The tourism industry is relatively new in Vietnam, but it's not hard to see why people book flights to Vietnam. Rated one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Vietnam also maintains its status as one of the romantic countries thanks to its lush landscape. While some travelers book flights to Vietnam to experience the breadth of the culture and scenery, others travel to Vietnam for far more personal reasons. The country played a huge part in American history, and today many travelers book flights to Vietnam to retrace the steps of generations past. But when visiting Vietnam, it’s also important to respect the local culture and keep personal politics quiet during your trip. The Vietnamese kept their doors tightly shut to outsiders for many years and they are just starting to welcome foreigners back into their land. 

The first step in supporting the Vietnamese economy is booking a flight to Vietnam. From there, dine in local eateries, buy amenities (soap, water, toothpaste, sanitary items) from small family-owned shops and before buying souvenirs, make sure they are produced in Vietnam. As a tourist in Vietnam, your role is to appreciate the people and respect the culture. Do so, and the Vietnamese will continue to open their doors, and minds, to foreign travelers. 

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Vietnam climate

Northern Vietnam and southern Vietnam have two very different climates. November through April is cool and dry in the north, while the rest of the year is hot and rainy. It’s not much different on the central coast north of Nha Trang, where the winter monsoon brings wet, cool weather from December to February. In contrast, it’s hot and humid all year in the south. The central highlands aren’t much different, but winters are cooler with temperatures close to freezing.

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Best Time to Fly to Vietnam

Peak season:

Vietnam has a varied climate and there is no bad time to book flights to Vietnam, unless humidity is a turn-off. In the north of the country the winter months take in November to April, when the weather is cool and wet. The summer months are May to October; weather is hot with heavy rains.

In the south, Vietnam experiences a dry, hot season between December and April and a wet season between May and November. It is most humid between March and May.

In the center of Vietnam, there are often very heavy rains between December and February.

Off Season:

Christmas is a family-centric time in Vietnam as is Tet (Lunar New Year) around February.

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Getting around Vietnam

Vietnam Airlines offers a good domestic network of Vietnam flights, linking Ho Chi Minh City with several destinations including Buon Me Thuat, Da Nang, Dien Bien, Da Lat, Hanoi, Hai Phong, Hue, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc and Rach Gia.

Pacific Airlines also offers domestic Vietnam flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi and Danang.

Vietnam Railways operates the rail network in Vietnam. The main line runs from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, taking in Danang, Hue and Nha Trang. The journey takes about two days.

Bus services are popular and cheap, but can be slow and overcrowded. The best way of getting around the country (between popular destinations) is by tourist open-tour bus. A journey between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City costs less than $30 (about 500,000 Vietnamese Dong).

The following chart gives approximate journey times from

Hanoi

(in hours and minutes) to other major cities and towns in Vietnam.

 AirRoadRail
Ho Chi Minh City2.00-30.00
Halong Bay-3.30-

The following chart gives approximate journey times from

Ho Chi Minh City

(in hours and minutes) to other major cities and towns in Vietnam.

 Road
Phan Thiet4.00
Dalat7.00

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Vietnam Travel Information

  • Hue was the capital of Vietnam between 1744 and 1945, when the last emperor abdicated. Located on the northern bank of the beautifully named Perfume River, the Imperial Citadel (Thanh Noi) has ten entrances; each gate has a watchtower on top. There are three ramparts: Capital Citadel, Imperial and Forbidden Citadel. Sadly, much of the interior of the citadel was destroyed during the Tet Offensive in 1968. The Forbidden Purple City was mostly razed, but there are some smaller buildings still standing and restoration work is ongoing.
  • Drive, cycle or hike the more than 745 miles of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which extends from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City along battlefields such as Khe Sanh; Ben Hai Bridge; Truong Son National Cemetery (Vietnam's national war cemetery); and Dak Rong Bridge, the start of Highway 15, leading south to “Hamburger Hill”.
  • Vietnam’s best known national parks are Cuc Phuong (established in 1962); Cat Ba on Cat Ba Island in Halong Bay; and Con Dao National Park on Con Dao Island.
  • Halong Bay: Halong means “where the dragon descends to the sea” in Vietnamese. The bay is composed of nearly 2,000 limestone islands and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Several of the islands are hollow, ie, caves, and two are inhabited – Tuan Chau and Cat Ba – and offer tourist facilities such as hotels, golf course and fishing club.
  • Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is Vietnam’s largest city, business center and major port, and a must see spot for travelers booking flights to Vietnam. It was also the capital of the French protectorate of Cochinchina. The French left their mark: wide boulevards, colonial villas, café society and cuisine. Some of the must-sees are the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee (Town Hall), Notre Dame Cathedral; bustling Ben Thanh Market (for souvenirs); Quoc Tu Pagoda; Xa-loi Pagoda; War Remnants Museum and nearby Reunification Palace, complete with NVA tank outside.

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Vietnam airports

Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) is 21 miles north of Hanoi.

Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) is 4.5 miles from Ho Chi Minh City.

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Passport and Visa Information

Visitors need a valid passport to enter Vietnam. Visa requirements vary by country.

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Entry requirements

US citizens need a passport valid for at least six months. Visas are required, so consult with a Vietnamese embassy before your departure.

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Melisse Hinkle
A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has lived in four U.S. cities, spent a summer in Hawaii, made her way through wine-producing regions in Australia and New Zealand, and traveled around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Content Manager for the U.S. and Canada at Cheapflights.
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    In-flight reading

    The Quiet American

    Graham GreeneAgainst a backdrop of political turmoil, this is the classic story of a romantic triangle between Fowler, a jaded British journalist, Pyle, an idealistic American, and Phuong, Fowler’s Vietnamese mistress.

    The Things They Carried

    Tim O'Brien“First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha.” This is a fascinating memoir in short stories about O'Brien and a company of soldiers in Vietnam.

    Dispatches

    Michael HerrThis is considered by many to be the best book about the Vietnam War. Herr covered the Vietnam War for Esquire magazine, and later turned his notes into this book.

    A Dragon Apparent: Travels in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam

    Norman LewisA classic travel book. Evokes beautifully the last years of French Indochina.

    Travel Tips