One Page Guide to Vietnam
Warm greetings from Vietnam Online!
We create this One Page Guide to Vietnam to help first time visitors navigate through the pool of information available on the Internet about travelling to Vietnam. Before you put down some google search, you must know what key words you need to put in for best results. Sometimes, it is just overwhelming to find the lead – Where to go, What to do, What to eat???
Most of us, when we decide on a country where we will go next, often stand at a confusion and sometimes loss of connecting the various bits and pieces of information about that destination. Some come from your preconception, some are what you read in magazine or watch on TV. For example, you make up your mind to visit Vietnam because you want to try good Pho, visit Ho Chi Minh City Mausoleum, buy some Hoi An lanterns and spend your night of a lifetime at Apocalypse now.
But how do you combine this and that into one itinerary?
What the weather will be like by the time you are there? What other sites you should visit beyond the off-the-beaten path ancient town and white sand beaches? How far is Hanoi from Hoi An? With this guide, we hope to give you a starter before you try out the whole menu of information about Vietnam. The organization of each One Page Guide sheet on Vietnam Online does not follow a strictly logical order – we'd rather be intuitive, informative, comprehensive, and at least, helpful to new and returning travellers to Vietnam. So enjoy!
Here is the most general information about the country:
1. About Vietnam
If you need something to convince yourself that Vietnam is your next trip, read 10 Reasons to Visit Vietnam.
The most popular destinations in Vietnam are: Sapa (Northern mountain), Hanoi (the capital, in the Northern Delta), Ho Chi Minh City (in the Southern Delta), Hoi An (in the centre), Hue (near Hoi An), Nha Trang (South Centre beach), Phu Quoc (famous Southern islands).
Vietnam is an S-shape country so all destinations are in a vertical position. You can plan your trip accordingly, from North – South or South- North. The order from North-South is: Sapa – Hanoi – Hue – Danang – Hoi An – Nha Trang – Ho Chi Minh City – Phu Quoc.
3. Best time to visit:
The best time to visit Vietnam is from September to December or from February to April. The weather is cool and dry in most parts of the country and the rain won’t be there to stop you from venturing the destinations.
Read more about Vietnam weather overview here.
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are two most popular entry points to Vietnam so most itinerary will start with these two cities.
If you have 3 days, stay in Hanoi or at most, visit Halong Bay for a day or 2.
If you have 5 days, stay in Hanoi (1 day), visit Sapa (2 days 3 nights), Halong Bay (1 day).
If you have 1 week, you can extend the above 5 day itinerary, or spend 2 days in Hanoi, 2 days in Hue, 1 day in Danang and 2 days in Hoi An.
If you have 2 weeks, you can spend time in Hanoi (Day 1-2), Sapa (Day 3-4-5), Halong Bay (Day 6-7), Hanoi (Day 8), Hue (Day 9-10), Hoi An (Day 11-12-13) and back to Hanoi. You can probably shorten your trip in Hoi An and go to Nha Trang/ Ho Chi Minh City for 2 days.
From Ho Chi Minh City:
If you have 3 days, stay in Ho Chi Minh City or at most, visit the Mekong Delta famous floating market.
If you have 5 days, stay in Ho Chi Minh City (Day 1-2), Nha Trang (Day 3-4), Ho Chi Minh City (Day 5). Nha Trang can be replaced by Phu Quoc, Mui Ne or Mekong Delta, depending on your preference.
If you have 1 week, stay in Ho Chi Minh City (Day 1-2), Nha Trang (Day 3-4), Dalat (Day 5-6), Ho Chi Minh City (Day 7).
If you have 2 weeks, your itinerary can be as follows: Ho Chi Minh City (Day 1-2), Nha Trang (Day 3-4), Hoi An (Day 5-6), Hue (Day 7-8), Quang Binh (Day 9), Hanoi (Day 10-11), Sapa/Halong Bay (Day 12, 13), Hanoi (Day 14).
Many of you will ask how long are cities apart from each other – so that they can estimate how to budget their time and money for the trip. Here is the answer for the most popular routes (time and price quoted are as of 2012 and for one way travel):
Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh City & vice versa: flight (2 hours - $125), train (30 hours, $100), coach (36 hours, $70).
Hanoi – Sapa & vice versa: train (8 hours, $35)
Hanoi – Halong Bay & vice versa: best arranged by tour companies, travel time is 4 hours one way.
Hanoi – Hue/Danang/Hoi An & vice versa: flight (1 hour – $85), train (12-15 hours - $60), coach (12 hours, $25)
Hue – Danang/Hoi An & vice versa: train (3 hours - $10); coach (4 hours - $6)
Ho Chi Minh City – Nha Trang & vice versa: flight (45 minutes - $45), train (8 hours - $40), coach (9-10 hours - $20)
Ho Chi Minh City – Phu Quoc & vice versa: flight (1 hour - $70)
5. Money and Costs:
If it not expensive to travel to Vietnam – in fact, Vietnam is considered the best value destination for many nationalities including Australians. Vietnam currency is Vietnam Dong – the exchange rate is 20,000 VND per dollar. Yes, you will be a millionaire in no time.
The cost is relatively low: expect the most thrifty budget of $10 for daily food and drinks, $10-15 for accommodation and $10 for transportation.
Read more about Money and Costs in Vietnam here.
Vietnam is generally safe to travel. Thefts and other petty crimes have decreased significantly. Just take care of the normal precautions to avoid scams and tricks like any other tourism countries when you are on the road.
Vietnamese is a language shared by the majority of Vietnam residents. English is widely spoken in cities especially among the younger generation. Vietnamese is written in Roman form (not like Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages) so you will not have a hard time travelling in the country.