Vietnam has become one the most worth-visiting Asia countries for international travelers thanks to several breathtaking landscapes, sun-drenched beaches, and ancient culture. Have a look at the overview of Vietnam and our suggestions for what to expect on Vietnam travel.
Located in Southeast Asia, Vietnam calls to visitors’ minds street vendors selling tasty food, beautiful paddy fields, streets crowded with motorbikes, and colorful floating markets on the Mekong River. To many, the country was known for the conflict with two Western countries France and America also called the Vietnam War in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, those days are long gone, and modern life with businesses of all sizes is now conducted in all corners where you can often see locals chatting with a glass of bia hoi along the streets at night or enjoying a bowl of Pho in the morning.
Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh City in the south are the two main cities of Vietnam. Hanoi is known as the place that contains and remains Vietnamese traditional values with several ancient towns and pagodas, while Ho Chi Minh City is the economy central with hectic trading and many services including education and finance.
Vietnam Key Facts
|Area||330,967 sq km (127,787 sq miles) (UN estimate, 2014)|
|Population||94,444,200 (UN estimate, 2016)|
|Provinces||58 provinces and 5 municipalities|
|Currency||Vietnam Dong (VND)|
|GDP||US$ 224 billion (World Bank, 2017)|
|Ethnic groups||54 groups, the majority is Kinh (Viet)|
|Major religions||Folk religion (69.1%), Buddhism (11.7%), Christianity (8.5%), Caodaism (2.7%), Hoahaoism (1.4%), and Islam (0.1%)|
Weather in Vietnam
The weather in Vietnam is quite different across the country. Northern Vietnam can be quite cold (under 10 degrees Celcius) during some months of winter (November to January), and extremely hot in the summer. Raining and typhoon season is also what you should notice because they may prevent some services from operating and delay your journey.
Read more on When is the Best Time to Visit Vietnam.
Culture in Vietnam
As Vietnam is a country in the Eastern cultural sphere, you should expect to experience slight differences if you are from Western countries. The general rules are respecting the elder, wearing appropriate clothes when visiting religious and cultural attractions, not showing too much affection in public places, and not making big arguments in public places because it may cause others to lose face.
Safety and Security in Vietnam
Traveling to Vietnam is fairly safe, but you should take reasonable precautions to protect yourself and your belongings alike. It is advisable for you to leave the original personal document including passports in a safe place and carry a photocopy of your passport when going out. It is the case that visitors’ personal belongings are often snatched when traveling to Vietnam, especially in crowded areas such as major cities and tourist attractions. You should also not flash your jewelry and valuable items in such places. Being alert to pickpockets and bag snatchers as well as taking care of your belongings should always be given priority.
There is no history of terrorism as well as violent rebellion in Vietnam. Besides, personal attacks such as rape and other sexual assault rarely take place in Vietnam. However, you should take sensible precautions and avoid walking alone at midnight.
Read more on Is it Safe to Travel in Vietnam.
Find your Vietnam travel insurance:
The official currency in Vietnam is Vietnam Dong (VND), but US Dollars can be accepted in some tourist areas. It is advisable to change your money at official exchange money counters to avoid the risk of losing money. ATMs are available in almost all tourist areas and major cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Vietnam Entry Requirements
Apart from those coming from some countries and regions having visa exemption arrangements with Vietnam such as Singapore, Denmark, and Germany, most foreign travelers are supposed to apply for a visa to enter Vietnam. You can also use the visa on arrival or e-visa which will considerably save you time and effort compared to getting the visa at Vietnam Embassy in your own country. Have a look at How to Obtain a Vietnam Visa and Vietnam Visa on Arrival for further information.
What to Pack for Vietnam
Light and comfortable clothes for a tropical country like Vietnam are reasonable, but warm clothes should also be in your luggage if you are going to cold climate areas like Sapa during the winter. You should also prepare sunscreen and repellent to avoid sunburnt and insect bites, and other medication of your own. And last but not least, cameras, phones, chargers, and travel adaptors keep the memory of experiences you have in Vietnam.
Read more on Things to Bring to Vietnam.
Road Travel in Vietnam
As the motorbike is the main transportation in Vietnam, many foreign visitors may find it challenging to get accustomed to the Vietnam transportation system. Traffic accidents appear to take place frequently in Vietnam. Therefore, if you are planning to drive a motorbike, you are supposed to understand the roads and be an experienced motorcycle rider. If you don’t have a motorcycle license, you can still have the experience by choosing professional motorbike city tours.
Apart from motorbikes, taxis and buses are considered good choices for foreigners. It is advisable for you to check the published fares before booking a taxi in case the taxi drivers overcharge you.
Find your bus/train ticket online:
Read more on Different Types of Transportation in Vietnam.
What to Do in Vietnam
Explore natural beauty
Being declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Halong Bay is considered one of the most worth-visiting places in Vietnam with beautiful landscapes and several marvelous caves. Nha Trang and Phu Quoc are also good choices for those who love stunning beaches. If you prefer to go trekking in mountainous areas, Sapa is highly recommended.
Read more on 12 Beautiful Places in Vietnam.
Visit temples and pagodas
As Buddhism is the main religion in Vietnam, there is a wide variety of pagodas to visit in the country. Anyone is welcome in a pagoda in Vietnam. However, proper clothes are always required. Have a look at 8 Amazing Pagodas You Have to See in Vietnam.
Enjoy Vietnamese food
One of the top worth-tasting Vietnamese cuisines that food lovers cannot miss when coming to Vietnam is Pho which is a kind of soup with rice noodles and beef or chicken. Besides, Vietnam is widely known as a street food paradise in which Vietnamese pizza, papaya salad, banh mi, and banh xeo are top famous food. If you are a coffee lover, you must want to explore Vietnamese coffee culture and try Vietnamese coffee which is known for its strong and flavorful taste.
Check out our private motorbike tours with professional local guides
Summary of Vietnam at a Glance
As a beautiful Asia country, Vietnam is worth-traveling due to several natural landscapes and ancient cultures. Before you travel to Vietnam, make sure to have enough essential information and a list of what to do in this wonderful country.
Check out our insider’s Vietnam travel tips.
Find where to stay in Vietnam: