I recently finished my two months long backpacking trip from Northern to Southern Vietnam. It was an absolutely amazing trip, with all its ups and downs, with all the people I met, all the places I saw, and all the new things I got to do. As a typical backpacker, during my travels I mostly stayed at hostels, which is a good option for a solo traveler because it is easy to meet other people there and make new friends, plus hostels are usually quite cheap (as cheap as 4-5 USD per night at some places in Vietnam).
I absolutely love hostels, and I love to stay at different hostels for different purposes and experiences. So after traveling across the whole country and staying at numerous hostels, I decided to make a list of my favorite ones and spread the word. I narrowed my list down to five hostels, all in different places, and all chosen for different reasons.
Big Tree Backpackers and Bistro is here due to its amazing location, kind and helpful staff, and because it is still a little off the radar of the big tourist hype. Dalat Family Hostel is here because of the absolutely amazing, best EVER staff running the hostel and the atmosphere they provide from the very first second you enter the hostel, until the moment you leave – this is a place that literally feels like home. Hoalu Eco Homestay is on my top 5 list because it is a perfect place for relaxation and nature lovers, the staff is very helpful, and aside from being great for backpackers, it is also a good choice for families traveling with kids. Vietnam Backpackers Hostel – Downtown made it to the list because this is the best party hostel you could ever wish for, with an incredibly crazy and fun crew. Last but not least, Sunflower Hotel is one of my favorites because it has a great outdoor area with a pool, where people can hang out throughout the day and in the evening, and the atmosphere there is spot on.
As you can see, there is something on my list for everyone! So here they are, my five favorite hostels in Vietnam described in detail, in no particular order.
Big Tree Backpackers and Bistro (Bai Xep Village)
To 2, Khu vuc 1, Bai Xep, Ghenh Rang, Quy Nhon, Vietnam
Of all the hostels I’ve stayed at across Vietnam, Big Tree definitely deserves to be on the top of my list. Tucked away in a corner of the tiny Bai Xep Village, right next to the beach, it’s like a small quiet paradise that enables you to enjoy some quiet time away from all the touristy backpacking hustle. Swimming in the clear blue sea, waking up early to a beautiful sunrise above the ocean, small fishing boats scattered in the bay, sipping coffee or cocktails at the bar with views of the beach only a few steps away – simply a wonderful, relaxing experience. Plus, they serve a delicious, massive fish & chips dish that will surely satisfy even those with biggest appetites.
Aside from this hostel, there are only a couple of other hostels and resorts there, and you can practically have the long sandy beach all to yourself. There are some backpackers who wander through this place, so you can meet people, socialize and have fun, but unlike many other places in Vietnam, Bai Xep still remains a hidden gem and lacks the usual touristy prices and crowds.
The staff of the hostel are friendly, helpful, hospitable, and their great taste in music is a huge plus – absolutely amazing! We went there with the intention of staying only two nights, and decided to book two more as soon as we got there and realized how comfy and refreshing it was.
In case you want to venture further away from the village, you can rent a motorbike, ride along the coast and discover other hidden beaches. Alternatively, you could visit Quy Nhon City, just a short motorbike ride away, where you can enjoy tasty local food. All in all, Big Tree and Bai Xep beach are among my top three favorite places in Vietnam – highly recommended!
Dalat Family Hostel (Da Lat City)
19A Trieu Viet Vuong, Ward 3, Da Lat, Vietnam
Another awesome hostel, although completely different from the previous one, is Dalat Family Hostel in Da Lat City. This hostel is unlike any other I’ve ever been to, and it’s absolutely crazy! The owner is Mama, a middle-aged Vietnamese woman who opened this hostel in 2013 and has been running it with her family and other young people ever since. The warmest welcome ever and even warmer hugs from the family and other staff simply can’t leave anyone indifferent. Aside from being the craziest place, it’s also surprisingly cheap – you can rent a bed in their dorms for only 5 USD per night!
And it doesn’t stop there – one of the most memorable things about the hostel is the daily big Family Dinner. Every afternoon around 5 o’clock, all the guests gather around two long tables in the hostel’s yard, where Mama and the Family serve a wide variety of Vietnamese dishes. The feast can go on for almost two hours, and the staff just keeps bringing more and more food, it feels like a never ending meal indeed. And all that for only 50.000 VND – that’s just a bit over 2 USD!
Throughout the day, Mama and the others will randomly come up to you and bring some fruit, or even a free beer, and sometimes they will simply approach because they want to give you the Family hug. At night you can socialize in the same outdoors area, sip on very affordable cocktails, and enjoy dancing and getting crazy with Mama. Watch out, she will want to give you a funny lap dance, or she might even try to convince you to kiss your friend! Around 9 pm the party moves into “The Shed”, a garage area of the hostel designed with sound-proof walls so as not to disturb the neighbors in the area. In “The Shed” you and your new friends can continue the party, dance, or play the guitar and have some of the most memorable times of your trip.
In the morning you can count on tasty breakfast options and my favorite – Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk and ice. If you’re feeling fresh and ready for some outdoor activities, the staff will gladly inform you about the attractions, tours, and waterfalls in the city and the surrounding area – there are plenty of adventure opportunities. If, however, you feel too hungover, you can always stay in the hostel and play your own music, play pool, card games, or just chill with other backpackers.
We initially booked three nights at Dalat Family Hostel, but in the end we just couldn’t leave and ended up staying for six days. We tried to leave earlier, I swear, we really did! Even on our last day, we wanted to stay longer, but there was no more time and we had to move on and travel to Ho Chi Minh City. Before leaving, everyone was given a shirt with the hostel logo and Mama’s picture, and of course – plenty of warm family hugs. Love is truly in the air here, and you can feel it every second of every day. In fact, you should definitely check it out yourself and get your own portion of Mama Family Love!
Hoalu Eco Homestay (Ninh Binh Town)
Mang Nuoc Valley, Trang An Village, Truong Yen Commune, Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh
This place has a great location, surrounded by lush nature and limestone, just a short drive away from Ninh Binh town and even a shorter drive away from Trang An lake complex, where you can take a ride on a small boat and enjoy the splendid landscape.
Although it is a homestay, it works like a hostel, with different types of rooms: dorms, bungalows, and private rooms. There are no big parties here and it is more of a relaxing, chilled out place, where people come to enjoy the nature, fresh air, and some peace and quiet. If you are visiting Ninh Binh area, it is better to stay here than at one of the hostels in town, since travelers mostly come here to explore the nature, and there’s not much to do or see in the town itself.
Hoalu Eco Homestay is run by a local family who are very hospitable and willing to help with their advice on where to go and what to see. They also rent bicycles and motorbikes, which you can use to explore the area. And there’s plenty to see: Hoalu Ancient Capital, Trang An grottoes, Tam Coc, Mua Caves, temples and pagodas, and if you are willing to venture a bit further away, there is also the Cuc Phuong National Park.
For me this place was perfect to relax for a few days and do some writing before moving on with my travels. It’s a peaceful place where you can meet other backpackers and have your outdoor adventures with them, or just chill in the garden in the lounge or in a hammock, sipping on your beer. This homestay is also perfect for couples who want some private time, or for families traveling with children. Everyone is welcome here!
Vietnam Backpackers Hostels – Downtown (Hanoi)
9 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
If you’re looking for an insane party hostel, look no further – Downtown is the place to go! Located in the middle of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, it provides easy access to all the bars, clubs, cafes, and restaurants in the area, plus countless shopping and street food opportunities. Staying at Downtown puts you in the middle of Hanoi’s street spirit. It’s quite a big hostel, almost always fully booked, with comfy beds that come with lockers, and clean, reliable facilities.
The crew at this hostel is absolutely crazy – they will warm you up for an all-night-long party better than anyone else. Happy hour starts at 5 pm, and after that it’s all party party party, every night! Almost everyone staying at the hostel and looking for some fun times will start their night here, and the staff will make sure everyone’s having fun. Music, dancing, drinking games, free shots; you name it – they have it. The warm up usually lasts until 11 pm, followed by the pub crawl with loads of backpackers from all over the world. Vietnam Backpackers hostel chain has another hostel in Hanoi, called Original, which is a more chilled out place, and travelers staying at Original will eventually join the party at Downtown and the pub crawl. Be ready to return late at night and to spend the following day trying to recover from your heavy hangover. But don’t worry, Downtown’s kitchen has all the delicious comfort food you could wish for on your hangover day.
Vietnam Backpackers Hostels organize a free walking tour every morning around Hanoi’s Old Quarter, and this is a good way to get to know the city after you arrive and before you start exploring on your own. For those who have more time and can afford longer tours, these hostels organize wicked trips across all of Vietnam.
I went with them on a trip to Castaways Island in Halong Bay – a booze cruise that lasts 3 days and two nights. You stay in open air bungalows on a private island where you party every night with your fellow backpackers. The island’s beach is private and only the people from the hostel get to chill there. On the second day they take you on a boat cruise around Halong Bay with lots of beer and a traditional Vietnamese lunch included. On the boat you get to chill, eat, party, jump off the boat into the water, swim to tiny sandy beaches around the bay, and you even go kayaking. During your stay on the island, you can also join other fun activities, such as high-speed tubing, rock climbing, and wakeboarding.
If you are a party hard person, you definitely won’t regret staying at Downtown and experiencing Vietnam through their trips.
Sunflower Hotel (Hoi An)
397 Cua Dai Road, Downtown, Hoi An
I wrote about Sunflower Hotel a few months ago, when I first visited Hoi An. The fact that I stayed at the same place the second time around this summer speaks for itself.
Although called a hotel, Sunflower feels more like a hostel – it offers both private and dorm rooms, plus it’s cheap. Situated in the old part of Hoi An, it is close enough to all the major attractions and shopping options.
One of the highlights of this hostel is the free buffet breakfast – you can basically eat and drink as much as you like every morning! The hostel has a large outdoor bar area with a pool, where travelers hang out during the day and at night before heading out to town. Their kitchen serves nice food and organizes various happy hours and 2-for-1 drink options in the evenings. The tables in the outdoor bar are long and large, which makes it easy to meet and chat with new people while you’re eating or just chilling there.
Another great thing is that you can book buses and shuttles to your next destination at the reception, which makes traveling easier.
If you’d like to know more about my first experience at this place, you can read about Lunar New Year in Hoi An.
What about you?
After reading this list of my favorite hostels in Vietnam, I would love to know which one appeals to you the most and why. If you have already been to Vietnam, you could let me know which hostels were the best for you. I’m looking forward to your feedback!