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31

Aug
2020
Must-read Vietnam Travel Guide from A to Z, summarized by Threeland Travel
Posted By : Threeland Travel / Vietnam

Table of Content for this Ultimate Vietnam Travel Guide and how to plan your budget Vietnam travel Tours here:

  • Things to know before travelling to Vietnam
  • When is the best time to visit Vietnam?
  • Where to visit in Vietnam including Top things to do while traveling to Vietnam. 
  • Visa to Vietnam

4 attractive things to know before travelling to Vietnam

Vietnam now is listed as a must-see destination in every tourist travel wishlist. Before heading to Vietnam, let check some overview notes about the country to make sure that you will not miss any interesting thing and can contact Threeland to help you customize your trip.

Vietnam prides itself as a country of historical vestiges, breathtaking nature, fascinating culture, bustling modern life, and sophisticated cuisines that the country has many things to quench the thirst of any traveler.  

Nature in Vietnam

Characterised by the S-shape with over 3000km coastline and the tropical weather, Vietnam offers a dramatic landscapes from north to south such as mountains, national parks, nature reserves, bays, and pristine beaches in Halong, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Danang, Phu Quoc, Con Dao, Ly Son,...

No matter whether you are a relaxed beach-goer, a nature enthusiast, or an adventurer looking to go beyond ordinary, Vietnam has something to delight you.  

Cruise the majestic Ha Long Bay - Lan Ha bay for 2 days 1 night, go spelunking through the world’s largest Son Doong Cave, watch the elephants in the wild in Yok Don, or go trekking in the spectacular Pu Luong nature reserve, Sapa rice terraced fields...the compelling trails, abundant wildlife, and jaw-dopping landscapes await you. 

Photo: Halong bay in Vietnam

Culture of Vietnam

Vietnam has about 54 ethnic groups with diverse customs and long-held traditions. While some have assimilated to the modern life, many are still living in their indigenous areas and maintain their unique lifestyles.

Whether you encounter them in the remote livelihood, in the highlands or the deltas, the chance to interact with them, stay in their home and learn about their fascinating stories is definitely an ultimate form of cultural immersion in Northern Vietnam part such as in Sapa, Puluong, Mai Chau, ect...

Vietnamese urban life is no less intriguing. We love coffee and spending time outdoors. Stop by a street coffee vendor and you don’t have to go anywhere beyond the sidewalks to watch our bustling city life. 

Architecture in Vietnam 

Once the French colony, the French colonial architecture style became dominant in few major cities such as Hanoi and Saigon (a.k.a Ho Chi Minh City), and many of them still remain today: the goverment buildings, mansions and villas, city opera houses, bridge, churches and cathedrals, post office, or tree-lined bolevards. But this doesn’t mean the Vietnamese traditional architecture is less captivating.

Venture through the formal imperial capital of Hue or the ancient town of Hoi An to relish the remarkable Vietnamese architectural treasures proudly claimed as UNESCO’s world heritages. These offer a wonderful chance for visitors to trace back the history with the four-thousand year civilization.

Food in Vietnam

For all foodie fans, Vietnamese food needs no introduction. While pho overwhelms the Vietnamese cuisine reputation abroad, the full spectrum of Vietnamese food is much more than that. Take a gastronomic tour throughout the country, sample everything from tasty street foods to the fine-dining fusion dishes and you will make sense of the country’s comprehensive culinary scene.

Northern food is known for its well-balanced recipes ( such as Pho, Bun Cha, Cha Ca La Vong, Nem Cuon, ect..), the dishes in the central Vietnam is generous for its spice, and Southern people like to add sugar in their food. Wherever you travel in Vietnam, you are surely treated with mouth-watering morsels. 


 

When is the best time to visit Vietnam?

Tropical monsoon climate country with the weather varrying dramatically across regions.

  • North: 4 season per year, winter from Dec to Feb; summer from May to Aug with the hostest weather and maxium rainfall in year.
  • Central: Hot and humid from March to August, rainy seasons with possible storms and typhoons from September to Feburary.
  • South: Summer all year round, rainy season from early May to end Set; temperature ranges between 21 and 35 °C (69.8 and 95.0 °F).

In tern of best time to travel Vietnam, you can travel from October to April, in term of saving money, you should travel Vietnam from May to September, there are many big deals and hotel promotion around this time. 

Where to visit in Vietnam? - Top Things to Do in each destination in Vietnam

1. Hanoi  - the capital of Vietnam

Dated back 1000 years ago, the Vietnam’s capital is rich in history and culture with the winding and rambling old quarter. However, what you will be able to see today is also a busy city with modern café, fine restaurants, and many contemporary art galleries.

There are many things you can do to make the most of your stay in Hanoi including sampling tasty street foods, joining the locals for morning excercise in Hoan Kiem Lake, exploring unique Hanoi’s coffee culture, strolling through the old quarter, checking out the free art galleries, and so on.

When the night comes, you may want to join locals and other fellow travelers with the buzzing “bia hoi” (local beer) at Ta Hien street. 

Photo: Ta Hien street

Attractions:
+ Ho Chi Minh Complex (Mausoleum, Museum, One Pillar Pagoda, House-on-stilts)
+ Imperial College - Temple of Literature
+ Thang Long Citadel (UNESCO herigate)
+ French colonial achitecture: Hanoi Opera House, Long Bien Bridge, St.Joseph Cathedral, Presidental Office, Phan Dinh Phung street.
+ Temples: Ngoc Son, Tran Quoc, Quan Thanh:
+ Old Quarter
+ Art Galleries on Trang Tien street
+ Museums: Vietnamese Women, National History, Ethnology, Fine Art.
+ Hoa Lo “Hanoi Hilton” Prison 
+ Bat Trang Ceramic Village
+ Shows: Water Puppet, The Quintessence of Tonkin, My Village.
+ Others: cyclo/electric car/walking tour, street food, bia hoi...

2. Ha Long Bay – This UNESCO-titled treasure located in Quang Ninh

Halong bay has repositioned Vietnam on the world tourism map thanks to its magnificent landscapes and millions-old formations with many breathtaking caves ad grottos. Cruising through the majestic Ha Long Bay has been everyone’s bucket list when visiting Vietnam. Not far from Ha Long to the southwest is Lan Ha Bay – another magnificant yet overlooked bay located in Hai Phong City.

This also means that Lan Ha Bay is less crowded and ideal for a truly rest and relaxation vacation if you want to avoid the crowd of various ships with thousands of people passing by like in Ha Long. However, Lan Ha offers a bit less number of islands and its landscape is not as dramatic as Ha Long, but it does offer you tranquility and peaceful ambiance with enough scenery for you to relish.

Either in Ha Long or Lan Ha Bay, there are numerous cruises offering from 1 day trip to overnight stay on board with intriguing activities including kayaking, swimming, mountain climbing on islands, on-board cooking and taichi class, and visiting the local fishing villages. You can contact Threeland at help@threeland.com to check which cruise is matched your favorite as it has  hundreds of cruises in Halong and Lan Ha bay. We will give you immediate support and advice.

3. Sapa - a  land of dramatic landscape, colorful hillstribes and various trekking routes

Sapa is the homeplace of dramatic landscape and colorful hillstribes in the Northwestern mountainous area. Trekking through one of the most rugged routes and admire the endlessly green fields and meandering rivers that pictures can’t do the vista justice. Sapa is also the home to Fansipan – the highest peak of Indochina’s region, which used to be one of bucketlists of extreme adventurers, but now can be “conquered” by many thanks to the cable cab.

Besides challenging yourself with the moutains, Sapa invites you to explore the unique and fascinating cultures of its indigenous people by visiting the local weekly markets where not only for trading activities but also for local couples to meet their future spouses.  


Attractions:
+ Trekking in the local villages with stunning landscape 
+ Local weekly markets: Coc Ly (Tuesday), Lung Khau Nhin (Thursday), Can Cau (Sartuday), Bac Ha (Sunday), Cao Son (week round).
+ Mountains conquering: Ham Rong, Fansipan (with cable cab)
+ Waterfalls: Silver, Love
+ Muong Hoa Valley with many terrace rice fields: by foot or train
+ Others: street foods, trekking, cycling, homestay.

4. Pu Luong - A peaceful and little-known place for a perfect retreat, meditation, yoga and inviting trekking routes

A peaceful and little-known place for a perfect retreat where you will see no interuption of urbanization and mass tourism. The cascading rice fields, charming hidden villages, good-natured people, and adorably naive local puppies will make you happily lost. Pu Luong is highly recommended as an alternative for the famous Sapa if you want to escape from tourist crowds and industrialization but to explore no less dramatic landscape and nature. 


Attractions: 
+ Cycling around ethnic villages
+ Trekking
+ Kakaying/Bamboo rafting in Cham River
+ Hieu Waterfalls
+ Others: water wheels, rice terraces, homestay, panoramic bungalow, craft workshop, farm-to-table home cooking.

5. Hue – Known as the feudal capital under the very last dynasty in Vietnam’s history

Hue attracts many visitors not only for its imperial legacy with Vietnamese royal achitectures, but also the peaceful ambience with leafy streets and art deco mansions, and the capivating local cuisines rooted in the royal dishes. 

Attractions: 
+ The Royal Citadel Complex (UNESCO heritage)
+ Kings’ tombs: Khai Dinh, Minh Mang, Tu Duc.
+ Buddhist roots: Thien Mu Pagoda, Tu Hieu Monastery, Dieu De Pagoda.
+ Colonial French Architecture: Quoc Hoc Hue High school, Truong Tien bridge, La Residence Hotel.
+ Nature: Bach Ma National Park, Tam Giang Lagoon, Lang Co Beach.
+ Others: rickshaw tour, dragon boat on Huong River, street food, royal dining, cycling tour, cooking tour.
+ Show: Hue Royal Court Music (UNESCO intangible heritage)

6. Da Nang – A truely beach city with magnificent and broad coastlines and various luxury resorts and hotels chains.

The sandy My Khe Beach made a history for Vietnam’s tourism when it was voted as one of the best beaches on earth. Additionally, international airport, amusement parts, world-class casinos, golf courses and entertainment centers, diverse natural offers, and dynamic life style have made the city a truly luxury tourism hub in central Vietnam. 


Attractions:
+ Nature: Marble mountains, Son Tra Peninsula, beaches, Hai Van Pass
+ Museums: Cham Scrupture, Da Nang Art, Dinh Dong.
+ Entertainment: Ba Na Hills & Golden Bridge, Vinpearl Da Nang, Sky36 Bar, Love Bridge.
+ Casinos: Crown International Club, Furama Resort’s Club 99.
+ Chocolate workshop and showroom: Popkeo.
+ Others: local food, seafood, water sport activities (kite surfing, jet skiing, yatching).

7. Hoi An – Once the tradding port dating back in 14th Century

Hoi An old town is one of the unmissiable places for any traveler thanks to its classical beauty, narrow winding yellow-themed streets, and lantern-lit nights. Leisurely amble through the streets and witness the traditional ways of life are enough to feel transported back to history.

Hoi An is also famous for its tradition in silk-making which gives birth to the express tailor service that you can get your suite/vest/traditional ao dai within a day. 


Attractions:
+ Nature: Cu Lao Island, beaches.
+ Culture: Hoi An Ancient Town, My Son Sanctuary.
+ Villages: Tra Que vegetation, Thanh Ha pottery, Cam Thanh coconut, Kim Bong carpentry.
+ Cooking class in Street Restaurant Social Enterprise.
+ Lantern and tea workshops in Reaching Out Social Enterprise.
+ Others: sunset dinner on cruise, scuba diving, cycling, street food. 

8. Nha Trang – Located in the southern coast, Nha Trang is a playground for sunseekers, watersport enthusiasts & partyholics all year round.

Like Da Nang, Nha Trang claims to host few of the most luxury resorts of the world, amusement park, golf courses, plenty of thrilling watersport centers, world-class restaurants and bars, and some of the most beautiful coral reefs in Vietnam. 


Attractions:
+ Nature: numerous white sand Beaches and crystal water islands.
+ Culture: Long Son Pagoda, Bao Dai Villa, Po Nagar Cham Towers.
+ Entertainment: Sailing Club, Vinpearl Water Park, Louisiane Brewhouse.
+ Others: mudbaths and hot springs, parasailing, scuba diving, snorkerling, sea food.  

9. Da Lat – The hidden Da Lat is often overlooked due to its bustling seaside cousins

Dalat was once the summer getaway for French colonizers thus plenty of European-inspired architectures remains today. The countryside charm and cascading waterfalls of Da Lat draws not only couples searching for romantic getaways but also affluent golf players and outdoor enthusiasts who are into the epic watersport adventures.

One unique characteristic of this lovely city is that you will feel 4 seasons in a day: breezing in the morning, sunny and hot at noon, windy and leafy in the afternoon, and freezing after dusk.

Attractions: 

+ Culture: Bao Dai Palaces, Da Lat Railway Station, Linh Phuoc Pagoda, Crazy House, Truc Lam Monastery.
+ Nature: Xuan Huong lake, Da Lat flower garden, Love Valley, Falls (Datanla, Elephant), Lang Biang Mountain, Bidoup Nui Ba National Park.
+ Others: Canyoning, white water rafting, mountain biking/hiking, jungle trekking, high rope course,

10. Mui Ne – Just like Nha Trang, Mui Ne is the ideal places for both water sports enthusiasts and more relaxed beach-goers

With great white-crested waves and strong wind, Mui Ne is supreme for surfing or kite surfing, while others can watch from a safe distance on the dry and sun-drenched land. In fact, Mui Ne’s unique microclimate makes it receive less rainfall than the surrounding areas, which means more sun time, and more fun time.

Sand dunes are another unique offer of the town with many activities including jeep drive, sand sledding, and squad bike. This is a perfect quick getaway that only takes app. 4 hours drive from Ho Chi Minh City.

Attractions:
+ Nature: Mui Ne beach, Mui Ne Harbour, fishing village,  fairy springs, white/red sand dunes. 
+ Culture: Po Shanu Cham Towers. 
+ Fresh seafood. 

11. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon)

This cosmopolitan metropolis is the economic center and the most vibrating city of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is also the delightful blend of the country’s past and future. The city will amaze you with its inexhaustible energy, continuous innovation, lots of traffic, open culture, but also at the same time, the remaining evidence of Vietnam War especially with the immense network of Cu Chi Tunnels.

Ho Chi Minh City attracts people from all over Vietnam as well as internationally to come, live, work, and invest, which makes the city the most essential job-creating hub with more westernized lifestyle than any other city.      

Attractions:
+ Culture and history: Reunification Palace, War Remnant Museum, Ben Thanh Market, Jade Emperor Pagoda, Cu Chi Tunnels.
+ Colonial French architect: Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, Saigon Opera House, City Hall or Hotel de Ville.
+ Chinese Quarter: Binh Tay Market, Thien Hau Pagoda, Chaozhou Assembly Hall, Cho Lon Mosque.
+ Night life: Nguyen Hue Walking street, Bui Vien street, cruise dinner on Saigon river. 
+ Show: Water Puppet Show, My Village, A O Show, Teh Dar Show.
+ Others: cyclo tour, street food, city jeep tour, walking tour, vespa/minsk motorbike tour.

12. Mekong Delta – The area encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam

 Mekong delta is where Mekong River runs through before reaching the sea. Embracing whatever nature offers, the locals have proved that they can well adapt with the aquatic landscape as you will see homes, farms, markets, and their unique daily transportation…. all are going impressively well on water.

Some of popular attractions including floating markets (Cai Rang, Cai Be), fruit orchards, Tra Su Mangrove Forest, Sam Mountain, Tram Chim National Park, Sampan Cruise in My Tho, Binh Thuy Ancient House, Vinh Trang Pagoda, and Ninh Kieu Whaf. 

13.  Phu Quoc Island – The largest island of Vietnam is home to a beautiful coastline with white beaches and crystal clear water.

Phu Quoc is also the heaven on earth for sea lovers escaping from the city’s hustle and bustle for laid-back vibe or searching for some of the best coral reefs. Day time here is spent on sand or deep under the ocean, while nightlife is all about enjoying seafood freshly made on spot.

Pearl farms in Phu Quoc is one of the attractions as Phu Quoc is also renowned for some of the best pearls in the region. If you are into wine, you should never miss a visit to the Sim forest of Sim Wine Factory where some of the best Vietnamese-branded wine is created. But superbly, Phu Quoc is the only visa-exemption zone in Vietnam so far that all foreign travelers do not need a Vietnam visa if you stay in Phu Quoc Island less than 30 days. 

Attactions:
+ Nature: Beaches & Islands, Phu Quoc National park, Sim forest, pearl farm.
+ Culture & History: Dinh Cau Temple, Coconut Tree Prison, Cua Can Village.
+ Entertainment: Vinpearland Water Park, Vinpearl Land Safari, Casinos and shopping mall
+ Water sports: snorkeling, scuba diving, speedboats, canoeing, yatching.
+ Nightlife: Night markets, squid fishing. 

VISA TO VIETNAM

There are a variety of visas based on how long you plan on staying in the country and your country of origin. You have three options of obtaining the visa which are getting a visa at the nearest Vietnam Embassy, getting e-visa online, and getting a Pre-approval letter for a Visa on Arrival (VoA).

Getting a visa at the nearest Vietnam Embassy: the traditional and most expensive way to apply for a Vietnam visa. You have to visit a physical Embassy of Vietnam/Consulate General of Vietnam, summit the papers then wait for acceptance which usually takes 2 to 3 business days. You are required to bring your original passport with minimum validity of 6 months, completed application form, passport-sized photos and a visa fee. Having the visa sticker, you can head straight to the all passport line when you arrive at the airport in Vietnam and stamping is done at no additional cost.

Getting e-visa online at Vietnam E-visa Application Page here. 

  • Electronic visa is the easiest and cheapest of all the options, which has been introduced in Vietnam since 2017. The e-visas are granted for single entry visits for up to 30 days to 81 eligible countries and territories.
  • All you need to do is to fill out the necessary requirements online and wait a few days for the approval.
  • You need to print this out and keep a physical copy on you. The total cost is USD 25 and it can be taken straight to the all passport line upon arrival. Similar to the physical visa, they will process it at the airport at no additional cost.

Getting a Pre-approval letter online for a Visa on Arrival:

Complete the visa form and pay for service fee depending on the type of visa you want to obtain and how fast you want to get the service delivered. After that, you will receive an approval letter via email which you bring with you to Vietnam.

Once arriving in Vietnam, you must show your approval letter and then pay a stamping fee of USD 25 per person for a single entry visa and from USD 50 for multiple entry visa. You may need to wait in a separate boarding area while they process and stamp your passport. Please note that Visa on Arrival is only applicable for travelling by air to Vietnam.

It is highly recommended to apply for a visa for your Vietnam tours through a Travel Agency or Local Operator such as Threeland Travel to make sure everything goes smoothly and we can easily control problems at the airport if any. With this option, we can help you get a Vietnam visa approval letter with a one-month single entry with only USD 15 per person (excluding the stamping fee).