Never been to Vietnam? Planning it to be the next destination for your holidays?
Do not worry!
There’ are many reasons to love about travelling in Vietnam, which begins from the breathtaking mountains and fascinating ethnic groups to the endless rice paddies and vibrant waterways of the Mekong Delta in the south.
Did you know? All the above attractions are more than 3000km of splendid coastline in between.
Finding out what to prepare for this trip is very important, especially when you are a first time traveler to Vietnam. This article will show you all the tips and tricks you exactly need to not burn a hole in your pocket and still have an amazing holiday.
Vietnam is an ancient country, which until the 1980’s only saw the most dynamic of traveler cross its borders. Today, the nation is enjoying its time with tourism reaching 12 million in 2017 (30% rise on the preceding year)
And, numbers aren’t set to drop any time soon.
Vietnam tops the list of favoritism of everyone from student backpackers, to elderly couples, to families, to friends from all over the world.
Keep reading to know why?
Here are the most convincing of hundreds of points as to why Vietnam has to be on your travel bucket list:
- Easy to travel: Being reliable and having expansive network of trains, buses, flights and local transport makes Vietnam one of the easiest countries in all of Asia to travel.
- Affordable: Vietnam lies under one of the cheapest countries in the whole of Asia. Hotels, transport, souvenirs, meals etc are extremely cheap compared to other Asian destinations.
Can you imagine Vietnam being cheaper than Thailand?
You guessed it right.
That means more people can now afford to travel to Vietnam, as a little bit of that cash can go a long way.
- Beautiful: Blessed with mountains, forests, jungles, beaches, islands, and national parks, Vietnam doesn’t disappoint anyone. You just have to spend a few extra minutes in Vietnam’s bustling city, Hanoi, to view tropical flowers growing out of ancient buildings, peaceful lakes facing maze-like pagodas (a Hindu or Buddhist temple).
- Friendly: The Vietnamese are famously sociable, kind-hearted and giving. You will really get why Vietnamese culture is so special, as you watch young and old enjoying out in the open air, the elderly taken care of by their community, and bright smiles on the faces of those you simply pass on the street.
- Foody paradise: Vietnamese food is beginning to make its way in the list of “most-loved cuisine” across the world.
And once you try it, you’ll understand why.
Sweet, salty, sour and savory flavors are perfectly balanced in every dish. The sea of flavors in every meal adds freshness that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else on earth.
- Scams to Avoid in Vietnam for a newbie!
It’s no surprise Vietnam finesses countless bucket lists – cheap transport, flights, breathtaking views, food paradise and more.
Following the below mentioned tips will help you avoid the major drawbacks, and ensure you come away from your first visit to Vietnam with happy memories, as well as your souvenir conical hat.
Throughout the years, Vietnam has witnessed many foreigners and now local residents aren’t that excited as in other countries in Asia.
Do not get me wrong, Vietnamese are very welcoming and friendly people. But, most Vietnamese are not confident in speaking English and tend to ignore foreigners.
They do help, if you ask for it.
TIP: You can greet and ask someone a question with a smile. Be sure to speak in slow, clear English. They’ll probably help. Else, simple phrases such as xin chào (‘hello’, pronounced ‘seen chow’) and cám ơn (‘thank you’, pronounced ‘kaam uhn’) can help you a lot during this trip.
If you think you can survive on hotel, cafes and restaurants wi-fi, then you are highly mistaken.
You can very easily buy a SIM card and get connected to internet 24×7 just for US$3. You can find them in every corner of the street. And the shopkeeper can help you register for internet.
Trust me when I say you need internet. Vietnamese street names a ridiculously long and complex, so digital maps can help most travelers far more than paper ones.
This way it is easy to call nearby drivers and tour guides and make last-minute bookings.
The currency of Vietnam, Vietnamese dong can be very confusing for first time visitors. So, to have knowledge beforehand can help you a lot.
Dong comes in denominations ranging from 200 to 500,000. This may feel like a lot of money, but too many zero may frustrate you as the currency is almost in similar colors.
Just take an example; 10,000d note and the 200,000d note are both tan. On the other hand, the 20,000d and 500,000d notes are both blue. You can easily make mistakes while paying bill at a hotel or paying to a taxi driver.
So take a look at all the notes carefully for a minute and understand the Vietnamese dong.
TIP: You can pay for larger hotels, restaurants and travel agencies with your international credit and debit cards, but for most part in Vietnam, cash is preferred. So, do not forget to take out some cash.
The best way to roam around the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is through motorcycle taxis. And as scams can happen at anytime anywhere, you should know how to avoid them.
So my tip for you is to agree on a price beforehand with the driver and as you are a tourists, the taxi driver may quote a higher price.
For regular taxis, use these two major companies of Mai Linh and Vinasun (both have apps).
Smaller taxis are known for fast meters and really aggressive drivers. If you’re in one of the larger cities, ride-sharing apps like Uber and Grab are best, offering both car and motorcycle taxis.
Violent crime is extremely rare in Vietnam. But snatch-and-grabs and pick pocketing do happen.
TIP: Use less of your phone and other electronics when outside. It is advised to leave your passport at the hotel.
Also, enjoy having beer as Vietnam has some of the cheapest beer in the world, but be careful about overdoing it. Tourists wandering back to their hotel in the morning time when there is little traffic around can be easy targets. Don’t be one!