If you haven’t been to, or considered Vietnam as your next travel destination, I would sincerely encourage you to do so. The memories and horrors of its warring history has long gone, and what has emerged from the ashes is a youthful, thriving culture with an even stronger economy built around tourism. Many locals will know how to speak English, and the low cost of living makes for an economic travel expense as well. There is a wealth of local food offering, but also high-end, French-inspired cuisine that you can enjoy while in its major cities. Furthermore, the beauty of Vietnam is not limited to any one city, but is well distributed throughout the north (Hanoi), central (Hue, Phong Nha), and south (Hoi An, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City).
Vietnam is unique in that the weather patterns in the north and south are quite different. For example, October to April is the best time to visit Hanoi given those dates are the dry season, but September marks the wet season for Hoi An, and continue through end of January. It is therefore important to consider which part you will visit and plan accordingly.
If you’re a US citizen like me, you will need a visa. The US Dept of State website will indicate the latest visa requirements for US citizens, while the Vietnam Government Website will list out requirements for other countries. A quick Google search will turn up literally hundreds of service providers (often posing as “official” government websites) offering Visa processing services ranging from $35 – $150 (depending on processing times). *PRO-TIP – plan ahead, and ensure you have at least 3 business days to avoid having to shell out exorbitant fees.* My recommendation for you is to visit E-Visa Portal which is the Vietnam government’s initial attempts at trying to establish an online visa processing service. For just $25, the service will provide a printable e-visa that you can take to customs without needing to wait at the airport for issuance. This is key, as other services will provide you with an application, but still requires you to wait 1-2 hours to actually receive the visa once you arrive.
Once you’ve figured out the when and how, you’ll be glad to know you have several options at your fingertips. Check out the links below for my tips and guides on a few of the more popular destinations.
Hanoi: Top 5 Most Authentic Foods in Hanoi – Must Eats
Hoi An: Tips for (Early) Morning Photography in Hoi An (Ancient Town)
Ha Long Bay: Ha Long Bay Cruise Comparison: Dragon Legend vs. Heritage Jasmine
Phong Nha: Cave Trekking in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park (Hang En Cave)
We are planning on going to Saigon for 2 days and then travel to danang for 3 days traveling to hue and Hoi An. Wondering if you have any don’t miss suggestions.
Da Nang would be mostly a resort vacation, so not much there (although people take day trips to Bana Hills). Hue is mostly a foodie destination (the Hue version of Pho, or Bun Bo Hue, is quite unique). Hoi An is a beautiful city with great sights and eateries (in both restaurants and night markets on the south side of the main river). You should check out my post on Hoi An to get an idea of the sights, and maybe try eating at Morning Glory or Phi Banh Mi (Anthony Bourdain’s favorite Banh Mi spot). Enjoy your trip!
Yes I read that post! We will also be in Phu Quoc any have you been there ?
Haha yes I have. So Phu Quoc is an island resort town (looking to be the next Da Nang) and there’s basically the western and eastern side of the long strip of island. The western side is where a lot of the resorts will be so will let TA advise you on which to choose. There were lots of construction and development taking place when we were there last, so I’m sure the options are broader and with more restaurants! On the eastern side there are a few main attractions – the floating crab village (Lang Chai Ham Nimh), the Sao beach, Di Tich Nha Tu prison museum, and the fish sauce factory. All except the last are worth a visit in my opinion (unless you love fish sauce). You can either negotiate with a cab to drive you around, or for about 250-300k VND, you can rent a scooter for a few hours while you tour yourselves. Hope you have a blast!