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Saigon Skyline
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Is it safe to travel to Vietnam
It is generally said that one should have no problem when visiting Vietnam. The most common hazards are road accidents, theft and snatching and grabbing in a rare occasion. Just be sure to always use common sense. It seems really obvious, but I have seen many ignorant tourists in those 7 years that I am now traveling around the world.

Do you need a vaccination for Vietnam
There is no direct need to get you vaccinated when you go to Vietnam. I have never taken any special medicine for any trip to Vietnam. It is advised that you have standard pediatric shots. Shots against hepatitis A and B are recommended, but not required. Malaria occurs in Vietnam but rarely. I have never taken any malaria pills and I am trekking in the national interest. Some people do, some people don't, but I never heard anyone catching malaria during a trip to Vietnam.

What is the best time of year to visit Vietnam?
It is difficult to determine for many countries in Southeast Asia, but the best time of year to travel to Vietnam is easy: March and April. Spring receives minimal rainfall and moderate temperatures. The rainy season in Vietnam lasts from May to October. You should note that the summer and winter seasons differ, especially in the north of Vietnam. Snowfall in Hanoi is rare, but it has been before. If you decide one of the best things to do for trekking in Vietnam, beware December, January and February that it can get really cold. There is no need to bring warm clothes when you visit South Vietnam because the lowest average temperature in Ho Chi Minh is in December: 27 C / 81 ° C.

Do you need a visa to travel to Vietnam
Visa requirements for Vietnam have been getting easier over the years. I remember the first time I had to leave my passport at the embassy in Cambodia for 3 days. In 2013 I had already used a visa on arrival and nowadays a tourist visa for Vietnam can be easily obtained online.

Most countries still require visas, unlike other South Asian countries such as: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia where you can enter visa-free.

How much does a trip to Vietnam cost?
You can make it as expensive as you want. There are fancy night clubs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh where a cocktail can easily cost $ 20, but you can also go local. For your backpacking Vietnam trip you should count $ 40 per day, which allows you to stay in hostels, eat local food, rent scooters, sightseeing and do short tours. When you travel to Vietnam as a couple you can count the same ($ 40 per person per day), a mid-range hotel no more expensive than $ 30 a night, in a slightly upscale restaurant. The food is about $ 10 and private tours will cost you about $ 25 per person per day. In many Vietnam blogs I have read that you require a minimum of $ 50 a day, but with that money you can live a larger life.

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Vietnam has a rough history
You will not be able to stop yourself from being fascinated by the long and interesting history of Vietnam, even if you are not fond of history. It is one of the oldest cultures in Southeast Asia dating back to 2000 BCE and has since been influenced by many others: Chinese, Khmer, Indian, Japanese, and Western as well.

Due to colonization, the war eventually ruined the country, a series of very tragic events in history that still lie in the minds of many Vietnamese people. For them though, it is much more than a war. His nation's efforts and determination enabled him to defeat the French and retreat to the Americans and eventually become a country.

The country is filled with educational sites for you to learn about these historical events, the Vietnam War and even more about it. In fact, each city has monuments and museums that reflect the country's deep history.

Tourist places related to war in Vietnam

One can visit both the spirit-inducing War Relics Museum and the Independence Palace in Saigon. The palace is also known as the Reunification Palace, a national historical and cultural relic for the Vietnam War. I'm pretty sure the War Remnants Museum makes you speechless. In 2018 I came here 9 years after my first visit and I wandered for about 2 hours, reading every photo subscription. These places always give me goosebumps! When traveling to Vietnam, definitely put it in your list of places to visit.

Cu chi tunnel
Go to the outskirts of Saigon Qi Chi Tunnels has an insider's view of tunnel life, a vast network of tunnels built by Viet Kang to defend themselves against the invaders. The tunnels are believed to have contributed to the Vietnamese victory.

Those who are not claustrophobic may try to crawl some small sections of the tunnel network. With his 1.86 meters I can tell you that this is a punishment! Visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels is one of the Vietnam War and one of the most interesting places to learn about the Vietnam War.

Ho Chi Minh Samadhi
In Hanoi, you can visit Ba Dinh Square, the largest square in Vietnam, where many important national historical events took place in the modern history of Vietnam. Learn more about 'Father of Vietnam': Mr. Ho Chi Minh himself Ho Chi Minh Museum, Ho Chi Minh Samadhi and Ho Chi Minh Stilt House. Whatever you do, when traveling to Vietnam, one should always be respectful to your history and past leaders!

Hoa lo jail
In Hanoi you can also see the former Hoa Lo prison, which translates into a 'fiery furnace'. Nowadays it is a museum depicting what Vietnamese prisoners had to do when the French ruled in Vietnam. A special section has been designated for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War.

All the sites mentioned above are super interesting and left a deep impression on me. Even though history is not your reason for visiting Vietnam, these places provide important lessons for understanding the culture of Vietnamese people.

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Which Places should I visit in Vaientam?

Hanoi
The streets of Old Town Hanoi made me fall in love with this country even more. It was only on my second trip to Vietnam that I ended up in the capital city. The comfortable, yet extremely bustling roads of Hanoi always remind me why I love traveling in Southeast Asia. It sounds simple but going out at night in Old Town Hanoi is one of the best things to do in Vietnam.

Maybe it was because of the super cheap beer hoi, which sometimes cost only $ 0,20 per dollar. Not the best beer in the world, but drinking beer hoi is something that you must visit during your trip to Vietnam. Fun Guaranteed!

When you want to soak up the life of an ancient village, go to Duong Lam in Hanoi. It has the basic characteristics of a northern traditional Vietnamese village with water ghats, communal grounds and pagodas scattered with banyan trees. You will feel trapped in the past. There are French colonial architecture, sidewalk cafes, and extensive tree-lined boulevards that make this place old-fashioned.

Ho Chi Minh City
Unfortunately I have been in Ho Chi Minh City more often than Hanoi, because I like Ho Chi Minh City I am more of a fan of Hanoi. So if you go to Vietnam and you have to choose between them then I would say go north and leave Ho Chi Minh City. Yet I always had a great time in this crazy big city where modern life meets local lifestyles. It is easy to organize trips from Ho Chi Minh to the Mekong Delta.

Visit Hoi An - Everyone's Favorite
Despite the damage caused by Vietnam's turbulent past, many ancient structures managed to remain intact. For example, take Hoi An Old Town, one of the best places to travel in Vietnam. This ancient riverbank trading town, which has preserved buildings and temples dating back to the 17th century, is where the Chinese merchants first settled. Today, descendants of Chinese merchants continue to sell their products. Hoi An is lit at night by several colorful lanterns on the streets. Loads of backpackers get stuck here and the great thing is that the beach is just 10 minutes away on a bicycle.

A great day trip from Hoi An make my son make his way towards the temple complex. My son, meaning 'beautiful mountain', was mostly destroyed during the American bombings in the Vietnam War. It is still worth visiting as some temples survived the bombing and are well preserved. The complex used to be a place of worship by the Champa people and was built between the 4th and 13th centuries. Visiting my son is one of the best Vietnam travel tips I have found among Vietnam blogs.

Phong Nha's Bang National Park
You will definitely be impressed by the natural wonders of Vietnam. Vietnam for example is home to the largest cave in the world - Son Dong Cave located in the heart of Phong Nha's National Park. This can be traced through a cave expedition, but only with an official tour operator. In 2018 I visited Quang Binh Province and some caves, this is one of my attractions of Vietnam. When looking for cool things to do in Vietnam, think about caving in this national park, so it is worth it.

Halong Bay
When one should not miss Halong Bay, one of the wonders of the natural world. There are around 1,600 limestone islands and islands around the emerald waters, an absolute must see when you travel to Vietnam. There are also attractive uninhabited islands and beaches where you can stay overnight or spend a multi-day cruising on an old wooden ship. The Halong Bay area is one of the best places to see in Vietnam.

SP's magical rice fields
Relaxing travelers can choose to trek the mountainous Sapa area near the Chinese border. Although terraced rice fields are man-made, the natural surroundings make the experience amazing. It is possible for local ethnic tribes to provide homestay accommodation to interested guests for the opportunity to experience living like a local. Trust me when you travel to Vietnam. On my second Vietnam trip, I did this for 3 days and absolutely loved it. During the day you trek through the rice fields to the rim of these terraces and through the forest. We stayed overnight in local homes. Help them cook at night (free cooking classes), get cool in the river, learn about their culture and drink rice wine (very strong clear shot) until your chair falls. This experience is the best value for money tourism in Vietnam and is very enjoyable. I always wanted to write a separate Vietnam travel blog about this, but it was only in 2013 when I did that.

Photo by Steven Wilcox / Unsplash

Festivals in Vietnam
Keeping religious significance and with tradition, the festivals in Vietnam provide an authentic Vietnam experience. The Vietnamese know to party, I believe I have experienced it many times. Their hospitality is huge, especially when they are drunk and no longer shy! :)

Vietnamese new year
The most important festival in Vietnam is the Tate Nguyen Dan or Lunar New Year which results in a Buddhist country. Equivalent to the Chinese New Year, the Vietnamese make a noise by welcoming the new year whether its simple beats are drums, firecrackers or dogs barking. The morning is characterized by honoring ancestors, visiting temples and handing flowers during rituals. Meanwhile, the evening is really crazy due to all the ceremonies and of course the alcohol. The Vietnamese New Year is always in late January or early February.

Hue Festival
Unfortunately I have never experienced this festival myself, but I have heard so much about it that it is on the list of things to do in Vietnam. If you love art, then head to Hue City, the capital of Thua Thien Hue Province, Central Vietnam. It is the only place where the Hue Festival is celebrated every two years. Traditional customs practiced during the Nguyen dynasty are considered through different appearances and activities. Expect street performances, film performances, art exhibitions, Ao Dai fashion shows, the Hue Poetry Festival, and the Dialogue of Drums and Percussion. For sporting activities, there is kite flying, boat racing and human chess.

Hoi An Lantern Festival
This festival attracts a large number of visitors and is a very popular festival among Vietnamese and tourists. Every establishment on the 14th day of the lunar month in which the full moon occurs, every establishment in the ancient city turns off all its lights. They use multi-colored lanterns lit with candles to illuminate and are also placed on the river for well wishes. You can choose to see lanterns on the water from the riverbank or organize a local boat ride. Trust me when you are around it, one of the better Vietnam travel tips is what I found along my trip. you will love it!

You can freely and safely wander the streets of Hoi An in a magical glow as any motorized vehicles are banned on this day. Roads are filled with musicians playing traditional instruments such as dhol, nagade and bamboo flute. Enjoy other activities that can include lantern making classes, Chinese chess and poetry lessons. This festival is one of the best things to happen in Vietnam.