Are you considering a trip to South East Asia? Find out why you should visit Vietnam, what makes it special and unique and why Vietnam is different to Thailand, Bali and other Asian countries.
If you’re looking for an itinerary for Vietnam, you can find our guides to visiting the North, South and Central Vietnam. We have also written a guide for stag or bachelor parties visiting Vietnam, as well as a comprehensive guide on transport within the country.
Vietnamese people are very friendly
One of the first things you’ll notice when you visit Vietnam, is that the Vietnamese people are very friendly. Most will go above and beyond to ensure that they are hospitable and accommodating to tourists. Sure, there are exceptions – bus drivers can be rude and grumpy, and of course bad things do happen sometimes, but for the most part, Vietnam is a friendly country.
Even in the big cities, the sense of humour of Vietnamese people is evident. We loved the number of times locals would joke with us, even if there were language barriers. Watching a Hmong woman playfully swot J on the bottom was a highlight.
Many Vietnamese people are entrepreneurial and can be keen to entice you into buying things. But what is remarkable about Vietnamese people, is that they are modest and understated. If you don’t want to buy something, you don’t have to. They are not pushy or demanding and won’t berate tourists for not buying things from them.
Vietnam teaches you about harmony
As a mostly Buddhist country, Vietnam is known as a harmonious culture. When you visit Vietnam, you can take the time to see Buddhist temples and learn more about this religion and the connected practises.
One significant feature of Buddhism, is that encourages a harmonious society. In Vietnam, you will notice that there are rarely any visible or vocal disagreements. In fact, it would be considered inappropriate to demonstrate any kind of angry outburst. As a harmonious society, you will rarely see visible incidences of road rage for example. Even less likely is to see a Vietnamese person in physical or aggressive confrontation.
The other way that you may see harmony manifest in Vietnam is that women and men appear to be on equal footing within society. In fact, legislation on women’s rights has been in place since the 1940s. Whilst women’s rights may not be perfectly represented, it is generally accepted that improvements have been made over recent decades. Family is also a very important part of Vietnamese culture, with respect for elders of particular importance.
Finally, Vietnam is a multi-ethnic country with over 50 groups of ethnicities being represented. As an example, the Hmong people of Sapa have their own distinct dialect, ways of living and dressing. Despite the differences in ethnicity, religion and dialect across Vietnam, the country remains harmonious.
Vietnam is filled with colour
Vietnam is truly a treat for all senses. But what will strike you the most when you visit Vietnam is the sight of so many magnificent colours. From the lanterns lighting up the river in Hoi An to the colourful floating market of Can Tho. The tropical island of Phu Quoc is filled with colour, even the imperial city in Hue and the local temples are an enthralling mix of Asian and French design influence.
If that’s not enough, you also have the delights of the colourful Hmong people in Sapa, a village to Cat Cat village and a trek through the rice fields is like witnessing the world in technicolour. And don’t forget the vibrancy of Hoi An and bustling Ho Chi Minh too.
Vietnam has an interesting history
With the dynastic history, French colonisation and hard fought route to independence, there’s a lot to learn about Vietnamese history. Travelling to Vietnam provides a perfect opportunity to do so, whether visiting the Imperial city of Hue, or taking in any of the museums in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh. It’s easy to develop a better understanding of the history of Vietnam.
It’s easy to travel around Vietnam
Vietnam is set up for travellers. Backpackers have been coming to South East Asia and Vietnam in particular for many years. In 2019, 18 million people travelled to Vietnam. That’s a lot of tourists!
Vietnam is quite simply, easy to get around. Despite it’s size, there is pretty much guaranteed transport options between any two places that you might want to travel to. Whether you choose to travel by bus, train, private taxi, scooter, boat or even domestic flight – there are many options for transport in Vietnam.
The added benefit, is that travel within Vietnam is inexpensive. Domestic flights tend to come in at less than $50 each flight, buses (even those travelling long distances) cost around $20.
Vietnam has excellent hospitality
During the one month we spent visiting Vietnam, we never encountered any bad hotels or hostels. We frequently gave the accommodation we stayed in 10 out of 10 on booking.com. Quite simply, Vietnam has excellent hospitality. Whether in homestays, hotels or hostels, the hosts are always willing to go above and beyond to ensure that guests enjoy their stay and have everything they need.
This hospitality extends to restaurant hosts as well as tour guides. Any tour we took was top quality, made more so by the willingness of hosts to welcome us. Notably, in Sapa, we were invited to a family wedding by a tour guide. It’s not surprising to see why the hospitality sector in Vietnam grows around 5% each year on average.
Vietnamese people will want to offer you food and please you, don’t forget that it would be considered rude to turn down the offer.
The food in Vietnam is incredible
Ah the food! One big reason why people love to visit Vietnam. From Pho to noodles, spring rolls, fresh papaya salad, sweet treats, even egg coffee. Vietnam has it all when it comes to food. Here are the top 5 reasons we love the food in Vietnam:
- 1. The food varies from North to South, with Pho and Hot Pot popular in the North and spicier dishes to the South
- 2. The cuisine is eclectic and experimental – you’ll rarely find an identical dish on different restaurant menus. Plus, with foreign influence, the Vietnamese cuisine is very varied
- 3. If you avoid fried food, then Vietnamese food is actually very healthy. Think rice based, greens and herbs. It’s mostly gluten free too!
- 4. Much of the food is home cooked to unique family recipes.
- 5. The food is filled with colour, light and bright.
The scenery in Vietnam is incredibly varied
From North to South, Vietnam looks totally different. In the North, you’ll find green landscapes, mountains and rice fields. In the South, you’ll find tropical islands with white sand beaches and of course the famous Mekong river.
There are five UNESCO world heritage sites – these can be found in Hue, Hoi An, Ha Long Bay, My Son Sanctuary and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. All five sites could not be more different – from outstanding natural bays to sites of historical significance.
Vietnam is accessible to all budgets
Vietnam is extremely appealing for the budget conscious traveller. In fact, you can visit Vietnam on any budget.
For the budget conscious, accommodation in hostels is readily available for less than $10 in most areas, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. Food is also particularly inexpensive, with basic noodle and rice dishes available for around 30,000 VND ($1.50). Finally, a coffee or beer will cost around the same at 30,000 VND.
For anyone looking for luxury for less, Vietnam is also a great destination. In Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and even on the island of Phu Quoc, you can find stylish and luxurious accommodation for two people for around $25 per night. Delicious and opulent food such as shrimp and beef salads are also available if you’re willing to spend around 500,000 VND for two people (including plenty of drinks).
Vietnam is a year round destination
Vietnam definitely has seasons, but as it’s such a vast country, the weather varies across the land at different points of the year. November through to February is cold in the North regions, but pleasant and drier in the South. Whereas, June through to August sees a lot of rain in the South and drier weather with comfortable temperatures in the centre of Vietnam and the North.
Whatever time of year you plan to visit, with the right clothing, you can travel well throughout the country. You can read more about the weather in Vietnam here.
Want to read more about Vietnam?
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