Ultimate Guide to Planning Wedding & Elopement in Vietnam

0) Planning an adventure elopement or a destination wedding in Vietnam: Is it hard???

When we you're planning a destination wedding or adventure elopement, it's crucial to have someone who are experts on that field. So here we are to make your life easier!

Experienced elopement / destination wedding photographers & videographers who had done a handful of elopements around the world like us can provide you invaluable tips, tricks and hands-on advices based on real world, complex elopement planning experiences. We'll take a step further than just capturing your elopement visually but work with you closely from scratch to make the best out of your journey.

And it's one hell of a bonus if they happen to be local and speak the language! We are Vietnamese. We were born and raised in Vietnam and didn't leave the country until 20 - now we're based in Europe and but splitting our time between Germany and Vietnam.

So you're in good hands ;)!
Home to an extensive collection of historical and cultural attractions, Vietnam is also an amazingly beautiful land with with a variety of stunning landscapes and sceneries. And for us, best food in the world!
For ultimate guide to planning an adventure elopement in general, click the link below!

1) How to Travel to Vietnam?


Getting to Vietnam by Plane

There are 22 airports in Vietnam: 11 domestic and 11 international.
The three main gateways are Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi (HAN), Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and Da Nang International Airport in Danang (DAD).

Tan Son Nhat and the Da Nang airport have domestic terminals in walking distance from the international terminal. Hanoi's domestic terminal is a short ride from the international terminal. Most Asian countries have direct flights to and from Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. Travelers can also fly directly into Da Nang from destinations around the region. Budget airlines, such AirAsia, Jetstar, Tiger Airways, and Cebu Pacific... are increasingly popular alternatives for those flying to/from Vietnam to other Southeast Asian destinations.

Getting to Vietnam by Bus or Train

New routes and services are making it easier everyday to reach Vietnam from neighbouring countries of China, Laos, and Cambodia. Travelers entering Vietnam this way will want to make sure they have their visas ready beforehand, as there are no Visas on Arrival at land crossings within Vietnam.

From China

There are direct trains between Hanoi (the only point of rail departure for China within Vietnam) and Beijing via the Dong Dang border, with stops at Nanning and Guilin. From Hanoi, the train departs every Tuesday and Friday at 6:30 pm with a total traveling time of 42 hours. You can book your tickets from Hanoi in advance through reputable online services.

From Laos

There are local bus companies in Laos touting cheap fares to Vietnam, but we recommend using an international bus service running from Savannakhet or Vientiane to Hanoi, Hue, Vinh, or Da Nang. These direct lines will help you avoid the difficulties that sometimes arise with local bus agents. It's also possible to get a bus from Luang Prabang to Hanoi, but the ride can run up to 24 hours, much of it on rough roads.

From Cambodia

A number of public buses and express shuttles ply the route between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City every day, via the Moc Bai border. Modern buses outfitted with air-conditioning make for a more pleasant trip, so try to find one that looks well maintained or spring for one of the modern express shuttles such as Sapaco Tourist or Mekong Express. The ride is usually six hours long. Be sure to have your visas for Vietnam ready before you reach the border.

Getting to Vietnam by Boat

For those looking for a fun route, a boat trip through the Mekong Delta makes for an enjoyable and scenic entry into Southern Vietnam. Tour agencies in Phnom Penh and in Vietnam can arrange boat trips from Cambodia into the country. You can expect to pass through one of two crossings -- Vinh Xuong or Tinh Bien -- along the way. Trips usually end in Can Tho, about 170km from Ho Chi Minh City.

2) Best Time to have a Wedding & Elopement in Vietnam

There’s no wrong time to visit Vietnam. The country has a tropical monsoon climate, with the south or southwesterly monsoon dominating from May to September and the northeast monsoon from October to April. So figuring out the best time to have your wedding in Vietnam depends on which parts of the country you want to get married in.

The southern summer monsoon brings rain to the two deltas and western slopes. At the same time, the cold winter monsoon picks up moisture over the Gulf of Tonkin and carries it away along the central coast and on the eastern edge of the central highlands. There are clear differences depending on the height and width; Temperatures in the south of Vietnam remain calm all year round, while there are 4 distinctive seasons in the north.

If you intend to see a bit of everything, you need to work around the regional weather differences. Overall, autumn (Sept-Dec) and spring (March and April) are probably the most favourable seasons if you’re planning to visit the whole country before/after your wedding.

Mountain Region far north

(Sapa, Ha Giang, Bac Ha, Mu Cang Chai...)

The climate in Sapa and northwestern Vietnam, including Mu Cang Chai, is divided into two seasons: the dry season lasts from October to the end of March, and the rainy season from April to September. The best months to travel to the Northeast (Ha Giang) are in the dry season from October to April, although December and January can get very cold and frosty, especially at night.

Trekking and Adventure: The best trekking conditions in Sapa and around Mu Cang Chai can be experienced between September and November and March to May. The daytime temperatures are between 15 and 28 ° C and the night temperature between 10 and 18 ° C. Trekking and cycling are possible all year round, but wintertime can be quite cool and summer can be wet.

North Vietnam

(Hanoi, Halong Bay, Cuc Phuong, Mai Chau & Ninh Binh....)

Hanoi and North Vietnam have four seasons. The cool but mostly dry winter lasts from November to April when the average temperatures are between 17 and 22 ° C. The coldest months are January to March. Summer lasts from May to October when it is hot and humid and the region receives the highest rainfall. July to September are often the wettest months of the year. During these months, severe weather can prevent sailing in Halong Bay, although this weather is rare.

Central Vietnam

(Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Dalat, Quy Nhon & Nha Trang...)

Hoi An, Hue & Danang in the centre of Vietnam have hot and dry weather from mid-January to late August, with temperatures often reaching the mid-30's °C. During the winter months the rainfall increases with October and November achieving peak levels, occasionally in the form of typhoons. Hue is often cooler than Hoi An, especially early in the year. In addition, with each sitting on opposite sides of a small mountain range the weather can often differ between the two greatly on any given day.

Quy Nhon is a six hour drive south of Hoi An and shares a similar weather pattern although the dry season is slightly longer due to its proximity to the southern system. At the far south of Central Vietnam, Nha Trang benefits from a longer dry season (typically January to September), with high temperatures and little rain. The rainy season runs from October to early December with almost half the annual rainfall falling in October and November. Dalat, in the central highlands, is wet from June to October. From November to May it is far drier although cold in December & January.

South Vietnam

(Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc and Con Dao, Phan Thiet and Mui Ne, Ho Tram and Long Hai...)

Because temperatures remain constant throughout the year, the climate of the south is divided into two simple seasons: wet and dry. The dry season begins in November and ends in April / early May, with the end of February to May being a bit hotter and more humid. The rainy season lasts from May to early November, with June, July and August receiving the highest rainfall of the year.

During much of the rainy season, rainfall is generally heavy but short-lived and often occurs with heavy afternoon rainfall. Average temperatures in the south are between 25 and 35 ° C all year round. In the far south, the islands of Phu Quoc and Con Dao can be enjoyed all year round, with high chances of sunny days, although afternoon rains can be expected if visiting outside of the dry season.

3A) Where in Northern Vietnam to have your wedding & elopement?

Sapa

Located in far north Vietnam in the mountainous region, Sapa town is surrounded by the craggy “Vietnamese Alps,” including 10,312-foot Mount Fansipan, the highest mountain in the country. The slopes of the mountains around Sapa are famous for their terraced rice paddies, tended to by colorfully dressed ethnic minority people who look as though they are straight out of a National Geographic magazine. Full Disclaimer though: Sapa Main Town is nowadays super commercial and filled with overcrowded tourists but if go out and stay outside of town for a bit, for instance at the Sapa Eco Lodge, you will be able to experience the authentic flair.

Dong Van Plateau

The Dong Van Plateau begins north of Ha Giang City, about a six-hour drive from Hanoi. It is a spectacular part of the remote mountainous region in the far northeast of Vietnam. Spectacular terraced rice fields climb the peaks of the surrounding mountains and stretch out over the horizon. Further exploration will reveal more gems: Southeast Asia's deepest canyon, 22 ethnic minority tribes, pristine lakes, pine forests, stone forests, caves full of undisturbed formations and incredible waterfalls are just a few of the many tidbits awaiting the intrepid explorer. If Sapa is too touristy for you, go to Dong Van!

Mu Cang Chai

If you’ve seen gob-smacking photos of rice terraces in Vietnam, there’s a good chance they were snapped in or around Mu Cang Chai. You’d be hard pressed to find fields on this scale anywhere else in the country. Rendered in shades of bottle green or wattle yellow depending on the time of year, the towering terraces are a weather beacon for the changing seasons and different stages of the rice harvest. What happens out here dictates the fortunes of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese farmers. Because of its remote location, Mu Cang Chai District receives relatively few tourists. But if it’s sublime hiking in complete solitude that you’re after, it’s worth the trek.

Y Ty

Located in remote Bat Xat District, I predict that Y Ty will emerge as another alternative to busy Sapa at some point in the future. The area boasts picturesque landscapes, idyllic hamlets, and because of the high altitude, opportunities to ‘chase the clouds’—a popular activity in Vietnam which involves snapping photos on misty mornings. While Y Ty remains underdeveloped and tricky to access outside of group tours for now, a handful of NGOs—including CIRUM—are partnering with ethnic minority groups in the area to introduce sustainable tourism.

Mai Chau

Mai Chau is the first city along the beautiful Northwest Loop of Vietnam. You can stay in an ethnic Thai stilt house and explore caves and waterfalls in the rich, hilly terrain where rice is grown by the minorities. Mai Chau can be visited as a day trip from Hanoi or combined for a longer trip with the more remote towns of Moc Chau, Son La, and Dien Bien Phu, returning through Sapa and back to Hanoi for five to five days for a seven-day adventure.

Moc Chau

The old district of Moc Chau is almost completely overshadowed by neighboring Mai Chau. Moc Chau is less than 100 km up the road in Son La Province (but a bit harder to get to by public transport) and is a great alternative to the touristy Mai Chau Valley. The best time to visit Moc Chau is in spring, when the landscape is surrounded by blooming cherry blossoms. Other varieties paint the hills in different hues at different times of the year.

Ba Be National Park

Ba Be Lake or Ba Be National Park is located in Bac Can Province, 240km from Hanoi and covers more than 23,000 hectares boasting waterfalls, rivers, deep valleys, lakes and caves set amid towering peaks. The area is home to many ethnic minority communities. Ba Be Lake is in fact three lakes linked by wide channels, about 8km long and 400m wide. The surface is always calm, making a boat trip a peaceful experience. Reaching Ba Be has traditionally meant a six to eight hour drive over rough roads, but the newly constructed highway no3 means that it's now possible to get here in 5 hours from Hanoi, on well paved roads, while the scenery is as magnificent as ever.

Hanoi

Be sure to allow a minimum of two or three days to explore the city of Hanoi, as well. Beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake is the living cultural, historical, and spiritual heart of Hanoi and it’s a “must see” place to visit. The ancient Old Quarter is a wonderful place to wander, with its maze of small streets and jumble of shops. Historically, each block specialized in selling a certain item—tin, bamboo, herbs, cloth, pottery—the street names still reflect this heritage.

Ha Long Bay

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay is the most visited destination in all of Vietnam. Despite the growing number of visitors each year and accompanying environmental issues, there are ways to visit Halong Bay without causing too much harm to the fragile environment of this UNESCO-listed site. Hundreds of tiny islands - many of which are only inhabited by monkeys - offer dozens of caves and countless secluded beaches. Magnificent limestone towers rise like brooding primordial guardians over the water of the bay. Halong Bay stretches along the Gulf of Tonkin, just three and a half hours north of Hanoi by car. You can explore Halong Bay on a cruise ship, by kayak, and on half-day, one-day or overnight trips on houseboats. For an unforgettable experience, you can even have your wedding and all the guests staying on a luxury cruise!

Bai Tu Long Bay

Bai Tu Long's equally dramatic coastal topography may play second fiddle to Halong in terms of visitor numbers, but that doesn't mean it's not as beautiful as its southwestern cousin. Come here for a more relaxed halong experience. The slower pace of the tours means you'll have more time to explore the accessible caves, swim in the clear waters between the towering limestone formations, possibly spot dugongs, kayak, and explore the forest reserves on the larger islands in the bay.

Nam Dinh

I bet you weren't expecting a sight like this in North Vietnam. The province of Nam Dinh, which stretches through the fertile Red River Delta to the Gulf of Tonkin, is famous for its high concentration of Roman Catholic churches. This was the first place missionaries landed in Vietnam in the 16th century. Hence Nam Dinh is known as the cradle of Catholicism in the country. Many of the churches in Nam Dinh are still used by the Catholic community today. Others were abandoned and left to nature. The architecture in this part of the country is a revelation and something that not many tourists get to see.

Ninh Binh

Several tranquil rivers meander near the city of Ninh Binh, just 58 miles south of Hanoi. Take a ride on an aluminum rowboat paddled by local village women and marvel at the rugged karst terrain, mountain goats, and lush foliage as you glide along peaceful river waterways through a series of dark grottoes. You can easily visit Ninh Binh as a day trip from Hanoi, though if you want to stay longer, check out Cuc Phuong National Park—Vietnam’s oldest national park—and visit one of the Southeast Asia’s largest virgin rainforests, complete with easily-accessed primitive caves, thousands of butterflies, and internationally respected primate and pangolin rescue centers.

Tam Dao National Park

Tam Dao in Vietnamese means three islands even though it is not located in the middle of the sea but in the mountainous area between Vinh Phuc, Thai Nguyen, and Tuyen Quang. The reason behind is that Tam Dao includes three peaks which are high above the cloud, make it like three islands flow in the sky. Names of the peaks are Ban Thach (1,388 m high), Thien Nhi (1,375 m high) and Phu Nghia (1,400 m high). Tam Dao is a favorite destination of Vietnamese because of the unique weather, unspoiled views and high, crooked journey to get there.

Ba Vi National Park

Just a stone’s throw from Hanoi, it’s a wonder why more tourists don’t take the time to visit Ba Vi, one of Vietnam’s loveliest national parks. Popular with Vietnamese families, especially on weekends and holidays, Ba Vi is something of a local icon.

Co To Islands

Consisting of around 50 islands, Co To is an archipelago in the east of the Quang Ninh province - probably one of the most beautiful and romantic islands in Vietnam with transparent blue sea, white smooth sand, golden sunshine, and green mountains and forest.

Pu Luong Nature Reserve

A few years ago Pu Luong is probably the most pristine patch of land I saw during my time in Vietnam. Protected under law since 1999, the 17-odd hectare reserve is valued for its flora and fauna. A number of ethnic Thai and Muong communities dwell inside the park’s boundaries, following a largely traditional lifestyle. Among their pursuits is building the incredible bamboo waterwheels that Pu Luong is known for. These magnificent structures harvest water from low-lying streams, filtering it into the rice fields via a series of bamboo pipes. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. Ancient technology set against virgin forest, verdant fields and thatched-roof hamlets: Pu Luong is exactly the sort of landscape Vietnam dreams are made of.

3B) Where in Central Vietnam to Have Your Wedding / Elopement


Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

When a local lumberjack discovered Son Doong Cave, the largest cave in the world, less than a decade ago, he sealed the fate of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Tourism in the park and in the few small hamlets by the river is increasing from year to year.

Located in the narrowest part of Vietnam, very close to the DMZ, this area was heavily bombed during the Vietnam-America war. The landscape still bears scars from that period. But it’s an utterly beautiful and magical place, where you can cycle all the way to the Laos border via the largest karst park in the world. Caving, kayaking, hiking, zip-lining and all matter of adventure and outdoor-oriented activities are available.

Hoi An

Beautiful Hoi An is the most atmospheric city in Vietnam, with bags of surviving historic architecture. The old town quarter is a joy to explore, packed to the brim with well-preserved merchant houses that hark back to Hoi An's trading center heyday of the 15th century, when the town was a major meeting point for Japanese and Chinese merchants who flocked here for the local silks.

Hue

One of Vietnam's most historic towns, Hue is packed to the brim with relics from the reign of the 19th-century Nguyen emperors. Sitting along the banks of the gorgeous Perfume River, the Imperial Enclosure is a huge site set within walls that sprawl for 2.5 kilometers.

Lan Chau island, Nghe An


Eo Gio, Quy Nhon

Located in Nhon Ly, 20 km from Quy Nhon city, Eo Gio is one of the most beautiful place which everyone wants to visit once. The name of Eo Giao is originated from the its geographical shape, from the top of cliffs and look around, you will see a small strait covered by mountains like the arm holding a beautiful sea.

Vinh Hy Bay, Ninh Thuan

Travel along the road 702, you will go on windy passes with breathtaking and romantic scenery. During the trip, sometimes you can feel like touching the sea, but sometimes conquering endless mountains. You will see beautiful white salt fields…Vinh Hy appears like a watercolor painting which will allure you right at the first sight. To Vinh Hy, besides traveling by glass-bottom boat to explore coral reef, you can relax on the beautiful beach, do snorkeling, experience adventure games like surfing or enjoy fresh seafood...

3C) Where in Southern Vietnam to Have Your Wedding / Elopement


Mui Ne

Mui Ne is a little seaside retreat is a great place to stay if you want some sun, sea and sand, lots and lots of sand. Mui Ne is also an adventurer’s dream and offers up some of the best windsurfing conditions in Southeast Asia.Mui Ne is also home to Asia’s biggest sand dunes which come in a variety of colours including red, yellow and white. The white sand dunes of Mui Ne are by far the biggest and are a must when choosing where to go in Vietnam.

Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh City)


4) What to do & see in Vietnam

5) What to Pack for Wedding in Vietnam?

For styling inspiration (aesthetic wise, safari outfit, elopement attires), you can check the two links above.

What else to pack? Of course it will depend on when are you going to visit but the rule of thumb for Vietnam:

- Toiletries & basic first aid kit (painkiller, other pills, bandage...)

- Chargers & right adapters, Powerbank...

- Passport, travel insurance...

6) Recommended accommodations & Wedding Venues in Vietnam

7) Vietnam Elopement Itineraries

The itinerary below is an example that we have worked with the tour agency to plan Vivian & Andy's safari elopement in Masai Mara in August.


26.8
Land in Nairobi. Checked in Hotel. Have some rest.

27.8
- Early Morning Air Transfer to Masai Mara .
- Afternoon Game Drive
- Dinner / Overnight / Rest at Camp. When have time, shoot some in the lounge in private wing.

28.8
- Early Morning Hot Air Balloon Safari (Picked up at camp at 5am and transferred to the site). Balloon takes off between 0600hrs – 0615hrs for another approx.. 1 hour. Follow by bush breakfast after landing.
- Game Drive
- Early Lunch at around 11am?
- Shooting you getting ready (Hair, make-up, getting dressed - you and Andy in separate tent, Andy can get ready in mine): 13H to 14h Andy can get ready in the guide tent with the photographer?
- First Look when Andy seeing you in the wedding dress the first time: somewhere outside close to the camp, either with some wide open view or by the Mara River.
- 14:15-14:50: Couple Portraits around Camp, inside, outside, at lounge...
- Move to Ceremony Location. We need to find a beautiful spot. Remember to ask the camp to see if they have any suggestion? I already have in mind a spot with wide open view, a bit of the mountain/hill in the background and a tree for you to do the ceremony under/near by.
- Ceremony: 16h to 16:30
- Romantic Dinner in the nearby: 17:30 to 19h. Sun goes down at 18:47 so this is the perfect timing. Something chic, safari style, romantic but not cheesy.

29.8
Air Transfer back to Nairobi. For a general guide of how to plan an adventure elopement itinerary click the link below!

8) Legalities

9) Visa Policy of Vietnam

10) Other things to Know Before Traveling to Vietnam

- Sunrise or Sunset Ceremony? Both of them are stunning but logistically, if you're planning your elopement in one of the national parks, sunset is the way to go!

- The traffic in Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh is horrendous - so keep that in mind!

- Travel insurance is highly recommended but that's common sense regardless where you travel to. 



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