Hostels are plentiful all around Vietnam. Here are some of my favorite places to stay:
Mad Monkey (Hoi An)
Fuse Beachside (Hoi An)
Little Hanoi Hostel (Hanoi)
Bia Hoi Corner Hostel & Rooftop Bar (Hanoi)
Hanoi House Hostel & Travel (Hanoi)
Ccasa Hostel & Coffee Bar (Nha Trang)
The Hideout (HCMC)
How to Get Around Vietnam
The famous city railroad inside the Old Town of bustling Hanoi
Public transportation – In some towns and cities, the cyclo (a bicycle rickshaw) is one of the cheapest ways to get around. A short ride costs as little as 12,000 VND, while a longer night ride costs upwards of 40,000 VND. A more popular option is the ze om, a motorbike taxi that has fares starting from 15,000 VND. You’ll have to hold on tight though (and make sure you wear a helmet as accidents are common).
Public buses are not great options in Vietnam as the traffic in cities is a nightmare and the buses are crowded and slow.
Train – A lot of people love taking the train in Vietnam because it’s safe, affordable, and comfortable, and although some routes might be slow, you’ll get some amazing views of the Vietnamese countryside. The rail network also covers most of the country, so you can get just about everywhere you want to go (except the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta).
You can use the website Baolau to research train schedules and book your tickets. A train journey between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi starts at 900,000 VND.
Bus – It’s easy to find long-distance bus tours running the length of Vietnam, starting at Hanoi with stops in Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Mui Ne, and ending in Ho Chi Minh. You can hop on or off at any stop along the way. They cater to tourists, but locals actually use this service too since it’s super affordable.
Prices depend on route and operator but generally Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh is between 815,000-1,600,000 VND. This is the most popular backpacking route and buses depart daily.
Flying – Flying domestically in Vietnam is a good idea if you’re looking to fit a lot into a shorter trip. For example, a flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City takes two hours, and that spans virtually the entire country (the train ride would take at least 30 hours). One-way flights start at around 590,000 VND.
Car rental – Vietnam is very easy to navigate by bus, so I don’t really suggest renting a car here — especially because traffic in the cities is very hectic and accidents are common. That said, car rentals are affordable, costing around 500,000 VND per day. An IDP (International Driving Permit) is required.
For the best car rental prices, use Discover Cars.
Hitchhiking – Hitchhiking in Vietnam isn’t super common, though it is relatively safe and easy. However, since most vehicles are motorcycles you’ll have much better luck picking up rides with people on motorbikes and scooters. Just by a helmet (they’re super affordable) beforehand so you can ride safely.
For up-to-date tips and advice on hitchhiking in Vietnam, check out Hitchwiki.