Trip Planning Vietnam - Insights for new travelers
Through the podcast, I get to share my adoration and complete love affair with Vietnam. The
'What About Vietnam' podcast has grown and I’ve got so much amazing information to share with travellers who are about to embark on their journey to my favourite country in the world. Whether you are a seasoned pro or brand new to travel in Vietnam, keep reading for helpful tips to trip planning for Vietnam.
Do you find yourself wondering when the best time to go to Vietnam is? Do you need Visa’s? Is it safe? Where are the hot spots and what are the “must do” things? You are in the right place because I aspire to answer all of your burning questions about travel in Vietnam and to provide you with offers that will help you have unique and exciting experiences.
Post Covid-19 Travel To Vietnam
Many of you may be wondering what travel in Vietnam looks like post Covid-19. I’m happy to inform you that no testing is required to enter Vietnam at this time. Also, effective May 2022, the Vietnamese government has resumed pre-pandemic visa issuance policies. All previous visa restrictions have been lifted.
If you exercise similar safety and sanitation precautions as you would at home, or any other country deemed safe to travel to, all should be okay.
Pro tip:- Don't be scammed by many websites offering Visa applications and specialist Visa services that don't exist. The process is very simple and easily explained here.
What continues to be one of the biggest issues for travelers is dealing with the motorbike traffic in the main cities. As a tourist, this is something that you will need to contend with, but don’t let that scare you off, it’s really not that bad, If you join others crossing a road and choose your walkways strategically it's very manageable.
Quick Note re money - If you would like a handy guide to understanding the Vietnamese Dong and what it can buy you, this is a good starting point if you allow for some small currency exchange rate changes. Check here.
Language - Vietnamese is one of the hardest languages to master - Try using these short conversational language episodes to help you engage, shop, and eat well! They will love you for trying!
Greetings language here
Shopping language here
Special Dietary language here
For more great information on the future travel outlook in Vietnam check out this podcast I was a guest on, Conor Kelly ComebaCK Podcast #371.
Now let's start with one of the best ways to experience a country - through the food!
Kerry at first cooking class Banh Mi Chef Cugini Restaurant - Hanoi
The first thing you need to know about Vietnamese food is that it’s incredibly fresh. Think fresh seafood, salads, juices, and noodle soups with amazing broths. The food in Vietnam is unlike many other Asian countries. It is flavorful, and aromatic thanks to the unique herbs and spices that are used to prepare it.
Pro tip: It’s possible that your tummy may not know what hit it with the unique flavours about to come its way.
I strongly suggest starting a probiotic, a week before you leave. You may also want to bring some anti-diarrhea medication with you on your travels, just in case!
Five Famous Foods of Vietnam
1. Banh Mi - Banh Mi is a short baguette with a thin, crisp crust and soft, airy texture. It is often split lengthwise and filled with savory ingredients like bbq pork, pate and salad, and served as a meal or hearty snack.
2. Pho - Considered Vietnam’s national dish, this soup consists of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat or chicken mostly. Pho is a must-try food in Vietnam where it is served in households, street stalls and restaurants countrywide. You will find some differences in flavour and serving styles between the North and the South. But that only adds to the taste experience. You decide which version you like after trying both.
3. Banx Xeo Pancake - Also known as the Vietnamese crepe, Banx Xeo Pancakes are stuffed rice pancakes. The name comes from the sound rice batter makes when it is poured onto the hot skillet. This is a savoury crispy fried pancake made of rice flour, water, and turmeric powder, stuffed with different things like prawns and pork meat.
4. Cau Lau - Cau Lau is a regional Vietnamese noodle dish, from the city of Hội An. It consists of pork and greens on a bed of rice noodles made from rice that has been soaked in ' water, giving the noodles a characteristic texture and colour that sets the dish apart from other Vietnamese noodle dishes. Crispy bits of pork on top and it's a WOW dish only available in Hoi An.
5. Ban cha - Bun Cha is a traditional Vietnamese pork dish that's a specialty of Hanoi. Seasoned pork patties (I call them squished meatballs) and caramelized pork belly slices are served in a broth alongside rice noodles, fresh vegetables and herbs. Yummy!
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for amazing seafood while in Vietnam, you’ll want to head to beach locations like Nha Trang, Danang, Hoi An, Halong Bay, and the Mekong Delta. You can’t beat the freshness here because these areas regularly sell the catch of the day to locals and local restaurants which will offer it to customers in buckets that are displayed at the front of their restaurants. Pick what you want and how you want it cooked!
***** BEST FOOD APP FOR VIETNAMESE CUISINE - Vietnam Food Safari - To help with language and best food choices with recipes - Download the App from here
Here are some podcast episodes that may help you when planning some of your experiences while visiting Vietnam:
Pro tip: If you prefer to read, each Episode from Series 3 onwards all have their own Transcript, in PDF so you can print and read or download to your device for places with no WIFI.
What You Can Expect
All the inside scoop on shopping in Vietnam - This one was recorded in 2020 so some shops have changed locations. A new show in the works.
Find out how a holiday can be a life changing experience
Get the best Padi diving knowledge and advice here if you like to explore the waters beneath.
Find out some of the story telling in art in Vietnam
Nha Trang has more to offer than just beautiful beaches!
For those looking for amazing foodie experiences in Vietnam, I have a few offers that just may fit the bill. Check out this fantastic Cooking Class and Market Tour in Hanoi or the Food Tour and Beach BBQ in Danang.
The People Of Vietnam
I have to mention the amazing people of Vietnam in this guide. For a country that has experienced so much hardship, I am always amazed at how gracious, kind, and generous the Vietnamese are as a whole. I both work and travel with Vietnamese people and they are kind, caring and always willing to help where they can. They do have a bit of a fascination with us as tourists and that is understandable. It comes from curiosity as they would like to understand us. You will find the people of Vietnam refreshingly kind and gracious.
Market Seller Kerry and Nam Restaurant owner Young school girls Hoi An
Pro Tip: As a traveller in Vietnam (or any place really) keeping your wits about you for pickpockets is important. Pay attention to your surroundings when in heavily populated areas with a lot of tourists. Sticking to common sense rules you can feel very confident travelling Vietnam solo as I do often.
Can’t Miss Experiences In Vietnam
As there are so many amazing experiences to be had in Vietnam, this part will only really scratch the surface of what the country has to offer. I’m breaking experiences down into 3 main categories:
1. Water -
There are roughly 3200 kms of amazing beaches to relax on while visiting Vietnam. The hot spots being Danang, Hoi An, Nha Trang and if an island is your thing, then Con Dao and Phu Quoc are most desirable. Phu Quoc is the "go to" as its quick from HCMC and Visa free. Just transit through HCMC.
Not only that, but the country has stunning waterfalls and gorgeous underwater caves! The north features some of the most staggering waterfalls near the Chinese border, and you don’t want to miss the beautiful Phong Nha underwater caves.
If you want a taste of the Mighty Mekong, enjoy a trip up through to Phnom Penh or visit its Delta region at Can Tho. You can see families selling their wares on the waterways. Don’t forget to take your mosquito repellant.
Pro Tip: My all time favourite for off the beaten track centred around water, is Ba be Lake, so pristine and unspoiled, Mix it with the White Thai people and Hmong tribes, you will get a feeling you are lost in time.
Nha Trang beach Ba Be Lake Son Doong Cave
2. Culture and History
History buffs may want to start their travels in Hanoi! Vietnam tells you the unique story of countries of conquest including Chinese, French, Portuguese, Dutch and Japanese. Divided into 12 districts, Hanoi can offer you a deep view into history through its museums and places of history.
Pro Tip: The Women's Museum is one of my favouirte due its amazing story telling of how women supported the country with NO glass ceiling.
For those looking for amazing cultural activities, head to Hue. Then on the Hoi An where you can stay in a 16th century old town, visit shophouses and pagodas; see live art performances telling stories of love and loss over the spice trail period of time.
A great place to mix up the old and new with fantastic short wave beaches, ideal for families, you can’t go past Hoi An for a relaxed pace and multi-faceted stay.
Pro Tip On When To Visit: Adventure seekers need to pick your time of year if you want to avoid disabling heat exhaustion. You’ll want to head to the north of Vietnam in the months between Feb and May, and you will experience some amazing vistas either by visiting terraced rice paddy fields, climbing mountains in Sapa, kayaking in Ninh Binh or crawling through caves.
3. Luxury Travel In Vietnam
Vietnam is perfect for those looking for shopping, luxury, pampering, and relaxing. Designer shopping is a thing in Vietnam. All you need is to know where to go, I may be able to help you with a new tour currently being designed for HCMC. Watch this space for updates..
Pampering is in abundance for around about 350,000 Dong ( approx $15 USD) you can get a very nice massage at a spa centre about every 5 metres in Hoi An.
I recommend that you stay for a 'flop and drop' stay either before or after having a more adventurous exploration of Vietnam.. At this price, you can afford to have more than one during your stay. Be like me, have one every second day, which is why I always suggest staying 5 days in Hoi An because I guarantee you will go home feeling like you have had a 'real" holiday.
In fact, I’ve got some carefully selected offers to help with your relaxation. Have a look at this amazing Nurturing Retreat, this relaxing Immersive Retreat, or the indulgent Cam Rahn Resort offer.
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful and I look forward to paving the way for you to have a magical time in Vietnam as I share more trip planning tips with podcast episodes and blog posts!