Vietnam is one of the most popular countries to visit in South-East Asia, expect friendly locals, spectacular tourist sights, thousands of miles of coastline, bustling cities, tasty local food and lots of authentic travel experiences. Vietnam has had a well-documented turbulent history, but tourism is going from strength to strength and now millions of people visit annually.
Find travel inspiration for the best things to do if you would like to go travelling, backpacking or take a gap year in Vietnam.
Get essential information, tips, itineraries and inspiration for visiting Vietnam.
Vietnam is easily accessible from the outside world, you can catch international flights into Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Vietnam is central to the Far East and increasing numbers of airline operators are now offering discount flights from major airports in the region to facilitate travel between countries in the area, allowing you to experience other Asian cultures. International flights can be booked from most major destinations worldwide.
If you are from the UK or a selected number of countries you can get a tourist visa on arrival if you are flying into Vietnam and stay for 30 days. By entering Vietnam via land you will need to get a tourist visa prior to arrival, this can be done in the UK or in neighbouring countries. You will need a valid passport and you will have to pay a small fee.
It is also a good idea to know what the weather will be like when you visit as it is important you choose the right month to suit your travel syle. Vietnam has a long hot season and also a wet season and deciding when the best time to go can be difficult due to the weather being different in the North and South, and also because it can be quite unpredictable.
Vietnam is busy during peak tourist season around November to March and if you are not a fan of intense heat you might want to avoid this time as temperatures can rise. If a beach break sounds appealing and you are looking for sunny weather in Vietnam we recommend visiting Phu Quoc and Con Dao located in Southern Vietnam inbetween November and June. Or if you would like to visit Nha Trang or Quy Nhon aim to be there around January to September time when you are usually guaranteed sun.
Vietnam is incredible - expect amazing beaches, tasty cuisine, friendly locals and a lot of cultural places to visit and lots of activities and adventures available. Vietnam has a different vibe to some of its close neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia and while it's advised that travellers draw up their own list of must visit places and book a tour accordingly, there are a few must-see sights that every visitor should consider.
First stop for most visitors when exploring Vietnam is either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and these are where a lot of tours start. Masses of motorbikes whizz through the streets in their hundreds, and these must be carefully navigated when attempting to make your way from one side of the street to another. Buses, trucks and cars must also be avoided when crossing the city’s jam-packed streets. There is a real vibrancy and buzz surrounding the Vietnam's cities and visiting it is an opportunity not to be passed up. Trips to the Far East don't usually begin and end in Vietnam, with many travellers heading to nearby countries with an equally fascinating past and you might like to also view all of our Asia tours.
Taking a boat trip to Halong Bay is highly recommended whilst learning to scuba dive in the South China Sea is a thrilling experience. You can visit the war museum in Saigon, see ancient temples or just get lost in the backstreets of Hanoi. If you are travelling solo or would like to enjoy a fun / safe experience we recommend joining an overland trip to see as much of the country as possible. Na trang has a beautiful beach, visit the War Museum in Saigon, watch out for the moped drivers in Hanoi, do a trek to Sapa and visit the spectacular Ha Long Bay. Don't be afraid to barter for prices especially for clothes in Hoi Ann.
Phu Quoc island is an amazing destination but prices for accommodation are really high, if you are on a budget try to avoid. The sun, sand and surf at Mui Ne make it one of the world’s premier kite surfing destinations. There are qualified instructors on every corner just waiting to teach you all they know, so beginners need not feel nervous – you’ll be in good (and experienced) hands. The resort itself is worth a few days. Rainfall is negligible, the beaches are some of the best in Vietnam and the nightlife at some of the beach bars could itself be classified as a whole different type of adventure!
A popular Asia destination, Vietnam is never far from any bucket list of travels. If you’re in search of a destination rich in culture, history and delicious food then make sure Vietnam is top of your list of places to visit on your gap year! If you are researching the best things to do in Vietnam our directory will help you book the ultimate experience.
Vietnam is blessed with stunning landscapes, many travellers venture west to the Mekong Delta; a watery landscape that's home to a variety of quaint villages and friendly locals. Most Vietnam adventures begin in Ho Chi Minch City (Saigon) or Hanoi, the capital, where travellers can visit the resting place of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam's former president and leader of the Viet Cong. For a mixture of adventure and relaxation, it's advised to head to the beautiful Phu Quoc Island, which is as popular for its adventure excursions as it is for its white sandy beaches. Other places you should think about include Da Nang, Nha Trang, Hoi Ann, Sapa and Ha Long Bay.
With so much diversity you can trek through jungles, discover hidden villages, get to grips with history at the Cu Chi tunnels and taste some of the best Vietnamese food. The highlight though? Kayaking through the mystical Halong Bay. Made up of nearly 2,000 limestone islets, this is one UNESCO World Heritage Site not to be missed - Trust us!
If you are wondering if Vietnam is a safe destination, don't worry, the people are really welcoming and its a great country to be based in. Vietnam is a very cheap country especially compared to taking a gap year in Thailand for example, you can usually get accommodation and food for less than $10 a day! Restaurants in Vietnam serve a variety of food which is very tasty and cheap. You will probably spend around $5- $10 per day on food which is really cheap compared to nearby destinations. History will play a part on your Vietnam gap year, and so too will the country's geography.
If you are planning a trip to Vietnam or are keen on the idea of going backpacking these tips from past travellers might help:
View our Asia backpacking guide.