There are many ways of travelling but when you are a student and money is a big constraint backpacking seems like the most appropriate one. Backpacking has it’s own charm because is spontaneous and you choose your next destination as you go. It might not be the most confortable way of travelling but it surely creates amazing stories to tell. Vietnam is a country that deserves time to be explored and it is perfect for a spontaneous low budget backpacker journey.
The geographical shape of the country allows tourists or backpackers to get a quite general and complete idea of it by going from the very north to the very south and stopping in the cities or villages found on the way. Trains and buses are well organized and available for travellers who don’t plan ahead because they don’t need to be booked that much in advance. In addition there exists a bus ticket that allows you to stop on any city and stay as long as you want until you reach the final destination.
Here are some recommendations on places to visit.
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. One is the capital and the other the largest city of Vietnam. Both of them are different in style but have a lot to offer: from the mausoleum and museum of Ho Chi Minh (communist revolutionary and Prime Minister and President from 1945 to 1969) to Pagodas, Cathedrals, Military Museums and street markets. These cities are beautiful to just walk around and discover their little twists and passages. It is also good to have a look at the nightlife and try some typical Saigon Beer.
From Ho Chi Minh you can also take a bus to explore the Cu Chi Tunnels, a large network of tiny tunnels constructed by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War in order to fight the better supplied South Vietnamese and American Forces. It is an interesting place to get some knowledge about how the war was fought.
Once in Vietnam it is almost compulsory to visit Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of hundreds of limestone islands and islets. This is indeed one of the most touristic places in the country making it a bit more expensive but worth the money. You can take a boat tour for a day or two or go to Cat Ba Island and stay there for a couple of days depending on your budget.
Hoi An is another of its gems and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is a little town with a delightful atmosphere due to the channels that cross it and the lanterns that hang in the facade of the houses making it very cozy. There is a great amount of restaurants and bakeries with French influence and good places to party or go for a drink at night.
Finally if you want to relax enjoy the amazing beaches of South East Asia, there are plenty of them, especially in the southern part of the country. Some of the most recommended are in Phu Quoc Island or in Nha Trang.
Another important aspect to consider when visiting Vietnam is food. The most typical dish is called Pho, a noodle soup with herbs and meat that you can find in street stalls all around the country. It is also very common to find street stalls that sell baguettes with egg and vegetables, which are a perfect snack for midday or breakfast. Don’t forget that you are in country with tropical weather and this means you are going to find an incredible variety of fruits. Try them in pieces, smoothies or juice. Finally you cannot leave the country without trying Vietnamese coffee, which is made with a special individual filter and condensed milk.
Regarding accommodation you don’t need to worry. If you have a low budget there are plenty of youth hostels with prices ranging from 2 to 10 euros depending on the city. Most of them include breakfast and don’t need a reservation unless is high season. If you have a more confortable budget you can also go for a resort at the beach or a hotel.
If you are planning your next backpacking trip consider Vietnam as a great destination and you will be surprised of the beauty and experiences the country and its people have to offer.
© Photo credit of Paula Martinez
Written by: Laura Duque