Pre-trip Reading List for Travelers to Vietnam
Upfront: We haven’t purchased nor read ALL of these books.
However, I have done a decent amount of research into the best books about Vietnam by checking out the contents and doing a deep dive into the reviews.
I’ve tried to pull a fairly diverse collection, as I know you’re all different. Whether you like some of them or not will depend on your current belief system around the Vietnam War, which is always a controversial topic.
We would love it if you added your comments on the books we’ve chosen AND let us know what we should add to the lists (and why.)
Most of the recommendations have eBooks available, and some have an Audiobook version. Hence, you don’t have to carry the extra kilos, which can add up, especially if you want to read more than one.
Pro Tip: Did you know you can get a free month on Audible and Kindle Unlimited? Here are the links:
And finally, did you know the Audible and Kindle Unlimited perks are better if you join Amazon Prime first? You can also get a month-long free trial for Prime.
And if you are one of the rare people on the planet who don’t have an Amazon address – it’s free to join.
I also need to tell you that if you click on any of the buttons and buy from Amazon, we will receive a small commission – WITHOUT you paying any more. That’s what keeps the website running and us motivated to put in the time. You can read the full disclosure here.
READ THIS: For those of you using mobiles and tablets, the page is set up with a series of carousels that you can scroll from left to right. Hopefully, that’s obvious, but I just thought I’d mention it in case you don’t see the scroll option and think there’s only one book in each category.
Best Guide Books for Vietnam
These guidebooks are from the big publishers. I have a separate section for local guides below.
Lonely Planet Vietnam
Lonely Planet’s Vietnam is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip and what hidden discoveries await you.
Rough Guide Vietnam
A practical travel guide to Vietnam featuring detailed travel tips and points of interest, lists of all iconic must-see sights, and off-the-beaten-track treasures.
Vietnam Travel Guide
DK Eye Witness
Best Guide Books for Ho Chi Minh City
These guidebooks for Ho Chi Minh City come from a range of publishers and focus on different aspects of our favorite mega city.
Exploring Ho Chi Minh City
This book by historian Tim Doling will help you explore the elegant architectural heritage that once won the city the title “Pearl of the Orient.”
Ho Chi Minh City: Snapshot Edition
Best Guide Books for Street Food and Culture
These guidebooks Focus on the incredible street food and culture in Vietnam
Street Food Asia
Join Luke Nguyen on his latest adventure through the bustling and fragrant backstreets of Saigon, Jakarta, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur.
Vietnam Culture Smart
Have a more meaningful and successful time visiting Vietnam by better understanding the local culture and daily life.
This 2017 edition includes a detailed listing of foods and where to eat them, how to order, and how much to pay.
Secrets to Live in Vietnam on $500 a Month
Vietnam has warm weather, fast internet, cheap, modern apartments, great food, and a super-low cost of living. Live like a baller for very little money.
Dating Vietnamese Women
Vietnamese dating culture is complicated. This book is the complete guide to succeeding in it.
Best Vietnam War Books
I guess the word ‘best’ is highly subjective for this category and depends on which side you believe was in the right (or neither.) I’ve based these choices on the number of 5-star reviews and accolades. Some are personal stories, and others are journalistic investigations.
Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy. 1945-1975
An absorbing and definitive modern history of the Vietnam War from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Secret War.
The Pentagon Papers
The Pentagon Papers riveted an already deeply divided nation with startling and disturbing revelations about the United States’ involvement in Vietnam.
The Vietnam War: An Intimate History
A vivid, uniquely powerful history of the conflict that tore America apart – the companion volume to the major multipart PBS film to be aired in Sep 2017.
They Are All My Family
The suspenseful and moving tale of how John Riordan’s daring plan to save 106 Vietnamese during the 1975 fall of Saigon.
The Killing Zone: My Life in the Vietnam War
The story of Delta One-six Platoon-, what it meant to face lethal danger, follow orders, and search for the conviction & hope the war was worth it.
Best Vietnamese Cook Books
What better way to remember your adventure to Vietnam than to prepare delicious Vietnamese cuisine at home? Vietnamese food is my (Shazz) absolute favorite of all world food. These four books are just a small selection of what’s available on Amazon in the Vietnamese cookbook category.
Vietnamese Home Cooking
Award-winning chef Charles Phan from San Francisco’s Slanted Door restaurant introduces traditional Vietnamese cooking to home cooks.
Lemongrass, Ginger and Mint Vietnamese Cookbook
Your complete guide to preparing authentic Vietnamese street food at home and the unique place each dish holds in Vietnamese culture
Vietnamese Food Any Day
Delicious, fresh Vietnamese food is achievable any night of the week with this cookbook’s 80 accessible, easy recipes.
Eat Real Vietnamese Food
Eat Real Vietnamese Food features over ninety delicious, classical Vietnamese recipes. Free iPhone shopping list app with all recipe ingredients pre-loaded
Fiction – Stories Set In Vietnam
With its rich history and culture, exotic Vietnam makes the perfect setting for a gripping novel. the selection below contains but a few of the classics and newer best-sellers available on Amazon.
The Quiet American
Graham Greene’s classic exploration of love, innocence, and morality in Vietnam
The Mountains Sing
This “moving and riveting” book shares a layered, epic, multigenerational story of the Vietnam war and its aftermath.
Saigon: An Epic Novel of Vietnam
An epic saga of love, blood, political intrigue, and destiny in twentieth-century Vietnam.
Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
The New York Times bestselling “Powerhouse” (TIME Magazine) debuted from Vietnam War veteran Karl Marlantes.
Non-Fiction – Stories About Vietnam
I’m still working on this category. Let me know if you have any favorites I should add.
Hemingway and Ho Chi Minh in Paris
Two of the twentieth century’s most fascinating figures, Ernest Hemingway and Ho Chi Minh, came to Paris in the 1920s and learned the arts of resistance.
As we learn more, we’ll keep adding to this list of the best books about Vietnam. So feel free to check back again soon.
In the meantime, if you want to know more about the practicalities of visiting Vietnam, head to our Vietnam Destination page. There’s a bunch of practical information, plus links to other blog posts about Vietnam.
For more on Saigon, start on the Ho Chi Minh City Visitor Information page, which has the answers to many frequently asked questions.
We’ll add more destination-specific pages as we can.