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I will be travelling to Vietnam in around 9 months with my girlfriend and we are trying to figure out if we should book hotel rooms in advance or if it's a better idea to find accommodation when we arrive?

Here's a list of places we plan to visit:

  • Hanoi
  • Halong bay
  • Hoi an
  • Saigon – Ho Chi Minh City
  • Dalat
  • Phu quoc island

Given our itinerary would it be possible to just turn up and find places?

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    It’s probably always possible to find accommodation however short the notice is, but whether it can be found within your budget and preferred standard might be less certain depending on how flexible you’re willing to be, whether you’re travelling peak season etc. Another consideration would be how long you plan to stay in each location and how much of that time you’re willing to spend on searching for a place to stay. Your question might be too broad to answer in anything other than general terms. – Traveller Jan 5 at 12:52
  • It all depends on your budget, if you pre book you know what the expense will be but if you just show up you might get higher or lower cost based on occupancy for that specific time, I for one would always pre book so that I know whats my cost is before hand to avoid surprises – Matt Douhan Jan 5 at 18:14
  • And one very important thing, if your GF is Vietnamese the hotels are extremely strict that you have to be married in order to stay in the same room, it is illegal for any vietnamese non married girl to stay with a man in the same room, so in order to avoid problems it is always best to pre book and ensure you book for two and make it clear you are brining your wife – Matt Douhan Jan 6 at 2:06
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It is generally possible as there are a huge number of accommodations available. Unless you arrive during a really popular holiday, I would expect you to find some availability. Of course, it is impossible to say this with certainty. It will diminish your choices for sure though which will depend what you are looking for. The most desirable locations do get full though, particularly in less touristy cities that have a limited number of nice hotels.

The things to balance here are predictability, flexibility and cost. Reserving in advance guarantees your price in advance but if you book locally, you can often get a much cheaper rate than the same property online. I saw the average difference was around 50% by comparing with other travelers. One has to be really careful in Vietnam though because if you simply ask, there are people that charge double or triple on the account that you are not expected to know the real price. This is particularly true of transportation like Taxi and Motos.

If what you are looking for is to keep your itinerary flexible, then my recommendation is to book the few days of hotel at your arrival city ahead of time and then in Vietnam, while travelling, you book the next destinations as your schedule firms up. Booking via trusted locals can get you very good prices. This is often my strategy when there is time for flexibility. On the other hand, if your schedule is tight, book everything ahead and you won't waste time on location figuring how what is where and the fare price!

Keep in mind that taxis are very expensive in Vietnam and so if you need more of them because you saved a few dollars on a further hotel, then you will end up paying more.

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