Vietnam is a country any serious traveler should visit at least once in his/her life. Its natural settings, its religious monuments, its local markets, its people, its cuisine, and its beaches are the main reasons for visiting, but there are many more.
If you look at the map on the right, you will see what the country looks like. There are two ways to visit Vietnam: starting in Hanoi, and going South; or starting in Saigon, and going north.
When to Go/Climate: The best season to travel to North Vietnam is during the hot summers, from May to October. Winters in the North are cold and cloudy. In the mountainous regions in North Vietnam (Sapa), it may be freezing during winter. Central Vietnam wet season is from December to February. The south has two main seasons: the wet, from May to November; and the dry, the best season to travel, from December to April. The hottest season is from February to May.
Get in: there are three international airports: Hanoi (HAN), Saigon (SGN) and Da Nang (DAD).
Get around: Moving around Vietnam can be done on bus, train and/or plane. For long distances I recommend plane, train is also an option. Bus should only be considered in short journeys.
Money and Costs: the non-convertible Vietnamese Dong (VND) is the local currency. USD may be accepted in some tourist areas. Prices in Vietnam are low. Accommodation and food are particularly cheap.
Length of stay: The minimum stay I would recommend to visit Vietnam is six weeks. In case you do not have that many days, you will have to split your visit in two (or you will have to skip some of its destinations).
Languages/People: 82 million people live in Vietnam. In the south, people are friendly, and in the north they are trustworthy. Vietnamese life revolves around the family. Vietnamese is the official language. English is widely spoken in tourist areas.
Food: Vietnam cuisine is, in my opinion, one of the richest in the world. From traditional Vietnamese food to seafood, you will always find something worth trying.
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