Vietnam is one of the most bountiful countries and has been an extremely exciting tourist destination in Southeast Asia. You would easily fall in love with this amazing country, the land of ancient secrets with vibrant culture, hearty people. Furthermore, Vietnam has spectacular landscapes with the diverse ecosystem, exotic food and delightful traditions.
This country offers a lovely contrasting picture: chaotic cities and peaceful village, majestic mountains and tranquil beaches. Spending as long as possible in this country then you would find out there are so many things you want to learn about Vietnam. Absolutely, exploring Vietnam and you will never regret because you will have the most rewarding travel experiences ever in your life.
If you have a month in Vietnam, it is a reasonable amount of time to discover the country, you can experience from the North to the South and that could be your unforgettable trip ever.
In order to utilize your time, you should visit the places that can represent their regions and there are some vibrant places of the North, the Central and the South for you to visit: Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Ho Chi Minh. However, something must be done, and you need to know before you travel to Vietnam.
Notes for obtaining a Vietnam visa
First things first, you always must check for Vietnam visa requirements and get one before landing in Vietnam if required. Nevertheless, the process of making visa is quite complicated, so it may discourage you but do not worry about that. There are few ways to a Vietnam visa depending on your condition, situation and place you are from.
According to the recent Vietnam Government decree regarding immigration (2/16/2017), the visitors from 46 countries can apply for Vietnam’s e-visa (electronic visa) during pilot period and the validity endures 30 days. You can find out the list of 46 countries in the list of nationals eligible for Vietnam e-visa.
Updated on July 20, 2018: there are 24 countries have the exemption of entry visa to Vietnam with the ordinary Passport. See the list here: Those do not need Visa to Enter Vietnam.
If your home country is not on the list of 46 countries or your nationality is included in the list but you wish to stay in Vietnam for more than 30 days or visit Vietnam on a business trip, and you are not the citizens of those 24 countries, so you can consider two ways to obtain a Vietnam visa. With the ordinary way, you have to go to the Vietnam Embassy in your home country then follow the procedure to apply for the visa. Another method is Visa on Arrival (VOA), this method has been the most popular in recent years because it is extremely convenient, affordable and can save your time and money.
How to apply for Vietnam visa on arrival
Firstly, with the Visa on Arrival, you can easily submit the application online by filling out the form online (https://booking.vietnam-visa.com/step1.html) and it merely takes 5 minutes. Then after 2 working days, you will get the visa approval letter via email. Finally, when you arrive in Vietnam, you have to present these following documents (your passport, Visa Approval Letter, 2 passport photos, visa approval letter via email, stamping fee) to the Immigration Officer to receive the Visa stamped.
The visitors wishing to obtain a VOA should notice that you have to pay two fees for it including Stamping fee and Service fee. A single-entry visa costs 25$ USD for stamping fee and 50$ USD for multiple entry visa valid up to 3 months. In terms of service fee, you can find out more options through the table below or check out for your nationality at: Cost of Vietnam visa on arrival.
Weather in Vietnam
In general, Vietnam is typically hot and humid. The weather can vary among different regions based on the geographical position.
- Mountainous – high area of the North: this area is divided into two seasons; the dry season runs from October to March while wet season runs from April to September. It can get very cold and frosty in the dry season.
- Northern Vietnam: has four seasons, but it has an enormous difference between winter and summer. It is hot wet in the summer and the degree could be up to 38°C. The winter is cold and dry, and it is pretty cold, the lowest degree is 5°C.
- Central Vietnam: this part has hot and dry weather from January to late August, the temperature often reaches approximately 30°C. From October to November, the rainfall turns to strong and the typhoons could appear at this time.
- Southern Vietnam: Typically, the South’s climate is hot throughout the year and divides into two seasons; dry and wet. The dry season begins in November until lately April and being hot and humid. From May to early November is the wet season
And now, let’s learn in details a sample itinerary for your 1 month in Vietnam.
Recommended Vietnam 1-month travel
Hanoi trip: 3 days in one of the most ancient capitals
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is over 1000 years old so there is no denying that Hanoi represents the most cultural and ancient cities in the World. It is a fascinating mix of the East and the West which is the vestiges and influences of the invasions in the past.
One thing is inevitable that if you visit Hanoi for the first time you would get culture shock a bit because of the chaotic city center, insane traffic, crazy drivers, and pollution. However, you will also be impressed by the fantastic street food, vibrant nightlife, lovely locals, unique architecture and wonderful tradition.
Things to do in Hanoi
#1 Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and visit Ngoc Son Temple
Hoan Kiem lake is located in the city centre and it is the most popular and attractive place to the locals and tourists. Ngoc Son temple locates on a small island in the centre of Hoan Kiem Lake linked by a unique bridge named “The Huc”. The fee to visit Ngoc Son temple is 20,000vnd ~ 1$ USD.
This site contains interesting historical stories and legends regarding the name of the lake. Now this place has become walking street every weekend with a lot of special activities regarding folklore and folk art.
#2 Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long became the UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010. The building represents ancient oriental architecture, and it was the political centre of 13 consecutive centuries as well as the capital of Vietnam until now.
Nearby, you can also visit the symbol of Hanoi, it is the central flag tower of the citadel stands 40 meters. Ticket’s price t for entrance to the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is 30,000vnd ~1.32$ USD.
#3 Visit the Temple of Literature
Temple of literature or “Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam” is the first national university of Vietnam. This charming complex temple is located to the south of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars.
It contains various pavilions, halls, statues and stelae of doctors who achieved the best in examinations. Visiting this place, you are able to learn more about Vietnamese history, especially Ly and Tran Dynasties. The entrance ticket is 10,000vnd.
#4 Wandering and exploring Hanoi Old Quarter
Hanoi Old Quarter is an attractive area of the city where the visitors can experience the history of Hanoi, rich food culture, French-colonial architecture and even the manner of Hanoian. The Old Quarter is based in Hoan Kiem District, the important district of Hanoi.
This area is always crowded regardless of day or night because it is the residential and commercial centre. To Vietnamese, another common name of Old Quarter is “the 36 streets” related to the crafts special to each area gave their names to 36 streets of the quarter. This is a special and unique trait of this place.
At night, the Old Quarter turns extremely lively and bustle with plenty of things to do, especially at Ta Hien Street where the locals call “Foreigner Street”. At this location, the visitors can choose any restaurants and sit on tiny plastic chairs, drink cheap local beer and taste the great street foods ever. It is a really entertaining and most popular hangout spot with live music, pubs, bars and nightclubs.
#5 Other Hanoi Attractions
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum: Ho Chi Minh is the first Vietnamese communist leader and hero of national liberation. He is well-respected and has had a major influence on Vietnamese people.
Dong Xuan market: the largest market in Hanoi where you can find some souvenir stuff or handicrafts.
There are many Hanoi’s significant attractions you can consider as well such as Hanoi Opera House, National Museum of Vietnam, Ba Dinh Square, One Pillar Pagoda, etc.
What to eat in Hanoi
Absolutely, Hanoi is the paradise for foodies because the types of food are amazingly diverse, and the taste is extraordinary with the incredibly cheap price. It is sad you will not have enough time to try all the dishes
However, you should notice three most specific and must-eat dishes that are Pho, Bun Cha and Cha Ca
“Phở” is Vietnamese traditional dish and kind of rice noodle soup serves with few herbs and meat, primarily made with beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà). In Hanoi, you will be able to try “Northern-style Pho”. A bowl of Pho has price from 30,000vnd to 60,000vnd (1.3$ – 2.6$ USD).
Actually, there are plenty of Pho restaurants in Hanoi, so you would get a bowl of Pho at anywhere. Yet, if you want to find cleanliness, comfort and prestige place so you could go for some branded Pho restaurants such as Pho Bát Đàn, Pho 24, Pho Lý Quốc Sư, Pho Thìn, etc. Nevertheless, you should not underestimate the small restaurants with tiny plastic chairs because for the locals, those types of restaurants somehow are the best.
“Bún Chả” originated from Hanoi, it severs with grilled fatty port, rice noodle, lettuce and herbs with a side dish of dipping sauce. No doubt, the incredible taste of Bun Cha made President Obama fell in love with.
It is same to Pho, you can find the Bun Cha everywhere in Hanoi. You also can try the most famous restaurant now where Obama got his first meal of Bun Cha called “Bún Chả Hương Liên”. This restaurant is located at 24 Le Van Huu Street and even now it has become more well-known, but the price has no change. You can have a meal of Bun Cha with 2$ USD, it is unbelievable!!
Ha Long Bay: 3 days in the world heritage site.
Ha Long is in the Northeast of Vietnam, 70 kilometres from Hanoi so you can go there by taking a coach or car. In recent years, Ha Long Bay has been one of the most iconic tourist destinations, it is the 7th Wonders of nature in the world.
Ha Long Bay is definitely unique, there is nowhere else like it in the world. Its spectacular beauty will take your breath away, 1500 rainforests topped limestone karsts different shapes and sizes rising out of emerald waters.
Things to do in Ha Long Bay
#1 Taking a boat cruise tour
The visitors can choose a boat cruise tour, it could be 2 days 1 night depending on your budget. There is one problem that you need to be careful when choosing boat cruise tour because of the scams on the internet.
This type of tour is quite interesting, you will have time to watch the Bay, discover Sung Sot Cave and Dau Go Cave then kayaking around the cliffs.
#2 Visiting the fishing village
Another option that you can visit a fishing village named “Cửa Vạn”, it is a floating village with 400 households, approximately 1,700 people. You can stay here one night to experience the life of the fisherman. You will have a chance to enjoy the delicious seafood with fresh ingredients from the sea.
Hoi An: 7 days in the most charming city of Vietnam
Hoi An is a city on Vietnam’s central coast, and it is well-known for UNESCO well-preserved Ancient Town. Visiting Hoi An you will get lost in a land of fairy tales.
Just imagine…you are getting into a fanciful town with the cobbled lanes and around you are hundreds of colourful lanterns. The idyllic river flows through the town with the amazing bridges link both sides of the town. Wow! It is stunning scenery, you will not be able to resist and might think that is unreal.
Things to do in Hoi An
#1 Hit to the An Bang beach
An Bang beach is about 5km from Hoi An city, so you can rent a motorbike to get there. When reaching the beach, you can find any restaurants to park your motorbike, but you have to buy a drink from them then the owners will watch your motorbike.
An bang is one of Vietnam’s most enjoyable beach, there’s a wonderful stretch of fine sand and an enormous horizon. It is ideal to relax at this tranquil beach.
#2 Go to Hai Van Pass
Take a cruise to Hai Van Pass, one of the most scenic coastal highways in the world. At this spot, visitors just admire the majestic scenery and taking some great photos.
#3 Exploring the city at night
The town is so lively at night where fill up with food stalls, plastic chairs, colourful lanterns. Sit by the Thu Bon river and enjoy the peaceful Hoi An. If you want more fun, you can cross the river to find some good bars, pubs and nightclubs.
What to eat in Hoi An
Cao Lau is Hoi An noodle speciality has been eaten in the city since the 17th century. This dish consists of brown rice noodle goes with sliced pork, crunchy rice crackers, spicy, big handfuls of fresh herbs and tasty broth. The price of a bowl is just over $2 USD, you can try the Mrs Thu restaurant in Tran Phu Street or larger space and comfort go to Cơm Gà Hương which is located at Le Loi Street.
Banh mi is Vietnamese baguette sandwich and one of the tastiest street foods ever. In Hoi An, go to Banh My Phuong to try this dish. Banh My Phuong was also recommended by Anthony Bourdain in his show.
Da Lat: 3 days in the city of flowers
Đà Lạt or Dalat is the capital of Lam Dong province in Vietnam. The city is located 1,500 m (4,900 ft) above sea level on the Langbian Plateau in the southern parts of the Central Highlands region. In Vietnam, Da Lat is a popular tourist destination.
Da Lat’s specific sights are pine forest with twisting roads and tree marigold blossom in the winter. Da Lat has spring-like weather and people call it “City of Eternal Spring”
Things to do in Da Lat
#1 Cliff jumping and Canyoning
Da Lat is an ideal place to go canyoneering. If you are adventurous you should go cliff jumping, it can make you extremely exciting. Plus, you also have the opportunity to navigate your way down a canyon and waterfalls by abseiling
#2 Hike up to Liang Biang Mountain
#3 Visit wonderful waterfalls
Visitors can choose one of three famous waterfalls tours. The nearest waterfall is Dantanla waterfall, 5km from Da Lat. The second one is Elephant waterfall, 28km from Da Lat. Pongour Waterfall is farthest, 45km from Da Lat.
#4 Chillout at the Valley of Love
If you are a romantic and have visions of strolling hand in hand with your beloved, then the Valley of Love is the place
Nha Trang: 7 days in the beautiful coastal city
Nha Trang is the capital of Khánh Hòa Province, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam. Nha Trang is well known for its beaches and scuba diving and has developed into a popular destination for international tourists, attracting large numbers of backpackers, as well as more affluent travellers on the south-east Asia circuit, it is already very popular with Vietnamese tourists, with Nha Trang Bay widely considered among the world’s most beautiful bays.
Things to do in Nha Trang
No doubt, Nha Trang’s beaches are the star attraction, with clean white sand, blue waters, swaying palms and a pleasant promenade. Tourists would have a great time at these clean and tranquil beaches
#2 Diving and snorkeling
#3 Touring Ba Ho waterfall
If you look for more interesting things to do, so go for an intense hike to Ba Ho. In order to get there, it’s a scenic 27-kilometer drive north along the coast, then a sweaty, challenging 25-minute hike up to the first of three falls that you can swim in
#4 Boat trip
A day for the boat trip on a packed boat is as cheap as $7 USD, including lunch, transport and stops for sunbathing at beaches and an aquarium but no admission fees
#5 Mud Bath
#6 Visit Po Nagar Cham Towers
#7 Visit Long Son Pagoda
Long Son Pagoda is a Buddhist temple in the city of Nha Trang. Long Son Pagoda was erected on another hill in 1886 under the abbotship of Thích Ngộ Chí (1856–1935), who hailed from the district of Vinh Xuong in Khánh Hòa Province. Before joining the sangha, he was a participant in anti-French resistance forces that attempted to regain Vietnamese independence
Ho Chi Minh City: 5 days in the largest city of Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) aka Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam by population. This is a city of mixed culture from the classic French architecture to the modern skyscrapers. HCMC is also the business capital of Vietnam, it has a rich history and vestiges of war. It now has been growing rapidly.
Things to do in HCMC
#1 Reunification Palace
Reunification Palace or Independent Palace built on the site of the former Norodom Palace is a landmark in HCMC. It was designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam war. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.
#2 Visit Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office
The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh is a glorious vestige of French colonial architecture. The building was constructed when Vietnam was part of French Indochina in the late 19th century it first opened in 1891. The building still functions as the city’s main post office. The Central Post Office has unique Architecture and it counts with Gothic, Renaissance and French influences.
#3 Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral is a cathedral located in the downtown of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Established by French colonists who initially named it Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Saigon, the cathedral was built between 1863 and 1880.
#4 Binh Tay Market
Binh Tay Market was constructed by the French in the 1880s and is located in the centre of Chinatown district in HCMC. This market mainly serves the local population with its extensive range of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood from regions across Vietnam
#5 The War Remnants Museum
What and where to eat
Like Hanoi, HCMC is very diverse in cuisine with typical Southern flavour. Tourist can try Pho with Southern-style to distinguish the difference of the flavour between two regions
Besides, do not forget to try the exotic street food in HCMC. Banh Beo is part of the cuisine from central Vietnam, Banh Beo (literally “water fern cake”) are small round discs of rice flour, formed to look like lily flower pads found in the estates surrounding the old imperial city of Hue.
You can try this dish at Nam Giao restaurant; 36 Le Thanh Ton Street, in an alleyway behind Ben Thanh market. District 1
Banh Canh noodles are Vietnam’s version of udon, a thicker noodle that can be made with either tapioca flour, rice flour, or a combination of the two. The cua in this soup is crab, and the result is a vicious crab soup with thick noodles — not for those who shrink from goopy foods. Try this dish at Kim Long; 80/68 Tran Quang Dieu Street, District 3.
After all the above things, so why not travel to Vietnam?