TRACING VIETNAM: BACKPACKING IN VIETNAM
With its lengthy geographical feature, Vietnam is quite easy to travel. As I always say to other travellers I crossed the path with, “you wouldn’t miss anything, and you will meet everyone”. Everyone, especially backpackers, will either go up North or cruise down South. Backpacking in Vietnam with a motorbike is also a tradition or go on these affordable motorbike tours in Vietnam.
I will highlight the top places you could visit for your Vietnam trip. If you’re a hidden gem seeker, I suggest you find it yourself. I have found some, somewhere I left pieces of my heart.
*All prices are in US Dollars
Expected expenses per day: $30-$35
- Accommodation: Dorm rooms: $5-7, Private Single room: 10
- Meal: 1.5-3
- Transportation: Buses are the cheapest and quite fast. Trains are more expensive and a lot slower. A motorbike can be bought for $200 (Hanoi) $270 (HCMC).
- Tours: Tours all over Vietnam is unlimited, there’s so many things you can do and places you can explore. Make sure you will get an awesome local tour guide for a better experience.
Note: Scroll down (to the last part) if you are planning to start in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).From there, your guide for backpacking in Vietnam will begin.
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Tracing Vietnam: Backpacking in Vietnam
Flying into Vietnam/Crossing Border from Laos
The starting point will be Hanoi for people who either do backpacking in Vietnam or spending holidays. From here you can either go to Ha Long Bay or Sa Pa. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, expect a huge number of tourists, a busy and chaotic city. Despite all these, Hanoi still managed to charm all its visitors. The fascinating traffic jams, crazy motorbikes and the small plastic chairs on the side street. One traveller said to me once, “In Hanoi, everything happens in its street”.
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Sa Pa is famous for its trekking and Homestay. Trek through the stunning rice paddies and jaw-dropping mountains, experience how the people of the mountain lives and try some rice wine with them. Your backpacking in Vietnam will not be complete without this specific trip.
Ha Long Bay
Cruise around those exquisite limestone pillars across the Ha Long Bay, the limestone, green water, the gorgeous sunset, an overnight stay in an island and the isolation from the digital world; this place is a total package for nature lovers, holidaymakers or basically everyone who wants a break from their busy lives.
Ha Long Bay will help you relax your mind and enjoy a real vacation. You can check here the best Ha Long Bay cruise.
Ninh Binh is also called as Ha Long Bay by Land. Some travellers skip Ninh Binh on their backpacking in Vietnam. This stunning place is only 2-3 hours from Hanoi, which suits for holiday tourists. Instead of cruising in the bay, Ninh Binh is a small boat sailing trip, you will go through underneath the limestone pillars. If you have time, I suggest you consider this place.
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Note: If you will not driving with a motorbike and you started in Hanoi, doing Sa Pa and Ha Long Bay will require you to do backtracking in Hanoi. There’s NO convenient way to do it this way: Hanoi-SaPa-HaLongBay- Ninh Binh. It will be this way: Hanoi-SaPa-Hanoi-HaLongBay-Hanoi- Ninh Binh. If your schedule is tight, there are overnight buses and trains; you don’t have to worry about wasting time.
After I went here, I started to call Vietnam as the Land of Caves, you will be surprised how many gorgeous caves they have. Phong Nha is a national park, they have the famous Paradise Cave, which I personally describe as Lord of the Rings Cave, Dark Cave or Mud Cave and the Adventure Cave.
Phong Nha is also famous Hang Son Doong, the world’s largest cave! Check out my blogging buddy’s week-long adventure trekking through the Jungle and camping in the caves.
Hue – Da Nang – Hoi An
Hue was the capital of Vietnam way back in its history. For history geeks, visit the Imperial City or the Old City where you can learn about Vietnam’s intriguing history. For young travellers, Hue is the starting point of the popular Hai Van Pass. Rent a motorbike (either drive it yourself or jump on someone’s back) leave your huge bags with the motorbike company and let them transfer it to Hoi An. Drive through Hai Van Pass where you will be up in the mountains and clouds, enjoy the scenery of Da Nang from the top. This drive takes 6-8 hours depending on your speed. You will finish and arrive in Hoi An.
Where everybody gets stuck. Hoi An is a charming little town near the coast. Beloved for its trendy lantern on this street, quiet and less busy town, you will either spend a night here (because you’re in a rush) or 1 week because it managed to charm you completely. Praised for its customised tailoring of clothes, shoes, bags, suits or everything, take advantage of it. Treat yourself a good long gown dress or swimwear for a very affordable price and fast service. Your backpacking in Vietnam is not done without stopping here.
Stop by Da Lat for its remarkable Canyoning, challenge your adventurous soul and get your adrenaline pumped! Rent a motorbike and add to your list to visit the Crazy House and the waterfalls.
Don’t miss the sunrise in the Red and White Sand Dunes of Mui Ne. This little town is also well-known for its beaches. Put your swimsuits and sunscreen, enjoy the sun and start relaxing.
Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon
This is a bustling city, bigger roads (compare to Hanoi) and more motorbikes. Some say this is the Western City of Vietnam. However, HCMC still offers a handful of things to do to its tourists. Visit the museums, take a day trip to Cu Chi Tunnels or Mekong Delta and more. Don’t forget to try the Red Saigon beer. You may check this article about “where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City“. Where all types of accommodation are thoroughly discussed.
After your visit in Ho Chi Minh and a long trip, you may want a full-on beach holiday, there is no other place that you should go but to Phu Quoc Island, check out this complete guide about Starfish beach in Phu Quoc or you can cross the land border between Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, Cambodia on a 6-hour bus ride.
Some people only have a limited time to travel, try not to feel bad and focus on making the most out of it. You can check out this article about backpacking in Vietnam for a more in-depth information.