Traveling Vietnam alone for 1 month: local family stay, volunteering, and more!

I did a solo trip to Vietnam and it was one of the friendliest countries I’ve been to! In this post, I will share with you my Vietnam solo travel experiences including safety tips and everything you need to know about this country.

📬 Hello Trisha! I admire you for traveling the world solo. I’ve been hooked with your solo travel stories. It really inspires me to go on my own! As Australia is already opening up for international travel, I would like to do my Vietnam solo travel (finally!) since I’ve been locked out for a year. I really need some tips as I know you already traveled to Vietnam alone a lot. Can you also connect me with your local host family? Thank you for all your help and assistance. I appreciate you and I wish you all the success! I might turn to you more for tips and advice so please bear with me.

-Ginette Sherman, Australia

Hi Ginette!

Of course you can always e-mail me if you have questions about Vietnam travel! The purpose of this blog is to answer reader questions. 

In fact, I don’t really make posts unless someone sends me an e-mail! Oh my, Vietnam… what fond memories I have of this country. This is one of the countries I feel safest in traveling alone and I can see that isn’t your worry.

I will try my best to help you and give you some personal insights about traveling to Vietnam alone but I guarantee you that you will freaking enjoy it!

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Xx,
Trisha

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Table of Contents 🔻 show

🇻🇳 Vietnam solo travel at a glance

vietnam travel

Capital: Hanoi

Currency: The currency in Vietnam is called the Vietnamese dong (VND). $1 USD = 23,221 VND.

Power plug: Vietnam uses the types C (two round pins), A (two flat parallel pins), and F (two round clips + two earth clips

Visa: Americans, Canadians, Australians, British, and most European citizens are issued a visa on arrival in Vietnam which is valid for 30 days. You can fill out this form and pay $25 for your visa. If you need more days in Vietnam, can apply upon arrival in Vietnam.

Language: The language in Vietnam is Vietnamese. Many people still don’t speak English but the service industry can communicate in English.

Transportation: Vietnam uses motorbikes as a mode of transport but going around the country is super easy. Vietnam has a lot of bus beds that will take you around the country. Flights within the country are also affordable but since it’s not that big, you can travel by land safely and easily. 

Wifi/Internet in Vietnam: Internet is challenging in provinces but in the big cities, many have fiber-optic connections. 

Vietnam sim card: There are 4 mobile providers in Vietnam. I use Viettel because it has better coverage. A 30GB plan for one month with Viettel costs $13 and the lowest 5GB plan is $5. 

Suggested travel duration: You can easily have a good trip to Vietnam for 2 weeks. In this timeframe, you will be able to see all the important spots and landmarks which will also be discussed in this post.

💃🏽 Vietnam solo travel personal experience

vietnam tours

My first Vietnam solo travel experience was in 2011, at a time where girls like me were discouraged to travel on their own. I was 23 years old and thankfully, I had supportive parents. 

Having an Asian background, my mom said, “it’s just Vietnam. It’s safe.” She always had this impression that if it’s Asia, then I won’t be harmed. Which, statistically, is very true.

Later on, you can browse this blog on how I told my mom I’d be traveling by myself to South America, to the Middle East, to Europe (which I did even if she said no).

It’s just funny that my Asian mom has her own beliefs in solo female travel safety and for her, Asia is always good. It doesn’t even needed to be discussed.

So with the strong support of my family, I went to Vietnam (not at their expense, FYI). Since I was traveling Vietnam on a budget, I planned my solo travel well. 

vietnam solo travel
Eating like this every day during my family stay in Vietnam. They also drink a lot!

First, I said I will stay with local families so I can learn how to eat, speak, and cook like them. To be honest with you, my local family stay adventures only started when I was finding ways on how to find free accommodations while traveling.

With time, I realized that it wasn’t my purpose anymore. It really is a great experience to live with locals and not all of us have the opportunity to do that.

I relentlessly look for host families abroad whenever I am traveling. I believe this is one of the greatest things I’ve seen and done in my life. I want to continue doing it.

Getting to my host family in Hanoi was a little stressful since it was 1.5 hours drive to get to their house. My host brother also spoke broken English so the instructions were not very clear.

Well, I just know that I was going to Huong Non, a traditional village northwest of Hanoi. At least I had that on the maps in case I don’t find the house.

Vietnam solo travel
I went on a boat cruise in Nah Trang and met fellow solo travelers!

He gave me a pin on Google maps where I should go down. When I arrived that location, it was so dark and it was just a street with no name.

I didn’t wait for him for more than 10 minutes, thank God. He was there to pick me up and immediately brought me to the house on his motorcycle.

So this is also the thing you have to consider when traveling solo in Vietnam – they love motorbikes. Everyone has it. I couldn’t imagine myself getting on that motorbike with a freaking luggage so thank God I had a good and light backpack.

I stayed with them for 2 weeks and you can read my story about it in my stories section. This is actually my favorite homestay because this was the only country where I was challenged with language barriers.

After that family stay, I continued my journey and worked in hostels, had some crazy parties, and of course, saw the best of Vietnam on my own.

I found myself always going back as I became comfortable traveling Vietnam solo. It is one of the places I will always go back to and I hope you get to experience Vietnam the way that I did.

🙋🏻 Is Vietnam good for a solo trip?

vietnam solo travel
Circa 2011: back when Instagram wasn’t a thing, you’d take pics like this.

ABSOLUTELY! Vietnam solo travel is easy and affordable, which makes it good for a solo trip, especially for first-timers! It’s easy to connect with locals and fellow travelers as it is known for its friendly and welcoming people.

The cost-effectiveness of traveling in Vietnam is another significant benefit, as the country offers affordable accommodation, food, and transportation options, allowing for a longer, more immersive experience.

Vietnam is safe

Vietnam solo travel
So humbled to be welcomed by readers of this blog in Hanoi, Vietnam (2016).

Road-wise, people-wise, navigation-wise: you don’t have to worry about any of this in Vietnam. You can travel Vietnam hassle-free.

Of course, there are still cases of theft in Vietnam but very minimal. When I was traveling Vietnam solo, I never really had to be paranoid about my stuff but I never let my guard down.

Overall, I didn’t have the experience of someone robbing me. I even left my backpack one time in a restaurant (with my camera!) and when I returned it was still there. 

Just don’t involve yourself in sketchy activities like buying drugs. Despite being in Latin America for a long time now, I feel like Asia is crazier with the drug thing as some countries have shoot-to-kill orders if caught with drugs. 

But more on that later. Overall, THERE IS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT when it comes to Vietnam solo travel. I promise you will have a good time!

Vietnam’s terrain is solo traveler-friendly

vietnam solo travel
You will notice that there are more girls traveling solo. Boys tend to always travel in pairs.

Vietnam’s backpacking route is the same. It is very strategic and super organized so you don’t have to be worrying about your route.

Vietnam is part of the banana pancake trail, a famous Southeast Asia backpacking route. No matter where you go, there will be backpackers and solo travelers around.

With this, I even got a chance to do ride-sharing or tour trips with people I met in hostels! You will arrive Vietnam by yourself but when you are already there, you will never be alone!

Sometimes, I even had to shut my dorm curtains just to avoid other backpackers inviting me to go out to party! You’d be surprised how many alone time you will crave while traveling Vietnam solo. 

The Vietnamese people are super friendly and accommodating

vietnam solo travel

The Vietnamese people are good people, especially to girls who are on their own. I’ve received many kindness from strangers in Vietnam. 

What I also noticed is that the Vietnamese people are very honest people. Of course, there are still bad people out there but for the majority of my Vietnam solo travel, I was always treated well.

There will be a lot of language barriers but this never stopped them from helping travelers. They try their best to help with hand signals even if sometimes, it gets so frustrating that you don’t understand each other!

Vietnam is cheap

vietnam solo travel

I spent about $300 USD a month in my Vietnam solo travel but note that I was staying with host families and volunteering all the time.

This $300 USD budget was super comfortable. I paid for my own tours, took night busses, and ate out a lot. Even if you are going to pay for your own accommodation, I still feel like you won’t go over $500 USD a month.

🚫 Is Vietnam safe for solo female travelers?

vietnam travel

ABSOLUTELY! I always recommend Vietnam to solo travelers whether be it male of female. Vietnam is a good training ground for your first-time solo travel!

The Vietnamese people are naturally welcoming and very friendly even if they don’t speak English. You will have a trouble-free solo trip to Vietnam as you don’t really have to be extremely vigilant and paranoid about safety.

Vietnam is actually one of the countries where I felt taken care of as a female. People are always willing to help and since they are a touristy country, you don’t get a lot of attention for being a foreigner (compared to India or Egypt).

Sure, they are still amazed that foreigners visit their country but they won’t swarm you or even look at you endlessly. Also please note that my ethnicity is Asian so I am speaking from personal experience.

You might have a different experience as a white person but I’d love to hear your own stories! 

💲 How much does a solo trip to Vietnam cost?

Vietnam Tourism

Super cheap! Since I stayed with local families and volunteered, I almost did not pay for accommodations for 3 months! There were even times when I treated myself to luxury hotels (which is less than $100 USD in Vietnam).

The currency in Vietnam is called the Vietnamese dong (VND). US$1 = 23,221 VND. As a result of this conversion, you will find yourself holding so many thousands of bills while traveling Vietnam but in the end, the value of each note is really low. 

Of course, as solo travelers, the best thing to do not only to save on cash but to also meet other people is to stay in hostels. Hostels in Vietnam are super cheap and decent. This is where you’ll find all the action!

Vietnam is also known for their amazing and cheap street food. You can eat for less than a dollar in Vietnam but be mindful about eating street food especially if you have a sensitive stomach.

As for tours, I don’t remember being on one for more than $100 USD. Most of the activities here, you can actually do by yourself without hiring a guide!

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✈️ Planning your Vietnam solo travel

Best time to visit Vietnam

vietnam travel
Vietnam is known for its friendly and welcoming people, making it relatively easy for solo travelers to feel at home. | Deposit Photos

July and August are busy months in Vietnam as this is the high season. Prices are higher than usual. The weather is hot and humid with occasional rain showers.

If you’re only going to Hanoi and HCMC, I recommend visiting these places during December – March: the perfect excuse to escape winter in Europe and North America! Hanoi will be cold at this time for sure but HCMC will be sunny and not too hot!

The low season in Vietnam is from April to June and September to November. During these months, all areas of Vietnam have good weather, and prices are cheaper.

Below is a monthly guide on what to expect in Vietnam each month:

MonthNothern VietnamCentral VietnamSouth Vietnam
January10-20°C (50-68°F)18-25°C (64-77°F)26-32°C (79-90°F)
February13-21°C (55-70°F)19-26°C (66-79°F)27-33°C (81-91°F)
March15-23°C (59-73°F)21-28°C (70-82°F)🥵 28-34°C (82-93°F)
April20-28°C (68-82°F)24-30°C (75-86°F)🥵 29-35°C (84-95°F)
May24-32°C (75-90°F)26-32°C (79-90°F)🥵 28-34°C (82-93°F)
June🥵 27-34°C (81-93°F)28-34°C (82-93°F)☔ 27-33°C (81-91°F)
July☔ 28-34°C (82-93°F)🥵 28-35°C (82-95°F)☔ 27-33°C (81-91°F)
August☔ 27-33°C (81-91°F)🥵 28-34°C (82-93°F)☔ 27-33°C (81-91°F)
September25-31°C (77-88°F)26-31°C (79-88°F)27-31°C (81-88°F)
October22-28°C (72-82°F)☔ 24-28°C (75-82°F)27-31°C (81-88°F)
November18-24°C (64-75°F)☔ 22-27°C (72-81°F)27-31°C (81-88°F)
December14-21°C (57-70°F)20-24°C (68-75°F)26-31°C (79-88°F)

Vietnam visa requirements and processes

Before embarking on your Vietnam solo travel, it’s crucial to understand and comply with Vietnam’s visa requirements. Most travelers need a visa to enter Vietnam, and the process varies based on your nationality.

The Vietnamese government offers an e-Visa option for U.S. citizens. This is an electronic visa that can be applied for online. The e-Visa is valid for a single entry with a maximum stay of 30 days.

Americans can also obtain a Visa on Arrival. However, this requires obtaining a pre-approval letter before traveling. Upon arrival in Vietnam, you present this letter, along with a passport photo and the visa stamping fee, to get your visa stamped into your passport.

Alternatively, you can apply for a visa through a Vietnamese embassy or consulate in the United States before your trip. This process may allow for different types of visas, such as multiple entry visas or visas with a longer stay than the e-Visa.

The following countries, citizens, and nationalities can enter Vietnam visa-free:

  • Brunei (14 days)
  • Cambodia (30 days)
  • Indonesia (30 days)
  • Laos (30 days)
  • Japan (15 days)
  • Malaysia (30 days)
  • Myanmar (14 days)
  • The Philippines (21 days)
  • Singapore (30 days)
  • South Korea (15 days)
  • Thailand (30 days)
  • European Citizens from Belarus, Denmark, Italy, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and The United Kingdom are visa-free in Vietnam for 15 days

Flights to Vietnam

The three main International Airports in Vietnam are Noi Ban International Airport (Hanoi), Tan Son Nhat International Airport (Ho Chi Minh City), and Da Nang International Airport (DAD).

Below are some suggested flight routes to Hanoi (the capital of Vietnam):

  • from Chicago, IL: via Ana Air with a 3h 30m layover in Tokyo, Japan (22h 20m)
  • from Denver, CO: via United Airlines with a 1h 20m layover in Tokyo, Japan (21h 35m)
  • from Los Angeles, CA: via American Airlines with a 1h 20m stop in Tokyo, Japan (18h 20 m)
  • from New York: via Delta Airlines with a 1h 45m layover in Seoul, South Korea (21h)
  • from San Diego, CA: via Japan Airlines with 1h 20m layover in Tokyo, Japan (19h 30m)
  • from San Francisco, CA: via Eva Air with a 1h 40m layover in Taipei, Taiwan (20h 50m)
  • from Seattle, WA: via Eva Air/Vietnam Airlines with a 2h 20m layover in Taipei, Taiwan (17h 20m)

  • from Vancouver: via Air Canada with 2h 50m layover in Taipei, Taiwan (17h 30m)
  • from Toronto: via Air Canada with a 2h 45m layover in Tokyo, Japan (21h)

  • from London: Vietnam Airlines flies direct from London to Hanoi (11h 15m)
  • from Madrid and Berlin: via Turkish Airlines with 2h 25m layover in Istanbul, Turkey (16h)
  • from Paris: Vietnam Airlines flies direct from Paris [CDG] (12h)

To save time and see more places, you can also add the layover as a 1-week destination before your trip to Vietnam. Thailand and Cambodia are good destinations to add to this itinerary!

What to pack for Vietnam

vietnam solo travel
My first backpacking trip to Vietnam in 2011.

Before my Vietnam solo travel, I never knew that there are some parts of the country that is extremely cold. I always thought of Vietnam as a tropical country (as we see on Instagram) but when I went to the north, I suffered a lot with the cold! 

Good thing there were many cheap shopping places in Hanoi where I was able to buy decent coats and winter clothing. Of course, always bring summer clothes like bikinis, shorts, and flip flops.

But the most essential that we always forget are hiking boots and lightweight waterproof jacket. I feel like this is the essential and all the rest, you can decide depending when you will visit.

Also make sure to pack light and use a backpack when traveling to Vietnam. It will be very hard to roll your luggage in Vietnam or carry them – this is not a luggage country!

Here are the essentials to pack for your solo Vietnam travel:

  • Lightweight and breathable clothing, adaptable for both hot and humid conditions.
  • A raincoat or umbrella, especially if traveling during the monsoon season.
  • Comfortable walking shoes, as well as sandals or flip-flops.
  • Sun protection, including sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.
  • Mosquito repellent and basic toiletries.
  • A power adapter and charger for electronic devices.
  • A sturdy backpack or daypack for day trips and excursions.
  • Cultural and respectful attire for visiting temples and religious sites.
  • A camera or smartphone to capture your experiences.

🚌 Getting around Vietnam

vietnam travel

Vietnam’s major cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, are served by international airports that are well-connected to the city centers. Navigating these airports is straightforward, with English signs and information counters.

For local transit, taxis are readily available and relatively affordable. However, it’s advisable to use reputable taxi companies or app-based services like Grab to avoid overcharging.

In cities, you can also find various bus services, which are a cost-effective way to travel, though they may be less convenient for those unfamiliar with the routes.

Busses in Vietnam

This is my preferred way of traveling in Vietnam since it’s cheap and comfortable. If you refer to the picture below, you will see how small it is so definitely consider this if you are a tall person. It also saves time and money since these bus beds leave at night – you don’t have to pay for the hotel!

Most bus portals in Vietnam are in Vietnamese and it gets confusing when you use the “translate” feature so I always just use BudBud as a reliable English website for busses in Vietnam.

Local buses are cheap and cover extensive routes. Have small change handy for fares and be aware of pickpockets in crowded buses.

Trains in Vietnam

Vietnam has an efficient rail system and you can choose this mode of transport if you don’t want to hop on a night bus. Their trains have classes and also have sleeping cabins. The most common route is, of course, Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi.

This route is 32 hours long and only costs US$36 (compared to a 2-hour flight for US$80). This is ideal if you want to see the whole country but if you’re on a fixed travel schedule, flights within Vietnam are really cheap.

The train network in Vietnam is a scenic way to travel, especially the route along the coast. Book your tickets in advance, especially for overnight journeys.

Domestic flights in Vietnam

For US$80 (one-way fare), you can easily fly within Vietnam. The local airlines that operate in Vietnam are Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, and Jetstar.

For long distances, consider domestic flights as they are time-efficient and increasingly affordable. Flying is ideal if you don’t have a lot of time to travel in Vietnam.

Renting a car in Vietnam

In my experience driving in Vietnam, it was kind of difficult to go around without the language skills. I had to use sign language to ask for directions and you may find yourself in areas where there is no phone coverage. You can rent a car in Vietnam at any major airport and city.

Renting motorbikes in Vietnam

vietnam travel
Grab drivers are very friendly. You might get terrified by the roads but these drivers know what they are doing.

You can rent motorbikes in every city in Vietnam as this is the most used by the locals – everyone has a motorbike! Driving a motorbike in Vietnam as you see in most pictures, looks like a crazy rodeo but my trick is to just follow the people in front of me (or keep close to them).

The roads are motorbike-friendly but you may get confused and terrified with the roundabouts – this always confuses me! For those who don’t want to drive a motorbike, you can call a bike via the app called Grab (which is like an Uber for motorbikes). 

🛏️ Accommodation options for solo travelers

A nice hotel for 2 in Ho Chi Minh starts at $25 USD which is actually a superior double room with breakfast. Since Vietnam just opened, you will see many super low prices of hotels (under $10 USD).

Hostels and Budget Stays in Vietnam

Vietnam offers a wide range of hostels and budget accommodations, particularly in tourist hotspots. These options are perfect for solo travelers looking to save money and meet fellow travelers.

Many hostels in Vietnam provide not just a bed but also a social atmosphere, with communal areas and organized activities. Facilities usually include free Wi-Fi, lockers for valuables, and often a basic breakfast.

Boutique Hotels and Local Homestays in Vietnam

You can get a hotel room like this (with breakfast) for as low as $52 per night! | Photo: Indochin Castle

For those seeking a more unique or culturally immersive experience, boutique hotels and local homestays are excellent options. Boutique hotels in Vietnam often blend traditional aesthetics with modern comforts, providing a more intimate and personalized experience than larger hotel chains.

Homestays, on the other hand, offer a glimpse into the daily life of Vietnamese families. They can range from rural farmhouses to city dwellings, giving travelers a chance to experience local customs, cuisine, and hospitality.

These options are generally affordable and can be found in most parts of Vietnam, from urban areas to remote villages. I can also put you in touch with my host family in Hanoi!

Safety Tips for Choosing Your Accommodation

  • Use lockers or safes provided by the accommodation to secure your valuables, including passports and electronics.
  • Keep family or friends informed about your accommodation details and travel itinerary.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited offers or overly friendly strangers inviting you to their homes or businesses.
  • Keep the address and contact details of your accommodation easily accessible. Also, know the location of the nearest embassy or consulate and local emergency services.
  • If something feels off about a place or situation, trust your instincts and find a safer environment.

🍜 Food in Vietnam

Food is cheap in Vietnam. The traditional way of experiencing Vietnam through food is through street food (which is safe to eat, btw). Noodles and traditional Vietnamese street food are less than a dollar.

Vietnam Street Food Must-Tries

Vietnamese street food is renowned for its flavors, diversity, and accessibility. A culinary exploration in Vietnam isn’t complete without delving into its street food culture. Must-try dishes include:

  • Pho: A classic Vietnamese noodle soup, typically with beef (pho bo) or chicken (pho ga).
  • Banh Mi: A fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisine, this sandwich is made with a baguette filled with a variety of meats, vegetables, and condiments.
  • Goi Cuon: Fresh spring rolls packed with greens, coriander, minced pork, shrimp, and rice vermicelli.
  • Banh Xeo: A crispy crepe bulging with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, plus the fresh greens and the fishy tang of nuoc cham (fermented fish sauce).
  • Cà Phê Sữa Đá: Vietnamese iced coffee with sweet condensed milk, a must-try for coffee lovers.

Exploring local markets and street food stalls offers an authentic taste of Vietnamese cuisine and a chance to interact with locals.

Vegetarian and Vegan Food in Vietnam

Vietnam is also friendly for vegetarians and vegans, with many dishes that are either naturally meat-free or can be adapted. Look for dishes like:

  • Pho Chay: The vegetarian version of the classic pho.
  • Banh Mi Chay: Vegetarian banh mi with tofu or seitan instead of meat.
  • Buddhist Temple Food: Often vegetarian, found near Buddhist temples and in some restaurants.
  • Tofu and Mushroom Dishes: Common in Vietnamese cuisine, often flavored with lemongrass, chili, and other local herbs.

Many restaurants now cater specifically to vegetarian and vegan diets, so don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations or look for ‘chay’ (vegetarian) signs.

Food Safety Tips for Solo Travelers

While Vietnamese cuisine is delicious, food safety is crucial, especially for solo travelers:

  • Choose busy stalls: Eat where the locals eat. A busy stall is a good sign of fresh, safe food.
  • Watch the Food Being Cooked: It’s best when your food is cooked in front of you.
  • Be Cautious with Raw Foods: Be careful with raw fruits and vegetables that you can’t peel or haven’t seen washed in clean water.
  • Stay Hydrated with Bottled Water: Stick to bottled water and avoid ice unless you’re sure it’s made from purified water.

📍Top destinations for Vietnam travel

If it’s your first-time to travel to Vietnam alone, below are some of the best places to visit in Vietnam. It also depends how many days/weeks/months you want to travel to Vietnam.

Vietnam is a country you can easily navigate from north to south (or vice-versa). Below are some of the places I recommend for first-timers:

Historical Sites and Cultural Landmarks

vietnam solo travel
Photo by my wonderful photographer, Tatsuto Shibata who always catches me at the height of my happiness!!! / Instagram: @_deepsky

Vietnam’s rich history and culture are reflected in its numerous historical sites and landmarks. Key destinations include:

  • Hue: Once the imperial capital, home to the historic Citadel, royal tombs, and ancient pagodas.
  • Hoi An: A UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its well-preserved Ancient Town with distinctive architecture influenced by Chinese, Japanese, and French styles.
  • My Son Sanctuary: An ancient Hindu temple complex near Hoi An, reflecting the Champa Kingdom’s history.
  • War Remnants Museum and Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City: Offering insights into the Vietnam War.
  • The Temple of Literature in Hanoi: Dedicated to Confucius, this temple symbolizes Vietnam’s educational and literary history.

These sites provide a deep understanding of Vietnam’s past and present, making them must-visit locations for history enthusiasts.

Natural Wonders and Outdoor Adventures

vietnam solo travel

For those who love nature and adventure, Vietnam offers an array of stunning landscapes and activities:

  • Ha Long Bay: Known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped with rainforests.
  • Sapa: Famous for its terraced rice fields, ethnic minority communities, and trekking routes.
  • Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park: Home to impressive limestone karsts and the world’s largest caves.
  • Ninh Binh: Often referred to as “Ha Long Bay on land” with its dramatic landscape of rivers, limestone cliffs, and caves.
  • Da Lat: Known for its cool climate, French colonial architecture, and vibrant flower gardens. It’s also a haven for outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking, and canyoning.

City Guides: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Beyond

vietnam solo travel
I had to buy my own ao dai, the traditional clothing in Vietnam. I was invited to a wedding that’s why I bought it!

Solo travelers can immerse themselves in the bustling urban life of Vietnam’s major cities, each offering unique experiences:

  • Hanoi: The capital city is known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese, and French influences. Key attractions include the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. The city’s street food scene is also a highlight.
  • Ho Chi Minh City: Formerly known as Saigon, this city is the financial and economic hub of Vietnam. It’s known for its French colonial landmarks, including Notre-Dame Cathedral and the 19th-century Central Post Office. The bustling Ben Thanh Market and the vibrant nightlife in District 1 are not to be missed.
  • Da Nang: This coastal city serves as a gateway to the central heritage road, with easy access to Hoi An, Hue, and My Son. It’s known for its sandy beaches and history as a French colonial port.
  • Can Tho: For a taste of the Mekong Delta, Can Tho offers floating markets, riverside landscapes, and a slower pace of life.

✨ Vietnam travel tips

Understand Vietnamese culture

Vietnam’s culture is deeply rooted in Confucianism, which emphasizes morals, familial respect, and societal order. Understanding these cultural values can greatly enhance your interaction with locals and your overall experience.

Family is central in Vietnamese society, and elders are treated with great respect. The concept of ‘face’ is also important, where maintaining both personal and communal dignity is highly valued. Public displays of affection are generally more conservative than in many Western cultures.

Do’s and Don’ts in Vietnam

Adhering to local customs and etiquette is crucial in Vietnam, and here are some key points to consider:

  • ✅ Greet people with a smile and a nod. Handshakes are common, usually initiated by the elder or higher status person.
  • ✅ Remove shoes when entering someone’s home and even some businesses and religious sites.
  • ✅ Use both hands when giving or receiving something, especially to someone older or of higher status.
  • ✅ Dress modestly, particularly when visiting temples and religious sites.
  • ✅ Be patient, polite, and show humility – this is greatly admired in Vietnamese culture.
  • ❌ Avoid public displays of anger or frustration; it’s seen as losing face.
  • ❌ Don’t touch someone’s head, as it’s considered the most sacred part of the body.
  • ❌ Refrain from pointing your feet directly at people or religious objects, as feet are considered the lowest part of the body.
  • ❌ Avoid political discussions related to sensitive historical events, particularly the Vietnam War.

Communicating with Locals

Vietnamese people are generally very friendly and hospitable to foreigners. While English proficiency varies, especially outside the main cities, locals appreciate any effort to speak a few words in Vietnamese.

Simple phrases like “Xin chào” (hello) and “Cảm ơn” (thank you) can go a long way. Non-verbal communication, such as smiling and nodding, also plays a significant role in everyday interactions. When conversing, be mindful of your tone and body language to ensure it’s respectful and considerate.

One of the joys of Vietnam solo travel is the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals from around the world. Here are some ways to network with fellow solo travelers:

Stay in Social Accommodations

Opt for hostels or guesthouses known for their communal environments. Many organize social events where you can meet other travelers.

Some of you may not be comfortable with shared rooms and I get it. As I grew older, I realized that I am way past dorm rooms. Most hostels in Vietnam have private rooms so you can still socialize with other travelers without sharing a room (and the bathroom!).

Join Group Tours or Activities

I met so many people from participating in group tours in Vietnam, especially food. You’d be surprised how many friends you’ll make and you’ll probably end up doing other activities with them.

Go to popular traveler spots

Certain cafes, bars, or landmarks are known hangouts for solo travelers. In Ho Chi Minh City, I would recommend The Deck Saigon, Carmen, Chill Sky Bar, Above, and The Thi Bar. These are all hip spots frequented by a mix of expats, locals, and tourists.

Bui Vien Street is lined with bars, cafes, hostels, and restaurants. It’s a bustling area where you can see and meet other solo travelers. It’s often referred to as “backpacker district” with a fantastic nightlife and street food.

ho chi minh vietnam
On certain days, Bui Vien becomes a pedestrian-only zone in the evenings, allowing visitors to roam the street freely and enjoy the vibrant night scene. Deposit Photos

Attend Language Exchange Meetups in Vietnam

These events are not only great for learning the local language but also for meeting other travelers and locals. Here are some frequent language exchange meet-ups in Ho Chi Minh City:

Participate in Local Events and Activities

Engaging in local events and activities can enhance your travel experience and allow you to meet locals and other travelers:

vietnam solo travel

Get travel insurance

For one month in Vietnam, I only paid $40 USD for travel insurance Never travel to Vietnam without insurance as you don’t know what can happen.

Volunteer

One of the best experiences you can have in Vietnam (and also what will save you a lot of money) is to volunteer. I’ve volunteered in many countries and have gained many different experiences because of this!

I use Worldpackers to find volunteer jobs in Vietnam. You can also use my discount code PSIMONMYWAY10 to get $10 USD off for your one-year membership!

vietnam solo travel

Get an international bank account

My bank accounts in the US and Europe always work well when I am traveling but I always lose money from conversion rates.

I’ve signed up with Wise, an International bank account that has better conversion rates. You can even take your money out in Vietnamese dong with high conversions!

Street food in Vietnam

Know yourself. Street food in Vietnam is one of the best in the world. In fact, there are many Michelin-star street food carts here that are worth trying!

But if you have a sensitive stomach, don’t do it. I never got food poisoning in Vietnam but since I travel often, I am super immune with street food.

vietnam solo travel

Consider your source

Only take advice about Vietnam solo travel from people who have already been. Sure, you can read the news but it’s still best to gain insights from people you know who have actually traveled to Vietnam.

For me, personal experiences are still my basis in deciding to travel solo to a country. Thankfully, I Couchsurfed for many years in my life and have gained a global chain of contacts whom I can rely on!

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10 Comments

  1. Trisha, you could pen a super book with your solo travel experiences. Vietnam has been on my bucket list for years, but haven’t reached there. I would love to see the villages too. As an Indian, I can manage well with street food. Tips on boots and waterproof jacket are good reminders to have the right stuff.

  2. Your road trip to Vietnam brought back fun memories of following my son’s travels for a month through Vietnam. He absolutely loved Vietnam. He would agree it was cheap for someone out of school and he got along ok with little English. Home stays for him were indeed a great way to meet the locals and learn more about the culture. One day we will finally get to Vietnam.

  3. I totally agree – Vietnam is safe and super easy to travel for solo woman. And the food is really fantastic. Moreover it is cheap and people are really friendly. I would recommend it for a first experience for solo travellers.

  4. Great post on your Vietnam trip documenting your unique experience in the country. It was great to know how you perfectly blended with the locals and followed their culture like riding bikes. Thank you for sharing your experience on some of Vietnam’s iconic spots like Halong bay and Golden Da bang bridge.Th rice fields photos are amazing 😍Vietnam is in my bucket list.

  5. Who doesn’t want to visit the friendliest county in the world. I love how you embrace each culture through slow travel, family stays and bonding over food. Through your adventures you really get to know the destination and share some great tips for fire travellers.

  6. Vietnam is definitely is on my travel list. Being a solo traveller, Volunteering is something I always do while travelling long-term and so cool that you get to attend the local wedding. Awesome clicks!

  7. One thing that even I experienced during my trip to Vietnam was that there were no qualms about being safe or escaping eve-teasing. The locals are indeed very welcoming and friendly. Yes, there is a language barrier, but that is not a big problem.

  8. I’ve heard many good things about Vietnam and it’s definitely a possibility for future travel for us. I love that you stayed with a host family. I bet that makes a huge difference in how well you learn the culture and have a meaningful experience. Our most valuable travel experiences have included getting to know the local people!

  9. I too have heard that Vietnam is great for solo female travelers. Reading through your post, I feel as if it is similar to Bali where people make all the difference. I remember how they treated me with respect and gave me special attention as I was a solo female traveler.

  10. Thank you for this lovely read.

    I’ll be solo travelling through vietnam for about 2 months starting the 22nd of november and I got some really helpful insights from your blog.

    Really looking forward to it and I’ll most likely use worldpackers for some volunteering work as well!

    Have a lovely day!

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