Vietnam is quite literally one of the most beautiful countries to travel – whether it be by motorbike, boat or bus; it is accessible and other worldly.
Many choose to explore the Ho Chi Minh trail via motorbike. I wish I had the balls/balance to have done it this way, but having never ridden a motorbike solo before (or even really being able to ride a standard bicycle), I chose bus.
A one-way ticket from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi via bus cost us…a whopping $46 dollars. Stopping at Mui Ne, Dalat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue & Hanoi along the way. Basically a full proof quick-trip up the coast stopping at all the major hits and beauty. Unfortunately, we missed the wildly incredible Phong Na caves (one to return for), but other than that we were able to maximise on our very short time period to see everything we wanted. Several of the trips are 10+ hours long, and overnight (saving on accommodation) while others are 4-5 hours. None will be luxurious comfort, but they are easy sleeper buses and as a budget backpacker, you couldn’t really ask for much more.
Hotels & Hostels.
You will note that I haven’t included a single hostel or hotel review in the Vietnamese articles – its simply because we put no pre-thought into them whatsoever. I couldn’t remember the name of the place I was sleeping in at the time; I certainly cant now. But as two female travellers, every bus stop had a number of friendly, welcoming touts offering twin rooms for $4-6 each. It’s by far the easiest way – ditch the guidebook. Speak to the touts and see which of them is less offensive, abrasive or rude. Follow others from the bus – be sensible. You’re more likely to find a place bordering on luxury this way.
Vietnamese Dong is the national currency of Vietnam. There isn’t so much to say on this as it isn’t quite as complicated as in Cambodia. It’s approximately 16000 Dong to the $1. (we rounded to 15000 – that way you end up spending less than you think.
NOTE: They really really don’t want you to take their currency out of the country, so try to spend it all before you leave/exchange locally. We made the mistake of ‘saving’ our dong at airport security, forgo-ing the most perfect foundation I have ever tried in my life for my budget. Only to find that when I got to Bangkok and tried to change it, I essentially lost it all anyway. Damn waste – one key thing I wish I’d known before. (After 2 months I was growing needy of my makeup bag)