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Vietnam forum

Complete novice on first solo trip anywhere - help!

Posted by martynhaigh on 8/4/2018 at 03:51


I've booked a 2.5 week solo trip to Vietnam starting May 2nd and I'm looking for advice. As the title says, I've never travelled solo before (actually never been outside the western world before) so I've no idea what to expect. I land in Hanoi and have booked a private room at the Central backpackers hostel Old quarter for a few nights whilst I find my feet, but then haven't planned anything else before my flight out from HCM. I'm a 39 year old guy from England who's not particularly in to partying and getting trashed, but doesn't mind a few drinks and a laugh and loves food.

I've got so many questions but I'll start with some which feel more immediate:

- I saw in the guide that Vietnam Backpacker Hostel comes highly recommended and I'm tempted to switch from the Central backpackers hostel to that, but it'll be a shared dorm (which I'm a bit worried about for the first few nights because of jetlag and everything else). I'd be interested to hear opinions.

- I was going to just see what happens in terms of planning things after my initial hostel booking for the first few nights - is this a good idea? Are there things which I *should* book ahead of time?

- I'm just assuming that I'll be able to find walk in accommodation for the rest of my trip - is this a fair assumption?

Thank you

#1 martynhaigh has been a member since 14/3/2018. Posts: 1

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Posted by antoniamitchell on 8/4/2018 at 04:29

Hi, and congrats on your first trip to Asia.

Firstly, don't get too hung up on which accommodation is highly commended and which is not. Once you get beyond the basics (is it clean?) accom is highly subjective - person A's amazing vibe may be person B's noisy hell. So a place you feel comfortable is more important than a place that's recommended.

You should certainly be able to walk-in accommodation and book everything as you go - the only things you may want to pre-book are internal flights (if you're planning any) and things like sleeper trains, where the train will probably rarely be full, but the softest classes may sell out.

You'll have a great time - the food in Vietnam is amazing.

#2 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 553
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Posted by daawgon on 8/4/2018 at 12:11

The Vietnam Backpacker Hostel at 48 Ngo Huyen is the better choice by far. This is an excellent/central location for someone like you. You will soon find that it is super easy to meet people (especially young Vietnamese who want to improve their English). Try to reserve a tour with one of the free student tours ( Hanoi Kids or Hanoi Free Tour Guides) for one of their free tours because this is another way for you to get a good feel for Hanoi and it's people.

Remember that May weather will be downright hot, so plan on a siesta after lunch. The Old Quarter comes alive again after dark down by Hoan Kiem Lake where the whole city hangs out. Students will approach you there for English help and you will enjoy meeting them.

The more you know about Vietnam before you land the more you will enjoy your stay, and Travelfish is the best place to start your research (click on Vietnam at the very top of this page). Good luck - you are very wise to visit Hanoi first!

(another good resource is

#3 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 1,159
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Posted by jorowa on 13/4/2018 at 12:19

It's always a good idea to spend your first night in a new country (or city) after a long journey or flight in relatively better accommodation so you can really rest up and feel comfortable in the new strange environment. Go ahead and get a private room first and see how it goes. Dorms are great for meeting fellow travelers though.

In terms of planning, you want to be flexible so just showing up for accommodation is no problem (cheap hotels most everywhere) and you can book domestic flights with Vietnam Air and VietJet easily, usually at where you're staying. As daawgon mentions, the hot season is starting, so it's not exactly high season. Actually, there's a long weekend just before you arrive on Apr 28 - May 1, just so you know, in terms of local tourism. You should have some idea where you want to go though, a rough plan because 2.5 weeks is kind of short. Figure out what your priorities are.

I sort of lean toward Central Vietnam but there are numerous options. As suggested above, give this website a good read.

#4 jorowa has been a member since 24/2/2011. Location: United States. Posts: 13
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Posted by Megaworldasia365 on 18/4/2018 at 01:24

I think it's good that you've booked straight into a hostel as 2.5 weeks in VN isn't a great deal of time, so you can meet other travelers right from the get go and get some info on good sightseeing options. Would recommend staying in the north if you're departing from Hanoi . I think a good idea might be to have a bit of a think about what you'd like to see and do in vietnam for your 2 weeks? Most travelers you're goimg yo meet in Hanoi will tell you to go to Sapa and Ha Long Bay. In the 14 trips I've had to VN, I've never been to Sapa or Ha Long Bay so I can't comment on those places. However, I have done a number of trips to the place I consider the bestt in Vietnam - PHONG NHA KE-BANG NATIONAL PARK. This place is outdoor adventure central in Vietnam. Caving, jungle trekking, kayaking, etc... The nearest city to Phong Nha is Dong Hoi - approx 30 km away. You can get to Dong Hoi, from Hanoi, by Bus, train, and flight. For indepth info on PHONG NHA KE-BANG NATIONAL PARK, check my travel blog: megaworldasia dot com - S. E. Asia's off the beaten track specialist.
Safe travels.

#5 Megaworldasia365 has been a member since 26/8/2017. Posts: 24

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