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Vietnam Travel Tips: 15 Things to Know Before Going to Vietnam

Vietnam Travel Tips: 15 Things to Know Before Going to Vietnam

Video Vietnam Travel Tips: 15 Things to Know Before Going to Vietnam

If you’re planning a go to to Vietnam and have by no means been to SE Asia earlier than, we give you our Vietnam journey ideas, however be ready for a little bit of tradition shock. The site visitors is horrendous, many individuals don’t communicate English, the meals shouldn’t be what you’re used to, cleanliness requirements are fairly completely different, and you might have to use the occasional squatty potty.

But in case you mentally put together your self for the challenges and pleasure that lie forward, you’ll completely fall in love with this lovely, numerous, superb nation! After touring throughout Vietnam, we determine to transfer to Saigon final 12 months and all of our time right here has allowed us to work out some fairly good Vietnam journey ideas.

Based on our expertise residing in Vietnam and touring the nation extensively, we’ve compiled a listing of 15 issues it is best to know earlier than visiting Vietnam so you possibly can keep away from any disagreeable surprises.


1. Arrange Your Visa Before Arriving in Vietnam

Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam: Confusing visa process
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Picture of Nick’s passport if anybody desires to steal his identification

Unlike neighboring Thailand and Cambodia, most guests can’t merely arrive in Vietnam and get stamped into the nation. All nationalities outdoors of Southeast Asia require some kind of visa or preapproval letter earlier than arriving in Vietnam.

Fortunately, it’s really simple for residents of most nations to acquire a visa both via the brand new eVisa course of or by being pre-approved for a visa on arrival.

Unfortunately, the visa course of for Vietnam is made extra complicated by the proliferation of journey companies providing the pre-approval service and competing for your enterprise on-line. There are plenty of official-looking web sites that aren’t actually official. Many of those websites have the phrase “government” or “govt” of their URL to be tough.

There is just one official eVisa website maintained by the Vietnamese authorities: If you need a 30-day, single-entry e-visa it is best to proceed instantly to that URL.

However, if you’d like to keep longer than 30 days or need a a number of entry visa, you’ll want to choose one of many official-looking however not-official vacationer companies to give you a pre-approval letter to go to Vietnam.

For essentially the most half, they’re all legit so your probabilities of getting scammed out of some {dollars} are comparatively low. But it certain makes issues complicated!

We can personally vouch for the authenticity of as we’ve used them a number of instances and by no means had any points.

Steps for Obtaining a 30-Day Single-Entry eVisa

  1. Visit this web site; This is the one official authorities web site, all others solely look official however are run by vacationer companies.
  2. Upload your passport information web page picture and a passport photograph (straight wanting with out glasses)
  3. Pay the $25 USD payment by bank card
  4. You shall be emailed a license plate which you need to use to examine the standing of your eVisa
  5. Wait 3 working days for processing
  6. Once permitted, print your e-visa, and bear in mind to pack it in your carry-on baggage!

The Steps to Obtaining a 30-day or 90-day Visa on Arrival

  1. Find an internet service like or one of many numerous different choices
  2. Complete the visa software
  3. Pay the payment
  4. Wait 2 working days (often much less) for the letter of approval
  5. Print the approval letter
  6. Get passport photographs taken in case you don’t have them already. If you overlook this step, you will get them taken on the airport for an inflated cost of ~$5 per photograph (but it surely’s greatest not to depend on this feature).
  7. Pack your approval letter, passport photographs, and money. Make certain they’re all in your carry-on/hand baggage!
  8. At the airport, you’ll pay a stamping payment – both $25 or $50 relying on the size of visa you’re making use of for (see under). Be certain to convey US Dollars in moderately good situation – payments with no rips or writing.

Cost of Obtaining a Vietnam Visa on Arrival

VisaPre-approval Letter Fee (Paid prematurely to VietnamVisaExecs.internet)Visa Stamping Fee (Paid on Arrival in Vietnam)

2. It’s Best to Fly in Vietnam

Vietnam is a really lengthy, skinny nation. From the town of Hanoi within the north to Ho Chi Minh City within the south, the space is over 1,000 miles and would take about 30 hours by automotive. Even with an entire month in Vietnam, if you’d like to hit all the highlights within the south, central, and northern areas, it is best to undoubtedly plan on flying.

If you’re taking a bus or the prepare, you might save a number of {dollars} however you’ll waste a ton of time overlaying these huge distances. Plus, you could find actually cheap home flights, particularly in case you e-book forward. Vietjet Air is a well-liked home provider with cheap flights (though it isn’t essentially the most punctual airline).

Read more: Entry requirements – Vietnam travel advice – GOV.UK

Check Flight Prices on Skyscanner

3. Be Prepared for the Heat (and the Cold)

Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam: Sweating in Ninh Binh
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What a candy view! (Joke credit score: EMB)

Whether you’re visiting the south, central, or northern Vietnam, you possibly can anticipate plenty of warmth and humidity. The local weather of your entire nation is taken into account to be gentle tropical or subtropical. So in case your hair is like mine and turns into an unruly mop on the slightest trace of humidity, take into account your self screwed. Plus any make-up you apply will slide off your face inside 30 seconds of stepping outdoors.

Overall, you possibly can anticipate some rain in the summertime and autumn months, particularly in case you are visiting Vietnam from July to November. And within the north, the temperatures can get fairly chilly through the winter months (December – February), with occasional snow within the mountains round Sapa.

Central Vietnam is mostly heat year-round and might get so unbearably scorching in the summertime months. Make certain you’re taking this into consideration if you’d like to go to Hue, Hoi An, or Da Nang. The intense summer time warmth could make it in order that leaving your air-conditioned resort room takes the utmost quantity of effort.

Be certain to examine the climate in each metropolis that you simply plan on visiting in Vietnam prior to departing to be able to plan (and pack) accordingly.

4. Learn Some Vietnamese

Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam: Hug at H
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With pals like these who wants English?

English is taught in faculties in lots of nations in SE Asia so locals have a tendency to be multilingual. This is particularly true of anybody working in retailers, eating places, motels, or locations that vacationers frequent. And many individuals need to be taught English as tourism is seen as a really profitable career. So getting round with out a phrasebook or any primary conversational dialect is not any drawback.

But in rural elements of Vietnam, many individuals don’t communicate any English in any respect. Or in the event that they do, it’s extremely primary. Even at eating places, retailers, and a few motels you might have a difficult time speaking to place an order or ask how a lot one thing prices.

Plan on studying a number of phrases to get round. “Xin chào” (pronounced “sin jow”) means “hello” and “cảm ơn” (pronounced “kam on”) is “thank you”. And the one you’ll most likely use most steadily – “bia” (pronounced “bee-ah”) means “beer”. Use Google Translate and decide up a Vietnamese phrase e-book to allow you to get round.

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5. Crossing the Street is Terrifying

Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam: Street crossings are crazy
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Just kidding, crossing the road isn’t all that unhealthy…

The site visitors in Vietnam is world-renowned for being insane. But not as a lot due to automobiles, extra due to the 1000’s of motorbikes that dominate the roadways, weaving out and in of site visitors. Walk indicators and the white strains that typically point out “pedestrian crossing” zones don’t maintain a lot weight right here. Motorbikes and automobiles won’t cease for pedestrians except they completely have to.

And since motorcycle drivers don’t comply with basic site visitors guidelines – resembling staying off of the sidewalks, going the appropriate method down a one-way avenue, or stopping for pink lights – you’ll have to be on excessive alert each time you try to cross the road.

As a basic rule, it is best to start strolling confidently when you see a break in site visitors and have religion that the automobiles and motorbikes will weave round you. They most likely gained’t cease, however they gained’t really hit you. Drivers appear to be higher about this in Ho Chi Minh City and never as efficient in Hanoi. Regardless, use warning and don’t anticipate your regular pedestrian rights from residence to apply in Vietnam.

6. Get a Vietnamese SIM Card

Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam: Baby photo shoot in Sapa
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She most likely is aware of how to function an iPhone higher than I do

You’ll discover that even in distant areas of the nation, together with Sapa, Halong Bay, and Ninh Binh, the Wi-Fi sign is powerful. And when you have a cellphone that’s unlocked, you possibly can decide up a Vietnamese sim card and get 60 gigs of information for ~150,000 VND (~$6.50 USD). The 4G service works nice just about in all places.

No want to improve your cell service from residence to a global plan whereas visiting Vietnam!

7. It’s Really, Really Cheap

Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam: Haircut in Hanoi
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People rave concerning the low cost massages in SE Asia, however by no means the haircuts???

The caveat to that is which you could actually spend quite a bit and discover luxurious excursions and lodging whereas visiting Vietnam in case you select. But in case you are on a reasonable finances like us (we typically spend $80-100/day between the 2 of us), it’s very easy to do right here.

Read more: Vietnam – Department of Foreign Affairs – DFA

You can discover pretty boutique motels within the $30-40 USD/evening vary and actually cozy Airbnbs for round $20-25 USD/evening. If you’re residing in Vietnam long-term, you possibly can hire an residence or home for round $300-600/month. Trains and buses are fairly inexpensive and cozy. And in case you use the Grab app as an alternative of taxis, you’ll not often pay various {dollars} to get anyplace within the metropolis.

Food is kind of low cost as nicely. If you don’t thoughts consuming on tiny plastic stools, you will get a filling meal for round $2 USD. Even fancy meals not often price greater than $20 USD per particular person. Domestic beer is mostly lower than $1 USD per can or bottle. And in case you plan on looking for souvenirs, you’ll be anticipated to haggle a bit on costs. Start by providing 50% of their asking worth and also you’ll find yourself assembly someplace within the center.

8. Check the Toilet Seat earlier than Sitting

Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam: Wet Toilet Seats
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Wet Vietnamese rest room seats acquired me like…

The rest room state of affairs in SE Asia takes some getting used to. Most loos in Vietnam have adopted Western-style bathrooms over squatty potties (though you might encounter one each once in a while). But usually, you’ll want to pay to use them (typically 2,000 VND). And they don’t all the time have rest room paper. Most Vietnamese folks desire to use sprayers to clear their bums.

And that spray water will get everywhere in the rest room seat. No one appears to have an curiosity in cleansing up after themselves. If I had $1 for each time I’ve unintentionally sat down on a moist rest room seat in SE Asia, I’d have the ability to journey eternally. Carry some tissues in your pocket and provides the seat a very good wipe earlier than you sit down.

9. Always Wear a Helmet, it’s the Law

Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam: Always wear your helmet
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Nick’s dad was too cool to put on his helmet…

In December of 2007, Vietnam enacted a complete necessary helmet regulation to assist to reduce the nation’s site visitors fatalities. Vietnam is the second-highest nation in SE Asia for site visitors fatalities with 24.5 per 100,000. And motorbikes are rather more widespread than automobiles right here, accounting for 95% of registered autos within the nation.

The regulation is strictly enforced and at this time, you’ll see most individuals carrying them round cities. And it’s helped. Loads. The AIP Foundation estimates that 15,000 fatalities and 500,000 accidents have been prevented within the 10 years because the regulation was enacted.

As a foreigner, you’ll be anticipated to put on one as nicely throughout your go to to Vietnam. And not simply if/whenever you hire a bike, you’ll additionally want one in case you take one of many many Grab bikes that dominate the roadways. But don’t fear, they’ll have an additional one for you to use.

10. Use Grab, not Taxis

Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam: Mekong River Delta
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A typical Grab boat

Speaking of Grab, it is best to plan on utilizing this service slightly than taxis. Grab is the Uber of SE Asia. Simply obtain the app and discover a driver anytime you want a journey. Keep in thoughts it usually takes longer than hailing a taxi, and the drivers often cancel the journey, but it surely’s far simpler than having to negotiate your taxi fare prior to departing. And it’s a lot cheaper!

You can load your bank card data or choose to pay money for every journey. You’ll not often pay greater than $2 USD to get across the metropolis. You’ll save your self a ton of time, cash, and problem in case you use Grab throughout your go to to Vietnam, belief us!

11. Don’t Expect to Walk on the Sidewalk

Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam: Typical sidewalk in Hanoi
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Try strolling down this sidewalk…

There are loads of vast sidewalks within the cities of Vietnam, so that you may suppose you possibly can escape the loopy site visitors, proper? Wrong. You’ll discover that more often than not you will have to stroll on the street anyway as a result of the sidewalks are crammed with dozens of parked motorbikes or plastic restaurant tables.

Why Vietnam has determined that motorcycle parking is extra vital than having a spot for pedestrians to stroll is past me. And frankly, it’s actually annoying within the touristy areas of Hanoi and Saigon. But as talked about above, motorcycle drivers are good about weaving round pedestrians in Vietnam.

You’ll admire cities like Hoi An which have designated pedestrian areas so that you don’t have to fear about getting sideswiped by a bike whereas wandering down the facet of the highway.

12. Get a Debit Card that Refunds International ATM Fees

$5 in Vietnam… no, not that first invoice, the entire stack!

It’s fairly uncommon to discover ATMs in Vietnam that may dispense greater than 3,000,000 VND (~$130 USD), and plenty of will solely offer you 2,000,000 VND (~$85 USD) at a time. Plus, you’ll be charged a transaction payment every time you employ one that may vary from $1 – $5 USD. And it’s fairly uncommon to discover eating places, bars, or retailers that take a visa card. If they do, they typically cost an extra 3% as nicely.

Read more: How to get around in Vietnam: all the transport options for the perfect trip

We’ve additionally discovered ourselves needing to go to up to 5 ATMs earlier than lastly discovering one that may really work. So don’t wait till the final minute to withdraw money or give your self a small window of time. Surprisingly, we had essentially the most troublesome time discovering ATMs that will take overseas playing cards in downtown Hanoi.

Be certain to examine along with your financial institution prior to departing to make sure that they refund worldwide ATM prices. Also, examine to make sure that they don’t cost worldwide charges. You’ll additionally want to name your financial institution to launch your playing cards for worldwide use.

We love the Charles Schwab debit card that provides zero worldwide charges and refunds your entire ATM charges. And the Chase Sapphire Preferred bank card is greatest for incomes factors whereas touring. We use the Chase card for reserving motels and excursions and our Charles Schwab card for getting cash out of the ATM when visiting Vietnam.

13. It’s Not as Conservative as You Think

Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam: Smiling in Sapa
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Don’t really feel like you will have to go away your grillz at residence

Prior to visiting Vietnam, I used to be beneath the impression that I’d want to gown very conservatively. And whereas many individuals do have a tendency to maintain their shoulders and knees lined, whatever the blazing temperatures, many youthful locals present way more pores and skin than I used to be anticipating.

And the principles are extra relaxed when visiting temples in Vietnam than in a few of its neighbors. There are indicators requesting that guests cowl up however they’re not often adopted or enforced.

You might really feel a bit uncomfortable wandering round city in a half-shirt however don’t be afraid to pack shorts or clothes in your Vietnamese trip.

14. It’s Also Not as Communist as You Think

Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam: Communist Propaganda Posters
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Ironic what number of privately owned retailers are promoting Communist Propaganda Posters

Vietnam is considered one of solely 5 communist nations that also stay on this planet at this time. However, you gained’t encounter a lot proof of communism as you go about your day as a vacationer. Most companies are privately owned and there’s a robust sense of capitalism within the nation.

Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling metropolis filled with highrise buildings and it even has its personal inventory change. And a brand new technology of younger Vietnamese entrepreneurs is difficult at work on cool new startups in industries starting from tech to craft beer.

Ho Chi Minh (affectionately often known as “Uncle Ho”) continues to be revered because the liberator of Vietnam by each the French and the Americans, however the tides appear to be quickly and decidedly turning in the direction of capitalism.

In case you’re questioning… The different 4 communist nations are China, Cuba, Laos, and North Korea.

15. Remember, right here it’s Called The American War

Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam: It
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Souvenir from the battle

It’s not referred to as the Vietnam War right here. We had been invading their nation in any case.

But don’t fear, relations had been normalized between the US and Vietnam within the mid-Nineties thanks to efforts by then-President Bill Clinton and Senator John McCain, who spent 5 years as a POW in Hoa Lo jail in Hanoi through the battle.

These days the American battle is a distant reminiscence and also you’ll discover the Vietnamese maintain no sick will in opposition to Americans. In truth, if somebody finds out that you simply’re American, they’ll most likely begin telling you all about their prolonged household that now lives in America. Many Vietnamese within the south labored for the US navy through the battle they usually had been provided asylum within the US when the American troops lastly pulled out of Saigon.

That’s it – 15 Vietnam journey ideas! Do you will have any recommendation for touring to Vietnam? Let us know within the feedback under.

Planning on visiting Vietnam? Check out our favourite books and journey guides!


Vietnam Travel Tips: Things to Know Before Going to Vietnam
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Vietnam Travel Tips: Things to Know Before Going to Vietnam
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