Accommodation is superb value for money in Vietnam. As tourism is booming it's usually best to book your accommodation a day or two in advance, or several weeks ahead in the high season (the Tet holiday in late January to mid-February, July to August, and around Christmas).
- Hotels Range from simple, functional minih-otels to uber-luxurious spa resorts.
- Hostels Popular in the main tourism centres, but rare elsewhere.
- Guesthouses Usually family run and less formal than hotels.
- Camping Options are extremely limited, but new facilities are opening in southern Vietnam.
Guesthouses & Hotels
Hotels are called khach san and guesthouses nha khach or nha nghi. Many hotels have a wide variety of rooms (a spread of between US$20 and US$70 is not unusual). Often the cheapest rooms are at the end of several flights of stairs or lack a window.
Budget hotels Guesthouses (usually family-run) vary enormously; often the newest places are in the best condition. Most rooms in this category are very well equipped, with US$12 to US$18 often bagging you in-room wi-fi, air-conditioning, hot water and a TV. Some places even throw in a free breakfast, too. Towards the upper end of this category, mini-hotels – small, smart private hotels – usually represent excellent value for money. Few budget places have lifts (elevators), however.
Midrange hotels At the lower end of this bracket, many hotels are similar to budget hotels but with bigger rooms or perhaps an in-house restaurant. Flash a bit more cash and the luxury factor rises exponentially, with contemporary design touches and a swimming pool and massage or spa facilities becoming the norm.
Top-end hotels Expect everything from faceless business hotels, colonial places resonating with history and chic boutique hotels in this bracket. Resort hotels are dotted along the coastline. Top beach spots such as Nha Trang and Mui Ne all have a range of sumptuous places. Villa-hotels (where your accommodation has a private pool) are becoming popular, while others even include complimentary spa facilities. You’ll find ecolodges in the mountains of the north and around the fringes of national parks.
Homestays are a possible option in parts of Vietnam, particularly rural areas. All places have to be officially licensed.
Areas that are well set up include the Mekong Delta; the White Thai villages of Mai Chau, Ba Be and Moc Chau; parts of the central highlands; and the Cham Islands.
Hostels & Campgrounds
Vietnam has (relatively recently) embraced hostel culture, and places with dorm beds and a social vibe are spreading throughout the country. Increasingly, Vietnamese students are now booking into hostels and Vietnamese people (not foreigners) are running hostel establishments.
All the main tourist centres have hostels, and some places now even boast swimming pools and stylish bar-restaurants. Ninhvana, a new 'five-star' all-inclusive beach hostel, has taken the upmarket hostel concept to a different level entirely.
Dotted along the southern coastline, around Long Bien and Phan Thiet, there are several new campsites. However, these are mainly geared at the Vietnamese student market.
Service & Cleanliness
Cleanliness standards are generally good and there are very few real dumps – even remote rural areas have some excellent budget places. Communication can often be an issue (particularly off the beaten path where few staff speak English). Perhaps because of this, service standards in Vietnam can be a little haphazard.
Passports are almost always requested on arrival at a hotel. Reception staff will normally photocopy your passport details and visa and hand your passport back.
Prices & Taxes
Prices are quoted in dong or US dollars based on the preferred currency of the particular property; some charge a percentage fee for paying by card rather than cash. Most rooms fall into a budget price category and dorm-bed prices are given individually.
Most hotels at the top end levy a tax of 10% and a service charge of 5%, displayed as ++ (‘plus plus’) on the bill. Some midrange (and even the odd budget place) also try to levy a 10% tax, though this can often be waived.
Discounts are often available at quiet times of year. Some hotels (particularly those on the coast) raise their prices in the main tourist season (July and August) and for public holidays.