Vietnam is a wonderful country to visit for a variety of reasons especially if you are a war buff. If it’s not Vietnam’s world-famous Halong bay, then there are the beaches and the beautiful scenery. Tourists to Vietnam have been increasing year on year. With that Vietnam has started to experience a lot of investment and there has been rapid development in a lot of areas.
Vietnam is fairly safe for tourists but Vietnam has its own customs and little quirks. There are the little things in Vietnam that take time to it used to, such as crossing the road and buying train tickets that can be helpful to know before you go.
In this post, we will go through Vietnam travel tips that I wish I knew before visiting Vietnam. So let’s get started!
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Where To Stay In Vietnam?
Vietnam is fairly cheap but this depends on the standard of hotel or hostel you are interested in staying in. A basic hotel room price can start from $8 per night. And a hostel sharing with others can be as low as $2 per night.
Vietnam Travel Tips
Vietnam has its own customs and little quirks. To make your visit to Vietnam more enjoyable and to avoid any misunderstanding or cultural challenges we have a few Vietnam travel tips that will help.
Here are 9 Vietnam travel tips, that I wish I knew before visiting Vietnam.
Apply For Visa Before Arrival
I am putting this here even if it seems like common sense. Unlike other countries in South East Asia, where you can turn up and get stamped a tourist visa.
In Vietnam, you need to apply for a single entry visa. You need to check the latest visa requirements with your nearest Vietnamese embassy. It costs $17 and took 4 days to get the letter.
Also, bring 2 passport photos and a printed copy of the letter. The single entry visa costs another $25 to get stamped at the airport when you arrive in Vietnam.
Driving On The Footpath
This happens all over Vietnam but particularly in Hanoi. The Vietnamese drive and park their mopeds on the footpaths.
This can make walking on the footpath a nuisance, particularly when rogue mopeds mount the curb when the traffic on the road gets too heavy.
Crossing The Road
Crossing the street is a challenge at the best of times. In truth, it is total chaos with the never-ending sea of cars, mopeds, and motorbikes. Generally, the rules of the road are not enforced or obeyed. Traffic lights and pedestrian crossings are ignored by drivers.
Traffic isn’t going to stop for you to cross the street. You just have to go for it and just walk at a normal pace (Not to stop or suddenly run) and trust traffic will swerve around you.
Handling The Dong
The dong (VND), is the Vietnamese currency. There are two things to get used to. The first is the conversion rate of 26,610 VND equivalent to 1 euro.
The long numbers can make conversions in your head hard. For example at a restaurant with friends and the final bill came to 1,314,610 VND. Try converting that in your head.
The second is the zeros on the Vietnamese dong. You will need to double-check the notes and count the zeros.
The notes have different colors but the 10,000 dong note looks like the 100,000. You will need to get familiar with the notes.
The toilets are not the best in some cases pretty awful. The public toilets are used by everyone and there are not regularly maintained, expect to be shocked. If in rural areas, there’s no avoiding the squat toilet.
Remember, to always begin a toilet roll with you everywhere in Vietnam.
If you don’t remember any of the above Vietnam travel tips, this one I would advise you to remember this. You will be grateful.
Buy Your Train Tickets At The Train Station
Using the train to get around Vietnam, especially the overnight train is a great way to get around Vietnam. It’s also a great chance to see the Vietnamese countryside.
If you buy your train tickets online or from an agent even at your hotel, it can cost double the price. As they charge a substantial service fee. This also applies to bus tickets bought online or from an agent.
For train tickets, they do tend to sell out days in advance, so don’t go to the train station with no ticket expecting to hop on the next train.
Go to the train a day or two before your plan to and get a ticket. Even when your first day of arrival, buy the train ticket.
Trips Take Longer Than Expected
Expect trips to take longer than claimed. My trip from Hanoi to Da Nang by train was supposed to be about 16 hours, but it ended up closer to 18 hours.
The accuracy of the traveling times from A to B in Southeast Asia is normally incorrect. This applies to buses as well.
Be prepared, for longer than planned trips.
Vietnam Is A Big Country
Plan your trip, there are a lot of places to see. And when traveling around Vietnam and moving from A to B. You start to realize it’s a big country.
A train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City/ Saigon takes about 34 hours. Whereas a flight is over 2 hours. It took 4 hours via bus to arrive in Halong Bay from Hanoi.
The beaches may not be anything like Thailand so you might be a little disappointed.
The Pacific coastline is rocky and rough, but Vietnam has nice beach towns like Hue. Vietnam, it’s more cultural than a beach destination.
Finally, Vietnam has its own customs and little quirks that you should respect and something you should beware of before going to Vietnam. The Vietnamese people are friendly and are generally, understanding when tourists make mistakes or if there is a misunderstanding. Like any trip, you’ll get the most out of it by learning all you can before you arrive in Vietnam.
And that’s it for now! I’d love to know if this guide on Vietnam travel tips has helped you. Let me know if you have any questions and let me know if are any more tips to add.