Are you traveling to Vietnam soon? Does travel planning take so much of your time and effort?
Our Vietnam Travel Planner will guide you step-by-step on how to plan a trip to Vietnam. This article will be useful whether it’s your first time visiting Vietnam or the 10th time.
1. How Long Do You Plan to Visit Vietnam?
First, decide how many days you have for your trip to Vietnam.
With two weeks in Vietnam or more, you could travel from the north to the south of Vietnam, seeing different places.
Note: Check out the most beautiful places in Vietnam for your Vietnam itinerary.
2. Think About Your Budget
Vietnam is great for any budget. Keeping your budget in mind helps you choose where to stay, what to eat, and what to do without overspending.
If you’re looking to save, street food and hostels are your friends. For a bit more comfort, there are mid-range hotels and restaurants.
And if you’re splurging, luxury resorts and fine dining can be found, especially in bigger cities and tourist spots.
Don’t forget to budget for activities, like tours and entrance fees to attractions.
3. Who Are You Going With?
Do you travel with your partner, friends, or family? Or are you traveling solo to Vietnam? The people you travel with can affect your plans, like where you stay and what activities you pick.
Solo travelers might enjoy the freedom of a motorbike journey or join group tours to meet others.
Couples can look for romantic getaways in places like Ha Long Bay.
Families might prefer destinations with a mix of culture and relaxation, like Da Nang and its nearby beaches.
4. What Do You Want to Do?
What are you looking forward to in Vietnam? Whether it’s exploring cities, relaxing on beaches, or hiking in nature, knowing what you like helps you pick your spots.
- Are you into history? Don’t miss the ancient town of Hoi An and the imperial city of Hue.
- Love nature? The mountains of Ha Giang and the caves in Phong Nha are must-sees.
- Beach lover? Nha Trang and Phu Quoc have beautiful sandy shores.
My rule of thumb is to select a few key places to visit in Vietnam. It’s tempting to see everything, but traveling takes time.
For a first trip, major spots like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Long Bay, and Hoi An can give you a taste of what Vietnam has to offer.
5. Look Up the Weather
Vietnam’s weather varies from north to south.
The north has four seasons, while the south is warmer year-round. The central coast has a rainy season from September to December.
Check the weather for the places you want to visit to decide the best time to visit Vietnam.
Generally, spring (March-April) and autumn (September-October) are good times to visit most of Vietnam.
6. Check Your Passport and Visa
Make sure your passport doesn’t expire within six months of your planned return date.
For visas, you may get an e-visa online or a visa exemption, but it depends on your nationality.
Check out my Vietnam visa guide for more information. The rules can change, so it’s good to check the latest info.
7. Book Your Flights
Start looking for flights early to snag the best deals. Websites like Skyscanner or Google Flights can help you compare prices.
Consider flying into one city and out of another if you’re planning to cover a lot of ground, like flying into Hanoi and out of Ho Chi Minh City, to save time and backtracking.
Vietjet Air and Jetstar usually have a promotion, and the price is lower than Vietnam Airlines. However, it’s common that your flights may get delayed around 30 minutes or more with them.
8. Book Your Accommodations
Vietnam offers a wide range of accommodations, from budget hostels to luxury resorts.
For popular destinations or during peak travel seasons, it’s wise to book your accommodations in advance. This makes sure you get the best selection and prices.
For off-the-beaten-path adventures, you might have more flexibility with booking on the go.
9. Plan How You’ll Get Around Vietnam
Vietnam is well-connected by a network of buses, trains, and domestic flights.
The train journey along the coast from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City is scenic and offers sleeper options.
Buses are economical and reach most destinations. Consider renting a motorbike for local explorations if you’re comfortable riding.
And if you’re short on time but want to see both ends of the country, consider booking a domestic flight.
Renting motorbikes is popular among travelers for the freedom it offers, especially in rural areas. Make sure you’re aware of the local traffic laws and have the necessary driving permits.
10. Book travel tours
As Vietnam is relatively cheap, you can find budget-friendly tours starting at $15. Luxurious tours such as Ha Long Bay Deluxe Cruise can cost $50 or more.
If you’re interested in visiting islands in Vietnam, booking a tour may be the best idea because it’s difficult and expensive to rent a boat on your own.
Also, taking a tour will be a great option if you travel alone and want a companion.
Here are some recommended tours:
- Ha Long Bay Deluxe Cruise from Ha Noi
- Cu Chi Tunnels Half-day tour from Saigon
- Ba Na Hills day trip from Da Nang
- Hoa Lu – Tam Coc day trip from Ha Noi
- Can Gio tour
11. Buy a SIM card
Although you can find free Wi-Fi in public places such as coffee shops and shopping malls in big cities, buying a SIM card or eSIM is more convenient when traveling to Vietnam.
This gives you access to mobile data at affordable rates, making it easier to navigate, translate, and stay in touch.
Some stands at the airport offer SIM cards, but ordering one online is much more convenient.
12. Pack your luggage
What to pack for Vietnam? Vietnam’s diverse climate means packing can be tricky.
Lightweight and breathable clothes are best for the south, while the north may require layers, especially if you’re visiting in winter.
Don’t forget a good pair of walking shoes, as you’ll likely do a lot of walking. Rain gear can be essential, depending on the season.
You can easily buy sun cream, shampoo, toothbrushes, and toothpaste in Vietnam at convenience stores, so you don’t need to pack them.
If you need any specific medicine, bring them along. For women, it can be challenging to buy tampons or menstrual cups in Vietnam.
- Vaccinations: Check with your doctor or a travel clinic well in advance of your trip about recommended vaccinations for Vietnam, such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid.
- Travel Insurance: Always get travel insurance that covers medical emergencies. Vietnam is generally safe, but it’s better to be prepared for any situation, including theft or accidents, especially if you plan on riding motorbikes.
14. Prepare money
In Vietnam, Cash is a King. The Vietnamese currency is Vietnam Dong (VND).
Depending on your budget and travel style, the amount of money needed for your Vietnam trip may vary.
There are several ATMs and banks in big cities, so withdrawing some cash will not be a big issue. You can also exchange your currency for VND Dong at the banks or jewelry shops.
15. Cultural Insights and Interactions
- Learning the Language: Picking up a few Vietnamese phrases can go a long way in connecting with locals. Simple greetings, thank yous, and numbers can improve your market experiences and daily interactions.
- Respect the Culture: Don’t forget to show respect at religious or historical sites by dressing modestly and following any posted guidelines.
- Connect with Locals: Consider homestays, local-guided tours, or cooking classes to gain deeper insights into Vietnamese life and culture.
16. Food and Drink
Each region has its specialties, like bun cha in Hanoi or Cao Lau in Hoi An. Street food tours can be a great way to taste a variety of dishes.
So, where to eat? You should look for busy places with lots of locals — a sign of good food.
Apps like TripAdvisor and Google Maps can help you find highly-rated eateries. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path for authentic culinary experiences.
17. Check your travel documents
Before departure, you should recheck all your travel documents: passport, visa, insurance, and other required travel documents such as booking confirmation.
We recommend storing those documents as PDF files on your USB, laptop or Drive so you can access them remotely.
Also, it would be best to recheck your flight schedule to ensure it departs on time.
18. Prepare for your flight
Airsickness is a real problem for some people. It can make you feel nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and dizziness.
If you have airsickness, you should eat a light meal before boarding, use anti-nausea drugs or natural remedies, and choose the right seat.
When on the plane, you should avoid reading or staring at the electronic screen for a long because it may worsen the symptoms.
Also, buying a soft travel pillow for neck support is a good idea if it’s a long flight from your departure destination to Vietnam.
Now you’re ready for your trip to Vietnam! If you have any questions, feel free to comment below, and we will answer.