However, unlike in the nearby countries of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, there were not many places I'd hurry to return to. The cities were enjoyable in many respects, but I never felt inclined to stay in any one city for a long period of time (with the exception of Saigon). I think a lot of this is due to the country's bustling attitude, which seems very obsessed with making money. More so than in other countries I've been to, touts and shop owners seemed to see only dollar signs in my eyes. It can become exhausting and depressing after a while, being so frequently objectified and overcharged. Nevertheless, I only found this to be a problem when buying things (food, drink, etc). The majority of people I met were kind and courteous.
Like in any country, there are plenty of places I have not yet seen, so I'd never rule out returning to Vietnam!
Budget (2014): Like most of Southeast Asia, Vietnam can be very cheap. A budget of $20 per day should be more than enough if you stay in budget hostels, eat mostly street food, and take public transport.
I only stayed here one day, but it was very hospitable. This is the third largest city in Vietnam (after Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi), and a great entry point to Hoi An.
A dusty city with some famous caves nearby. There is not much to do here, but it's a solid town with a quiet atmosphere.
Capital city of Vietnam, with motorbikes literally everywhere. The old quarter has lots of guesthouses and restaurants. Sure, it's more expensive than most of Vietnam; however, it's still a bargain by most standards, with a great variety of food, and a surprisingly relaxing atmosphere. Sit on one of the many plastic chairs outside, and enjoy a 25 cent beer!
Ho Chi Minh City
Also known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is both the largest and most populous city in Vietnam. The country's former capital, Ho Chi Minh City is a very modern metropolis. Its many skyscrapers give it a larger-than-life feel, which reminds one of New York City. The city is much cheaper than Hanoi, and has an abundance of things to do and eat.
A charming city, known for its numerous tailors. Indeed, there are many tailors here. However, the city also boasts many specialty foods, 14 cent beers, and a beach.
This is a large, busy city. It is also a very popular tourist destination. Although the bustle of traffic can be a bit disconcerting, there are a number of busy beaches nearby, so check it out if that's your thing. There is a huge population of Russians here, so most signs are in Vietnamese and Russian.
This great little city is the perfect stop going to or coming from Hanoi. It has lots of good restaurants, and isn't particularly crowded.
A pretty big city between Hanoi and Hue. It's not much to write home about, but is a very solid place. I stayed one night here before my journey to Hanoi, and it was a great introduction to Vietnam.