Mistakes to Avoid when Planning a Trip to Vietnam

In the process of planning a trip to Vietnam, facing a large amount of online information can be overwhelming! If you feel this way, you’re not alone. This was my experience when I first decided to take my son along, and beyond knowing that we would be traveling in the fall, I didn’t know where to go, when to go, how to get from one place to another, and really had no idea what to expect.

After reading this article, I hope you’ll understand the common mistakes many people make when visiting Vietnam and how to avoid them in planning your trip to this amazing country.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Trip to Vietnam:

Mistake #1: Not checking the weather

The first mistake to avoid when planning a trip to Vietnam is not considering the weather. While Vietnam has a relatively warm climate in the South, the North can be quite cold during the winter months, at least much colder than what most tourists expect.

Heavy rainfall can occur during the rainy season, and seasonal floods can disrupt plans if you don’t account for this possibility.

So, when is the best time to visit Vietnam?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer because the rainy season in the North is different from the rainy season in the South. As mentioned, when it comes to months, January, February, and March are the most pleasant months in most parts of the country.

  • Best time to visit Northern Vietnam: December – April
  • Best time to explore Central Vietnam: February – May
  • Ideal time to travel to Southern Vietnam: November – March.
  • I even have a whole article dedicated to the best time to visit Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO-recognized site in Vietnam.

    Mistake #2: Not researching tipping culture in Vietnam

    • The culture and economy in Vietnam don’t rely heavily on tipping, but when it comes to the service industry, small tips at meals, tips for service staff, and tips for drivers and guides are appreciated. If you’ve rented a car and driver like I did, consider tipping around 150,000 VND per day for the driver and 180,000 VND per day for the guide.
    • While considering tipping, also look into top souvenir items to buy in Vietnam.
    • At the same time, be wary of “free activities.” The most common one is buffalo riding outside Hoi An. While the farmer may seem gracious in allowing you to ride the buffalo, he expects a tip.

    Mistake #3: Not researching the Golden Bridge and including it in your Bucket List

    • The Instagram feed has exploded with the beautiful Golden Bridge near Da Nang in Vietnam. But what many people don’t know is that the bridge is located in a famous amusement park rather than being a tourist attraction itself. Be prepared when researching the Golden Bridge!
    • Although it makes for an enticing Instagram photo, we didn’t have time to include this picture in our 8 days in Vietnam, but if your trip isn’t as rushed as ours, it’s a suitable choice for a day trip from Da Nang and Hoi An.

    Mistake #4: Not anticipating the crowds in Hoi An

    • Hoi An might be a charming small town attracting tourists who want to escape the big cities, but it’s no secret. It’s garnered awards as one of the top places to visit, and along with those accolades comes thousands of tourists! Hoi An has plenty of beautiful sights to see, with some even deciding to retire in Vietnam for a longer enjoyment. But what travelers need to know is that the streets in the ancient town are crowded with souvenir shoppers, especially in the evenings, and the traffic near the ancient town is heavily congested. If you’re visiting with kids or want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the day. We did both a daytime bike tour and an evening tour, enjoying more daytime hours. The evening is perfect for everyone to admire the sunset on the river, but the lively atmosphere isn’t for everyone.
    • The best way to get around Hoi An is by bicycle. Though the town is crowded, I still wanted to have more time.

    Mistake #5: Not trying all the food

    Different regions of Vietnam have very different cuisines, so exploring them all will tantalize your taste buds. One of my favorite parts of the trip to Vietnam with Vietnam Discovery tours was on the first day when we visited a local home for a cooking class. After buying fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat, we drove to her house to help prepare the meal!

    Tommy from Vietnam Discovery brought his sons along to play with mine, but unfortunately, his 8-year-old got airsick, so he couldn’t fully enjoy our meal! It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip! Check out the local cooking options on your visit.

    If you’re arranging for a tour guide, ask them about the best local foods in each region. From egg coffee in Hanoi at night to Cao Lau in Hoi An, each local dish brings a different noodle and flavor profile!

    Additional Travel Advice for Vietnam

    As mentioned, our trip was organized by Vietnam Discovery Tours, who, with just a few emails and WhatsApp messages, arranged an itinerary tailored to my desired timing. They took care of airport transfers, accommodations, guides, drivers, and customized the itinerary based on my requests.

    In addition to this, here are some more tips for traveling in Vietnam: