Where to stay in Vietnam
Hotels in Vietnam have vastly improved and most towns have small hotels and guest houses. In the major towns, there is a full range of accommodation to suit all budgets. Both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have excellent standard hotels and international chains such as Hilton (www.hilton.com), Sofitel (www.sofitel.com) and Intercontinental (www.intercontinental.com) with the facilities expected in 4- to 5-star hotels such as air conditioning, room service, swimming pool, health club and good restaurants. The major beach resorts of Nha Trang, Hoi An, Danang, Phan Thiet, Phu Quoc and Vung Tau have an excellent range of accommodation.
Grading: There is no formal grading of hotels, but usually the price gives an idea of the standard. However, make sure you look at the rooms and shop around; there are some superb deals to be had, particularly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, where quality budget hotels are sprouting up everywhere.
There are very many value-for-money guest houses, or mini-hotels, across the country, mainly without air conditioning and some with shared bathrooms or without hot water. Generally they are simply furnished but usually very clean.
There are no campsites in Vietnam. Some travel companies arrange camping for organised groups on treks, and all the camping equipment is supplied.
Budget: Most towns frequented by tourists have a selection of budget hotels and for less than US$20 a night you can expect a TV, possibly air conditioning and a very clean room. The location may not be very central but the major sights will be within walking distance or reachable by taxi, motorbike taxi or cyclo.
Homestays: Homestays are increasingly popular with visitors eager to gain a real insight into Vietnamese culture. These can be formally organised by your tour operator or done more casually if the opportunity presents itself. Options vary - you can stay overnight with a hilltribe family in a traditional stilthouse in the north east, and join the family for a home-cooked meal. In the Mekong Delta stay with a farming family and learn a little about their way of life in a region where a boat is pretty much the only way to travel.