Solo travel in Vietnam is one of the best experiences you can have in SE Asia. A solo female travel traveler since last 5 years and having explored Vietnam for over a month, I can say that traveling alone in Vietnam is fascinating, adventurous and once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience.
If you are planning of travelling Vietnam alone or wondering whether a solo trip to Vietnam is right for you, you can come to the right place. Because in this Vietnam travel blog, I’m sharing all about solo travel in Vietnam – safety tips, what to expect, how to plan a trip, costs and other commonly asked questions.
Sit back, grab your coffee and find out how traveling Vietnam solo is one of the excellent experiences.
I’m sure you have a lot of questions and doubts about solo travel in Vietnam. So I am going to dispel and answer each of them in this exhaustive Vietnam solo travel guide.
Is it safe to solo travel in Vietnam?
YES. Vietnam is one of the safest countries to travel alone. Solo travel in Vietnam will be a total package – where you will feel a whole roller-coaster of emotions – thrilling, inspiring, eye-opening, challenging, tiring and ultimately feeling excellent about your entire trip.
So yes, Vietnam is one of the countries safe for traveling alone, especially if you are beginning your solo travel adventures outside your country.
Continue reading to know some safety tips for women traveling alone, and in general for all solo travelers.
Vietnam Solo Travel – What are some tips before you visit Vietnam?
If you are wondering, ‘what should I know as a first time visitor about traveling in Vietnam?’, let me clarify a few things. Vietnam is relatively a popular destination, especially among solo travelers because it is friendly towards solo travelers, safe and comfortable. And this also means that solo travel in Vietnam needs some preparation.
Here are some things to know before traveling solo in Vietnam
- Weather in Vietnam is fickle – One thing that is not reliable about Vietnam is its weather, which keeps changing often. On a single day, you can experience rain, chilly winds, sunshine and clouds. Yup, so prepare for all sorts of weather, irrespective of the city!
- Humidity – Weather can be unpredictable, but the constants are humidity and hotness. If you are not used to humid weather, the chances are that you will feel exhausted and drained, pretty quickly. One of the ways to beat this is to stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. Lot – as many times as you can.
- You cannot possess drugs – Drugs are illegal in Vietnam. All of them. So don’t try to sneak in any form of drugs, hoping for any concession for foreigners, because there is none. You will be offered, but you should refuse. Carrying drugs is a punishable crime, so steer clear of them.
- Vietnam Visa – Whether you need a visa or not depends on your nationality, so make sure to get it sorted. That should be your top priority.
- Beware of land mines – In Vietnam and Laos, there are hundreds of active land mines or UXO that were dropped decades ago during wars, scattered especially in the countryside. So if you notice any sign to not trespass, it is best to obey the sign.
- Vietnam is a conservative country – Despite the locals opening up to foreign travelers in recent years, the people are conservative and traditional. Sure, you might not see that in bigger cities and touristy places, but it will be evident once you step into rural parts of Vietnam. So keep this in mind and respect the norm.
- Follow the rules – There are some monuments and attractions where photography is prohibited, especially those that belong to the government. It is essential to follow the rules, as not following is an offence and you can be fined.
- Wear a helmet while driving a motorbike – Vietnam is known for fatal motorbike accidents, mostly of international tourists, so don’t be one of them. Wear a helmet, whether you are riding or a pillion.
- Don’t be deceived by Vietnam’s map – The map of Vietnam looks thin, but let me tell you, the country is enormous! Solo travel in Vietnam is daunting enough and an achievement in itself, so don’t assume that you can travel everywhere in the country, especially if you are here for 2 to 3 weeks. You must enjoy traveling solo in Vietnam, and it’s not a race to see a vast list of places.
I have written a detailed post where I share over 30 things to know before traveling to Vietnam. Go ahead and check that too.
What safety precautions should I take when travelling solo in Vietnam as a female?
Traveling solo in Vietnam is fantastic, but solo travel needs its set of precautions. Taking general precautions and safety measures that apply to traveling to any destination will help you have a super trip. Here are some general solo travel tips for Vietnam for both men and women, and more specific Vietnam solo female travel tips in the next section.
General Vietnam solo travel tips
Safeguard your belongings
This one is obvious, but we all let our guard down sometimes, and that’s when a theft happens! Mobile and your bags are the primary targets, especially in bigger cities like Hanoi and Saigon.
Keep your handbags and camera bags safe during all the times. The bigger cities are notorious for bag and mobile theft. People passing by snatch bags and mobiles, and also the motorbike riders, who grab bags when you are out walking or driving or traveling in buses or tuk-tuks.
To avoid this, keep only the essentials with you. Carry handbags that you can wear on your body, making snatching impossible. Don’t carry more than a bag when you are out as more bags mean most of your attention goes in safeguarding them, along with more risks.
Don’t carry expensive stuff or a lot of cash
Don’t flash your fancy camera and phones out in public. It draws unwanted attention and entices theft, which is common in Saigon or Hanoi.
Don’t carry a lot of cash, and wear a money belt or hide some money in your hidden pockets. Don’t open your wallet in front of too many eyes; be discreet while making transactions.
Talk to locals
One of the rules of thumb while traveling solo in Vietnam or anywhere is to take the help of locals by talking with them. You don’t have to strike up a conversation with every local. Your hotel/hostel staff, tour operators, tour guides, tuk-tuk shop owners and locals like these who are in touch with tourists are the best bets.
These locals usually speak fluent English and have excellent knowledge about costs, attractions, local places to eat, shop, where to drink and so on. You will be surprised by the immensely valuable insider tips that you will get from these people, apart from forming friendships!
Keep your travel documents secure
Next to safeguarding your money and your electronic equipment comes securing your travel documents, especially your passport. Most hotels or guesthouses in Vietnam usually do not take your passport and keep it that way for best.
What I do is make copies of relevant travel documents like passport, which I handover when they ask to deposit my passport. It usually works, and you can avoid giving your original documents. Keep your passport and other tickets safe in a locker or your luggage at the hotel. Do not carry them with you when you go out for sightseeing.
Get the hang of Vietnamese currency
The Vietnamese Dong gets a handful when you withdraw from ATMs or get them at currency centres. There are too many denominations and notes, so take time to figure out and sort. This way, you will avoid confusion when you transact as sometimes you might receive less than the actual change and lose money.
Meet people and make friends
Traveling solo in Vietnam doesn’t mean you have to be all alone all the time, right? There are times you might feel lonely too, or bored. Well, how do you beat these? Go and meet people, and make some new friends, because that’s one of the fun things about traveling alone.
Whether at hostels, group tours, or locals that you randomly meet, being friendly and open will lead to memorable experiences. You will be surprised at how many fellow solo travelers you will come across, that will make for a great company.
Don’t be shy or hesitant to make the first move. If you are an introvert like me, this might be challenging to you at first, but try it out, and you will be pleasantly surprised by the outcomes! Meeting new people, listening to great stories, traveling and exploring new places with new friends are cool things to do as a solo traveler. Go ahead and try it!
There are many advantages to signing up for tours. It is one of the remarkable ways to meet new people and fellow solo travelers. And the good news about travel in Vietnam solo is that there are plenty of open tours, mainly organized by hostels and guesthouses, where you are free to drop in any batch.
Even if it is a walking tour or food tour run by your hostel, go ahead and sign up, especially if you are traveling solo alone for the first time. You will meet new people, get to know about the place or food, and feel more confident.
Watch what you drink and eat
Whether Vietnam or anywhere else, watch out on what you eat and drink. Yes, you should try local delicacies and alcohol, but before doing so, you need to take certain precautions, especially in Vietnam.
If you are drunk and you get attacked or robbed, it is less likely to make a case in your favour as drunk tourists and fussy foreigners are frowned upon not only in Vietnam but anywhere. You need to enjoy it, but you also have to be vigilant and sober. Read below further to know about tips for food safety in Vietnam.
Read and research thoroughly before booking
One of the exciting things about travel is planning. Before you travel solo in Vietnam, do your preparation. Look up and read about cities, a bit about what to expect, weather, culture, people, safety, itinerary, etc. Sure, leave some elements of surprise, but get your basics done.
Before booking your accommodation, read the reviews on different sites carefully, check the location and neighbourhood around the hostels and hotels. Read the fine print, and check about the safety of the areas. It is best to look out for hostels and hotels that have a lot of great reviews everywhere. It means that the place is trustworthy, and is safe to stay and enjoy.
Similarly, read the reviews before booking any paid guided tours. Some tours are very cheap, but cheap sometimes mean bad experiences. The same goes for booking buses and transport too. Simply put, do a bit of your homework before your solo travel in Vietnam.
Get a Sim Card
One of the things that will help you while traveling alone in Vietnam is getting a local SIM card. Sure, you can manage through the WiFi, which you can get at hotels, hostels, cafes and some restaurants.
But having a constant source of the internet will help you with navigation, when you are out exploring, driving and walking on the unknown streets. The cellular packages are cheap, and it makes sense if you are spending about 2 or 3 weeks in Vietnam. You can also stay connected and seek help if things go wrong.
An alternative for navigation if you don’t want to buy a sim card is to download Maps.me app, which is an excellent app for offline maps, which you can use to navigate anywhere if you download maps.
Track your expenses
One of the things to take care of is to manage and track your expenses, which you can initially find challenging while traveling solo. I do somethings as a ritual to manage money, like, I split my cash and cards( both debit and credit) and keep them in different bags. I often lose wallets, so this helps me to have a backup.
Vietnam is cheap, but it is still essential to know where your money goes. I take a brief note of my expenditures every few days, which helps me stick to my travel budget.
Sometimes when you are in a new destination, you can easily get carried away to spend – be it on some new attraction you discovered, shopping, a new activity or spontaneous spend on food and drinks or parties.
Having a budget in mind will help you use your money mindfully, especially if you are a backpacker traveling on a shoestring budget.
If you thought the phrase Be a Roman, when in… is a cliche or oversold, well, it is not. It has another name and is called blending in. Blending and being flexible has its many advantages when you are, you are doing solo travel in Vietnam or anywhere in the world.
Standing out is cool, but not so when you are alone. Observe locals and dress like them, try to mingle and communicate like them, watch and respect their culture, rules and tradition – in temples, pagodas and government monuments. Blending will earn respect and admiration from the locals, and you will be safe and also enjoy the process of blending in!
Let your family know about your whereabouts
It is easy to get lost in your head or the challenges and tasks when you are traveling alone. At times that you might also feel lonely, frustrated and bored, even after meeting people or making friends. That’s where your support system helps. Whether it is your partner or friends or family or any of your loved ones, keeping in touch will help you feel positive.
Your loved ones will worry less knowing that you are safe and available to reach. You don’t have to talk for hours, because you came out to be alone, by yourself. Simply go ahead and give them a ring or drop texts often.
Now, let me share some Vietnam solo female travel tips for you.
In addition to keeping in mind the above safety tips, women traveling alone in Vietnam need to take care of a few new things. Well, these apply not only if you are doing solo female travel in Vietnam, but anywhere else too.
Do not share personal information with anyone
Whether in Vietnam or anywhere else in the world, you will most likely meet people who seem very intrusive. They might be just curious or weird, or maybe harmful too. Whatever it is, watch out and don’t share personal information. You surely don’t have to tell about your relationship status, your full name, the place you are staying or where you plan to go next or any other intimate details.
It not only applies to locals, but to other travelers that you meet as well. It is a good thing to make friends, but you should not reveal much while you are just making friends or with people you just met.
One of the examples that I can share is a lot of times, men – mostly locals and some times tourists approach female solo travelers frequently. They are the ones that usually ask all awkward, weird questions to flirt or engage further.
To avoid this, many women wear a fake wedding ring or tell tales of their boyfriends or friends. If you are a solo woman traveler and find yourself in situations like these, you can try this too. It works because I have tried 🙂
Trust your instinct
The bottom line of my above point is, trust your gut while interacting with others. Also, trust your instinct during other times as well. If you feel something is wrong or you get a warning, listen to it and act accordingly. Also, be assertive. If you want to say no, then say so. It feels lovely to be in charge and aware!
Book female dorm rooms
If you are doing solo travel in Vietnam for the first time, or if you are a new solo female traveler, one of the ways to tackle anxiety is to share a dorm with fellow female travelers. You will feel safe; you can avoid unwanted, unpleasant encounters, and make awesome new female friends!
Vietnam’s culture is conservative
As I mentioned earlier, Vietnam is still a conservative country, especially towards women, which is unfortunate in some instances. What does it mean as you do solo female travel in Vietnam?
One thing is to dress as the locals do. Skimpy tops, tight clothes and shorts will draw stares, catcalls and propositions, and sometimes, locals might get offended too(although they might not say that out loud).
So it is best to respect local culture and follow the rules, especially in religious places where you need to be covered from head to toe(including shoulders). As mentioned earlier, it is better to blend in than standing out while traveling alone in Vietnam or anywhere.
One of the reasons why women hesitate to travel alone is that they feel lonely. Sure, it is partly true that you sometimes might feel lonely when you are traveling alone, but that should NOT stop you from taking solo trips.
Because there are many remedies to beat this, if you are traveling solo in Vietnam or anywhere and feel this way, go ahead and talk to people. You might find a new company to travel with, form excellent friendships and feel great about traveling alone as a female.
Avoid venturing out alone at night
Avoid going out on the streets alone at night, wherever the place is. Especially, don’t step out on empty streets or side lanes that are central houses for crime and danger. Main roads are better, but if you do want to go out, have someone to accompany you, but otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend you hitting the streets at night.
Even in bigger cities, most crimes and violence happen on the streets at night, so don’t venture out alone at night.
Draw attention if you are targeted
Stares and a few invasive questions and propositions are possible/standard towards solo female travelers in Vietnam, but things usually end there.
But if you get harassed, or someone tries you to rob or harm you, don’t hesitate to shout and draw attention. Most likely, people will come to help you or intervene. You can then take the help of these locals to report the crime and instigate further action from the police.
Take the help of local women – The women of Vietnam are some of the kindest and sweetest I have met on the road. They may not speak English, but they will have your back if need be and will make you feel welcomed and safe with their warmth and smiles.
You can rely on Vietnamese women if you ever encounter harassment by local men or fellow travelers in any way. You can walk to the nearest group of women or a woman and ask her for help; you will not be turned away for sure.
Solo travel in Vietnam – Other Frequently Asked Questions
Is public transport safe for solo travel in Vietnam? How to get around alone?
Vietnam is one of the countries in SE Asia with an excellent transport system. Almost all forms of transport are very easy to use and convenient. You will get to experience the authentic local life in Vietnam when you use them.
The public transport might seem a bit of a hassle in some cities, but to compensate for it, there are plenty of other great options. It may not meet the luxury and flamboyance of the west, but it is not below par either.
Ease of transport is one of the reasons why you should do solo travel in Vietnam. You can book your transport easily at all hostels and hotels.
Different transport options in Vietnam and how to use them
One of the best experiences during your solo travel in Vietnam will be using trains. Trains are the gateway to experiencing local life at the closest level. The trains are old, and look like heritage monuments(they are because some of them are from colonial times) and run slowly, passing through stunning countryside throughout the country.
It is totally safe to travel on the train during your Vietnam solo trip. Some trains are the popular routes get crowded, but you can avoid this by booking a ticket in the first-class coach, which gives you better space and comfort for a slightly higher price. You can easily reserve your tickets online by selecting the berth and coach of your choice. The trains are not very hygienic(especially best to avoid toilets), but if it is unbearable, you can choose buses.
Overnight trains – There are overnight sleeper trains(coaches with bed) between some cities, which I’d highly recommend as it saves your day and also your accommodation price. You can book this online, and it is safe to take trains if you are traveling alone in Vietnam.
If you are a female solo traveler, and you are not comfortable to share a coach with someone, then request the ticket collector to move your seat.
Buses are the most convenient way to get around Vietnam between cities. Almost all the cities are well-connected, and there are different kinds of buses and minivans. It is best to book them at your hostels and hotels, which might charge minimal booking fees in addition, but these buses offer free pickup and drop from your hotel. And this is helpful if you are solo traveling in Vietnam as you will not have to run around carrying your luggage.
Overnight buses are quite popular among travelers, especially backpackers as they can be quickly booked, you get comfortable room and space(unless you are very tall), comes with air-con and free WiFi.
But note that some drivers are known for rash driving, and sometimes accidents occur. If these things scare you, it is better to opt for trains or fly if you get quickly.
Getting around within cities
The best way to explore attractions in a city is to take a Grab bike, Grab taxi and tuk-tuks. Grab transport can be booked on their app, which is easy and accessible. Grab taxis are cheaper than local taxis and also scam-free.
If you love driving, then I’d suggest you rent a motorbike and explore the city/town by yourself. Driving in Vietnam is one of the incredible experiences. In smaller cities like Ninh Binh, Hoi An or Hue, rent a bicycle in getting around is a fantastic experience as you pass slowly through the countryside meeting smiling and waving villagers.
In some destinations, you can visit all the places on foot too. But crossing the streets in Vietnam is intimidating, especially if you are new to SE Asia. There are no pedestrian paths; people don’t stop by for those on foot and no traffic signals, which means you can find walking a challenge. The best way to overcome this is to walk and cross the streets with the locals when they do.
Can I afford solo travel in Vietnam? Is it expensive?
Vietnam is one of the most popular destinations in SE Asia, but it is still one of the cheapest countries to travel. The food is exceptionally affordable, and if you book in advance, even accommodation, flight and transport could be more reasonable too.
If you are a budget traveler, you can get by USD 12 to 15 per day. If you spend USD 25 to 40 per day, you can almost enjoy luxury travel in Vietnam in some places.
When is the best time to travel to Vietnam?
You can visit Vietnam almost throughout the year, as the country is diverse with different weather in different regions. In general, the best time to go to Vietnam in winter, from October to January.
People also travel to Vietnam during spring, in March and April, but during these months, it tends to get hot in southern Vietnam. In winter, note that the north of Vietnam is cold, so pack some warm clothes.
How can I avoid scams as a solo traveler in Vietnam?
Like any other country, Vietnam has its share of scams targeted at tourists. The frauds were notorious and high a long time ago, but in recent years, scams are getting rarer, although not absent.
Read more about the types of scams here. The only way to avoid getting scammed is to be vigilant and use your common sense. If you think things are too good to be true, then probably it is.
What are the best places in Vietnam for a solo female traveler?
To do solo travel in Vietnam, no specific itinerary is required as you can follow a general itinerary. All the places are ideal and safe for solo female travelers so that you can pick any.
I would suggest adding Hanoi, Ninh Binh Tam Coc, Phong Nha, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh if you have about 2 to 3 weeks.
Looking for detailed itineraries? Check out this post where I shared a comprehensive guide on spending 3 weeks in Vietnam, which I did solo. You can find routes for 1, 2 or 4 weeks too, so get them now!
If you are wondering while planning a solo trip to Vietnam for a week Should I visit North or South Vietnam, then it depends on your preferences,
Is tap water in Vietnam safe?
No, do not drink tap water anywhere in Vietnam as it is not safe. Always only drink bottled water. Do not please use plastic bottles and contribute to plastic consumption. Carry a container that can be refilled.
Is Vietnam food, safe – especially street food?
Food is one of the reasons why many people even travel to Vietnam! Not trying Vietnamese cuisine on your trip means missing out on a major thing. So don’t do it. Don’t go to Vietnam and not try the food there, because food in Vietnam is safe. Plus, the food is very cheap, even in restaurants, and street food is the most affordable. You can fill your belly with just 1 to 2 USD at once.
Okay, so now that I convinced you to try local food, let me tell you a few things that you need to take care to keep your stomach safe.
If you have never tried SE Asian food before, especially street food, start slow. The key is to introduce food without slow and gentle into your system, and not all at once and going overboard.
Begin trying Vietnamese food at restaurants that look neat, has a lot of excellent reviews and at places where you find many locals and tourists. These are indications that a restaurant is safe to try.
Avoid fried, spicy or adventurous menus in the beginning. Begin with Pho – rice noodles soup that comes in various variants(just vegetables, Chicken, Pork, Beef, Seafood, Egg). Slowly, begin trying more each day, still following the above rules of dining.
Egg coffee, BBQ, steak, smoothies, fried fish balls, cold coffee with condensed milk and seafood BBQ are some of the things that you will commonly food among the street food menu, and they are worth giving a try.
Do not eat raw meat in any form – no matter how tempting or curious you are, including seafood.
If you want to eat fruits, buy them whole and cut them yourself. Don’t eat cut fruits. If you order smoothies, politely ask them to show the fruits and verify the condition of fruits by yourself before you get a smoothie.
It is common in SE Asia to find Buffet systems in markets, and even in restaurants. You will find a wide variety of cuisines all displayed(mostly many kinds of noodles, appetizers and soups). So when you see these, check if the food is hot, doesn’t look too colourful(artificial food colours) and the meat looks good. It is always best to eat food that is hot because it means that the food is fresh and you are safe.
When and if trying meat, stay away from the meat that you are not sure. If you can’t identify or trust what animal it came from, it is best to drop the idea of consuming it.
If you have allergies to specific items, it is best to research them before you try anything, and also communicate it with the restaurants to verify.
Eat where the locals eat – As mentioned earlier, check out places that are crowded, busy all the time, has plenty of good reviews and has a lot of locals because these places are usually safe to try local food.
Practice the basic hygiene – Follow the routine hygiene that you do at home. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap or a hand sanitizer before you eat, check if the food is fresh, mind your portions, and experiment in moderation(in the beginning) and everything will be good!
Carry necessary medicines – You must carry essential medicines while travelling solo in Vietnam, but along with them, also take some medications if you get a bad stomach.
Keep a tab on alcohol – Not to sound like a party spoiler or a grandma, but watch the drink that you consume. Vietnam is home to some of the most potent liquor, especially home-made rice wines or whiskey, which has high alcohol percentages. So while trying these, keep your quantity in check, especially if you are doing solo travel in Vietnam.
Sometimes, the places with a lot of crowds, too many tables, food out in the open may make you hesitate and give doubts, but these don’t mean anything. It is a part of Vietnamese culture to gather around out on the streets and eat together. Follow your hygiene and interact with locals and watch the way they have fun!
Solo travel in Vietnam – Final thoughts
If you are still wondering why should you do solo travel in Vietnam, let me summarize things for you:
- Vietnam is safe for solo travel.
- There is a well-marked tourist trail.
- People are friendly and warm
- Solo travel in Vietnam is cheap
- And finally, Vietnamese food is out of the world.
Here are some other resources to help you plan your Vietnam trip
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