Vietnam is quickly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations for Canadians. With its stunning natural landscapes, mouthwatering cuisine, fascinating history and captivating culture, it’s easy to see why. This comprehensive guide will provide you with everything you need to know to plan the trip of a lifetime to Vietnam.
Deciding When to Go
Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate, which means the weather varies quite a bit throughout the year. This makes deciding when to visit an important factor.
High and Low Seasons
- High season (November to April): Dry and sunny. Higher prices and crowds.
- Low season (May to October): Hotter, more humid, and chance of rain. Lower prices and fewer tourists.
Monthly Weather Averages
- January: Cool and dry. Average high of 25°C.
- April: Hot and dry. Average high of 33°C.
- July: Hot, humid, and rainy. Average high of 34°C.
- October: Humid and wet. Average high of 31°C.
Most tourists visit during the peak dry season from November to April to take advantage of comfortable temperatures and minimal rain. However, visiting in the hotter shoulder seasons can mean fewer crowds and lower prices on accommodations.
Getting Your Vietnam Visa
Canadians need a visa in advance to enter Vietnam. There are several ways to obtain one:
Visa on Arrival
- Available for tourists entering by air.
- Single entry visas valid for 30 days.
- Requires pre-approval letter.
- $50-70 USD processing fee upon arrival.
- Convenient online application process.
- Valid entry through international airports only.
- Single entry visas valid for 30 days.
- Cost is $25-50 USD.
- Apply by mail or in person at an embassy.
- Valid for multiple entries over longer stays.
- More expensive but most flexible option.
- Cost is $150-200 CAD.
Apply at least 2-4 weeks in advance as processing times vary. Have a valid passport, passport photos, completed forms, and payment ready.
Booking Your Flights
Most major Canadian airlines offer nonstop flights from Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver to Vietnam. Here are some tips for finding the best fares:
- Book early – Prices are lowest 6-8 months in advance.
- Travel shoulder season – Flying in March-April or September-October can save money.
- Consider budget airlines – Carriers like AirAsia offer cheaper direct flights.
- Check multiple airlines – Compare rates across Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, Vietnam Airlines, etc.
- Use flight deal alert services – Sign up for fare drop emails from YVR Deals or Next Departure.
One-way economy flights typically start around $800-1200 CAD, depending on time of year and airline. Flying during peak summer and holidays will be more expensive. Open-jaw tickets allowing you to fly home from a different city can add flexibility.
Picking Where to Go
With its over 2000 miles of coastline, expansive rice terraces, soaring mountains, and dynamic cities, Vietnam offers enormous diversity. Choosing your destinations comes down to interests and time.
Major City Hubs
- Hanoi – Bustling capital with historic architecture and vibrant energy.
- Ho Chi Minh City – Cosmopolitan metropolis with skyscrapers and nightlife.
- Hoi An – Charming ancient town known for lanterns, tailors and cuisine.
- Halong Bay – Coastal bay dotted with over 3000 limestone islands and islets.
- Sapa – Hill tribe villages and epic mountain landscapes in northwest.
- Mekong Delta – Lush river delta perfect for cruising, biking and homestays.
- Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park – Dramatic karsts, caves and jungles ideal for adventurers.
With 10-14 days, hit top highlights like Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City. With 21-28+ days, add on more remote destinations like Sapa or Phong Nha.
Vietnam offers a wide range of lodging options to fit any budget and style.
More amenities like pools and breakfast. Rooms start around $40-800 per night. Ideal comfort and value.
More amenities like pools and breakfast. Rooms start around $80-149 per night. Ideal comfort, relaxing vibe and local characters
Luxury Hotels and Resorts
Upscale hotels, beachside bungalows, jungle villas, and 5-star amenities. Nightly rates from $150 CAD and upward.
Live like a local. Immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture and cuisine. Costs around $15-25 CAD per night including breakfast.
Book 60-90 days out for best rates and availability. Read reviews on Tripadvisor or booking sites but take with a grain of salt.
Getting Around within Vietnam
Vietnam offers diverse transportation options for intrepid travelers.
- Fast way to cover long distances between cities and regions.
- Carriers like Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, Bamboo Airways.
- Flights between major cities take 1-2 hours.
- Roundtrip fares start around $100 CAD.
- Cost-effective way to travel and save on a night’s lodging.
- Routes connect major cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Hue.
- Cabins with bunk beds run $60-100 CAD. Book early for availability.
- Reliable, affordable bus networks connect most destinations.
- Sleeper buses for longer overnight routes.
- Ticket prices are $10-30 CAD depending on distance.
Taxis and Grab
- Best way to get around within cities.
- Grab is the Uber-like app widely used.
- Bargain hard with regular taxis and confirm rates beforehand.
- Average taxi fares are $1-3 CAD per short trip.
Top Things to See and Do
Marvel at Hanoi’s Architecture
Walk the bustling Old Quarter’s 36 ancient streets. See Ho Chi Minh’s stilt house. Visit the striking One Pillar Pagoda.
Cruise Stunning Halong Bay
Sail for 1-3 days through the emerald waters dotted with karst formations. Kayak into grottos and caves.
Relax in Hoi An
Soak up the riverside ambiance. Wander the Ancient Town’s temples, bridges, and yellow painted buildings. Shop for custom-made clothing and crafts.
Explore Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Trek and camp through tropical jungle terrain. Tour awe-inspiring caves like Hang Son Doong (Son Doong Cave), the world’s largest.
Sample Pho and Spring Rolls
Slurp up classic noodle soup with beef or chicken. Enjoy Vietnamese spring rolls dipped in sweet chili sauce.
Learn Vietnam’s History
Visit poignant sites like the Cu Chi Tunnels, Hoa Lo Prison, and War Remnants Museum. Reflect on Vietnam’s complex past.
Enjoy Beaches in Nha Trang
Relax on idyllic white sand beaches along the eastern coast. Snorkel vibrant coral reefs offshore.
Motorbike through the Countryside
Cruise along scenic rural roads and winding mountain passes. Stop at villages and rice paddies. Gain insight into local life.
With countless natural and cultural attractions, Vietnam offers unforgettable adventures. Keep an open mind, practice some basic Vietnamese phrases, and immerse yourself in the experience.
Top Tips for an Amazing Trip
Follow this expert advice for a hassle-free, safe, and memorable trip to Vietnam.
- Get visas in advance to avoid lines or issues upon arrival.
- Exchange currency cautiously to avoid counterfeit bills. ATMs are widely available.
- Dress modestly and respectfully when visiting temples and villages. Cover shoulders and knees.
- Bargain politely when shopping at markets. Haggle with a smile.
- Watch for motorbikes when crossing busy streets. Traffic flows differently than North America.
- Avoid tap water and opt for bottled water instead to stay hydrated and prevent sickness.
- Check safety information from the Canadian government for travel warnings or advisories.
- Secure accommodations, domestic flights and trains at least 2-3 months ahead during peak times.
- Download offline maps and translation apps like Google Translate for navigation assistance.
- Pack sun protection, bug spray, first aid supplies and proper hiking or adventure gear if required.
With smart planning using these tips, you can make the most of your Vietnam getaway.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need any vaccines to travel to Vietnam?
The CDC and WHO recommend being up to date on routine vaccines plus typhoid, Hepatitis A, and possibly rabies. Consult your doctor 4-6 weeks prior to departure.
Is it safe for solo female travelers?
Absolutely. Vietnam is very safe, especially in tourist areas. Take normal precautions as traveling alone. Avoid walking alone late at night.
How much should I budget per day?
Most backpackers budget $50-75 CAD per day to cover food, lodging, activities and transport. Mid-range travelers budget closer to $100-150 CAD per day. Luxury tours run $200+ CAD daily.
What style of clothing is appropriate?
Light, breathable fabrics are ideal for Vietnam’s heat. Dress modestly when entering Buddhist temples by covering shoulders and knees. Remove shoes when entering homes and some temples.
How much walking is involved at sights?
Be prepared for quite a bit of walking, especially in cities and nature sites with hills and steps. Have proper footwear and stay hydrated.
With mindful planning using this guide, you can craft an incredible Vietnam journey filled with awe-inspiring scenery, fascinating cultural encounters, mouthwatering cuisine, and memories to last a lifetime. Let the adventure begin!
Traveling to Vietnam from Canada: In Summary
- Decide when to visit based on weather, crowds and prices. Peak dry season is November-April.
- Obtain proper Vietnam visa weeks in advance through e-visa, on arrival or embassy.
- Book flights out of Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver 6-8 months early for deals.
- Choose your ideal mix of destinations like Hanoi, Halong Bay and Ho Chi Minh.
- Reserve lodging at least 2-3 months prior. Consider hostels, hotels, resorts or homestays.
- Get around via planes, overnight trains, buses, taxis and motorbikes.
- See top attractions like Halong Bay, Hoi An, and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
- Stay safe and healthy by taking proper health and safety precautions.
- Budget $50-200+ CAD per day depending on travel style.
With smart planning, Vietnam is an incredible destination filled with natural beauty, cultural treasures, and incredible cuisine. Have an amazing trip!