Just like any other country in the world, it is crucial to have a little research under your belt before traveling there, which means you are prepared for anything – or most things at least, that may come your way. One of the best ways to get to know a country is by getting in touch with a local ‘Destination Expert,’ who will be on hand to give you all the tips, tricks, and essential travel advice that will make or break your trip.
In the meantime, here are some of the main things to know when it comes to traveling in Vietnam.
Vietnam has a lot to offer the traveler, and things can go incredibly smoothly if you have done a little extra research before traveling there. Some of the things that can determine if your trip will fulfill your expectations can be your budget, visas, getting around the country, local dos and don’ts, and safety. So let us tell you a little about the main things you need to know about Vietnam to help you get the ball rolling for an unforgettable trip.
One of the main things that can considerably impact your trip is your visa or lack thereof, so it is imperative to sort this out before you arrive in Vietnam. Unlike some neighboring countries, there is a process to getting a Vietnam visa, which can be done before you arrive and will last up to three months for most passport holders, although it will last up to 1 year for US Passport holders only.
If you want to, you can get the visa on arrival once you have submitted a visa application form online and have a visa approval letter to show at the border, so it depends on how you would instead do this.
Another factor that can significantly impact your trip is the weather, of course, and Vietnam is no exemption to a diverse climate, so depending on the activities you plan to do and the regions you plan to visit, make sure that they coincide, to give you the best out of your adventure.
Overall, the best time to travel to Vietnam is between December and April. Still, it depends on the area, of course, as the north is very cold in December and January, but elsewhere the temperature is quite pleasant, and there is not much rain. Therefore, it is crucial to check each region’s weather before traveling there to avoid unplanned situations.
This is a good source for Vietnam weather.
Vietnam is renowned for being a very affordable country to travel to, and you will undoubtedly get the best bang for your buck in this country. However, it is worth knowing that haggling is part of the culture, just like in other parts of South East Asia, so be sure to shop around and get haggling.
Haggling in Vietnamese is a great way to get the right price, especially if the vendor thinks you live there, so perhaps pick up a few phrases to use at the local shops and markets.
Considering the price of a meal in Vietnam can be as low as $1.50-$2.50, a glass of beer on Hanoi’s famous beer corner (the cheapest in the world) costs 0.50c and accommodation at a simple hotel can cost $10-$16 (with hostels and guesthouses costing even less), it is safe to say that you will get along quite nicely on $25-$30 per day. But of course, you can spend less or more as you like. The currency in Vietnam is Dong, and as of February 2022, $1 was equal to 22,645VND. It is always good to carry cash, especially since this is a developing country and some regions will not accept credit cards. You will also need some money for markets, some accommodation and to tip taxi drivers or tour guides.
In terms of tipping, it is not expected in Vietnam’s culture, even for taxis or at restaurants, but it is up to you if you feel you want to tip at a restaurant (5-10%) or to your tour guide ($2-$3).
Food in Vietnam is fresh, tasty, cheap, and so healthy, so no matter what your dietary requirements are, you will find what you need all over the country. Due to the cuisine mainly consisting of rice noodles and vegetables, most meals are meager in sugar and are gluten-free. However, if you are a vegetarian, be aware that fish sauce is used in almost everything in Vietnam, so check beforehand if you are strict. When it comes to food markets, it is worth noting that if you are sensitive to seeing dead carcasses (including dogs, which is a big thing in Vietnam), maybe it is best to steer clear of these parts of the market can be very daunting.
Vietnam has an array of street food and various classes of restaurants, so your choices are endless here, and because Vietnam is world-famous for exceptional coffee, this is something you must try at least once on your trip. Coffee is produced in the central highlands in Vietnam and is an essential factor for economic stability and eliminating poverty in such an emerging country. If you have the chance try and visit a coffee plantation or do a local tour to learn more and contribute to the locals and the economy.
If food is your go-to subject when traveling, this Culinary in Vietnam tour is for you.
Renting a motorbike in Vietnam is cheap and easy, considering you have the appropriate motorbike license, and it is one of the best ways to get around the country, both on and off the beaten track. However, in the cities such as Hanoi and especially Ho Chi Minh, which is famous for its crazy traffic, it is essential to be cautious when driving. It is worth knowing that foreigners must have an international driver’s permit to drive a motorbike in Vietnam. It is generally only accepted by EU countries that have signed the 1968 convention. Still, unfortunately not in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada, so be aware of this before renting or buying a motorbike.
If motorbike riding is not for you, you will be happy to know that many buses, especially overnight buses, take you between many of the top coastal spots and are a great way to save time. In addition, many daily trains are going between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, which is a great way to see the beautiful coastline of the country, and as well as this, there will be times when boat transport will be necessary for areas such as Ha Long Bay and the Mekong Delta.
Vietnamese people will generally be quite forward when asking questions, so don’t be offended if you are asked about your marital status, etc. You must always take your shoes off when entering temples, certain hotels or shops, and basically wherever you see shoes at the door, so be respectful of the culture and follow suit. The Vietnamese greatly respect their elders, value modesty, and don’t generally talk about money or wealth as an open topic, so it is good to know this and do the same.
When eating, it is offensive to leave any food on the plate, pick your teeth at the table, or eat before the oldest person has started eating first. Other tips include not acting overconfident, not standing with your hands on your hips, criticizing people, or being romantic in public. Treat this as a very respectful and humble country with many deep-rooted traditions, and you will get along just fine.
Vietnam is a very safe country for people to travel, even solo or first-time travelers, but as always, petty theft and pickpocketing can happen anywhere, so be vigilant as you would anywhere else. In big cities, keep valuables hidden, backpacks close to you, and avoid flaunting money in public. On overnight buses, it is essential to either lock your bag to the seat, keep it close to you, and keep any valuables hidden, as it can be hard to watch your things when you are sleeping.