Packing for Vietnam is a balancing act. This country is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world. More than 18 million tourists heading to the country in 2019. When travel restrictions ease, this ‘bucket list’ destination will be on the radar for millions more visitors.
At the turn of the century, that number was as low as 2 million, giving a real indication of the incredible growth in tourists. The majority of visitors come from Asia. An ever-growing number are coming from Europe, especially Russia and the United Kingdom. A country that was once crippled by warfare, is now a destination that offers incredible scenery, ancient traditions, and a cultural diversity.
This guide combines insights into what to pack, with a look at the main attractions.
Packing for the Main Attractions in Vietnam
Ha Long Bay:
The top tourist destination in Vietnam, Ha Long Bay features thousands of different islands. Each has eroded away to form spectacular jagged pinnacles. They are thick with jungle vegetation. The scenery is best seen by boat, with tours of the islands ongoing throughout the year. There are caves in the bay that can be visited by boat. Most notably the Hang Sung Sot that features three mammoth caverns. If you’re travelling to Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is a must visit.
This is one of the most historic towns in Vietnam, jam-packed with relics from the Imperial past of the country. The Imperial Enclosure is an incredible site set within walls that stretch for more than two kilometres. Within the walls are the Thai Hoa Palace with its astounding interior, the beautiful Ngo Mon Gate, and the Halls of Mandarins, where you’ll have neck ache from staring up at the murals on the ceiling.
The Thien Mu Pagoda features seven stories and is the tallest Pagoda in the country. This historical site overlooks the Perfume River and is regarded as the unofficial symbol of the former Imperial capital.
Ho Chi Minh City:
If you want to visit a bristling, cosmopolitan hub, Ho Chi Minh city is the place to go to. Motorbikes and cars clog the streets, the shopping options are incredible and if you want to eat, you find any number of cafés and restaurants serving up a variety of both local and international menus. The sights of the city can be found in Dong Khoi, the small central district, while sightseers can also check out the old district of Da Kao with its French colonial architecture.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park:
If you like the spectacular, the World Heritage listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park offers up incredible caves. The park is a karst mountain formation and made up of hundreds of caves, many of them huge. The biggest and most famous of the caves is Hang Son Doong. Check out the Paradise cave which extends for an incredible 31 kilometres below ground. To access the caves, you need to visit Son Trach, a growing village that acts as a gateway.
What to Pack for a Trip to Vietnam?
Travel Guide – A travel guide is essential if you are travelling to Vietnam for the first time. These will give detailed information about all of the most popular destinations (such as those listed above), including transport info, costings and exactly what you need to so. A good travel guide will also give you details surrounding other places that might not be so popular for tourists.
The Right Footwear – You will want to take durable footwear when packing for Vietnam, especially if you are thinking of hiking or trekking. A good pair of walking shoes should get the job done in most cases, unless you’re real serious about trekking. Sparkly new trainers probably aren’t the best idea in the cosmopolitan areas, as the traffic, bustle and food sold on the streets can create a level of gunk. Flip flops are a must if you’re planning to hit the beach.
Lightweight, Waterproof Jackets – If you are travelling to Vietnam during the Monsoon season especially, these can be a must. Plastic ponchos can be perfect – the locals wear them, so you should too.
Swimwear – Bikinis and shorts are the way to when hitting the beach. A sarong can be a useful addition. Bear in mind that Vietnam can be a conservative country, so cover up when leaving the beach.
Clothing – Layers are always a good idea in Vietnam. Light clothes such as t-shirts and thin jumpers are perfect. Vietnam is a hot and humid country, but temperatures can drop by around 20 degrees Celsius during the cooler months.
Health Remedies – Vietnam is known for mosquitos, and they are most active at dusk. Cover yourself in a mosquito spray daily and you will ward off the effects of any bites. It can also be an idea to take your favourite stomach remedy. A change in your standard diet can upset your balance, and these will ensure your holiday is a comfortable one. Packing for Vietnam should cover all eventualities.
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