Tucked away in the heart of South East Asia lies an enthralling country full of a rich culture, exquisite cuisine, friendly locals and exciting destinations. Vietnam is not only relatively inexpensive, it’s also one of the safest destinations to visit in Asia. Conversely, Vietnam can be difficult to navigate especially if it’s your first time. If you are planning to travel Vietnam, here are some great tips that will make your experience in Vietnam memorable.
Hire a Vietnam travel company
Vietnam has a lot to offer and you may not be able to see all the amazing destinations on your own. Hiring a travel company that provides Vietnam travel packages ensures that you’re not only getting the best deals in town, but that you’re also able to visit the secluded beautiful areas. Travel companies are also able to provide you with a tour guide who can advise you on what to bring in terms of clothing.
Have your Visa and passport in check
This may sound like common knowledge. Nonetheless, you’ll be surprised to know that there are tourists who get turned away at the airport for failing to print their visa on arrival or for some missing information. Before leaving, check to see that all the details are correct including where you’ll be accommodated while in Vietnam. When you get to Vietnam, you can photocopy these documents and leave the original things in a hotel safe.
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Change money at the airport
Vietnam uses dong as their currency. Notes are available in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 2000, 10000, 20000, 50000, 100000, 200000, 500000. If you’re carrying foreign currency, it’s best to change it at the airport. You may not get the best rates, but it’s one of the safest way to convert currency. There are some shops in the city that can change. Nonetheless, scammers may take advantage of the situation to con you.
Vietnam has some of the finest hotels in the region. Some buildings feature the French colonial heritage and are located in the heart of the old towns. You can also choose to stay in a family run guest house or a resort.
In Hanoi and Hoi An, you can choose to stay in a converted merchant house. There are different homestays in Tonkinese Alps and the Mekong Delta. There are tour companies that provide Vietnam packages with different hotels and accommodation options to choose from.
Be careful on the roads
If you’re visiting Vietnam for the first time, you may be overwhelmed due to the hundreds of motorcycles, busses and mopeds. Hanoi is known for overcrowded roads and it’s essential to take caution when crossing the roads. The sidewalks can also be dangerous as some mopeds use them as a shortcut. The best way to cross is by consistently walking once you’ve stepped out.
Always bargain when shopping
You may be used to fixed prices back at home. However, in Vietnam you can bargain when shopping. Some people tend to hike prices when they see a tourist. You can negotiate with them to ensure that you get local rates.
Getting around Vietnam
You can get around Vietnam in different ways. You can take domestic flights in between cities, train, taxis or even rickshaws. Traveling by local transport is an excellent idea as you get to experience the wonders and the authenticity of Vietnam.
Do not rely on ATMs while in Vietnam as they charge exorbitant fees. Carry cash and limit it to a certain amount each time you go out. You can get custom made suits or dresses in Hoi An. Saigon has some of the best martinis you’ll be glad you sampled them. For basic expenses you can carry $50 while a local beer could cost you $1.
Know the seasons
Another thing to note about Vietnam are the different seasons. North of Vietnam is usually rainy and chilly while the South in places like Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang are extremely warm with blazing sun. Hanoi on the other hand is very cold in the spring and winter. It’s therefore important to bring different set of attire to suit the different seasons.
Learn important words in Vietnamese
Knowing how to say hello and other friendly words in Vietnamese is crucial. These words will help you bargain for better deals and even interact with the locals. In some cases, you can better understand how to handle emergencies.
Bring any necessary medication
Although Vietnam has lots of chemists, some of the attendants may not understand English. It’s wise to bring your own medicine.
Sample the street menu
When you travel in Vietnam, you’ve got to sample their local cuisine. Most of the food is freshly cooked from readily available ingredients. The street food scene is vibrant and the food is safe to eat.
Pho rice noodles is the most famous dish that can be eaten at any time of the day., although it’s mostly eaten during breakfast as its more filling. Nonetheless, be careful to ensure that the place you’re eating from is clean.
Do not forget to taste the renowned Vietnamese Coffee. Served strong and with condensed milk, you’re guaranteed to enjoy rare coffee.
The Vietnamese are very conservative particularly in areas far from the main cities. When visiting temples, avoid short dresses or sleeveless tops. Ask for permission to take photos whenever possible. Do not leave chopsticks sticking up in a bowl of food as this signifies a powerful omen.
Tipping is accepted in Vietnam and more so for the service industry. You can tip the driver, guide or an agent who helps during your stay. These are some of the helpful tips that will ensure that your stay in Vietnam is fruitful. You can always save time and money by hiring a travel company that offers different tour packages.