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A first-timer’s Vietnam travel guide for a safe and fun trip

Posted By: Sao La Tours / Vietnam Travel Guide
Find out a first-timer’s Vietnam travel guide for a safe and fun trip, everything you need to know when planning a complete tour to Vietnam.

“Vietnam travel” is always among the top searched keywords on the Internet when it comes to finding a perfect holiday destination. Being considered a “tourist paradise”, Vietnam has so many things to offer: spectacular landscapes to historic towns, iconic rice paddies and amazing beaches. If you’re going on a trip to Vietnam for the first time, this article will provide you with the most complete and useful guide.

Vietnam most visited tourist attractions

  • Halong Bay – a famous destination that’s listed as one of the world’s heritage sites by UNESCO

  • The Ancient Town of Hoi An – a small and beautiful port city with many attractions such as 200 year old Vietnamese former merchants’ house, 300 year old Chinese temple, 400 year old Japanese Covered Bridge etc.

  • The Old Quarter in Hanoi with sidewalk cafes, Long Bien Bridge, Dong Xuan Market, Night Market, Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple.

  • The marvelous rice terraces and peaceful villages of minorities in Sapa.

  • The alluring beaches in Nha Trang, including Hon Noi beach, Bai Dai Beach, Doc Let Beach, Son Dung Beach, Dai Lanh Beach and many more.

  • The Mekong Delta offers exciting cruise trips and many tourist sites such as orchards, floating markets, Tram Chim National Park etc.

  • Royal palaces and tombs in Hue – the ancient capital city of Vietnam.

  • Ho Chi Minh City with lots of interesting attractions: Cu Chi Tunnels, War Remnants Museum, Saigon Opera House, Central Post Office, The Independence Palace, Nguyen Hua street, Ben Thanh Market etc.

  • The province of Ninh Binh – a perfect place for adventurers

The Ancient Town of Hoi An is among the best tourist sites in Vietnam

The Ancient Town of Hoi An is among the best tourist sites in Vietnam

Vietnam travel guide: Flights and transfers  

Taking flights to Vietnam

If you’re flying London Heathrow to Hanoi, it will take about 11 hours or more. Direct flights to Ho Chi Minh City may last about 12.5 hours. Flights are organized three times a week by Vietnam Airlines.

You can also choose to go on connecting flights to reach the big cities of Vietnam. These are cheaper than direct flights but take more time traveling and are only available in some UK airports. You can also choose a wide variety of airlines such as Qatar Airlines, Emirates, Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific. The connecting flights will usually stop in Istanbul, Singapore, Doha, Dubai or Hong Kong, and then continue traveling to Vietnam.

Transportation in Vietnam

When you’re in Vietnam, you can easily catch a taxi to reach your accommodation. Some hotels even provide you with free pickups. If you’re keen on exploring more of Southeast Asia’s beauty, it’s recommended to have a combined trip to visit nearby countries like Thailand, Laos or Cambodia.

There are also many other means of transportation that you can choose when traveling in Vietnam:

  • Internal flights: The best airlines are JetStar Pacific, Vietnam Airlines, Air Asia, Bamboo Airways and Vietjet Air. The prices are usually not more than $50 one-way. You can go on a direct flight Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City for just two hours.

  • Train: The railway line in Vietnam often connects the major cities such as Hanoi to Danang, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City or Nha Trang.

  • Bus: This is the most budget-friendly way of traveling in Vietnam. You can get yourself a ticket the bus station, online or through your hotel.

  • Boat: Going on a boat is usually required when you visit places like Halong Bay, Phu Quoc islands or Trang An complex.

  • Motorbike: If you have an International Driver’s Permit and insurance, you might want to experience Vietnam while riding a motorbike.

Exploring Vietnam all by yourself in motorbike

Exploring Vietnam all by yourself in motorbike

Ultimate Vietnam travel guide for first timers

When is the perfect time to visit Vietnam?

Any time of the year is the ideal time to go on a trip to Vietnam. Nevertheless, you should consider the climate of the region in which you’re visiting. The weather changes depending on the time of the year and vary northern to southern Vietnam:

  • The north of Vietnam: The best time for traveling is October to December. Avoid visiting during the months of June, July and August as the temperatures may rise to 40 degrees C.

  • The south of Vietnam: The best time for traveling is November to March. Avoid visiting during the months of June and July as it’s the rainy season.  

Health and vaccinations

Before going on a trip to Vietnam, it’s important to get a medical check-up. You need to get your routine vaccinations done, among which measles-mumps-rubella and diphtheria-tetanus-polio. Other required vaccinations are:

  • Hepatitis A

  • Tetanus

  • Typhoid

Recommended vaccinations include:

  • Hepatitis B

  • Tuberculosis

  • Japanese Encephalitis

  • Rabies

The language

Vietnamese is the official national language of the country. However, in big cities and tourist areas, many people can speak English. If you’re struggling with anything, you can ask for help the students, as they’re always eager to improve their English by talking with a foreigner. In the rural areas, it’s important to learn some common Vietnamese phrases such as “Xin Chao” (Hello), “Xin vui long” (Please) or “Cam on” (Thank you).  

Learn some common Vietnamese phrases will make your trip easier

Learn some common Vietnamese phrases will make your trip easier

The electricity

In Vietnam, the appropriate electricity current is 110 or 220 volts. If you need to plug your device, you’ll need a two-pinned/three-pinned round or flat plug adapter in European style.

The currency

The country is using Vietnamese Dong as the official currency. Across all of Vietnam, you can easily find ATMs everywhere you go. You will need to pay a transaction fee when exchanging Vietnamese cash. It’s important to exchange your cash at a bank, other unofficial places are considered illegal.

Paying in Vietnamese Dong cash when buying souvenirs

Paying in Vietnamese Dong cash when buying souvenirs

That’s almost everything you need to know about Vietnam travel. Traveling is so much fun, especially when you’re exploring a whole new country for the first time. However, it’s important to have everything well-planned in order to minimize the risks and hassles that may occur. Have fun on your vacation and contact Sao La Tours if you have any questions about planning a trip to Vietnam.

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