Top tips for visiting Vietnam

These are our top tips to make the most of your trip to Vietnam – from when to visit to what to wear in the rainy season, we've got you covered!
 Tips for visiting Vietnam: Do as the locals do and wear a hat to shelter from the sun
Tips for visiting Vietnam: Do as the locals do and wear a hat to shelter from the sun

Here are our top tips for visiting Vietnam. Enjoy!

When to visit

Determining the "best time to visit Vietnam" is entirely subjective, especially since each region has its own weather patterns. Even the rainy season isn't necessarily a bad time to visit, as showers are usually a brief afternoon interlude, and can be planned around. The rains have the added benefit of cooling the temperatures and initiating the growth of foliage and flora.

BOOK IT NOW: Quintessential Vietnam

Finding safe street food

When eating street food and at small canteens and diners, try to select a venue that is crowded. This suggests that the food tastes good, and that it's also fresh.

Traditional Vietnamese food.

Traditional Vietnamese food. Photo: Shutterstock

Water and ice

It is safest only to drink bottled water, soft drinks or boiled beverages (tea and coffee). Ice is generally safe; however, if it is being hacked off a block on the pavement, it is best avoided!

Sun care

Bring your own high-factor sunscreen from home as many of the creams on sale in Vietnam double as skin whitening agents.

Plan ahead

Be sure to buy advanced tickets for the evening performance of Hanoi’s Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre first thing in the morning or the day before, as they tend to sell out, especially at weekends.

Stay warm

Sa Pa and the Northern Highlands is the coldest region in Vietnam, especially when visiting in winter months so be sure to pack some warm clothing. Also be aware that many budget hotels and restaurants do not have heating and it gets quite chilly at night.


Be sure to check the current visa situation well in advance of your trip and arrange your visa letter through an agent, if required.

Copy your passport

In Vietnam, it's handy to have a photocopy of your passport upon checkin at hotels in case you want to keep your original copy on your person.
Hanoi's cheep and cheerful beer, bia hoi.

Hanoi's cheep and cheerful beer, bia hoi. Photo: Shutterstock

Learn from a local

Vietnamese people love it when visitors speak even the smallest amount of their language, so ask the hotel staff how to say "hello" and "thank you" – trying to learn the language from a book without pronunciation help is an uphill battle!

Rise early

Vietnamese people rise early. To see the best of most places, the earlier you can get up, the better.

Slow down

The Vietnamese, especially outside of HCMC, like to take their time over a coffee to chat and watch the world go by. Be sure to leave some time in your own schedule to do the same.

Drink bia hoi

In Hanoi, don’t miss the chance to drink the cheapest beer of your life at a pavement side bia hoi. And be sure to order some food to go with it.

Vietnamese money (Dong).

Vietnamese money (Dong). Photo: Shutterstock

Carry small notes

For taxis, buying water on the street and other small transactions, a few 10,000 dong notes will be much better than a fistful of 500,000s.

Rainy season footwear

If you are in Vietnam in the rainy season, consider wearing open sandals or flip flops to let the water drain out if you’re caught in a downpour.

Book a trip: The Wonders of Vietnam

Buy a book: Insight Guide Vietnam

Read more: Top 5 attractions in Vietnam