From the verdant mountains of Sa Pa to the dramatic seascapes of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam is one of the most culturally rich and empowering countries in the world. For first time visitors to Vietnam, be ready for a sensory overload! Vietnam is a great travel destination, but travellers have reported negative experiences. For many travellers, it’s a fascinating place and full of surprises. Some things will shock, stun you and even have you in awe.
Vietnam should be on your bucket list, but it’s essential to prepare yourself for your trip. Here are important things to know for a hassle-free trip to Vietnam.
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Planning a trip to Vietnam and have never been South East Asia before, then you’ll be in for a culture shock. The traffic is crazy. Followed by the crowds and everyone seems to live and eat outside, endless honking, aggressive vendors, and more.
Crossing the street
Vietnam’s cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are a sea of motorcycles. Crossing the road safety can be a daunting experience and is the first skill you should learn in Vietnam. Motorcyclists may not stop to let you pass, instead, they will dodge past you. The trick is to look thoroughly and to move slowly.
You’ll feel like a Millionaire
The Dong is the currency of Vietnam and has the world’s highest denominated banknote labeled at 500,000 Dong. Make that two notes and you’ll feel like a millionaire.
USD or Dong
Some stores will accept USD and credit cards, but it will be more beneficial and convenient to carry Dong. It’s unlikely that street food and market vendors will accept dollars. So, get your money exchanged to the local currency – besides it may enhance your local experience.
Endless Noise ( pack earplugs)
Non-stop honks, loud exhausts, roosters crowing at 5:30 AM, the sharp and loud sounds of Vietnamese vendors screaming at each other is part of daily life. It can all be a little overwhelming at first, but earplugs will save you at night.
Vietnam will make you more streetwise. Theft and scams are prevalent, especially in big cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. You ought to keep your belongings safe at all times and be wary of booking from a counterfeit travel agency.
It’s common to be ripped off, too. Taxis regularly overcharge tourists from the airport and on street corners and expect to pay for more at the big markets.
Travelling across Vietnam by motorbike is a popular choice among backpackers. Vietnamese policemen are reputed to charge foreigners hefty fines for not having an international driver’s license or for making minor driving mistakes.
Unfortunate as it sounds, it shouldn’t make you write off the country. All you need to do is use your common sense and keep your eyes open.
Many travellers have a paranoid fear of getting ripped off. It’s a disconcerting situation for a foreigner. Prices are seldom marked on items. You just have to know what something is worth, in Vietnamese dong before you buy. If you don’t get your way, then let it go because it’s not worth to get upset over.
Get Your Visa First
It’s shocking to hear travellers who land and find out they can’t enter the country for failing to pre-arrange their visa-on-arrival letters. To avoid any mishaps like this you can check your visa requirements on the Vietnam Immigration website. Obtaining a visa can be done via the consulate, or just apply online for a visa-on-arrival letter through an agency and present it at the airport.
Vietnam locals are sweet and friendly
It’s easy to believe when travellers complain about how rude the Vietnamese are. Instead, getting to know the Vietnamese will be one of the highlights of your trip. Locals are naturally curious about foreigners and will try to converse with you. Who knows, you might make lasting friendships.
Vietnam is Bigger Than You Think
Vietnam is long and thin with a north-to-south distance of 1,650kilometers. Giving yourself 2 weeks to travel from North to South will be a rush. Don’t for a moment underestimate Vietnam’s size and give yourself time to explore. There’s so much to see between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. If you only have a week or two, narrow down, either the Northern, Central or Southern regions.
Street Food is Amazing
Are you ready to start eating very good Street food in Vietnam? Street food is truly at the heart of this vietnamese culture, but with street vendors selling many dishes on every street corner and sidewalk, you might be overwhelmed to try them all. Don’t be afraid to approach food vendors because they’ll be happy to serve you! You can also try a food tour which gives you an introduction to Vietnamese food.
When planned well, exploring Vietnam will be one of the most rewarding travel experiences you’ll ever have! Sure you’ll run into some challenges in Vietnam, but that’s whole part of the experience.