Backpacking Vietnam: Ultimate Budget Guide 2024

Backpacking Vietnam is one of the best experiences I have ever had as a traveller. I spent over a month in Vietnam and loved every second.

Visiting the country has become increasingly popular in the last few decades and for good reason. Vietnam is one of the most diverse “has it all” countries in the world.

Although as much as I loved it, some things did go wrong and I made some mistakes along the way, so to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes I did, I’ve put together a complete guide with everything you need to know before backpacking in Vietnam.

Is Vietnam Worth Backpacking?

If you ask me, backpacking Vietnam is a no-brainer. It’s an absolute must-visit for any backpacker who travels on a budget. There are so many reasons to choose Vietnam. Like backpacking Thailand, it’s a rewarding experience, but one that’s not too difficult either.

Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia, which makes it part of the popular backpacking route in the region known as the Banana Pancake Trail. Thanks to the popularity of Southeast Asia as a destination for backpacking, there is a strong network of hostels, cheap transport and backpacking hotspots in Vietnam.

The man stands atop a rocky summit, Vietnamese flag in the back, shrouded in mist, evoking the sense of achievement at a mountain's peak.

One of the biggest selling points for Vietnam is how cheap it is! In fact, Vietnam is one of the cheapest places in the world to visit. You can get by for pennies in Vietnam, and it’s one of the biggest reasons people choose to visit. I’ll go into more detail about money later.

A traveler posing with a local Easy Rider against the backdrop of the Ha Giang Loop, symbolizing the adventure and cultural exchange of the journey.
Me and Chu, my Ha Giang Loop easy-rider.

On the other hand, not as many people speak English in Vietnam as they do in Thailand. That being said, most people in the tourism industry (tour guides, hostel staff, etc.) will speak a good enough level of English. Just don’t expect a full conversation every time you order a Banh Mi.

But don’t let this put you off. Vietnam has quite literally everything you could ask for from a country. Mountains, beaches, jungles, sand dunes, everything. Not to mention the amazing culture, food, people and endless number of things to do.

So yes, it’s worth backpacking Vietnam.

Is Backpacking Vietnam Safe?

While it’s impossible for me to personally guarantee your safety along the way, I can tell you that I was in Vietnam for over a month and I always felt really safe.

Because of the strong backpacking community I mentioned, you are very rarely actually alone, even if you are travelling solo. You constantly meet new people at hostels, on tours, at bars, and anywhere else, so you’ll always have someone to stick with.

A group selfie with three friends backpacking Vietnam in front of a lush landscape, capturing a moment of travel and friendship.
Me and two friends I made in Vietnam.

Aside from this, Southeast Asia is considered the safest region for backpacking. There are low crime levels in Vietnam, particularly against tourists.

In terms of travelling as a female, I can’t comment personally, but when I spoke to female members of groups of friends I made while travelling, they always said they had to be more cautious of other tourists than they did of locals. So I think that speaks volumes about how safe Vietnam is.

How Much Does Backpacking Vietnam Cost?

As mentioned, a huge selling point of Vietnam is that it is one of the best countries in the world for backpacking because of how cheap it is. But just HOW cheap is it to visit Vietnam?

$1 USD is equivalent to roughly 25,000 VND as of April 2024.

I spent over a month in Vietnam and spent just over 15 million dong. This is equivalent to $601 for 30 days. That’s $20 a day!! Vietnam is so cheap to travel.

A display of various denominations of Vietnamese currency, the dong, showing colorful banknotes with different historical figures.

This included transport, food, activities and accommodation. And I did some pretty incredible things along the way such as quad biking in Mui Ne, 4-day Ha Giang Loop and a luxury cruise of Ha Long Bay.

But how much you spend is down to you as a backpacker. You might want to travel on a shoestring and only spend $15 a day (definitely doable), whereas others might prefer the flashpacking route and spend $40 a day.

To give you an idea of where my $20 went each day, here is a breakdown into the four categories:

Food$3
Accommodation$5
Travel$5
Activities$7
This is a rough average for each day. Obviously, you will not travel or do an activity every day. This is a daily average over the course of a month.

It’s clear to see that doing activities made up the majority of my spending in Vietnam. Therefore, the number of activities you do will have a huge impact on your monthly cost while backpacking in Vietnam.

Tourists observing a man demonstrating entry into the Cu Chi Tunnels, revealing a hidden aspect of Vietnam's historical wartime tactics.

Despite activities in Vietnam being very cheap compared to the Western world, doing an activity every day can quickly add up. It’s important to budget effectively.

For example, the only activity I spent money on while spending 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City was a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, which cost $24, so in this 3-day period, an average of $8 per day.

Vietnam Visa Requirements

Whether or not you need a visa to get into Vietnam depends on where you are from. Some countries have a visa exemption period, like the UK which has 45 days visa-free. Other countries require a visa, which usually last for 30 days.

I recommend checking your government’s travel advice page and researching the requirements for your nationality.

The image showcases a close-up of a passport page filled with various colorful stamps, indicating entry and exit from Vietnam and Thailand.

If you do need a visa, you can apply for an e-visa online which costs $25. They take about a week to process, so be sure to apply with enough time. I would recommend doing so as the queue for a visa on arrival when I landed in Vietnam was huge.

Top tip: To get into Vietnam, you will be required to have proof of onward travel. Onward Ticket is a great service which “loans” you a flight ticket for a small fee.

How Long Does Backpacking Vietnam Take?

I spent one month in Vietnam and I would say this is the perfect amount of time to do the whole country. One month gives you enough time to go from south to north or vice versa.

If you have less time than this, I would stick to either the north of Vietnam, which takes about 2 weeks to travel properly or stick to the south and central parts of Vietnam, which also take about 2 weeks.

And if you have even longer than a month, that’s even better. Vietnam isn’t quite as developed for tourism as the likes of Thailand yet, so there are still lots of hidden gems and opportunities to go “off the beaten path”.

A scenic view of the Hai Van Pass with lush mountains, showing the expansive landscape and winding roads of this iconic Vietnamese route.
Hai Van Pass between Hoi An and Hue

When To Backpack Vietnam

Unfortunately, there isn’t really a perfect time of year for backpacking Vietnam. Since the country is so long, the north and south experience different climates, which are usually the opposite to each other.

For example, if you visit between November to April, this is winter in the north, but in the south, this is the dry season when temperatures are higher.

An inviting hotel pool overlooking a coastal view of Mui Ne, capturing a serene vacation atmosphere with loungers ready for relaxation.

In the south, the monsoon season is from May to September. In the north, the monsoon season is from October to April. Finding the middle ground, March until May is the best time to visit Vietnam.

Monsoon season is when there is the highest amount of rain in the country, and having visited the north during monsoon season, trust me, you don’t want to visit during monsoon.

Motorcyclists riding on a fog-covered road with visibility signs, highlighting the cautious journey amid thick fog in a rural setting.

How To Get To Vietnam

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Getting to Vietnam isn’t as always as simply hopping on a flight and arriving at your destination. From many countries, you will need a flight with a few connections such as to Bangkok or Singapore then onto Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi.

You can get direct flights from the US and some other countries, but they cost a fortune which isn’t what you want when budget travelling.

A Qatar Airways plane docked at the airport at night, with the airline's name and '25' anniversary logo illuminated against the terminal backdrop.

A return flight from the US to Vietnam can be as low as $750 or as much as $2000 depending on how many connections you have, the time of year, and some other factors. One of my top backpacking hacks is to be flexible with your dates and use Skyscanner to find the best prices.

If you are already in Southeast Asia, you can cross by land from Laos or Cambodia. Cambodia is the easiest as it has the most Vietnam consulates, making it easy to get a visa. But to be honest, for the effort, it’s worth flying in my opinion because land borders are always really slow and boring.

How To Get Around Vietnam

Getting around Vietnam is simultaneously incredibly easy but incredibly frustrating.

It’s really easy because you can always book buses from hostels to literally anywhere in the country. Hanoi to Mui Ne? No problem. Phong Nha to Ha Long Nay? No worries.

What makes it frustrating is that things are always late in Vietnam and things are always slow in Vietnam. Not to mention there is never any communication on what is going on, you usually change vehicles a few times, and the seats are always small.

I preferred travelling by train, even sleeper trains where I got the top bunk and couldn’t even sit up, as the trains are generally more reliable in terms of timings.

But as someone said to me once on a train, “Even when it doesn’t seem like it, things always work out in Vietnam” and this is the truth.

If you prefer to book online, I recommend using 12Go as you can see all of the available options, or FUTA if you want to book like a local, but it’s not always as clear what ticket you need. But honestly, I would book through your hostel as it means you get picked up from the hostel rather than having to go to a meeting point, plus it’s cheaper 9 times out of 10.

For shorter distances, like within cities or for day trips, then Grab is a good option. It’s the equivalent of Uber in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. It’s so cheap and reliable, although in some parts of Vietnam, there are only cars available, not bikes.

A passenger wearing a helmet rides pillion on a Grab bike, illustrating the convenience of app-based transportation in an urban setting.

What To Bring To Vietnam

Honestly, you don’t really need to bring anything out of the ordinary to Vietnam. Aside from the usual must-haves for travelling on a budget, you only really need these few specific things:

  • European Plug Adapter: If you are from Europe, your plugs will fit the sockets in Vietnam. If not, this is the type of socket you need in Vietnam.
  • VPN: While it’s not something you take to Vietnam, I would recommend you get one for your trip. Some things are blocked in the country such as Medium because they wrote anti-communist articles about Vietnam.
  • Microfibre Towel: Most hostels in Vietnam do give you towels, unlike in other countries, but I always carry a microfibre one just in case, as they dry quickly and take up little room.
  • Revolut Card: Cash is king in Vietnam, but using a Revolut Card in Vietnam waives the ATM fees and means you can withdraw cash without paying any transaction fees.
  • Toilet Roll: I wouldn’t bring it with you, but I would recommend keeping some in your bag as not every toilet you come across will have some. Note you can’t flush toilet paper in Vietnam and it needs to go in the small bathroom bin instead.
  • Filtered Water Bottle: You can’t drink tap water in Vietnam, and even though you can buy water really cheaply, you might want to save the planet and use a filtered water bottle so you can safely drink the water. I use LifeStraw personally and love my bottle.
  • Padlock: Hostels in Vietnam usually have lockers for you to put your bag in, but you need to provide your own padlock.
  • Day Bag: I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to carry around a 40L bag every day. Bring something smaller which you can take during the day and leave your big bag in the hostel.

Josh’s Top Tips For Backpacking Vietnam

As I said in the introduction, I made some mistakes while backpacking Vietnam. Nothing massive, but things that could’ve saved me a few dollars here and there. To make sure you make the most of your time in Vietnam, aside from general budget travel tips, I’ve put together some things which are worth knowing before visiting along with my top tips I picked up during my trip.

  • Eat street food: Street food is the best way to eat in Vietnam in my opinion. The food is more authentic, it’s incredibly cheap, and it’s how the locals eat. And no, you’re not guaranteed to get food poisoning.
  • Money is in thousands: If someone says something costs “thirty”, they mean 30,000. Always assume everything to be in thousands. I didn’t see anything for cheaper than 3,000 dong in shops, so you won’t find anything below 1k dong.
  • Don’t stop walking: Crossing the road in Vietnam is a fun experience (not) especially in the big cities. Don’t expect anyone to stop for you, they just go around you. Keep walking at the same speed – don’t stop – and maintain eye contact with drivers.
  • Pay on checkout: For some reason, hostels in Vietnam get you to pay on checkout rather than on check-in. It took a while to get used to but I actually prefer it now because it means you pay for any tours, bus tickets, etc all at the end too.
  • Haggling is normal: Honestly, it took me a few weeks to get used to haggling as I don’t like doing it, but it’s just how it is in Vietnam. Usually, the actual price is around half of what they originally said.
A bustling Hoi An night market food stall with a vendor grilling assorted skewers, showcasing the vibrant street food culture.
  • Cash is king: Vietnam is a very cash-based country. You won’t find many places which accept card payments, and those that do will charge a fee, usually of at least 3%.
  • Tourists pay more: Not that there’s anything you can do about it, but you will pay more as a tourist than a local. Sometimes people would tell me one price then quickly correct themself to a higher price – it happens when they forget to say the tourist price. On these occasions, you can get things for the tourist price.
  • Don’t rely on Google Maps: Vietnam is probably the worst country I have been to when it comes to Google Maps. Things can sometimes be wrong by a few miles – which happened to me at a bus meeting point! Go old-school and go by address.
  • “One dollar” means 25,000: Sometimes Vietnamese locals will say something costs $1. If they say this, it means it costs 25,000 dong regardless of the current exchange rate.
  • Expect a lot of karaoke: While it’s a stereotype that Asian countries love karaoke, this is certainly true in Vietnam. On countless times I have seen people do it in the streets by themself with no one else around, which I think sums up how much it’s loved. One of the hostels I stayed in also had a state-of-the-art karaoke room, despite being a bang average hostel in other departments.
A vibrantly lit karaoke room with multicolored LED lights, neon signs, and a central TV screen displaying dynamic visual effects.
  • Always look back: The landscapes in Vietnam are unbelievable, but make sure you look behind you when you’re going places, especially on the back of a bike, as you don’t want to miss any views. This applies to the Ha Giang Loop especially.
  • No one checks tickets: You’ll get a ticket for everything in Vietnam. Day trips, buses, tours, whatever. I would say about 1/10 times these tickets are actually checked and instead, your name is usually on a list, or your hotel name is. So don’t panic if you lose a ticket.
  • Bars use tabs: In Vietnam, it’s very rare to pay for a drink when you get it. 99% of bars just start a tab for you. Make sure you pay it before leaving as it’s so cheap anyway, but if you don’t pay it, you’re directly affecting and hurting local businesses.
  • Don’t get in a taxi without agreeing a price: Taxis will sometimes not use meters to get a higher price out of you. Agree a price before getting in, or use Grab instead as I mentioned earlier.
  • Get an eSIM: eSIMs are the best way to stay connected in Vietnam. I got an eSIM in Vietnam and had no problems. It meant I had 5G all the time, no matter where I was.
  • Dress respectfully in temples: Make sure you cover your shoulders and knees as a minimum before going inside temples.
A hand holding a postcard featuring Tran Quoc Pagoda, juxtaposed against the actual pagoda in the background, blending past and present views in Hanoi.

Vietnam Travel Checklist

To help you plan your itinerary for backpacking Vietnam, here are the most popular places to visit in Vietnam. These are too many places to visit in a month, so if that’s how long you have, I would pick those which appeal to you the most. I’ve put them on a list from north to south.

  • Hanoi
  • Ha Giang Loop
  • Sapa
  • Ha Long Bay (or Cat Ba and Lan Ha Bay)
  • Ninh Binh (Tam Coc)
  • Phong Nha
  • Hue
  • Da Nang
  • Hoi An
  • Nha Trang
  • Dalat
  • Mui Ne
  • Phu Quoc
  • Ho Chi Minh City
A vintage red and white bicycle parked alongside a dirt path with a newly planted rice field and limestone hills in the backdrop, evoking a serene rural landscape in Vietnam.

Vietnam Backpacking Itinerary

Everyone is different so my preferred itinerary will be different to yours and yours will be different to the next person’s. Everyone likes different things and wants something different out of their trip, but to give you an idea of what’s possible during a month in Vietnam, here is the itinerary I followed for a month backpacking Vietnam.

Note: I went from south to north, but most people go from north to south. It doesn’t really matter, you can just flip my itinerary if you want to follow it. I started from HCMC because the flight was cheaper from Bangkok than to Hanoi.

Ho Chi Minh City: 3 nights

A panoramic view of Ho Chi Minh City's expansive cityscape, showcasing dense urban buildings under a clear blue sky.

Ho Chi Minh City was my first experience of Vietnam and it was a real culture shock. I had just spent some time in Bangkok, but HCMC is just a whole other level of crazy.

The roads are mental and crossing the street for the first time was simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating.

To be honest, I didn’t love Ho Chi Minh City. I didn’t feel like there was loads to do. I took a day trip to Cu Chi Tunnels, visited some museums (my favourite is the War Remnants Museum) and did some sightseeing – other than this, there’s not really anything else.

I stayed in Saigon Cozy House Hostel and I would recommend it. The owner Kim is really friendly and if nothing else, it’s incredibly cheap.

Book your stay in Saigon Cozy House

Mui Ne: 3 nights

The thrill of adventure captured as the man sits atop an ATV quad bike, ready to explore the sandy expanse of the Mui Ne dunes under a clear sky. It's one of the most expensive things I did while backpacking Vietnam.

From Ho Chi Minh, I had a short bus ride only lasting a few hours to Mui Ne. I wasn’t originally planning to go there, but someone in Thailand convinced me to so I did, and I’m so glad I added Mui Ne to my itinerary.

It’s one of my favourite places in Vietnam. I was originally only planning to stay for 2 nights but I decided to stay an extra night because I was enjoying it that much.

On my first day, I took the classic tour which everyone takes in Mui Ne, taking you to the Fairy Stream, Floating Fishing Village, White Dunes and sunset at the Red Dunes. I did end up paying the 800k dong to go quad biking on the White Dunes and I don’t regret it one bit.

Sure, it is expensive but it’s so worth it. I had such a good time, and it’s one example of where I splashed out in Vietnam. Remember to treat yourself once in a while! Plus, the tour itself only cost 180k dong, so it balanced things out a bit.

I stayed in Mui Ne Backpacker Hills and this is where I spent most of my time in Mui Ne as it has a pool and lots of sun loungers. The rest of the time was spent on the beach. After being on the road for a while, I definitely needed a few days of relaxation.

Book your stay in Mui Ne Backpacker Hills

Dalat: 2 nights

In front of the cascading Datanla Waterfalls, the man stands poised, with the falls' powerful rush and verdant surroundings setting a majestic scene.

Mui Ne to Dalat was a bit of a longer journey, but nowhere near as long as the bus and train rides I would have later in the trip.

I had heard really good things about Dalat and I won’t lie, it didn’t love up to the hype for me. But even after I had been, people still told me how much they loved it, so maybe I’m the exception.

Dalat has a beautiful countryside with the Datanla Waterfalls as one of the main attractions. I didn’t end up doing any of the toboggan rides because I had just splashed out on the ATV in Mui Ne – maybe it would have made me love Dalat.

You also have the Dalat Clay Tunnel, Crazy House and of course, the infamous Maze Bar – which admittedly is pretty cool.

I stayed for one night less than I was originally planning to, but I did love the hostel I stayed in which was Hugo’s Family Hostel. Again, the owner Maya is really friendly and helped me out a lot in my planning.

Book your stay in Hugo’s Family Hostel

Nha Trang: 3 nights

A wide sandy beach leading to a bustling cityscape with tall modern buildings under a clear blue sky

The bus ride from Dalat to Nha Trang was really windy along country roads, but for once, I actually got to Nha Trang earlier than I was supposed to.

Nha Trang pleasantly surprised me. I wasn’t expecting much as I kind of just went there to split the long journey to Hoi An in half, but I really liked Nha Trang.

The beach is beautiful – I really liked seeing the city skyline from the beach, I haven’t been to many beaches like that. I also liked Long Son Pagoda. It too gave some nice views, but the temples themself are cool too.

By this point, even though I had only been in Vietnam for just over a week, I had been travelling for about one month, so I had had enough of staying in hostels. As much as I love them, everyone needs a break with some privacy now and then.

So I booked myself a private room which cost me $7.50 per night, which is so cheap but so worth it. I stayed in Cuong Hai Apartment and it was really good value for money. I even had my own kitchenette and balcony.

Book your stay in Cuong Hai Apartment

Hoi An: 4 nights

A vibrant scene from Hoi An's Lantern Street at night, with colorful lanterns overhead and bustling market stalls offering local delicacies.

Nha Trang to Hoi An was my first train ride in Vietnam. I got the sleeper train from Nha Trang to Da Nang, which is just a bit away from Hoi An. Honestly, I really enjoyed it even though I couldn’t sit up at all. I surprisingly slept all night and didn’t wake up once.

I was planning to spend my first day in Da Nang, but the weather was awful so after going to the beach and being rained on, I checked out the Dragon Bridge then headed to Hoi An with a quick stop at The Marble Mountains along the way, which were really cool to be fair.

Since I was in Vietnam in February, it turned out to be Tet while I was in Hoi An. It meant things shut down for a week, but it was amazing to see the fireworks and all of the cultural displays around the place.

One of the “most popular” things to do in Hoi An is to take a day trip to Ba Na Hills with the famous Golden Hands Bridge. I was tempted, but I had heard it was a bit of a letdown, so I changed my day trip to Hue. I know, it’s not long enough in Hue and I agree, but I just wanted to see what it was like and I really liked it. I’ll go back one day.

As for Hoi An itself, I loved it. I can’t explain why but it reminded me of Chiang Mai, which was good because I loved Chiang Mai. I think it’s because the Night Market reminded me of the Gate Market in Chiang Mai because there were lots of food options for really cheap. If you can try one thing, try Vietnamese pizzas – I could eat those things all day.

Carrying on with the theme of food, I took a cooking class in Hoi An which included a ride in the famous round bamboo boats. Heads up, you have to pay extra to be spun really fast. I didn’t think it would be worth it, seeing it was enough for me.

I also took a lantern-making class which I can’t recommend enough. It was super fun, and they compress well so I was able to bring it home with me.

Hoi An was also home to the best hostel I stayed in while backpacking Vietnam. It is called BACKHOME and everything about it was perfect. The rooms are big, the beds are comfortable (with curtains – like most hostels in Vietnam), the staff are really friendly, and the free breakfast is delicious.

Book your stay in BACKHOME

Phong Nha: 4 nights

The same style of bicycle, this time with a cream frame and a pink seat, overlooking a tranquil river with a backdrop of lush green mountains under a bright blue sky.

Getting from Hoi An to Phong Nha was the worst travel experience I had in Vietnam but this was because it was during Tet. I had 5 buses cancelled and 1 train too, but eventually I managed to get a ticket from a random hostel which was leaving the same day I bought it.

The bus took me to Hue where I was dropped at the side of the road for an hour before another bus to Hanoi came and I got on, then they drove past Phong Nha without stopping and when I questioned it, told me they were stopping.

Another 20 minutes went by then I asked them what was happening so they pulled over, stopped the bus and told me to get off and wait. They drove off then a random car came about half an hour later and thankfully he took me to Phong Nha.

Hopefully, your journey goes smoother than mine – but it was still worth it for me because Phong Nha was a true paradise.

It’s so peaceful in Phong Nha and I really enjoyed the tour which took me to the Botanical Gardens, Paradise Cave and the Dark Cave. It cost 1.45 million dong, so it was pretty pricey but it was worth it. I also loved visiting the Duck Stop and I’m glad to say it lives up to its reputation.

I chose the perfect hostel too. Village House is right by the river and has a big garden with swings and beaches overlooking it – which is where you eat the free breakfast. It’s the perfect place to take a few days to chill. I had really good weather too which was nice, as it was the last time I saw the sun in Vietnam.

Book your stay in Village House

Ninh Binh: 3 nights

As I said earlier, the north of Vietnam and the south of Vietnam experience different weather throughout the year. In February, the south is warm and the north is wet. So from here on, I had bad weather the whole time, but I didn’t let it ruin my trip.

In Ninh Binh, most of the hostels are in Tam Coc. It’s a small town outside Ninh Binh City and it’s filled with people backpacking Vietnam.

It’s so scenic and the landscapes are breathtaking. I took a boat ride (which is a must-do) in Trang An and it was so soothing. It was also surreal to see the view from Mua Cave, which is one of the most iconic viewpoints in all of Vietnam.

In terms of accommodation, I stayed in Tam Coc Riverside Homestay and again, I made a good choice as the owner, Nam, gave me a printed map and annotated it with me, showing me all the best places to go. Not to mention a tasty free breakfast once again.

Book your stay in Tam Coc Riverside Homestay

Cat Ba: 2 nights

A young man in casual travel attire stands on a ship deck with the expansive and misty waters of Halong Bay behind him, creating a sense of peaceful exploration.

It’s impossible to visit Vietnam without visiting Ha Long Bay, right? That’s what most people think and I agree, to an extent.

I did visit Ha Long Bay, but rather than paying a fortune to stay in the bay, or to take an overnight cruise, I stayed on Cat Ba island in a cheap hostel (Luna’s House) for the same price as anywhere else and booked a day tour which took me to Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay for 600k dong.

That’s what travelling on a budget is all about – making smart choices to save money while getting the same experience as anyone else.

The weather did ruin my tour a bit as it was really foggy but it was still a good day, and sailing through somewhere so famous was class – the landscapes are spectacular.

I also got to kayak through Ha Long Bay which was a super fun experience which I would recommend.

Book your stay in Luna’s House

Ha Giang: 4 nights

The same man enjoys the view from a high vantage point, overlooking the dramatic and layered mountain landscape of the Ha Giang Loop.

The Ha Giang Loop is an absolute must-do when backpacking Vietnam. I went for the 4-day option and loved every second of it, even when it was raining hail stones.

I’m not exaggerating, the views are out of this world. Genuinely the best views I have ever seen in my life and no pictures will ever do them justice.

It’s getting pretty touristic and the tours are more and more popular every year, but it’s still worth it.

I did my tour with Hong Hao and I really liked it because they limit the group size to 12. My group only had 8 people and it was much better because I actually got to know people – as opposed to other companies which have 100s of people at once. Plus, it’s cheaper than most other options too, yet I had a private room every night!

Also, the hostel you stay in for free the night before you start is amazing. It’s like mini bedrooms but as bunks. It’s the most privacy I have ever had in a hostel, and the beds are double beds too!

If there’s one thing you do in Vietnam, make it the Ha Giang Loop. It’s unreal.

Hanoi: 3 nights

A smiling man stands on railway tracks with Hanoi's iconic Train Street in the background, featuring residential buildings and hanging cables.

Hanoi was my last stop in Vietnam and it was the perfect way to end my trip. I really liked the city – much preferred it to Ho Chi Minh City.

Visiting Train Street in real life was a pinch-myself moment as I had obviously seen so many TikToks. It’s a lot closer in real life than it looks, it was actually kind of scary, to be honest, but thrilling too.

As someone who loves history, there were so many other things to check out in Hanoi from the Vietnam War, such as the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. Plus a load of temples too like the iconic Tran Quoc Pagoda, which was the prettiest pagoda I saw in Vietnam.

I also really liked The Note Coffee which is a coffee shop covered in post-it notes. It’s really unique and a quaint, cool idea. You can write your own note and stick it somewhere. Plus, the coffee is really nice too, I had an egg coffee and it was a 10/10.

My hostel was Hanoi Backpackers and it’s just your average backpacker’s hostel. Offers pub crawls, has a rooftop bar, free breakfast, all the usuals. But it was good and I would recommend it – I had a good stay.

Book your stay in Hanoi Backpackers Hostel

FAQs

Below are some commonly asked questions relating to backpacking Vietnam along with my answers to each question.

How much money do you need to backpack Vietnam?

$20 per day is enough to travel in Vietnam on a budget. You can travel luxuriously for $30+ a day, and you can get by on as low as $10 a day if you don’t do many paid activities.

Where is the best place to start backpacking in Vietnam?

The best place to start backpacking in Vietnam is either Hanoi in the north or Ho Chi Minh City in the south, depending on if you want to go north to south, or south to north. Most people go north to south starting in Hanoi.

Is 3 weeks too long for Vietnam?

No, 3 weeks is not too long for Vietnam. In fact, you won’t be able to see everything Vietnam has to offer in 3 weeks. You need at least a month to visit all of the most popular destinations, but you could easily spend longer than this too.

Conclusion

And there you have it, a complete guide to backpacking Vietnam.

It’s a really easy place to travel on a budget as you can do so many unreal things for a small fraction of the price it would cost at home.

I loved it there and I can’t wait to go back. I’m sure you’ll love it too as you can definitely do a lot for your money if you are clever about it.

Being budget-conscious while exploring Vietnam is all about making smart choices such as choosing Lan Ha Bay over Ha Long Bay, which offers a similar experience but has a huge price difference.