Solo Travel in Vietnam
Types of Girl about the Globes (GatGs) – Cuisine GatG, History GatG, Sailing GatG, Nature GatG, Dark Tourism GatG, Cultural GatG, Tribes GatG
If you are planning a trip to Southeast Asia, look no further than Vietnam. Although it’s often overshadowed by Thailand and Cambodia, its Asian neighbours, Vietnam is a surprising country with some areas still relatively untouched.
With a natural beauty, and a diverse terrain, you can spend time sailing on beautiful bays, trekking in the mountains, floating down the Delta, or exploring old French Colonial towns. Enough people speak English here to get by and you’ll have no problem being understood in Ho Chi Minh, the capital.
But there is a reason that Vietnam doesn’t get the volume of travellers as its neighbours. It is not as easy to travel here as the infrastructure isn’t as good. Hanoi, the capital is loud, with lots of traffic, and you do need a bit of patience especially when spending time in the capital.
The Vietnamese are very upfront so expect direct questions and an element of curiosity as to why you are travelling alone. Being a conservative country means that it is respectful to dress modestly when you aren’t laying on the beach. This doesn’t mean having to completely cover yourself but look at what the locals are wearing and follow in their footsteps.
You do need to be careful with your belongings in Ho Chi Minh. Bag snatching on motorbikes is common here so make sure you put your money and phone in your pockets and out of sight.
Begging can be quite common especially by children in the tourist areas. Look at other ways to help such as buying from many of the social impact businesses in Vietnam. Like anywhere, be respectful when you take pictures and ask a local’s permission.
Below is our guide to how to travel solo in Vietnam as well as lots of practical information such as where to stay, which tour company to use and how to get around.
All companies included have been recommended by solo female travellers and come with our Solo Female Friendly endorsement. Just choose the relevant section or read the full article.
- Vietnam Places To Visit
- Accommodation in Vietnam
- Best Tours in Vietnam For Solos
- Travelling Around Vietnam
- Itinerary For Vietnam
- Travel Guide For Vietnam
- Best Time To Visit Vietnam
- Travel Insurance For Vietnam
- Vietnam Airports
- Questions about Vietnam
- Map of Vietnam
- Planning Your Vietnam Holidays
- Related Posts
Vietnam Places To Visit
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh is perfect to explore on foot but crossing the road isn’t the easiest task. If you prefer to take transport instead there is nothing more fun than hopping on the back of a motorbike (complete with a driver) to take you on your own tour. HCM is a city wired for action with a growing art and music scene. See the beautiful architecture by day and experience the nightlife when the sun goes down.
The size of the city, the noise and the chaotic traffic can be overwhelming so give yourself time to adjust (and enjoy the gourmet food and street snacks) before moving on. Even though Ho Chi Minh isn't the capital many cheap flights fly here so it is a good base to begin your Vietnam trip.
Spend time visiting old war relics, museums, the red-brick Notre Dame Cathedral, or just relax in one of the guesthouses along the riverfront. You’ll find company in the backpacker area of Le Loi and plenty of rooftops to mingle on.
For great views of the city head to the Panorama Saigon Trade Centre (which was once the highest building) or the Bitexco Financial Tower which is the highest. Close to the palace you can pick up cheap goods at Ben Thanh market.
The city is a good base to visit the nearby Cu Chi tunnels used by the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War as a way to transport supplies and as living quarters. Be ready for some goose bumps while visiting such an important part of the world’s history.
Slow down the pace on the Mekong Delta and visit the floating markets at Can Tho, sailing through canals on a sampan (a flat bottomed wooden boat). You’ll find lush greens, rice paddies, and rivers all beautifully woven together as you canoe or kayak along.
Head to the Central Highlands for a less-trodden area of Vietnam, not part of the usual tourist track. Spend a few days in Da Lat, a charming alpine area with a colonial palace, French-style villas, and the Xuan Huong Lake. Da Lat is a lovely budget-friendly town. From here you can visit three different waterfalls and even abseil down them.
Stay in a longhouse with the local Mnong in Lak Lake. Here you can watch a Mnong gong performance, and watch their tradition of fishing, whilst being surrounded by low-lying hills.
Visit the coffee region of Buon Ma Thout for unique tasting coffee before hiking to the thunderous waterfalls. If you’ve never seen a pepper plantation before, go to Pleiku which is surrounded by these amongst tea, coffee and rubber plantations.
The Central Highlands are perfect for the cultural solo who is interested in the traditional ways of life of the highlanders who live here.
When you are ready for the beach, either head south to the beautiful bay of Ke Ga, or follow the crowd to Nha Trang, a popular beach town. Nha Trang has three lakes or you can head to Doc Let Beach for a white sand beach (just 1.5 hours by bus). To meet others head to the Sailing Club.
Visit Mui Me for a day or two to see the sand dunes. Yellow is best to visit at sunset and white in the early morning. The Fairy Stream will send you into a fairy world with enchanting red canyon and bamboo forest.
Danang is halfway between the south and the north and was once a French colonial port. With a coastline of 30 kms it's a good place to stop for the beach. Lang Co Beach and My Khe Beach are the most popular and you can also try diving or water-skiing along the coastline. Head to the hills (the Ba Na hills) for views of the bay and the Marble Mountains which you can visit and see the craftsmen working with the mountain.
If you're a history GatG you should definitely stay a night or two in this riverfront town. Hue was once the country's former Royal Capital and is one of the most charming places in Vietnam oozing with Tombs of the Ancient Emperors, pagodas, temples and the gorgeously-names Perfumed River. Visit the Institute of the Blind to support the blind and experience a blind massage.
Hoi An is the perfect place to learn about local life in Vietnam and see a less “touristy” side of the country. Take this opportunity to learn how to cook traditional Vietnamese food or go crab-fishing in the coconut groves.
Travel from Hue to Hoi An to see beautiful views as you over the Ho An pass. If you are looking for a hand-made silk dress, look no further than the coastal city of Hoi An. The ancient town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a well-preserved port town.
This old French colonial town has hidden gems amongst the Chinese temples. See the My Son – a Hindu temple complex, take a culinary cooking class or just sample the local delicacies of banh mi and egg coffee instead. As one of the best places in Vietnam for Vietnamese cuisine you should definitely come here and sample the noodles which are only sold in Hoi An. There’s also a beach nearby.
Ha Song Doon Cave
This monstrous cave has earned the title of the “largest cave on earth,” and for good reason. It is absolutely massive and incredibly beautiful. You have to take a private guided tour to see it, but it is well worth it to be one of the few people who get to experience its glory every year.
Northern Vietnam has many ethnic minority villages within its highlands and offers the opportunity to stay with local families, cook traditional meals and hike the beautiful highlands.
You’ll find plenty of company in Northern Vietnam, whether you decide to stay in a homestay or the city of Hanoi, known as the Paris-of-the-East. Hanoi can be chaotic and a bit overwhelming for some but it does have a nice vibe. Learn about its rich history or take a rickshaw ride to fully experience the city.
If the Old Quarter gets too much head to the lake to watch the locals doing their morning Thai Chai, dancing and downward dogs. Hanoi is walkable and it’s easy to see the main attraction in one day. Check out the Women’s Museum near the lake. Take a street food tour and go on a cruise in Halong Bay.
If you are a trekking GatG Sapa is a beautiful area to hike. Sapa is an endless sea of green mountains and rice paddies that looks straight out of the movies. Fan Si Pan, the highest mountain in Vietnam, is also located in Sapa and is a must-see.
From day hikes to mult-milt-day hikes you’ll pass breathtaking views as you trek through rice paddies. Choose a homestay for an authentic and cultural experience. You’ll need to allow a few days to get here and back.
Mai Chau is an area 160 km from Hanoi and is a good alternative to Sapa. Known for their traditional weaving you can also do a homestay here and learn their traditional weaving techniques. If you are travelling around by motorbike Mu Cang Chai is less touristy but can be difficult to get to without your own transport.
Mu Cang Chai
The exploration of gorgeous green mountains and rice paddies continues in Mu Cang Chai. These views never get old but if you only have time to go to one, Sapa and Mu Cang Chai can be interchanged for the same effect pretty easily. This spot is known for its colourful sunsets and the gorgeous yellow that the rice plants turn during harvest.
Ban Gioc-detian Falls
Contrary to public belief, you should in fact go chasing waterfalls. At least chase down these falls as they are stunning. You can take a raft ride right up to the edge or swim in the turquoise pools below, either way you can’t go wrong. Talk about a picturesque moment, it doesn’t get better than this!
Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a really popular area with limestone mountains lining the bay. People come here to scuba dive, kayak and rock climb and take one of the area’s many cruises to see the pristine waters and epic mountains up close. The beaches here are stunning and and there are beautiful islands to spend the night on with views difficult to beat.
Halong Bay can be more pricey than other areas in Vietnam and can get overly busy so take an overnight cruise (2 day 1 night) instead of a day trip to make the most of your experience.
To avoid the crowds, go to Cat Ba Island from Hanoi instead. You can stay overnight and take the one day boat trip for less than the price to Halong Bay.
Here you can hike mountain trails, sunbathe on the beach, and walk along the promenade. It is also home to one of the world’s most endangered primates – the golden-headed langur.
Ninh Binh contains endless rice paddies and gorgeous mountains to explore. It also has the incredible Dragon Mountain Viewpoint that is a must see. Hike up to the top to see this absolutely breathtaking view for yourself.
Accommodation in Vietnam
Vietnam has plenty of accommodation from international hotels in the main cities, luxury coastal resorts to budget hostels. You may need to pay a tax on top of your room cost and expect the accommodation to ask for your passport.
You’ll find local guesthouses along the river which may use an honour system where you write all the food and drink you consume into the guest book and pay when you leave. Rooms generally come with a fan unless you pay more for air-conditioning.
For a more cultural experience the central highlands and the north of Vietnam offers home-stays in traditional stilt houses within the local communities. They can be quite basic but it definitely an experience.
There is also Airbnb where you can stay with locals in a spare room or even book the whole apartment. You can save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
Homestay is an alternative to Airbnb. They connect you to hosts in over 160 countries and give a real homestay experience instead of just handing over keys. They offer a variety of stays such as a studio in Ho Chi Minh or a mountain home in Sapa. You can call your host family before you go to find the perfect host. Check homestays and prices
All of the accommodation below have been recommended by solo female travellers from our Girls about the Globe community and come with a Solo Female Friendly endorsement. For accommodation which isn't budget click on the link below.
Da Lat – Mr Rot’s Secret Hostel
Mr Rot’s Secret Hostel is located a short drive to Xuan Huong Lake. You can hire a bike or a car or book Mr Rots Secret day tour (which is amazing). The rooms are clean and modern and there is a beautiful sun terrace with mountain views.
Mr Rot is really friendly and the staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome. Choose from a bed in a 4-bed dormitory room, a deluxe single or deluxe double. Breakfast is included.
- Prices from £5 for a bed in a 4-bed dormitory room
- To book, check prices or availability for Mr Rot's Secret Hotel
Hanoi – See You At Lily’s
See You At Lily’s is a fabulous hostel. Situated in the Hang Trong District, this friendly hostel is a 15 minute walk to the Opera House. Reception is open 24 hours so it doesn’t matter if you arrive late at night and there is a restaurant onsite serving local and Western cuisine and a kitchen to cook your own food (breakfast is included too).
The hostel is colourful and vibrant with friendly staff who can arrange tours for you such as a Sapa tour. Choose from a bed in a 8-bed mixed dorm, a 6-bed female-only dorm, or a twin room or suite.
- Prices from £5 for a bed in a 8-bed mixed dormitory room
- To book, check prices or availability for See You At Lily’s
Hanoi – Republik Backpackers
This backpackers is a great place to meet others, social with a good vibe. They offer free beers in the early evenings to get you mingling and free walking tours for an overview of the city. Breakfast is fantastic and there’s also a terrace with views of the city. Hoan Kiem Lake is less than 1km away and you only a few minutes from Dong Xuan Market.
The beds have their own curtains and plug sockets and the lockers big enough to fit your bag. If you want to meet others and do some activities in Hanoi this hostel is perfect. Choose from a bed in a 16 bed dorm room, an 8-bed mixed or female-only dorms or upgrade to a double room.
- Prices from £5 for a bed in a 12-bed mixed dormitory room
- To book, check prices or availability for Republik Backpackers Hostel
Ho Chi Minh – Cozy House 160
This cosy hostel is in a great location, next to lots of restaurants and bars and walking distance to the attractions (if you don’t mind walking), yet in a side street away from the noise of the busy streets. The rooms are spacious, clean and stylish and come in a standard double, superior double or deluxe. You can book tours with the helpful staff and you get a buffet breakfast included too (plus free fruit).
- Prices from £21 for a standard double room
- To book, check prices or availability for Cozy House 160
Hoi An – Under The Coconut Tree
If you’re in need of somewhere to rejuvenate yourself, this charming homestay is perfect to get back in touch with nature. With a private path that leads to the beach you’ll definitely leave here ready for your next adventure. Choose from a bed in a mixed dormitory room, a bungalow with a double bed or a standard double room. All come with a fan and toiletries and a shower that makes you feel as though you are outside. Breakfast isn’t included but it only costs a little bit extra.
- Prices from £6 for a single bed in a mixed dormitory room
- To book, check prices or availability for Under The Coconut Tree
Hue – Bonjour Hostel
This hostel is a great choice if you choose to stay in Hue. Bonjour Hostel is close to bars and restaurants and walking distance to the citadel. The rooms are clean and come with a fan or air conditioning and hot water. The beds are comfortable and have their own curtain for more privacy. There is free coffee and tea and banana pancakes for breakfast and the staff are great. The only downside is that you may have to queue for a shower if you are in hurry. Choose from a bed in a 10-bed dormitory, a 6 bed dorm or a double room.
- Prices from £4 for a single bed in a 10-bed mixed dormitory room
- To book, check prices or availability for Bonjour Hostel
Best Tours in Vietnam For Solos
It can be easy to meet others in Vietnam so you’ll never be short of company travelling here alone. But if you feel more comfortable in a group for either part of your trip or the whole duration, G Adventures is a responsible tour company which mainly caters towards budget travellers. Most tours have an average of 10 people and there is no upper age limit. Once you book your trip you pay extra for any excursions you want to do when you’re there.
Adventures range from a 3 day Halong Bay Independent Adventure to a 15 day Best of Vietnam adventure from Ho Chi Minh City to Sapa. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company.
Intrepid Travel is similar to G Adventures with an average of 12 people on each tour. Over 50% of people who book their trips are solo travellers. They tend to use hotels instead of hostels and have a more comfortable style of accommodation hence the trips can appear a bit more than G Adventures.
Their tours range from 8 days to 15 days and include adventures such as an Essential Vietnam tour and a Vietnam Real Food Adventure. With both tour companies you share a room with someone of the same gender or you can pay extra for your own room.
Stray Travel – More for the adventurous GatG, Stray is a hop on hop off bus tour offering bus passes around Asia. Hop aboard in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Bhutan. They also offer trips to Borneo where you can explore the world’s oldest rainforest, get up close and personal to orang-utans, and dive in some of the world’s top dive sites.
If you’re planning on travelling Southeast Asia in two or more months and want the flexibility to go with the flow and meet lots of other travellers, Stray is a ideal choice. If you visit during the peak season you may need to pre-book all sections of your trip before you go. Check the review here.
You don’t need to pre-book day tours as some hostels and tour companies offer these when you arrive. See You At Lilly’s offer a great Sapa tour (opt for the bus instead of the train if you book), or pop into the Real Kangaroo Cafe in Hanoi for more tours. If you are looking for day tours these companies come recommended by solo female travellers.
Hanoi Backstreet Tours – For a fun afternoon of food and culture on the back of a motorbike in Hanoi. Get off the beaten path and for just a couple of hours or a full day. Proceeds are donated to the October Foundation supporting the education of disadvantaged children in the remote areas of Vietnam. Click here for tours
Onetrip Da Lat Adventures – Discover Vietnam’s living culture and rich history in and around Da Lat. Choose from a city tour, food tour or the Da Lat waterfall adventure. Onetrip also offer tours in Saigon, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Da Nang, Hue, and Hanoi. Click here for tours
Easy Riders – If you love motorbikes Easy Riders are motorbike tours through Vietnam. From Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi or Da Lat, and up to the Laos border. It’s a great way to see the countryside, the rural lives of farmers and try lots of yummy cuisine along the way. Ask for Toan Lee if he’s available or email him directly at [email protected] Click here for tours.
Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and tours in worldwide destinations including Vietnam. Choose from a tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels, take a boat ride along the Mekong Delta, or a cruise around Halong Bay visiting the islands and caves. There are several to choose from and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online. * Check all tours and prices here
Travelling Around Vietnam
Vietnam has a variety of internal transport. If you are short on time then consider taking an internal flight. There’s a cheap airline called VietJet who fly throughout Vietnam. You can fly from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City in 1 hour 15 minutes then travel onward from Danang Airport to Hoi An.
Vietnam also has a train system and for places where the train doesn’t go, you can take minibuses around the country. Vietnam is a long country so distances can be vast. For longer distances consider taking the overnight train from Sapa to Hanoi, or fly from Hanoi to Danang or Hanoi to Hue instead (which only takes 1 hour 10 minutes).
There are also overnight boats such as the overnight boat to Halong Bay. Some destinations are easy to travel to overland such as Hue to Hoi An.
You can travel from the south to the north entirely by bus, choosing sleeper buses for overnight journeys. They are comfortable and reduce your costs travelling as you the bus ticket is also your accommodation costs. It’s easy to book buses as you go through hostels or small tour companies in Vietnam. PSD Express or Giant Ibis are comfortable buses with air conditioning and free water and snacks.
Hiring a motorbike with a driver is such an experience. You can hire a driver to motorbike the Ha Giang Loop or just travel from Hue to Hoi An for example with Hue Easy Driver.
Use an offline map such as maps.me to get around and download a taxi app such as Grab or Uber to get from the airport to your accommodation.
BaoLau is a useful website for booking your transport through Vietnam
Itinerary For Vietnam
Because of its size you need at least two weeks to get a taster of the country. A month is better if you have the time, if not look at spending time in either the south or the north or fly internally to maximise your days. Below are suggested itineraries whether you have a week or 14 days in Vietnam.
Vietnam Itinerary 7 Days
Ho Chi Minh City (3 nights), Hoi An (2 nights), Da Lat (2 nights)
Hanoi (3 nights), Ha Long Bay or Cat Ba Island, (1 night), Sapa (3 nights)
10 Days in Vietnam
Hanoi (2 nights), Ha Long Bay (1 night), Hue (2 nights), Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park (2 nights), Ho Chi Minh (3 nights)
2 Weeks in Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City (3 nights), Hoi An (2 nights), Da Lat (2 nights), Hanoi (3 nights), Ha Long Bay or Cat Ba Island, (1 night), Sapa (3 nights)
Vietnam Itinerary 3 Weeks
Hanoi (2 nights), Sapa (3 nights), Ha Long Bay (1 night), Ninh Binh (2 nights), Hue (2 nights). Da Nang (2 nights), Hoi An (2 nights), Nha Trang (2 nights), Mui Ne (2 nights), Ho Chi Minh City (3 nights)
Travel Guide For Vietnam
If you need a guide book for your travels we recommend the Solo Girl’s Travel Guides. These guides are written specifically for women and cover every travel detail including exclusive access to off the-beaten-path destinations and secret beaches. The author, Alexa West, has lived in Vietnam and shares all her knowledge including local markets and social hotspots. If you prefer Rough Guides or Lonely Planet click here for all Vietnam guide books.
If you are planning on travelling to Vietnam for the first time, the Solo Girl’s Travel Guide to Vietnam covers topics such as: what to pack, the best beaches and resorts for your budget, and money-saving tips. It also includes how to get to your hotel without paying tourist prices, off-the-beaten-path adventures and local secrets. For any girl travelling to Vietnam it’s your travel Bible.
Best Time To Visit Vietnam
Due to the country being so vast the climate varies from region to region so even if it’s hot in one destination it can be colder in another such as the Central Highlands. Ho Chi Minh is hot year-round you can visit anytime but it can be very humid in April.
The rainy season is generally from June to October so if you are travelling during this time just take a rain coat. The rain can sometimes be a welcome respite to the heat and it may only rain heavily for a short while before clearing for the rest of the day or night. You may prefer to avoid the rainy seasons if you are taking a cruise in Ha Long Bay.
November to March are good months to travel here as it can be cooler in the north and not so humid in the south. It is also a good destination for a Christmas break in the south. Try to time your visit with the blossom season in the mountainous areas. September to October is a good period to see the Sapa rice paddies before harvest.
Below is a weather chart showing the annual weather from January to December for Hanoi. Click on this link for other regions.
Travel Insurance For Vietnam
Vietnam is a fascinating country to explore but travel insurance is always recommended to cover you for any travel delays, medical assistance and accidents.
I recommend True Traveller for UK and European residents, and World Nomads for U.S. and worldwide citizens. Both companies allow you to buy insurance when you are already on the road, and offer different plans depending on your needs including additional adventure cover.
Vietnam has several international airports. One in Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, and Da Nang International Airport. Here’s how to get to and from each one.
Ho Chi Minh – Tan So Nhat International Airport (SGN) is Vietnam’s largest airport and is very close to the city centre. A taxi costs approx £5 for the 6 minute drive. Cheaper options are: Airport bus 119 bus which departs Mien Tay Bus Station every 30 minutes and takes 9 minutes from the airport. Airport bus 109 also runs to the airport. Shuttle bus 49 runs directly from the airport to your hotel. Click here for details of the buses
Hanoi – Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) is a 45 minute bus ride from Hanoi. Taxis cost approximately £18 and only take 25 minutes or you can take the bus for just £1. Hanoi Airport Shuttles run every hour and cost £2. Click here for details
Da Nang – Da Nang International (DAD) is only a 4 minute ride into Danang. There doesn’t seem to be any bus services so you may have to opt for a taxi for £3. If you are travelling from here to Hoi An it’s just a 30 minute ride.
Feel more confident with someone waiting for you at the airport when you pre-book a transfer with Hoppa, a reliable and safe service for solo females.
For other airports use Rome2Rio to plan your journey.
Questions About Vietnam
- Can I drink the water? No, drink bottled water instead.
- Is tipping expected? Tipping isn’t expected but it is appreciated
- Fixed price or barter? You can barter in the markets but people come to the city to sell goods because they don’t make enough money in their villages. Just remember that one dollar is not much to us but a lot to them
- Any ATMs? Yes, there are ATMs across the country. It can be difficult to find one in Halong Bay so keep some cash on you. If you are changing money try Lily’s Travel Agency in Hanoi. Make sure that your notes have no marks on them before changing them.
- Which side of the road do they drive? The right-hand side but the roads can be chaotic with erratic drivers and motorbikes so be careful.
- Good for vegetarians? Yes, and vegans and if you are gluten-free. Try ‘pho chay’ a soup with tofu which is gluten-free, ‘goi cuon’ Vietnamese rice paper rolls with vegetables or ‘banh mi chay’ a baguette with a vegetarian filling.
- Any seven wonders of the world? No but Halong Bay should be.
Map of Vietnam
Planning Your Vietnam Holidays
Local Currency – Vietnamese dong (VND)
- How To Be a Socially Responsible Tourist in Vietnam
- Expert Interview – Vietnam With Jessica
- An American Girl's Vietnam Motorcycle Diaries
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