Vietnam Travel Tips
Vietnam Travel Tips, Useful Tips for Vietnam Travel by Go Asia Travel
Some useful tips before taking tours in Vietnam:
1. Air access to Vietnam
This is the most convenient way to enter Vietnam. Formalities at Vietnam’s international airports are generally smoother than at land borders, as volume of traffic is greater.
Network of Airports in Vietnam
• For both International and Domestic flights: Noi Bai (35km northwest of Hanoi), Tan Son Nhat (in Ho Chi Minh City), Danang (in Danang city).
• For Domestic flights only (North to South): Muong Thanh (in Dien Bien), Son La (in Son La), Cat Bi (in Hai Phong), Vinh (in Nghe An), Phu Bai (in Hue), Pleiku (in Pleiku), Buon Ma Thuot (in Buon Ma Thuot), Cam Ranh (in Nha Trang), Dalat (in Dalat), Can Tho (in Can Tho) and Phu Quoc (in Phu Quoc island).
For international flights
Cities having direct flights to Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat airport includes: Bangkok, Beijing, Franfurt, Fukuoka, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Kuala Lumpur, Kunming, Manila, Melbourne, Moscow, Osaka, Paris, Phnom Penh, Pusan, Seoul, Siem Reap, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo, Vientiane.
If entering through Danang airport, you can only fly from Bangkok.
If there’s no direct flight to Vietnam, the best way is taking a flight to Bangkok or Hong Kong and gets a connecting flight on arrival. You can either stay there several days for leisure (recommended for shopping) before flight to Vietnam. As they are two greatest hubs of Southeast Asia (many flights daily), you can depart at flexible time and have significant savings on ticket prices.
2. Business hours in Vietnam (GMT +7)
A normal working day in Vietnam starts from 7am to 8.3am and finish between 4pm to 6pm, from Monday to Friday and until noon on Saturday, leave the afternoon (most) and Sunday off.
Lunch is taken very seriously and virtually. Everything shuts down between noon and 1.3pm. Government workers tend to take longer breaks, so figure on getting nothing done between 11.3am and 2pm.
Post offices keep longer, from 6.3am to 9pm.
Banks open from 8am to 4pm and Saturday’s morning.
Museums also open in the weekend for visitors but close on Monday.
Temples and pagodas open every day, from around 5am to 9pm.
Markets open at 7am and close at 5pm, except Night market (from Hang Dao Str. to Dong Xuan market – walking streets, in the evening of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 8pm to 3am)
Super-markets (mini-marts) open from 8am to 8pm or 9pm.
Most private shops, restaurants and street stalls stay open seven days a week, often until late at night.
Bars and night clubs generally open in the afternoon and to midnight (official closing time) but always till 1pm or 2pm (most)
3. Climate and weather of Vietnam
The climate of Vietnam varies considerably from region to region. Although the entire country lies in the tropics and subtropics, local condition varies from frosty winters in the far northern hill to year-round, subequatorial warmth in the Mekong Delta.
Vietnam’s weather is indicated by two monsoons. The winter monsoon comes from the northeast between October and March, bringing wet cold winter to all areas north of Nha Trang, and dry and warm temperatures to the south. From April or May to October, the southwestern monsoon bring warm, humid weather to the whole country except for those areas sheltered by mountains.
* For the best balance, try the months of April, May or October;
* For those sticking to the south, November to February is dry and a touch cooler;
* From July to November, violent and unpredictable typhoons hit central and northern Vietnam.
It gets pretty crowded from November to March and in June and August. Prices tend to peak over the Christmas and New Year period, but if you don’t fancy sharing the sites with the masses, try to avoid these busy times.
Some travellers like to time a visit with Tet (Vietnamese New Year), which is the biggest festival in the calendar in late January or early February. A nice idea but not ideal, as the whole country is on the move.
4. Vietnamese currency - Vietnam Dong (VND)
The currency of Vietnam is "Dong" (abbreviated "d" or VND). Bank notes are: 1d , 2d and 5d (too small value - rarely used); 1,d; 2,d; 5,d; 1,d, 2,d, 5,d and 1,d (each has two versions - cotton and polymer), 2,d and 5,d. Coins have recently come into circulation but not widely been accepted due to inconvenience, including: 2d; 5d; 1,d; 2,d and 5,d. Their photos are as below.
US dollar is widely accepted while most major currencies can be exchanged at leading banks in Vietnam (Vietcombank, ANZ, ACB, VIB Bank…) or some hotels and jewelry shops. The official rate of exchange is approximately VND15,5 to US$1. With the relatively low value of Dong, you are recommended to carry US dollar in small notes; it will help you to change easily.
ATMs can be a choice as it’s very popular in most of tourist destinations now. Vietcombank (VCB) has the best network in the country. Withdrawals are issued in Dong (5,d and 1,d only). There is a limit of 2,,d (about US$125) for each withdrawal and a daily limit of 2,,d. Fee is 5,d (US$3) each time.
Visa, MasterCard and JCB cards are widely accepted. Some merchants also accept Amex. A 4%-commission charge on every transaction (3% for other cards) is pretty common, due to bank’s policy. Getting cash in advance from cards is possible at Vietcombank and some foreign banks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Travellers Cheques are accepted at most of hotels, restaurants but in major cities. If you only have travellers cheques, stock up on US dollars at a bank, which usually charge anywhere from 1.25% to 3% commission to change them into cash. VCB charges no commission to changing travellers cheques for Dong. If your travellers cheques are in currencies other than US dollars, they may be useless beyond the major cities. Hefty commissions are the norm it they can be exchanged at all.
5. Vietnam custom regulations
Arriving in Vietnam, all visitors must fill in declaration forms and show their luggage to Customs Officials upon request. There are no limited amounts of foreign currency, objects made of gold, silver, precious metals and gemstones or plated with silver or gold but visitors must declare these in detail on the customs forms.
Luggage of Prohibited and Restricted carriage
* Following materials are prohibited accompanying baggage: corrosive, gas, explosive, toxic, oxygen, radioactive, flammable...
* Following materials are not permitted accompanying baggage: knife, scissors, gun, cartridge, wheelchair with battery;
* Passenger should not put money, jewel, document, important samples... in your baggage. Baggage should be covered and locked carefully;
* Passenger should not put breakable materials such as china, electronic, bottle, jar... inside your baggage;
* Following goods are prohibited carrying in flight: fish sauce, durian...
* Tourists are authorized to bring in the following items duty-free: Cigarettes: 4 pieces; Cigars: 5-1; Tobacco: 1 gram; Liquor: 1.5l.
* Personal effects of a reasonable quantity
* Small gift items valued at not more than US$5.
You are expected to declare:
* Cameras, camcorders and other electric equipments not for personal use
Jewelry not for personal use;
* Currency over US$7, (There is no limit to the amounts of cash, precious metals and gems people can bring in, but amounts of over US$7, must be declared);
* Video tapes (they may be kept few days and screened).
* Goods of commercial nature and articles of high value require export permits issued by the Customs Office.
* Antiques, some precious stones and animals listed in Vietnam's red-book may not be brought out of the country.
* Money: below US$3, of cash.
6. Advice for disable travellers
Vietnam is not the easiest of places for disable travellers. Typical problems include the crazy traffic, a lack of pedestrian footpaths, a lack of lifts in smaller hotels and the ubiquitous squat toilets.
You should find a reliable tour company to make travel arrangements and don’t be afraid to double-check things with hotels and restaurants yourself. In the major cities, many three to five-star hotels (two-star one in some case) have lifts and disable access is improving. Bus and train travel is not really geared up for disable travellers, but a private vehicle with a driver can let you go almost anywhere.
Remember that anything is possible. Vietnamese are always willing to help you.
You might try contacting the following organizations:
* Mobility International USA
Tel: 54-1343 1284
* Royal Association for Disability & Rehabilitation (RADAR)
Tel: 2-725 3222
* Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH)
Tel: 212-447 7248
7. Electricity in Vietnam
The usual voltage is between 22V and 24V, 5 cycles; but sometimes you encounter 11V, also at 5 cycles, just to confuse things.
Two-pin (ungrounded) plug is more popular than three-pin one. If you have any devices needing a special outlet, please bring its adapter kit. The best investment is a universal AC adapter, which will enable you to plug it in anywhere without frying the innards.
8. Vietnamese typical food and drinks - Vietnamese Noodle
Eating in Vietnam ranges from cheap noodle soups on the street for about 25 cents to a banquet in one of the luxury hotels. Vietnamese restaurants offer a broad selection of international fare including French, Italian, American, Indian, Chinese and Japanese.
The most typical Vietnamese food is Pho, the noodle soup with meat in it. It is very cheap at around 1,d per bowl and usually well spiced. The main types are: Pho Bo with beef, Pho Bo Tai with rare beef fillets and Pho Ga with chicken. Com – steamed white rice is eaten for lunch and dinner. Nuoc Mam is the fermented fish sauce used to spice absolutely everything in Vietnam.
Seasonal fruits such as dragon fruit, rambutans and longans, fresh vegetables and local seafood are widely available, although supply can vary by region and season. All fruits and vegetables should be cooked or peeled before eaten.
Drinking water or ice is generally not recommended, even in the cities. Bottled water is cheap and readily available, so we recommend you don't take the risk.
bia hoi bar Vietnam is a beer culture and Hanoi is the “bia hoi” capital of Vietnam. Bia hoi (draught beer) is one of things you should not be missed. It’s the most popular beverage throughout the country and the cheapest beer in the world, 2,d a glass. For the higher quality, there are plenty of local as well as imported brands, such as 333, Carlsberg, Hanoi, Tiger, Saigon, LaRue, San Miguel and Heineken.
Beside beer, Vietnam is also a place to enjoy tea (Thai Nguyen tea or “Thai tea”), coffee (“Trung Nguyen coffee”) or something heavier, wine (“Nep Moi” – the Vietnamese whisky).
TIP: Tram phan tram! and Zho zho!
Remember these words well as all over Vietnam, glasses of beer or wine are raised and emptied, cries of “1%” or “bottoms up” and “cheers!” echo around the table.
9. Advice for gay and lesbian travellers
Vietnam is splashed with color, from verdant rice fields, hot pink lanterns and day-glo boutiques, to the increasing visibility of gays and lesbians adding their own special hues to Vietnam’s rainbow.
Vietnam is a place to have fun, but also a place to use your common sense since the gay world here is still largely in the shadows and, as a result, some prey on the vulnerability of gay tourists. Nevertheless, no one should miss a chance to encounter the amazingly friendly Vietnamese, to learn about their rich culture and enjoy their warm hospitality!
There have never been official laws against homosexual activity in Vietnam. However, in May, 22, state-run media labeled declared that homosexuality was a "social evil" on par with drug use and prostitution and proposed laws to allow the arrest of gay couples. Police raided a gay sauna in Saigon in November, 22, and arrested and harassed law-abiding adults there, requiring them to take re-education classes even though they had not broken any laws.
A report by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs said the number of gay couples is on the rise, though it offered no statistics. The government reported that homosexuals have infiltrated the tourism, restaurant and karaoke bar industries and that their "eccentric behavior" went hand in hand with prostitution, drug use and HIV/AIDS. However, hopeful signs are emerging as well: the Communist Youth Newspaper carried a story in November 22 about homosexuality that stated "some people are born gay, just as some people are born left-handed".
Shamefully, authorities turn a blind eye to real crimes that target gay men and visitors such as organized rip-offs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Homosexuality is not a crime, but blackmail is, so do contact the police if you are being threatened by a scam artist.
1. Vietnam travel insurance
Don’t travel without health insurance, even if you’re fit and healthy – accidents do happen.
Find out your insurance plan, declare any existing medical conditions you have to make clear which will cover you. You may require extra cover for adventure activities such as rock climbing. Check their payment plan (e.g.: directly to providers or reimburse you after you pay on the spot). It may decide which medical-expense option you have to pay, as well as documentation, policies required.
If you travel through a local agent, they normally supply insurance services of Bao Viet or Bao Minh (state-owned companies), with the highest assessment of US$1,. Fee is about US$1,5 per day.
11. Can you list me some popular tours in Vietnam provided by Go Asia Travel?
Halong Bay Cruise Alova, Sapa Trekking Tours, Hanoi Day Tour, Hoa Lu Tam Coc Tour, Mai Chau Village Tours, Hue City Tours, Hoi An Ancient Town Tours, Nha Trang Beach Tours, Phu Quoc Island Tours, Mui Ne Beach Tours, Dalat Honeymoon Tour, Dalat Golf Tours, Phong Nha Cave discovery, Adventure tour to Highland Vietnam.
12. Tip for travel vietnam with kids / children
When you travel in Vietnam with Goasia Travel, we will always take care for your children. We are fully aware that the quality of your holiday is heavily contingent upon your children enjoying themselves. We hope to minimize your worries and concerns. There are some mentions for you when you traveling in Vietnam with your kids:
What should you bring for your children :
You can pack light because you can basically buy anything from supermarkets and department stores in Vietnam. However, it also depends on where you will be traveling and whether your children are used to any particular brands or goods.
If you are traveling in cities, especially big ones like Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City where there is a significant population of experts, you can easily find western brands in upscale supermarkets. But if you will be traveling to the countryside, then it’s best to stock up the necessities in the city to bring along with you. Below is a packing list for your reference.
1. Favorite toys, books and snacks: They will keep the children amused and soothe their anxiety.
2. Medical kit: It’s best to pack a few precautionary items for small discomforts, just in case. On the list are medicine for headache, upset stomach, nausea and allergies, band aids and insect repellants.
3. Infant formula: You can find them in supermarkets. But if you are a nervous parent or your child has any special needs, please bring some from your own country.
4. Feeding bottles and diapers: You can find them in supermarkets. But if your child is used to any particular brands or has allergies, it’s best to stick to their usual ones.
5. Comfortable clothes, pajamas, socks and shoes: Layers of clothes would be practical for putting on and off as the weather changes.
6. Disinfectant gel or cream: Sometimes they are available in expensive supermarkets, but it is more convenient to pack a few bottles from home.
7. Sun creams, hats and raincoats.
8. Take a sling if you are traveling with a small baby so that your hands are free. For toddlers, take a fold-up stroller.
9. A copy of medical record of your child: In case the child falls sick and needs to be sent to hospital, information on his/her past medical record can help with better diagnosis and treatment.
Notice about Medication and Hygiene
Traveling in Vietnam is safe and clean. The chances of picking up some horrible diseases are slim here. However, there are still some issues you need to know.
1. Consult your doctor before embarking on the trip. Check and discuss the trip with your doctor to make sure that your children are in good shape and fit to travel.
2. No vaccinations are required for a trip to Vietnam. However, you should always updating the new from WHO before traveling in anywhere.
3. Pack a medical kit in case of small discomforts. On the list are medicine for headache, upset stomach and allergies, band aids and insect repellants. Also, bring along a copy of your child’s medical record. In case the child falls sick and needs to be sent to hospital, information on his/her past medical record can help with better diagnosis and treatment.
4. Keep hands clean. Bring along disinfectant gel and wet wipes (Wet wipes are readily available in Vietnam), and wash your hands very often. This is your first defense against germs.
Notice for your children on transport:
1. Prevent travel sickness. Some children get travel sickness at some time of the transport. Please don’t let your children keep their stomach empty or eat fatty foods before leaving, try to help them access to fresh air during transport and encourage them to think about other things to engage their attention. If they get travel sickness, give them medicine under doctor’s advice.
2. Dress your children lightly for air travel. You can get blankets from flight attendants. Layers of clothes are practical for putting on and off.
3. Help your kids with seat belts. An infant should be carried in your arms or fixed on a special seating. Do not let your children wander around while on transit.
4. Keep the children quiet. You can make them sleep, let them play with their favorite toys, read some books or eat some snacks as you see fit.
1. Contact your travel advisor or the hotel in advance, and discuss about the special cares your children need, such as an extra bed or crib.
2. Familiarize your children with hotel facilities and emergency procedures. Put away any dangerous items that may harm your children.
3. To prevent from wetting the bed, don’t let your children drink too much water before going to bed.
Mentioned about the foods and drinks :
1. Never drink tap water. You can use a water heater to get boiled water, or buy bottled water or mineral water from supermarkets. Recommended brands are Lavie, Aquafina, Joy, Vinh Hao…. There are also some imported foreign brands of bottled water available in upscale supermarkets.
2. If your children have allergies to certain foods or condiments, tell with GO ASIA TRAVEL or the restaurants in advance.
3. Don't let your children eat food purchased from street vendors.
4. There are KFC, LOTTERIA, BBQ CHICKEN in almost every city, and the tastes will be very familiar with the kids if they grow tired of Vietnamese meals.
For Children safety
1. Never let your children go anywhere alone, especially at scenic spots or crowded streets.
2. Let your children carry a note in case they do get separated from you or get lost. The note should have on it your name, phone number, your hotel's name, address and phone number, GO ASIA TRAVEL tour guide’s name and phone number.
3. When you need to cross the road, hold your children's hand. Always check both ways.
Pack for Daily Excursions :
The following list may give you some reference on what to pack for daily excursions in Vietnam. Zipper bags are very useful. You can put dirty clothes and wet washcloths in them.
1. Disinfectant gel.
2. Diapers, changing pads and feeding bottle (for infants)
3. Wet wipes
4. A spare shirt
6. Sunscreen, Umbrella, Insect repellent and Band-Aids