Vietnam Solo Travel Guide
Vietnam is a popular destination to visit as a solo traveller and hopefully it’s on your travel bucket list. Our Vietnam solo travel guide is a starting point to help you plan your next solo trip to Vietnam.
The guide covers the following topics for solo travel to Vietnam.
- Why Vietnam is a great destination for solo travellers
- Unique experiences you should add to your itinerary
- How to backpack around Vietnam solo
- How to stay safe as a solo female traveller
Why Visit Vietnam?
There are many reasons why Vietnam continues to draw solo travellers from around the world. First and foremost, Vietnam is a relatively safe country to travel as a solo tourist. Secondly, it is easy to travel around Vietnam as there are good public transport options available. Also, Vietnam is a value-for-money destination with affordable accommodation and transport options, cheap food and lots of things to see and do. Lastly, its laid-back atmosphere and friendly, hospitable people are a huge drawcard compared to over-crowded and touristy destinations like Thailand.
Top Experiences in Vietnam
1. Enjoy adventure sports
For adventure lovers, make a beeline to Halong Bay, the most well-known attraction in Vietnam. Home of adventure travel in Vietnam, Halong Bay plays host to a variety of outdoor activities including adventure cruising, kayaking, exploring caves and swimming among limestone karsts.
Nearby Cat Ba Island also boasts an array of adventure sports including kayaking, cycling, rock climbing and trekking. Whether you go on an overnight cruise or pilot a kayak into grottoes and lagoons, it doesn’t get more exciting than this in Vietnam.
2. Visit a minority village
Head into the remote regions around Sapa and immerse yourself in traditional Vietnamese culture by visiting a minority village and possibly even a homestay. These tiny hill-tribe villages are either perched on the steep cliffs of the Hoang Lien mountain range or sheltered by lush green river valleys, thereby offering superb views of the countryside.
When visiting a minority village, you will learn about the daily lives of the minority community, share a meal with a local family or even spend the night.
3. Go on a culinary feast
Embark on a Vietnamese culinary journey as you make your way through the country eating and drinking the local delicacies.
Each province have their own local Vietnamese dishes all of which showcase fresh and vibrant flavours. Whether you choose to dine at street food stalls or elegant restaurants housed in restored colonial villas, you can expect delicious, lip-smacking food.
Market visits, street food tours and walking tours are the best way to discover Vietnam’s culinary heritage. Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An and Hue are the best places to experience the local flavours.
4. Stay overnight with a local family
When visiting Vietnam, many travelers are keen to experience local life firsthand: floating around on a wooden fishing boat; sampling local cuisine; or wandering through small village communities.
One of the best ways to get an authentic Vietnamese experience is by organising a homestay with a local family. Places like the Mekong Delta, Sapa and Bac Ha are the best places to organise a homestay with ethnic minorities including the colourful Dzao and Hmong people.
5. Go on a shopping spree
Vietnam is a retail paradise for women’s clothing particularly in places like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hoi An.
Start your shopping adventure in Hanoi which is chock-full of high-quality brands. Hanoi also caters for budget shoppers who will find a host of clothing and souvenir shops including affordable t-shirts and bags, casual pants and sundresses and the standard array of souvenirs.
Bargaining is a common practice, giving you the opportunity to hone your haggling skills while picking up a new wardrobe.
6. Tailor-make a silk dress or suit
Vietnam is one of the best destinations for high-quality custom-made clothing, particularly in the towns of Hanoi and Hoi An. Packed into the old town and running wild along the surrounding streets, the tailors and shoemakers offer custom shoes, bags and clothing with a quick turn around and at a fraction of what tailor-made items cost in Western countries.
Whether you want a silk dress or a three-piece suit, allow yourself enough time for alterations.
7. Go off the beaten track
Vietnam offers excellent trekking and even less strenuous walks. The scenery is often quite remarkable – plunging highland valleys, tiers of rice paddies and soaring limestone mountains.
Vietnam caters for all levels of endurance – from easy half-day hikes to more arduous climbs up Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest mountain.
Generally, northern Vietnam is the best area for trekking, in particular, the cascading rice paddies around Sapa and Bac Ha. It’s dramatic mountain paths and fascinating minority culture are a huge draw.
8. Learn to cook Vietnamese style
Dining on delicious Vietnamese dishes doesn’t have to stop once you head home. Equip yourself with some Vietnamese cooking skills by learning how to cook like the locals in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An or Sapa.
Popular cooking schools are sometimes located in restaurant kitchens and can even include a trip to the local market to buy cooking ingredients. If you’re lucky, you might even be taught by celebrity chef Luke Nguyen at his cooking school in Ho Chi Minh City.
9. Indulge in a massage or spa treatment
Vietnam is home to a variety of quality massage parlors and spa centres which are quite affordable compared to Western countries. A massage or spa treatment is a great way to relax and unwind after a hectic day of travel.
Stay away from the massage and spa treatments offered at hotels, resorts and guest houses as they tend to be overpriced. Instead, opt for independent massage parlors or spa centres that have a good reputation. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have their fair share of massage and spa centres but budget travellers should head to Mui Ne, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc Island.
10. Relax on a beautiful beach
When you’ve exhausted your energy exploring Vietnam, head to the coastline to relax on one of the beautiful white sandy beaches along the Southeast coast or Mekong Delta.
Along the Southeast coast, Mui Ne and Nha Trang are most popular but can get busy. For a quieter escape, head to less hyped beaches such as Bai Xep and the secret coves of the Con Dao Islands. The white sands of gorgeous Sao Beach and graceful Long Beach in Phu Quoc Island are the best in Mekong Delta.
Is Vietnam Safe for Solo Female Travellers?
Vietnam is safe for female tourists and is relatively free of serious hassles for solo female travelers. There are issues to consider, of course, but thousands of women travel alone through the country each year and love the experience.
Solo women will receive their fair share of lighthearted marriage proposals and occasionally pestering from local men, but this rarely results in any serious issues. Always be polite but firm when encountering unwanted attention and, once you have made your point, ignore the other party. This is more effective than continuing to respond.
Also, dress modestly especially in the provinces. Do not wear sleeveless tops or short shorts and skirts.
How to Travel Around Vietnam Solo?
The cheapest way to travel solo around Vietnam is by bus. Having your own set of wheels is the most convenient way to travel; however, this is also the most expensive.
Buses are the main mode of transport for locals but travellers prefer to travel around by plane, train and automobiles.
Buses – For the budget traveller, buses are the best way to travel around Vietnam, although they are not a very relaxing way to travel. They are very frequent on main highways; however, in remote areas the service deteriorates rapidly.
A better option are the open-tour buses which are not pricey and a step above the local buses.
Trains – Trains in Vietnam are reasonably priced and comfortable enough in air-conditioned carriages and sleepers. They are a great option if you’re travelling long distances. There are no real express trains so budget extra time to your travel plans.
Planes – Planes are a great option if you want to get around quickly. Fares are cheap if you book well in advance, and the network is pretty comprehensive. Be prepared for cancellations.
Car – If you want to travel around Vietnam at your own pace and visit regional areas, hiring a car is the best option. Bear in mind, cars always come with a driver. However, as a solo traveller, this is not a great option as it will be quite expensive.
How to Backpack Vietnam Solo?
Vietnam is a great place to backpack solo. Vietnam is a budget friendly destination offering affordable accommodation and public transport as well as cheap food and plenty of free things to do and see. Being a relatively safe country to travel, Vietnam makes for a safe place to backpack solo.
These tips will make it easier for you to backpack Vietnam solo.
- Plan your itinerary before your trip to allow time for what you want to see within your visa duration
- Stay away from the peak season and travel during shoulder times
- Buses are the best way to get around Vietnam. Book a day in advance
- If travelling during busy periods, plan and book your accommodation in advance
- Shop around for accommodation when you arrive at your destination
- Hostels are a great place to book transport, tours and visits to local attractions. Ask for recommendations
- Street food stalls are a great way to find cheap, fresh, local and delicious food
Solo Holidays to Vietnam
Travelling on your own through Vietnam can be a great experience but it can also come with its own set of challenges. Apart from planning, organising and managing the entire trip by yourself, you have to find transport options to get from place to place and deal with safety concerns while travelling solo.
To take the hassles out of organising a solo trip to Vietnam by yourself, why not travel around Vietnam on a organised guided tour with a reputable tour company. Not only do they organise everything for you (accommodation, transport, food, guide, itinerary) saving you time and money, you can also travel with like-minded people who share common interests. Many solo travellers who have taken an organised tour love the experience and chose this travel option again and again for its comfort and convenience.
To find a curated list of Vietnam tours for solo travellers, head to ?.