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Travelling solo in Vietnam

What to do and where to stay when travelling solo in Vietnam?

Travelling solo can be extremely daunting especially if it’s your first time. If it helps, both of us actually met whilst solo travelling and would never have met if we hadn’t jumped into the deep end. Vietnam is an amazing place to travel. Why? There tend to be two routes that travellers choose, North to South or South to North, usually over a period of 30 days in association with the visa. Honestly, when you start your Vietnam adventure you’re more than likely going to create a bond with other travellers and travel together. The best way to meet people is by staying in hostels which we both did and highly recommend!

As we both travelled in Vietnam before we met each other we will break down our accommodation choices below relating to the place we visited. It’s worth mentioning that since 2018/2019 a few of our selected hostels/hotels have now closed, as an effect of the pandemic no doubt. Let’s follow the routes we chose from North to South and show you some of our stays, starting in Hanoi.


Hanoi, the Capital city of Vietnam, recognised globally as one of the most ancient, is packed with historical pagodas and colonial architecture. Home to 36 streets of shopping opportunities, backpacker central for accommodation, street food and drink is the Old Quarter. This is the place to stay when travelling to Hanoi!

Old Quarter View Hanoi Hostel (Tom’s stay)

This was my first stop and stay in Vietnam. I had a transfer from the airport organised by the hostel and had contact prior to arriving in Vietnam. There was immediately a weight lifted as everyone seemed to be in the same position as myself, travelling individually or in small groups. The price is one of the best you’ll find in Hanoi. Did I already mention, free beer between 18:00 and 18:30 daily?!

Vietnam Travels

Hanoi Central Backpackers Hostel (Mandy’s stay)

There is a lively atmosphere with parties that ultimately end with a free pub-crawl every night at 10:00pm. You will find other travellers sharing their stories with you over free beer between 19:00 and 20:00. A real sense of camaraderie can be found at Hanoi Central Backpackers. Dorm beds with curtains and private rooms can be booked, so great for couples too! Check out all they have to offer here!

Vietnam travels

Ha Long Bay

A minefield of islets emerging like skyscrapers of rock and shrubbery forms Hạ Long Bay. One of the seven new natural wonders of the world as of 2012. ‘Hạ Long’ literally translated to English is ‘descending dragon’. Now as you may know Ha Long Bay is based out on the water and this is where we recommend you enjoy it from. The best way to experience Ha Long Bay is via a tour. 

Tour Packages

There are a huge number of tours sailing out to Hạ Long Bay everyday and so we’ve highlighted the best ones below for 3 Days/2 Nights, 2 Days/1 Night and 1 Day. Ultimately it depends on your budget but we recommend the 3 Days/2 Nights tour with return transfers to Hanoi (usually at an additional cost).

Tom’s choice – Tour 3D/2N – I couldn’t find the exact tour I booked but this tour is very similar, including accommodation (1 night on the boat and 1 night on Cat Ba island), food and activities. The trip was perfect for a hassle free, action packed few days. Nothing beats this sunrise we had the morning on the boat!

Tour 2D/1N  – If 2 days and 1 night is enough for you, check out this ‘Ha Long bay Discovery Cruise Tour’. This may feel a little rushed but is still a good option if you have limited time and budget.

Tour 1D – Honestly, we think this would be a bit of a waste of money. As there is no overnight stay on the water you will not go as far out into the Bay. You will not get the most out of visiting Ha Long Bay and will most likely just see a lot of other day cruises obstructing your views. In any case, this was the best tour we could find if this is your choice.

Cat Ba Island

Let’s stop at the largest island in Ha Long Bay. We actually both stayed on this island, Tom with a tour and Mandy joining a tour out of Cat Ba itself.

Mandy’s Choice – Tour 1D from Cat Ba island – This was a 1 day tour from and returning to Cat Ba offering all the activities and sights you might enjoy on Day 2 of the Ha Long bay tour.

Vietnam travel

In recent years (cancelling out the pandemic) the rugged island has experienced a boom in tourism. This is where Tom actually bought his cheapest pint of beer (working out to be £0.20) from a vender on the side of the street, good times! Very reasonably priced hotels to stay at are Lang Chai Hotel and Cat Ba Island Hotels, but if on a tour like we recommend you don’t need to worry about this!

Mai Chau (Tom’s stay) 

Instead of visiting the famous Sapa (due to it being out of season) it was decided to embark on a 2 day/1 night tour of Mai Chau. The rural district offers beautiful scenery and a special authenticity allowing you to meet locals and take part in traditional dances with other travellers and couples.

Prepare yourself for a story! Once the traditional dancing had finished I took a walk and felt an underlying bass in the ground. Wondering if I was going mad I decided to follow the bass until I was welcomed by a high school talent show taking place in the local village, pure coincidence! In my life, I have never witnessed something as bizarre or wonderful!

You can check out the tour I joined from Hanoi here.

Ha Giang Loop (Mandy’s experience)

Vietnam travels

If your goal is to visit Vietnam and ride a motorbike or scooter through the amazing landscapes, then the Ha Giang Loop will definitely interest you. High in the North of Vietnam is where you will find the Ha Giang loop with roads winding through unbelievable views and stunning valleys. If you’re craving the ‘open road’ this is one of the best locations in South East Asia.

Vietnam Travels

When travelling solo get yourself to the city of Ha Giang travelling from Hanoi and stay in a hostel like Ha Giang Backpacker Hostel. This is where you will find like minded travellers who are planning to do exactly the same as you! You can also rent your scooter or motorcycle from Ha Giang.

Vietnam travels

If this is too risky for you then you can also check out Lily’s Travel Agency’ through Tripadvisor, booking reliable and well rated tours across Vietnam! This is where you may find options to ride on the back of experienced, professional drivers.

Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh has become one of the must sees for travellers in recent years and it’s no wonder why. You will be able to enjoy panoramic views, tall limestone mountains towering over the surrounding rice paddy fields and stunning caves. You have the choice: it is possible to book a tour from Hanoi (2 – 2.5 hours travel each way) or you can travel to Ninh Binh itself and book tours from here (this is what we recommend). We hate being rushed on tours and find that that is a recurring theme on 1 day tours from a different location. This was the best one we could find for you if this is your desire to explore Ninh Binh in a day – click here!

Your other option is to stay in Ninh Binh and stay in a homestay/hostel vibe accommodation such as Trang An River View Homestay. The staff will help you to book tours, adventures and boat rides from Ninh Binh. This is our recommendation!

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

This National Park is absolutely beautiful and one of our favourite places in Vietnam. Phong Nha contains and protects over 104 km of caves and underground rivers making it one of the most outstanding limestone karst ecosystems in the world. The Son Doong Cave was first explored in 2009 and is believed to be the world’s largest cave passage with a length of 44.5km. We are telling you, this National Park will be one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world! So go now, before over tourism strikes this National park. The tour we both went on was the Paradise cave and Dark Cave full day tour. If walking 1km into a limestone cave, zip lining, mud bathing followed by exploring a small water park on the side of the river sounds like fun then you have to check this out!

Oh yeah, you also get a huge free lunch and we were given a bottle of rum for free!!

Vietnam foodWhen we visited we both actually stayed in ‘Easy Tiger Hostel’ (which is unfortunately currently closed due to Covid). Oh we hope it reopens soon as this was the best spot for solo travellers booking into tours with people you met just that morning. It is so easy to meet new people here! If this doesn’t work out for you, you can find some other decent places to stay here!


Hue, pronounced as ‘hway’ was once the Capital city of Vietnam. Hue’s unique history is resonated through its complex of temples and pagodas but most influential, the Imperial City. Although many historic structures were destroyed during the Vietnam war, the city’s charm still remains. You can check out our ’24 hours in Hue’ in a separate blog with the top 5 things to do and see by clicking here.

There are so many places that you can stay in Hue but as a solo traveller we recommend somewhere such as Hue Vietnam Backpacker Hostel. This was the perfect HUB to explore the surrounding city and meet new people in local bars etc. 

hue football

Onwards to Hoi An. You need to know that this journey, the Hai Van Pass is one of the most beautiful in all of Vietnam! We recommend you either rent a scooter/motorbike from Hue to Hoi An or book a tour. The ‘Easy Rider Tour’ allows you to ride on the back of a professional driver or ride with a guide and take in the sublime views.

They also stop at certain spots asking your preference beforehand. It also includes luggage transfer which will meet you in Hoi An! This tour is a must! Read all about it here.

Hoi An

Vietnam travels

Hoi An is a city located on the central coast of Vietnam. You get a true feeling of authenticity when visiting this remarkable city. Also, home to the best Banh Mi sandwich which you may have heard about by this point in your travels through Vietnam. Both hostels that we stayed in are now unfortunately closed due to the pandemic. We recently looked into others and there are tons of great options, especially on Hostelworld!

Ninhvana (Tom’s stay)

This is a place designed for travellers! I literally stumbled across this by reading a Lonely Planet book and by meeting fellow travellers. There is a variety of accommodation options at Vietnam Backpacker Hostels – Ninhvana with dorms, private rooms or even bungalows.


With a private beach, basketball court, beach volleyball and group hikes to name but a few, this place is paradise! Also, at night, the party and games are unforgettable, until you’ve had too much to drink…


Da Lat is known for agriculture, villa retreats (for those honeymooners) and in recent years, thrill seeking. Let’s dive straight into thrill seeking! Are you the type of person that enjoys abseiling down a waterfall or hurling yourself off an 11m cliff into a lagoon? This was an action packed day full of adrenaline, check it out here!


In the same area you can also book to enjoy downhill tobogganing which was great fun! For solo and like minded travellers Dalat Family Hostel is the perfect place to crash for a few nights. There is great food, drinks and activities that can be arranged and enjoyed from this hotel!


Mui Ne

When you think of Vietnam, I bet you don’t think of desert? In the area of Mui Ne you will find the glorious white and red sand dunes. It is remarkable and is one of the only desert areas in South East Asia. Our tour was all organised through the Mui Ne Hills Backpackers hostel which was a real fun place to stay! Every day they had a battle of the strongest style event over the pool, so fun. If you wanted to book a tour of the sand dunes and surrounding area in advance this is one of the best deals, including all that we’d recommend, plus you have your own private jeep to share with your group. Sunrise or sunset is the best time to enjoy the views of the dunes as recommended by this sand dune tour.


Ho Chi Minh

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest business and financial hub in Vietnam. The city hosts fabulous cuisine varying in combinations wherever you go. There are also a few museums showcasing the country’s dark wartime history, the one we’d recommend is War Remnants Museum. Be warned it is really quite tough, some of the photos and stories are harrowing. This day tour of the museum and the ‘Cu Chi Tunnels’ would be one to think about.

Vietnam travels

We stayed in different hostels and unfortunately one is now closed. That being said, The Hideout hostel was brilliant. The staff aided in booking tours and took us on pub crawls every night!

We hope this information can help guide you through your Vietnam travels with the best things to do and great places to stay. Hope you enjoyed and please share your stories with us!

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