Travelling to Vietnam: Tips, Advice, and Useful Information
Preparing for the trip
Getting a visa: Visa is not required for most Asian countries, and for tourists coming from Norway, Denmark, Finland, Korea, Sweden, and Japan. If you’re not holding a passport issued in any of these countries, you can apply directly to the Vietnam Immigration office in your country or through an air ticket agent. To apply for visa, two passport-size photos and a passport with six-month validity are required.
Best time to travel: Although you can go to Vietnam anytime of the year, the best time to travel is from December to May.
Vaccines: For travellers coming from Africa, a vaccination for yellow fever is required. Getting vaccine for hepatitis A and B, tetanus, and Japanese encephalitis are highly recommended.
Medication: Imported pharmaceutical drugs can be bought from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. However, it is still recommended to bring a small supply of medicine for eye infections, diarrhea, fungal infections, dysentery, and common cold.
What to bring: Aside from visa and passport, you’ll need a universal plug adaptor, sunglasses, thick sweater if your visiting the northern part between December – February, walking shoes, torch, insect repellent, and rain mac.
Credit cards: Although credit cards are becoming widely accepted, there are still a lot of smaller shops, restaurants, and hotels that do not accept them. If they do, they usually charge 4% commission. There are several ATMs in Vietnam where you can withdraw cash.
Local currency : is Vietnamese Dong but several shops and restaurants quote prices in US dollars. Exchange rate range from 19,000VND to 25,450 VND. The local currency circulates in bank notes of 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 50,000, 200,000, and 500,000 denominations. Keep in mind that some notes are very similar when it comes to colors and sizes.
Language: The official language is Vietnamese but most people speak and understand English particularly the drivers and guides that you hire from travel agencies. Books and menus are also available in English. Other people speak French as Vietnam used to be a French colony.
Telephone calls and Internet
You should be able to use your cellular phone to call back home without any problem however, rates will depend on your provider. To save, we recommend using a telephone box using international phone card. As for the Internet access, you shouldn’t have any problem as well. Most hotels offer free Internet access and several Internet cafes can be found in major cities.
Food: Major hotels and restaurants in larger cities serve French, American, and Asian dishes. However, it is highly recommended to experience Vietnamese food. The most recommended and the most famous is their daily staple broth called “Pho.” You should also try the famous Vietnamese fried egg rolls (Nem) and the Elephant Ear Fish.
The people. Vietnamese people are inherently accommodating, warm, and inviting. If you’re lost, ask these people for directions and they’ll be more than happy to help you out with huge smile on their faces.
Useful tips to keep in mind
- Dress modestly or conservatively when visiting religious sites and local dwellings.
- Experience Vietnam’s street food. To be on the safe side though, go to venues that are extremely busy with a big turnover.
- When taking pictures, especially in minority areas, make sure to ask permission first.
- Get travel and medical insurance from your country before you go.
- Mind your change. Some bank notes like 50,000 and 500,000 as well as 10,000 and 100,000 look very similar.
- If going to Halong Bay, stay for at least 2 days. Travel time is usually very long due to poor roads.
TNK Travel Team