You’ve probably seen it in the background of countless war movies, but nothing can prepare you for the epic beauty of Vietnam. While it isn’t one of my favorite countries, it is very beautiful. From the natural beauty of Sam Mountain and Halong Bay to the man-made artistry of the sacred temples and pagodas, is very beautiful. Many travelers either love or hate it here as it’s a hard country to travel though but despite the challenges, you will find a very interesting and changing place.
Typical Costs in Vietnam
- Accommodation: Lodging is extremely cheap in Vietnam; a budget hotel will cost from 240,000 VND per night with a hostel coming in at 195,000 VND. Check out hotels in vietnam at http://Vietnamhotels.net
- Food: By eating at street stalls and markets you can get a meal for 19,000VND. Sit down restaurants are also inexpensive at around 75,000 VND.
- Transportation: Bus travel is very cheap in Vietnam. As an example, the public bus around Ho Chi Min City will cost a maximum of 3000 VND. The train is also another inexpensive way to travel with the 791mk long train journey from Danang and to Hanoi costing from 150,000VND.
- Activities: Many of Vietnam’s attractions are based around its natural beauty and as such, cost very little. For organized excursions such as touring the Cu Chi tunnels you can expect to pay 80,000 VND.
Money Saving Tips for Vietnam
- Street Food. The food is usually excellent, really cheap and you can watch it being cooked in front of you. Stick to the local food and you’ll save money.
- Late night travel. If traveling long journeys, try to take the late night bus or train as this will save you the cost of a night’s accommodation.
- Take the tourist bus. It is actually cheaper to take the tourist bus around the country than taking local transportation because of the “tourist” price you get at the bus station.
Top Things to See in Vietnam
- Pagodas. Vietnam’s most distinctive architecture can be been in the pagodas which are found all over the country. They are notable for their beautiful and intricate carvings. Pagodas are used as shrines and temples and are treasured by the Vietnamese people.
- Hanoi. Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi combines French colonialism with Eastern influences. Enjoy an afternoon exploring the narrow streets of the Old Quarter or visit the countless temples and galleries dotted around this bustling city. Don’t miss the History Museum which showcases artifacts from Vietnam’s colorful history and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
- Dalat. Dalat is nestled in the hills of the Central Highlands and is popular with tourists and locals alike. People flock here to enjoy its serene atmosphere and natural beauty. The hills around Dalat are filled with traditional tribal villages which you can tour but there is plenty to do within the city itself too. Visit the imaginatively titled Palace 1, Palace 2 and Place 3 or visit the amazingly photogenic Linh Son Pagoda.
- Mekong Delta. The delta is a 60,000km long web of inter-connecting waterways which spans across three Vietnamese provinces. The area is filled with small craft villages, Khmer Pagodas, mangroves, orchards and the trademark floating markets. The best way to experience delta life is to go on one of the many boat or bike tours. Spend a view days exploring the region.
- Cu Chi Tunnels. Crawl through the extensive network of nearly 500 km of tunnels utilized by the Viet Cong in the war with the USA in the 1960s. Tours involve a description of the tunnels, after which tourists are allowed to crawl about the maze and fire AK47s at shooting targets.
- Cuc Phuong National Park. 120km southwest of Hanoi lies Vietnam’s first National Park, Cuc Phuong. Covering 61,000, this place is home to over 2000 species of trees and some truly rare wildlife including the Clouded leopard, Delacour’s Langur and Owston’s Civet.
- Hoi An. Hoi An is one of the most popular destinations for tourists traveling to the country. The place is packed with historical homes and buildings and quaint cafes. It’s also perfect for exploring on foot. Try to be here for one of the full moon festivals as the city streets are emptied of traffic and lit by lanterns as a candlelit procession goes by.
- Ho Chi Minh City. Also known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is Vietnam’s largest city and is definitely worth exploring. Like most cities in Vietnam, you’ll be met with the roar of motorbikes speeding through colonial streets. Ben Thanh market is a must-see for amazing food and there is a great buzz of activity within the place.
- Halong Bay. More than 3000 islands sit within the emerald green waters of Halong Bay, one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Cat Ba National Park is great for hiking and many tourists find themselves taking one of the cave tours. This place is possibly the most beautiful part of Vietnam.