Vietnam is a quintessential stop in any backpacking trip across Southeast Asia and rightfully so. The country is a fascinating mix of the old and the new, the crazy and the calm. From its mountains to its majestic bays to the chaotic cities to its remote villages, Vietnam is one hell of a ride. If you don’t come prepared you might find yourself getting lost in the chaos that is Vietnam. Here are some tips you can follow to make your first trip to Vietnam the best travel experience.
Tips to follow for your trip to Vietnam
Have a rough itinerary in mind
You might be dreaming of just packing your bags and heading out without a plan in mind and figuring out things along the way. But in most cases, this will only lead you down a very confusing and frustrating path. Besides, Vietnam is a huge country with so many things to do and sites to see that it can get overwhelming if you don’t have an itinerary in mind. Do you want to start from Ho Chi Minh City in the south of Hanoi in the north or maybe you want to explore the quaint cities of Central Vietnam? You also need to keep in mind that traveling from one place to another will take time as well as mode of transportation.
Get your visa done beforehand
Getting a visa beforehand is probably one of the most important tips you need to follow before your trip to Vietnam. The process of getting a visa can be daunting at times so most people try to keep it to the last minute. But if you want to get ahead of all the confusion you can check the visa requirements for Vietnam and see if you can get it done at the earliest. A few countries don’t even require a visa for the first 15 to 30 days (Check the list of countries with no visa requirement). If your country of origin does not fall under this category, you can get your visa done online at reputable sites that have been assigned by the Vietnamese government for a hassle-free journey.
Read up on the weather
Most people have this idea that since Vietnam is in Southeast Asia that it is probably a hot and humid country. And yes, some places can get really hot. But the country experiences different weather conditions throughout and not one place will have similar weather. . One day you could be in the sweltering heat of Ho Chi Minh and the next day in the cool hills of Sapa. This means the country has no bad time to visit. It can be visited throughout the year and the best time to visit will depend on which region you want to visit. For example, North Vietnam experiences four distinct seasons while South Vietnam experiences only two seasons- wet and dry.
It cannot be said enough, especially if you are coming from a country that has completely opposite beliefs and customs compared to Vietnam, to try and be respectful of the local customs and traditions. One of the most important customs to follow here is to cover up your knees and shoulders when visiting temples and important sites. Another important tip to keep in mind is to not take photos of locals, especially children without explicit permission from parents or guardians. When visiting ethnic minority areas, of which Vietnam has plenty, always make sure to go with a legitimate organized tour group that does not exploit the ethnic minorities.
Always remember to get vaccinated before you travel. You don’t want to spend your vacation holed up in your hotel room sick in bed or even worse end up in the hospital in a foreign country with no way to communicate properly. All these horrible scenarios can be simply avoided if you get vaccinated. Every country has its own vaccination rules but the most common vaccines are for the flu, typhoid, tetanus as well as COVID ( You can read more about Vietnam's COVID Vaccine Passport Policy here)