Travel and Live Safe in Vietnam

This will provide information about traveling safely in Vietnam today.

How to be safe in Vietnam.

Vietnam is a relatively safe country when compared to many others in the world today. It often amuses me when I talk to old friends or relatives who fear that Vietnam is 100% corrupt and similar to living in the “wild west” during the cowboy era.

However, Vietnam is ranked 57th out of 163 nations for safety in the 2019 Global Peace Index, much ahead of the United States, which is ranked 114th.

Currently, violent crime is uncommon in Vietnam. The biggest dangers are being overcharged by a street vendor or taxi driver, getting into an accident, or crossing a busy road and being hit.

Pickpocketing and snatch theft are prevalent forms of petty crime in Vietnam, especially at and around train stations, seaports, and airports. Traveling alone in isolated locations after dark might be dangerous, especially for foreigners.

Yes, there are places you should avoid and places to be wary of. But overall you should not let the worry of anything terrible happening to you, outweigh the amazing experiences you can and will find in Vietnam.

Don’t lock yourself away in your 4 or 5-star hotel when you come to Vietnam as you will miss out on a lot of incredible experiences. Here are several tips and some general advice to make your next stay stress free and safe.

Safety Tips for travelers in Vietnam.

Petty Crime.

1) Theft. Carry your passport, travelers’ checks, and other valuables in a hidden money belt. Tourists are targets for robbers (who might be your fellow travelers). Use a safe, if you have one, and don’t leave anything valuable lying around in your room. Do not leave anything valuable in your safe if a smaller hotel. I have heard stories of missing items from safes in less than scrupulous hotels.

Also, make sure your doors and windows are locked when you leave and at night when you sleep. Keep some small change in a separate pocket so you are not opening your wallet all the time. Vietnam is the land of opportunistic crime.

Snatch and grab is more prevalent than it should be. Mainly because of tourists being lax in security. If taking photos, make use of the camera straps. If you are staying in a good hotel make use of the hotel safe and store your passports etc with the concierge.

2) Snatch and Grab. It’s advisable to avoid being flamboyant on the street; avoid wearing eye-catching jewelry and dazzling watches, attempt to withdraw cash covertly, and pay extra attention in crowds and on public transportation. When it’s most susceptible, such as just before departure, during lunch breaks, and when you arrive at your destination, keep an eye on your pack if it’s on top of the bus. Either cable-lock your bag or tuck it under the bottom bench seat on trains to keep it hidden from view.

It’s advised to avoid accepting food or drink from someone you don’t know and trust because it has been claimed that travelers have been poisoned and subsequently robbed. Keep a tight hold on your bags and avoid dangling costly sunglasses or cameras from your neck. But if you do become a target, it’s better to let go than to take the chance of being dragged into the traffic and getting hurt badly.

3) Women Travelers. In general, it is safe for women to travel alone in Vietnam. The odds of coming into any threatening behavior are really minimal; the majority of Vietnamese will simply be interested as to why you are traveling alone. That being said, it still pays to use common sense care, especially late at night when fewer people are out on the streets.

You should also avoid riding xe-om (motorbike taxis); instead, use a taxi—metered cabs are typically thought to be the safest. There have been a few complaints of cab drivers’ molestation, however, they are uncommon. It is a good idea to have the local “grab” phone numbers downloaded onto your phone when you arrive in Vietnam.

Get your Grab download here

4) LGBTQ and Safety. Although socially conservative in some respects, Vietnamese people are surprisingly accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. You’ll be alright if you refrain from heterosexual conduct and public demonstrations of affection. Same-sex relationships are not prohibited by law in Vietnam.

I used to live in the same street as two gay men and they were accepted unequivocally by all their neighbors. One of the men’s ex-wife’s lived with them in the same house. How that worked, I don’t know, but outside the house, everything was “peachy” You will not get the same degree of “hate crime” that can be seen in some western countries.


5) Covid. For entry into Vietnam, you no longer need to present a negative COVID-19 test result or vaccination certificate. There can be variations in airline criteria. If you get COVID-19 in Vietnam, you must isolate yourself, and if you are a close contact, you must carefully check your health. Public health measures ( and mask use) are in place, however, they vary by province and are subject to sudden change.

Your ability to travel and receive necessary services could be affected by certain actions. Pay attention to what local authorities advise. Keep an eye on your local Embassy’s social media accounts for important information. The situation with covid has improved greatly because of the rigorous enforcement of the Government and while you should still wear your mask it has become much safer.

6) Water. Avoid drinking tap water, as you will get sick. This includes brushing your teeth. Most of the 4 and 5-star hotels will have their own water source, however, no matter where I am I still rely on bottled water.

If you are invited to someone’s house, do not pour boiling water into the sink. Most of the pipes are made of plastic and you will be left extremely embarrassed when boiling water starts flowing across your new friends’ floor.


7 ). Crossing the Street. The traffic in Vietnam takes a lot of getting used to, and there are times when you think you will never make it walking to the other side of the street. Do not think that pedestrian crossings or “walk” signs are to make life for the pedestrian easy.

Motorbikes and cars will not stop for pedestrians and your “walk” sign or pedestrian crossing means nothing to the Vietnamese driver. They will not stop, no matter what you are gesticulating or saying at the top of your lungs. However, they may be laughing.

At first glance, it could seem dangerous to cross the street in Vietnam. Motorbikes and cars don’t stop for pedestrians, but they do adjust and try to avoid hitting you. Here’s the trick: once you start crossing the street, don’t pause and second-guess yourself; maintain a moderate, steady pace. Do keep an eye out for any bike riders who might be using their phone more than watching out for you.

There is safety and comfort in numbers, so if you can’t bring yourself to take that first step on your alone, wait until there are other people prepared to cross and join the group. I’ve been a resident of Vietnam for 15 years, and I’ve never been in an accident. As I have said before, Vietnamese are very kind and you may have someone offer an arm to help you cross the street.

8 ) Driving a Motorcycle. If you’ve made the decision to remain in Vietnam and find employment, you’ll probably choose to buy or rent a motorcycle. Risks come with driving in Vietnam, particularly on congested roadways. The city traffic is crazy, but if you take the time to study the road rules—and they are there—you’re unlikely to get into more than the occasional low-speed collisions. . You can ride a 50cc motorcycle without a license, but it is preferable to take the time to familiarize yourself with the local traffic laws. Electric cycles are becoming more popular, but I personally dislike them as they make no sound you can find yourself in the lap of a pedestrian who wasn’t paying attention.

I don’t need a pickle, all I need is a motorcycle. Racing Bike.

My personal preference for a motorcycle is something around the 150cc mark. The roads are so busy that you will not have the opportunity to go fast. This size also accommodates my weight and gives enough “zip” when you need it. Yamaha verse Honda is a topic that can be debated by the locals, seemingly for hours. And the best way to choose which is for you is to rent until you are ready to buy.

The weather is hot in Vietnam but this is no reason to not dress safely for riding. At the very least, please wear a helmet ( Mandatory by law ) and cover your feet and wear long trousers and a jacket. Most people who come to live in Vietnam who end up owning a motorcycle will be in an accident sooner or later.

Get your Vietnamese driver’s license. International driver’s licenses are not accepted here, whatever you hear. It is not difficult and you can organize an interpreter to help translate. I only had to do the practical, as I had completed my theory in my home country.

Hustles and Scams and Beggars.

9 ) Hustles and Scams. There seem to be fewer hustles and scams around at the moment, and that may have something to do with the government trying to raise the level of foreign tourists coming into the country. But they still exist and these are the most common ones.

Getting short-changed on your bill. This is the most common one to be aware of and the one that is most easily fixed. It doesn’t take much to learn the native currency which is the “dong”. After converting your money to dong you will no doubt become an instant “dong” millionaire. The exchange rate for one US dollar is 23,712 dong. To be an instant “dong” millionaire you only need $45.00 US. To stop being scammed install a money converter ( I use XE) or work put roughly the conversion rates on each purchase. After a while, you know that $1.00 works out to be about 20,000 dong.

Download your XE Money converter.

And get used to the look of each denomination. A 20,000 dong note can, in the dark, look similar to a 500,000 dong note.

Taxis. These have become much less normal than before. After entering a taxi please make sure that they turn on the meter. I have heard many stories about people being charged huge amounts for short trips. And I too was ripped off when I first came to Vietnam, even though the meter was on. The driver said 500,000 when it should have been only 50,000 dong.

Just being aware of the conversion rate will nip these little scams in the bud.

The latest scam I almost got caught up in was going to Thailand, and it was at the Thailand end. Someone took my luggage off the conveyer belt and had surrounded it with their own luggage. I guess they hoped that I would give up looking and then they would walk out of the airport with my stuff. The ground staff was quite helpful but it was by me looking that my luggage was found. Be aware of your luggage and try to get to the baggage terminal as quickly as possible after your plane lands.

With most scams and hustles you can easily avoid being the victim by being aware of your surroundings and taking precautions whenever necessary.

Whether you decide to give money to a beggar is up to you, but there are a lot of scams wrapped up in this. I have seen young babies being passed around from “mother” to ‘mother” to endlessly parade around the foreigner while the “mother” says “baby hungry”.

I have seen beggars dragging themselves down the street only to have a “miracle” happen and they can suddenly walk again with your cash. I am not saying every beggar is a liar, but it is very hard to pick. And if you do wish to donate it is far better to choose a credible organization like Vietnam Red Cross.

Natural Disasters.

10). Although Vietnam is not prone to earthquakes, volcanoes, or wildfires, low-lying areas can be impacted by torrential monsoonal rains and rare typhoons. Although the infrastructure in the cities where ex-pats are likely to reside is sufficient to prevent catastrophic floods, large storms frequently cause temporary road closures, toppled trees, and broken electric lines.

Flooding that occurs in Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City may not be resolved for several days. When picking a spot to live in these places, it is best to take into account sites less prone to flooding. There is something very annoying about having to push your motorcycle the last 100 meters through local floods until you arrive home.


11). When taking any photos it is always polite to ask before you start shooting anything. How would you feel if someone pushed a camera in your face and started taking photos without even a “please”

Not every photo should be taken, Although you can take pictures of the majority of things in Vietnam, there are a few things you should never take pictures of.

Anything associated with the military is included in this. Don’t even consider photographing the Vietnamese military since you can get fined heavily or worse. Refrain from taking photos of key locations and military installations, such as border areas, military camps, bridges, airports, navy dockyards, and even train stations. Anyone caught snapping photos near these locations runs the danger of having their camera’s memory card confiscated or receiving a fine.

Normally you will see signs where you can’t take photos, but if there are no signs still be cautious. If it has anything to do with the military, do not take the shot.

Also, do not take any photos from your flight when flying over Vietnam, and do not take any photos of “Ho Chi Minhs” mausoleum. If in doubt, ask.

Undetonated Bombs.

12). If you are traveling in the center of Vietnam and are walking outside be aware there are still a lot of unexploded bombs around. My Son, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, is still surrounded by many unexploded bombs. However, if you keep on the well-laid-out paths you will have no problems.

A number of local farmers, metal scavengers, or children are killed or maimed each year in the once-called “Demilitarized Zone,” where unexploded munitions from previous battles are still a concern.

Because so many landmines and bombs are still present and unexploded, problems continue to arise.

So, no matter where you are, stay on well-traveled paths and avoid touching any shells or partially buried metal objects.

Final Thoughts.

Vietnamese people are generally very law-abiding, and Vietnam has a comparatively low crime rate. Petty crime happens but violent crime is rare. In the large cities, there is some thievery. In some rural areas, there is also some banditry, illegal drug use, and insurgency activity. In general, violent crime does not target foreigners. If they are and the culprits are apprehended, they face serious punishment.

Police and other authorities don’t bother foreigners much unless you have done something wrong or are requesting help.

Southeast Asia is known for having one of the lowest crime rates, and Vietnam is no exception. In Vietnam, drug use and prostitution are both widespread. Ho Chi Minh City has a problem with petty crime that is mostly opportunistic, but in general, crime in Vietnam does not harm tourists or foreigners. Criminals who involve or target foreigners face harsh penalties and normally do not bother them.

Relax and enjoy your stay and by using the above advice you will make sure your stay is event free with only the good times remembered.

You may wish to also look at “Is Vietnam Safe to Travel

And also “Etiquette in Vietnam

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.


Holidays in Halong Bay

When you are in Vietnam, make sure you visit one of the 7 wonders of the world. Halong Bay is captivating and this will help you decide what to do.

Holiday in Halong Bay, Vietnam.

You have time off from your busy schedule. Whether a teacher on holiday or a tourist traveling around Vietnam, you can not miss Halong Bay. This is a “bucket list” must-do travel experience. Mind-blowing scenery awaits you when you visit Halong Bay.

Being recognized as one of the top 7 natural wonders of the world, Halong Bay is a UNESCO natural world heritage site situated in Vietnam. It is famous for its clear water and limestone islands. The bay also has caves that are said to be the most beautiful in the world, some of which you can swim inside.

The bay is located in the Gulf of Tonkin, which separates Vietnam from China. The bay has about 1000 limestone islands and some of them have been turned into resorts and hotels. Visitors can enjoy swimming, kayaking, biking, and hiking on these islands.

The bay’s name comes from the vernacular “hào long” which means “where there are caves”. Halong Bay has about 2000 limestone karsts and islands, many of which are still uninhabited today. These 1,900 large and small limestone islands cover an area of 1,553 square kilometers and they have many vivid shapes that make them a photographers dream.


Halong Bay Formation.

The seascape, which has towering limestone formations and emerald lakes, dates back more than 500 million years. Contrary to popular belief, the bay was not formed by volcanic activity but rather by plate movement or tectonic action.

The present-day Ha Long Bay is the outcome of long-term geological evolution that was impacted by numerous variables. Halong Bay has undergone extraordinary historical development in addition to 500 million years of geological evolution.

Tens of thousands of years ago, according to historical research surveys, prehistoric humans lived in this region. And in more recent history Vietnamese sailors used it as a shelter from storms in the Gulf of Tonkin in the 17th century.

And Now.

The development of Ha Long tourism is further aided by the sophisticated transportation infrastructure. Ha Long has experienced exceptionally rapid economic expansion throughout time. A high level is invested synchronously in the infrastructure and facility system. As a result, when you visit Ha Long, it will undoubtedly satisfy all of your needs in terms of recreation, shopping, dining, etc.

The first-class provincial city of Quang Ninh Province and well-known as a tourism haven in the Northern area is Ha Long, which is around 180 kilometers from Hanoi. Halong Vietnam used to draw millions of domestic and foreign tourists each year because of its advantageous position (Next to Halong Bay). Covid made a dent in those numbers and improved them by reducing the number of tourists. However, in my opinion, this is going to change shortly, so you should act early to benefit from excellent prices and fewer tourists.

Times to Visit.

Ha Long’s climate varies from month to month, and each season has its own unique characteristics. You should carefully examine the weather forecast before setting off on your journey because of this. You can choose from the following times to travel to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam:

From April to June: This is the best time for you to take a Ha Long tour to escape the stress of everyday life. Right now, it’s nice and mainly sunny outside. As a result, it is perfect for sightseeing or spending time in the sun at some gorgeous beaches with your family and friends.

The busiest time of year is from June to August when plenty of families bring their kids to this city for the summer. As a result, both the demand for travel and the cost of accommodations and services rise. So, if you want to travel cheaply, you need to establish a particular plan in advance.

From late November to Tet Holiday (around February): This is when Ha Long Bay in Vietnam often receives a significant influx of foreign visitors. It is comparatively less congested than during the peak season, giving you more personal space to enjoy Ha Long tourism to its fullest.

On and Off the Path.

There is a whole range of different things you can do and this along with some “” information will help you plan that dream holiday. You can add things that take you off the path and show you a bit more of how the locals live and also add the “must-see” destinations that are normally mainstream.

Stay on a Junk.

You might not be aware of the wide range of choices while booking a hotel in Halong Bay.

Of course, you can stay at a conventional hotel, but if you’d prefer something different, you can also spend the night on a boat.

There are a lot of boats that double as hotels, and you can pick from big cruise ships to little, old-fashioned junks. It has been about 20 years since I last stayed on a “Junk” while sailing around Halong bay. And when I say Junk, I mean a palatial boat with my room totally laid out with Jade walling and all the modern conveniences you would expect in a 5-star hotel. And this was 20 years ago.

So if you want a full-on one-of-a-kind hotel experience in Halong Bay staring at the stars from the boat’s deck while dozing off to the sounds of the waves, This is it.

Lan Ha Bay

Due to the popularity of Halong Bay as a tourist attraction in Vietnam, many of the islands get congested during the summer months.

In light of this, you might wish to visit Lan Ha Bay if you want to explore a more sedate area of the surrounding islands.

There are many activities available on the island, such as swimming, rock climbing, and sea kayaking. And the island alone is well noted for its white sandy beaches.

If you want to witness a piece of history, don’t miss this because it is one of Vietnam’s oldest floating residential neighborhoods.

Ban Sen Island.

The place to go if you’re seeking adventure is Ban Sen Island.

This island in Halong Bay is one of the less popular ones and is covered in dense vegetation.

Take a ferry from Cai Rong to Quan Lan to get here, and then start your hike from there.

There are several guides in the area who can show you the frequently unmarked paths and regale you with tales of the island’s flora and fauna.

Visit Hospital Cave.

If you like recent history you may wish to visit hospital Cave, it served as a covert medical facility during the Vietnam War as it was hidden from view and bombing.

It was constructed between 1963 and 1965 and utilized by leaders of the Viet Cong as well. It is around 10 kilometers from Cat Ba Town and was still in use in 1975.

A tour guide will take you around the 17 rooms spread across three stories, and you can even visit the operation area in addition to the cinema and swimming pool.

Rent a Sea Plane.

Consider booking a seaplane tour if you want to splurge out and explore Halong Bay from above.

There is no better way to view the karst formations that are famous in this region of Vietnam than from the air.

The seaplane rides in Halong Bay will lift you 300 meters above the water and allow you to fly over a number of noteworthy locations, including Dau Go Cave, Tuan Chau Island, and many others.

Kayaking at Monkey island.

If you want to take a boat tour in Halong Bay, Monkey Island, also known as Cat Dua in Vietnamese, is a terrific location.

A lovely private beach is available here, where you can spend your time tanning on the white sand or swimming and snorkeling in the clear waters. This is a great place to relax or do something more adventurous.

If you’re feeling brave, you can also go sea kayaking here or trek the entire length of the island because there are so many beautiful trails that take you through the thick vegetation.

And so much more.

Halong Bay is a must-stop area when you visit Vietnam or if you are working here and have never visited. There is something for everyone and more for you to do than I can write about. Here are just some of the other things you can do as well.

  • Explore Me Cung Cave
  • Travel to Monkey Island
  • Travel to the shrine at Virgin Cave
  • Hike around Cat Ba National Park
  • Check out Fighting Cocks Island
  • Go night squid fishing
  • Visit Lan Ha Bay
  • Shop at Cat Ba Island Market
  • Dine on a seafood barbecue
  • Travel to Dau Be Island
  • Tour Cannon Fort
  • Go cliff walking at Cat Co 3
  • Hike on Ban Sen Island
  • Sleep on a boat
  • Shop at Bai Chay Market
  • Visit Hospital Cave
  • Grab a drink at the bia hoi stalls
  • Take a sea plane
  • Go kayaking around the karst formations

Final Thoughts.

I have lived and traveled extensively throughout Vietnam over the last 15 years. Ans Halong bay is one of my favorite places in Vietnam for its magnificent otherworldly scenery. It is a photographers delight and you will be amazed at the opportunities you will get.

After traveling extensively around Vietnam, has never caused any problems for me and I have used it for all my travel arrangements.

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

A Guide to Visiting Vietnam | Introduction.

Work and Play in Vietnam

I have lived in Vietnam teaching for over 15 years and I have found this country and its people to be enthralling, captivating, frustrating, and challenging. But I have never found it to be boring. Whether you come here for a holiday or to teach, or a mixture of both, I can promise that you will have adventures that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

From the simplicity of sitting on plastic chairs on a footpath, surrounded by Vietnamese workers on their way home from work and slurping down bowls of soup. To the experience of cruising on a 5-star “Junk” taking in the scenery of the awe-inspiring karst seascape of Halong bay. Your senses will be on overload.

It is appreciated by the locals if before your visit you have made some attempt to understand a little about the people, their culture and country. This will give you a quick overview and feel of the country before you arrive.

The Hue Citadel.

A Brief History of Vietnam.

Viet Nam is located in a region considered the cradle of mankind. An early agricultural center practicing rice farming, where stone and metallurgical inventions began

The Vietnamese people had to cope with various foreign aggressors. During 12 centuries through to the 3rd century B.C until the late 20th century, the Vietnamese had to cope with multiple struggles against foreign aggression.

From war with China over trade and land to the French trying to dominate with missionaries and trade and on to Japan after WW11 who were used to “police” Vietnam, all the way through to the Vietnamese American war.

Vietnam has been forged in the flames of battle. And like the bamboo they sway and bend but ultimately come back stronger than before. Even with such a violent background, The Vietnamese have remained a proud and gracious people.

Custom, Culture, and Etiquette.

The family is the glue that holds Vietnam together. It is not uncommon to find 3 or 4 generations all living under one roof. Many families strive for a large number of children and grandchildren under the belief that “more children equals more fortune.” Confucianism and the feudal notion of masculine domination have an influence on them. In the household, men play the most significant roles and are always in charge.

In the household, men play the most significant roles and are always in charge. he “three obediences and four virtues” of feudal ethics—obedience to one’s father during childhood, one’s husband during marriage, and one’s sons during widowhood—shape women. The four virtues are diligence, good manners, proper speech, and morality.

However, the traditionally male-dominated viewpoints have greatly weakened, and equality is now the norm (at least in urban areas).

there are things that are unique to Vietnam that are polite and impolite, it is well worth the time and possible embarrassment saved to take a few minutes and read my post on “Etiquette in Vietnam” It is only a 4-minute read and may save you a lot more than just embarrassment.

Weather and Climate and Best Times to Visit.

Covid has certainly put a dent in the tourism industry worldwide and Vietnam has suffered from a lack of tourists just like most other countries. The only good thing to come out of this is the quietness of so many normally busy tourist spots.

Unlike many people, the rain does not bother me. This is just as well in Vietnam as you can go from a sunny day to a torrential downpour in minutes. There is nothing like seeing hundreds of motorcycles scuttling to the side of the road so the driver and passengers can don ponchos and raincoats. When it rains in Vietnam it can be like driving in a bucket of water. And much of Vietnam is barely above the water level so expect to get flooded.

I can still remember the first time I was caught in a downpour on my motorcycle. The water was halfway up the wheels and driving was impossible. And having a snake swim past me was the icing on the cake.

So if you aren’t fond of rain here is a rain and weather chart for Vietnam so you can plan your holiday accordingly.

The chart is in Fahrenheit and inches

The chart is in Fahrenheit and inches.

Top 11 Cities in Vietnam by Population.

The 66th-largest nation in the world is Vietnam. And this nation is the 15th most populated in the globe with a population of about 94 million. Vietnam only has six cities with a population of more than 1,000,000 people which surprises a lot of people considering the total population.

With a population of more than 8.6 million, Ho Chi Minh City is the biggest city in the nation. And Hanoi is the second-largest city with over 4.7 million people but is still well behind Ho Chi Minh City in terms of size. Statistics from: Statistic Times.

The nation contains 32 cities with at least 100,000 citizens and an additional 51 cities with populations between 10,000 and 100,00. With the rest of the population living in rural areas.

Not all the cities, in my opinion, are worth visiting. But some are definitely worthwhile investigating. Starting with the top 11 cities by population, I am going to separate the corn from the chaff. There are also many sites that are not cities that we will look at over the coming weeks. So buckle up, lets start with some of my favorites.

From this list we are going to look at 3 cities. Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Vung Tau.


The attractive capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, has aged well, maintaining the Old Quarter, monuments, and colonial architecture while creating places for new construction. Although the city has dropped many of its previous names, including Thang Long, or “ascending dragon,”

it hasn’t lost its history, as seen in places like Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Hoa Lo Prison. More than 600 temples and pagodas, as well as lakes, parks, and shady boulevards, add to the charm of this city, which may be conveniently toured by cab.

Things to do.

From a $10.00 walking tour to an upscale visit of Halong Bay there are many sights to see in Hanoi. The walking tour takes about 3 hours and covers Hanoi’s lively Old Quarter of nearly 40 streets packed with shops selling all kinds of goods, each street named for its primary good or service.

You can take public or private transport to Halong Bay from Hanoi, and it is well worth the time. Tours on the Junks are usually for 2 to 3 nights and are around the $200 mark. There are around 1,600 islands and islets that makeup Ha Long Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, creating an amazing panorama of limestone pillars.

Most of the islands are abandoned and undisturbed by human habitation due to their precipitous nature and are surrounded by emerald waters and thousands of tall limestone islands covered in rainforests. Visitors can travel on junk boat tours and enjoy sea kayak excursions. Scuba diving, rock climbing, and hiking are popular activities in the area, especially in the hilly Cát Bà National Park.

Ho Chi Minh City.

My home, on and off for the last 15 years, is a bustling metropolis that never sleeps. Ho Chi Minh City, the main hub of the southern region, is teeming with activity, innovation, and transportation. It is also the economic center of Vietnam. The dynamic cityscape of HCMC unites the old and new Vietnam in the smallest of areas, symbolizing both the past and the future of the city.

The Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office, and Bitexco Financial Tower are some of the city’s most well-known tourist attractions, making District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City undoubtedly the most populated district. Hotels, restaurants, cafes, and bars abound in this region as well.

Things to do.

Discover the Saigon Opera House, the Central Post Office, and the Notre Dame Cathedral by strolling down Dong Khoi street. Local attractions include the Jade Emperor Pagoda and Benh Thành Market.

Take the locals’ advice and climb onto the back of a motorcycle to explore the city from the ground up and experience its vibrant pulse. You can take motorbike trips at dusk and travel around the city when the nightlife starts to buzz. Evening is also a time when the street vendors open their stalls and you can buy anything from Levi jeans to steaming bowls and plates of food.

Locals in Ho Chi Minh City enjoy congregating around kiddie-sized plastic tables and dented metal tables for fantastic roadside feasts. Highlights include bánh mi, savory pancakes made in the tradition of the South (bánh xèo), and broken rice.

Or if the mood hits you, you can take a boat to Vung Tau which is a coastal city that is close to HCMC. It has a couple of beautiful beaches and some great seafood. However, on long weekends it is packed out with residents from HCMC escaping the heat and noise of our bustling city.

Vung Tau.

Vung Tau is the perfect weekend escape from HCMC and is even better if you can get there through the quieter weekdays. Prices to get there are cheap and accommodation ranges for all budgets. You can get there by bus with prices ranging from $7.00 to $15.00 for luxury minivans with WiFi or you can catch a high-speed ferry that will whisk you there in less than 2 hours. The cost for this express service is around the $18.00 US mark. Catching the bus will take around 3-4 hours depending on stops and traffic.

Vũng Tàu is a port city and is situated on a peninsula in southern Vietnam to the east of HCMC. It was once a French colonial settlement but is now a well-known beach destination with hydrofoil transportation bringing many people from Ho Chi Minh City. With the lush Small Mountain and Big Mountain serving as a backdrop, it features a long, crowded stretch of sandy shoreline that includes Front Beach and Pineapple Beach. It is simple to navigate, and it takes only 15-20 minutes to walk from the front beach to the back beach. There are several restaurants, offering both a wide variety of regional seafood and a fair selection of western cuisine.

Things to do.

The name of the game is relaxation. Soak up the sun and fill up on the food. for those more adventurous spirits, there are a whole range of day trips and also kayak and canoe tours. Additionally, you may take a day trip to some of the most stunning beaches in southern Vietnam, stopping along the way to see a local dragon fruit farm and nature reserve. While there, you can enjoy the tranquil surroundings and a fantastic Vietnamese meal with a local family.

Vung Tau is best known for its nightlife.  And there is a good selection of clubs and bars that cater to all. After a day of relaxation and eating you can let your hair down in the myriad of bars that are open through the night at Vung Tau. Clubs range from the loud to the lewd. With perennial favorites like Matildas, Vung Tau beach club, Peace and Love, The black pearl bar, vitamin C2 Beer club and so many more.

Vung Tau is a party town and the daytime is recovery time. A lot of the older ex-pats end up retiring here for the laid-back lifestyle and cheap living.

Final Thoughts.

This is an introduction to what sights and experiences you can have in Vietnam. More in-depth blogs have been written and will be continued to be updated under this section of my website.

Whether you are an ESL teacher looking to get away for a holiday or a tourist on a limited time and or budget, this should help you. I will expand over the coming weeks as to what I see as the best places to visit during your time in Vietnam.

A bit of knowledge goes a long way in making your trips a lot more enjoyable. If you have any questions, I am happy to provide answers to make things easier.


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There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.


How to Travel around Vietnam easily and safely.

Traveling around Vietnam.

Vietnam’s transportation network is improving, however, it is still a touch rough around the edges. 

The majority of travel takes place on roads, which are generally OK, but you may get a few potholes here and there.  Air-conditioned coaches transport visitors and locals up and down Highway 1.

Highway 1 is a small and unsurprisingly congested thoroughfare that stretches from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, passing through Hué, Da Nang, and Nha Trang along the way.

 Off the beaten path, the roads are less friendly. Quite often you will find winding dirt roads and tight narrow alleyways if you are riding a motorbike or traveling around town on a Xe-Om. (Motorbike Taxi)

Trains operate alongside Highway 1, and for longer journeys, their sleeper beds are significantly more comfortable than buses. 

Airline services are expanding, and the low-cost, comfortable services may allow you to shave days off your plan. 

Let us have a bit more of a look.

Planes, trains, and automobiles. (and Boats)

Coaches and Cars and Motorbikes.



Although Vietnam’s congested, narrow roads are not designed for overtaking, nearly every vehicle is either overtaking or being overtaken at any one time, and accidents ( And fatalities) are common.

Most routes now have fixed-price tickets, and the introduction of luxury buses on the main tourist route has seen comfort standards soar. Many buses have sleeper-berths for the entire route on the longer stretches, though obtaining 40 winks might be difficult. 

Why, because the nature of local roads ( and bladder requirements) means that emergency stops are regular, and Vietnamese drivers frequently blast their horns, which can become annoying after a lengthy stop-filled trip.

Security is still a major consideration. Always sleep with your bag at your side and never leave valuables unattended if you travel by coach. Petty crime such as theft is common and quite often done by local ex-pats as well as Vietnamese criminals.


Hiring a personal driver is not expensive in Vietnam. Yes, it is more expensive but not exorbitant. An example of this would be traveling from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau, a coastal town close to H.C.M.C., which would cost about 2,000,000 dong or about $90.00 US. Not bad for a 2-hour journey of 61 miles.


Xe-oms used to be the go-to for traveling around town if you can cope with the heat and traffic. However, Grab has made big inroads into the local Xe-Oms business, mainly because they are cheaper and safer. 

Two dollars will get you from one side of the city to another, so if you are on a budget download the local grab app.

Hiring Motorbikes.

If you want to play Russian road roulette you can hire a motorbike. Unless you have lived here for a while or are a very experienced driver, I would not recommend it. 

But there are many places you can hire from. And most only need a copy of your passport and cash upfront. Do not leave your passport.

If you want a trustworthy person to speak to in H.C.M.C. I would recommend Stevie’s garage. He not only provides rentals but also sells quality second-hand motorcycles.

Road Rules

Because of the chaos that passes for a traffic system in Vietnam you should not venture out onto the roads until you’re completely sure of your ability to do so. 

In theory, you should drive on the right, but in fact, drivers and cyclists will drive on sidewalks and duck in and out of traffic as fast as they can. 

Using the “horn” on the car or motorbike is a normal occurrence and is used to warn others where you are. So do not freak out when you are walking or driving down the road and you hear a loud “BEEP” 

The normal speed limit on highways is 60 km/h, while in cities or towns it is 40 km/h or less. And if you get up to these speeds in rush hour, hats off to you. The traffic here is frantic. 

Get your Licence

I have had friends who have had their motorcycles confiscated because of no paperwork. Do not become one of them. 

You can find out more about getting your license in Vietnam in my postHow to teach English in Vietnam”


Fewer passengers choose the railway over tour buses, mainly because of the lower prices and consistent service of traveling by coach. But rail travel is definitely worth considering for a variety of reasons. 

For starters, main highways are usually dotted with run-down cafés, gas stations, snack stalls, and cell phone shops which the bus companies may have an affiliation with. So stopping in some cases is compulsory. 

However, from the train, you can view some of the countryside. Second, you’ll have a lot fewer close calls with vehicles, motorcycles, and dogs. Third, you’re practically certain to meet a bunch of pleasant locals, and maybe even get invited to join in the feasts that some of them bring on board.


The prices are reasonable by train. HCMC to Hanoi costs between US$35 and US$70, depending on the operator and route, whereas HCMC to Hue costs around US$25. The higher the price, the more stops you add.

You can check out the fares at the Vietnam railway website. however please do not provide credit card details to this site as it is not secure. Please see below. From Google.

This website doesn’t have a valid certificate. The information sent to and from it is not secure and can be intercepted by an attacker or seen by others. There’s a risk to your personal data when sending or receiving information from this site.

If possible, contact the website owner to request that their site protect its data with a secure connection.



On longer journeys, flying comes into its own, saving hours or even days. 

The two-hour flight between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, for example, compares well to the 30 to 40 hours you’d spend on the train. And even longer on a bus. However…

With Vietnam’s extensive domestic aircraft network, getting around the country has never been easier.

Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang International Airport in Da Nang are the three major international hub airports in Vietnam.


Domestic flights in Vietnam are currently operated by the following four airlines:

Vietnam Airlines is the country’s national carrier.

Low-cost carrier VietJet Air is dependable for short-haul flights.

Jetstar is a low-cost carrier founded by Vietnam Airlines in collaboration with Australia’s Qantas.

Vasco is a Vietnam Airlines subsidiary that specializes in very short-haul flights. It is used by those who wish to travel around Vietnam’s southern region.

And there are many regional airports in Vietnam with connecting services and taxis waiting to take you to your accommodation.

There are 33 Airports in Vietnam and this link covers all these 33 Vietnam Airports. Find Airport Information about airport to airport distance, airport to city distance, Current Time and Date at airport Vietnam, etc… at ..Airport lists in Vietnam

Boats, Ferries, and hydrofoils.

There are some places where you can catch a boat or a ferry or even a hydrofoil. And it can be a lot of fun.

One of the most amazing adventures in Vietnam is a boat tour of Ha Long Bay. Others include scheduled year-long runs,  weather allowing, to the key islands off Vietnam’s coast, such as Phu Quoc, Cat Ba, and Con Dao. 

Ferry and hydrofoil services are also available from Hai Phong to Cat Ba, as well as hydrofoils from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau and Ha Long City to Mong Cai and Bai Tu Long. 

River Ferries

A few river ferries still carry people from bank to bank in the Mekong from morning to night, despite being steadily superseded by bridges.

I have gone from high-end cruises to small boats on the riverways, and one of my most memorable occasions was sailing down the river in Tra Vinh with my wife and two friends. All at a ridiculously low price.

You can find out prices and more information at Vietnam Open Tour. But once again please do not provide credit card details as it is an unsecured site. OK to look, but do not provide personal information, please.

This website doesn’t have a valid certificate. The information sent to and from it is not secure and can be intercepted by an attacker or seen by others. There’s a risk to your personal data when sending or receiving information from this site.

If possible, contact the website owner to request that their site protect its data with a secure connection.



Whatever way you want to travel around Vietnam is dependant on cost and how adept you are at integrating and socializing with others. 

Be open to new experiences and share how you feel with your new Vietnamese friends, and try to learn a little language before you visit. 

Here is a link to my Happy New Year Phrases in Vietnamese.


My name is Stephen and I am the author and owner of Vietnam ESL 

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