Unforgettable Travel Company

10 Tips for Solo Travel in Vietnam

 

Vietnam has boomed as a tourism hotspot over the last few decades. The vast growth in international tourism began through the 80s with a trickle of backpackers, but now confidently rivals nearby Thailand or Malaysia with accommodation and amenities catering to the full spectrum of travelers.

As with the rest of Southeast Asia, Vietnam’s friendly locals, warm hospitality, a well-established tourist infrastructure means it is a fine destination for all types of visitors – especially those traveling on their own. It remains a fixture on the Southeast Asia backpacker trail and is equally a welcome retreat for upmarket clientele just looking to get away on their own.

Should you be considering a solo trip to Vietnam, we’re here to reassure you that it’s largely a very safe and welcoming place to travel – with lots of adventures to be had along the way! Read our guide to the basics of solo travel in Vietnam – with many of these principles applicable for visitors of all stripes.

Friendly old lady Vietnam

Respect Vietnamese culture

Whenever you travel to any destination for the first time, it’s vital to make sure you have basic knowledge of local customs and etiquette – and Vietnam is no exception. Fortunately, there are no major ‘no-nos’ and the Vietnamese are largely a very forgiving and friendly bunch!

As with the rest of Asia, respect and ‘saving face’ are critical. Always behave respectfully to elders and/or those in more senior positions. This involves basic politeness and also smaller touches such as passing items with both hands to those in seniority. 

It’s also important to remember that conservative, family-oriented attitudes run deeper in the Far East. Dress conservatively, particularly in temples or pagodas, where bare shoulders and/or shorts are simply not permitted.

Tourist at Cai Rang floating market Mekong Delta

Dress & behave conservatively

Public displays of affection are rare, as is (near or complete) public nudity. When visiting beaches, bikinis, and small shorts are fine in tourist-friendly beaches but will be considered inappropriate off the beach or in resorts catering primarily to locals. 

Wearing chunky watches and jewelry is uncommon and will attract unwanted attention, as will visibly ‘flashing the cash’ while out and about in markets and restaurants. 

This is important mostly as an act of etiquette, but – despite Vietnam being a very safe place to travel for all, including solo female travelers – from a personal safety standpoint, as petty crime does occasionally occur in larger towns and cities.

Boat tour through Ninh Binh

Use a reputed tour operator

Turning to travel practicalities, the most important recommendation we could have is to look into using reputable travel operators for your tour of Vietnam – either well in advance of travel, or while you are mid-visit. 

It’s an unfortunate reality that many unscrupulous and opportunistic operators exist within Vietnam. Delays, cancellations, and mis-sellings are the most frequent source of complaints by international visitors. Related over-tourism, particularly of major attractions such as Halong Bay, can also be traced back to such operators. 

Unforgettable Travel is a multi-award-winning operator with outstanding client reviews. With our unparalleled service and experienced destination specialists, you’ll be in safe hands throughout. 

Tourist by hotel pool in Mui Ne

Pre-book accommodation

With so many different types of travelers in Vietnam, accommodation can be a mixed bunch. There are lots and lots of budget options available, which a huge range of quality evident across quite a narrow price range. Prior research is essential, and pre-booking wise as you’ll find best-rated properties get booked up quickly. 

If you do choose to use a respected operator to build your trip then this is not a concern. We’ll include hand-picked hotels as part of your overall travel package – you can read more on our favorite hotels across Vietnam via the link below. 

Reunification Express train moving through Bach Ma mountains near Hue

Use public transport...sensibly

Public transport in Vietnam is largely very good. Intercity trains take their time but are wonderful slow travel experiences…but we’d avoid the lowest sleeper classes. The best way to get around inner cities is by bus – frequent, clean, reliable – or by taxi. If using the latter, always insist on using the meter and keep an eye out for fast-running meters. 

As with above, booking with UTC will see any transport issues evaporate. We’ll provide a private guide, driver, and vehicle to accompany on all local transport, and will include any internal flights or train journeys – using best classes possible – in all our packages.

Ho Chi Minh statue Ho Chi Minh City

Respect Vietnamese institutions

Vietnamese are very proud of their heritage, particularly recent history. Visitors should never take pictures of statues or representations of major political figures such as ‘Uncle’ Ho Chi Minh or General Vo Nguyen Ap. As with travel to any country, never ever take pictures of any military personnel or installations. 

In a more practical sense, it’s important to always carry an ID such as a passport or photo driving license. This is a requirement under Vietnamese law and will help you out in the very rare instance where you might need the help of local authorities.

Street Pho in Hanoi

Dive into Vietnamese food

Vietnamese street food is incredible, but the usual travel tips apply. Follow the locals to the busiest stalls – although queues are longer you’ll know that food is being cooked hot and fresh to order; avoid salads, iced drinks, or anything else which may be tainted with unpurified water. 

Here at UTC, we’re huge fans of Vietnamese food – and believe it to be one of the most underrated cuisines on the planet. You can read more on Vietnamese in our other travel guides using the link below.

Scooters moving through Hanoi

Embrace chaotic cities...

You’ll find Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City bustling hives of local life, buzzing with scooters and honking traffic, packed with enticing bars, shops, restaurants, and street food stalls. The sheer spectacle of Vietnamese cities can be overwhelming at first, so our advice is to take a breath…but then dive in wholeheartedly! 

Providing you follow the safe travel tips as outlined above – mostly common sense – you’ll find Vietnamese cities some of the most exciting and enticing in all Asia. Dining opportunities range from high-end haute cuisine to the best budget eats you’ll ever taste. 

Farmer in Ninh Binh

...then relax in rural spaces

As fun as urban Vietnam is, all that honking traffic and commercial zeal can wear you out after a while! At this point, make for rural Vietnam, where you’ll find gorgeous scenery of hills, paddy fields, grazing water buffalo, and placid waterways. 

From Hanoi, make for mountainous Northern Vietnam, home to dramatic scenery and fascinating hill tribe cultures. From HCMC, dive into the alluring Mekong Delta, with its endless hiking and cycling, village visits, and cruise options.

Bai Sao Beach Phu Quoc

And finally, kick back on the beach!

After all that busy touring and adventure, what better way to relax than one of Vietnam’s magnificent sandy beaches? Keeping note of the cultural tips outlined above, you’ll find visits to Vietnam’s best beaches a stress-free – and highly memorable – experience. 

The Vietnamese coast runs complete from tip-to-toe, with beaches found everywhere from Ha Long Bay to the outer reaches of the Mekong Delta. Our destination guides to Vietnam’s principal beach destinations Da Nang, Nha Trang, Con Dao, and Phu Quoc can be found below.

Ready to start planning your next trip?

Contact our Vietnam specialists today to start discussing your bespoke tour.

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