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Vietnam Backpacker Hostels in the news

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VBH Guide to Vietnamese TET New Year & The Year of the Rooster…

2017 represents the Year of the Rooster according to the zodiac. rooster

To the Vietnamese, the Rooster is one of the most important animals that govern human life. It’s an essential protein for nourishment but is also often used as an offering for festivals, funerals or any occasion of worship. They are also the perfect alarm clock (although this depends on who you ask!). Roosters naturally coo every two hours in the night reminding people when to sleep and also when to wake up for work!

Personalities of those born in the Rooster year are said to be quite flamboyant, feisty and tenacious! Roosters tend to strut their stuff and are quite proud. They put great stock into their appearance and often surround themselves with beautiful people. With that said, Roosters are incredibly friendly and like meeting new people. They are also hardworking and trustworthy!

The Lunar New Year is almost upon us here in Vietnam. If you’re planning a visit in Vietnam during the New Year/TET, keep reading on for our guide on what TET is, traditions/customs and how it affects your travels.

What is TET?

Tet Nguyen Dan (Tet) is considered the biggest and most popular festival of the year in Vietnam. Celebrated on the first day of the first month in Lunar Calendar, it’s Vietnam’s longest holiday, lasting up to seven days. TET is the occasion for the Vietnamese to express their respect and remembrance for their ancestors while also welcoming the New Year with their beloved family members – think of it like a combination of Christmas & New Years! Also, the Vietnamese consider what they do on the dawn of TET will determine their fate for the whole year!

When is TET?

Vietnamese New Year occurs somewhere in the last ten days of January or the first twenty days of February, nearly halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox. This year TET falls on January 28th, with celebrations starting on January 26th and continuing until February 1st.

Vietnamese New Year Customs


  • Clean and decorate the home – It is a common belief that cleaning the house will get rid of the bad fortunes associated with the old year.
  • Getting new clothes – This is typically the most exciting part of celebrations for the children. Parents will often purchase clothes & shoes for their children prior to New Year, however the children should wait until the first day of the New Year to wear them.
  • Starting the New Year debt and argument free – The Vietnamese try to pay all their pending debts and resolve all the arguments among colleagues, friends or members of family.
  • Apricot and Peach flowers – Flower buds and blossoms are the symbols for new beginnings and a result these distinctive flowers are widely sold and purchased in the lead up and during TET.
  • Giving away red envelopes (filled with lucky money!) – A cultural practice that has been maintained for generations, these red envelopes symbolise luck and wealth.

IMG_9753 IMG_9786 IMG_9884


Special Foods

Some local foods that are eaten during TET include traditional food such as Red sticky rice (Xôi Gấc), Vietnamese Sauage (giò chả), Square Cake, (Banh Chung/ Banh Tet).

gio-cha-quoc-huong (2) amitysmiletravel-banhchung

How this affects you?

Prices do increase due to TET and surcharges may be added on top of the original prices. You should work out your travel plans carefully and apply for visas as soon as possible to avoid the unnecessary delay of flights, bus or train travel. Vietnamese embassies, visa-issuing authorities, consultants and immigration offices will be closed from January 25th to February 2nd.

Places to avoid during TET

Even though it would be tempting to go to say the Perfume Pagoda, a famous Buddhist shrine in Vietnam, these kinds of places can become extremely busy and travel can be a complete nightmare.

It’s also very important to note that some restaurants, museums, art galleries, and everything else in between will be closed during Tet, so it can be a difficult time of year to do anything. Stock up whenever you can, go with the flow and enjoy the atmosphere!

Chúc mừng năm mới/Happy New Year from all the crew at VBH 🙂

Tet Flyer_for facebook

A Fun Stay At Vietnam Backpacker Hostel: The Downtown Hostel (Hanoi)

Written by Huong on Jul 13, 2016

The experience of backpacking through Southeast Asia would not be fulfilling without spending a night at a backpackers’ hostel. Among all the experiences I have had so far in Southeast Asia, one of the best was in Vietnam at the Downtown Hostel – a branch of Vietnam Backpacker Hostel in Hanoi. It was fun, memorable and safe to spend the night there, and I would definitely recommend the place to any backpacker planning to visit the city. Here are the reasons why…


Castaways Island: Living the Dream in Vietnam’s Halong Bay

By Kirstie Jeffries May 5, 2016

Castaways, Castaways, where to begin? I write this several days after returning, still trying to digest it all…and still trying to get the sand out of my hair. For backpackers in Vietnam, Vietnam Backpacker Hostels’ Castaways Island trip to Halong Bay is legendary. You’ll be hard-pressed to meet a young traveler who hasn’t been on the trip or at least hasn’t considered it. And, as I found out this week, there’s good reason for that.


Castaways Island sunset, Halong Bay, Vietnam
Sunset in paradise

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Backpacker Advice Blog: My Top 10 Backpacking Experiences

From Backpacker Advice, post by Craig, 26 from England.

Ha Long Bay was number one on my to do list before I went to Vietnam. I had seen it so many times on TV and in books and always knew I had to visit one day.

Castaway Island, Ha Long Bay


Written by Gradlife on September 16, 2015

Half way through the vomit-inducing bus ride to Sapa, I wake to scenery that gives me actual goosebumps. Speeding along the winding roads, our little bus is dwarfed by a range of intimidating mountains that hardly appear real, seemingly springing up from the flatland of field and farm whilst I slept.

Take flight tonight Blog: Halong Bay Stole My Heart!

From Take Flight Tonight, August 16, 2015 by Marie Worsley

Turning up in a new, unknown city is always exciting and nerve wracking – especially when you have no idea where you will be sleeping that night. Stepping off the bus in Hoi An, I felt exactly that, intensified by the hoards of promoters screaming at you to stay in their hotel. I found myself a small group and stuck with them – purely for strength in numbers. Little did I know, this lovely bunch would adopt me as one of their own travel buddies for the next two weeks.


Written by  Posted on June 17, 2015

Vietnam is a crazy place. Between the traffic and the bustling city populations, just strolling down the street can be an insane experience. However, you can take it to the next level by having some crazy adventures on your next visit to Vietnam.


From Live More Travel More, public on 

While in Hanoi (Vietnam) I stayed at Hanoi Backpackers Hostel in Downtown, they organize 2 and 3 days tours to Halong Bay. I booked it directly with the hostel, which I think it is a great idea especially because you can already start making friends at the hostel.



Public on  · 

We had been advised that we should 100% stay at Vietnam Downtown Backpackers Hostel Hanoi.  So we spent ALOT of time trying to find this place, but oh my god it was worth it! After roaming the old quarter of Hanoi, which consists of hundreds of parallel streets of very similar shops, we checked into our double bed in a 12 bed dorm.





From Around the world with Justin, MAY 5  2015

Vietnam - Halong Bay - Around the World with Justin

Around the World with Justin
What do you get when you mix a natural wonder of the world and a booze cruise? My trip to Halong Bay, Vietnam! If you’re looking to make new friends from all over the world while partying on a boat surrounded by gorgeous limestone islands – this is the trip for you!

Where To Explore by 24: Halong Bay BUFFALO!

From Where To Explore by 24, public on 12 April 2015

Trover: Halong Bay

From Jimmy Tan, public on February 2015 

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam - This is Castaways Island at Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Spending a night in this island is the best part of our tour in Vietnam. Kayaking, wakeboarding, rock climbing, and a booze cruise awaits every traveller in this island. You may book the "Castaways tour" at Hanoi Backpackers Hostel - Downtown.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

This is Castaways Island at Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Spending a night in this island is the best part of our tour in Vietnam.




From Dream Depart Discover, on JANUARY 27 by Aaron Bishop


The Ha Long Bay Castaways Tour, put simply, is a 3-day booze cruise around one of the most incredible UNESCO natural wonders of the world. It offers young backpackers (mostly), the opportunity to enjoy the remarkable Vietnamese limestone islands, while partying pretty hard.

NOMADASAURUS: Halong Bay – Images From A Wonder Of The World

From NOMADASAURUS blog,  by 

Fishing Village Halong Bay Vietnam Wonder Of The World

Vietnam’s Most Spectacular Archipelago

Halong Bay in Northern Vietnam is synonymous with natural beauty. A simple uttering of the famous name will instantly conjure up images of striking limestone monoliths, floating fishing villages and traditional junk boats cruising amongst the Karst landscape.

Live, Travel, Teach: Castaway on an island in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Castaway on an island in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam – Day 1

Ha Long Bay is a New World Wonders and should be a stop for anyone visiting Vietnam.  After polling other travelers and hostel staff I decided to go with a 3D2N excursion called Castaways; it was slightly more expensive than the other options but I already knew a handful of the people signed up and it turned out to be a great choice!

Ha Long Bay - Castaway


Castaway on an island in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam – Day 2

Waking up on Castaway’s boat in Ha Long Bay and walking to the sundeck for a relaxing morning would have been fantastic.  It was cloudy and we had to transfer to a smaller boat soon after breakfast and hustled across the side to the other vessel.  A few hours on these choppy seas caused the worst hangovers to grow exponentially worse.  Luckily that wasn’t me.







Mollysgapyear Blog: Castaway in Halong Bay

From Mollysgapyear Blog, Posted on

For my last hurrah in Vietnam, I decided to go on the notorious 3-day Castaway trip to Halong Bay organised by Hanoi Backpackers Hostel. By the time I reached the capital I had met so many people who’d sung its praises that I decided I had to go, even if it was outrageously expensive and famous for being a hardcore booze cruise.

Travel Fish: Review on Hanoi Backpackers Hostel Ma May

From,  Added to Travelfish on: 1st October, 2012
Last updated on: 10th March, 2014

What we say: 4.5 stars

It’s impossible to miss the most recent addition to the Hanoi Backpackers’ Hostel stable, with its seven-storey, eight-metre wide frontage slap-bang in the middle of the most tourist-orientated area of Old Quarter.

Certainly not subtle




Off Exploring: Castaways Island, Vietnam

From Off Exploring on Jan 2, 2014

Got off the big boat and onto a ferry for a two hour trip to the Hostel’s private island in Halong Bay called Castaways Island. Amazing place with rock climbing, which Soph did, high speed tubing, which I did, and a heap of other stuff to do.

My Trip Journal: Halong Bay & Castaway Island

From My Trip Journal, public on Dec 6, 2013

Where to even start on this!! I signed up for two night/three day “party cruise” on Halong Bay. Its about a four hour drive from Hanoi to the harbor and the whole time I was terrified that I was way too mature for this. Turns out that I was not… at all!! So here’s some PG-13 anticdotes from my booze cruise.


The Elephant Never Forgets Blog: Hanoi and Halong Bay (Castaway Tour)

From The Elephant Never Forgets Blog, Wednesday, 3 July 2013  

Finally we arrived in Hanoi around 11pm after a 28 hour bus journey.

*If travelling around Asia has taught me one thing, it is that I need to appreciate the short distances that we travel place to place in the UK. So I have told myself that as soon as I get home I’m going to make a executive decision to visit more places.


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Because a Backpackers' Hostel should be MORE THAN JUST A BED! It should be a place where you feel safe, comfortable, relaxed and meet great people both that work there and fellow travellers. After all it's the people you meet a long the way that make the places special. The Hostels

A magic sunset on an awesome Ha Long Bay and Castaways Island tour. The people maketh the good times!
Ha Long Bay and Castaways Island Tour
OUR NEW AWESOME MAI CHAU TOUR & HOMESTAY STARTS TODAY!!! Wishing our first guests a great trip!
Crazy fun in Ha Long Bay!!!!! — at Halong Bay, Vietnam.

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Never a dull moment @ HBH!!!
The Buffalo Run
The Buffalo Run
This photo was taken in the World's Largest Dry Cave. The same area is home to the Worlds Largest Cave, Son Doong Cave.