Backpacking Vietnam: 15 Things You Need To Know Before You Visit Vietnam
Back in 2016, I went Backpacking Vietnam for 2 weeks in Vietnam. I wish I knew a few of things before I went. This is the ultimate list of Vietnam tips and tricks that first-timers need to know. It can also help you have safe travels. It should help you avoid common mistakes and prepare you for traveling. It is one of the most stunning countries I have been too.
I heard that many people have had a bad experience and will never return to Vietnam. While I was in Vietnam I thought the people were one of the friendliest countries in the world. Lonely Plant and Forbes said it was. I would love to go back and can’t see why you won’t go back to. If you don’t want to go back comment down below why.
I did a 3-week adventure Backpacking Vietnam. it was one of the most memorable and time I have ever had, so far traveling. I fell in love with the lively culture and variety of landscapes It offers, that will blow your mind.
When it is done right, traveling around Vietnam can be an amazing thing you have done. That is why I have compiled the ultimate list of everything you need to know about Vietnam before you Visit Vietnam, so you can have the best time ever for a safe, scam-free trip.
1. Sort Out Your Visa
The first thing to do before you go to Vietnam and is the most important one. Is to sort out your Vietnam Visa. Without one, you can’t get into Vietnam. It’s surprising that amount of people that are too lazy to sort out their visa before they get to Vietnam.
It can seem daunting and baffling process. But it is really not. There are many companies that offer you an e visa Vietnam, but don’t trust them as there are lots of scams out there. The best is Vietnam Visa Pro or go to the Vietnam embassy for scam free Visa. That is what I did, all I did was queue up for about 30 minutes and then paid for my Visa all done within 1 hour if you go as soon as it opens.
Having a visa beforehand means that you won’t have to queue up at the airport when you arrive to get one. The queue can be very long and take a few hours, so having one in advance will mean you spend more time exploring Vietnam,
The Steps to complete your Vietnam Visa:
- Fill out the Visa form and provide a copy of your Passport.
- now you Pay for the Visa,
- Get the Visa approved
- You have your visa that will be clipped to your Passport.
- Show it to the officer when you arrive in Vietnam for them to double check and you are fine.
2. Check Your Travel Vaccinations
The second most important thing to do before going to Vietnam. Is to book an appointment with your general practitioner 5 weeks before so that you get all the necessary vaccinations you need, otherwise, you don’t want your holiday ruined by you getting ill. There are the odd few I meet while traveling through Vietnam that did not get any vaccinations and they were fine, but you don’t want to risk any catching smoothing.
3. Get Ready To Haggle.
Prices are very cheap for things in Vietnam, but expect to pay whatever price you can try to haggle it for. Some people think it is wrong to haggle and get a cheaper price in a developing country. It can be daunting at first to haggle, but you get used to it.
The Vietnams are known for Inflating prices. That is how they do business. One way they do this that I saw. When you go to a resonant they see you speak English and give you an English menu and the prices on there have been inflated. As you look at the normal Vitamins menu has different prices.
It’s best practice when backpacking not to bring expensive items. It will make you look rich such as jewelry, watches and big bank notes. Having all of this with you to show will make prices go up and hide them to help with haggling.
4. The Beaches Are Not All That
There are lots of beaches in Vietnam, but they are very disappointing. Vietnam is not famous for its beaches and it is famous for other things, such as the caves, the local culture, and Ha Long Bay. If you are traveling from the Philippines or Thailand then Vietnam’s beaches will be underwhelming.
Vietnam is not a beach holiday destination. It is more for landscape, urban and culture. The beaches are not the cleanest beaches out there. There are better things to be doing with your time out in Vietnam than sitting on a beach. When you can do that in a different country with better beaches
5. People Are Very Lovely
Most people say that the Vietnamese people are not nice. When visiting you get the feeling that they are greedy and shady people, but that is only if you are going on the tourist routes.
When you actually try to communicate with them. They’re very kind, compassionate people. That is what I found during my travels. I had a few tours and the tour guides were very helpful and Friendly. In addition to this, It was raining in Dalat and I went to a coffee shop. The owner was great letting us stay there until it stopped raining and wonderful chatting with them and learning about their culture.
The children are very happy, they are always waving at you and smiling >It makes you think they have less than us but always smiling and happy. They are one of the kindest and friendliest countries in the world said the Lonely Planet.
6. Motorbikes Are Everywhere
Vietnam is one of the countries with the most motorbikes. Motorbikes remain the most popular means of transportation in Vietnam, which has a population of around 92 million people and 45 million registered motorbikes, according to the Ministry of Transport. That is 1 motorbike for every 2 people. Even some families have more than one motorbike.
As soon as I left the airport, I saw a motorbike crash. Crossing the roads can feel a daunting experience with many crazy motorcyclists on the road. The best way to be safe while crossing the road. Is to cross at a zebra crossing. When it goes green for you to walk you walk as quickly as possible get to the other side.
Vietnamese people will still drive off when it is red. If you are moving the motorist will dodge around you. I still recommend you go rent a motorbike but don’t rid at night or in Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi other than that it should be fine riding a motorbike/moped.
7. You Don’t Need To Tip Here.
In most countries, so it is courtesy to tip, but Vietnam is not a country where they tip. It is not expected of you to trip.
The only time it is ok to tip is when you go to spas for a massage or upscale restaurants. They are still getting used to the ways of tipping
8. Hanoi is not what you think it will be.
When someone says to you Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam. You immediately think of it to be the biggest city and very populated. In fact, the biggest city in Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh.
Hanoi is a small city that is not very busy and quieter then Ho Chi Minh. It has more of a Village vibe than a city one and has lost of the streets of the old quarters to get lost in while shopping for local handicrafts. I advise you to take a walking tour. In that way, you get to know Hanoi better. Each street specializes in one type of item such a street for metal and another for medicine etc.
9. The Sleeper Buses Are Awesome
If you are planning to travel around to different cities on a budget, then a sleeper bus is the way. Before I went to Vietnam I had never seen anything like their sleeper buses.
The individual seats are more like a be. The bus is not just for long journey even if you take a 3-hour bus journey you get a bed, that is just the way all the buses are.
The trains are not a great way of transport in my opinion. As I did not go with them but I can’t compare. I asked a few people that did and they said they are old and go around the hills and mountains so you get to miss the views.
The sleeper buses are very clean and have a toilet on board. It won’t be the best night’s sleep you’ll ever have, but it saves you money on a hotel/hostel for the night and ensures you don’t lose days in transit and traffic.
10. Keep Your Belongings Secure on The Overnight Buses and Trains.
Before I went I heard bad things about taking trains in Asian counties. People on the night trains, sleeping got their stuff stolen or even worse things happened. I did not go on the trains as they cost more, but traveled on the sleeper buses lots of times. The only bad thing was that if you’re not careful you things can get stolen.
The way to prevent this is to just keep your belongings in your bed with you and keep an eye on them and you should be safe. When you are in a rest area bring your belongings with you or get one of your friends to keep an eye on them if they stay on the bus.
11. Vietnam Is Bigger Than You Think
This was my first backpacking trip and I was with my brother and our friend. We had 2 weeks in Vietnam. I thought that was enough time to see the whole country, To my amazement, it was not enough time.
Coming from the UK I could get halfway up The UK from London in less than half a day. To get from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi takes 33 hours by train. If you do the south to north trip like I did, then be prepared to rush it. I missed a few things as I did not have enough time. If I had 3 weeks or more, I could have seen everything I wanted to.
12. Wi-Fi Is Better Than What You Think.
I was expecting there to be placed with no WIFI but Wi-Fi networks are reliable and can be found pretty much everywhere, even some street vendors have it.
Pretty much all the hostels and hotels provide free Wi-Fi. You won’t need to buy a sim card as you just find Wi-Fi and then use Whatsapp to call and text your friends and family.
The night buses came with WI-FI that was protected with a password. You need to ask the bus driver before you get on what the password is. This is brilliant, so you can sit back and relax watching your favorite Netflix services while on a long bus journey.
13. It’s Freaking Cheap Place.
The only thing that is expensive is the flight tickets to Vietnam. Once you are there everything you buy In Vietnam will be a bargain. You get a meal for less than a £5 and Vietnam is one of the cheapest places in the world to buy beer. You can get a pint of beer for 50 pence from one of the street vendors.
You can easily budget for £20 or £30 per day. This will include all your meals, accommodation, transport and tours or activities for the day. But watch out as packaged tours can cost you £50 for just one, so only do it if you know it will be worth it.
Shopping for things are also very cheap. If you stick to tip 3 I mentioned earlier you can save even more money by haggling. Don’t go to Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City, as the prices are jacked up there. We found out that later when we were in Hanoi, we could get coffee cheaper from a coffee shop.
14. At Least Do Your Homework
The best thing I did before going to Vietnam was planning my route and then jotting down the best things to do in each town we go to. This way you don’t get to Vietnam with limited time there and spending too much time in one Town and miss out on great things that you regret seeing when the trip is over.
The best thing my brother did was ask one of the receptionists at the first hotel. To go through our 2 weeks Vietnam Itinerary. We got an amended itinerary from a Local who lived in lots of places around Vietnam. You can check it out. As I did an itinerary post. They are very kind people willing to help you if you are nice to them.
I am not one for doing tours, but I did a few in Vietnam as that country has lost of history, I did not know about before I went. If you decide to go on a tour. First, you need to check the reviews out and some tours have the same name so watch out for fake ones.
Also, don’t book any from your hotel/hostel as you could be paying £50 for just one as I found out on the first day. The best way is to ask other travelers for best tours and also walk around looking at different travel agents.
Regarding price, tours are subject to haggling just like almost everything in the country. At the same time. One tour you can only book directly from a hostel was the castaway tour. As Vietnam Backpacker Hostels on that tour and run it. A 2 and half day Private Island tour around Halong Bay. There are lots of places scamming you saying they offer that tour but are fake,
15. Get Your Fashion On In Hoi An
Vietnamese tailors are famous for their great quality and how cheap it is, the speed at which they can produce the personalized item. The main tailors are located in Hoi An. They size you up and then make it for the next day or even post it back to your home.
You can get a full tailored suit for £50 and it is very good quality. You can even get nearly any idea of clothing made for you there. The best way to find out if the shop is good, is to ask what type of material and design match up. A good tailor will know what materials and design match up. Hoi An is the place to get tailed suits or dresses.
What did you think of these 15 Things you need to know before visiting Vietnam? If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, please do leave me a comment and let me know!
If you are planning a trip to go backpacking Vietnam, then share your travel plans below.
If you have been already, then share your own useful travel tips. I would like to know if there are any additional tips I don’t know about.
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