Postcard Press Picks:
For Traveling to Vietnam
A Southeast Asian gem, Vietnam has a complex and tragic history that has led to a wonderfully rich culture. With occupations by China, France, and (briefly) Japan, Vietnam has only recently emerged from the ravages of war and destruction to become a compelling destination for visitors from all over the world. With diversity among the people and the landscape, Vietnam offers a unique and immersive experience that’s sure to be unforgettable. If you’re looking for a truly cultural adventure, Postcard Press has picked some online guides to help you start planning your trip to Vietnam.
Travel guides are an excellent place to start, and with so many options out there, it’s important to find the one that works best for you. Lonely Planet is a reliable and popular choice, but consider heading to your local bookstore and look through the guides available for the one that fits your needs.
Don’t let this be your only guide. Be sure to do your research on the history, culture, and sites, so that you can create the best itinerary for your trip.
While you absolutely should explore all that Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi have to offer, don’t forget that Vietnam has a diverse array of cities and towns that you should also visit if your schedule allows for it.
- Culture Trip writer Matthew Pike, a Canadian expat living in Vietnam, explores the Top 10 Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/vietnam/articles/the-top-10-things-to-do-and-see-in-ho-chi-minh-city/
- Culture Trip’s Piumi Rajapaksha, who also lives in Vietnam, suggests 20 Must-Visit Attractions in Hanoi: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/vietnam/articles/20-must-visit-attractions-in-hanoi/
- Earth Trekkers has put together a list of Must-Have Experiences in Vietnam: https://www.earthtrekkers.com/best-things-to-do-vietnam/
- Culture Trip’s list of 15 Beautiful Places in Vietnam offers other cities and destinations in the country you should consider adding to your itinerary: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/vietnam/articles/the-15-most-beautiful-places-to-visit-in-vietnam/
Get off the beaten path for a truly immersive experience and see all that this diverse country has to offer.
- Fiona Travels from Asia put together a guide of 6 off-the-beaten-path destinations selected by locals: http://fionatravelsfromasia.com/top-6-vietnam-off-the-beaten-track-picked-locals/
- Atlas Obscura has 32 Cool, Hidden, and Unusual Things to Do in Vietnam: https://www.atlasobscura.com/things-to-do/vietnam
- The Guardian asked readers what they would recommend in Vietnam. It’s no surprise that many of the options are off-the-beaten-path: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/nov/17/things-to-do-in-vietnam-beaches-food-hanoi-ho-chi-minh-city
- If you’re looking for nature and adventure, check out these 10 Ecotourism Experiences in Vietnam: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/vietnam/articles/the-10-best-ecotourism-experiences-in-vietnam/
I traveled to Vietnam more than a decade ago, but it is still one of my favorite destinations, and I would love to return one day. Here are just a few of my favorite experiences:
Thang Long Water Puppetry Theatre: You cannot go to Hanoi without setting aside time in your itinerary for this beautiful immersion into Vietnamese culture. This unique art form dates back to the 11th century and uses handcrafted and painted wooden puppets along with traditional music and song to act out Vietnamese folklore on a stage of water. This is an experience you won’t find anywhere else and is deep-rooted in the history of the country. There are multiple shows a day, so you’ll be able to find an option that fits your schedule.
Mekong Delta: Find a guided tour (your hostel or hotel in Ho Chi Minh should have options) or create your own plan. There are organized tours to fit any schedule, even if you only have a day—just be sure to research your options so that you get the most bang for your buck. This is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the daily life of the Vietnamese people, and a great opportunity to truly understand the culture. My day trip tour included a boat ride through the Mekong Delta floating market, alongside fishermen and sellers; a bicycle tour through the rice fields and orchards, with stops along the way where farmers work to make food and candy and where you’ll get samples; and an abundant lunch on the porch of a local home, where we were welcomed with fresh ingredients and home cooking. It’s an incredible experience that will stick with you long after you return home.
Phở: There is no shortage of restaurants serving this Vietnamese dish; you’ll find a place on almost every corner. Phở can be traced back to the early-20th century and, through both French and Cantonese influences, has developed into the flavorful soup we recognize today. Take advantage of the many options and be sure to try it at least once in both the north and the south parts of the country as each has their own distinctive styles for the national dish.
Researching practical travel tips is important before you even get on the plane so that you can be prepared once you arrive at your destination. Being an educated traveler will help make your trip more enjoyable.
- Geeky Explorer shares 26 Tips and Tricks to make your visit to Vietnam a rewarding one: https://www.geekyexplorer.com/things-to-know-vietnam-tips-tricks/
- And the Hungry Suitcase offers 25 more: http://thehungrysuitcase.com/25-things-to-know-before-traveling-in-vietnam/
- Want to backpack through Vietnam? Culture Trip has a great practical guide to make your journey a success but also offers plenty of tips for all types of travelers: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/vietnam/articles/the-ultimate-backpacking-guide-to-vietnam/
- Understanding the currency is a must for any destination. Culture Trip helps make sense of Vietnam’s dong (which can make you a millionaire for less than 50 USD!): https://theculturetrip.com/asia/vietnam/articles/a-guide-to-vietnams-banknotes/
When researching your trip, you may come across a blog post or two from popular travel sites that seem to discourage travel to this country and disparage the people of Vietnam. This is a disappointing take on this beautiful country. Of course, not everyone can have a wonderful experience all the time—and that’s okay—but don’t let someone else’s negative experience influence your travels. My experience in Vietnam could not have been more amazing. The people were generally warm, helpful, and happy to have you there. If you’re a respectful traveler and understand the history and idiosyncrasies of the region (e.g. that bargaining and price gouging throughout Asia—not just Vietnam—is common), then you shouldn’t worry about how you’ll be received in this country.
Have you ever been to Vietnam? If so, what are some of your personal recommendations or travel tips? Share in the comments to help your fellow travelers!
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