If you’re visiting Vietnam you likely will need a visa, even for a short stay. I recommend getting a visa through iVisa, which takes out all the hassle (especially helpful if you’re planning a longer backpacking trip).
Vietnamese food is probably one of the world’s most delicious cuisines – at least in my opinion! Pho, spring rolls, rice noodles, banh mi and loads of fresh herbs. So yummy!
Drink the coffee
I’m not sure why it’s so good (all of that condensed milk maybe?), but Vietnamese coffee is amazing. I’m not even a big coffee drinker but I think I had several cups of Vietnamese coffee a day while traveling through Vietnam – no lie.
Oh I hear Hanoi so much! French architecture, cheap beer, cheap spa services and tons of that delicious Vietnamese food. Oh, and fruit shakes. Yeah, Hanoi is Southeast Asia at its best, for sure.
Where to stay in Hanoi: The Luxury Old Quarter Hotel is AMAZING and super affordable.
Take a Halong Bay Cruise
Sure, Halong Bay is super touristy, but everyone I asked about it said not to skip it, and they were totally right.
There are tons of tour agencies offering cruises and a countless number of cruises to choose from.
I booked my cruise through my hotel and chose Lemon Cruise, one of the cheaper options.
I figured after my boat trip in Indonesia (20 people, 1 toilet, no sinks/showers, 4 nights) I could handle everything.
For $65 I got round trip transportation to Halong Bay, one night on the boat, one night in a hotel on Cat Ba island, entrance to a cave, a guided hike and all meals. Most tours do not include water or alcohol. If you are planning on bringing your own booze be sneaky about it or risk a $15 “fine.”
It is possible to do Halong Bay independently, especially if you plan on spending additional time on Cat Ba Island or hate having your time strictly scheduled, though apparently you won’t actually save money doing it on your own (at least that’s what I was told!). I loved the cruise though – the food was good, we had a great group of people, and the sites of course were so worth it.
Go to the beach
Um, but maybe don’t go to Nha Trang? That’s where I went and honestly, it was skippable – especially since Thailand was also on my itinerary.
Strangly enough, Nha Trang has become something of a Russian resort town in the past few years, which means prices have skyrocketed. It also meant that I could use my Russian around town! Haha so weird.
The beach is nothing special but there is some pretty good nightlife, if you like partying with college kids on holiday. I did enjoy relaxing at the Louisiane Brewhouse, where you can get fresh sushi, good beer and rent a chair by the pool for just $2.
Visit Ho Chi Minh
You definitely want to see Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), but also be prepared. My friend’s purse got stolen there, which apparently happens ALL THE TIME. So be really, really careful. I only spent a night there and it was enough. The night bus from Nha Trang was pretty comfortable, though!
P.S. Guys, don’t forget about travel insurance! I met a girl in Nha Trang who had just been really ill and she didn’t have travel insurance – bad news. I always use World Nomads, and they treated me really well when I was hospitalized in China – they paid out as soon as I sent in my receipts! You can get a quote from them here: