Solo Female Trip to Vietnam: Tips You Need for Safety, Joy and Fun

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Beautifully lot streets that you will not have enough during your solo trip to Vietnam
Lantern shop in Hoi An. Photo credit: Eva Adorisio

You’ve been dreaming of visiting Vietnam for years, but maybe you’re nervous about going alone. Or, perhaps you have your flight booked and you just want a Vietnamese travel guide. Having spent one month on a solo female trip to Vietnam, I’m here to share my Vietnam solo travel tips that helped me along the way, and I’m sure will help you too.

But first, an important question I’m sure you are wondering.

Is Vietnam Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

From my experience, solo travel in Vietnam is very safe! Traveling around the country is easy, with accessible buses and an established tourist trail so you will meet many fellow travelers. Many Vietnamese people in the tourism industry speak English, which is helpful.

At night, towns and cities are usually buzzing with nightlife so they feel safe. For example, walking around the Old Quarter of Hanoi, you will find many people eating street food, drinking beer and partying.

Likewise, Hoi An becomes illuminated by night, with lanterns flowing along the river. Of course, with anywhere you visit, be aware of your valuables when walking around as pickpockets exist.

Visit the Ho Chi Minh's bustling street for shows such as fire-breathing during your solo trip in Vietnam
A local boy starts a fire-breathing show on Ho Chi Minh’s bustling main street. Photo credit: Eva Adorisio.

Follow Your Gut

Regarding safety wherever you are in the world, my top piece of advice to solo travelers is to always follow your gut. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Vietnamese people are very welcoming, but you can’t trust everyone.

On the flip side, if something feels right, then go for it. One of my most memorable nights was meeting a Vietnamese couple who owned a lantern shop in Hoi An. We met on the Lunar New Year and they insisted, as it is tradition to do with your first guests of the year, that I join them for dinner.

Beautiful lanterns hag in a traditional cafe in Vietnam's Hoi An.
Lanterns hanging in a traditional café in Hoi An. Photo credit: Eva Adorisio.

Meet Other Solo Travelers

Some of my best travel memories are from the people I have met. Vietnam is full of other solo travelers, so meet them!

There are many ways to do this. When picking a hostel/hotel, reviews often include the social atmosphere of a place.

If you want to meet people, I suggest staying in hostels as you will meet other solo travelers.

Join Group Tours 

Similarly, joining a tour is a great way to meet other people, both travelers and locals. Getting to know your local guide is a great way to learn about Vietnamese culture.

Wherever you go, you will be sure to find tours and day trips for whatever interests you. A few tours/activities I highly recommend are:

Solo trip to Vietnam includes driving through the winding road on the Ha Giang loop
A winding road we drove up on the Ha Giang loop. Photo credit: Eva Adorisio.

Take the Sleeper Bus 

With 1,000 miles between the north and south, the most common mode of public transport is the night bus. Not only is it the cheapest way to travel, it also means you don’t waste a day on transport as you travel through the night.

Unfortunately, I’ve spoken to solo female travelers who don’t feel safe riding sleeper buses alone. From experience, I can say these buses are generally very safe. You are given your own ‘bed’ (with gaps between each so you won’t feel too close to anyone), a blanket and there is usually a dinner stop.

I took five sleeper buses during my trip to Vietnam and felt completely safe. A mix of locals, families and fellow solo travelers were usually on board.

SheBuysTravelTip: Consider the arrival time at your destination. For example, I arrived in Hue at 2am, meaning I had to walk to my hostel at night. If you are happy to do this, ensure your hostel has a 24-hour reception. If not, look at different bus options.

Arrive in the Daytime

As a solo traveler, arriving in a new place can be overwhelming anyway, let alone if it’s nighttime. To avoid walking solo at night, even if it means spending more money, I would rather catch that daytime flight or take a bus that arrives after sunrise.

Dress Modestly 

As a solo female traveler, I don’t want to stand out in a crowd. Dressing modestly will allow you to feel comfortable out in public while respecting the culture, especially in temples and pagodas.

Packing appropriate clothing will be beneficial. My two must-have clothing items are a thin white shirt and breathable long pants.

Eat Vietnamese Street Food 

Vietnam has a variety of tasty street food, each with its own rich history. Fall in love with Banh Mi, a sandwich with French influence and Pho, Vietnam’s national dish, as these will become your staple meals.

There are also a variety of drinks on offer such as egg coffee, which you can find in many cafes, and “happy water,” a rice wine found all over Vietnam.

Enjoy Banh Xeo, a Vietnamese pancakes filled with meat and vegetables, in your solo trip to Vietnam.
A woman selling Banh Xeo in Hoi An (Vietnamese pancakes filled with meat and vegetables). Photo credit: Eva Adorisio.

Visit Museums 

Across my travels in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is the only country full of museums. With a complicated history, there is a lot to learn in these museums.

I highly recommend visiting two museums:

  • Hanoi’s Women’s Museum, with the third floor focusing on women’s involvement in the Vietnam War
  • The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, which contains chilling recounts and photography from American and Vietnamese journalists during the war.
Visit the Women’s museum in Hanoi in during your solo trip to Vietnam
Part of the Women’s museum in Hanoi. Photo credit: Eva Adorisio.

Buy a SIM Card at the Airport 

I suggest this in every country I visit as I feel most vulnerable when I first touch down. Unsure of the culture, language and what to expect, I always feel more comfortable knowing I have access to wifi when I arrive.

You can buy a Viettel SIM card for approximately $10 at both Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi airports.

Download the Grab App 

As soon as you install your new SIM card, download Grab, Southeast Asia’s equivalent to Uber. Grab offers car or moped services, where you hop on the back of a driver’s motorbike. Ordering a ride through Grab brings more peace of mind than hailing a cab on the street.

Costing just a few dollars to get around the city, it’s a great tool to get around Vietnam.

Learn to Ride a Scooter 

The idea of driving in another country can seem scary, especially with two fewer wheels than you are used to. I traveled around Asia for 5 months and learning to ride a scooter was the most useful thing I could have done.

Aside from the two largest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City where traffic can seem quite chaotic, I rented a moped everywhere I went. It really is the most freeing, cheapest way to get around, costing as little as $4 a day. Getting to places outside the city, such as the many waterfalls, would be more difficult without a scooter. If it is your first time, don’t worry. Give yourself some time to simply drive around on quiet roads and make sure to get a helmet.

Book Accommodations with Breakfast Included 

Not only does Vietnam have some of the cheapest accommodations I’ve ever stayed in, the price also often includes breakfast. If you prefer to stay in guesthouses or homestays, they usually also include breakfast. The first hostel I stayed in was Hanoi Backpackers Hostel and Rooftop Bar which included an extensive buffet breakfast: eggs, pancakes, noodles, rice, fruit and more. It was definitely the best hostel breakfast I’ve ever had.

Check the Weather Before You Go 

Despite its tropical climate, Vietnam can be cold during winter months. In the northern town of Sapa, temperatures can drop into the 40sF between September and April. Contrastingly, highs in the South of Vietnam can reach 90 degrees.

As you travel across Vietnam, you will experience a change in climate and this is important to note when packing. You will be thankful for those extra layers.

SheBuysTravel Tip: If you didn’t come prepared, Hanoi has a great night market on P. Hang Ngang Street that is full of winter clothes.

Pass through paddy fields and beautiful mountains as you hike on Sapa during your solo trip in Vietnam.
The start of my two-day hike in Sapa, passing paddy fields and beautiful mountains. Photo credit: Eva Adorisio

Pack Light

You don’t want to be hauling a 20kg backpack around on your solo trip to Vietnam (yes, I did see one girl doing this). You will likely be moving between cities every few days so having a light load will be much more practical.

With laundry services available all over Vietnam for just a few dollars, you don’t need to worry about bringing loads of clothes.

Be Well-Equipped.

You’ll want to pack light, but still have everything you need. Here are my essentials during my trip to Vietnam that you may not have thought of.

FAQs for a Solo Trip to Vietnam

Should I make a travel itinerary?

This depends on how you want to travel. Personally, I traveled from North to South, starting in Hanoi and ending in Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon. The only thing I had booked was my flight out of Vietnam. I think this is the best way to travel as you can visit places that people recommend to you. For example, I hadn’t heard of Sapa but, when people in Hanoi recommended it to me, I knew I had to visit.

What is the best city for solo female travelers?

As a solo female traveler, the cities I enjoyed the most were Hoi An, Hanoi and Da Lat. These cities had lots to do and were very different from one another. While Hanoi feels like a city stuck in time, Da Lat is more modern with a strong French influence. Known as the lantern city, Hoi An is a fairytale town like no other.

Should I get travel insurance?

Travel insurance is a must when you go anywhere. You will have peace of mind to know you are covered if anything goes wrong. I recommend World Nomads as they focus on solo and backpacker travel and cover long trips if you are traveling to multiple Asian countries.

Is Vietnam cheap?

Yet another great reason to visit Vietnam: It is super affordable. $1 is approximately 25,000 vnd (Vietnamese dong), which can get you a coffee, a bowl of noodles, or even a Grab journey across the city.

Are there other countries worth visiting near Vietnam?

Absolutely! Southeast Asia has some beautiful countries, many of which have an established tourist trail. Neighboring Vietnam are Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, each with their own unique cultures, languages and nature. You will meet many fellow travelers in Vietnam who are also visiting these destinations. A popular tourist attraction is the Mekong Delta River, where you can travel by boat from Cambodia to Vietnam.

Eva Adorisio has been working as a freelance writer and travel journalist for the past year. As an avid traveler, she has ventured across four continents of the world, and continues to explore the lesser-known. Her writing aims reveal the true nature of a place and serves as a guide for fellow travelers.
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