10 Essential Vietnam Travel Tips for First Time Travellers!

by Huy Huỳnh Ngọc

Planning a trip to Vietnam? Get ready for an incredible adventure in one of the most captivating countries in Asia. With its rich history, diverse landscapes, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality, Vietnam offers a unique travel experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories. To ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey, PALM VIETNAM TRAVEL has compiled a list of 10 essential Vietnam travel tips. From visa requirements to cultural etiquette, these tips will help you navigate the country like a pro and make the most of your time in Vietnam.

Visa Requirements and e-Visa Application

Before setting off on your Vietnam adventure, make sure to sort out your visa. All travelers to Vietnam require a visa, and it’s crucial to start the application process well in advance. Fortunately, obtaining an e-Visa has never been easier.

The e-Visa allows you to apply online and receive your entry permit within three working days. Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months, and have a JPG photo ready for the application.

Remember to provide your entry and exit dates and a temporary Vietnam address. Check if your country is eligible for the e-Visa on Vietnam’s official e-Visa website

Travel Insurance for Peace of Mind

No matter your travel style or plans, travel insurance is essential when visiting Vietnam. Whether you’re exploring bustling cities, embarking on motorbike adventures, or trekking in national parks, having reliable coverage is crucial in case of accidents or emergencies.

Consider purchasing travel insurance from reputable providers like SafetyWing, which offers comprehensive coverage for longer trips. Review their inclusions and exclusions to ensure you have the right policy that suits your needs and provides peace of mind throughout your journey.


Choosing the Best Time to Visit

Vietnam’s climate varies significantly from north to south, so it’s important to pick the right season for your visit. Generally, the spring months of March to April and the autumn months of September to early December offer the most pleasant weather.

During these periods, the north is not too cold, and the south and coastal areas are not excessively hot. However, keep in mind that weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared for sudden changes in temperature, rain showers, or even heat waves. Adjust your itinerary accordingly based on the weather conditions in the specific regions you plan to visit.

Lotus pond in Vietnam.
Terraced fields in Vietnam.

Crafting Your Itinerary – Quality over Quantity

Vietnam is a country with so much to offer, from vibrant cities to stunning natural landscapes. When planning your itinerary, it’s essential to strike a balance between exploration and relaxation.

Rather than trying to cram too many destinations into a short period, opt for a more leisurely pace that allows you to fully immerse yourself in each location.

Spend at least three days in major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, using them as bases to explore the surrounding areas and take day trips to nearby attractions. Remember, Vietnam may look small on the map, but travel times can be longer than expected due to road conditions and traffic.

Taking a stroll in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
Vietnam experience.

Pre-booking Airport Transfers for Convenience

Arriving in a new country can be overwhelming, especially when navigating unfamiliar transportation options. To start your Vietnam journey stress-free, consider pre-booking your airport transfer. This way, you won’t have to worry about finding a taxi or dealing with potential language barriers upon arrival.

Pre-arranged airport transfers ensure a smooth transition from the airport to your hotel, allowing you to relax and focus on enjoying your trip from the very beginning. Take advantage of trusted platforms like GetYourGuide to book your airport transfer in advance for a hassle-free start to your Vietnam adventure.

Anh Quoc Limousine

Embrace Vietnamese Phrases and Etiquette

While English is widely spoken in popular tourist areas, learning a few Vietnamese phrases will enhance your travel experience and show respect for the local culture.

Even basic greetings and expressions can go a long way in connecting with the locals and immersing yourself in the Vietnamese way of life. Consider phrases like “xin chao” (hello), “cam on” (thank you), and “xin loi” (excuse me).

Learning these phrases will not only make communication easier but also demonstrate your appreciation for the local customs. Embrace the opportunity to learn more about the local language and culture.

Visitors exploring Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi.

Budgeting for Your Vietnam Trip

Vietnam is known for its affordability, but it’s important to plan your budget carefully to ensure you have enough funds for all your desired experiences. While accommodations and street food are generally inexpensive, there are still activities and attractions that may require additional budget allocation.

Consider splurging on experiences like a quality Halong Bay cruise or exploring unique cultural sites. Remember that cash is still widely used in Vietnam, especially in smaller establishments and rural areas. Carry enough Vietnamese dong to cover your expenses and be prepared to pay in cash at local markets, street stalls, and certain accommodations.

Rowing boats on Ha Long Bay.
Cruising for sightseeing in Ha Long Bay.

Tipping Etiquette in Vietnam

Tipping is not compulsory in Vietnam, but it is appreciated as a gesture of gratitude for excellent service. When dining at restaurants or cafes, check if a 10% service fee has already been included in the bill.

If not, leaving a tip of 10-20% is considered good practice, especially for exceptional service. When taking guided tours or using transportation services, tipping the tour guides and drivers is also customary. Show your appreciation for their efforts and professionalism by giving a gratuity that reflects your satisfaction with the service provided.

Dressing Appropriately for the Vietnamese Climate

Vietnam’s climate can be hot and humid, so it’s essential to pack appropriate clothing for your trip. Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen that will keep you comfortable in the tropical climate.

Pack clothing that can be easily washed and dried overnight, as humidity can make clothes feel damp. In more conservative areas and when visiting temples, it’s important to dress modestly.

Women should carry a scarf to cover their shoulders, and men should wear long, lightweight pants. Additionally, always carry a travel raincoat and umbrella, as Vietnam’s weather can be unpredictable, with sudden rain showers even during the dry season.

Traditional Vietnamese “ao dai” is worn during Tet festivities.

Capturing Memories – Don’t Forget Your Camera!

Vietnam is a photographer’s paradise, offering countless opportunities to capture breathtaking landscapes, vibrant markets, and unique cultural moments. Don’t forget to bring your camera and take advantage of the stunning photo opportunities that await you.

However, it’s important to be respectful when taking photos of people, especially in rural areas. Always ask for permission before capturing someone’s portrait and be mindful of cultural sensitivities.

Engage with the locals, learn their stories, and create meaningful connections before pressing the shutter button. Your photographs will not only serve as visual souvenirs but also as reminders of the incredible experiences you had in Vietnam.

Hạ Long Bay, Vietnam.
Tourists experiencing a cyclo ride in Vietnam.

Other Essential tips

The most concerning issue for foreign travelers when visiting Vietnam is finding convenient and reasonable-priced accommodation. That’s why we would like to introduce here the accommodation system in Vietnam which comprises a wide range of hotels and hostels ranking from five-star ones to budget ones. The most common choice of accommodation for foreigners visiting Vietnam would be Vietnam hotels. The hotel system is available in almost all tourist destinations such as HanoiHo Chi Minh CityHalong Bay, Cat Ba, SapaHoi AnDalatNha Trang, Phan Thiet, Phu Quoc, Con Dao, etc. In big cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang, you can find all types of hotels from five-star luxury to budget ones. Hotels in these cities are located in almost every street that is near tourist attractions.


Halong Bay Vietnam

The beautiful of Halong Bay Vietnam


In other destinations famous for their beaches such as Phu Quoc and Phan Thiet, there are mainly luxury resorts and hotels that offer you the most private and comfortable accommodations. The price may be a little bit high, but the service is really great. On the contrary, there are some tourist destinations in the northwest of Vietnam where the hotel system is not very well-developed. When making a trip to these areas, for example, to visit ethnic minority villages, you should consider the possibility of staying in local people’s houses without modern facilities and services. However, it is a great experience, especially for those who want to explore and learn about the traditions and culture of Vietnam.


Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc Beach Island


For those wandering souls who would love to explore the peaceful countryside in Vietnam, you may need to consider staying in some motels (which read “Nhà Nghỉ” in Vietnamese) along the way. The prices are cheap, there are only standard facilities and English-speaking staff should not be expected here. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you learn some common Vietnamese phrases or find yourself a Vietnamese companion. The language barrier had better not be regarded lightly in these areas. Hostels are not very popular in Vietnam.


You can only find some in a few big cities and tourists attractions such as Ho Chi Minh City or Danang or Hue city. It is best if you get the recommendations from some fellow backpackers for there is not much available information on the internet. Three and four-star hotels are most commonly used among foreign tourists in Vietnam. For four star hotels, you can either contact the hotel directly via the hotels’ websites or book hotel via a hotel booking website which lists all the available hotels and their prices.


Road side coffee Saigon

Roadside coffee Saigon


The prices from these websites might be a little lower than the listed prices at the hotels. When it comes to three-star hotels and lower, you might have some difficulties contacting the hotel directly because some of them do not have a website. Then, your best choice would be to make reservations through a hotel booking website. Aside from the price factor, you can also compare the facilities and locations of hotels to pick out the one that best meets your needs. If you choose a website that focuses in hotels in Vietnam only (also Vietnam-based), it may come with other travel services essential for foreign tourists (such as Vietnam visa, airport transfer, and tours) as well as useful travel guides and tips.

With the advantage of being local, they might give you a better insight into what you need and provide you with better support once you are in Vietnam. Above is a brief overview of accommodation in Vietnam and the choices available for foreign tourists. We hope you find them useful in some way and Welcome to Vietnam!

With these 10 essential Vietnam travel tips, you’re well-equipped to embark on an unforgettable journey through this captivating country. From securing your visa to embracing the local culture, planning your itinerary wisely, and capturing incredible moments, these tips will help you make the most of your time in Vietnam. Remember to approach your travels with an open mind, embrace the unexpected, and immerse yourself in the beauty and charm that Vietnam has to offer. Get ready for an adventure filled with rich history, stunning landscapes, mouthwatering cuisine, and warm hospitality. Your Vietnam experience awaits!

Palm Vietnam Travel – Posted by Para Fin

Huy Huỳnh Ngọc

Written by Huy Huỳnh Ngọc