THE COMPLETE VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDE: EVERYTHING THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Vietnam is progressively becoming a destination highly favored by numerous travelers from all over the world in the past few years. Endowed with breath-taking natural sceneries, diverse cultures, and superb cuisine, the country annually captivates hundreds of millions of globetrotters. Continue reading on our Vietnam travel overview to planning for an unforgettable trip!
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION ABOUT VIETNAM
- Capital: Hanoi
- Largest city: Ho Chi Minh City
- Area: 331,212 km2
- Population: 94,569,072 (2016)
- Population density: 280 people/km2
- Official language: Vietnamese
- Currency: Vietnam Dong (VND)
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has a shape of an S-shaped strip and is located in the center of Southeast Asia and to the East of the Indochina Peninsula. The North of Vietnam borders China; the West borders Laos, Cambodia, the East, and the South face the East Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Vietnam is a country of the sea. Along the 3,260 km-long coastlines stretching from the North to the South, there are thousands of islands of all sizes with stunning beaches that are noted in the world rankings.
The tropical monsoon climate and the four distinct seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter) have also created luxuriant vegetation with a unique range of regional architecture spreading throughout the S-shaped country.
The Vietnamese people formed early and spent more than 4000 years of development with many historical changes, thereby creating an idiomatic cultural characteristic of the nation – a nation that always aspires to peace. Vietnam is also the residence of 54 different ethnic groups. Although each one has a distinct cultural identity and language, Vietnamese is still the standard communication tool of all the peoples living on this land. Furthermore, the unity of Vietnamese culture also manifests itself in the sense of community and the attachment among the peoples in the process of building and maintaining the country.
Thanks to this natural, historical, cultural, and geographical conditions, Vietnam has a vibrant tourism potential and is becoming a perfect stop for visitors from all over the world.
TRANSPORTATION TO VIETNAM AND WITHIN THE COUNTRY
There are several ways to travel to Vietnam, depending on your starting place.
You can choose airplanes as a means to get to Vietnam. In Vietnam, there are two major international airports: Tan Son Nhat Airport (SGN) and Noi Bai Airport (HAN). Also, there is also an international airport in Da Nang (DAD) which accepts a smaller number of flights than the two mentioned above.
Unfortunately, there are very few direct flights to Vietnam from Europe, North/South America, and Australia. Thus, tourists coming from these places will have to transit in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, or Singapore. For travelers from other Asian countries, things are much easier because you can choose to fly directly to Vietnam. Some well-recommended airlines that you should consult are Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet, Jetstar, etc.
In addition to airplanes, tourists can take a bus or train to Vietnam from provinces in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, or China which border Vietnam.
You can travel by plane to move from one city to another within the country as there are many small airports scattered everywhere. Furthermore, passenger cars, trains, taxis are also highly recommended options.
To make things easier, how about immediately contacting a travel agency and let them handle the transportation problem for you?
ACCOMMODATION IN VIETNAM
Accommodation is not something you need to worry about while traveling in Vietnam because there are thousands of options for you.
Staying in a hotel is a highly recommended option for you because of its facilities, services, and availability. Hotels are divided into classes from high-end hotel chains to more affordable ones. There are some must-mention luxury hotel brands in Vietnam, such as InterContinental, Vinpearl, Hilton, Accor, Muong Thanh, etc. And the more budget-friendly and smaller hotels, which seem more like motels, are scattered all over.
The resort is a type of accommodation built independently into the complex of villas, apartments, bungalows, etc. in the area with beautiful scenery and natural environment. Its primary purpose is to serve visitors who come to relax and go sightseeing. In Vietnam, most of the deluxe resorts are located along the coast like Phu Quoc, Con Dao, Phan Thiet, Nha Trang, Da Nang, etc. A minus point of resorts is that they are often located in the suburbs far from the residential areas so that you will have to use other means to go to the city center.
In the last few years, wherever you go, you will be able to hear about homestay, a type of travel accommodation. It is getting more and more popular in the world. In Vietnam, homestays are developing stronger than ever. Instead of staying at a hotel or a motel, you can stay at the locals’ houses to have a closer and more realistic view of their lifestyle and culture.
Consider your travel needs and budget carefully and choose for yourself a suitable type of accommodation!
Planning for the trip to Vietnam, you might wonder when it is the best time to visit the country. The answer is quite simple: ANYTIME WILL DO! It depends on your travel needs, whether you want to sip a cocktail and sunbath on a warm, sunny beach or spend time enjoying the fresh air on remote mountainous areas.
Vietnam is the ideal destination for year-round tourism activities. There are two relatively different climates here: the northern climate and the tropical climate. In the North, the weather is divided into 4 seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
January to April is the time where you can witness the change of nature. This period is also very suitable for festival, and spiritual tourism as most festivals in the North take place in spring.
From May to September is the recommended time for sea traveling or resorting on high mountains. October to December is an ideal time for nature lovers, who want to discover the wild and majestic beauty of the northern mountains and forests.
The southern climate is divided into 2 distinct seasons (rainy and dry season) with mild weather all year round and an average temperature of 27ºC. The forms of tourism here are quite plentiful, including cultural, ecological, sea, community… tourism.
The traditional Tet festival of Vietnam takes place around the end of January and the beginning of February. Visitors coming to Vietnam on this occasion will be able to enjoy the bustling atmosphere of Tet flower markets, experience and discover the customs of the nation.
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Throughout the S-shaped strip of land is a harmonious combination of natural landscapes and exquisite architectural structures that is worth experiencing at least once in your life.
The capital of a thousand-year-old civilization with the typical old town, long-standing architecture, as well as many traditional values, always waits for international visitors to discover. Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son temple and The Huc bridge are the symbols of Hanoi. Also, tourists can learn about Vietnam’s culture and history when visiting Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hoa Lo Prison, Ethnographic Museum, etc.
Ho Chi Minh City is the two most important economic and cultural centers in Vietnam besides Hanoi. The city still retains the charming architectural features from the French colonial period. At AA Vietnam Travel ’s suggestion, international tourists can visit the War Remnants Museum, Cu Chi Tunnels to learn about the Vietnam War, or the Notre Dame Cathedral and Ngoc Hoang Pagoda. If you want to go shopping, Ben Thanh Market is a familiar destination with a diversity of items.
Sa Pa has a beautiful and colorful beauty and is the perfect resting place after a dangerous mountain road. This place owns many alluring attractions such as Ham Rong flower garden, Muong Hoa valley, Silver waterfall, Gothic-style stone church, Bac Ha market, etc. Especially, Fansipan, which is well-known as “the roof of Indochina”, holds an irresistible attraction for those who love climbing and conquering.
Ha Long Bay is the pride of Vietnam tourism. Limestone islands, rocky mountains, and caves form a unique natural complex which can easily impress visitors. When taking a boat to visit the bay, you can tour and learn about some floating villages of fishers. Thanks to the beauty and the value of geology, Ha Long Bay is honored to be a UNESCO World Natural Heritage twice.
Da Nang is emerging strongly in recent years as a familiar destination of both domestic and foreign tourists. A big plus of the city is friendly people and a clean environment with delicious local dishes. Tourist attractions here are very diverse such as My Khe beach, Ba Na Hills, Son Tra peninsula, Ngu Hanh Son, Han River, Dragon Bridge, etc.
Phu Quoc island is an ideal tourist destination with primitive tropical forests, unspoiled coral reefs and wide beaches with clear blue water. Featured among them is Bai Dai- one of the top 5 most beautiful beaches in the world voted by ABC News. Tourists should also visit Ham Ninh ancient fishing village, fish sauce production factory or the Phu Quoc prison to learn about the culture and the history of this place.
Besides the places above, there many other must-visit tourist attractions in Vietnam such as Phan Thiet, Cu Chi tunnels, Da Lat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, etc.
It is undeniable that the excellent cuisine of Vietnam leaves a strong impression on foreign tourists. Vietnamese food has gradually affirmed its position and attractiveness as time passes by. Here are some of Vietnam’s most typical dishes:
PHO – VIETNAM FAMOUS FOOD
Pho is an unmissable dish when talking about Vietnamese cuisine. Going along any neighborhoods in Vietnam, you will likely come across a crowd of people enjoying pho at a specific sidewalk stall. This simple dish is made from noodles, savory broth, herbs, and a few slices of chicken or beef. Pho is cheap, delicious and can be served at any time of the day.
CNN rated bun cha as the best choice for lunch in Hanoi. The smoky smoke when the cook’s grill pork on a charcoal stove is the most notable feature of bun cha eateries. The meat after being grilled until slightly burnt and crispy will be put into a bowl of fish sauce, a basket of raw vegetables and a plate of vermicelli. Bun cha can also be eaten with crab spring rolls. That’s also what former President Obama enjoyed with chef Bourdain during his visit in Hanoi.
BANH MI – VIETNAMESE SANDWICH
Honored as one of the best street food in the world, Vietnam’s sandwiches are the most sought after by foreign visitors. The stuffing is of abundant ingredients: grilled meat, Chinese sausage, jambon, paté, cheese, and bacon, etc. Sprinkled with some fried shallots, basils, and pickled cucumbers as a final touch, banh mi will undoubtedly leave an unforgettable aftertaste that lingers in the minds of the tourists.
A standard Vietnamese banh xeo dish will be quite similar to a crispy crepe rolled with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and served with herbs. Vietnamese people often enjoy banh xeo by cutting it into slices, rolling it with rice paper and raw vegetables and dipping it into a bowl of typical thick sweet, sour and spicy sauce.
Egg coffee is not a drink, but more like a dessert. A thick, soft, creamy egg layer mixed with freshly brewed and rich Vietnamese coffee can even appeal to those who don’t like coffee. The highly recommended store for egg coffee is Giang Cafe. It is one of the most established coffee brands in Hanoi. Hundreds of people come to the shop everyday craving for its renowned drink, cà phê trứng, or egg coffee. This was also honorably chosen as the leading glass in the 2019 North Korea – United States Hanoi Summit happening on February 27-28 a while ago.
There are still countless other dishes available for discovery. Being rich in diversity and budget-friendly, it is undeniable that cuisine is one of the factors that play a massive role in attracting foreign visitors to Vietnam.
Eager to go on a tour to Vietnam but don’t know where to start? Contact AA Vietnam Travel right now and let our travel experts craft a perfect itinerary for you!