Planning your first backpacking trip in Vietnam can be overwhelming, given the country’s breadth of attractions and activities. Renowned for its epic landscapes and vibrant cultures, Vietnam is a top choice among global backpackers.
Our ultimate guide will streamline your journey from start to finish, providing budget tips, itineraries, must-visit places, and much more! Get ready to embark on an unforgettable Vietnamese adventure!
- Vietnam is a popular choice for backpacking due to its low cost of living and abundance of attractions.
- The article provides two travel itineraries, one for a 2-week trip and another for a 1-month trip, to help plan your journey.
- Top places to visit in Vietnam include Hanoi, Sapa, Ha Giang, Halong Bay & Cat Ba Island, Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Lak Lake, Mui Ne, Da Lat, and Ho Chi Minh City.
Why Go Backpacking in Vietnam
Vietnam is a top choice for backpack trips. It gives you good value for your money. The cost of living is low. This makes it easy to enjoy more things with less cash. You can taste yummy street food, stay in cozy places, and take part in fun activities without going broke.
Sightseeing in Vietnam is also great fun! There are beautiful hikes in Sapa and other places that will make your heart skip a beat. Each place you visit tells its own story through its sights and sounds.
So, get set for an amazing time when you go backpacking in Vietnam!
Best Travel Itineraries for Backpacking Vietnam
2-Week Travel Itinerary: The Quick Trip
Get ready for your quick backpack trip to Vietnam. Here is a fast-paced 2-week travel plan:
- Start in Hanoi. Spend the first two days of your trip here.
- Go to Sapa next. Take the train from Hanoi and stay for two nights.
- Travel to Ha Giang on day five.
- Leave for Halong Bay on day seven and spend a night on Cat Ba Island.
- Head south to Hue after two days in Halong Bay.
- Visit Hoi An from Hue by bus, you’ll get there in three hours.
- Spend day ten in Nha Trang, a beach city four hours away from Hoi An by train.
- On day eleven, take a bus to Da Lat which is three hours away from Nha Trang.
- Wrap up your Vietnam trip with three days in Ho Chi Minh City.
1-Month Travel Itinerary: The Grand Tour
A one-month travel plan lets you explore Vietnam at its best.
- Start your backpack trip in Hanoi. This city has a lot of history and food to enjoy.
- From Hanoi, go north to Sapa. Here, you’ll see the amazing rice terraces and hills.
- Your next stop is Ha Giang. It is full of high peaks and deep valleys.
- Take a boat tour in Halong Bay.
- After this, head to Cat Ba Island for some beach time.
- Go south to Hue. It has lots of old palaces and tombs.
- Next up is Hoi An. Walk around its old streets lit by lanterns at night.
- Keep going south to Nha Trang for more beach action.
- Visit Lak Lake after Nha Trang.
Top Places to Visit in Vietnam
Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is a vibrant and bustling metropolis with a rich history and culture.
Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is a bustling and vibrant destination that should not be missed on your backpacking trip. Known for its chaotic traffic, Hanoi offers a unique experience with its blend of ancient history and modern energy.
If you’re a first-time visitor, staying in the Hoan Kiem area is highly recommended as it provides easy access to major attractions like Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter. One thing you must try in Hanoi is their delicious bowls of noodles such as pho and bun cha.
These local delicacies will surely satisfy your taste buds. As one of the most popular destinations for backpackers in Vietnam, Hanoi has plenty to offer in terms of interesting facts and attractions.
Sapa is a breathtaking mountain region in the northwest of Vietnam. It’s famous for its stunning scenery and rich cultural heritage. Backpackers flock to Sapa to explore its majestic landscapes, which include cascading rice terraces and towering mountains.
One of the highlights of visiting Sapa is the opportunity to interact with local ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao, and Tay people. You can go trekking through these picturesque villages and witness their traditional way of life.
Don’t forget to visit the vibrant local markets where you can sample delicious food and buy unique handmade crafts. Sapa truly offers an unforgettable experience for backpackers seeking adventure and cultural immersion in Vietnam’s stunning natural surroundings.
Ha Giang, located in northern Vietnam, is a must-visit destination for backpackers. This stunning region boasts breathtaking landscapes and a vibrant cultural heritage. One of the highlights of Ha Giang is the famous Ha Giang Loop, which is considered one of the best motorbike journeys in Southeast Asia.
The journey takes you through the Dong Van Karst Plateau, where you’ll encounter jaw-dropping mountain scenery and traditional villages. Exploring these villages allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture and learn about their way of life.
Ha Giang offers an authentic and unforgettable experience for adventurous travelers seeking natural beauty and cultural richness.
Halong Bay & Cat Ba Island
Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island are two must-visit destinations in Vietnam. Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is famous for its stunning coastline and towering limestone karsts.
You can take a cruise or kayak through the bay to explore its hidden caves and emerald waters. Cat Ba Island, on the other hand, offers thrilling adventure activities such as rock climbing, kayaking, and hiking.
It’s often considered an excellent alternative to Halong Bay due to its diverse offerings. Whether you choose to visit both or just one of these places, you’re guaranteed breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences in this part of Vietnam.
Hue is a must-visit city for backpackers exploring Vietnam. It’s steeped in history and offers incredible sights to explore. One of its oldest historical sites is Thien Mu Pagoda, which is definitely worth a visit.
To make the most of your time in Hue, consider joining a guided tour to discover top attractions like the Citadel and royal tombs. In just two days, you can also explore other interesting spots like the abandoned water park and try out delicious local cuisine.
Don’t miss out on visiting popular places such as the Hue Imperial Citadel, Lang Co beach, tombs and temples, Hai Van Pass, Bach Ma National Park, and Dong Ba market – they are all part of what makes Hue a recommended stop for backpackers in Vietnam.
Hoi An is a special place in Vietnam that you should definitely visit during your backpacking trip. It’s known for its stunning architecture and charming streets, which have been well-preserved throughout the years.
One of the things Hoi An is famous for is its tailoring services. You can get custom-made clothes at affordable prices here, so it’s a great opportunity to add some unique pieces to your wardrobe.
If you’re looking to relax by the sea, Hoi An has beautiful beaches nearby like An Bang Beach and Cua Dai Beach. And if you happen to be in Hoi An during the 14th day of any lunar month, don’t miss out on the Lantern Festival – it’s a popular event where locals light up colorful lanterns all around town.
Nha Trang is Vietnam’s top beach destination, known for its stunning coastline. The beautiful beaches in Nha Trang are considered some of the best in the country. While it lacks atmosphere compared to other cities, Nha Trang makes up for it with its picturesque sandy shores and crystal-clear waters.
This city is particularly popular among Russian and Chinese tourists who come to relax on the beaches and enjoy the abundant sunshine. Apart from its natural beauty, Nha Trang also has active sites for worship, which attract Cham, Vietnamese Buddhists, and Chinese visitors.
Lak Lake is a beautiful destination located in Dak Lak province, central Vietnam. It’s surrounded by stunning natural attractions and cultural sites, making it a must-visit place for backpackers.
Just nearby is Jun village, where you can experience the unique culture of the M’nong ethnic group. One popular activity at Lak Lake is fishing, and you can even cook your catch with the locals.
To get there, it’s about 150 kilometers northwest of Da Lat or 40 kilometers south of Buon Ma Thuot.
Mui Ne is a small village in Vietnam that’s known for being a great spot for kiteboarding and windsurfing. It’s located on the eastern coast of Vietnam, at the southern end. Mui Ne offers beautiful beaches and affordable luxury options for travelers to enjoy.
Many people consider it to be one of the top tourist destinations in Vietnam. So, if you’re looking for some adventure on the water or just want to relax by the beach, Mui Ne is worth checking out during your backpacking trip in Vietnam.
Da Lat is a peaceful mountain town in Vietnam that’s known for its cool weather, stunning scenery, and charming ambiance. It offers visitors a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, making it the perfect destination for relaxation and rejuvenation.
One of the must-visit attractions in Da Lat is Datanla Nature Park, where you can explore beautiful waterfalls, experience thrilling rollercoasters, and try ziplining through the lush forest.
The town itself is famous for its flowers, while the surrounding area is known for its fruit and vegetable production. When you visit Da Lat, make sure to check out Xuon Huong Lake, admire the unique architecture of The Crazy House, and have a fun ride on the Alpine coaster at Datanla Waterfall.
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a must-visit destination for backpackers in Vietnam. This vibrant and bustling city offers a mix of cultural and historical sights, making it an ideal place to explore.
From the iconic Ben Thanh Market to the sandy beaches and delicious food stalls, there is something for everyone here. Ho Chi Minh City is famous for its street food, which is considered some of the best in the country.
It provides plenty of budget-friendly options for accommodation and transportation, ensuring that backpackers can make the most of their trip without breaking the bank. If you’re looking for an exciting city with a rich history and a lively atmosphere, Ho Chi Minh City should definitely be on your itinerary.
Off the Beaten Path Destinations in Vietnam
When exploring Vietnam, don’t forget to venture off the beaten path and discover some hidden gems. Along the Laos border and the northern border with China are areas that are less visited by tourists but offer a unique and adventurous experience.
The Laos border region is known for its stunning mountain landscapes and vibrant ethnic minority communities. You can trek through rice terraces, meet locals in traditional villages, and immerse yourself in their rich cultural heritage.
Another offbeat destination is the northern border with China, where you can embark on the famous Ha Giang Loop. This scenic route takes you through breathtaking valleys, towering mountains, and winding roads that will leave you in awe of nature’s beauty.
If you’re looking for tranquility and pristine beaches, consider visiting lesser-known islands like Con Dao or Phu Quoc. These untouched paradises offer crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches, and a peaceful atmosphere away from the bustling tourist crowds.
(Note: As an AI language model, I cannot guarantee complete accuracy or up-to-date information regarding travel destinations or conditions.)
Top Things to Do in Vietnam
Vietnam offers a variety of exciting activities for backpackers. Here are the top things to do:
- Explore the bustling streets of Hanoi and visit its historic landmarks like Hoan Kiem Lake and the Temple of Literature.
- Trek through the stunning rice terraces of Sapa and immerse yourself in the local hill tribes’ culture.
- Take a motorbike adventure through Ha Giang, where you can witness breathtaking landscapes and visit ethnic minority villages.
- Cruise through the emerald waters of Halong Bay and explore the limestone karsts on a traditional junk boat.
- Visit the ancient city of Hue and discover its imperial history by exploring the Citadel and royal tombs.
- Wander around the charming streets of Hoi An, known for its well-preserved architecture, lantern-lit alleys, and tailoring shops.
- Relax on the pristine beaches of Nha Trang or go scuba diving to explore its vibrant underwater world.
- Experience traditional rural life at Lak Lake, where you can go elephant trekking, enjoy a homestay, and learn about local traditions.
- Enjoy sandboarding on Mui Ne’s sand dunes or kitesurfing in its windy coastal waters.
- Discover the cool climate of Da Lat while exploring its beautiful waterfalls, flower gardens, and French colonial architecture.
Budget Tips for Backpacking in Vietnam
Save money on accommodation by opting for budget guesthouses or hostels instead of luxury hotels.
There are plenty of budget-friendly accommodation options for backpackers in Vietnam. From hostels and guesthouses to homestays and budget hotels, you’ll have a wide range of choices to fit your budget.
Hostels are a popular choice among backpackers as they offer dormitory-style rooms at affordable prices. Guesthouses are also a good option, offering private rooms with shared facilities.
If you’re looking for an immersive experience, consider staying in a homestay where you can live with a local family and learn about their culture. Additionally, there are many budget hotels available throughout the country that provide comfortable accommodations without breaking the bank.
When backpacking in Vietnam, it’s important to have a daily budget to keep your expenses in check. On a backpacker budget, you can expect to spend around 600,000 VND per day. This budget covers all aspects of your trip including accommodation, transportation, activities, food, and miscellaneous costs.
It allows for staying in a large hostel dorm and eating delicious street food which is both affordable and tasty. So, you can enjoy exploring the beautiful country of Vietnam without breaking the bank.
Money exchange is an important aspect to consider when backpacking in Vietnam. The local currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). To get the best rates, it’s advisable to exchange money at official exchange counters or banks.
ATMs are widely available throughout the country, allowing you to withdraw cash in the local currency. However, not all establishments accept credit cards, so it’s essential to carry enough cash for your daily expenses during your trip.
Traveling during low season
Traveling during the low season in Vietnam is a great option for backpackers looking to save money. From May to September (excluding June and July), the low season offers cheaper accommodation and transportation prices.
This means you can stretch your budget further and have more money to spend on other experiences. Another advantage of traveling during this time is that popular tourist destinations are less crowded, allowing you to enjoy a more peaceful and authentic experience.
Hotels, hostels, and tour operators often offer discounted prices and promotions during the low season, making it even more affordable for backpackers. So if you’re looking to visit Vietnam on a budget, consider traveling during the low season for a cost-effective adventure.
Travel Tips for Vietnam
Discover the best time to visit, what essentials to pack, and how to stay safe during your backpacking adventure in Vietnam. Read more for all the travel tips you need!
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Vietnam is from December to March. During these months, the weather tends to be drier and cooler compared to the summer months. If you’re planning a trip to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, it’s recommended to visit between December and March for the most comfortable temperatures.
However, keep in mind that Vietnam can get chilly during this time, so don’t forget to pack some warm clothing. Safety is also an important consideration when traveling in Vietnam, so make sure to take necessary precautions while exploring this beautiful country.
When backpacking in Vietnam, it is important to pack these essentials:
- Rain jacket: Vietnam’s rainy season can be unpredictable, so it’s important to have a waterproof jacket to stay dry.
- Travel umbrella: Along with a rain jacket, a travel umbrella can provide extra protection from the rain.
- Rain cover for your backpack: To keep your belongings dry, invest in a rain cover specifically designed for backpacks.
- Valid passport: Ensure that your passport has at least six months of validity remaining before your arrival date in Vietnam.
- Medication: Pack any necessary medications in their original containers and bring copies of prescriptions.
- Visas: If required, obtain the appropriate visa before traveling to Vietnam.
- Accessories: Don’t forget essentials like sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
- Appropriate clothing: Pack lightweight and breathable clothing suitable for the tropical climate of Vietnam.
- Hair ties, hair spray, and bobby pins: These items can help keep your hair manageable in Vietnam’s humid conditions.
- Travel insurance: It is highly recommended to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and trip cancellations.
Vietnam is generally a safe country for travelers, but it’s important to be smart and follow safety advice. There are some risks associated with theft and crime, so it’s a good idea to take precautions.
Keep an eye on your belongings and avoid displaying valuable items in public. Be cautious when using ATMs or carrying large amounts of cash. Use reputable transportation services and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
If you’re unsure about an area, ask locals or other travelers for advice. It’s also worth noting that there are useful tips available specifically for foreign visitors traveling to Vietnam, so make sure to check those out before your trip.
Moreover, the ultimate guide to staying safe while traveling in Vietnam provides advice on coping with dangerous situations and avoiding harm. Whether you’re exploring cities or venturing into more remote areas, it’s important to stay alert and trust your instincts.
Cultural experiences in Vietnam
Indulge in the vibrant flavors of traditional Vietnamese cuisine and explore cultural sites that showcase the country’s rich history and heritage.
Vietnamese cuisine is known for its delicious and flavorful dishes. When backpacking in Vietnam, make sure to try some of the traditional food. Pho is a popular dish that you must taste – it’s a noodle soup made with beef or chicken broth and rice noodles.
Another must-try is banh mi, which is a tasty sandwich filled with grilled pork and pickled vegetables. Don’t forget to try goi cuon, also known as fresh spring rolls, filled with shrimp, herbs, and vermicelli noodles wrapped in rice paper.
Vietnamese cuisine has been influenced by Chinese, French, and Southeast Asian culinary traditions. One common ingredient used in many dishes is fish sauce – it adds a unique flavor to the food.
Vietnam is home to many important cultural sites that showcase the country’s rich history and traditions. When visiting Vietnam, be sure to explore these cultural gems:
- The Hanoi Hilton: A former prison during the Vietnam War, now a museum that offers insights into the country’s turbulent past.
- War Remnants Museum: Located in Ho Chi Minh City, it displays photographs and artifacts from the Vietnam War, providing a poignant perspective on the conflict.
- Cu Chi Tunnels: Used by Vietnamese soldiers during the war, these tunnels offer a unique opportunity to learn about guerrilla warfare tactics.
- Ho Chi Minh Museum and Mausoleum: Dedicated to Vietnam’s revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh, this site allows visitors to learn about his life and legacy.
- Imperial City of Hue: A UNESCO World Heritage site, it was once the capital of Vietnam and is home to palaces, temples, and tombs from the Nguyen Dynasty.
- Traditional Villages: Explore rural villages like Duong Lam or An Bang Village in Hoi An to experience traditional Vietnamese life and customs.
- Temple of Literature: Located in Hanoi, it is Vietnam’s oldest university and a testament to its Confucian heritage.
- Hoi An Ancient Town: Famous for its well-preserved architecture and lantern-lit streets, this charming town offers a glimpse into its trading past.
- My Son Sanctuary: Another UNESCO World Heritage site, it showcases ancient Cham architecture with Hindu-themed temples dating back centuries.
- Ha Long Bay Fishing Villages: Visit floating fishing villages in Ha Long Bay to witness the lifestyle and culture of these communities.
Plan your ultimate backpacking trip to Vietnam with this comprehensive guide. Discover the best places to visit, off-the-beaten-path destinations, and top things to do. With budget tips, travel advice, and cultural experiences, you’ll be well-prepared for an amazing adventure in Vietnam.
Start packing for a memorable journey!
1. What is a backpack trip in Vietnam like?
A backpack trip in Vietnam is an adventure where you travel with only the things you can carry on your back.
2. How do I plan for a backpacking trip to Vietnam?
To plan for a backpacking trip, make sure you know the places you want to visit, pack light and be ready for new fun experiences in Vietnam.
3. Is it safe to go on a backpacking trip in Vietnam?
Yes, it’s safe but always take care of your stuff and trust your gut when traveling anywhere.
4. What are top spots to see on my backpacking trip in Vietnam?
There are many great places like Ha Long Bay, Ho Chi Minh City or Hoi An; every spot has its own charm during your exciting adventures in Vietnam!