Travel to Vietnam: a guide for the perfect week-long trip

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Traveling to Vietnam can be intimidating for many people, with the language barriers, potential scams, tourist traps, and learning to negotiate before you buy. That doesn’t mean, however, that travelers can’t experience the best the country has to offer in seven days.

So how can globetrotters make their mark? Adventure travel companies are a great start with their sightseeing tours that pair knowledgeable local guides with a small group of like-minded travelers.

Travel agencies also offer flexible itineraries to accommodate the length of your stay and different travel styles that range from sightseeing to free exploration or even staying with locals for days at a time. There are even themed trips for food, history, and wildlife lovers that maximize the time you have available so you can see all that Vietnam has to offer.

10 tips for doing well in Vietnam. Slideshow text follows for mobile readers.

","thumbnail":{"url":{"fileName":"5cd6bcc02400003200755831.jpeg","type":"hectorUrl"},"credit":"Gizelle Lau","width":1000,"height":612},"title":"1. Visit The Old City Of Hanoi","type":"image","meta":null,"summary":null,"badge":null},"provider":null},{"embedData":{"type":"hector","url":"https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5cd6bcc0210000350076e7c4.jpeg","queryParams":{},"width":1000,"height":750,"credit":"Gizelle Lau"},"type":"image","common":{"id":"5cd6bcc0e4b04219dab9c8bd","caption":"From Hanoi, head for a short two-to-three-day trip to the stunning Halong Bay, featured in the 1974 James Bond Film, "The Man with the Golden Gun". Here, the bay’s stunning limestone monuments rise up from the water to create a truly unique setting. Kayak the bay, visit the caves and enjoy food and drink on your own junk boat. ","credit":"Gizelle Lau","creditUrl":"","source":"From Hanoi, head for a short two-to-three-day trip to the stunning Halong Bay, featured in the 1974 James Bond Film, ","thumbnail":{"url":{"fileName":"5cd6bcc0210000350076e7c4.jpeg","type":"hectorUrl"},"credit":"Gizelle Lau","width":1000,"height":750},"title":"2. Take A Junk Boat Through Ha Long Bay","type":"image","meta":null,"summary":null,"badge":null},"provider":null},{"embedData":{"type":"hector","url":"https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5cd6bcc12100005800c7245e.jpeg","queryParams":{},"width":1200,"height":798,"credit":"Getty"},"type":"image","common":{"id":"5cd6bcc1e4b04219dab9c8be","caption":"Like Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa is a doable two-to-three-day trip from Hanoi and takes you into northern Vietnam’s mountains. The remote, rugged landscape and tiered rice terraces give visitors the chance to visit hill tribes and learn more about the area’s local ethnicities. ","credit":"Getty","creditUrl":"","source":"Like Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa is a doable two-to-three-day trip from Hanoi and takes you into northern Vietnam’s mountains. The remote, rugged landscape and tiered rice terraces give  visitors the chance to visit hill tribes and learn more about the area’s local ethnicities. ","thumbnail":{"url":{"fileName":"5cd6bcc12100005800c7245e.jpeg","type":"hectorUrl"},"credit":"Getty","width":1200,"height":798},"title":"3. Visit Sa Pa","type":"image","meta":null,"summary":null,"badge":null},"provider":null},{"embedData":{"type":"hector","url":"https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5cd6bcc1210000590076e7c8.jpeg","queryParams":{},"width":1000,"height":682,"credit":"Gizelle Lau"},"type":"image","common":{"id":"5cd6bcc1e4b04219dab9c8bf","caption":"As a French colony, there’s bound to be excellent coffee in Vietnam and it sure doesn’t disappoint. Dark with notes of hickory and mocha, Vietnamese coffee is often served with condensed milk, sometimes with yogurt and even still, whipped with a creamy egg foam layer on top. ","credit":"Gizelle Lau","creditUrl":"","source":"As a French colony, there’s bound to be excellent coffee in Vietnam and it sure doesn’t disappoint. Dark with notes of hickory and mocha, Vietnamese coffee is often served with condensed milk, sometimes with yogurt and even still, whipped with a creamy egg foam layer on top. 
","thumbnail":{"url":{"fileName":"5cd6bcc1210000590076e7c8.jpeg","type":"hectorUrl"},"credit":"Gizelle Lau","width":1000,"height":682},"title":"4. Drink Coffee, Lots Of It","type":"image","meta":null,"summary":null,"badge":null},"provider":null},{"embedData":{"type":"hector","url":"https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5cd6bcc22100002f0076e7ca.jpeg","queryParams":{},"width":1000,"height":642,"credit":"Gizelle Lau"},"type":"image","common":{"id":"5cd6bcc2e4b04219dab9c8c0","caption":"It's one of Vietnam’s most global exports and what better place in the world to taste the delicious noodles in hot soupy broth than its place of origin, Hanoi, where the speciality is called "pho bo" or beef noodle soup. ","credit":"Gizelle Lau","creditUrl":"","source":"It's one of Vietnam’s most global exports and what better place in the world to taste the delicious noodles in hot soupy broth than its place of origin, Hanoi, where the speciality is called ","thumbnail":{"url":{"fileName":"5cd6bcc22100002f0076e7ca.jpeg","type":"hectorUrl"},"credit":"Gizelle Lau","width":1000,"height":642},"title":"5. Eat Pho","type":"image","meta":null,"summary":null,"badge":null},"provider":null},{"embedData":{"type":"hector","url":"https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5cd6bcc22400005800755839.jpeg","queryParams":{},"width":1000,"height":667,"credit":"Gizelle Lau"},"type":"image","common":{"id":"5cd6bcc2e4b04219dab9c8c1","caption":"From Cho Hom fabric market to Dong Xuan market and Cho Chau Long market, there are so many places to take in the culture, colours and the flavours of Vietnam. From fresh fish that are the catch of the day to meat that’s been transported into the city just that morning, Cho Chau Long is a good place to try something new, whether it’s pig’s blood, herbal remedies for shinier hair or fresh coconut water. This is also your chance to try the likes strange foods like meal worms, water beetles or fertilized embryo egg! ","credit":"Gizelle Lau","creditUrl":"","source":"From Cho Hom fabric market to Dong Xuan market and Cho Chau Long market, there are so many places to take in the culture, colours and the flavours of Vietnam. 

From fresh fish that are the catch of the day to meat that’s been transported into the city just that morning, Cho Chau Long is a good place to try something new, whether it’s pig’s blood, herbal remedies for shinier hair or fresh coconut water.  This is also your chance to try the likes strange foods like meal worms, water beetles or fertilized embryo egg! 
","thumbnail":{"url":{"fileName":"5cd6bcc22400005800755839.jpeg","type":"hectorUrl"},"credit":"Gizelle Lau","width":1000,"height":667},"title":"6. Check Out The Market","type":"image","meta":null,"summary":null,"badge":null},"provider":null},{"embedData":{"type":"hector","url":"https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5cd6bcc22100005900c72462.jpeg","queryParams":{},"width":1000,"height":667,"credit":"Gizelle Lau"},"type":"image","common":{"id":"5cd6bcc2e4b04219dab9c8c2","caption":"As you work your way south, don’t miss out on a stop in Hoi An, just south of Da Nang. Named an UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient harbor town was once a trading port in the 15th century and its streets are as picturesque as they get. Today, get a custom dresses and suits made within the day, go for a meal at Bale Well, cooking classes at Morning Glory Cooking School, a bike ride through the countryside or release a lantern into the river for good luck. ","credit":"Gizelle Lau","creditUrl":"","source":"As you work your way south, don’t miss out on a stop in Hoi An, just south of Da Nang. Named an UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient harbor town was once a trading port in the 15th century and its streets are as picturesque as they get. Today, get a custom dresses and suits made within the day, go for a meal at Bale Well, cooking classes at Morning Glory Cooking School, a bike ride through the countryside or release a lantern into the river for good luck. ","thumbnail":{"url":{"fileName":"5cd6bcc22100005900c72462.jpeg","type":"hectorUrl"},"credit":"Gizelle Lau","width":1000,"height":667},"title":"7. Hang Out In Hoi An","type":"image","meta":null,"summary":null,"badge":null},"provider":null},{"embedData":{"type":"hector","url":"https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5cd6bcc32100003500c72466.jpeg","queryParams":{},"width":1000,"height":667,"credit":"Gizelle Lau"},"type":"image","common":{"id":"5cd6bcc3e4b04219dab9c8c3","caption":"Heading south via Ho Chi Minh, be sure to explore the Mekong Delta, home to half of Vietnam’s agriculture with rich, vibrant farms and fields that seem to have been stopped in time. Mosey down along the Mekong River by boat among the mangroves and take it all in. Visit production shops to see coconut products being made, see a clay/pottery workshop or get a whiff of the fish sauce factory. ","credit":"Gizelle Lau","creditUrl":"","source":"Heading south via Ho Chi Minh, be sure to explore the Mekong Delta, home to half of Vietnam’s agriculture with rich, vibrant farms and fields that seem to have been stopped in time. Mosey down along the Mekong River by boat among the mangroves and take it all in. Visit production shops to see coconut products being made, see a clay/pottery workshop or get a whiff of the fish sauce factory. 
","thumbnail":{"url":{"fileName":"5cd6bcc32100003500c72466.jpeg","type":"hectorUrl"},"credit":"Gizelle Lau","width":1000,"height":667},"title":"8. Explore The Mekong Delta","type":"image","meta":null,"summary":null,"badge":null},"provider":null},{"embedData":{"type":"hector","url":"https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5cd6bcc32100002f0076e7d0.jpeg","queryParams":{},"width":1000,"height":667,"credit":"Gizelle Lau"},"type":"image","common":{"id":"5cd6bcc3e4b04219dab9c8c4","caption":"If you really want to get the local experience, try staying in the home of a local Vietnamese family to get an idea of the day-to-day life. Get a home cooked meal and in some cases, homemade rice wine! ","credit":"Gizelle Lau","creditUrl":"","source":"If you really want to get the local experience, try staying in the home of a local Vietnamese family to get an idea of the day-to-day life. Get a home cooked meal and in some cases, homemade rice wine!  ","thumbnail":{"url":{"fileName":"5cd6bcc32100002f0076e7d0.jpeg","type":"hectorUrl"},"credit":"Gizelle Lau","width":1000,"height":667},"title":"9. Go For A Homestay","type":"image","meta":null,"summary":null,"badge":null},"provider":null},{"embedData":{"type":"hector","url":"https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5cd6bcc3240000590075583b.jpeg","queryParams":{},"width":1200,"height":800,"credit":"Getty"},"type":"image","common":{"id":"5cd6bcc3e4b04219dab9c8c5","caption":"When all is said and done, the modern city of Saigon (also called Ho Chi Minh) is somewhere between Bangkok and Hong Kong, with its shopping districts and nightlife scene. It’s a nice place to wind down your trip and pick up some last-minute souvenirs before heading home. ","credit":"Getty","creditUrl":"","source":"When all is said and done, the modern city of Saigon (also called Ho Chi Minh) is somewhere between Bangkok and Hong Kong, with its shopping districts and nightlife scene. It’s a nice place to wind down your trip and pick up some last-minute souvenirs before heading home. ","thumbnail":{"url":{"fileName":"5cd6bcc3240000590075583b.jpeg","type":"hectorUrl"},"credit":"Getty","width":1200,"height":800},"title":"10. Karaoke The Night Away In Saigon","type":"image","meta":null,"summary":null,"badge":null},"provider":null}],"options":{"device":"desktop","editionInfo":{"id":"us","name":"U.S.","link":"https://www.huffpost.com","locale":"en_US"},"slideshowAd":{"scriptTags":[],"otherHtml":""},"slideshowEndCard":{"scriptTags":[{"attribs":{},"scriptBody":"rn (function(){rn var c = document.getElementById('taboola-endslate-thumbnails');rn c.id += '-' + Math.round(Math.random()*1e16);rn rn var taboolaParams = {rn loader: "//cdn.taboola.com/libtrc/aol-huffingtonpost/loader.js",rn mode: "thumbnails-b",rn container: c.id,rn placement: "Endslate Thumbnails",rn target_type: "mix"rn };rn rn if (typeof window.modulousQueue === "function") {rn twindow.modulousQueue.add(function(){ doTaboola(taboolaParams); });rn } else {rn tdoTaboola(taboolaParams);rn }rn }());rn"}],"otherHtml":"
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How to do Vietnam well

1. Visit Hanoi Old Town

Busy and bustling, Hanoi and its Old Town district are one of a kind, where the old and the new are juxtaposed as classic French colonial architecture meets the warmth and humidity of Southeast Asia. and fast motorcycles.

2. Take a junk across Ha Long Bay

From Hanoi, take a short two to three day trip to beautiful Halong Bay, featured in the 1974 James Bond film, “The Man with the Golden Gun”. Here, the magnificent limestone monuments of the bay rise from the water to create a truly unique setting. Kayak the bay, visit caves, and sample food and drink on your own junk.

Like Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa is a doable two to three day trip from Hanoi and takes you to the mountains of northern Vietnam. The remote and rugged landscape and tiered rice terraces give visitors the opportunity to visit hill tribes and learn about the local ethnicities in the area.

4. Drink coffee, a lot

As a former French colony, there is bound to be great coffee in Vietnam and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Dark with hickory and mocha notes, Vietnamese coffee is often served with condensed milk, sometimes with yogurt and even again, whipped with a layer of creamy egg foam on top.

It is one of the most global exports of Vietnam and what better place in the world to taste the delicious noodles in a hot broth than its place of origin, Hanoi, where the specialty is called “pho bo” or soup of beef noodles.

From Cho Hom Fabric Market to Dong Xuan Market and Cho Chau Long Market, there are many places to experience the culture, colors and flavors of Vietnam. From the fresh fish that is the daily catch to the meat that was hauled into town that morning, Cho Chau Long is a good place to try something new, whether it’s pig blood, herbal remedies. plants for shinier hair or cool coconut water. This is also your chance to try weird foods like mealworms, aquatic beetles, or the fertilized embryo egg!

As you head south, don’t miss a stop in Hoi An, just south of Da Nang. Named one Unesco World Heritage, the ancient port city was once a trading port in the 15th century and its streets are as picturesque as they can be. Today, have tailor-made dresses and costumes made for the day, dine at Bale Well, take cooking classes at Morning Glory Cooking School, take a bike ride through the countryside or throw a lantern into the river to bring you luck.

8. Explore the Mekong Delta

As you head south via Ho Chi Minh, be sure to explore the Mekong Delta, home to half of Vietnam’s agriculture with rich, vibrant farms and fields that appear to have been stopped in time. Cruise down the Mekong River among the mangroves and admire it all. Visit production stores to see the making of coconut products, visit a clay / pottery workshop, or breathe in the fish sauce factory.

If you really want to experience the local experience, try staying at a local Vietnamese family’s house to get a feel for everyday life. Get a homemade meal and in some cases, homemade rice wine!

10. The Night Away Karaoke in Saigon

Ultimately, the modern city of Saigon (also known as Ho Chi Minh) sits somewhere between Bangkok and Hong Kong, with its shopping districts and nightlife. It’s a nice place to end your trip and shop for last minute souvenirs before you return home.

Gizelle Lau’s trip was made possible in partnership with Fearless journey

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