7 reasons to visit Vietnam
In this article I put up a list of 7 reasons to visit Vietnam. It’s my top things I was honestly very happy about while there.
You might have noticed that my last trip just before the whole weird world coronavirus situation began I came back from Vietnam. It was a very spontaneous and unplanned trip but I did have many reasons to visit Vietnam when I bought my flights. Vietnam was on my bucket list for a very long time and there’s still plenty of places I want to visit there in future.
In this article I will focus on the positive things that I personally enjoyed in Southern Vietnam. Don’t take them as facts but rather as my personal opinions and preferences. You might not like these things as much as I do but at least you’ll know what to expect if you ever visit the same area of Vietnam.
I spent 4 weeks in Vietnam altogether. First Vung Tau, then Con Dao islands, again Vung Tau and Ho Chi Minh City (former Saigon). In this order. Everything I mention below will be about my own experience in these 3 places only. Just to make it clear, I was there the last week of January and the first 3 weeks of February in 2020.
What I enjoyed in Vietnam:
1. Fruit and coconuts
I have to mention food on top of my list. I guess you know by now that I’ve been vegan since July 2013 and not eating animal products can be hard in some countries. But South of Vietnam was super easy for me as a vegan. There was so much exotic fruit to choose from, and also young coconuts. Both coconuts and fruit are my favorite and I cannot get enough of them when I travel.
I tried to drink one young coconut per day and eat loads of tropical fruit which I don’t easily get at home, such as mango, dragon fruit, papaya, sapodilla, graviola (also called soursop or guanabana). You can buy different fruit at both local markets and grocery stores. Big thumbs up for this! I found myself in fruit heaven and was very grateful for it.
2. Vegan restaurants
Traveling as a vegan can be tough, let me tell you. But Southern Vietnam was such a great destination to visit food-wise. I was surprised to find veggie restaurants in Vung Tau and Ho Chi Minh City, but even more on Con Dao. I usually eat fruit for breakfast/lunch/brunch and then eat salty veggie dinner. As I don’t like cooking and I am willing to spend maximum 10 minutes preparing a meal, it was handy to have veggie restaurants close-by. That way I could even taste traditional Vietnamese meals made vegan which I would definitely not make myself.
Eating at a vegan restaurant made it so much easier for me. Not having to double check every single meal if it really did not contain any eggs, dairy, meat or other animal products saved me so much time and energy.
3. Safety – an important reason to visit Vietnam
I have to say that safety is very important when on the road; especially for solo female travelers. Well, I have a friend who lives in Vung Tau so I was not solo a lot while there, but I did spend most of my time alone on Con Dao and some time in Ho Chi Minh, too. I can honestly say that I did not feel unsafe at any time while visiting those 3 destinations in Southern Vietnam. Not even once I noticed that someone was trying to rob me or even attack me.
However, in Ho Chi Minh City I recommend you to watch your belongings carefuly because I did hear some sad stories from other travelers. You know, big cities with many tourists can be more dangerous. Better safe than sorry, right?
4. Pleasant locals
Generally speaking, Vietnamese people are very nice, kind and pleasant to talk to. They tend to smile and say hi to foreigners a lot. It’s such a detail that always made my day. I only had a good experience with everyone I met. Another fact I did enjoy in Vietnam was taking photos of locals. The majority of them didn’t care at all when they saw me pointing my phone at them. I am often shy and I don’t like taking portraits of strangers but in Vietnam it did not seem to be very challenging.
On the other hand it’s true that I usually travel with a DSLR camera with a big lense. But this time I left it at home and was using only my phone to take photos on my Vietnam trip. Anyway, I remember only one Vietnamese woman showing me not to take a photo of her when she covered her face. Everyone else was ok when I tried to ask them using gestures if it was fine to take a snapshot of them. Many locals do not speak good English, if any. Frankly, I do regret not carrying my DSLR camera with me in Vietnam because I’m sure I’d have taken some cool portraits of locals.
And one more thing… When I was on Con Dao island, the cooks at the vegan restaurant gave me extra food almost every single day when having dinner. It’s true that I brought 2 friends there and I had dinner there myself every day for 2 weeks straight. Although they refused to take any tips from me, they would give me some free food along with the meal I ordered. That way I could taste other meals, too and then order them on another day. Very kind of them!
5. Nice beaches
Well, let me be very honest here. Southern Vietnam has some nice beaches but they are far from those in Maldives, Philippines or even Thailand. I prefer crystal clear sea, white sand and no waves at all. I really like calm sea but in Vung Tau and on Con Dao the sea was very wavy most of the time. However, some beaches on Con Dao were beautiful and not overcrowded at all which was definitely an advantage for me.
Make your own opinion by looking at my photos below!
PS: I recommend you to wear some kind of hat and sunglasses as Sun in Vietnam is really strong even on cloudy days.
6. Beautiful nature
The surroundings of Vung Tau and the main island of Con Dao (called Con Son) have stunning nature. So many flowers of various colors were all around. My favorite flowers were frangipani. I love their smell so much! Each time I walked by a frangipani tree, I had to stop and smell it. And if there was a fallen flower on the ground, I’d take it and carry it with me for the rest of the day.
Aw, and Con Dao was full of butterflies as well. I wasn’t even able to count all the different ones I managed to see. They were flying freely close to the beach, and in Con Son City when I was buying fruit or walking along the streets, and of course I saw a few at the Con Dao national park, too.
And let’s not forget all those magical trees and other plants on Con Son, wow! For some reason, big trees always calm me down.
I was really shocked (in a positive way) to step out of the airport after landing and taking a limousine (a smaller van) from Ho Chi Minh City airport to Vung Tau. The van had free wifi and water, and massage seats! I spent the entire 2 hours in the van massaging my back. Yes, that was included in the ticket price. For less than 8 eur I was taken to the destination of my choice and also got a free massage. Not bad at all, isn’t it?
TIP: I can highly recommend you to visit Con Dao. Here’s the article I wrote about pros and cons of visiting Con Dao islands. Have a read to decide if you could enjoy it there or not. I personally did have an amazing time, even despite of strong wind on some days.
TIP 2: And what about budget? Is Vietnam really as cheap as people say? Check my expenses in Southern Vietnam here to find out.
What other reasons to visit Vietnam would you add to my list?