Backpacking NorthVietnam- Travel Guide for Solo Traveling

Vietnam, what can I say? A nation of wonders, beauty, people, nature and I can keep going on. If you are seeking epic journey, beyond imagination adventures, amazing local cuisines and historical sites, Vietnam is the place to see.

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With fast growing economies of South East Asia, Vietnam has changed its image from a war torn country to a major economy and cultural hub of South East Asia. Vietnam’s unique culture and people makes it one of the friendliest and cheapest destinations in the world for backpacking with great visa regulation. For a backpacker, it is a dream come true. Many travelers backpack Vietnam to unwind and explore earth’s most beautiful places.

Most travelers preferred mode of transportation is Motorcycles to explore Vietnam to its best rather than the other local transportation which will cost you more. Vietnam is a huge country with lots of adventures and places to explore. I spent 2 weeks in North Vietnam and I didn’t know how time passed. If you want to explore the  entire country, I strongly suggest you to explore for a month. Trust me, Vietnam is worth every second of your time.

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Getting There 

Vietnam is tourist friendly and the Government has eased their Visa restrictions. You will need a Visa to enter Vietnam and can be obtained on arrival at all major port of entry by road and air. You will need an Approval Letter to obtain Vietnam Visa on Arrival.

To obtain Vietnam Visa On Arrival, travelers just need to finish the following simple steps:

  • Go online: http://www.vietnamvisa.govt.vn
  • Submit application form online via our secured network to receive the Approval letter.
  • Get Visa Stamp when arriving Vietnam International Airports ( Ha Noi/ Da Nang/ Ho Chi Minh city/ Nha Trang ).

There are several agents in the internet who can also help you obtain an approval letter for a cost of $25 or above depending the services provided by the agents such as, airport visa assistance and more.

At the post of entry, you will need to present the approval letter to the officer and pay visa fee $50 to obtain visa on your passport.

If you’re traveling to the neighboring counties, it’s possible to enter Cambodia or Laos from Vietnam and then re-enter Vietnam without having to apply for another visa. However, you must hold a multiple-entry visa before you leave Vietnam.

Single-entry visas can no longer be changed to multiple-entry visas inside Vietnam.

Essentials 

Vietnam’s Dong is the local currency of the country, however dollar is widely accepted. I strongly suggest to exchange to local currency before entering Vietnam and carry dollars for backup. Local exchange might pinch your pocket as they charge a hefty some for currency exchange. The best and safest way to carry money is getting a foreign exchange card from your bank which can be used anywhere in Vietnam and it is the safest mode of payment. Do carry cash if you fancy local cuisines.

Mobile Providers in Vietnam

The first thing you need to do is get a local mobile connection at the airport. There are several companies that offer great deals for tourists.

There are 3 main mobile internet providers in Vietnam:

  • MobiFone
  • Viettel
  • Vinaphone.

Over that you have a couple different ones that offer sim cards like Vietnamobile. However, on the off chance that you are going through Vietnam I would recommend you to consider buying a Vietnam data sim of one of the main mobile internet providers.

All the providers offer 4G data and unlimited calls at 80.000 – 100.000 Dong which is $5-$6.

Getting around in Vietnam 

Vietnam can be daunting once you step out of the airport. Beware of taxi drivers who might make a quick buck out of you. Many first time travelers and backpackers fall for the taxi scams in the airports. I recommend you to download Grab.

Grab is Uber of Vietnam and it costs a fraction of a dollar to get to places in the cities. The taxi service provided by Grab is a great way to travel within the city.

The other alternative to Grab is hiring a motorcycle. The best way to hire a hassle free motorcycle is the local shops at every corner of the city. Few documents required for hiring a motorcycle is a valid ID from your home country. I do not recommend you to give your passport but any other Government document would suffice. The average cost for a good motorcycle is anywhere between $10-20$ a day. Make sure you check the bike throughout for a hassle free joyride. I recommend you to take it to a nearest mechanic and get it checked.
Motorbike Riding in Vietnam can be risky but it’s worth it. In fact, you should have a Vietnamese drivers’ permit, and they are about difficult to get and the cops couldn’t care less.
However, if you cause an accident, not having a license may suddenly become a problem, and you are going to have to pay your way out of it. If you can, settle accidents without the involvement of the cops. It’s cheaper that way. And, sometimes, even when the accident isn’t your fault, you’ll have to pony up about 50 bucks anyway. Not fair, but that’s the way it goes.There are two things you must insist on when renting, though–rear view mirrors and a helmet. These are the only two things the cops will stop you for not having.

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Where to go in Vietnam 

Vietnam is divided into two regions i.e North and South. As I had 2 week itinerary I focused on only one region. Another well known approach to rucksack Vietnam is to consolidate an outing with a neighboring nation. For instance, brushing Southern Vietnam and Cambodia.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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