Photo: Canals of Ca Mau, Mekong Delta.

Vietnam forum

First Time To Asia (Vietnam) Solo

Posted by fergal25 on 24/7/2013 at 14:35

I Hope someone might be able to help me out a bit. I'm Currently on the fence about booking a 3 week trip to Vietnam.I probably would have booked it if i had not read so much about scams and unfriendly people on the internet from the Airport taxi's to the Hotel and tour operaters.

To Be honest Id be Anxious enough going to somewhere so new and different but i know i could adapt. I have the dates set visa sorted all i have to do is Pay and Book September 24th.I really do want to go but theres a few things Holding me back. Im Male From Ireland i havent been away in a while and I need to do this trip for myself something totally new.I dont know anything about Vietnam I have a Lonley Planet book ive been looking through though.My plan Was to fly into Hanoi out of Ho Chi Minh.

I Was planning on taking the train And hitting some spots on the way down. Overall I would like to sample the culture and get a feel for the country it will all be new to me anyway. I would Like to take a Cruise On the Mekong and Maybe a Motorcylcle trip with a guide!Other than that just go to some nice places on the way down from Hanoi. If anyone has any Suggestions id be more than Grateful to get any response.Its so big and daunting as a country I dont want to plan Much at all and feel under pressure. I am asking a massively broad question. But Going from Hanoi on the way down to Ho chi Minh firstly would i be mad or probably safe to do it on my own and What Would You think would Be the less touristy options.

One thing that worries me are hotels and security i would be on a budget of 20-25 dollars how do you know which hotels are good or not.And for example the landing in Hanoi after a long flight should I pre-book a Place to avoid getting scammed.At night where should i keep my passport is it safe in the hostel or hotels own safe and how do i carry my valuables around from A to B and Particularly on a sleeper train.Would A Money Belt Suffice.

And Clothes wise should i bring a lot of summer gear a mixture or very little and buy stuff over there.A Checklist would come in handy lol.

I have been to Nz And Oz Before Solo but this is a totally different kettle of fish.I guess it's reassurance im desperatley looking for deep down and courage to book and some sort of rough itinerary.

Thank You so much for reading this little Rant

#1 fergal25 has been a member since 24/7/2013. Posts: 9

Posted by antoniamitchell on 25/7/2013 at 01:45

Hi Fergal,

Firstly: you can absolutely do this! You've already travelled solo, and it's really not as different as you think from travelling solo in other parts of the world. I know how you feel because it's how I felt too, back when I first started travelling - it's probably how everybody feels - but once you arrive you'll realise you had nothing really to worry about.

Yes, there are some scams about, but you already know what to look out for (from reading about them on these threads), so you'll be fine.

Hanoi down to HCMC (or vice versa) is a classic itinerary - you have selection of places you can stop off on the way, both the popular and heavily developed places (like nha trang) and the less touristy. From the reading you've already done, you probably have some ideas which appeal more to you - beaches along the coast, forested inland, places steeped in history, big cities with nightlife? I'd recommend Hoi An and Hue to anyone (my favourite part of Vietnam) for history, temples, beaches - there's a bit of everything around there.

How do you know which hotels are good? It's good advice to prebook your first couple of night's hotel (so you'll get a soft landing, as it's one less thing to think about when you're jetlagged) and you can tell which hotels are good by reviewing user reviews on this site, and places like TripAdvisor. Once you're in country and not bothering to prebook any more, you can get also get feedback from other travellers you meet on the road. It's also really useful to just ask to see a room before you decide on a hotel - you'll quickly get an idea of the place from a quick inspection.

I'm sure some people keep their passport in the hotel safe. I just keep mine with me (in a money belt). When you're travelling from place to place, keep your valuables on your person (money belt or your daypack) and not in your main backpack or big bag (which will be out of sight, stowed in the belly of the bus half the time). On a sleeper train, lock your daypack closed. Secure it to a railing if you can, or sleep with it between your body and the wall. You don't need to be paranoid, however. Most people aren't out to steal your stuff - just use your common sense.

With regards to what to bring, bring as little as possible. You can easily buy toiletries here. Cheap clothes are everywhere, although it you're larger (tall or heavy) you may find it hard to find things that fit. But you can also get laundry done really cheaply in every hotel or guesthouse you stay in, so you really only need a few changes of clothes - just get stuff washed along the way.

You'll have a brilliant time - so just book it!


#2 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by daawgon on 25/7/2013 at 12:39

Vietnam does have a few scams going, but the internet blows all that up to massive proportions. Vietnam is not only quite safe, but extremely friendly, and you will love it. Solo is the way to go, because it will force you to be social with your fellow travelers as well as the extremely outgoing locals. Be sure to book the free tours from Saigonhotpot and Hanoikids (student groups that give these tour in exchange for English practice). Send them an email a month prior to travel.

I advise you to get out of HCMC asap, because this is not the best of VN at all. I think the north has far more to offer (my favorites are Sapa, Hanoi, Dalat and Hoi An). The more you know about VN in advance, the more you will enjoy your trip. Stay off of long distance buses - road travel can be dangerous here. Trains are ok, but nothing special. I advise you to fly long distances such as Nha Trang-Danang (that trip by train is no fun at all).

You will find that VN attracts thousands of other young travelers - what a ball you will have! If it's possible, I would add another week on to that trip.

Bring your own clothes (sizes here can be a problem) - very casual summer stuff, and pack very very lightly. Laundry services are very good in VN and cheap!

#3 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,147
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Posted by fergal25 on 29/7/2013 at 06:46

Thank You so Much for your replies Antonia and Daawgon :) I BOOKED :) Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Arriving In Hanoi September 27th Leaving HCMC October 17th Very Excited Very Daunted :)

I'm Slowly Going through The Lonely planet book and picking up a few things from it.Too Much Info I think Mind Boggling

Once I have A Better Idea what i would like to see and do, no doubt I could do with a few more Pointers thank you so Much again its great to get advice from People who have been there.It's Strange no one I know has ever been there.

Thanking You again
Fergal :)

#4 fergal25 has been a member since 24/7/2013. Posts: 9

Posted by Night_exile on 29/7/2013 at 12:47

Posted from within Vietnam.

At first, I just want to say to you that "Don't worry so much because you could not enjoy the trip". I am local here and I have traveled through Viet Nam but I still survive, sit here and type email for you. When you come to Vietnam, please remember to keep rules below:

1. Don't expose luxury thing on the street such as iphone, camera..If you are riding, want to hear your iphone, please stop and find a place (not near the road) to hear it.

2. Always confirm currency and price before buying anything or getting on any car/ Taxi. In this country, 2 most popular taxi brand are Mai Linh and Vina Sun. Don't use any other service. You could call for Mai Linh by phone number: 08- (Ho Chi Minh) or 0438-61.61.61 (Ha Noi) or Vina Sun by number phone: 38 27 27 27.

3. If someone invites you to play Poker, say "No" immediately. They are trying to trick you.

4. Because street food in Viet Nam is not so fresh and clean so maybe your stomatch will get problem, remember to bring medicine to you and don't at too much street food.

5. Buy a SIM to check in 3G so you won't get lost with map, 3G in Vietnam is super cheap. You just need to spend 50,000VND (2 USD) for your SIM, you text a message to register 3G with fee = 50,000 VND. You should use Viettel - the most popular tele service here.

6. Only use backpack, no hangbad.

7. If you use bike/ motorbike, lock your bike/ motorbike and remember to keep an eye on that.

And about what you asks me:

Hotels: 20 - 25USD is enough for a good room, you could search on to book a hotel/ hostel room in district one. Booking by agoda will help you have better price.(Discount about 25% - 40%). And they have rating system so you could know which one is good or not. Or if you want to get an experiences homestay with truly local Vietnamese, use to find your host. My friend used this program and she told me that it is a great experience.

Tour guide/ booking tour: Using - a platform which will help you find personal local tour guide with reasonable price. Some volunteer groups in Ha Noi post their tour on this website to provide free tours to foreign traveller so they will have chance to practice English (Fee for studying English with native people in this country is crazy high) and meet people from all over the world. You could follow link here, free tours of Hanoi Lovers: I joint volunteer groups like that when I studied in uni. From volunteer experiences I got, I dare to dream Travel around the world. [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img] When I came to Thailand, I used its service, so nice, my tour guide took me to every place by her small bike.

Or if you want to follow normal tour with big number of pax, you could use service of big famous travel companies such as: Viettravel, FidiTour,SaiGon Tourist. They have a lots of good review on Tripadvisor.

Train: To train, buy ticket air conditioned and the highest bed (third or second), sleep and put your foot on your lugguage or hold it with you, no worry anymore. Customers of ticket air conditioned belongs to middle class, so the percentage of being robbed is much lower.

Clothes: September in Ha Noi: start to be Cold but in Ho Chi Minh: Cool. Clothes here are very cheap and you could easily find store 24/24 hours selling everything.

Have a nice trip. Enjoy it [img]smileys/wink.gif[/img] many times, media just try to make everything become much more serious that its nature. I am alive evidence here. I came to the middle of India - the poorest and dangerous place in India - solo and I am female but my trip is still so GREAT!!!

#5 Night_exile has been a member since 29/7/2013. Posts: 9

Posted by antoniamitchell on 29/7/2013 at 13:08

Congratulations, Fergal, on booking! I'm excited for you - have a great trip!

#6 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by fergal25 on 6/8/2013 at 06:37

Well Thank You All So much for Your Helpful Posts and taking the timeout to Help Me.Without this forum Id be LOST ,Thank you NIGHT EXILE im so grateful for the links and tips and will Help Me so Much,if anyone is ever planning on travelling to Ireland i'll be sure to give ye a few Pointers lol :) What a Brilliant Forum.

Well I've come upWith some sort rough Route from Hanoi to HCMC but I really Don't know How Longto Spend in Each Place and if it is to much to cram in to 20 nights so I Reallycould to with some advice.

I know everyoneis different but for me A Guided motorbike trip really Pops out as A Must Andthe Areas I was Thinking for this Was Maybe From Hue to Hoi an which I think isa common enough route and also if everything goes smoothly too also Do aovernight guided trip From Nha Thrang - lak lake -dalat.

So My QuestionHere is Are there Easy riders or tour guides operating in both Hue and Nha Trang? from what I read there are but do youhave to book ahead with them or can I just sort of arrive and ask them to takeme on the day or the next day? Alsoother than the easy riders are there any other reputable tour guides in theselocations oh and also being on my own is that a problem in the sense that theymight need a group to go?

The only otherthing I really want to experience is A Overnight Stay in The Mekong Delta AreaCan Tho. This Kind of Throws a Spanner in the works because it’s like 170k fromHcmc and that’s at the very end my trip. If it was the other way around goingfrom Hcmc to Hanoiit would be far easier to Prioritize but I don't want to be rushing withanything I feel that I will need most time in Both Hanoi and HCMC to get mybearings. Even an over night stay would be great if I was stuck for time. Theamount of agency's and tours sounds mad but from anyone who knows could theyrecommend a tour company in Hcmc who might be okay to Book with for A Trip tostay in the Mekong area - Can tho?.

I really don’tknow how to plan the time. These Places Look Class.

Hanoi 4 nights to get over the culture shock :) andrelax

Ninh Binh and TamCoc 2 Nights A bus from Hanoi

Hue 2nights Train from Ninh Binh

Hoian 2 Nights A Day tour with Easy riders from Hue (fingers Crossed)

Nha Trang 2 Nights Train Fro Danang I think.
1 Night For Easy Rider Tour (fingers Crossed)

HCMC 3 Nights Get My Bearings Train From Nha Trang

Mekong Delta can tho 1-2 Nights

HCMC 2 Nights

Right so that’s me on 20 nights lol and without factoring in the sleepertrains and transport which would take up 2 days id imagine. Id prefer to doeverything by rail or bus rather than fly. If I was not to go to the MekongArea and just finish in Hcmc It would be Perfect and I Could see it veryachievable in 20 nights. And Time to relax as well. Thank ye so Much for allyour Responses J

Ninh Binh Looks so Nice although I read about the tourist traps etc butstill want to go and hue and hoi an Look amazing Nha thrang Is where id like togo for a Night maybe but really to Check out dalat Hopefully on a Guided TourHcmc I haven’t read to Much about but it sounds hectic the chu chu tunnelslooked definitely worth a day trip but since I’ve my heart bent on Can tho forsome reason. IllLeave the Chu Chu tunnels.


It would also be very helpful to know roughly what destinations I am likelyto see to check out a few hotels before I go. And is there any site someone wouldrecommend to book just for my first few nights in Hanoi?

How in the Name of god do can you lock a bag like 70litre I reckon butthat style of bag?
Oh and Hotels do you have to hand over your passport for them to Keep orwould a copy suffice?
The Plugs in Vietnamare 2 Round Pin Plugs? Oh Lord that’s basically it for now I think :)

#7 fergal25 has been a member since 24/7/2013. Posts: 9

Posted by fergal25 on 6/8/2013 at 08:48

I really Should Have Used Spell check, Dreadful Typo's ! I Think I reported my last post as well when I was trying to Edit it. :( Oh Lord.

#8 fergal25 has been a member since 24/7/2013. Posts: 9

Posted by antoniamitchell on 6/8/2013 at 15:05

Hi again,

I can't answer all your questions above, but I can answer the plug one: it's normally 2 round pins in Vietnam.

With respect to your itinerary, I would say you're trying to pack a heck of a lot of places in, and cover a tremendous amount of ground. Ninh Binh to Hue is about 12-13 hours by train, I believe. Even if you take a night train (which you'll need to book in advance to ensure you get a sleeper, as these can sell out), you probably won't get an amazing night's sleep and travelling for such a long time is tiring, however you do it. Just remember to give yourself some time to relax.

I also think you might not want that much time in HCMC. Some people love it because it feels energetic (big, frenetically busy, noisy). Some people hate it for the same reason. (I'm one of the haters, I will admit.)

Take care,

#9 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by Rango on 12/8/2013 at 08:49

Good for you...I think you will have a great trip!

Night_Exile's advice is great advice and I agree with it 100%. I live in SE Asia and travel extensively here and I feel very safe in Vietnam. Of the places I have been, HCMC is the only place that I feel that I need to be extra cautious, especially for a "snatch-and-grab".

If you are starting in Hanoi, I might suggest you check out Especen Hotel's website. It's a nice budget hotel in a great location in Hanoi. Also, if you're interested in contacting a guide in Hanoi, PM me and I can provide you some contact information for one guide I know.

As for places to see, my favorite places are Hanoi, Hue, Dalat (maybe my personal top-of-the-list), and Sapa. Hoi An is nice but only for a few days IMO. As for beach areas, I prefer Mui Ne, but many lean more towards Nha Trang and Vung's all a matter or personal preference. Two days in HCMC is enough for me, but if you like to go out and party, then a longer stay there may suit you.

#10 Rango has been a member since 12/8/2013. Posts: 2

Posted by Night_exile on 15/8/2013 at 05:07

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hanoi 4 nights to get over the culture shock [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img] andrelax: 2 days are enough, Hanoi is very cozy so you don't need to spend much time on it. 2 best things in Hanoi: Food and historical places. And don't forget to come to Duong Lam ancient village as well as Bat Trang village (a pottery village) and join a pottery class.

Some good restaurant I suggest you MUST EAT. If not, never say that you came to Vietnam [img]smileys/wink.gif[/img]

Ngon restaurant (traditional food of Hanoi): 18 Phan Boi Chau street, district Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi.

Xoi Yen (Rice with meat and some special material): 35B Nguyen Huu Huan street, district Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi.

Banh Cuon Ba Hoanh (Rice pancake with meat): 66 To Hien thanh street, district Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi

Lau ech Ngan Beo (Frog hot spot): 43 Truc Bach street, district Ba Dinh, Hanoi.

Pho Co (Noodles - Pho): 92C on Doi Can street, district Ba Dinh, Hanoi.

Pho Thin (Noodles - Pho): 13 Lo Duc street, district Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi.

Banh Tom Ho Tay (shrimp cake): 1 on Thanh Nien street, Yen Phu, district Tay Ho, Hanoi.

Ninh Binh and TamCoc 2 Nights A bus from Hanoi: Delete it, focus on Sapa . September is one of the best month for you to enjoy flower blossom in Sapa which has 4 season in a day, how could you miss it? This is a good chance for you to enjoy tribal culture, eat in tribal way, stay in tribal house.

Hue 2nights Train from Ninh Binh: You could stay in Da Nang and move to Hue in day and return (2 hour/ time). 2 days for Hue are too much and sadness of Hue will make you feel stuck. But Da Nang is so great with yellow sand, beach, nice people, clean city and a lots of good food.

Hoian 2 Nights A Day tour with Easy riders from Hue (fingers Crossed): 1 day in Hoian is enough, you could move to Hoian and and return back to Danang in day. Hoian is an great ancient town, but staying in it for 2 days is not a good choice, it is super sad.

Nha Trang 2 Nights Train Fro Danang I think: I think that you should forget Nha Trang, too normal beach, bad food, not good service, everything expensive... I just came to Nha Trang one day and never come back again.

1 Night For Easy Rider Tour (fingers Crossed): Enjoy it.

HCMC 3 Nights Get My Bearings Train From Nha Trang: It means that you spend 3 nights in HCM city or you need to spend 3 nights on train to get to HCMC? Because if you get train from Nha Trang to HCM, it just takes you 9 hours. If you ride bikes, it will take you a longer time, maybe 2 days. (Depending on weather, your speed).

Mekong Delta can tho 1-2 Nights: Must be 2 nights

HCMC 2 Nights: 2 nights are ok, don't forget Cu Chi tunnel and great food [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img].

And I think that you should add Da Lat. It doesn't has a special culture, food...But it has great weather which is very suitable for relaxing and eat hot spot. In my vacation, I just come to Da lat, eat a lots of things and run around Ho Xuan Huong Lake to lose weight [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img])

About getting a tour guide, as I said, you could use some agencies I suggest in the previous post (Viettravel, Saigontourist, or some volunteer groups in Ho Chi Minh, Hoian providing free tours. They have a lots of good reviews on Tripadvisor so you don't need to worry about its reputation. It will help you save money and time, too. But you need to book before coming to Vietnam because they receive a lots of bookings from the foreign.

In Ho Chi Minh:


In Hanoi:


In Hoian


Or you could use, I never use its service but it has a lots of goof reviews on Tripadvisor. I think it is pretty cool when I look at its website and proposal. But the price is a little expensive.

If you want to take risk, you could use CouchSurfing, that is a website which will help you find and make friendship with local people. They will take your around the city, host you for free. In exchange, you will host them when they come to your cities. I used it when I came to Malaysia, super nice. And if you want to use it, you need to start from now.

About the hotel, you could search on, it has rating system and comment as well as detailed information of hotel in Ho Chi Minh. It is quite trustworthy.

Nice trip in Vietnam [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img], You remind me when I started my trip in India and people around me just said about "rape, trap,..." but it is so amazing.

#11 Night_exile has been a member since 29/7/2013. Posts: 9

Posted by nguyenimproved on 15/8/2013 at 15:09

Posted from within Vietnam.

scams are overrated. most people are honest.
most hotels have been good with security i found nothing stolen even though ive stayed at some real cheap places. ($6-7).
in thailand i actually had my passport stolen from a $50 a night hotel AFTER i locked my room.
anyway the main danger would be the traffic..
if you want an idea of the traffic in ben thanh market area check this vid i took this summer when i was there

#12 nguyenimproved has been a member since 15/8/2013. Posts: 1

Posted by HanoiLovers on 16/8/2013 at 05:29

Posted from within Vietnam.

One more thing, never come to Sam Son beach - the worst beach ever in the world with a lots of scams, they try to cheat even local people.

#13 HanoiLovers has been a member since 2/8/2013. Posts: 2

Posted by fergal25 on 20/8/2013 at 10:11

Thank You for Taking the Time to respond. Thanks for the advice Antonia I felt it Might be A bit to much too. Getting a better idea of how long it takes to travel between places made me rethink a few things. I am Still Thinking of Spending 2 nights in Ninh Binh . Would the best thing to do be to go to the train station the first day In Ninh Binh and Reserve a ticket. (Question Mark Button Broken Lol).

As regards My Original Itinerary or Plan. Its roughly the same but when I arrive in HCM now I will give it maybe 2-3 days in full and a day trip to the Mekong if I can ill just have to play it by ear and see how things work out. So I feel a lot more comfortable with the whole plan.

Rango and Night Exile thank You both for such detailed replies the hotel websites etc are absolutely fantastic:) I think what you say about basing myself in Danang and Doing both Hue and Hanoi from there sounds like a great idea.

One thing that SERIOUSLY is concerning me now is the WEATHER.

Hue - Hoi an were a must and I never even considered looking at the weather until last night and from what I can gather It looks like I should avoid Hue Danang and Hoian in October because the weather is so terrible (IM GUTTED). The weather does look very bad at that time of year in that area from what I can find on the internet. Im not sure what to do now at all. Should I skip these places and try and find an alternative in your opinion.

When I Was Referring to Tours im sorry I meant Regarding Good Motorcycle tours and if you could recommend one. I had my heart set on doing a tour from Hue to Hoi an that looks like it wont be a possibility now. Does Anyone Know if there are tours From the Nha Thrang area. I dont know how widespread Motorcycle guides are and would they be in the Different Areas ill be visiting. Its one thing I REALLY want to get set up. Any Recommendations would be hugely appreciated and how should I book them.

Okay So If Central Vietnam Was Still Included My Travel Plan Would Look Similar enough to before.

Hanoi 4nights [img]file:///C:\Users\computer\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtml1\01\clip_image001.gif[/img] relax

Ninh Binh 2 Nights

(Hue Hoian Danang 5 Nights)

Nha Thrang 2 Nights. Easy Rider Tour If Possible So I might visit Dalat Briefly :)

HCMC 3 Nights and if time an Overnight stay in the Delta.

Is It Easy enough to get Dong in Hanoi Airport. I assume Atm's Are Around the Place somewhere :) Thanks again Guys, What the hell will I do about the weather.


#14 fergal25 has been a member since 24/7/2013. Posts: 9

Posted by antoniamitchell on 21/8/2013 at 14:08

I personally wouldn't redesign my entire itinerary to avoid central Vietnam just because it's monsoon season. Just accept the fact that you'll get wet on that leg, make sure you have waterproof boots (or quick-dry sandals that won't rub your feet when wet), and organise your motorcycle tour and beach-time for another stop on the trip that has better weather.

I've never tried to book a motorcycle tour, but I can pretty much guarantee they're available everywhere. If there's money to be made, someone will be making it! Can't recommend a specific operator - maybe someone else on here knows one. Even if you don't find any recommendations before you go, remember the best source of on-the-ground tips is other travellers. Talk to people in your guesthouses, on buses, at the next table in cafes. Sooner of later you'll probably run into someone who can give you a steer.

Have fun.

#15 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 540
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