All photography by Christian Berg
Picking a place to stay is always fun in Vietnam. Choose from traditional homestays, ethnic stilt houses, tented camps, budget-friendly hostels, boutique hotels, luxury resorts, and more. Your solo foray will be even more special if you choose to immerse yourself with a local family or pick a spot that’s surrounded by nature. In Vietnam, these places are not only affordable, they’ll also give you a deeper understanding of our way of life.
All across Vietnam, family-run homestays deliver incredible value for money, as well as sumptuous meals and insider tours of the area. In Northern Vietnam, don’t miss the chance to sleep in an ethnic stilt house. Shared rooms are set up with comfortable beds separated by curtains. Wake up to views of mountains and rice terraces, and kick up your feet in a hammock after a day of exploring. In the Centre and South, homestays take on a more tropical feel, often planted amid fruit farms, on the banks of rivers, or in flowering gardens.
Vietnam is a paradise for foodies. Vietnamese love eating together, but it’s also normal to roll up for a quick bánh mì or bite of lunch alone. If you’re by yourself, you can easily slip into a busy noodle shop, find a stool next to a sidewalk vendor, or simply order what the next table is having. At busy stalls you may find yourself sharing a table with strangers -- a great opportunity to gather foodie recommendations, perhaps with the help of Google Translate. Almost everywhere, you’ll find Vietnamese are happy to show you how to use your condiments, or help you order if you’re feeling lost on the menu.
Vietnam’s cities and countryside alike are littered with lovely, quiet cafes where you can spend a few hours jotting down your thoughts over a cup of potent robusta. It won’t take you long to find a new favourite cafe in any place you go. Pull up a stool or lawn chair alongside the locals and soak up the atmosphere. Of course, chances are you’ll get invited to a Vietnamese family meal sooner or later. That's just what we do, especially if we see you’re travelling alone. Dining with a Vietnamese family is a great opportunity to learn about the local way of life and try a variety of authentic Vietnamese food -- don’t pass it up!
Read more: A beginner's guide to Vietnamese street food
One of the best things about travelling by yourself is having complete freedom over your itinerary. Destinations such as Hội An, Huế, Pù Luông, Côn Đảo and Phú Quốc are all supremely manageable destinations for solo travellers. Even Vietnam’s chaotic cities can easily be navigated on your own -- that is, as soon as you figure out how to cross the street (the secret is confidence and clear body language.) Once you’ve got your mental map sorted, you’ll find that many small quarters and alleys are perfect for exploring alone on foot.
In Vietnam, most cycling, trekking, island-hopping, boat, or even food tours welcome single bookings. Go with a sustainable tourism provider for an even better experience. Footprint Travel offers fantastic responsible trekking tours in Đà Lạt, Huế, and Ninh Bình. Sens Asia hosts insider street food adventures around Hanoi. In the dry season, cave expeditions with Jungle Boss in Phong Nha take you to magnificent sites filled with millenia-old stalagmites and stalactites. Vietnam's larger-than-life landscapes lend well to uninterrupted thoughts and checking in with yourself.
Safety is a concern for every traveller, but especially those visiting a new country alone. Thankfully, Vietnam has consistently been voted among the world's safest countries to travel, even for solo explorers. Despite having a long coastline, Vietnam rarely sees earthquakes, tornadoes, or tsunamis. During the monsoon season, annual flooding occurs in some Central and Northern provinces. Plan your travels to avoid these areas and explore our other beautiful destinations during these months.
Police officers are stationed every few blocks in major cities, and crime against women is scarce. Even in the remote countryside, you’re likely to feel incredibly safe and welcome. If ever you need medical help, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Đà Nẵng, and other urban hubs all have international clinics and hospitals with well-trained, English-speaking staff. A little common sense and preparedness goes a long way to ensure your holiday is safe and stress-free.
Read more: Health and safety in Vietnam
Getting from Point A to Point B in Vietnam is always an adventure. Solo travellers in Vietnam have a lot of options between cities. The smoothest way to go is usually via domestic flights. If you have time to spare, you can reach Vietnam's top destinations by train, sleeper bus, or limousine vans. Limousine vans are a newer way to travel short distances, and are usually affordable, fast and comfortable. In the Mekong Delta, boats and ferries are a leisurely option for slow travellers. Got even more time? The cross-country Reunification Express has train cars with four or six berths, where you can meet fellow travellers and exchange stories throughout the ride.
Of course, Vietnam’s motorbikes are the ultimate transport experience, and perfect for solo travellers. Hop on a back-of-the-bike tour with EasyRiders to see waterfalls, coastal roads, and beaches in Central Vietnam. Or, take a Vespa tour in Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi to get a glimpse of Vietnam’s streets at night. Whatever itinerary you choose, leave room to adjust your plan. Stop and stay longer whenever you feel like it, or take a diversion if something piques your interest. After all, yours is the only opinion that matters on this trip. Now that’s a real holiday!