Back in 2017 we spent 4 months travelling all throughout Southeast Asia.
And of course, we did the typical backpacker trail which takes you through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and, of course, Vietnam.
And after the journey was over and we looked back at our time in Asia, there really was only one clear winner when deciding our favourite country.
It had to be Vietnam.
And that’s not to say the rest of Asia wasn't amazing. It really was! In fact, it's easy to see why Asia is the go-to backpacker destination.
It’s cheap, it’s beautiful, there's so much to see and do and the people are incredibly friendly.
But either way, we recommend you visit Vietnam above all others if you're stuck for time. And here are my top 10 reasons why.
Much of Vietnam is still a very rural, undeveloped country and it’s easy to feel unsafe or at ease in such environments. And both Cazzy and I have felt that unease quite a few times on our journeys around the world so far.
However, with Vietnam, we only ever felt content and safe to be travelling through each destination. We never had any fear that we were getting unduly ripped off or that we would be the victims of some sort of crime unless we were incredibly careful.
Of course, we took all the same precautions we do in every country we go to, such as not staying out too late and not having money on show. But nonetheless, Vietnam feels like a very safe country to visit.
As budget-friendly travellers, we can’t help but love anywhere that is cheap and has plenty to offer. Well, Vietnam really is the whole package.
Overall, our budget in Vietnam came in at a little over £18 ($23) a day, and that included a few luxuries on top o the bare essentials. Such as staying in nicer hotels, eating out at middle-of-the-range restaurants and having a few drinks in the evening.
We ended up feeling like kings and queens on our journey up through Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. Our Halong Bay cruise was by far the most expensive and luxurious thing we did in the whole of Asia, and even that was so cheap in comparison to what you'd expect to pay anywhere else!
Before we left for Southeast Asia, I read an interesting article form Nomadic Matt on why he’d never return to Vietnam. He claimed the people were nothing but unfriendly and seemed to only want to be nice to him in return for money.
Well, we never experienced any of this. Instead, we found everyone to be incredibly courteous, regardless of if we were paying them or not. Perhaps things have changed in recent years, but I can honestly say Vietnam is the land of smiles.
Which is strange as everyone seems to call Thailand the land of smiles. but from my experience, the complete opposite is true. Thailand is by far the least friendly nation in Southeast Asia and is only the land of smiles, so long as you are handing them money.
With just 24 days to make it through the whole of Vietnam, we really had to cram in everything we wanted to do. We managed to stop at most of the major places along the way and weren’t disappointed with anywhere we stopped.
Instead, there are ample things to do and see in every major city and town through Vietnam, and far too much to fit into 3 weeks. One day, we fully intend to return and spend a month or more there.
In particular, to rent a moped and drive off the beaten track into some truly rural areas. If you've had experience with this, particularly North of Hanoi, let me know below!
As well as there being plenty of touristy things to do, Vietnam still has so many wonderful sights and attractions that don't feel like they've been ruined by tourists. However, to really get the most out of your trip, you should still seek out some of the lesser known spots.
This is best done by renting a scooter and heading out for the day. There’s so much to see just an hour or so outside of the major cities. In fact, my favourite thing to do in Vietnam was simply riding out across the spectacular countryside on a moped.
I suppose this all depends on when you visit, but the weather in Vietnam is lovely. Just bear in mind that I come from the UK, so what I consider lovely might be far different from what others are used to!
But we were there in July and only got caught out in the rain once. Though we did get quite fortunate as there was a major storm that ripped through the north of the country a day before we arrived.
I’m not someone who is obsessed with learning about history, but you can;t help but be fascinated by the long and vivid history the country has to offer. Right through from their ancient dynasties that ended hundreds of years ago to the Vietnam war that ended in 1975.
Each city has monuments and museums that showcase the countries rich and interesting past. In particular, Hue.
This is a big deal for me as I am someone who really hates bus journeys. I seem to get motion sickness so easily and I think it was after so many 24 hour bus journeys through South America in 2015!
However, with Vietnam, you can pick up a hop-on, hop-off bus pass for a little over 30 dollars that takes you the whole way through the country. So not only do you not have to worry about buying tickets in each and every place, you also get a modern, comfy bus to sleep in.
Most journeys are 4 to 6 hours, but some are a bit longer. For those longer ones, you always get a bus that is made up of pods that you can lie down in. The bus from Vietnam to Laos was made up of double beds, which is something I’ve never seen before!
Vietnam has long been a popular tourist destination, so getting around is so easy. Almost all young people were brought up being taught English, and most older people have picked it up as well.
That’s not to say we didn't try our best to learn some Vietnamese and put it to use. But for the majority of daily tasks, you can get by safe in the knowledge that someone can speak English and translate for you if the need arises.
Last but not least, I wanted to make a point of just how inspiring I believe the nation of Vietnam to be. What you have to realise is that the Vietnam War ended only a little over 40 years ago.
So, what that means is that almost everyone you see walking around that country was in some way impacted by the war. The older Vietnamese would have been adults then and the adults would have been kids.
And even the teenagers likely have parents who were in some way impacted by the war. It is estimated that up to 1 and a half million Vietnamese civilians and Viet Cong fighters died in the North of the country alone.
Which is an incredible amount and you would imagine that, after what they went through and how they watched their country get destroyed, there would be some kind of animosity towards white people. But not at all. Which for me was a humbling and inspiring thing to see.
If you’ve ever been to Vietnam, then let me know below! What did you think of it and how do you think it held up in comparison to other countries in Southeast Asia?