Vietnam

Vietnam

1. General Information

Vietnam is situated in South-East-Asia in the eats of Laos. With it’s innumerable national parcs that offer untouched nature and wildlife, the long coastline and the Mekong Delta, Vietnam is the perfect destination for nature lovers. 

  • population: 95’415’000
  • area: 331’690 km²
  • time zone: UTC +7
  • famous native animals: giant catfish, bat, turtle, crocodile, elephant, tiger, collar bear, several monkeys

2. Language

The official language of Vietnam is vietnamese. Some people, especially the young also speak a little english. When visiting Vietnam adjust to not beeing able to have real conversations with most locals as most of them don’t speak any english and you probably don’t master vietnamese as well. But don’t matter. We were mostly able to communicate with a mixture of english and sign language. To not get surprised you should at least know the tradicional food and its ingredients. It will ease ordering food a lot. Nevertheless, most people in hotels and tourist agencies speak some english.

3. Money Issues

The official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), 1$ = 23325VND. There are ATM’s in every town where you can withdraw your money. Note that the maximum amount of withdrawable money is 2’500’000 VND (~107$). At the ATM’s you always get notes of 200’000 or 500’000 VND. Make sure to change these “big” notes into smaller ones e.g. in shopping malls or bigger supermarkets as small shops and street stalls only accept small bank notes. You can only pay directly by creditcard in hotels, hostels and bigger shops.

4. Safety

Vietnam is a quiet safe country. With common sense you won’t have problems. But nevertheless always be aware of pick-pockets and respect the people and the culture. Most people we met were friendly and tried to help us.

5. Transportation

Public transport in Vietnam is very easy. In bigger cities there are regular buses running through the city. You buy your ticket from the driver or ticket collector. These buses are very cheap but sometimes you need to be “tourist prices”. 

Another option for transportation is the train. There is a train route from Hanoi till Ho-Chi-Minh-City. You can purchase tickets online or directly at the station. Train tickets are more expensive than bus tickets and you can choose between “soft seat” (normal seats), sleepers for 4 person and for 6 person.

Furthermore you can take the famous sleeper buses or shuttle buses by tourist agencies ehich we found was the best and most comfortable way of travelling. These buses are cheaper than the train and as we know the cheapest way for travelling long distances.

6. Itinerary

Hanoi - 2 days

How to get to Hanoi

  • from Nội Bài International Airport:
    • public bus:
      • bus number 7 or 17
      • departure outside arrival hall on the left side
      • cheapest way to get to the city (5000 VND)
      • ~1h drive
    • mini bus:
      • more comfortable
      • ticket price: ~30000VND
      • <1h drive
    • taxi:
      • best option at night
      • costs: ~320000VND
  • from Ninh Binh:
    • train:
      • comfortable option
      • 6 trains every day
      • ~2.5h drive
      • ticket price: from 3$
    • bus:
      • departure from Hanoi bus terminal
      • ~2.5h drive
      • ticket price: 6-14$

Things to do in Hanoi

Hoam Kiem Lake
Water Puppet Theater - Hanoi
Temple of Literature

Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son

  • located in the center of Hanoi
  • temple located over the lake
  • you can see a giant ancient turtle exponated in the temple
  • entrance: ~0.2 $

Water puppet theatre

  • unique tradition of North Vietnam
  • located at Hoan Kiem Lake 
  • there are 5 presentations every day in the afternoon and evening
  • vietnamese spoken
  • must see but better suited for children (very easy story)
  • entrance: 3$

Temple of Literature

  • oldest university of the country
  • contains 5 inner courtyards modeled on Confuzianism
  • entrance: ~0.2$

Accomodations in Hanoi

Cat Ba - 3 days

How to get to Cat Ba

  • from Hanoi:
    • by tourist shuttle:
      • most comfortable and easy way
      • bookable in most hostels
      • shuttle buses pick you up near the hostel and bring you right to the island (ferry included)
      • ~3.5h drive
      • ticket price: 9,5$
  • from Ninh Binh:
    • by tourist shuttle:
      • most comfortable and easy way
      • bookable in hostels or tourist offices
      • shuttle buses pick you up at the hostel (some even in Tam Coc) and bring you right to the island (ferry included)
      • ~6h drive
      • ticket price: ~9$

Things to do on Cat Ba

View from Cannon Fort - Cat Ba
Halong Bay
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Cannon Fort

  • located a 30 minutes walk up the hill away from the harbour
  • you can see the whole bay from there
  • includes a small museum about vietnam war
  • best go there at sunset to catch a beautiful view
  • entrance: ~1.7$

Halong Bay

  • you can book tours everywhere in town
  • most tours include swimming and kajaking stop + lunch + stop at monkey island
  • beautiful views around the bay
  • entrance: ~21$

Cat Ba National Parc

  • ~ 30 minutes drive away from harbour -> rent scooter or take a taxi (16$ return)
  • on the way to the parc you can visit Trung Trang cave 
  • one trail through the parc to two viewpoints (peak walk)
  • walking time ~ 3h
  • entrance: ~1.7$

Accomodations on Cat Ba

Tam Coc - 2 days

How to get to Tam Coc

  • from Hanoi:
    • by train:
      • comfortable option
      • 6 trains every day
      • ~2.5h drive
      • ticket price: from 3$
      • by tuktukor taxi to Tam Coc (~10  minutes drive)
    • by bus:
        • departure from Hanoi bus terminal
        • ~2.5h drive
        • ticket price: 6-14$
  • from Hue:
    • by train:
      • better take the night train to safe time 
      • ~11h drive
      • ticket price: ~24$
    • by bus:
      • better take the sleeper bus to safe time
      • quiet comfortable if you are <1.8m
      • ~10h drive
      • ticket price: ~11$

Things to do in Tam Coc

Accomodations in Tam Coc

Hue - 2 days

How to get to Hue

  • from Da Nang:
    • by train:
      • comfortable option
      • fantastic view of the coastline
      • ~2.5h drive
      • ticket price: from 3-8$
    • by bus:
      • ~3h drive
      • ticket price: 5-10$ (depending on bus company)
  • from Ninh Binh: 
    • by train:
      • better take the night train to safe time 
      • ~11h drive
      • ticket price: ~24$
    • by bus:
      • better take the sleeper bus to safe time
      • quiet comfortable if you are <1.8m
      • ~10h drive
      • ticket price: ~11$Ninh
        •  

Things to do in Hue

Accomodations in Hue

Da Nang - 5 days

How to get to Da Nang

  • from Hue:
    • by train:
      • comfortable option
      • fantastic view of the coastline
      • ~2.5h drive
      • ticket price: from 3-8$
    • by bus:
      • ~3h drive
      • ticket price: 5-10$ (depending on bus company)
  • from Can Tho: 
    • by plane:
      • there are many cheap flights connecting both cities
      • 15kg luggage included
      • duration: 1.5h
      • ticket price: ~39$
    • by train and bus:
      • first take the train to Ho-Chi-Minh-City
      • from the bus station in HCMC (9km away from train station) take one of the busses to Can Tho
      • total duration: ~20h
      • ticket price (train+bus): ~20-40$

Things to do in Da Nang

Accomodations in Da Nang

Can Tho/ Mekong Delta - 2 days

How to get to Can Tho

  • from Da Nang:
    • by plane:
      • there are many cheap flights connecting both cities
      • 15kg luggage included
      • duration: 1.5h
      • ticket price: ~39$
    • by train and bus:
      • first take the train to Ho-Chi-Minh-City
      • from the bus station in HCMC (9km away from train station) take one of the busses to Can Tho
      • total duration: ~20h
      • ticket price (train+bus): ~20-40$
  • from Ho-Chi-Minh City:
    • by bus:
      • best cheapest way
      • ~3.5h drive
      • ticket price: 5-8$

Accomodations in Can Tho

Ho-Chi-Minh-City - 2 days

How to get to Ho-Chi-Minh City

  • from Da Nang:
    • by plane:
      • there are many cheap flights connecting both cities
      • 15kg luggage included
      • duration: 1.5h
      • ticket price: ~43$
    • by train:
      • duration: ~18h
      • ticket price : ~15-40$ (depending on seat category)
  • from Can Tho:
    • by bus:
      • best cheapest way
      • ~3.5h drive
      • ticket price: 5-8$

Accomodations in Can Tho

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