Published: June 16th 2010June 9th 2010
I have found Vietnam to be vibrant, charming, friendly, and incredibly fun. It’s a great place for traveling whether you seek a relaxing beach break, a cultural and historical journey, or a kayaking, kite-surfing, hiking, climbing adventure. Vietnam has something for everybody and it’s a great place to travel alone as well.
As a solo female traveler, I am frequently weary of new destinations, and what challenges they might present. I found none in Vietnam. With some basic traveler’s sense, extra vigilance on public transportation, being aware of the scams that abound anywhere tourists go, sticking to my guns about prices, and perhaps a bit of luck, I have been able to enjoy this trip with no problems.
I have enjoyed everywhere I have traveled in some way or another, but usually find myself ready to leave when the time comes. Vietnam is an exception. After two weeks here, I only want more. I know I got a good sampling of the country, from Hanoi to HaLong Bay, to DaNang and Hoi An, Saigon, The Mekong River Delta, CuChi Tunnels, Mui Ne and Phan Thiet, and back to Hanoi, I have enjoyed every day of this trip. I was
it took me forever to find it...
and when I got a fisherman to take me to the island it's on, the gate was locked. Heard later some tourist drown a few years back trying to swim over...
a little spoiled in the beginning as I had a friend meeting me in Hanoi and got to see the city the first time around with her guidance, but when I got on the train to Saigon and left that safety net, the fun and adventure continued.
I have met more solo travelers in Vietnam (male and female) than anywhere else I have been and (as with backpackers everywhere) even the ones in groups gave me a warm welcome to join them for meals, trips, and treks along way. The guides I’ve had have been generally easy to understand and very amusing if not brilliantly funny. I’ve felt I got more than what I paid for on my tours, and while a few of my hotels haven’t been worth the cost in my mind, everything else here has made up for them. I just booked tours at my various hotel desks, and am actually not sure what company they all used.
Sorry, but I don’t have too much specific as far as recommendations for places to shop, eat or sleep, as I just figured it out as I went, and while everywhere I stayed was good enough for me,
no where I can remember the name and location of stood out as amazing. If you want to rent a bike, but are nervous or inexperienced, do it in Mui Ne. It’s as easy to navigate as it gets and the roads are good with the least amount of traffic. Don’t miss the Mekong Delta. Even though it sounds super tourist (and some parts kinda are) it’s really a pretty cool area and I found myself wishing I’d stayed for the home-stay some tour agencies arrange. Cu Chi tunnels are also a must see. It’ll really make you think about life during the wars.
Also recommend at least one overnight in Ha Long Bay (perhaps on a boat) instead of doing it as a day trip from Hanoi.
Da Nang is only half an hour driving from Hoi An, and I didn’t feel like there was anything too spectacular about it. Hoi An is cool, but I felt one day in was plenty ( though there might be more to do there than walk around the old town which is all we did).
I spent 4 days in Saigon, one relaxing, one at as many museums and temples as
I could see, and then two on day trips to Mekong Delta and Cu Chi tunnels. I felt this was sufficient time, though I enjoyed Saigon enough that I would have liked to stay longer, and recommend to do if you’re not in a rush. Many agencies also offer tours to Phnom Phen and Angkor Wat, Cambodia from Saigon, though it may be cheaper to do it from the Thailand side as each entry in Vietnam costs $25USD.
Hope these few pointers help any future travelers to Vietnam, wish I had more specific recommendations for you.
As anywhere, see the museums and temples that seem interesting to you, and take your pick of the tourist or local places based on your preference. Vietnam is a great experience regardless of which you chose, though everyone should try the real local places at LEAST for one meal and drink. Just look for a bunch of people sitting around the sidewalk on child-size plastic chairs drinking and chowing down next to a sea of motorbikes. That’s where you want to be to taste the real Vietnam. It’s a taste I’ll miss immensely.
There are more photos below