Vietnam HEAD2



When to go to Vietnam

It's hard to guess the best time for a journey to Vietnam. The country is spread out on large area which makes forecasting weather a bit unreliable. While north can be very cold and rainy during the winter, it can be nicely warm and dry in south at the same time. That's why the best time for a journey to Vietnam is probably in April and May.



Where to go and what to see in Vietnam

Vietnam mekong

Vietnam is becoming a popular tourist destination for those who travel to Southeast Asia. The country was visited by three million tourists in 2005 and this number increases every year by approximately 30 percent.

Near Hanoi are karst areas Ninh Binh and Parfume Pagoda. Some tourists travel north to mountain rage Sapa, for few days of climbing and trekking, and most travelers visit natural karst phenomenon in Halong bay, which is located east from Hanoi.

Central Vietnam is usually visited for the formal capital Hue from where trips can be organized to the demilitarized zone. Near Hue is a medieval town Hoi An, which belongs to UNESCO Heritage and temples of Champa Dynasty My Son.

If you travel south, you'll find holiday destination Nha Trang and even further down is Saigon. Saigon opens to Mekong delta and there are organized trips to military tunnels Chu Ci.



Travelling in Vietnam on your own


Socialist Vietnam has been going through an intensive change in recent years. Large investments into traffic infrastructure or industry are highly noticeable. At first glance, you wouldn't say that it is a socialist system, principles of market economy seem to be working in Vietnam and socialism itself is following China's example. Consequences of the American war can be still seen today and the horrors of it are still in living memory. One of the examples is the War Museum in Saigon. There is a portrait of an American senator, who is considered a war criminal in Vietnam. Even though the war had big impact on both countries, we still met few American tourists in Vietnam. It's strange how the insanity of war can hit one generation so hard and not that long after the next generation comes here for serene holidays.

When we first went to Vietnam, we packed a large suitcase. The more journeys I took after that, I realized that a lot of things that you pack are unnecessary and that it's easier to travel with smaller backpack. My second time around in Vietnam and Mekong delta, I traveled with my tiny backpack that didn't weigh more than 6 kilos. And because I pack my liquid hygiene products in containers under 100ml, I can take it with me on board of a plane. How to pack your things efficiently can be found in article 'What to bring on a trip'.

On our first journey to Vietnam, our goal was to land in Hanoi and depart from Saigon. To cover the 2800-kilometer route, we used almost all transport options available: we went on a bus, train, boat, plane, taxi, motorbike and rikshaw. The most convenient transport for long journeys are night trains. Even though there are four beds in 1st class of the sleeping coupe, it was one of the cleanest trains we witnessed in Asia. For the price of a ticket you can get decent sleep and easily get to your destination. Tickets can be booked online, for example and you can find practical information about Vietnamese railways on To save a day or two, we also traveled on two national flights. Vietnamese airlines have new modern planes and are cheap, Another popular type of transport are buses with 'Open Ticket' system. On my second journey I landed in Ho Chi Min and continued on Mekong to Cambodia. The cheapest way to travel there is via organized trip, which can be bought on 'backpackers avenue' Bui Vien in District 1.

There are a lot of travel agencies in Vietnam, which means that a lot of activities can be arranged on the spot. It is easy to book transport, trips and even accommodation. To have a better idea and get some inspiration for possible trips, I'd like to recommend

We mostly stayed in tiny hotels in Vietnam, as they're quite cheap. In Halong bay we stayed on a boat and when we were in Central Vietnam on Whale Island, we stayed in a small resort.

Vietnamese cuisine is amazing and we paid around 2-3 USD per delicious meal. Another delicious thing is Vietnamese coffee which is prepared in French style. You place a strainer with coffee beans into a cup and pour hot water over it. The coffee is thick with exceptional taste and if you order it with milk, then half a cup is filled with sweet condensed milk. We mastered eating with chopsticks in Vietnam. I don't remember one occasion when we would eat with normal cutlery. At the end of the journey I became such an expert that I knew how to eat rice, one grain after the other. It is a mistake to put your chopsticks in a bowl and leave them sticking out, as they can cause uncomfortable feelings in others. If they stick out this way, they can remind others of scented sticks which are used in temples in a memory of the departed.


P.S. Every other Vietnamese man is called Nguyen.



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