Backpacking in Vietnam

Backpacking in Vietnam is a fantastic way to explore the country’s rich culture, stunning landscapes, and delicious cuisine on a budget. Here are some tips and insights to help you plan your backpacking adventure in Vietnam:

Backpacking in Vietnam

Visa Requirements:

  • Check the visa requirements for your nationality before traveling to Vietnam. Some nationalities are eligible for visa exemptions or visa-on-arrival services, while others may need to apply for a visa in advance.

Budget Accommodation:

  • Vietnam offers a wide range of budget accommodations, including hostels, guesthouses, and homestays. Prices vary by location, but you can find affordable options in most cities and tourist areas. Backpacking in Vietnam offers a wide range of accommodation options to fit various budgets and travel preferences. Here are some popular choices for budget-conscious travelers:
  • 1. Hostels: Hostels are abundant in Vietnam, especially in major cities and tourist areas. They offer dormitory-style rooms with shared facilities. Prices vary depending on the location, but you can typically find hostels for as low as $5 to $15 USD per night.
  • 2. Guesthouses: Guesthouses are small, family-run accommodations that offer private or shared rooms. They provide a more personalized experience compared to hostels. Prices vary, but budget-friendly guesthouses can be found for $10 to $30 USD per night.
  • 3. Homestays: In rural areas and ethnic minority villages, homestays provide a unique cultural experience. You’ll stay with local families, eat traditional meals, and immerse yourself in the local way of life. Prices are usually quite affordable, ranging from $10 to $30 USD per night, including meals.
  • 4. Budget Hotels: Vietnam has a range of budget-friendly hotels that offer private rooms with basic amenities. Prices can vary widely by location and quality, but you can find options starting from $20 to $50 USD per night.
  • 5. Airbnb: Airbnb is available in many Vietnamese cities and can be an excellent option for those seeking private accommodations or unique stays. Prices vary depending on the property and location.
  • 6. Capsule Hotels: Some cities, like Ho Chi Minh City, offer capsule hotels, which provide compact sleeping pods and shared facilities. Prices are often budget-friendly, starting at around $10 to $20 USD per night.
  • 7. Bungalows and Beach Huts: In coastal areas and islands like Phu Quoc, Mui Ne, and Nha Trang, you can find bungalows and beach huts. Prices vary but generally start at $15 to $50 USD per night.
  • 8. Campgrounds: While not as common as other options, there are campgrounds in Vietnam, especially in national parks and nature reserves. Be sure to check for regulations and availability in advance.
  • Tips for Finding Budget Accommodation:
  • Booking in advance is advisable, especially during peak tourist seasons.
  • Use reputable booking websites and apps like, Hostelworld, or Agoda to compare prices and read reviews from other travelers.
  • Consider location and proximity to attractions when choosing accommodation.
  • Negotiating prices is common in Vietnam, particularly at guesthouses and smaller hotels. Polite bargaining can sometimes result in lower rates, especially for longer stays.
  • Check for amenities such as free Wi-Fi, breakfast, and laundry facilities when booking.
  • Vietnam’s accommodation options cater to a wide range of budgets and preferences, making it relatively easy to find affordable places to stay while backpacking. Whether you prefer the camaraderie of hostels or the local charm of guesthouses, you’ll have plenty of choices to make your backpacking adventure enjoyable.

Street Food:

  • Vietnamese street food is famous for its flavor and affordability. Try local dishes like pho (noodle soup), banh mi (sandwiches), bun cha (grilled pork with noodles), and fresh spring rolls at street stalls and local eateries. Backpacking in Vietnam offers a gastronomic adventure with a diverse range of delicious and affordable food options. Vietnamese cuisine is known for its flavors, freshness, and street food culture. Here are some tips and popular dishes to try while backpacking in Vietnam:
  • 1. Pho (Phở): A famous Vietnamese noodle soup made with beef or chicken, rice noodles, and aromatic herbs. Pho is a must-try dish and can be found in small eateries and street stalls throughout the country.
  • 2. Banh Mi: Vietnamese baguette sandwiches filled with various ingredients like grilled meats, pate, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs. They’re a quick and tasty option for breakfast or a snack.
  • 3. Bun Cha: A dish featuring grilled pork served with rice vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, and a dipping sauce. It’s especially popular in Hanoi.
  • 4. Goi Cuon: Fresh spring rolls made with shrimp, herbs, rice vermicelli, and sometimes pork, all wrapped in rice paper. They are often served with a peanut dipping sauce.
  • 5. Bun Thit Nuong: Grilled pork served over vermicelli noodles with fresh herbs, peanuts, and a sweet and savory sauce. It’s a popular dish in southern Vietnam.
  • 6. Com Tam: Broken rice served with grilled pork, often accompanied by a fried egg and a side of fish sauce. Com Tam is a hearty and filling meal.
  • 7. Cao Lau: A specialty of Hoi An, Cao Lau consists of chewy rice noodles, slices of pork, fresh herbs, and crispy croutons in a flavorful broth.
  • 8. Mi Quang: A noodle dish from central Vietnam, Mi Quang features thick rice noodles, shrimp, pork, herbs, and a turmeric-based broth.
  • 9. Seafood: Vietnam’s long coastline offers a bounty of fresh seafood. Don’t miss the opportunity to try dishes like grilled prawns, steamed clams, and seafood hotpot.
  • 10. Bia Hoi: Vietnamese draft beer is known as “Bia Hoi.” It’s a light and refreshing beer, perfect for enjoying at street-side beer stalls with locals.
  • 11. Street Food: Embrace the street food culture by trying various dishes from street vendors. Street food stalls offer an array of options, from grilled meats and noodles to sweet treats like coconut pancakes (banh xeo) and sticky rice desserts.
  • 12. Coffee: Vietnamese coffee is famous worldwide. Try traditional drip coffee (ca phe sua da) with condensed milk or egg coffee (ca phe trung) for a unique treat.
  • 13. Vegetarian and Vegan Options: Vietnam offers plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes, especially in Buddhist temples and vegetarian restaurants. Look for signs that say “chay” to find meatless options.
  • 14. Local Markets: Explore local markets to experience the vibrant food culture. Each region has its specialties, and markets are excellent places to sample regional dishes.
  • 15. Hygiene: While street food can be delicious, prioritize hygiene when choosing vendors. Opt for places with high turnover, where food is cooked to order, and be cautious about raw or uncooked ingredients.
  • Backpacking in Vietnam offers a culinary journey through diverse flavors and regional specialties. Be adventurous, sample local dishes, and savor the unique tastes that Vietnam has to offer.


  • Public transportation is budget-friendly in Vietnam. Use buses, trains, and domestic flights to travel between cities and regions.
  • Renting a motorbike is a common way to explore cities and rural areas, but make sure you have the necessary licenses and follow local traffic rules.
  • Be cautious when crossing busy streets in cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Traffic can be chaotic, so watch how locals navigate it and follow their lead.
  • Backpacking in Vietnam is an exciting way to explore this beautiful country, and you’ll have several transportation options to choose from. Here are some popular modes of transportation and tips for getting around Vietnam:
  • 1. Motorbike/Scooter:
  • Renting a motorbike or scooter is a common way to get around Vietnam, especially in cities and rural areas. It offers flexibility and allows you to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations.
  • Make sure you have the necessary licenses and insurance, and always wear a helmet. Traffic can be chaotic in some urban areas, so exercise caution.
  • 2. Public Buses:
  • Public buses are a cost-effective way to travel between cities and regions. They are often used by locals and backpackers alike.
  • Be prepared for longer travel times and sometimes crowded conditions, especially on popular routes.
  • 3. Sleeper Buses:
  • Sleeper buses are a convenient option for overnight journeys between cities. They offer bunk-style seats/beds and are suitable for saving time and accommodation costs.
  • Research different bus companies, as the quality of buses and services can vary.
  • 4. Trains:
  • Vietnam has an extensive railway network, with trains connecting major cities and regions. Overnight sleeper trains are a comfortable way to travel long distances.
  • Booking train tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons, is recommended.
  • 5. Domestic Flights:
  • For longer distances, consider taking domestic flights. Vietnam has several airports, and flights are relatively affordable, especially when booked in advance.
  • Popular domestic airlines include Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, and Bamboo Airways.
  • 6. Taxis and Ride-Sharing:
  • Taxis are readily available in cities, and ride-sharing services like Grab are also common. Ensure that the meter is used or agree on a fare before starting the journey.
  • In some places, like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, motorbike taxis (xe om) are a quick and affordable option for short trips.
  • 7. Cyclos and Bicycle Rentals:
  • In smaller towns and cities, you can explore on foot, by bicycle, or by hiring a cyclo (a bicycle rickshaw).
  • Cycling is a popular way to explore rural areas and coastal regions.
  • 8. Boat and Ferry Services:
  • Vietnam’s coastline and rivers offer opportunities for boat and ferry travel. You can take boat trips to islands, explore the Mekong Delta, or enjoy a cruise in Halong Bay.
  • 9. Local Transportation Apps:
  • Download transportation apps like Grab (similar to Uber) and GoViet for convenient and reliable ride-hailing services.
  • 10. Walking: – In cities and towns, walking is an excellent way to explore local neighborhoods, markets, and cultural sites. Be prepared for traffic and crowded streets.
  • 11. Language and Communication: – Learn a few basic Vietnamese phrases or have translation apps handy, as not all drivers and locals speak English.
  • 12. Traffic and Safety: – Vietnam’s traffic can be chaotic, especially in major cities. Always exercise caution when crossing streets and follow traffic rules. – Be aware of potential scams and overcharging by taxi or motorbike taxi drivers. Use reputable companies and agree on fares in advance when possible.
  • Getting around Vietnam can be an adventure in itself, and the mode of transportation you choose can influence your travel experience. Plan your routes, be flexible, and embrace the diverse transportation options available to explore this beautiful country at your own pace.


  • Vietnam is known for its stunning natural landscapes and cultural attractions. Don’t miss places like Halong Bay, Sapa, Hoi An, Hue, and the Mekong Delta.
  • Visit historical sites like the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Imperial City of Hue to learn about Vietnam’s rich history.
  • Vietnam is a captivating country with a wide range of attractions that cater to backpackers seeking adventure, culture, history, and natural beauty. Here are some must-visit attractions and destinations for backpacking in Vietnam:
  • 1. Halong Bay: Explore the stunning limestone karsts and emerald waters of Halong Bay on a boat cruise. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its picturesque landscapes and is ideal for kayaking, hiking, and overnight stays on traditional junk boats.
  • 2. Sapa: Located in the northern highlands, Sapa is famous for its terraced rice fields, ethnic minority villages, and trekking opportunities. Hike through the breathtaking landscapes and immerse yourself in the local culture.
  • 3. Hanoi: Vietnam’s capital city is a bustling metropolis with a rich history. Explore the Old Quarter’s narrow streets, visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and enjoy street food in the city’s vibrant markets.
  • 4. Hoi An: Known for its well-preserved ancient town, Hoi An offers a glimpse into Vietnam’s history. Visit historic temples, lantern-lit streets, and enjoy tailor-made clothing and local cuisine.
  • 5. Hue: Explore the former imperial capital of Vietnam, known for its historic citadel and royal tombs. Take a boat ride on the Perfume River and explore the city’s rich history.
  • 6. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon): The largest city in Vietnam offers a mix of history and modernity. Visit the War Remnants Museum, explore the Cu Chi Tunnels, and stroll through bustling markets.
  • 7. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park: Discover one of the world’s largest cave systems, including the famous Son Doong Cave. Explore the park’s underground wonders and hike through lush landscapes.
  • 8. Mekong Delta: Experience life along the Mekong River, explore floating markets, visit local villages, and sample fresh tropical fruits. The Mekong Delta offers a unique glimpse into rural Vietnam.
  • 9. Ninh Binh: Known as “Halong Bay on Land,” Ninh Binh features limestone karsts and lush rice paddies. Explore the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex and take a boat ride through stunning caves and grottoes.
  • 10. Phu Quoc Island: Relax on beautiful beaches, snorkel in clear waters, and explore the island’s natural beauty. Phu Quoc offers a laid-back atmosphere and is perfect for beach lovers.
  • 11. Dalat: Located in the Central Highlands, Dalat is a cool and refreshing destination known for its gardens, waterfalls, and French colonial architecture. Enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and canyoning.
  • 12. Con Dao Islands: For a tranquil and less crowded island experience, visit the Con Dao Islands. Explore pristine beaches, coral reefs, and historical sites, including a former prison.
  • 13. Ha Giang Loop: Take on the challenging but rewarding Ha Giang Loop motorbike journey, which offers breathtaking landscapes and encounters with ethnic minority communities in northern Vietnam.
  • 14. Cu Lao Cham: A group of islands off the coast of Hoi An, Cu Lao Cham offers snorkeling, diving, and relaxing on beautiful beaches.
  • 15. Trekking and Adventure: Vietnam’s diverse landscapes offer excellent trekking, hiking, and outdoor adventure opportunities. Explore national parks, mountains, and rural areas to experience the country’s natural beauty.
  • Whether you’re interested in history, nature, adventure, or simply relaxing on beautiful beaches, Vietnam has something to offer every backpacker. Explore these attractions and immerse yourself in the rich culture and beauty of this captivating Southeast Asian country.

Local Markets:

  • Explore local markets to experience the vibrant culture and sample regional specialties. Each city and town has its own unique market, such as Hanoi’s Old Quarter markets and Hoi An’s night market.
  • Exploring local markets is an integral part of the backpacking experience in Vietnam. These vibrant markets offer a glimpse into the country’s culture, culinary traditions, and daily life. Here are some of the top local markets to visit while backpacking in Vietnam:
  • 1. Ben Thanh Market (Cho Ben Thanh) – Ho Chi Minh City:
  • Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Ben Thanh Market is one of the city’s most famous markets. It’s known for its bustling atmosphere and offers a wide range of goods, including clothing, souvenirs, fresh produce, and street food. Don’t forget to haggle when shopping here.
  • 2. Dong Xuan Market – Hanoi:
  • Dong Xuan Market is Hanoi’s largest indoor market, featuring a vast array of goods such as clothing, textiles, electronics, and local street food. It’s a great place to experience the city’s daily life.
  • 3. Hoi An Night Market – Hoi An:
  • Hoi An Night Market comes alive after sunset with colorful lanterns and a vibrant atmosphere. You can find souvenirs, handmade crafts, clothing, and delicious street food. It’s a great place to shop and enjoy the local cuisine.
  • 4. Hanoi Weekend Night Market (Walking Street) – Hanoi:
  • This lively weekend market takes place in the Old Quarter of Hanoi every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night. It’s a pedestrian-only street filled with street vendors, food stalls, and entertainment. It’s an excellent opportunity to sample street food and shop for souvenirs.
  • 5. Cho Hom Market – Hanoi:
  • Cho Hom Market is known for its extensive selection of fabrics and textiles. It’s a fantastic place to shop for traditional Vietnamese clothing, fabrics, and handicrafts. You can also find a variety of street food vendors in the area.
  • 6. Da Lat Market – Da Lat:
  • Da Lat Market is known for its fresh produce, flowers, and local products. It’s a great place to sample regional specialties like strawberries, avocados, and artichokes. You can also find fresh coffee beans and local handicrafts.
  • 7. Cho Con Market – Can Tho:
  • Located in the Mekong Delta, Cho Con Market is a bustling local market that offers a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, seafood, and handmade goods. It’s a great place to explore if you’re in the southern part of Vietnam.
  • 8. Bac Ha Market – Lao Cai Province:
  • Bac Ha Market is famous for its colorful ethnic minority gatherings. It’s a great place to witness the cultural diversity of the region and shop for traditional textiles, clothing, and handicrafts.
  • 9. Sapa Market – Sapa:
  • Sapa Market is a hub for ethnic minority communities in the northern highlands. It’s an excellent place to shop for traditional crafts, textiles, and fresh produce while interacting with locals.
  • 10. Cho Pho Market – Phong Nha: – Cho Pho Market offers a glimpse into daily life in rural Vietnam. It’s a great place to sample local cuisine, purchase fresh produce, and experience the local culture.
  • When visiting local markets in Vietnam, remember to be respectful, negotiate prices when appropriate, and try the delicious street food offerings. Exploring these markets allows you to connect with the local culture and provides unique opportunities for souvenir shopping and culinary adventures.

Learn Basic Vietnamese Phrases:

  • While many younger Vietnamese people speak some English, learning a few basic Vietnamese phrases can be helpful and appreciated by locals.


  • Bargaining is a common practice in Vietnam, especially in markets and when dealing with street vendors. Polite negotiation can often lead to better deals.


  • Vietnam is generally considered safe for travelers, but it’s essential to take standard precautions such as safeguarding your belongings and being aware of your surroundings.


Vietnam’s climate varies by region, so check the weather for the areas you plan to visit. The country experiences distinct wet and dry seasons. Vietnam has a diverse climate due to its elongated geography, with variations in weather and temperatures throughout the country. The climate can be broadly divided into three regions: the north, the central coast, and the south. When planning your backpacking trip to Vietnam, it’s essential to consider the weather and seasonal variations in each region:

1. Northern Vietnam (Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay):

  • Spring (March to April): Spring is an excellent time to visit northern Vietnam, with mild temperatures and blooming flowers. It’s ideal for outdoor activities and exploring Hanoi.
  • Summer (May to August): Summers in the north can be hot and humid, with occasional rain. Sapa and Halong Bay are popular destinations during this season.
  • Autumn (September to November): Autumn offers pleasant weather with cooler temperatures and less rainfall. It’s a great time for trekking in Sapa and exploring Hanoi.
  • Winter (December to February): Winters are cooler and can be foggy, especially in Sapa. Hanoi experiences cooler temperatures, but it’s generally drier during this season.

2. Central Vietnam (Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang):

  • Spring (February to April): Spring is a great time to explore central Vietnam, with comfortable temperatures and low humidity. It’s perfect for visiting Hue and Hoi An.
  • Summer (May to August): Summers in central Vietnam can be hot and humid, with occasional rain. Beach destinations like Nha Trang are popular during this time.
  • Autumn (September to November): Autumn offers pleasant weather with less humidity, making it a favorable time to visit central Vietnam.
  • Winter (December to January): Winters are cooler but still comfortable for sightseeing. It’s an excellent time to explore historical sites in Hue and Hoi An.

3. Southern Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc Island):

  • Dry Season (December to April): This is the best time to visit southern Vietnam. The weather is dry and less humid, making it suitable for exploring Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, and beach destinations like Phu Quoc.
  • Wet Season (May to November): The wet season brings heavy rains and high humidity to the south. While it may still be possible to visit, be prepared for occasional downpours and plan outdoor activities accordingly.

General Tips for Weather Considerations:

  • Check the weather forecast for the specific regions you plan to visit.
  • Pack appropriate clothing, including lightweight clothing for hot and humid weather, as well as layers for cooler evenings or highland areas.
  • Consider the seasons and weather conditions when planning outdoor activities, treks, or beach trips.
  • Book accommodations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.
  • Be flexible with your travel plans to adapt to changing weather conditions, especially during the wet season.

Vietnam’s climate varies significantly from region to region, so it’s important to research the weather patterns for your specific destinations and plan accordingly. By considering the climate and seasons, you can make the most of your backpacking adventure in Vietnam.


– The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). Credit cards are accepted in many hotels and restaurants, but it’s advisable to carry cash for small purchases and in more remote areas.

Cultural Respect:

– Respect local customs and traditions, especially when visiting temples and religious sites. Dress modestly, remove your shoes when required, and follow the rules and etiquette of each place you visit.

Vietnam offers a diverse range of experiences, from bustling cities to serene countryside, making it an excellent destination for backpackers. Embrace the culture, savor the cuisine, and explore the natural beauty of this vibrant country. Respecting the local culture and customs is essential when backpacking in Vietnam. Vietnamese society places great value on traditions, respect for elders, and maintaining harmony. To ensure a positive and culturally sensitive experience, here are some tips on how to show respect and appreciation for Vietnam’s culture:

1. Dress Modestly:

  • When visiting temples, pagodas, or any religious sites, as well as rural areas, dress modestly and conservatively. Avoid wearing revealing clothing or clothing with offensive symbols or slogans.

2. Remove Shoes:

  • Before entering someone’s home, a temple, or certain restaurants, it is customary to remove your shoes. Look for signs or observe the locals to see if this is required.

3. Public Displays of Affection:

  • Public displays of affection, such as hugging and kissing, are generally not appropriate in Vietnamese culture. Keep physical contact minimal in public spaces.

4. Greetings:

  • Greet people with a friendly smile and a slight bow or nod. A handshake is acceptable in business settings but is not as common in daily life. Address people by their titles or with appropriate honorifics, such as “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” or “Ms.”

5. Showing Respect for Elders while backpacking in Vietnam:

  • In Vietnamese culture, showing respect to elders is highly valued. When interacting with older individuals, use polite language and gestures. Stand when an elder enters the room, and let them initiate physical contact if they are comfortable with it.

6. Pointing and Feet:

  • Avoid pointing your feet at people, religious objects, or images of authority, as it is considered disrespectful. Use your hand to gesture instead.

7. Bargaining and Negotiating:

  • When bargaining at markets or with street vendors, maintain a friendly and respectful demeanor. Bargaining is part of the culture, but avoid being overly aggressive or rude.

8. Photography Etiquette:

  • Always ask for permission before taking photos of individuals, particularly in rural areas or with ethnic minorities. Some may appreciate the opportunity to share their culture, while others may prefer privacy.

9. Religious Respect at backpacking in Vietnam :

  • When visiting religious sites, be quiet and respectful. Dress appropriately and follow any rules or guidelines set by the place of worship. Do not interrupt ceremonies or rituals.

10. Learn Basic Phrases: – Learning a few basic Vietnamese phrases, such as greetings and polite expressions, can go a long way in showing respect and building positive interactions with locals.

11. Tipping: – Tipping is not always expected in Vietnam, but it is appreciated. Be mindful of the local customs regarding tipping, and consider leaving a small gratuity for service providers who have offered exceptional service.

12. Understanding Local Customs: – Familiarize yourself with the specific customs and traditions of the regions you plan to visit within Vietnam, as there can be variations in customs and beliefs among different ethnic groups and communities.

By showing respect for Vietnamese culture and customs, you can enhance your travel experience, build positive relationships with locals, and leave a positive impression as a responsible traveler. Remember that each region may have its unique customs, so it’s beneficial to do some research before visiting different parts of the country.

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