Authored by Victoria Giang
Vietnamese tourism is becoming more popular every year. Western travelers flock to this small, oceanfront country in Southeastern Asia due to its rich culture and affordable pricing.
Even though tourism is on the rise in Vietnam and the surrounding countries, many travelers still don’t know what to expect when they arrive. Here are five of the most surprising facts about traveling through Vietnam.
5 Things That May Surprise You About Traveling in Vietnam
Traveling in Vietnam is very inexpensive. It’s so inexpensive that you can travel pretty comfortably with a budget of about fifty dollars per day – and that includes the cost of lodging.
A standard hotel room will cost about $15 per day, a meal from a street vendor will cost about $1, museums and attractions in Vietnam’s bigger cities rarely charge more than $1 for admission, beaches are free to the public, even massages, day trips, and Vietnam tours won’t break the bank.
Of course, there are definitely ways to spend extra money. Luxury hotel rooms, fancy dinner restaurants, personal tour guides, and motorbike rentals are also available in almost all of the major tourist destinations.
If you think rush hour in the United States is bad, just wait until you see the traffic in Vietnam’s major cities.
Most locals prefer to own motorbikes instead of cars due to their cost. Additionally, streets in Vietnam are notoriously complicated and traffic laws are rarely enforced.
Minimum driving ages, one way streets, red lights, turn signals, and single lanes are usually ignored – as is the existence of sidewalks. Millions of motorbikes are on the road at any given time and rush hour literally never ends.
Street food is an essential part of any trip to Vietnam. Major cities have thousands of street vendors selling every Vietnamese dish imaginable.
Pho is probably the most well-known fare, but spring rolls, meat sandwiches, broth based soups, and hundreds of other dishes are available for you to taste.
The food is delicious – especially since it only costs a dollar or two – but it is the street food atmosphere that really makes these vendors such a huge part of Vietnamese culture; they are as much a place to gather and socialize as they are a place to get a quick meal.
Vietnam has more to offer than cheap meals. It also has delicious coffee. The French introduced coffee to Vietnam, but since then it has taken on a life of its own.
Vietnamese coffee beans are coarsely ground and placed in a press. Hot water is poured over the top and it trickles slowly through the beans, producing a very strong, flavorful brew. Typically, sweetened condensed milk is added to the mixture to make a drink commonly referred to “brown coffee” or “milk coffee”.
Other coffee concoctions involve the addition of fruit, yogurt, egg yolks, or cashews. Each one is unique, so don’t be afraid to try a little bit of everything.
The beaches of Vietnam are beautiful, but then the Son Doong cave is an even more impressive natural feature. Son Doong contains the largest cave passage in the world – nearly double the size of the next largest passage.
The cave is about five and a half miles long, but is punctuated by two separate placed where the cave roof has collapsed. These holes allow natural light and green growth to penetrate the cave, creating a stunning, eerie landscape.
Size is not the only notable feature of Son Doong cave. Cave pearls the size of baseballs and the world’s tallest stalagmites also make their home in Son Doong. Tourist access to the cave is limited, but it can be explored with proper planning and prior reservations.
✈ Need to Know
Most citizens of foreign countries require a Vietnam Visa regardless of the purpose or duration of your trip.
If you’d like to search for Vietnam hotels at the lowest prices, click the link below and enter your dates. Hotels Combined will scan all the top booking sites (Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, etc) for the cheapest prices possible:
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Photo credits: Vietnamese iced coffee by HowDaily. Song Doon by Nguyen Tan Tin.
I loved Vietnam. But the traffic in Hanoi is crazy!!
Not something I think I would drive in personally! But definitely an interesting scene to take in!!
Try to go very early in the morning or around new year, you’ll see a different Hanoi and enjoy much more. Otherwise just brave yourself :)
Hi Stephanie, you can sit on a cyclo ( a kind of rickshaw) and you can see Hanoi streets in safety. :-)
I’ve heard so many things about Vietnam, I can’t wait to go there one day and see what’s true and what isn’t.
First hand experience is always the best. Hope you have the chance to travel soon :)
Yes! You should come one day. You’ll be in heaven of tropical fruits and all local street stands, they taste perfect.
Ohh, I miss that super sweet coffee so much! Not the best option for those trying to keep a good figure, but delicious! I agree with the author: the traffic is terrible!
Glad you had a great time in Vietnam Miguel! Lol re the coffee I find when I’m traveling I do much more exercise than I do at home, walking all day, exploring etc, so my thinking is that my figure can handle a little indulgence to balance all that extra exercise :D
We’ll go to Vietnam very soon, and i can’t wait to try all the street food and coffee :) Thank you forthose tips! Have an awesome day.
Have an amazing trip Tom!
Vietnam is my favourite country in SE Asia. It’s so cheap to travel and I love the food and scenery!
Awesome Chloe! Glad to connect with another Vietnam fan too!
Vietnam is very inexpensive. I feel like you can easily live like a “Queen”. I also enjoy vietnamese food, like Pho. The scenery is also spectacular. I think you can stretch your money a lot, when you are traveling in Vietnam.
Absolutely Karla – your money goes a long way which is amazing, and with such a diversity of attractions, from culinary to historic, and natural scenery, it’s a no brainer if deciding whether to go :D!
I haven’t thought seriously about Vietnam, I have an image of chaos and that makes me nervous. BUT, I had no idea it is so inexpensive, that overrides chaos!
The cities are definitely chaotic, which may be intimidating if you’re not used to that, but it’s an experience, and like anything, you can seek out the natural attractions and get away from all of that. And inexpensive definitely overrides chaos – I think you’ll have a really nice time :)
I do agree about the “Natural Wonder” – Ha Long Bay surprised me in many different ways, which I have also put it in! @ Knycx.journeyinghttps://knycxjourneying.com/2016/12/19/different-faces-of-ha-long-bay/
Thanks for sharing your link – will check out your thoughts on Ha Long Bay – I’ve heard mixed reviews!
These are absolutely true! The Vietnamese iced coffee is the BOMB! I also loved the egg coffee. It was dessert and coffee all at once, but I drank it a little too late into the night. Haha! I wish I had had more time in Vietnam. Since I had a ticket back home that bought in advance, I was very disappointed that we had to spend so much time on sleeper buses to see as much as possible. I guess I just need to go back…
Egg coffee definitely sounds interesting, I’ll have to give it a go when I eventually get there.
It’s the sign of a great vacation at least, when you come home wishing for more time. You coudl treat that first trip as a sampler of the country, where you got a good idea of what you would like to explore in more depth for your next trip :)
I’ve heard great things about Vietnam but sadly I didn’t have time to visit when I went to Asia earlier this year. I’ll definitely need to go back sometime! I’m dying to try Vietnamese food!
Ah, maybe on your next trip :) Definitely the best place to find Vietnamese food :D!
Such an inspiring post about Vietnam. As a green home enthusiast, some of these places conjure thoughts of a more simple way of life. I would love to share my thoughts in a guest post if you’d have me =)
Glad you enjoyed the post :) Our niche is travel as opposed to home / lifestyle, so a guest post on green homes unfortunately wouldn’t fit. Thankyou though!
Before drinking coffee in Vietnam, please also note that Vietnam is a country that exports the second most coffee for the world. This explains why coffee is a very popular drink around Vietnam. There are thousands of coffee shop in Hanoi and Hochiminh, and just call at some of these shop, order a condensed milk coffee, and you will taste Vietnam and see the real lifes tyle of young Vietnamese
Interesting, I had no idea that Vietnam was one of the biggest exporters of coffee in the world – cool fact Long :)
Good to know that you can’t miss a coffee shop when exploring – looking forward to making it to Vietnam myself at some stage!
We loved everything about Vietnam particularly Pho and their coffee. We loved the Pho at Phở Gia Truyền Bát Đàn. The line was long but it was really worth it. Their coffee is really amazing too. We even bought a few packs of coffee beans and a manual coffee grinder. Too bad we weren’t able to visit Son Doong Cave. It looks really beautiful and peaceful. Thanks Megan and Mike for the tip. We now have a reason to go back to Vietnam.
Glad to hear you had a fabulous time in Vietnam, and managed to take some of their famous coffee home with you :)
Son Doong Cave definitely means you have an excuse to plan a return trip!
Thanks for the advices about Vietnam.I would like to go and see there one day. You said it is inexpensive so it can be easy to afford hotel fees and street foods seem nice. I am wondering Pho :)
You’re welcome, glad you enjoyed the post! Yes, Vietnam is very inexpensive, so it should be very easy to budget for a trip. Happy travels!
Hi Meg Jerrard,
Great article! Vietnam tourism is very interesting. Many new and wonderful destinations. Besides food in Vietnam is very diverse and especially very delicious. But the cost to travel in Vietnam is quite cheap. What made me most unhappy was the traffic problem, it was quite crazy.
Glad you enjoyed the post Zenni! Vietnam tourism really is so interesting, but yes you’re right on the traffic being a bit of a problem!! Has to be some of the most hectic in Asia!!
But the cultural experiences, the food, and how cheap it is to experience it all make it worthwhile of course :)
I’d like to add the currency is confusing. So many different notes and several look the same. Plus there are a lot of zeros!
Definitely puts your math skills to the test!
It is great
Glad you enjoyed the post :)
Thanks! So glad you enjoyed it :)