For many, Vietnam is one of the dream destinations in Asia. In addition to the fantastic cuisine with filled dumplings, soups and fish, there is a lot to see and discover in the country. From the bay in Hanoi in the far north of the country to the capital Ho Chi Minh City, there is a lot of nature, temples and friendly people. Due to its location, however, you should pay attention to the rainy season when traveling, as otherwise the holiday can very quickly turn out to be wetter than you would like.
Best travel time
The best time to visit Vietnam depends on the region you are in. According to philosophynearby, Vietnam’s long, narrow shape means that the three main regions (north, center and south) have different types of seasons and weather events throughout the year, which basically makes the country a year-round travel destination. The main travel season is from November to April, as this time of the year has the least amount of rain. When it rains in the north and south of the country, the weather in the central region of Vietnam usually stays hot and dry. Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is best to visit in March and April, the impressive Phong Nha Caves between February and August, and the vibrant Mekong Delta between October and May.
Deciding when to go to Vietnam is important for both personal comfort and packing. In the south there is usually more rain and the climate is tropical. Hanoi and places further north have cooler winters than many travelers expect. The area is one of the few places in Southeast Asia where it can get really cold without being in higher elevations.
With an average maximum daily temperature of 33 ° C, Ho Chi Minh City is one of the warmest regions in Vietnam. High humidity and high temperatures make the weather pleasant at times, but also tropical hot and humid. In Saigon (the old name of the capital) it is warm to hot all year round and with average water temperatures of 29 ° C it is ideal for bathing. Precipitation will decrease in October.
Food and drink
Vietnam has a wonderful selection of culinary delights, the food and drinks are among the absolute highlights of every visit to this fascinating country. The most famous dish is probably Phở. The rice noodles with beef or chicken are very popular and are usually eaten at any time of the day, including for breakfast. Spring rolls are a very popular snack and come in countless variations. There are also some typical local specialties depending on the region. In Hanoi, this includes fish steamed in a banana leaf, in Saigon you can often find pork cooked in a clay pot with caramel, and in the Mekong Delta, the elephant ear fish. Vietnamese food always includes Nuoc Mam (a strong fish sauce) or Mam Tom (shrimp sauce).
Coffee is served strong and sweetened with condensed milk. Locally brewed beers are very popular and available at relatively cheap prices. Rice wine is also very popular and cheap, albeit extremely strong. Imported wines are often available in upscale restaurants, but the price is quite expensive.
Unsurprisingly, the official language is Vietnamese. There are a variety of regional dialects and numerous other languages such as Chinese, Khmer, and Lao across the country. The older generations still speak French, while middle-aged people often speak and understand Russian. English is understood and spoken.
Money and currency
The national currency of Vietnam is the dong. The banknotes that are in circulation range from 200 dong notes to 50,000 dong notes. In smaller towns and shops it can be difficult to change large bills.
The US dollar is the most popular foreign currency. British pounds and euros can usually be exchanged easily in larger cities.
Plan for your trip with daily expenses of 11 to 18 euros for drinks and meals. A beer usually costs around 1.20 euros, a 2-course lunch 3.50 euros and a 2-course dinner 7 euros. As so often, this depends on where you want to eat. Food stalls are much cheaper, restaurants can also be more expensive.
Culture and clothing
In general, Vietnamese clothing standards are very conservative, especially in areas outside the big cities. Avoid shorts and sleeveless T-shirts when visiting temples and religious sites.
Don’t leave chopsticks stuck in a bowl of rice. The picture that emerges is similar to burned incense and is considered a bad omen.
Don’t take photos of people without first asking for permission.
Tips are an essential part of Vietnamese culture, especially in gastronomy and service. You should therefore give the driver, guide and porters a small tip. A 10% tip is customary in restaurants.