INTRODUCTION: Unveiling the Land of the Dragon

All you need to know in our Vietnam travel guide :

Weaving its way along over 4,000 kilometers of Southeast Asian coastline, Vietnam boasts a slender landmass spanning 331,690 square kilometers. Nicknamed the “Land of the Dragon” for its shape and rich dragon lore, Vietnam is where legends like the creation of Hanoi and Ha Long Bay come alive.

The Vietnamese people, known as the Kin, form the majority population. However, Vietnam embraces a vibrant tapestry of cultures, with 54 recognized ethnic minorities. While the majority ethnic group resides in the mountainous regions of the North and Central Highlands, these diverse communities can be encountered throughout the country.

Vietnam’s landscape is a breathtaking kaleidoscope. From the towering peaks of the North, including Fansipan, the “Roof of Indochina” at 3,147 meters, to the hidden island paradises like Phu Quoc in the South, Vietnam seamlessly blends captivating coastal escapes with thrilling adventures and immersive cultural experiences.

WEATHER: A Land of Diverse Climates

Due to Vietnam’s elongated shape stretching from north to south, the weather patterns dramatically transform across the country. Here’s a glimpse into the distinct climatic zones you’ll encounter:

North: Brace yourself for a cooler climate, especially in the mountainous regions. Winter (December to February) can bring occasional chills and even snowfall in Sapa! Spring (March to May) offers pleasant weather, while summer (June to August) can be hot and humid with occasional showers. Autumn (September to November) is known for its comfortable temperatures and minimal rainfall.

Central: The central coast experiences a tropical monsoon climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The dry season stretches from December to August, making it ideal for beach vacations. However, the mountainous areas tend to be cooler throughout the year. Conversely, the wet season (September to November) brings heavier rainfall, particularly towards the latter part.

South: Consistent warmth defines the southern climate. Expect sunshine year-round with minimal temperature variations. The wet season (May to November) brings short afternoon showers, while the dry season (December to April) boasts clear skies and slightly lower humidity.

WHEN TO GO: Unveiling Vietnam’s Seasonal Charm

Vietnam’s beauty transcends seasons, offering a perfect destination year-round. However, the ideal time to visit specific regions depends on your preferences. Check our travel guide Vietnam by region in our Tips & blog section

North Vietnam:

  • Prime Time (April-May & September-November): Witness the mesmerizing rice paddies at their peak. Lush greenery and comfortable temperatures paint a picture-perfect landscape.
  • Off-Season (June-July): While rice paddies are still visible, the weather can be unpredictable with hot, humid conditions that might disrupt your activities.
  • Winter Blues (December-March): The rice terraces lose their vibrancy, and the weather can be quite challenging. Expect cool temperatures, fog, and limited visibility in the mountains.

Central Vietnam:

  • Year-Round Fun: Central Vietnam offers a generally pleasant climate throughout the year. Summers are warm, while winters are mild with occasional cool days that might limit swimming opportunities.
  • Typhoon Watch (September-November): Be mindful of the typhoon season, which can bring heavy rain and flooding to some areas.

South Vietnam:

  • Tropical Paradise (October-April): Embrace the sunshine and warmth of the dry season. Expect clear skies and minimal humidity for most of the time.
  • Rainy Interludes (May-September): The rainy season brings hot temperatures with regular afternoon showers that typically last for a short duration. Occasionally, you might encounter full days of rain, but these are less frequent.

HOW TO GET AROUND: Navigating Vietnam’s Transportation Network

Vietnam offers a diverse range of transportation options to suit your travel style and budget. Travel guide Vietnam to  breakdown of the most common choices:

By Road:

Urban Adventures:

  • Taxis and Grab (Ride-hailing App): In bustling cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, taxis and Grab are convenient ways to get around. Download the Grab app for a safer and more reliable experience. Double-check the license plate number before boarding to ensure it matches the one displayed in the app. Grab offers both car and motorbike options.
  • Beware Tourist Taxi Scams: While taxis are readily available, be cautious of inflated fares, especially for tourists. Grab offers a more transparent pricing system.

Rural Explorations:

  • Buses: Buses are the most budget-friendly option for exploring the countryside, especially if you’re not traveling with a dedicated driver.
    • Tourist Buses: These connect all major destinations and offer a comfortable travel experience.
    • Local Buses: For a more authentic experience, consider local buses. Keep in mind that these can be crowded, noisy, and often run on flexible schedules.
  • Private Cars: This option provides flexibility and control over your itinerary.

Road Conditions and Speeds:

Vietnam boasts a well-developed road network.

  • Highways: Expect average speeds of around 60 kilometers per hour on major highways.
  • Mountainous Areas: Speeds can significantly drop to 30 kilometers per hour in mountainous regions.

Booking Bus Tickets:

For booking bus tickets, consider contacting your accommodation provider, travel agent, or visiting these popular websites:

By Train:

Vietnam’s scenic railway network offers a unique and comfortable travel option. Choose from various classes, ranging from basic seating to luxurious private cabins (depending on the route).

Sleep on the Go:

Sleeping Trains: This is a great way to save travel time and experience Vietnam’s landscapes firsthand.

Major Train Stations:

  • Hanoi
  • Lao Cai
  • Hai Phong
  • Ninh Binh
  • Dong Hoi (Phong Nha National Park)
  • Hue
  • Da Nang
  • Quy Nhon
  • Nha Trang
  • Phan Thiet
  • Ho Chi Minh City

Need Help Booking?

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By Air

Vietnam boasts a well-developed network of airports, allowing you to save travel time for a reasonable price. Here’s a breakdown of the airlines and airports:

  • Airlines:

    • Vietnam Airlines (main carrier)
    • Bamboo Airways
    • Vietjet Air (budget airline, known for schedule delays and poor customer service)
  • Main Airports:

    • Hanoi (HAN)
    • Hai Phong (HPH)
    • Hue (HUI)
    • Da Nang (DAD)
    • Quy Nhon (UIH)
    • Tuy Hoa (TQH)
    • Nha Trang (NHA)
    • Pleiku (PXU)
    • Buon Ma Thuot (BMT)
    • Dalat (DLI)
    • Ho Chi Minh City (SGN)
    • Can Tho (CTO)
    • Con Dao (COD)
    • Phu Quoc (PQC)

WHAT TO PACK: Essential Items for Your Vietnam Trip

Vietnam travel guide checklist to ensure you pack efficiently for your adventure:


  • Passport Copies: Pack photocopies of your passport’s identification page for safekeeping.
  • Comfortable Backpack: Choose a backpack that’s comfortable to carry for extended periods.
  • Waterproof Pouch: Protect your valuables like phone and passport from rain or splashes.
  • Quick-Drying Towel: This is a lifesaver for beach trips or post-shower drying.
  • Walking Shoes: Comfortable walking shoes are crucial for exploring Vietnam’s diverse sights.
  • Ear Plugs: Ear plugs can help you sleep soundly in busy areas.
  • Basic Medical Kit: Pack essentials like bandages, disinfectant, pain relievers, and diarrhea medication.
  • Sunscreen: While sunscreen is available locally, it might be expensive or of lower quality. Pack your preferred brand from home.
  • Under-Knee Pants: These are versatile and culturally appropriate for many places in Vietnam.

Optional but Handy (Can be Purchased Locally):

  • Rain Jacket: Rain jackets are readily available and affordable in Vietnam, especially in tourist areas like Hanoi’s Old Quarter or Saigon’s Ben Thanh Market.
  • Hat: A hat protects you from the sun and is a practical addition.
  • Flip Flops: Useful for beaches and casual wear.
  • External Battery: A portable charger can be a lifesaver to keep your devices powered up.

Winter Considerations (North Vietnam):

If you’re planning a winter visit to Northern Vietnam, pack some warm clothes to combat the cooler temperatures.

MONEY MATTERS: Navigating Vietnamese Currency

Cash is King: While Vietnam is slowly embracing digital payments, cash remains the preferred mode of transaction. Don’t be surprised if smaller shops or street vendors decline credit cards.

The Vietnamese Dong (VND):

  • The official currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). (As of today, June 24, 2024, exchange rates may differ).
  • Denominations range from 1,000 VND to 500,000 VND.
  • Notes of 10,000 VND, 20,000 VND, 50,000 VND, 100,000 VND, 200,000 VND, and 500,000 VND are conveniently waterproof.
  • Beware of Confusion: The 20,000 VND and 500,000 VND notes are both blue, so double-check before handing them over.

Exchanging Currency:

  • Banks: Exchange your foreign currency (USD or EUR) for VND at banks. Bring your passport for verification.
  • Comparison Shopping: Some shops like jewelers or travel agents might offer currency exchange. Compare rates before committing.


  • ATMs are readily available in cities, but scarce in rural areas.
  • Withdraw cash beforehand if you plan to explore the countryside.

Credit Cards:

  • Credit card acceptance is limited to larger shops, tourist restaurants, and hotels. It’s not commonly used at street vendors.


  • Tipping is not customary in Vietnam, except in tourist areas. If you insist on tipping, your gesture will be appreciated.

Safety travel guide in Vietnam:   

Vietnam is renowned for its warm hospitality and safety. However, as with any travel destination, a few precautions can ensure a smooth and worry-free experience. Here’s a breakdown of key safety tips:

General Awareness:

  • While major tourist destinations like Saigon, Hanoi, and Hoi An are generally safe, petty theft can occur. Be mindful of your belongings, especially in crowded areas.
  • The countryside is generally considered even safer than urban areas.


  • Taxis: If you take a taxi, ensure the meter is running or agree on a fare upfront. Download and use the Grab app (ride-hailing service) for a more reliable and safer experience. Always verify the license plate number displayed in the app matches the car/bike before boarding. Never accept a ride if the numbers don’t match.
  • Snatching: Be particularly vigilant in Saigon, Hoi An, Hanoi, and other tourist hotspots. This involves individuals grabbing belongings like bags, phones, or cameras from unsuspecting tourists. Keep your belongings close and avoid using your phone excessively while walking or seated outdoors.

Crossing the Street:

  • Crossing streets can be a challenge, particularly in Hanoi. Be aware of vehicles approaching from all directions, including cars, motorbikes, and bicycles.
  • Do Not Stop Mid-Crossing: Once you start crossing, avoid stopping or going back abruptly, as this can confuse motorbike riders. Maintain a steady pace and allow the motorbikes to maneuver around you. Cars, trucks, and buses might not stop to let you pass, even at crosswalks. Exercise extreme caution.
  • Traffic Lights: Don’t solely rely on traffic signals for safe crossing. It’s common for some drivers to disregard pedestrian lights.


  • While uncommon, hotel and homestay robberies have been reported. Utilize the hotel’s safe deposit box for valuables and request a signed inventory list from the reception staff.

Additional Tips:

  • Carry Photocopies of Important Documents: Keep photocopies of your passport and other important documents separate from the originals.
  • Learn Basic Vietnamese Phrases: A few basic Vietnamese greetings and phrases can go a long way in navigating unfamiliar situations.
  • Be Culturally Aware: Dress modestly when visiting religious sites and respect local customs.

By following these safety tips, you can ensure a memorable and secure travel experience in Vietnam.

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