Here’s your complete guide to Vietnam adventure travel. Read on to find your perfect Vietnam itinerary, plus the best food, hotels, what to avoid & more.
Make sure you take a look at these posts too:
We have visited Vietnam six times in the last ten years and we love the country!
This Vietnam Adventure Travel Guide includes our favourite Vietnam destinations, the best hotels in Vietnam for every budget, our favourite vegan and vegetarian restaurants, our favourite yoga studios, a list of essential items to pack, and tips on avoiding the worst tourist traps and annoyances in Vietnam.
If you need help deciding where to go in Vietnam or some advice for putting together the ideal Vietnam itinerary, this guide is for you.
We hope you love it!
What’s in our Adventure Guide to Vietnam?
1. Pick your Vietnam travel itinerary.
2. Where to stay in Vietnam.
3. Vegetarian and vegan food in Vietnam.
4. Is Vietnam any good for mindful travel?
5. Is Vietnam any good for solo travel?
6. Where to practice yoga in Vietnam.
7. What to avoid during Vietnam travel.
8. What to pack for adventure in Vietnam.
Vietnam Adventure Itineraries for 1–4 Weeks in Vietnam
There are so many amazing possibilities for Vietnam travel itineraries that we had to create a whole post for our suggestions.
The country is so diverse that if you have limited time, we recommend focussing your travels in either the north, the south, or central Vietnam.
We created separate one-week itineraries for each region with options for extending each segment. Plus, you can easily combine the itineraries to create a full month-long adventure in Vietnam.
(Don’t miss: Take a look at our Vietnam adventure itineraries and get started planning) →
Is Vietnam a good place for mindful adventure travellers?
There are so many opportunities for adventure in Vietnam.
For a start, there are lots of places in Vietnam to enjoy nature — like the mountains of Sapa, the waters of Halong Bay, or the exotic beaches of the south coast. Most Vietnamese people are friendly and open, and many speak excellent English, so it’s easy to strike up a conversation with a local and there’s lots of opportunity to learn more about the history of this fascinating region. Then there’s the food, which is plentiful and varied, with amazing options for vegans and vegetarians!
(Don’t miss: For a real Vietnam adventure, here’s what you need to know to do a Vietnam cyle tour) →
Hotels in Vietnam are budget-friendly, often eco-friendly and usually privately owned, so you can meet the locals and be sure you’re spending your travel dollars responsibly. Of course, if you want an exotic retreat where you can be massaged and pampered, Vietnam has plenty of those too!
Vietnam hotels: Where to stay in Vietnam.
Accommodation in Vietnam is plentiful and excellent value. A luxury hotel room in Vietnam costs about the same as a room at a crappy Motel 6 in America! But you can also get a great place to sleep for under $10. Here are our best places to stay in Vietnam for every budget.
The Best Hotels in Hanoi for Every Budget →
Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City for Every Budget →
Best Mui Ne Hotels for Every Budget →
The Best Hotels in Hue for Every Budget →
The Best Hotels in Hoi An for Every Budget →
The Best Hotels in Phong Nha for Every Budget →
Restaurants: Vegetarian and vegan food in Vietnam.
Vietnam is by no means a vegetarian and vegan paradise. For a start, there is fish sauce hidden in just about everything and meat is a vital part of every meal. But if you know what to look for and where to go, you can get some of the best food of your life, animal-free.
Check out our guides for healthy food and vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Vietnam.
Hanoi Vegetarian Food: The Complete Guide for Vegetarians Visiting Hanoi →
Hue Vegan and Vegetarian Food: The Best City in Vietnam for Vegans →
Your Guide to the Absolute Best Hoi An Food →
Hoi An Vegan Restaurants: Your Guide to Vegan Food in Hoi An, Vietnam →
Vietnam solo travel.
I’ve travelled a lot in Vietnam by myself and it’s a perfect destination for solo travel. Here are some reasons you will love solo travel in Vietnam:
Vietnam is safe. In all my travels around Vietnam, I’ve never felt threatened or unsafe. And the includes some late night walks through quiet areas of Ho Chi Minh City. The biggest danger in Vietnam is from the crazy traffic, but I’ve never experienced any problems as a solo female traveller in Vietnam.
Vietnam hotels are inexpensive. Even if you’re by yourself, you can totally afford a clean, safe, central hotel room. No need to sleep in crowded dorms, or book yourself into a place on the outskirts of town. Vietnam hotels are cheap and plentiful – perfect for the solo traveller.
Vietnam bus travel is perfect for solos. In some countries, like Cambodia, you have to hire a tuk tuk to take you to many attractions. When you don’t have anybody to share the price with, the costs mount up. In Vietnam, almost every place can be visited on the bus, which is a very inexpensive way to get around.
Vietnamese people are very helpful. Any time I’ve needed help in Vietnam, people have been more than happy to give it. And if they aren’t able to help you, they will happily find somebody for you who can!
Lots of travellers to meet. Because it’s such a popular destination, it’s unlikely that you’ll find yourself having to book tours alone, sit in restaurants alone, etc. I don’t know about you, but when I’m travelling solo, I like to have a few other people around and on my tours. In Vietnam, you won’t have a hard time finding other people to hang out with.
Want more Vietnam travel advice? We recommend these books:
Yoga: Where to practice yoga in Vietnam.
There aren’t a lot of great outdoor spaces to practice yoga in Vietnam. The air in the cities tends to be on the smoggy side and you will attract a lot of attention if you roll out your mat in a public park. However, there are lots of yoga studios in the big cities — though many of them offer instruction only in Vietnamese.
This is where we practice when we’re in Vietnam.
Hanoi at Zenith Yoga
Stephen has taught at Zenith several times and we practice there every time we go to Hanoi. Their two locations offer a variety of styles including Hatha, Iyengar, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga, with excellent world-class instructors. We always learn something new when we practice at Zenith!
ZCafe at Zenith Yoga is one of the best and cleanest places for vegetarian food in Hanoi.
Ho Chi Minh City at Mandala Wellness
We haven’t been to Mandala Wellness yet, but we’ve heard great things about it. Plus, Stephen will be teaching there this summer! In their wellness centre, they offer a variety of yoga classes and wellness workshops. They also have a line of delicious-looking cold-pressed juices that we can’t wait to try.
While Vietnam does not offer a lot in the way of yoga retreats, many resorts do have yoga as part of their wellness services. In Mui Ne, where we spent a few weeks this year, you can easily find daily yoga, at least in high season. You will also find inexpensive massages and spa treatments almost everywhere you go.
Tourist Traps: What to avoid during Vietnam adventure travel.
What to avoid in Halong Bay Vietnam.
One of the most famous natural sights in the world, Ha Long Bay can get overcrowded with boats, especially during high season. If you decide to take a boat trip in Halong Bay, opt for two nights and three days — the second day usually includes a small-boat trip to a secluded bay. Also, don’t go too cheap with your boat trip or you’ll end up on an overcrowded and dirty ship.
Indochina Junk’s Dragon Pearl was great back in 2009 when I sailed on it and it still gets great reviews now. They also run tours to the less touristy Bai Tu Long.
Whatever you do, avoid staying overnight in the city of Halong Bay. It is particularly uninspiring.
What to avoid in Sapa Vietnam.
Avoid spending the night in the city of Sapa. The wall-to-wall guesthouses and tacky tourist restaurants are the epitome of “tourist trap”. Instead, arrange an overnight trek to a homestay in Hanoi and travel from there. A two-night trek will get you further off the beaten path! I booked with Lily’s Travel Agency in Hanoi and it was fantastic.
I wrote a complete guide to trekking in Sapa for NOMADasaurus.com. Read it before you go!
If you want to go independently, check out Topas Ecolodge for a more peaceful stay.
Should you avoid Vietnam bus travel?
I have read many horror stories about the busses in Vietnam, especially the sleeper busses, which used to be notorious. Most of the bus companies in Vietnam have really cleaned up their act in recent years. I have travelled by bus all through the country and they are not that bad!
Sleeper busses, which are used during the day too, are far more comfortable than an overnight flight, with room to stretch out your legs and lie down. Just make sure you pack a very small bag to carry on board and stow everything else under the bus — you share your seat with whatever you bring onboard.
As long as you don’t expect to get much sleep and come prepared with lots of podcasts or music to listen to, the busses in Vietnam are an efficient and eco-friendly way of getting around.
Avoid the street donuts in Hanoi!
You will not walk around Hanoi for long before a woman with a basket of tempting donuts approaches you. They look tasty but don’t be tempted. The locals won’t touch them since no one really knows what kind of oil they’re fried in or how they’re handled.
There are lots of great street foods to try in Hanoi. Just take a look at our Hanoi vegetarian food guide to find out where to eat!
How to avoid overwhelm during Vietnam travel.
Vietnam can be busy, noisy and dirty. It can also be peaceful and astonishingly beautiful. Make sure you plan some peaceful and remote activities (like trekking or boat trips) to offset the stress of Vietnam’s vibrant cities.
When in the cities, make time to chill out at a cafe or get a fresh squeezed juice to beat the heat. Don’t forget to use all your best yoga techniques for handling the hassle — stay calm, breathe deeply, and let go of the desire to control the situation.
Touts can be persistent but remember to treat them for what they are — fellow humans who are just trying to earn a living. It’s amazing how far a smile and a little eye contact will get you.
Above all, when you’re travelling in Vietnam, just go with the flow and leave some time for meditation!
Packing List: What to pack for Vietnam adventure travel.
Travel yoga mat. Most hotels in Vietnam have hard cold floors, perfect for hot days but not great for yoga. Some are none too clean, either. It’s best to bring a mat if you plan to practice in your hotel room.
Don’t miss our guide to choosing the best travel yoga mats.
Loose and modest clothing. It’s not always hot in Vietnam but it usually is! Loose light clothing is a must. Even though many modern Vietnamese women wear revealing clothes, it’s best for tourists to cover up a little, out of respect for the more traditional culture — and to protect your skin from the sun.
Mosquito bite zapper. You should, of course, always use mosquito spray in Vietnam. Effective mosquito spray is easy to find in any convenience store in Vietnam. Look for small bottles with a spray top and a picture of a mosquito on the side. But, you will probably get bitten a few times and in my experience, Vietnamese mosquito bites are the itchiest in the world. I am totally reliant on my Zap-It mosquito bite zapper these days — it is amazing at taking away the itch. Watch our travel tips video to see how it works.
Flip-flops. Flip-flops have endless uses in Vietnam, from wearing around the hotel, to beach days, to flipping your way around the cities. Everyone, locals and tourists alike, wears them just about everywhere. These folding packable flip-flops look pretty cool and of course, people love their Havaianas.
Your own chopsticks. In Vietnam, chopsticks are usually wooden and most often not very clean. We travel everywhere with our To Go Ware Bamboo Travel Cutlery. It’s perfect for mindful travel in Vietnam (and an awesome replacement for plastic cutlery when you’re getting take-out back home)!
When you head out on a Vietnam adventure, you can experience a huge variety of activities in a small geographical area. Take your time, travel slowly and don’t try to fit too many adventures into too little time! You’ll want to reserve plenty of hours for sitting back and watching the vibrant culture in action. If you stay aware and remember to breathe, you’ll have an amazing trip in Vietnam.
What are your favourite Vietnam adventures? Which did you like the least? Please share them in the comments below.
♥ Happy adventures, Stephen & Jane
Some of the links in this post are our own personal affiliate links. That means that if you buy something using one of these links we’ll earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. We’re not getting rich off of this but it does help encourage us keep this blog going, so thanks in advance! –S&J