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Everything Vancouver travellers need to know to plan a trip to Vietnam

Know before you go!
Find out everything you need to know about visiting the Southeast Asian country, including how to get the Vietnam Visa for Canadians, YVR flights, and more.

Vietnam is one of the most highly sought-after destination spots on the globe but it can be challenging to know exactly when you should visit and how to score the best deal on your trip. 

While Vietnam's largest cities -- Hanoi and Ho Chi Min City -- are located in the north and the south, the central region offers plenty of experiences that you won't elsewhere. 

Digital nomads from Metro Vancouver visit Da Nang in central Vietnam during B.C.'s winter -- and it isn't hard to see why.

Postcard-perfect shores with blazing sunshine, friendly locals, and arguably one of the best value for your dollar for any tourist destination in the world, visitors can discover the area at a relative steal.

Find out everything you need to know about planning your trip to this Southeast Asian jewel.

What airlines should I fly to to Vietnam?

From Vancouver International Airport (YVR), travellers can fly to Ho Chi Minh City (SGN), Hanoi (HAN), Da Nang (DAD), and Nha Trang (NHA). 

Airlines that fly to or partially to Vietnam via one of their airline partners include:

  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air France
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Asiana
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Airlines
  • China Southern
  • Delta Emirates
  • Etihad
  • EVA Air
  • Japan Airlines
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Lufthansa
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • Sichuan Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • STARLUX Airlines
  • THAI Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • WestJet,
  • XiamenAir

Based out of the capital's airport, Hanoi Noibai International Airport (HAN), Vietnam Airlines is the country's flagship carrier and flies to 70 countries worldwide.

While it typically costs over $1,000 for a return trip (prices typically start at $1,200 and go up from there), you can sometimes visit Vietnam and another exciting destination for the cost of one.

There are no direct flights to the capital from YVR, but Korean Airlines, Philippine Airlines, and Air Canada offer one-stop options for under $2,000 return.

When should I book my ticket to Vietnam?

The cost to book flights from YVR varies widely throughout the year, but tickets are more expensive on weekends and during peak travel times (during the summer and over holidays). 

While you never want to book your ticket at the last minute, booking your ticket several months in advance may not warrant you the best deal.

Aim to book your tickets at least a month to six weeks before you plan to depart. Use the Google Flights price calendar to see when cheaper dates become available. 

When is the best time of year to visit Vietnam? 

Decide where you want to visit before you think about the weather. 

Depending on where you want to visit will dictate when you should go, as well as if you are keen to attend any festivals. Visit Vietnam has complete information available about regional monsoon seasons (the north and south are different).

With this in mind, many travellers enjoy visiting the country between March to April because there is less rainfall and temperatures tend to lean on the milder side. 

Is it safe to visit Vietnam? 

The Government of Canada advises tourists to exercise a "high degree of caution" in Vietnam due to petty crime. Not unlike other popular tourist destinations, bag-snatching isn't uncommon, so keeping your belongings tucked away is crucial.

Places that see larger crowds or lots of tourists, such as shopping centres, festivals, and markets, may be targeted. Thieves often work in groups using distraction techniques.

Since credit card and ATM fraud isn't uncommon, you should avoid using your card at small establishments. Additionally, consider using a card with a smaller credit limit. Cybercriminals may also target insecure networks, so avoid clicking on suspicious links or making purchases on unencrypted networks. Also, be wary of meeting people you first interacted with online. 

Is Halong Bay worth visiting? 

Considered Vietnam's most popular tourist attraction, cruises through Halong Bay include mesmerizing vistas of over 1,500 islands and islets with limestone pillars rising from that rise up majestically from the ocean; most of them are uninhabited spots and untouched by human presence. it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a couple of threatened species that are endemic to the area, meaning they aren't found anywhere else on Earth. 

You can book your cruise through a travel agent or through an online travel supplier in advance of your trip or from a tour company when you arrive.

Halong Bay is located in the north, not far from the country's capital city, Hanoi. Founded over 1,000 years ago, there are endless things to see and do (and eat) in this fascinating metropolis. Whether you want to discover historic temples, try street food, or visit an art gallery (Hanoi is Vietnam's art capital), the city affords plenty of opportunities to learn more about the culture or unwind with a cocktail on a posh rooftop patio or enjoy a beer (bia hoi) at a laid-back backpacker bar. 

What is another "must-see" attraction in Vietnam?

Fansipan Mountain, Vietnam's highest peak, and home to some of the most coveted views in Southeast Asia. Sitting at over 10,000 feet above sea level, a journey through the temples on the summit offers more than eye-catching fodder for social media.

You can reach the summit via a one- to two-day trek, and most people who have completed it recommend hiring guides because you could get apprehended by trailhead guards. Plus, the guides will keep you safe, allowing you to navigate the terrain without issue and recommending "must-see" spots. 

If you are unable to hike (or simply prefer not to), can also take the cable car up to the summit or down to the bottom. Once you hike up and enjoy the views, you might prefer to skip a slippery descent down.

How expensive is it to visit Vietnam? 

If you are looking for low-cost travel, Vietnam is one of the most budget-friendly choices.

While there are some pricier places to stay and dine, frugal travellers can expect to pay about $30 a day, including meals, hostel accommodation, and transportation. Mouth-watering bowls of pho can cost as little as the equivalent of $2 CAD.

You can book your stay in advance on most major booking platforms. Since costs are quite low, you should opt for a reputable accommodation with good reviews. It only takes a few minutes to browse through the comments, and although they need to be taken with a grain of salt, they can pivot you away from a potentially ruinous accommodation. 

How much money will I spend on accommodation?

Keep in mind that the "ultra-budget" accommodations don't come equipped with bells and whistlers. This may mean you don't get a room to yourself (such as in most hostels), or you might not have reliable WiFi. Hostel prices in the capital start at $18 for the night at the Mai Ngoi Hostel and $20 for the Alleyway Hostel. Hotel prices, such as at the Cactusland Boutique Hotel, start at just over $32.

Since the country is so affordable, you may want to splurge for luxury. You can stay in a five-star resort in Hanoi, such as the Vinpearl Landmark 81, Autograph Collection, for as little as $100 a night.

There are still some well-known brands charging a pretty penny in the capital city. For example, the Park Hyatt Hotel Saigon's prices start at around $350.

How to get a Vietnam Visa for Canadians

Canadians require an e-visa to visit Vietnam. This can be organized online but should be done well in advance.

While the Vietnamese Immigration Department says it can be processed in a few days, it often takes much longer and you can't enter the country without one. The visa is valid for 90 days.

What are some other travel tips I should consider before booking a ticket?

A couple of ways to save money overseas is to purchase a local SIM card. While many people speak English in Vietnam, don't rely on locals being able to help you if you can't communicate with them.

  • You should have an app on your phone, such as Google Translate, that can help you in these sorts of situations.
  • Attempting to learn the language will provide you with a richer travel experience.

As with travel to any destination, travel insurance is a priority.

  •  Purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy at the time you purchase your trip that will cover all of your costs in case you can't leave due to an unforeseeable medical or other emergency reason.
  • Insurance will also cover incidents like missed connections, baggage interruption and loss, and more. 

Canadians should always register trips that they take online before they leave so that the government can contact them in an emergency.

Find more information about exciting destinations in B.C. and across the globe, as well as travel deals and tips, by signing up for V.I.A.'s weekly travel newsletter The Wanderer. Since travel deals can sell out, find out the day they are posted by signing up for our daily Travel Deals newsletter.

Want to learn more about a specific destination or simply have a travel concern or idea that you would like V.I.A. to write about? Email us at elana@vancouverisawesome. Send us stories about recent holidays that you've been on, or if you have any tips you think our readers should know about.