Discover the thrills of Vietnam
From the French architecture of Hanoi to the Chinese streets of Hoi An, Vietnam offers a unique blend of history and culture like no other. Here’s our guide to everything you need to know.
Explore the buzzing cities
Across South East Asia, you’ll find cities bursting with life from dawn to dusk – and Vietnam is no exception. Whichever city you explore, you’re sure to find yourself immersed in a world of fast-paced business action in Vietnam, and buzzing life. Hanoi is packed with culture, whilst Ho Chi Minh City is alive with cosmopolitan vibrancy. Hue is drenched in history, and Phan Thiet in sunshine.
Admire the picturesque beaches
You might not think of Vietnam as a beachy paradise, but the golden sands here are the country’s best kept secret. Quiet and undiscovered compared to neighbouring Thailand, the shoreline here is just as beautiful. Whether you’re looking for the modern resort charm of Nha Trang and Da Lat or the adrenaline-filled watersports of Mui Ne, there’s a Vietnamese beach to suit every taste.
Enjoy the blossoming food and coffee culture
You’ve probably tasted the signature Vietnamese dish of pho, a delicious noodle soup that’s quickly catching on around the world. And there’s plenty more where that came from, with fresh ingredients, delicate flavours and a plethora of seafood making the basis of a classic Vietnamese cuisine. Vietnam is also home to a popular café culture and is big on coffee – a throwback to its time as a French colony – meaning there’s plenty of opportunity to grab a quiet minute and enjoy a spot of people watching.
The currency of Vietnam is the dong, which due to inflation is no longer broken down into its sub units of hào and xu. As of November 2015, $1 is worth around 16,000₫, and 10,000₫ is worth around $0.63.
Here’s a roundup of what you can expect to spend in Vietnam, with prices in Australian dollars:
|Inexpensive meal for one – $2.50||Bottle of water – $0.40||0.5 litre beer – $1|
|Mid-range restaurant meal for one – $9||Cappuccino – $2.40||Local bus ticket – $0.44|
Need to convert your pounds to dong? Order them here.
If you’d like to use US dollars, you’ll find that they’re widely accepted and used in Vietnamese cities – although you’re likely to get a much better conversion rate by using dong instead.
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Travelling around Vietnam
Since Vietnam is such a long and thin country, many miles lay between the north and the south. Plane travel is a quick and relatively easy way to travel, with regular flights between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City lasting around two hours and costing around 1,600,000₫.
Vietnam is well connected with plenty of long distance bus routes taking you from city to city. The open tour buses are very popular with tourists and travellers, allowing you to buy one ticket for as little as £12 from Ho Chi Minh City up to Hanoi (or the other way around), where you can stop off along your journey at any point, and get back on a bus of the same company any time later.
The train is the least developed mode of transport across the country, but does provide no end of opportunity to see the stunning countryside of Vietnam on the long journeys between cities. The Vietnamese travel search engine Baolau is a great way to organise your train journey and you should aim to book tickets at least four days in advance before trains become fully booked.
A classic sight in Vietnam, cyclo pedicabs are a cheap and scenic way to get around the streets of Vietnam’s cities and a journey should cost you around 20,000₫ for up to 2km. Another popular and admittedly much faster way is to use a motorbike taxi known as a xe ôm, costing you around 10,000₫ for a 10 minute trip.