Planning your first Vietnam backpacking adventure can be overwhelming, given the country’s rich history and vast landscape. As a nation blessed with stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture, it offers countless scenic routes for an epic journey.
Our ultimate guide demystifies this planning process, providing you with route suggestions, budget tips, and must-visit areas that ensure an unforgettable experience in Vietnam. Ready to embark on your adventure of a lifetime?.
- Plan your Vietnam backpacking trip with a suggested route starting in Hanoi, visiting Sapa or Ha Giang for mountains, Hue and Hoi An for history, Nha Trang or Mui Ne or Da Lat for beach time, and ending in Ho Chi Minh City.
- The best time to visit Vietnam is during the spring months of March and April when the weather is pleasant. Avoid peak tourist season from mid-December to mid-February.
- Save money while backpacking in Vietnam by getting a motorbike, staying in hostels, eating local food, bargaining at markets, using public transport, avoiding tourist traps, and drinking boiled or treated tap water.
- Must-visit places on your Vietnam backpacking adventure include Hanoi with its rich history and vibrant culture; Sapa with its stunning mountains and rice terraces; Ha Giang for its breathtaking scenery along the famous Ha Giang loop; Hue with its UNESCO World Heritage Site status and budget-friendly options; Hoi An with its charming old-world atmosphere; Nha Trang for beautiful beaches and island hopping adventures; Mui Ne for giant sand dunes and watersports activities; Da Lat as a refreshing escape from the heat known as the “Alps of Vietnam”; Ho Chi Minh City with cultural sights like the War Remnants Museum; and the Mekong Delta region known for floating markets.
Planning Your Trip: Route, Budget, and Time
When planning your backpacking trip through Vietnam, it’s important to consider your route, budget, and the best time to visit.
How to Plan a Route
Planning a route for your Vietnam backpack trip is easy and fun. Follow these steps:
- Start in Hanoi. This city has an airport and it’s in the north part of Vietnam.
- Go next to Sapa or Ha Giang. Both are famous for beautiful mountains.
- Travel to Hue and Hoi An after that. You can learn about history here.
- Visit Nha Trang, Mui Ne or Da Lat next for beach time or cool weather.
- End your trip in Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, the biggest city in Vietnam.
Best Time to Visit Vietnam
Spring months from March to April are perfect for your Vietnam backpacking route. During this time, the rains are less and the heat is bearable. This makes it a great time to explore both cities and countryside.
It’s also an ideal period for outdoor activities like hiking or biking.
The tourist crowd is high from mid-December to mid-February. These are peak season days when most people visit Vietnam. But if you prefer fewer crowds, plan your trip between September and December or in spring again between March and April.
Then you can enjoy all of Vietnam from top to bottom with ease!
Budget Tips for Backpacking in Vietnam
Going on a trip to Vietnam can be cheap if you know some tricks. Here are some budget tips for your Vietnam backpacking route:
- Get a motorbike: You can save money by getting around on a motorbike.
- Stay in hostels: Hostels are not only cheap but also fun places to meet other travelers.
- Eat local food: Vietnamese food is tasty and usually much cheaper than Western food.
- Bargain when you shop: It’s okay to haggle over prices at markets in Vietnam.
- Use public transport: Buses and trains are also cost-saving ways to travel long distances.
- Avoid tourist traps: Go where the locals go to avoid paying more for goods and services.
- Save on drinks by drinking tap water, but make sure it’s boiled or treated first.
Must-Visit Places in Vietnam
Explore the bustling streets and historic charm of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam.
Hanoi, the vibrant capital of Vietnam, is a must-visit destination on your backpacking adventure. Situated on the banks of the Red River, this bustling city offers a unique blend of rich history and modern charm.
Explore notable attractions like the National Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi Opera House, and Ngoc Son Temple. Immerse yourself in the local culture as you wander through the busy streets and indulge in mouthwatering street food.
Hanoi is well-connected to other major cities in Vietnam through its efficient railway system, making it a convenient starting point for your journey. Don’t miss out on experiencing all that Hanoi has to offer during your epic backpacking trip through Vietnam.
Sapa is a scenic town in Vietnam that is famous for its mountains and rice terraces. It’s a great destination for adventure seekers who love hiking and exploring the outdoors. When you visit Sapa, you can go on exciting treks through the countryside, where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the terraced fields.
The town also offers opportunities to stay in traditional homestays and experience the local culture firsthand. Additionally, don’t forget to check out the bustling markets in Sapa, where you can buy beautiful handicrafts and interact with friendly locals.
Sapa is definitely a must-visit place when backpacking in Vietnam!
Ha Giang is a stunning region in Vietnam known for its breathtaking mountains and winding roads. It’s famous for the Ha Giang loop, which is considered one of the best motorbike journeys in Southeast Asia.
This journey takes you through remote countryside areas, offering magnificent views along the way. In Ha Giang, you can visit attractions like Ma Pi Leng Pass, Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark, and Thon Tha Village.
The province itself is known to be one of the most scenic places in Vietnam.
Hue is a must-visit place on your Vietnam backpacking adventure. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and it’s easy to see why. One of the top attractions in Hue is the Hue Imperial Citadel, where you can explore ancient temples and royal palaces.
If you’re looking for some relaxation, head to Lang Co beach and soak up the sun. Don’t miss out on the scenic views of the Hai Van Pass either – it’s truly breathtaking! For nature lovers, Bach Ma National Park offers opportunities for trekking and exploration.
The best part is that Hue offers budget-friendly options for accommodation, food, and activities, making it perfect for backpackers on a tight budget.
Hoi An is a charming city located in central Vietnam, right along the beautiful coast of the South China Sea. Its streets date back to the 15th century, giving you a chance to explore the rich history of Vietnam.
That’s why Hoi An is considered one of the must-visit places by backpackers in Vietnam and even Southeast Asia. This city’s old-world charm has been recognized by UNESCO, making it an extra special destination.
With its unique atmosphere and beautiful architecture, Hoi An is definitely worth including on your Vietnam backpacking route.
Nha Trang is a popular destination in Vietnam known for its stunning beaches. It attracts many Russian and Chinese tourists, adding to its vibrant atmosphere. When it comes to accommodation, Nha Trang offers a variety of budget-friendly options that cater to backpackers.
There are plenty of things to do in Nha Trang, such as exploring temples, wandering through local markets, and going on island hopping adventures. If you’re looking for a touch of luxury, Nha Trang also has high-rise hotels and beachside resorts where you can indulge yourself.
Whether you want relaxation or adventure, Nha Trang has something for everyone.
Mui Ne is a small fishing village located on the south coast of Vietnam. It’s famous for its two sets of giant sand dunes – the red sand dunes and the white sand dunes. These unique natural formations attract many visitors who enjoy sliding down the slopes or simply admiring their beauty.
Mui Ne is also known for its ideal conditions for kiteboarding and windsurfing, with strong winds that create perfect waves. Apart from these outdoor activities, there are other attractions in Mui Ne such as Hon Rom beach, where you can relax under palm trees and soak up the sun, or Fairy Stream, a scenic stream surrounded by colorful rock formations.
Backpackers love visiting Mui Ne because it offers affordable accommodation options and budget-friendly dining experiences.
Da Lat, also known as the ‘Alps of Vietnam’, is a charming town that should not be missed on your backpacking adventure. What sets Da Lat apart is its cooler climate compared to the rest of Vietnam, making it a refreshing escape from the heat.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or returning, Da Lat has something for everyone. From stunning viewpoints to picturesque waterfalls and exciting adventures, this town offers plenty of opportunities for exploration.
As one of the popular stops on the backpacking route in Vietnam, Da Lat will surely leave you with unforgettable memories.
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a must-visit place in Vietnam for backpackers. It’s a great stop along the journey from Hanoi to Hoi An. In Ho Chi Minh City, you can explore cultural and historical sights like the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels.
The city is famous for its bustling markets, where you can experience the vibrant atmosphere while shopping for souvenirs or trying delicious street food. As one of the final stops on a 2-week itinerary, Ho Chi Minh City offers a diverse range of experiences before flying out to your next destination.
The Mekong Delta is a beautiful region in Vietnam that you must visit during your backpacking adventure. It’s famous for its floating markets, where locals sell fresh produce and goods from their boats.
You can immerse yourself in the local way of life by exploring traditional villages and experiencing the unique culture of the delta. Getting to the Mekong Delta is easy as it’s just a short distance from Ho Chi Minh City.
Once there, you can travel through the delta by boat, taking in stunning views of temples, mountains, and modern cities along the way.
Off the Beaten Path Adventures in Vietnam
Looking for some unique and off the beaten path adventures in Vietnam? Look no further! Vietnam offers a range of exciting experiences that will take you away from the tourist crowds.
One adventure you can embark on is exploring Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, home to stunning caves and limestone mountains. You can explore Hang Son Doong, the world’s largest cave, or go trekking through the beautiful jungle trails.
Another offbeat adventure you can try is visiting Cat Ba Island in Halong Bay. This scenic island is perfect for hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking. You can also visit Lan Ha Bay, a hidden gem with crystal clear waters and secluded beaches.
If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, head to Da Lat for canyoning. Descend waterfalls, abseil down cliffs, and jump into natural pools – it’s an exhilarating experience like no other!
For those who love history and culture, make your way to My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An. This ancient Hindu temple complex dates back to the 4th century and has intricate carvings and sculptures that showcase Vietnam’s rich heritage.
These are just a few examples of the many offbeat adventures waiting for you in Vietnam. So pack your bags and get ready to explore these hidden gems!
Top Things to Do in Vietnam
Experience the breathtaking beauty of Halong Bay with a cruise, explore the historic Cu Chi Tunnels, trek through the stunning landscapes of Sapa, get custom-made clothing in Hoi An, and immerse yourself in traditional Vietnamese culture with a water puppet show.
Halong Bay Cruise
Halong Bay is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site in Vietnam that you should definitely include in your backpacking adventure. With its breathtaking beauty, Halong Bay attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Imagine turquoise waters with over 1,600 islands and islets rising up from the bay. It’s truly a sight to behold! When you book a Halong Bay cruise, you’ll have the chance to explore this scenic paradise.
The cruise usually includes activities like visiting caves, taking bamboo boat or kayaking trips, and even visiting oyster farms. It’s an incredible way to experience the natural wonders of Halong Bay firsthand.
Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam were an important part of the Vietnam War. They served multiple purposes, such as living quarters, storage areas, hospitals, and communication routes for the Viet Cong.
When you visit the Cu Chi Tunnels on a guided tour, you can actually crawl through narrow passages and experience what it was like for the soldiers during that time. These tunnels have been expanded and improved for tourists to comfortably navigate through them.
It’s fascinating to see how resilient and resourceful the Vietnamese people were in creating these underground networks during the war.
Trekking in Sapa
Trekking in Sapa is a must-do activity for those who want to experience the natural beauty of Vietnam. With its rolling hills and breathtaking mountains, Sapa offers some of the most stunning scenery in the country.
One of the highlights of trekking in Sapa is exploring the picturesque rice terraces that are scattered throughout the region. There are several popular trekking routes to choose from, including the Muong Hoa Valley, Cat Cat Village, and Fansipan Mountain.
Whether you opt for a day hike or a multi-day trek, you will be rewarded with incredible views and an unforgettable adventure. Accommodation options in Sapa range from homestays in local villages to hotels in the town center, providing travelers with comfortable places to rest after a day on the trails.
Tailoring in Hoi An
In Hoi An, you can find some of the best tailors in Vietnam. They make custom-designed clothing just for you. Hoi An is famous for its tailor-made clothing industry, and many tourists come here to get their clothes made.
The prices are reasonable and closer to what you would pay at home for off-the-rack clothes. With a wide variety of tailors to choose from, you can have suits, dresses, and other garments made to your exact measurements and style preferences.
Tailoring in Hoi An is a popular activity that contributes significantly to the city’s tourism economy.
Water Puppet Show
The water puppet show is a unique and special creation in Vietnam. It showcases traditional daily life in northern villages through the use of puppets that float on water. The puppets depict activities like duck herding, fishing, rice planting, boat rowing, and royal parades.
Vietnamese people take great pride in this cultural art form which originated in the Red River Delta region. If you want to experience a water puppet show during your backpacking adventure, check out popular theaters like the Thang Long Municipal Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi or the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre in Ho Chi Minh City.
Bar Hopping in Ba Hoi
Ba Hoi is a must-visit destination for bar hopping in Vietnam. It is known for its vibrant nightlife and wide selection of bars and clubs to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back atmosphere or a lively party scene, Ba Hoi has something for everyone.
You can hop from one bar to another, trying different drinks and enjoying live music or DJ performances. The area is popular among backpackers and locals alike, creating a diverse and energetic environment.
So if you’re looking to have a fun night out while exploring Vietnam, don’t miss the opportunity to go bar hopping in Ba Hoi!
Street Food Tour
Vietnam is famous for having some of the best street food in the world. When you’re backpacking through Vietnam, a street food tour is an absolute must-do. You can explore the delicious flavors and unique culinary traditions that make Vietnamese cuisine so special.
Don’t miss out on trying dishes like pho, banh mi, and fresh spring rolls. Additionally, there’s even a Saigon food tour that combines tasty street food with an evening tour of the city in a vintage convertible – talk about an epic adventure! So grab your chopsticks and get ready to embark on a mouthwatering journey through Vietnam’s vibrant streets.
Motorbiking Across the Country
Motorbiking in Vietnam is an exciting way to explore the country from north to south or vice versa. It allows you to venture into remote locations and experience the best that Vietnam has to offer.
Whether you choose to go on a guided motorbike tour or ride independently, there are plenty of options available. For those looking for a longer adventure, the North Vietnam Motorbike Loop offers a three-week itinerary and map, taking you through small villages and picturesque countryside.
So get ready for an epic journey as you hop on your bike and discover the beauty of Vietnam’s landscapes along the way.
Accommodation Options for Backpackers
There are plenty of budget-friendly accommodation options for backpackers in Vietnam. From cozy hostels and guesthouses to affordable homestays and even camping, you’ll find a variety of choices to suit your preferences and budget.
Best Places to Stay in Vietnam
Vietnam offers a wide range of accommodation options for backpackers. Here are some of the best places to stay in Vietnam:
- Hanoi: The capital city has a bustling backpacker area called the Old Quarter, with affordable guesthouses and hostels.
- Sapa: This mountainous region in northern Vietnam offers homestays with local ethnic communities, providing an authentic cultural experience.
- Hue: Known for its ancient citadel and imperial tombs, Hue has budget-friendly guesthouses close to popular attractions.
- Hoi An: This charming town is known for its well-preserved Old Town and beautiful lanterns. There are many affordable hotels and guesthouses to choose from.
- Ho Chi Minh City: The largest city in Vietnam offers a range of accommodation options, including budget-friendly hostels in the lively Pham Ngu Lao area.
- Mekong Delta: Experience the unique river life by staying in homestays or eco-lodges along the Mekong River.
Cost of Accommodation in Vietnam
When it comes to backpacking in Vietnam, there are many affordable accommodation options. Below is an overview of the range of costs you can expect:
|Accommodation Type||Average Cost Per Night|
|Shared Dorms||$5 USD|
|Homestay (Private Room with Breakfast)||$5.98 USD|
|Average Cost for Accommodation in Sapa and Bai Tu Long Bay||$42 USD|
|Average Daily Cost for Backpackers in Vietnam||$42 USD|
|Total Cost of Accommodation for an entire trip (based on author’s experience)||$1178 USD|
These costs are approximate and can vary depending on the season, location, and the level of comfort you are seeking. It’s always a good idea to check the latest prices online or directly with the accommodation provider.
Budgeting for Backpacking in Vietnam
Plan to allocate a daily budget for your backpacking adventure in Vietnam, including expenses for accommodation, food, transportation, activities, and miscellaneous costs.
Daily Budget in Vietnam
When planning your budget for backpacking in Vietnam, it’s essential to consider accommodation, meals, transportation, activities, and miscellaneous expenses. Here’s a detailed breakdown of an average daily budget in Vietnam:
|Expense Category||Average Cost|
|Accommodation (Hostel)||$6- $40|
|Food (Local Meals)||$1- $5|
|Transportation (Local Buses, Taxis)||$1- $10|
|Activities (Entry Fees, Tours)||$5- $30|
|Miscellaneous (Laundry, Souvenirs)||$1-$10|
|Total Daily Budget||$42|
Bear in mind, these costs can fluctuate based on your travel style, the time of year, and the particular region of Vietnam you’re visiting. For instance, the northern region tends to be cheaper compared to the more touristy southern region. Moreover, be aware of any potential scams that might inflate your expenditures and always aim to get the best exchange rates.
This budget guideline should help you manage your finances effectively, ensuring you enjoy your trip without breaking the bank. Remember, the key to successful backpacking is planning and being resourceful with your money.
Money Exchange Tips
When exchanging money in Vietnam, keep the following tips in mind:
- Exchange your currency for Vietnamese Dong (VND) at authorized banks or exchange offices.
- Avoid exchanging money at hotels, as they often offer lower rates.
- Compare the exchange rates and fees at different places before making a decision.
- It’s a good idea to carry small denominations of VND for everyday expenses.
- Be cautious when using ATMs, as some may charge high fees or have hidden charges.
- Notify your bank or credit card company about your travel plans to avoid any issues with using your cards in Vietnam.
- Keep track of the exchange rates and monitor fluctuations to get the best value for your money.
- Be aware of counterfeit money and check your bills carefully before accepting them.
How to Save Money While Traveling
To save money while traveling in Vietnam, follow these tips:
- Choose budget – friendly accommodation options like hostels or guesthouses.
- Eat at local food stalls and street markets for affordable and delicious meals.
- Bargain when shopping at markets to get the best prices.
- Use public transportation or walk instead of taking taxis or private cars.
- Join free walking tours or find local guides for a more affordable way to explore.
- Avoid tourist traps and opt for local attractions and experiences.
- Take advantage of happy hour deals and drink local beer instead of imported ones.
- Bring a reusable water bottle to refill instead of buying bottled water.
- Book flights and transportation in advance to secure lower fares.
- Travel during the shoulder seasons or off – peak times for cheaper rates.
Safety in Vietnam
Avoid common scams and stay safe while backpacking in Vietnam. Read on to learn how to protect yourself and enjoy a worry-free adventure.
Common Scams and How to Avoid Them
Scammers in Vietnam often agree on a price for a trip but then ask for a significantly higher amount upon arrival at the destination. Here are some common scams to be aware of and tips on how to avoid them:
- Pickpocketing: Keep your valuables secure and be cautious in crowded areas.
- Street vendor photo scams: Be wary of street vendors offering to take your photo, as they may charge an exorbitant fee afterwards.
- Motorbike rental scams: Only rent from reputable agencies and thoroughly inspect the motorbike before renting.
- Fake taxis: Use trusted taxi companies and always check that the meter is running.
Drugs and Partying in Vietnam
Drug use is common among backpackers in Vietnam, and there are underground scenes related to drugs and partying. However, it is important to note that doing drugs while traveling in Vietnam is illegal and can have severe consequences.
It is advised to avoid participating in drug-related activities to ensure your safety and legal compliance. Additionally, practicing safe sex is crucial to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.
Travel insurance is an important consideration for anyone planning a trip to Vietnam. It is recommended to have travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment, as well as coverage for delays and lost or damaged baggage.
While Vietnam is generally safe for travelers, petty theft can be a concern, so having insurance will provide peace of mind in case of any unexpected incidents. Additionally, tourists should be cautious of common taxi scams and take necessary precautions to ensure their safety throughout their journey in Vietnam.
Useful Tips for Traveling in Vietnam
Pack lightweight and breathable clothing suitable for the tropical climate, always carry a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated, and be prepared for the locals’ hospitality by learning a few basic Vietnamese phrases.
Best Time to Travel
The best time to go backpacking in Vietnam is during the Autumn season (September to December) or the Spring season (March to April). These seasons offer dry weather and moderate temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the country.
Spring and Autumn are recommended because they have a comfortable travel environment with dry weather but not too hot. So, if you’re planning your Vietnam adventure, consider visiting during these times for a memorable trip!
When preparing for your backpacking adventure in Vietnam, it’s important to pack the essentials. Here are the must-have items to bring along:
- Tortuga Travel Backpack: This backpack is recommended for its versatility and convenience.
- Packing Cubes: These help keep your items organized and easily accessible.
- Lightweight Clothing: Pack lightweight and breathable clothing suitable for warm weather.
- Rain Jacket: Vietnam can experience sudden rain showers, so a waterproof jacket is essential.
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: Opt for comfortable shoes that are suitable for walking long distances.
- Hat and Sunglasses: Protect yourself from the sun’s rays with a hat and sunglasses.
- Insect Repellent: Mosquitoes can be a nuisance in certain areas, so pack insect repellent.
- First Aid Kit: It’s always wise to have basic medical supplies on hand for emergencies.
- Quick-Dry Towel: These towels are compact and dry quickly, perfect for backpacking trips.
- Travel Adapter: Ensure you have the right adapter to charge your electronic devices.
Vietnam is generally safe for travelers, but it’s important to stay vigilant and take necessary precautions. Petty theft is the main concern, so be mindful of your belongings and avoid leaving valuables unattended.
Taxi scams are also common, so make sure to use reputable taxi companies or ride-sharing services. Be cautious of strangers offering unsolicited assistance or tours, as they may have ulterior motives.
It’s advisable to keep a photocopy of your passport and important documents, and store them separately from the originals. Lastly, consider purchasing travel insurance before your trip to ensure you’re covered in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
Culture and Etiquette
Vietnam has a unique culture and etiquette that you should know about while traveling there. Understanding the culture can make your experience more enjoyable and respectful. When in Vietnam, it’s important to dress appropriately and behave respectfully towards locals.
Remember to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or a temple, as this is a common custom. In Vietnamese culture, respecting elders is crucial, so make sure to address them with appropriate titles.
In Vietnam, people have their own customs and traditions that they hold dear. By following these cultural norms, you show respect for the local way of life.
Additional Resources for Planning Your Vietnam Adventure
– Vietnam travel guide books
– Online travel forums and blogs
– Travel apps and websites (e.g., TripAdvisor, Booking.com)
– Local tour operators and guides
– Vietnamese embassy or consulate for visa information
– Official tourism websites of Vietnam
– Language translation apps or phrasebooks
– Travel insurance providers with coverage in Vietnam
– Public transportation schedules and maps available online or at stations
Plan your epic adventure through Vietnam with confidence using “The Ultimate Vietnam Backpacking Route Guide.” With detailed itineraries, budget tips, and recommendations for must-visit destinations, this guide has everything you need to create an unforgettable journey.
Start exploring scenic routes and experiencing the beauty of Vietnam today!
1. How long does it take to complete the ultimate Vietnam backpacking route?
The time it takes to complete the ultimate Vietnam backpacking route can vary depending on your pace and the number of stops you make along the way, but generally, it can take around 2-4 weeks.
2. What are some scenic routes that I should explore in Vietnam?
Some scenic routes to explore in Vietnam include Ha Giang Loop, Ho Chi Minh Trail, Hai Van Pass, and Cat Ba Island.
3. Can budget travelers enjoy an epic adventure while backpacking in Vietnam?
Yes, budget travelers can have an epic adventure while backpacking in Vietnam by staying in affordable guesthouses or hostels, eating at local street food stalls, and using public transportation.
4. Are there any tips for saving money during a Vietnam backpacking trip?
Yes! Some tips for saving money during a Vietnam backpacking trip include bargaining when shopping at markets or for services like transportation or accommodation, eating at local restaurants instead of touristy ones, and traveling by bus or train instead of flying.
5. Is it safe to travel alone as a backpacker in Vietnam?
While no travel destination is entirely risk-free, many solo travelers have had positive experiences backpacking through Vietnam. It’s essential to stay vigilant and follow common-sense safety measures like avoiding isolated areas at night and keeping valuable belongings secure.