C and 20°C but the nights can be quite cool (we experienced as low as 6°C). 6°C is not freezing, but you just have to realize that the houses and especially the insulation is not quite the same as in Europe! So 6°C outside, meant something like 13°C inside ;) #PullOutTheBlankets
Afterwards, as you can see in the small illustration above, there is basically no really bad time to come to Vietnam, although ideally it is better to give up coming between July and August because of the heavy rains.
Visa conditions for Vietnam
Vietnam is a country that requires a visa to enter its territory.
Exception: People with french nationality who wish to travel to Vietnam for less than 15 days can benefit from a visa waiver.
To make your classic visa for Vietnam you have several options:
- At the Vietnamese Embassy in your country of residence
- By correspondence in your country of residence (if you live far from the embassy for example)
- To Vietnamese embassies of other countries if you are traveling with travel agencies in neighboring countries (so they are the ones who take care of the process... this solution is obviously more expensive but much more practical)
Vietnam eVisa: the new easy solution
Since the beginning of 2017 a small innovation has been introduced: it is now possible to obtain an eVisa for Vietnam. This is really great news because the eVisa is:
- Can be done from anywhere! All you need is a passport and a credit card with youMuch cheaper than the classic visa ($25 for 30 days)
To make your eVisa it is really very simple but you have to be careful! By typing eVisa Vietnam in Google we find a lot of sites that all look more or less official.... Remember that only .gov sites are the officials! (unfortunately they seem less good in SEO than agencies, so their site does not get first on Google) ;)
Anyway the official website is this one.
You are free to go through an agency, but just know that anything over $25 is the seller's commission...
Visa extension in Vietnam
Once in Vietnam it is quite easy to extend your visa! When we were there, we chose the option of simplicity and entrusted our passports to the reception of our hotel, which offered this service... I must admit that I was never able to find the official price for this extension, but the prospect of going to an immigration office and trying to get our minds around it didn't really motivated us. For the information: we paid 35$ per person to extend our visa for 30 days (this price was probably too high but in the end we were happy being able to visit Hanoi instead of waiting at the immigration office).
Attention: if you entered Vietnam with a visa waiver it is not possible to extend your stay!
How to get to Vietnam?Vietnam is a very long country and therefore has many airports. But only 4 airports receive international flights. These are Hanoi, Ho Chin Mihn, Nha Trang and Da Nang. As you can see on the map opposite, they are relatively well distributed between the north and south. Your arrival airport will therefore depend heavily on the region you plan to visit.
We will tell you more about it in the chapter dedicated to itineraries but in Vietnam it is really important not to underestimate the travel time between localities. So if you come "only" for 2 weeks it will probably be difficult to see the north AND south of the country (unless you take national flights along the way).
Tip: If you are traveling from north to south (or south to north) try to see if it is possible to arrive at Ho Chi Mihn and leave from Hanoi (or vice versa). This will save you from having to make two trips overland!
We advise you to compare on Skyscanner what is the price difference between the above option and the option of taking a round trip to the same city (it is often cheaper this way) and adding an internal flight from north to south (or vice versa)
Some useful words of Vietnamese
Okay... we're not going to lie... Vietnamese is not a language you can learn in a few weeks (unless you're very good at languages ;) ). But as usual, even if you don't speak the language of a country, it's no reason not to try to learn a few short sentences or expressions of politeness. The idea here is not even to be understood, but rather to show people that we are trying to take an interest in their language and that we make an effort. I promise, a few words here and there make the contact much easier! (and to reassure you, overall we found that people spoke relatively good English... at least their English was much better than our Vietnamese so just for that we can only appreciate every word)
|Hello||xin chào||Good evening||xin chào|
cảm ơn bạn
|My name is||
tôi tên là
|Yes/No||có / không|
|How much is it?||giá bảo nhiều ?||It's very good||Ngon !|
|I am looking for...||
Tôi tìm kiếm
|City center||trị trấn||Cheers!||chúc sức khỏe !|
Vietnam Itinerary: our best things to see and do in Vietnam
Vietnam is a very large country and we spent almost 7 weeks there. 7 weeks is a long time, but we are VERY far from having seen everything! But if we had to give you our favorites in Vietnam it would probably be something like (from south to north):
- The Mekong delta: A beautiful region where you can eat delicious fish. We really enjoyed our few days in South Vietnam! Next time we'd like to push to the island of Phu Quoc which looks beautiful! Our article on the Mekong Delta
- The impressive Phong Nha caves! Seriously, by far the most impressive caves we have ever seen! Of course we couldn't visit Hang Soon Dong (the largest cave in the world that was only discovered in 2010! Its visit is extremely limited and expensive). But the other caves in the national park are just as worth a visit! Our blog post
- Cat Ba Island: Halong Bay but more quiet... We wanted to go to Halong Bay first but we admit that we were discouraged by all the excitement and very massive tourism. So we "fell back" on Cat Ba and the least we can say is that we didn't regret it for a second! Our blog post here
- Babe Lake: A real favorite for this region! Certainly for the magnificent landscapes but also and especially for the authenticity of the place and the absolutely incredible welcome we received there! Our Babe blog post
You would prefer organize your holiday in Vietnam with an agency? We recommend you to take a look at the Evaneos website! Evaneos is an agency that works exclusively with local travel agents and they offer many itineraries for all budgets. It's perfect to get some inspiration about different travel itineraries in Vietnam but also the best place to book your holidays in Vietnam. They even offer a "freedom" tour where they take care of booking your accommodations and transportation but leave you more or less free to choose your program during the day. Not bad, right?
How to get around in Vietnam
The best way to get around Vietnam is clearly by bus. There are buses that go literally everywhere in the country and the prices are very affordable. On the other hand, we recommend you not to take the front seats of the bus because sometimes the Vietnamese drivers think they are Formula 1 drivers... In short, from our experience, it is sometimes better not to see in front of the bus when the Vietnamese drivers overtake other vehicles ;)
Otherwise, a cool thing that we didn't have at the time of our round-the-world trip, is that there are now online platforms to book your bus tickets super easily (and without needing to negotiate ;) ). We recommend you to have a look at Bookaway or 12GO Asia
Is Vietnamese food the best in the world?Ok... putting a question in my title is maybe already a little clue about our opinion! ;) For us, Asian cuisine in general is a big favorite but I think Vietnamese cuisine is at the top of the list! For Ben it is the best... For me I would put a little option on Thai cuisine that I love more than anything! Then maybe it's just the fact that in Vietnam we often find coriander in dishes and I HATE it (but like really... I don't know, it's a flavor I can't stand).
In short, beyond my little phobia of Coriander the Vietnamese food, I must admit that, it is damn good!
Our top Vietnamese cuisine?
- The Pho: The undeniable Vietnamese noodle soup! We ate so many of them during our 7 weeks there that in the end we even got into local habits... that is to say? eating them for breakfast! :)
- The Bo Buhn: Sautéed rice noodles with meat and lots of vegetables! Yummy yummy yummy yummy, an absolute must-try!
- The Bahn Cuon: some kind of rice paste ravioli that are simply to fall for!
- Bahn Mi: Ok this one I put it on because it had made us very happy around the world when we were in crucial need of bread.... Yes, with the French presence, Vietnamese bread is by far the closest thing to French baguettes in Asia!
- Coffee!!! Technically it's not a dish, but we fell madly in love with Vietnamese coffees. The concept? yu get a cup and a container with the coffee is placed on top, then the hot water is run through it. Then we wait... a long time... a very long time even if the coffee is well squeezed. But it's soooo good! (especially with a small amount of condensed milk in the cup ;) ). In short, it had become our little pleasure of the day to order coffees and watch them flow hahaha