Exploring Vietnam With Rick Steves: A Comprehensive Travel Guide

A diverse group of tourists exploring the vibrant streets of Hanoi, captured in a sharp and vibrant photograph.

Thinking about a trip to Vietnam but not sure where to start? Rick Steves, a renowned travel expert, has got you covered with his comprehensive guide “Exploring Vietnam”. This blog post will give an overview of the guide and provide valuable insights into planning your journey.

Let’s dive in and discover the wonders of Vietnam through Steve’s perspective!

Key Takeaways

  • Rick Steves’ comprehensive travel guide, “Exploring Vietnam”, provides valuable insights and tips for planning a trip to Vietnam.
  • The guide covers various transportation options, including flights, trains, buses, and taxis, making it easier for travelers to get around the country.
  • It highlights top places to visit in Vietnam like Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Da Nang, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City.
  • The guide also offers important safety precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip in Vietnam.

About Vietnam

A street vendor selling colorful Vietnamese lanterns in Hoi An captures a vibrant and bustling atmosphere.

Vietnam is a country that will wow you. It has many beautiful places to see. Hanoi, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City are the main cities. They have lots of stuff for tourists to do. You can also take short day trips from these cities.

Rick Steves offers tips on how to explore Vietnam in his guide. He talks about if it’s better to go alone or take a tour group. His guide also tells you where to stay like in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.

HANOI VIETNAM COMPLETE TRAVEL GUIDE 2023 | Where to stay, food, shopping & more! 🇻🇳

Getting Around

An aerial photograph captures various modes of transportation in a vibrant cityscape background.

To get around Vietnam, you have several transportation options: flights, trains, buses, and taxis.

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A diverse group of travelers look out the window of an airplane at a beautiful aerial view.

Booking a flight is the best way to get to Vietnam. You have many choices for airlines. Rick Steves often uses flights on his trips to Vietnam. Look at your options and find what fits best with your plan.

Don’t worry about long travel times. Many flights stop in cities like Taipei or Bangkok before landing in Vietnam. This gives you a chance to stretch, eat, and relax during the journey!


A busy train station with colorful trains, people boarding and disembarking, and a bustling atmosphere.

You can ride a train in Vietnam. Two types of trains take you around. One is fast, it starts at Chamartin station. The other train is slow, you have to go to Chamartin first too. In the Rick Steves Vietnam guidebook, you find these details and more.

There could even be hidden gems not listed in the book or other guides!


A bustling city street filled with colorful buses and busy commuters.

Buses are a popular way to get around Vietnam. They offer an easy and convenient mode of transportation for exploring different parts of the country and visiting various attractions.

In Vietnam, there are many bus routes available, with schedules that can be found online or at bus stations. It is recommended to research and choose reputable bus companies for a more comfortable and reliable journey.

If you’re not sure which bus company to go with, you can check out Rick Steves’ travel forum where fellow travelers share their experiences and recommendations on bus travel in Vietnam.


A vibrant city intersection filled with taxis and a diverse group of people going about their day.

Getting around Vietnam is made easy with the availability of taxis. Taxis are a convenient mode of transportation in cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and they can be easily hailed from the street or booked through ride-hailing apps.

However, it’s important to keep a few things in mind when taking taxis in Vietnam. Traffic in cities like Hanoi can be overwhelming and chaotic, so it’s best to allow extra time for your journey.

Also, make sure to agree on a fare before getting into the taxi or ensure that the meter is used to avoid any issues later on. Some travelers have reported incidents where taxi drivers tried to overcharge them, so being vigilant is essential.

Top Places to Visit

A stunning photograph of the Temple of Literature in Hanoi surrounded by cherry blossoms and a bustling atmosphere.

Explore the vibrant streets of Hanoi, cruise through the stunning limestone karsts of Halong Bay, and immerse yourself in the ancient charm of Hoi An.

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A busy street scene in Hanoi's Old Quarter capturing the vibrant energy and diverse faces of the city.

Hanoi is a must-visit city in Vietnam. It’s recommended by Tripadvisor as a great place to stay in the Old Quarter. According to Rick Steves’ travel guide, Hanoi is one of the top places to visit in Vietnam.

It’s considered safe, so you can explore without worries. If you’re looking for more information or want to read about other people’s experiences, there are forums and blogs dedicated to discussing travel in Hanoi and Vietnam.

And if you prefer guided tours, Rick Steves offers tours and travel guides specifically for exploring Hanoi and Vietnam.

Halong Bay

A stunning limestone island surrounded by calm turquoise waters captured in a cinematic photograph.

Halong Bay is a remarkable place to visit in Vietnam. It’s known as one of the seven natural wonders of the world and it’s easy to see why. With its stunning scenery and limestone islands dotting the emerald waters, Halong Bay offers a truly breathtaking experience.

Spending a night on a small junk boat is highly recommended for an unforgettable adventure. Not only will you get to soak in the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage site, but you’ll also have the chance to explore cavesgo kayaking, and even try your hand at squid fishing.

Halong Bay is not just about nature though; it also provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture by interacting with fishermen and visiting floating villages. For anyone traveling through Vietnam, a trip to Halong Bay is simply a must-do!

Hoi An

A traditional Vietnamese lantern hanging on a bridge in Hoi An at night, capturing the bustling atmosphere.

Hoi An is a must-visit place in Vietnam, according to Rick Steves’ travel guide. This charming town is famous for its beautiful temples and historical sites. Located on the middle-east coast of Vietnam, Hoi An makes for a perfect stop during your Southeast Asia adventure.

The Steves family had it on their itinerary too! So, don’t miss out on exploring this enchanting destination while you’re in Vietnam.

Da Nang

A group of friends enjoying a beach volleyball game in the vibrant coastline of Da Nang.

Da Nang is a must-visit destination in Vietnam. This beautiful city is famous for its stunning beaches and coastline, offering visitors the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun.

But Da Nang isn’t just about beach bumming – there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy too! From snorkeling in crystal-clear waters to island hopping adventures, there’s something for everyone here.

Plus, Da Nang is conveniently located near popular tourist destinations like Hanoi and Halong Bay, making it easy to explore more of Vietnam. Don’t forget to visit the iconic Golden Bridge while you’re here – it’s a sight you won’t want to miss!

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is one of the must-visit places in Vietnam. This vibrant city offers a range of sightseeing and activities for travelers to enjoy. From exploring historical landmarks like the War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace to taking a boat tour along the Mekong Delta, there’s something for everyone.

One popular activity in Ho Chi Minh City is joining a motorbike tour, which allows you to experience the city’s bustling streets while learning about its rich culture and history. With its lively atmosphere and diverse attractions, Ho Chi Minh City should definitely be on your itinerary when visiting Vietnam.


Hue is a city in Vietnam that is famous for its impressive temples. Many people compare Hue to Hoi An, another popular destination in Vietnam. In fact, Hue is highly ranked among the top places to visit in Vietnam, along with Saigon and Hanoi.

When you visit Hue, you can expect a culturally significant experience with its rich history and vibrant culture. Whether you’re exploring the ancient imperial citadel or admiring the beautiful pagodas, Hue offers a unique and memorable travel experience in Vietnam.

Tips for Traveling in Vietnam

A woman wearing a sun hat explores a vibrant Vietnamese street market.

Take necessary safety precautions while traveling in Vietnam, such as watching out for pickpockets and being cautious of traffic.

Safety Precautions

To ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Vietnam, it’s important to take certain precautions. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Be cautious when crossing the road – Traffic in Vietnam can be chaotic, especially in big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Always look both ways before crossing the street, and follow the locals as they navigate through traffic.
  2. Protect yourself from scams – Like any popular tourist destination, there may be people trying to take advantage of travelers. Be wary of overly friendly strangers offering unsolicited help or deals that seem too good to be true.
  3. Take care of your belongings – Petty theft can happen, so keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Use a money belt or a secure bag to carry your valuables, and avoid displaying expensive items in public.
  4. Stay hydrated and protect against the sun – Vietnam’s climate can be hot and humid, so make sure to drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
  5. Respect local customs and traditions – Vietnamese culture is rich with customs and traditions that may differ from your own. Be mindful of local customs and dress modestly when visiting temples or other places of worship.

Recommended Vaccinations

Before traveling to Vietnam, it’s important to make sure you’re up to date on your vaccinations. Here are some recommended vaccinations:

  • JE (Japanese encephalitis): It is recommended for travelers planning to spend a month or more in rural areas or for those who will be participating in outdoor activities.
  • Rabies: If you plan on participating in outdoor activities that may bring you into contact with animals, such as hiking or working with animals, it is recommended to get the rabies vaccination.
  • Hepatitis A: This vaccine is generally recommended for all travelers, as Hepatitis A can be transmitted through contaminated food and water.
  • Typhoid: This vaccine is also recommended for most travelers, particularly if you will be eating and drinking outside of major restaurants and hotels.
  • Tetanus-diphtheria: It is always a good idea to ensure that your tetanus-diphtheria booster shots are up to date before traveling.

Cultural Customs

In Vietnam, it’s important to be aware of the cultural customs to show respect and appreciation for the local culture. One custom is greeting others with a slight bow or nod, rather than shaking hands.

It’s also common to address older people by their title followed by their name as a sign of respect. Removing your shoes before entering someone’s home is considered polite, as well as covering your shoulders and knees when visiting temples or pagodas.

Additionally, it’s customary to eat with chopsticks and use both hands when giving or receiving something from another person. By following these cultural customs, you can have a more immersive and respectful experience during your visit to Vietnam.

Vietnam and Cambodia

A photo of an ancient temple surrounded by lush greenery and intricate stone carvings.

Combine your travel itineraries to explore the best of both countries, immersing yourself in the rich history and culture of Vietnam and Cambodia. Read more to discover how these neighboring countries complement each other for a truly unforgettable experience.

Combining Travel Itineraries

Combine your travel itineraries to make the most of your trip. Here are some options:

  1. River cruise on the Mekong starting in Hanoi or Siem Reap.
  2. Small group tour recommendation for Vietnam and Cambodia in fall 2018.
  3. Indochina trip in 2020 visiting Saigon, Siem Reap, and Bangkok, focusing on floating markets and food markets.
  4. Review an itinerary including Taipei, Bangkok, and North Vietnam.
  5. Join a Rick Steves tour to Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia in February.

Affordable Travel Options

A diverse group of backpackers explore vibrant street markets in a bustling cityscape.

For budget travelers, Vietnam offers a range of affordable travel options, including budget accommodations, local transportation, and delicious yet cheap eats.

Budget Accommodations

If you’re looking for affordable places to stay in Vietnam, there are several budget accommodations that you can consider. Rick Steves’ comprehensive travel guide provides recommendations on where to find these options.

Some popular choices include guesthouses, hostels, and even homestays with local families. These options not only provide cost-effective accommodation but also offer opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture and interact with fellow travelers.

By choosing budget accommodations, you can save money without compromising on comfort or convenience during your trip to Vietnam.

Local Transportation

Getting around Vietnam is convenient and affordable thanks to various local transportation options. In cities like Hanoi, you can easily explore on foot or use inexpensive ride-hailing services like GRAB.

They provide a safe and reliable way to travel short distances within the city. For longer journeys, trains and buses are excellent choices as they offer comfortable seating and reasonable fares.

Taxis are widely available too, but it’s always a good idea to negotiate the fare before starting your trip. Overall, navigating through Vietnam’s cities is easy with these local transportation options that cater to different budgets and preferences.

Cheap Eats

Food in Vietnam is known for being inexpensive, making it a great destination for budget travelers. There are plenty of cheap eats options available throughout the country, allowing you to enjoy delicious local cuisine without breaking the bank.

Whether you’re in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll find many street food stalls and small restaurants that offer affordable and tasty meals. Picnicking is also a popular option in Vietnam – you can easily pick up fresh baguettes, fruit, and snacks from local markets to create your own budget-friendly meals while exploring this beautiful country.

So get ready to indulge in flavorful Vietnamese dishes without worrying about overspending on your food expenses!

Must-Try Vietnamese Dishes

A vibrant display of traditional Vietnamese dishes on a wooden table, captured with high-quality photography techniques.

Vietnamese cuisine offers a wide array of delicious dishes that you must try when visiting Vietnam. Here are some must-try Vietnamese dishes:

  • Spring Rolls: These fresh and flavorful rolls are filled with a combination of rice noodles, vegetables, herbs, and often shrimp or pork. They are typically wrapped in rice paper and served with dipping sauce.
  • Pho: A popular Vietnamese soup made with beef or chicken broth, rice noodles, and tender slices of meat. It is usually garnished with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lime, and chili peppers.
  • Banh Mi: A delicious Vietnamese sandwich made with a crusty baguette filled with various ingredients like grilled meats (such as pork or chicken), pickled vegetables, cilantro, and pate.
  • Bun Cha: A traditional Hanoi dish consisting of grilled pork served over rice noodles along with fresh herbs and a flavorful dipping sauce.
  • Cao Lau: Originating from Hoi An, this dish features thick rice noodles topped with slices of roast pork, fragrant herbs, bean sprouts, and crispy croutons.
  • Bahn Xeo: Also known as Vietnamese savory pancakes or crepes, these crispy pancakes are made from rice flour batter filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, and mung beans.
  • Com Tam: Translated as “broken rice,” this dish consists of broken grains of rice served alongside grilled pork chops or other types of meat along with pickled vegetables and fish sauce.
  • Goi Cuon: Similar to spring rolls but not fried. These fresh summer rolls are packed with a mix of fresh vegetables like lettuce leaves, herbs like mint or basil leaves along with cooked shrimp or sliced grilled meats wrapped in thin rice paper wrappers.

Planning Your Trip

A diverse group of travelers explore the lively streets of Hanoi, capturing the city's vibrant atmosphere with their cameras.

When planning your trip to Vietnam, it’s important to consider the best time to visit, visa requirements, and packing tips.

Best Time to Visit Vietnam

The best time to visit Vietnam is from December to February. During these months, most parts of the country experience dry weather, making it easier for you to explore and enjoy your trip.

However, keep in mind that different regions in Vietnam may have different weather patterns, so it’s a good idea to research the specific area you plan to visit. Also, be prepared for hot and humid weather during the summer months of June to August if you decide to travel at that time.

To fully experience Vietnam, it’s recommended to spend at least 3 weeks exploring both the northern and southern regions of the country.

Visa Requirements

To visit Vietnam, you need a visa. Here are some important things to know:

  1. Multiple Visit Visa: If you plan to leave Vietnam and come back, you’ll need a multiple visit visa.
  2. Single-Entry Visa: If you’re not leaving the country again, a single-entry visa is enough.
  3. Cost of Visa: Depending on your travel purpose, visas can cost as low as $25. It’s good to check the exact fee.
  4. Where to Get Visas: You can get visas from Vietnamese consulates, which don’t have to be the embassy itself.
  5. Work Visa: If you plan to work in Vietnam for at least five years, you’ll need a work visa.
  6. Visa on Arrival: If you want to visit Vietnam independently, you’ll need a visa on arrival.

Packing Tips

Here are some packing tips to help you prepare for your trip to Vietnam:

  1. Pack lightweight, breathable clothing suitable for the warm and humid climate.
  2. Bring comfortable walking shoes or sandals for exploring the cities and attractions.
  3. Don’t forget to pack a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the strong sun.
  4. Carry a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day.
  5. Include a small backpack or day bag for carrying essentials while sightseeing.
  6. Pack a travel adapter to charge your electronic devices in Vietnam’s different electrical outlets.
  7. Bring insect repellent to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other bugs.
  8. Consider packing a rain jacket or poncho, as Vietnam can experience sudden downpours during certain seasons.
  9. Remember to bring any necessary medications and a basic first aid kit for emergencies.
  10. Lastly, remember to keep your valuables secure by using a money belt or lockable luggage.


A diverse group of tourists exploring the vibrant streets of Hoi An ancient town.

In conclusion, “Exploring Vietnam With Rick Steves: A Comprehensive Travel Guide” is a valuable resource for anyone planning a trip to Vietnam. With detailed information on transportationtop attractionssafety precautions, and budget-friendly options, this guide will help you make the most of your journey.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore this beautiful country with the expertise and insights provided by Rick Steves.


1. Is it safe to travel to Vietnam?

Yes, Vietnam is generally considered a safe country for travelers. However, it’s always important to take common safety precautions and be aware of your surroundings.

2. What are the must-visit places in Vietnam?

Some popular must-visit places in Vietnam include Hanoi (the capital city), Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), Halong Bay, Hoi An, and Sapa.

3. What is the best time to visit Vietnam?

The best time to visit Vietnam depends on the region you plan to explore. Generally, the months of April to June and September to November offer pleasant weather across most parts of the country.

4. Do I need a visa to enter Vietnam?

Depending on your nationality, you may require a visa to enter Vietnam. It’s recommended that you check with the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your home country for specific visa requirements.

5. Can I use US dollars in Vietnam?

While some hotels and businesses may accept US dollars, the official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). It’s advisable to have local currency for everyday transactions and small purchases.

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