VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDE AND TIPS

Weather
What to bring
Visa
Airport taxes
Registration
What to wear

Currency exchange
Health
Food
Electricity
Telecom
Tipping

Water
Business hours
Public Holidays
Etiquette
Do's
Don'ts

 

Airport taxes
International Flights: US$14 from Hanoi / US$12 from Ho Chi Minh City Domestic Flights: US$2 (approx). Kids under two exempt.
 

Registration
Hotels and private hosts must register your presence with the police. You will be expected to hand over your passport, along with your visa number. A handy tip is to photocopy your passport details several times and then hand this copy in instead of your original visa.
 

What to wear
The main thing to consider is the weather, as it can be freezing cold in the mountainous North, and at the same time hot and humid on the Central Coast. If you are traveling in the North or the Central Highlands during the winter months definitely bring jeans and a warm coat or sweater. It seems that it is always raining somewhere in Vietnam, so lightweight rain gear is essential.
In the hot months, dress cool but conservative. Many Vietnamese cannot understand why foreigners insist on wearing shorts, tank tops and sleeveless T-shirts when they have the money to dress well. For the Vietnamese, appearance is very important, so if you are dealing with an official of any rank, make sure you are dressed appropriately.


Currency exchange
The official currency, the dong, is non-convertible and at the time of writing trades at 15,890 (Oct, 2005) dong to USD 1. The US dollar, preferably crisp clean bills, is widely accepted among major shops and restaurants. Travelers checks can be cashed at authorized foreign exchange outlets and banks, and require presentation of passport. There is normally a 2 to 5 percent transaction fee for cashing travelers’ checks. Visa and Master card are accepted in some of the bigger hotels and restaurants.
There are also a small number of international banks now operating in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, with 24-hour cash withdrawal facilities including A & Z bank.

Health
No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio. Malaria is present in most of the region and it is advisable to take precautions especially if traveling off the beaten track. Medical facilities are rather limited in all countries and it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before traveling in case evacuation is needed.

Food
The cuisine of Vietnam comes as a pleasant surprise to many visitors and is definitely a part of the Vietnam experience not to be missed. One of the characteristics of Vietnamese food is that it is always fresh being bought the same morning straight from the market. Food is usually prepared with a minimum of oil and served with the ubiquitous fish sauce called nuoc mam. Typical Vietnamese dishes you can expect to try include pho, a type of rice noodle soup eaten for breakfast, cha gio, deep-fried spring rolls and goi ngo sen, a delicious salad made with lotus stems, shrimps and peanuts. Due to the strong Buddhist influence in Vietnam, vegetarian food is widely available.

Electricity

Mainly 220V but in some areas 110V is also used.

 

Telecom

International phone charges are steep in Vietnam and many hotels, especially up-market ones, add extra fees.

Faxes can be sent from hotels, business centers and post offices. Again, rates vary. To rent a mobile phone call 821-8465 in Hanoi or 824-2382 in Ho Chi Minh City.

There is recently an exist of the new telecom suppliers providing the saving code, just get to any post offices or phone boxes to have number 171 or 178 dialed first and the international code then the country code... costs 1.30 $US/min to any country.

 

Tipping

Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in these developing nations. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped.

 

Water

It is not advisable to drink tap water in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere. Ice in drinks is generally OK in good standard hotels and restaurants but it is best to avoid it on street stalls or in country areas.

 

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