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Vietnam: Good to know before you go solo backpacking: July 2022

With tourism picking back up after COVID, more and more travelers are coming to Vietnam. I was just there this month on a solo backpacking trip, and there were a lot of things that I thought were important before I left. Here I put together the list that you should know before going.

Necessary Documents

  • Visa: Unless you come from one of the Visa Exempt Countries (which aren’t that many!), you will need a visa to enter. Luckily, nationals from a lot of countries can apply for an E-Visa, which has an easy application scheme. Here is the official link. It only costs $25 (watch out for other places that charge more!), and you should get it in three days, but I’ve heard stories of people getting theirs later, so make sure you apply early!
  • Health Insurance: When I went, I also needed to show proof of COVID insurance. I used Luma Insurance, and I got my insurance right away by email. I would recommend using them as the process was cheap and easy.

Make sure you print all of your documents before you leave!

COVID restrictions

Practically, there are no restrictions. It seems like mask wearing is optional everywhere (except at the airport). No tests or proof of vaccination is required to enter the country.

Nevertheless, you still see about half the people in the country wear masks all the time. From what I can tell, this is primarily to reduce the health damage from the air quality in the cities, as it isn’t the best here.


I used Agoda. However, I only booked one night at a time through there, and then I booked additional nights at the accommodation directly, since it usually turned out to be cheaper and save me a few dollars. Be advised however, as you can risk the hostels being sold out with this method, especially as more people come to Vietnam.

Getting Around

  • Grab: This is the South East Asian ridesharing app. It’s also very cheap! I used this for getting around town sometimes when I didn’t want to use my own motorbike. A very fun way to get around is with a GrabBike. You literally hop on the back of somebody’s moped and off you go! It’s also cheaper; it was usually half the price of taking a car for the same distance.
  • Buses: There are multiple bus companies offering both day and night services between cities; ask your hostel for more information. However, if you are tall like me (6’2”/188cm), the buses can be a bit tight, so watch out!
  • Motorbike: Finally, an additional way to get around is to rent or buy a motorbike and go around on your own! This offers unparalleled freedom and allows you to really go wherever you want. Personally, I would suggest to rent instead of buying one, since you will get a reputable bike. Tigit Motorbikes has a great article about the dangers with the most commonly bought bike, the Honda Win. Continue reading to see how renting a motorbike went for me!

Currency Exchange

I would recommend to come to the airport and exchange max $50 there. You can exchange the rest of your money in jewelry stores around the country. I know that it might not be the most obvious place to go for this service, but they usually offer very good rates. You can find them in every city; just ask the hostel staff where they are.

SIM card

Usually, you can connect to WIFI at a lot of places. However, if you need a SIM card, I would recommend Viettel. It had great coverage for my whole trip, whereas I was told that other providers’ coverage is practically nonexistent outside of big cities. I got unlimited internet for 30 days for $19, and I had no problems with it.

The only problem with getting a Viettel SIM card is that the stores can be hard to find, as there are a lot of places offering sim cards, but they pretty much never offer Viettel. Your best bet is to look up where a store is. If you are in Hanoi, this is the one that I went to.


There are a lot of places to get food in every city, and everywhere you go, it’s bound to be good. In any case, if you’re on the road and you need to stop someplace, look for a sign that says cơm (rice in Vietnamese), and there’s bound to be a basic dish there.

As for water, you shouldn’t drink it from the tap. It’s unfortunate, but you should buy bottled water. Usually, hostels offer to refill your bottle, but this service is not ubiquitous.

What to bring

In July, the weather is pretty warm in the entire country. That being said, I would bring a pair of long sleeved clothes, since it can still get chilly depending where you go. Don’t forget rain clothes as well, since it is during the rainy season in most of the country!

I’ll also give one general piece of advice here: pack light! The more you pack, the more that you’ll have to bring with you everywhere, and the more that you’re going to regret it. In particular, I only bought four changes of clothes, and that was enough, due to the amount of laundromats everywhere. In total, my bag, including all my clothes and essentials, weighed only around 8.5 kilograms (19 pounds).


I don’t think that I’ve gotten scammed in Vietnam. Rather, I feel that bartering is more common here. It is very easy to overpay like I did, so be ready for it.

Now that you know the essentials, continue onto the next post to read about my solo motorbiking backpacking adventure through Vietnam, where I share the amazing, interesting, and not so fun experiences that happened on my journey.