I've decided to take a solo trip and Vietnam is at the top of my list. It is early June and I am looking at travelling in early July so don't have a lot of time to research. I need some ideas for a practical 3 week route. Nothing over packed, I want it to be enjoyable. I really want to experience the culture, markets and temples with of course the sight seeing. Some ideas on the best ways to travel as well as best options for safe accommodations. I have read a mixture of reviews on safety so any insight would be great for a young, solo female traveler. I have traveled a year in Australia but did so with a friend.
#1 K_Mc has been a member since 3/6/2014. Posts: 2
I just arrived in Saigon after a 3 week motorcycle trip from the north. It was an absolute blast, but to be honest with you, it was too packed, and I wish I had just stuck to one region of the country. I prefer the north - Hanoi is wonderful and really charming. Great eats, friendly people, and delicious and cheap coffee. From Hanoi you could take a train to Lao Cai on a Friday so that you're in the area for one of the famous Saturday/Sunday markets. From Lao Cai, take a minibus to Sapa, where you could easily spend 4-5 days exploring and taking in the scenery. I unfortunately didn't hit Ha Long Bay because of time constraints but I'd recommend it based off of what I've heard. If you do decide to head southward, I'd highly suggest visit Hoi An, which is very charming, and Phong Nha, which is home to some very impressive caves.
It's a very easy country to do your own thing and independently, but do your research reading here as well as on Tripadvisor (those who fail to do this often run into major problems!) First of all, transport - road travel here is on the dangerous side (worst driving I've ever experienced, and those long haul buses are killers!) Please do not attempt motorbike travel - both illegal and extremely dangerous to boot. Stick to the plane or train, and like the previous poster, I prefer Hanoi and the north the best. My favorite stops include Hanoi, Sapa, Hoi An, Dalat and Quy Nhon. Major tourist crime has been reported in Saigon and Nha Trang, but Vietnam is a much safer country then my own (the USA). The people are the real draw for me (my 6th trip was in March '14) - be sure to reserve a free tour with Hanoikids and or Saigonhotpot - send them an email a month prior to travel (done for English practice by university students - you pay any lunch or taxi costs). Kids here are simply ZEE BEST!
#3 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,111
Thank you both! I wonder daawgon if you could expand on what you need by people who don't do their research run into major problems. Is this a safety issue?
#4 K_Mc has been a member since 3/6/2014. Posts: 2
I can't say what Daawgon meant, but I'll add my two cents as a guess:
1) This country is big. Transport is slow. On this site we often see people who haven't done their research posting planned itineraries like: "Monday and Tuesday in Saigon, Wednesday and Thursday in Nha Trang , Thursday in Hoi An." You'll spend a whole day getting from each place to the next by bus or train, and even flying it will still take you half a day. You can't realistically cover the whole country in a couple of weeks.
2) Different places have very different feels - Nha Trang is a popular beach resort, and has a bit of a reputation as being filled with party-goers and the scam artists who pray on them. Saigon and Hanoi are both main cities, but have very different atmospheres. Some people love Saigon because of it's buzz; I hated it, and much preferred Hanoi. So do your research - do the places sound like the sort of places you'd enjoy? It's much better to pick an itinerary that includes the sorts of things you enjoy, rather than just following the crowds from hotspot A to hotspot B to hotspot C.
3) Regarding safety, I wouldn't worry about violent crime (it's not common). But there are scams and bag snatchers, especially in some areas. It's a good idea to research the common scams on Travelfish, so you will recognise them if you encounter them (and know to walk away). And, as Daawgon said, traffic is terrible. Be careful on the roads, and be careful on the buses (if you take them - on my trip I took one long-distance bus early on, and it freaked me out so much I flew where possible for the other long-distance stretches. Others will probably say I'm a scaredy-cat. You'll have to make up your own mind). All that said though, thousands of solo female travellers enjoy Vietnam every year and most have no problems whatsoever, so don't worry too much!
4) For finding safe accommodation, I tend to start with Travelfish reviews to get a general idea of what sort of accommodation is available (prices and locations) to narrow down where I'm going to look, then look on Tripadvisor to check which places have a good reputation. I don't normally book my hotels in advance (apart from the first 2 nights when I arrive) because it's normally very easy to just rock up and check out the place(s) you've identified as good prospects, but there's also no shame in pre-booking if you don't feel comfy winging it.
Anyway, that's my two cents. Enjoy your trip - you'll have a blast!
If you like markets and natural sceneries, the North Vietnam is an ideal place. Sapa is the most famous one among them, but it can be very touristic. I still enjoyed very much in my stay there though, because the sceneries were really amazing and the weather was nice. You can meet a lot of ethnic minorities in those mountainous areas. You probably will like Bac Ha market, the traditional market which is not far from Sapa.
My most favorite place in Vietnam is Hoi An. It's a very charming little town and food is amazing. Love every minutes staying there and really want to come back! And other than Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city that I guess you're likely to go anyway, there are some other places that I highly recommend which are Ha Long Bay, Hue, Da Nang, Da Lat, Nha Trang and some provinces of Mekong Delta (Chances are you're not going to cover all of this region, and it's also not necessary anyway because you only need to pick some of them to experience much of it). I haven't been to Phu Quoc island but my friend who went there last summer said it was beautiful. Maybe you can give it a try!
About safety I don't think you'll get any big trouble. It's quite safe as long as you're cautious enough (which is obviously a must when traveling solo!). Be aware when buying things though. ALWAYS ask the price first and do bargain! Normally the average price will be very cheap, but you may end up paying a higher price if you don't know how to bargain or ask about the price in the first place. I had some bad experience about this but once I manage to get a good deal on my own, it became so much fun! Haha
Enjoy your trip and good luck!
#6 Michelle56 has been a member since 14/1/2014. Posts: 2
To expand on what I wrote yesterday, let me first thank antoniamitc-hell for her excellent explanation, and then say that many people come to Vietnam expecting it to be something it is not. Someone who has not traveled extensively in the developing world, such as yourself, might have some very bad experiences with scams (cabs can be a real problem in Vietnam), transport (surface travel is both slow and dangerous if you do it too cheaply) and trusting people in this country (generally honest, but many would lie for financial gain). Those that have done their homework would know not to carry hand/backpacks into some areas of Saigon, Nha Trang or Hanoi's night market, or to wear flashy clothes/expensive watches/gold, etc. Vietnam is a conservative country, and western youth don't always act appropriately here. Even for last minute trips, you still have time to read what others have experienced in this country. Just do your homework, don't try to see everything in one short trip, and respect and engage the Vietnamese people as you would in your own country. Don't come to Vietnam just for a good time - come here to learn about the world and the wonderful Vietnamese culture.
#7 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,111
1) In Hochiminh City:
You can visit The Unification Palace, The Old Post Office, the War Remnants Museum and the Ben Thanh Market. In the afternoon, you should take a cyclo tour to see the city as night fall. Dinner in cruise ship in Bach Dang Port is an excellent idea as the ship will take you along the river to feel the breeze and view the city from the river side.
You can also visit Cu Chi Tunnels, Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh.
Further South of Vietnam:
You can take a trip to the Mekong Delta's Provinces such as Can Tho, Ca Mau, Ben Tre, and Tra Vin, etc... Boat trip along the Mekong River will give you full aspect of the life of these watery regions. Cai Be Floating Market is an interesting place for you to know about the local life here. However you may need to get up early to anticipate in this type of market. Insec Repellent Cream is a must have thing for your travel.
For beach Relax: Vung Tau City
2) Middle of Vietnam:
You can flight from Hochiminh City to Hue. in Hue, you can take a boat ride in the Perfume River for a lovely secenic view. You can visit Thien Mu Pagoda, Tu Duc Tomb, Minh Mang Tomb, the Imperial Citadel and more... From Hue, you can visit Hoi An - Ancient Town: Japanese Covered Bridge, the Pottery Museum, the Tan Ky Old House, the Cantonese Congregation, Silk street of Hoi An, Danang Style Temples and Pagodas.
In Da Nang, you can enjoy a lovely beach too.
3) From Hanoi :
You can take a cyclo tour around the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Visit Hoan Kiem Lake, Hochiminh Mausoleum, Ngoc Son Temple, Tran Quoc Pagoda and Quan Thanh Temple. A 1000 years old Van Mieu â€“ Quoc Tu Giam (the Temple of Literature & the first university in Vietnam) is a place to visit too.
From Hanoi you can travel to Ha Long Bay and Sapa as well. Both of those destinations have magnificant sceneries.
In the North of Viet Nam I suggest that near Ha Noi there are such amazing places like Ha Giang, Ba Be lake, Ban Gioc waterfall, Moc Chau plateau, Co To island besides Ha Long Bay, Sa pa...the North of Viet Nam will bring you a different feeling of life and nature. You would be surprised by such splendid and stunning view of mountainous areas with the terraces, mountains and paths, plateau of green tea and colorful blooming flowers...and the hospitality of local people and untouched culture. PYS Travel is a great choice for these tour as my suggestion.
you can easily search tours in such places or contact me for more detail. I pleased to share with you my experience and tips to travel in Viet nam.
my email: email@example.com
#9 hoang has been a member since 9/6/2014. Posts: 7
Okthis is from my own experience, I had 2 weeks in this little beautiful country.The sights are amazing, the food best of the best . I started from Hanoi toHochi Minh. Here things I suggest:
-Sapa:there'r a bunch of reviews outhere for this spot so I just mention parts Iprefer: Bac ha market. trekking tovillages ( I brought candies and old clothes from my friends in Hanoi to thelocal kids in sapa, I heard in winter they dont have enough clothes , even nopant. That made me happier than buying stuff from a kid, and the others followsyou all the way) Homestay in village ( ha ha I really had good time there withthe hosts I loved the way everyone in groupwake up early, breakfastthen start heading to Bac Ha market)
-HalongBAy ( absolutely amazing , it's world heritage) I stayed there 1 night on Cruise and 1 night bungalow on Cat Ba island. I see you haveenough time for the bungalow bcuz it was gorgeous .should take at least 3 daysand do not just spend nights on cruise. the best part is kayaking through caves, grottoes and biking around the Cat ba national park, enjoying fresh seafood (I love all local foods in VN , each city has its own recipe and traditionalfood) guide will tell you history and legends of halong bay.
-BaBe lake ( it's like haven on earth) Phong Nha - Ke bang ( another onerecognized by UNESCO). I did a little bit different tour from normal tourbecause after the amazing Paradise Cave .the local guy lead me to Mooc streamon the way back to hotel for swimmingand delicious roasted chicken ( VNese chicken is small but yummy !) It wascompletely different from swimming in a pool or beach or a lake. Guess!
-HAnoi:I suggest the ethnology museum, Tran Quouc pagoda if you do a city tour. Night market just openon fri, sat, sun. Should bargain for anything. I booked this package withImpressive Travel Vietnam. And the manager Lana even invited me to have dinnerin the old quarter. She also give me a list of good traditional street foods soit kept me busy all night long. For accom., 3 stars hotel is good enough unlessyou need 5* standard. I stayed at Thaison palace and the staff are veryfriendly, I was overnight at the lobby with bellmans receptionist guy drinkingHanoi bear and watching Premier League. wow,I promised them to comeback next year.
- Hue citadel : ok as someone above told aboutdifference of feeling. Yes, I felt creepy in that citadel and a king's palace including his monument nearby, especially at night on streets . Funniest partis that you should ask your guide to tell you some horrors . it will make yourday oh also cheapest street food in VN .
DaNang : you can get easy ride from Hue to Da Nang. I remember it took 2 hrs or3. Hoi An is beautiful at night. it'stime for photos, I bought 1/2 buck papercandles to place it in the middle of the river . Should not try Cao Lao - itsucks. I love noodle My Quaung , fried Hoanh Thanh. Hang out at a bar nearbythe river. And I didn't buy any entrance ticket there. a woman told me to buybut Lana advised me to say just dinner then leave.
MekongDelta: a must-do spot . Totally agree with this. and do not forget to enjoydinner on a boat house restaurant in Ho Chi Minh city. Lana booked it for meand i really enjoyed it -luxury dinner on a shark shaped restaurant watchingbelly fire dance . Awesome! She gave me a vietnam sim card to contact herduring the trip. It's so sweet. Her email here:firstname.lastname@example.org
Youshould book in advance cuz july is the good time to travel in VN and of courseit's crowed ( my trip in april so i got lower rate than others) there will beno hotel room or cruise ( this for HalongBay it's a puty if you miss this spot)or have to pay double price for a smallroom.
Money:you should change some vietnamese dong and keep an eye on your phone ,pickpocket at night market. For the package I paid a half first as depositthrough bank transaction and paid the rest when I arrived Hanoi. and should askfor VISA
It'sgood if you send request to many agencies at the same time to compare and havebetter offers but it will take you weeks to consider. I did it and was veryconfused and afraid of scams, cheating, fake agencies. Thanks God I chose theright one . Good luck and have fun.
Three weeks is plenty of time to see some great sites in Vietnam. This is what I would do.
3 days Ho Chi Minh City
3 days Mekong Delta or 2 days Dalat
5 days Da Nang and Hoi An
3 days motorcycle easyrider tour
6 days Hanoi ,Ha Long, Bay Sapa
A couple days to spare.
If you need any info about Hoi An check out www.inhoian.com
#11 Shann999 has been a member since 17/6/2014. Posts: 4
To have a meaningful and quick trip, you can choose "Phong Nha cave" and "Paradadise cave". The two most wonderful caves in Quang Binh.
It is so easy to plan a trip when you visit Quang Binh
Or you can call me
0976282187 ( Mr.Cong )
#12 quancongqb has been a member since 7/7/2014. Posts: 1
I have a family vacation package in Da Nang/ Da Nang-Hoi An/MÅ©i Ne (Phan Thiet) or Da Lat...for 2 adult and 2 children or more....for anytime this year, please call (+84)0988900560 Ms.Thuy or email: email@example.com for asking detail. Tks!
#13 KatieHo has been a member since 9/7/2014. Posts: 3