With the passage of time Vietnam is no longer a war to become a booming tourist destination. Travelers who choose to visit Vietnam have many options and tourist combinations, from circuits Vietnam - Cambodia - Laos - Thailand, as tours only by Vietnam. Having set itself the next tourist destination Vietnam, it is preparing the trip, or rather, decide if we will travel with tourist agency or on the contrary, we aventuraremos to prepare the trip to Vietnam for free.
Regardless of if you travel to Vietnam with tourist agency or if we travel free advice and travel arrangements are very similar.
Visiting Vietnam for free
Our preference to discover Vietnam is undoubtedly travel to Vietnam for free.
Why travel to Vietnam for free?
The tourist services of the agencies are very good, however, preparing for the trip for free, in addition to saving us money, we will know much more the country, the culture, the traditions and corners of Vietnam.
Visiting a country like Vietnam for free, to a continent like Asia involves mixed with oriental culture, adapt to a completely different lifestyle to Western lifestyle, understand customs and traditions very different from ours.
Vietnam Tourism tourist agency
The tourist agency in Vietnam are another good alternative, even we can combine both options, i.e. book us tickets and hotels for free, but to hire excursions and transport with a Vietnamese local agency.
The Spanish tourist agencies have no presence in Vietnam, but that all of them work with Vietnamese local agencies to provide their services. Vietnamese local agencies have tour guides who speak English and to a lesser extent, Spanish.
Why travel to Vietnam with tourist agency?
The great advantage of tourist hire an agency is that we will resolve all matters relating to transport between cities and points of interest as well as to hire a tour guide to explain to us the history and guide us by Vietnam.
Preparations for Vietnam
- Trip to Vietnam, like any other journey, begins with the search for the means of transport, being the distance that separates Europe Vietnam's 12,000 kilometers almost the only alternative for travel to Vietnam is the aircraft.
- Once we have the ticket, there are to choose the tour by Vietnam (and other countries in Southeast Asia), which sites visit, how much time be in each, which places I can not lose me Vietnam.
- Vietnam is an elongated country, with 2000 miles away from North to South. Our tourist route by Vietnam will mean having to find us a means of transport to move us through Vietnam, either domestic flights, trains or buses.
- Reservation of hotels / apartments for our stay in Vietnam, or at least locate the areas where we can stay if prefer to search for the hotel / hostel directly in Vietnam.
- Obtain a visa to Vietnam. Probably one of the final preparations for free, but visa-free travel can not access to Vietnam.
Airfare to Vietnam
The first part of the tourist trip to Vietnam begins for air ticket booking and search for the dates of departure and return from Vietnam.
Flights to Vietnam are not direct (at least from Spain), with what you have to do at least one scale. The duration of the flight to Vietnam is at least 15 hours.
Possible combinations of flights and scales depends very much on the airline, normally will fly to any European city (2 hours of flight to destination such as for example Paris, Frankfurt) to then fly direct to Vietnam (12 hours more than flying). Other companies fly to Asia (Thailand, Russia, etc.. 12 flying hours) then continue with a short flight to Vietnam (2 hours). Only a handful of companies stop in the Middle East (7 hour flight to Doha, Dubai, etc) then continue flying until Vietnam (7 hours).
Our preference to fly to Vietnam is to make scale to half of trip (to make the plane not as heavy).
The companies that operate flights to Vietnam are Qatar Airways, Vietnam Airlines, Thai Airlines, Aeroflot, Air France, Singapore Airlines, etc... (see Flight to Vietnam).
Free tour around Vietnam
Regardless of the number of days spent in Vietnam, can not leave without visiting Vietnam Halong Bay.
Vietnam is a country of contrasts with many things to see and many cities and places to visit, to get an idea of what we can find we recommend browse guias Visual of major cities and places of interest in Vietnam (see Highlights of Vietnam).
Our recommendation is to start with the North of Vietnam, Hanoi capital and international airport, follow different routes from Hanoi and visit for free the country to finish in the South, in the city of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and fly back.
Between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, which are far from 2000 kilometres, have Da Nang, which although not as interesting city, has an international airport and most likely our gateway to the center of Vietnam.
Path typical for Vietnam: this is what we consider the typical route for Vietnam for a 15-day trip: Travel to Vietnam.
Tours from Hanoi
To be located in Hanoi the best point of reference is the Hoan Kiem Lake, the central lake in Hanoi that marks the beginning of the city center, virtually all of the points of tourist interest in Hanoi are 10 - 15 minutes walk from the Lake.
Excursions in the vicinity of Hanoi
After visiting the city of Hanoi, if still you spare us time, we have several excursions and tourist to make same-day visits in the vicinity of the city.
We have just 90 kilometers from Hanoi In Ninh Binh province, where Tam Coc, natural landscape known as The Halong Bay on land, impressive landscapes of rice paddies, caves and mountains.
Very close to Hanoi, only 70 kilometres, we can visit The Perfume Pagoda, a Buddhist shrine which can be reached by boat.
Trips of several days from Hanoi
After visiting the city of Hanoi, 350 km have Sapa (near the border with China, Lao Cai province) the mountains of Vietnam, rice terraces, landscapes amazing mountain, paradise of the trekking and place where Vietnamese inhabit different tribal ethnicities. At Sapa he normally travels at night (to save the hotel night) train that takes about 7 hours.
Even if Sapa is an awesome place, without a doubt visit star in the vicinity of the zone north is The Halong Bay. Wonder natural candidate for the 7 Wonders of the modern world, more than 1200 Karst islets that dot the beautiful Halong Bay with clear and calm waters. Halong Bay, essential a cruise to enjoy its splendour, is the postcard and reminder that we will take with us on return from Vietnam.
Hanoi in a click
This is the sighting of Hanoi: What to see and do in Hanoi?.
Next point on the route from Hanoi
After visiting and tour the North of Vietnam, the next point of the trip will be the Center of Vietnam, very probably the city of Danang.
Routes from Danang
Danang is a city in the center of Vietnam that owns airport, the most beautiful part of Danang is the mountain pass called the passage of clouds, from where we can enjoy the mountains, the Valley, the city of Danang, the sea and the beach, as well as remnants of the Vietnam war. If there is time enough to recommend not to visit Danang and focus on other cities and places of the center of Vietnam. The center of Vietnam has 2 really interesting city, the city of Hue and the town of Hoian, both cities located in the vicinity of Da Nang.
Hue was the ancient capital of the Vietnamese Empire, city with hundreds of years of history where we can admire citadels, palaces, pagodas and imperial tombs of the dynasties that ruled Vietnam. For lovers of history, Hue is the ideal place since we can admire monuments and remains of a past that take us back to the Vietnam's legend, times of emperors and French indochina.
In the heart of the city of Hue Citadel and the City purple Hue banned, is located this point of Vietnam essential visits. In the surroundings, we have excursions to make in the same day to visit the most important Imperial tombs.
See Hue Citadel and Imperial Tombs.
To complete the triangle Danang and Hue tourism, we have to Hoian, a beautiful City of fishermen and traders, with great tailors and craft tradition, which makes Hoian one of the best points of Vietnam to make clothing and footwear to measure (see Tailor made cothing in Hoian), in addition to to buy handicrafts.
The small Hoian is divided in two by the river (river that we can use for boating), although Hoian is famous for its white sand beaches and crystal clear waters (outside, in the eastern part of the city, see Vietnam beaches).
The monument or most outstanding tourist point of the Hoian city is the Japanese covered bridge, built to communicate 2 parts of the city. History lovers will enjoy the many museums that in Hoian, besides visiting houses of families influential, built hundreds of years ago.
Next point on the route from Danang / Central Vietnam
After a visit by free North and centre of Vietnam, the next destination is the South of Vietnam. We can choose to fly from Danang to Nha Trang, or directly go from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
Tours from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
The Ho Chi Minh City, formerly called Saigon, was the capital of Southern Vietnam and known as the city of bicycles. Today Ho Chi Minh City is the city more modern and West of the country, with eight million inhabitants, Ho Chi Minh City is a vibrant city full of stores, history and especially motorbikes (Guinness world record, says that every adult has a motorbike in Saigon).
Trips and tours in Saigon
Saigon, or better said, Ho Chi Minh City offers travellers from skyscraper to tunnels used in the war in Vietnam, the famous Cu Chi tunnels.
Ho Chi Minh City is divided into districts, where you can visit the Centre of the city, 1st District, walk without problems. 1 Saigon district is the place in the city where you will find most of the points of interest such as the reunification Palace, the Ben Thanh market, the Cathedral, the Museum of the war.
At nightfall on Saigon, we recommend giving one turn in boat by the river that surrounds the city, catching any of the boats that leave from the pier in the District 1. In addition to contemplate the city from all angles, you have the option of dining aboard.
Before the boat trip down the river, we can use to get on the Saigon Skydeck observatory on the 49th floor of the skyscraper Bitexco, as it is located on the way to the pier.
Excursions around Ho Chi Minh City
At this point of the trip for free, we have many options from Ho Chi Minh City, and most likely, not have time for all of them. Outside the former Saigon we Cu Chi Tunnels, where we will live in first person times of the Vietnam war and contemplate the remains and aftermath of the war in Vietnam.
We have My Tho in the Mekong delta is a very interesting point of the delta that is 70 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City, where we go into the Vietnamese jungle sailing in a small boat to motor up the River in the Mekong delta.
We have the most important city in the delta of the Mekong, Can Tho, about 180 kilometers from Saigon, city which has the longest and most expensive in the history of Vietnam suspension bridge on the same road to go to My Tho.
For travelers who love the Sun and beach tourism, Beach point closest to Ho Chi Minh City Vung Tau is just 1 hour by Ferry from the pier in Ho Chi Minh City in District 1, do not miss the opportunity of eating seafood alongside beach.
As more distant excursions departing from Ho Chi Minh City have Mui Ne (200 kilometers), with beaches and dunes that will transport us to another place. Leaving both as Saigon Mui Ne we Dalat (300 km), known as city of lovers and home of the legend of Lam and Biang (the romeo and Juliet Vietnamese).
In addition to these tours, we have a considerable distance to points of interest such as Nha Trang, coastal and tourist city, and also have to Phu Quoc, the largest island of Vietnam and the place where you will find the best beaches in the country.
Saigon in a click
Visual Guide Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon): What to see and do in Ho Chi Minh City?.
Transportation in Vietnam
The different alternatives of transportation for free that we have in Vietnam are the train, the bus, the car / van / moto, taxi and plane.
Important: in Vietnam we can not rent a car, since European driving licence is not valid in Vietnam, the only way to rent a car in Vietnam is the car rental with driver.
Walk or take a taxi is to move us into a city the best (the price of the taxi in Vietnam is 4 times lower than the price of Spain).
In big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City we can opt to rent a motorcycle or a bike to explore the surroundings and the outskirts.
For tours to Hue imperial tombs, the most recommended is sharing a van or mini bus, similar to to scroll up to Halong Bay (normally Halong cruises include collect and return to Hanoi).
Sapa city and the region of the mountains, the more advisable choice of transport is the night train, thereby saving us a hotel night and get more out of the trip.
Buses only recommend to travel between cities, urban buses in Vietnam would be our last choice of transport within cities.
Domestic flights in Vietnam
With the exception of Sapa and Halong Bay, which do not have nearby airport, we recommend that you make the displacements by Vietnam in aircraft. The plane in Vietnam is quick, convenient and cheap.
The airline companies of low cost operating in Vietnam are Jetstar, Air Asia, Air Mekong, etc... and as regular airlines we have to Vietnam Airlines.
By rule general Jetstar generally offer cheaper air tickets for domestic flights in Vietnam, however, charge us an extra fee for luggage. Vietnam Airlines is the main airline of the country, with flights to virtually all points of Vietnam, and their tickets, the most expensive, have all included charges which we will save surprises when boarding.
Price means of an airline ticket from Hanoi (HAN) up to Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) is 120€, from Hanoi (HAN) to Da Nang (DAD) amounted to 60€, the price of flights from Da Nang (DAD) to Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) is around 60€.
Once aterricemos at the airport we recommend you take a taxi to move us to the center of the city (see Taxi fare from the airport of Vietnam).
Hotels and accommodation in Vietnam
Hotels in Vietnam them can be divided into two classes: the hotels for tourists and hotels for Vietnamese.
The hotels for foreign tourists offer comfort, service, online reservations, hotel reviews on tripadvisor but a high price. In return, the Vietnamese hotels are smaller accommodation, perhaps with less luxury (but need not) but the price is much lower.
The standard of living in Vietnam is average 4 times lower to Europe, and by both a luxury hotel in Vietnam will cost an average of $100 night, bargain price when compared with America. If money is not a problem we recommend you stay in 5 star hotels in Vietnam.
For those travelers for free to find a less tourist experience, and above all save a lot of money, Vietnamese hotels are very good choice. The average price of a Vietnamese hotel is 20€ per night, however there are to choose well and not be cajole by low prices.
I strongly recommend not reserve in advance a Vietnamese hotel, but go directly to the hotel, asking that they teach you the room and if you like, book and pay directly in hand at that moment the room.
If the hotel accepts phone reservations without deposits or credit cards, bespeak the room, but never give money in advance, the reason? perhaps the hotel or the room is not to our liking.
Areas of hotels in Vietnam
As a general rule the cheap hotels in Vietnam are often found in areas of backpackers.
Cheap hotels in Hanoi
Hanoi is one of the cities more complicated when it comes to finding a good hotel, well located and low price. The best area to find a cheapie hotel is the Hanoi old quarter, located a couple of streets North of Hoan Kiem Lake.
Cheap hotels in Hue
The low cost of Hue area next to the River, on the other side of the Citadel of Hue, at the end of Le Loi Street.
Cheap Hotels in Hoian
Hoian Vietnam is the city where we will more easily to find hotel. Almost all the cheap hotels are in the center of Hoian (both sides of the main street Tran Hung Dao), large luxury resorts and 5 star hotels are located on the outskirts of the city, next to the beach (Hoian eastern).
Cheap hotels in Ho Chi Minh City
Hotels with good value for money in Ho Chi Minh City found in the Bui Thi Xuan Street, West of the Ben Thanh market and after the New World luxury hotel. In this street apart from hotels at a very good price, we have lots of small restaurants where to eat for very little money.
Map of hotels in Vietnam
Maps of areas of cheap hotels in Vietnam (click on the photo to open the map). From left to right: Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City.
Visa to Vietnam
To visit Vietnam is necessary visa. Before you get the visa you need to be clear about the following questions:
- How many times are we going to enter and leave Vietnam?: If the answer is only once, a simple visa is sufficient, but we will need a multiple visa.
- It is the first time that we go to Vietnam by plane?: If you get to Vietnam by plane you can opt for the visa on arrival (visa on-arrival), otherwise, you will need the Embassy of Vietnam pending you another kind of visa.
The vast majority of travelers travel to Vietnam in aircraft entering only once, so that a simple visa at the airport is the most convenient and economical option. Although visas are issued at the airport in Vietnam it is necessary letter of invitation. We take care of everything related to the visa (see Visa to Vietnam).
Hints and tips for traveling to Vietnam by free agency or
Tips for travel to Vietnam for free, by agency or combo, I say don't forget your Passport (with at least 6 months of expiration), we encourage you to ask questions and share experiences in the Vietnam and Cambodia Forum.
What to bring to Vietnam?
I recommend wearing sunglasses Vietnam of Sun and Sun protection, good camera, U.S. dollars ($ $50 are more than enough), credit card to remove Dongs (Vietnamese currency) in the ATMs of Vietnam, light clothes (except for the region of Sapa and North Vietnam we will need warm clothes), comfortable shoes and a raincoat / jacket (more practical than the umbrella).
The clothes and the raincoat can buy in Vietnam at a very low price, as well as footwear and backpacks.
Customs and traditions
The highlight of the culture, customs and traditions of Vietnam is Vietnamese hat, named Non La, and Vietnam traditional costume called Ao Dai.
With reference to the rest of customs, will have us shoes when entering a House (does not apply to hotels, museums and tourist attractions). Sticks are used to eating, and Additionally the spoon, anything from knives or forks.
What not to do in Vietnam? How to behave in Vietnam?
In Vietnam as well as in the rest of Asia, the effusive samples are not usual. When it comes to greet a Vietnamese is no hand nor nor kisses, just makes a small gesture with the head and you smile. Behaviors such as run by the street or yelling is not usual or mode of behaviour in Vietnam (exclude young children and vendors).
Weather and Climate in Vietnam
Vietnam is a country of tropical climate, where the average annual temperature does not usually lose 24 ° C. In the North of Vietnam, in the area of Sapa, the temperature is lower. As a tropical country which is Vietnam, has 2 seasons: the dry season and the rainy season (monsoon).
Weather forecast Weather in Vietnam to 7 days for major cities.
When to go to Vietnam
When to go to Vietnam? What is the best time of year to visit Vietnam?
Any time is good, since the climate is very stable. The only drawback is the rain. See months recommended for Vietnam Tourism.
Maps of Vietnam
Oriented in Vietnam is easy, also the people of the country are always willing to help travelers. GPS and the maps of the iPhone works very well in Vietnam, being this mobile phone the best ally to lose us and find us on our journey through free in Vietnam.
For those who prefer a printed version of the maps, here Maps of Vietnam.
Vietnam currency is the Vietnamese Dong, its abbreviation is VND. Dongs and euro conversion is 1€ = 28,000 VND. The Vietnamese Dong is not listed overseas, with what is the best way to do with Dongs in an ATM of Vietnam.
Photos Dongs tickets and information, see Vietnam currency.
credit cards in Vietnam, see credit cards in Vietnam.
Security in Vietnam
Vietnam is a very safe country, and can travel anywhere in the country with total safety at any hour of the day and night. As caution monitor at all times belongings and purses / wallets. Nor we recommend leaving money in the hotel or in the luggage unattended.
Plugs and power in Vietnam
The outlets in Vietnam are identical to the Spanish / European, and those are not the same can be used without an adapter. The voltage and electric current in Vietnam is the same as in Spain / Europe.