A solo trip through Vietnam

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Curated By

Kim Reynolds

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  • Vietnam

  • Solo Travel

  • Active Travel

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Local Culture

  • Sightseeing

  • Old-fashioned

View of street with motorbikes on it from inside a shop.
Curator’s statement

Anthony Bourdain once said, "Vietnam, it grabs you and doesn't let you go. Once you love it, you love it forever." Back in 2018, I traveled solo through Vietnam for a month and it was the greatest gift that I have ever given myself. The chance to connect with a culture so different than mine helped me reconnect with myself. Vietnam smacks you across the face, takes you by the shoulders and reminds you that you are alive! All in the best possible way. A feeling that at the time I had been searching for. The people, the food, the smells, the culture, the energy! Cities like Hanoi make New York City feel like a sleepy hamlet. Vietnam is incredibly safe for solo female travelers, but also the perfect place for a family looking to take a trip full of adventure. It really has something for every kind of traveler. It will grab you and you will love it forever. Just like it did to me.

The Fora Difference

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Insider knowledge

Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there

Where to stay in Vietnam

La Siesta Hoi An Resort & Spa

A serene luxury haven offering exquisite Vietnamese hospitality, top-tier wellness facilities, and immersive cultural experiences in the heart of charming Hoi An.

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Things to do in Vietnam

Water body with small colorful cabins and mountains at the back.

Hanoi:

I recommend really rooting yourself in Hanoi. To me Hanoi is what I think of when I think of my time in Vietnam. It is close to lots of great day and overnight trips so the perfect spot to make your base.

  • Walking Tour of Old Quarter: The Old Quarter can be overwhelming but in the best way- the sound of scooters zipping by, endless food stalls and locals going about their business. Where to even begin? I highly recommend a walking tour with a local to get your bearings. Roaming the alley ways of the old quarter is an experience you will never forget. Fun facts- lots of local high school and college aged students give walking tours to help practice their English.

  • The Women's Museum: An incredible museum in Hanoi that highlights the amazing contributions that Vietnamese women have made to their society. I highly recommend!

  • The Temple of Literature: Beautiful landscape gardens with a temple dating back to 1070 that honors Vietnamese scholars and was also the site of Vietnam's first University. It is a little slice of quiet in the middle of Hanoi.

  • Hỏa Lò Prison- also known as "Hanoi Hilton": A notorious POW prison during the Vietnam War that is now a museum. It is famously where John McCain was held. History is written by the victors in this museum, but if you are a history buff or just interested in the Vietnamese take on the war its worth the trip

  • Train Street: I know you have seen the photos and the TikToks of train street in Hanoi. It is worth the hype.

Sapa:

Sapa is a must on any Vietnam itinerary. A six-hour bus ride from Hanoi, this town in the northernmost part of Vietnam. It is home to the Mountain Hmong people and gorgeous rice patties. The Views!! One of the most incredible things I did in Vietnam (and in life) was an all-day trek with local Hmong women. Lots of the women in Sapa are actually the breadwinners of their families as they work giving tours while their husbands work in the fields. I'll cherish this day forever.

  • Ha Long Bay: I mean where to begin..some of the most beautiful views you will ever see in this lifetime. Take a 1 night (or more) cruise to see one of the seven NEW world wonders. There are lots of cruise options based on budget which I am happy to help you with. Bonus if your cruise involves Cat Ba Island .

  • Hoi An: The ancient town of Hoi An, with its beautiful lanterns and yellow building facades. Hoi Ann is where you can have any article of clothing made in just about a day. It is the tailor capitol of the world. I recommend Tuong Tailor.

Ho Chi Minh:

Ho Chi Minh (formally Saigon) is the mot cosmopolitan of the cities in Vietnam. This will usually be your first or last stop based on where you fly into. There are some great tours to do while in Ho Chi Minh like:

  • Mekong Delta tour: This was one of my favorite things that I did in Vietnam. I'll never forget the sound of the old motorboat taking me down the river or just how green the palms of the palm trees were. It was one of those days that made me remember just how amazing travel is.

Back of the Bike tour:

You can not leave Vietnam without getting on the back of a motor bike! Whether its in Hanoi or in Ho Chi Minh, you need to get on the back of a bike and zip through the streets with a local. It is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. Lots of tours- both city and food- offer a back of the bike option.

Places to eat & drink in Vietnam

A bowl of noodle salad.

Overall:

To me the way you get to know a city is by its food. That is why in any city I go to a book a food tour. I can't recommend that enough in Vietnam. Each part of Vietnam has a different style cuisine and there are hidden gems you just wont find unless with a local. It is endless options of street food. There are also things you might just not know to try! I recommend doing this on your first or second night in a new city- so that way you have plenty of time to go back to any favorites.

Other suggestions:

Hanoi:

  • Bún chả Hương Liên in the French Quarter. The bun cha was literally one of the best things I have ever eaten and I went every day I was in Hanoi. It is THAT good. This is also the spot where President Obama and Anthony Bourdain ate on Bourdain's Vietnam "Parts Unknown" episode. By the way- any of Bourdain's Vietnam episodes on either "No Reservations" or "Parts Unknown" are a must watch before heading to Vietnam.

  • Pho 10- the best pho in Hanoi..in my humble opinion

  • Cong Caphe- this is a chain in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh but don't let that scare you. The coconut iced coffee is to die for!!

  • Giang Coffee- home to the most famous egg coffee in Hanoi. A must try- don't worry you cant taste the egg :)

  • The Note Cafe- Vietnamese coffee and post-it notes left from people all over the world. What else could you need?

Hoi An:

  • Circle- This is going to sound strange but I had the BEST burger of my life in Hoi Ann. It is called The owner is originally from Minnesota and is serving up the best juicy lucy burgers you will ever have. I went here every single day while in Hoi Ann..sometime for lunch and dinner. I dream of this place. Pro tip- have a LaRue beer with your burger.

  • Morning Glory- Get the White Rose dumplings! Yum!

  • Madam Khanh - The Banh Mi Queen- The best Bahn Mi I had during my travels through Vietnam. The bread was delicious- it did not disappoint!

Ho Chi Minh:

  • Pizza 4P- Another strange choice..but if you are starting to crave some pizza and pasta during your trip..look no further than Pizza 4P. The food is DELICIOUS! There are various locations throughout the city and if you don't believe me check out their instagram.

Need to Know

Tips before you go:

  • If you are from the USA, you need a Visa to enter Vietnam. The process is super easy- you can either apply online through the Vietnam Embassy or apply on arrival. I suggest applying in advance just so it is one last thing to worry about! Learn more about the Visa here.

  • Bring multiple pairs of comfortable shoes! The weather can be unpredictable at times in Vietnam so you will need backups for the backups. I went through two pairs of sneakers while there.

  • Bring any kind of medicine you might need! Tylenol, Pepto, cold medicine, etc!, etc, etc. If you might need it- bring it! Pharmacies and access to western types of medicine are not readily available, especially in more rural parts of the country.

  • Look into overnight buses or domestic flights on Vietnam Airlines to help get you from city to city.

  • Grab rideshare is Vietnam's version of Uber. Download the app before you go!

Please reach out with any questions! I would love to help introduce you to this incredible country.

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Lauren Van Keulen’s guide, Two Weeks in Vietnam. This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Vietnam.

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Travel Advisor

Kim Reynolds

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Vietnam.