Vietnam was never a country we had a strong passion to visit, in fact, we were more excited to see the white sand beaches of Thailand and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. We wanted to see all those postcard pictures you see when googling ‘Southeast Asia’. Not much ever came up about backpacking Vietnam.
We didn’t really know much about Vietnam apart from school textbook wars and the Americanized Pho restaurants down my street. No one taught us that Vietnam was truly a stunning country.
Vietnam turned out to be both our favorite country in all of Southeast Asia. Out of all the places we visited, Vietnam has snuck its way into our hearts. I mean, there was always some type of adventure around, the food was so delicious (unlike the restaurant down my street), the ambiance was bustling and vibrant, and the people were so unbelievably friendly! Vietnam is a must upon your travels, we know it will sneak a special place in your heart too.
Here are the reason why we love Vietnam so much!
1. Vietnam has some of the best food
Vietnam was a foodies paradise! Open air markets, street stalls, plastic chair restaurants, and hole in the wall places, you will be able to find everything you could ever want! With a French influence, Vietnamese bread was some of the tastiest and freshest we tried in all of Asia (hey, even the world). And the fruit? Oh, don’t even get us started!
From Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwiches with pork and pickled veggies), to Pho (a Vietnamese soup), to fresh spring rolls, to Vietnamese stir fried noodles, we know you will never go hungry.
2. There is adventure everywhere you turn
You wouldn’t expect it, but Vietnam is FULL of all kinds of adventure. Try canyoning and repelling in waterfalls in Da Lat. Kayak in the UNESCO Heritage site in Halong Bay. Try your skills in sand boarding in Mui Ne. Trek the rice paddies and meet the Hmong Tribe in Sapa. And hey, if you want a real adventure, try riding a motorbike or even crossing the streets in Hanoi! There are so many adventures in Vientam, you will always have something to do.
3. Visit the many UNESCO Heritage Sites
With 8 UNESCO Heritage Sites, Vietnam has a mix of natural and historical sites to visit. Halong Bay, Hoi An Old Quarter, My Son Sanctuary, Phong Na National park (with the worlds largest cave), and Hue Monuments are just a few that you must see. Vietnam continuously impressed us with its amazing, beautiful sites to see.
4. Enjoy dinner at a nice plastic chair restaurant
We don’t know the proper term, but have you seen these plastic chair restaurants in Vietnam? Well, they are restaurants with little tables and tiny plastic chairs along the sidewalk, serving delicious Vietnamese food (where you can cook it yourself on a hotplate at the table), and unbelievably cheap beers, like $0.25 a beer! These little “plastic chair restaurants” are found throughout Vietnam (primarily Hoi An, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh) on most street corners. Plus, it was a great experience to meet other travelers (it’s very social!).
5. Drink some cheap beer
Did we mention how much we love cheap beer? 20 – 25 cents a beer is just outrageous in the best way possible. To us, beer always tastes better when it’s cheap! Also, it’s so hot in Vietnam that a beer was just always a way to cool down, in fact, beer was actually cheaper than water. How else can you stay hydrated on a hot day? ;)
6. Sip on some great Vietnamese Coffee
Fun fact, did you know Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world? Vietnam has an amazing coffee scene and when traveling with an Aussie, coffee is a an absolute must for us to discover some of the country’s culture.
Everything from drip coffees, condensed milk coffee, to cold brews, to lattes, to even yogurt coffee (seriously, it’s so good), the coffee culture was just incredible.
7. It’s easy to travel throughout the entire country
Vietnam is a great spot for travelers and over the past few years, it has become very easy and convenient to travel. You can fly to other cities for around $50 but it’s pretty easy take the trains and busses across the country from North to South and vice versa. The train and bus takes you essentially to ever city in Vietnam!
We would take the overnight bus to the next city and it helped not only get us to the next destination, but to cancel out a night at hotel. You sleep on the bus, and next thing you know, you are in another city.
If you really want an adventure, we even have friends who have motorbiked through the entire country, which seems amazing! They have their system down pat and it made our travels throughout Vietnam very easy, convenient and very flexible.
8. Vietnam has some amazing museums
Vietnam has such a deep and rich history, it is so important to explore these museums to learn more about Vietnam. The museums are so educational and moving, so we strongly recommend visiting some. To name a few, you can visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, Prisons in Hanoi, Temple of Literature, Vietnam Military Museum, and The War Museum all which offered a piece of history on Vietnam worth learning.
9. The energy of the country is infectious
There is music playing and people dancing. Motorbikes almost everywhere. People in markets with amazing, colorful fruit stands. The smell of street food on almost every corner. Smiles upon everyone’s faces. The country feels so lively. There is such a fun bustling energy when you walk throughout the city. It is hard to explain, but when you get to Vietnam, you just feel the country’s energy and it’s awesome.
10. Lucky for me, medical care was very affordable
Although it’s not recommended to get hurt when backpacking Vietnam (or anywhere for that matter), I experienced going through medical care. I got stitches in Vietnam (remember how I mentioned Vietnam has a lot of adventure? Well, it wasn’t adventurous or anything awesome, unfortunately. Oh, you know, just the typical air-con-panel-falling-on-your-face-while-in-bed. Nothing out of the ordinary).
Anyways, I was rushed to the doctors to get some stitches, which cost an expensive $10. They checked up on me a few times, provided me with stitching equipment, bandaids, and medical tape to take care of it. It cost a whole lot less than it would in the US. The staff still told me “I still look sexy” so hey, for $10 and a compliment, it wasn’t a bad day at the hospital.