Vietnam is one of the countries that everyone needs to put on their bucket list. It’s a beautiful place with amazing nature, and impressive culture. It’s especially fun to explore the country by driving through it and getting to know its history in the process.
There are a few things to be aware of when visiting Vietnam and by making sure to prepare for them you’ll get to enjoy your stay more. Most of these are about anticipating your needs so you can focus on the trip while you’re in Vietnam.
You’ll Need a Visa
Those who plan to stay in Vietnam for more than 15 days need to have a Visa. The process for getting one can be rather complicated so make sure that you pay a visit to your local embassy and have someone guide you through the list of documents you’re going to need.
It’s important to note that you’ll need to provide two photos for the document to be produced and that there’s a fee that you need to cover. It takes about 3 days for the document to be printed and sent to you.
There are a few vaccines that you need to take in order to be allowed in Vietnam. These are for the local diseases that are uncommon in the rest of the world and that you won’t be vaccinated for if you haven’t traveled to south-east Asia.
It’s best to visit a doctor about 6 weeks before the trip so that you can get the proper doses and you’re covered for the trip as well as safe while you’re in Vietnam. Some of the vaccines are optional and it’s up to you to choose which one to take, based on the advice of your doctor.
Traveling in Vietnam
The best way to travel while you’re in Vietnam is in your own car or the one you’ve rented. That way you can set your own itinerary and make as many or as few stops as you want to and you can be more comfortable, as well.
In order for a foreigner to drive in Vietnam, you’ll need to show an international driving permit, issued by the InternationalDriversAssociation. This document is only valid if you have a national permit with you and a valid photo ID.
Dongs and US Dollars
Both the local currency Dong and the US dollar are in use in Vietnam. Some venues will accept payments in US dollars only. Those are mostly the venues that are frequented by tourists. That’s why you shouldn’t convert all of your dollars to dongs when you arrive in the country.
It’s important to be mindful of the exchange rate and to use the services of banks you can trust. Some venues won’t accept cards so make sure to have some cash on hand at all times, especially as it’s customary to tip.
Travel Agents Can Be Useful
There are travel agencies everywhere in Vietnam since tourism is the most important industry in the country. This means that you don’t need to carefully book every part of your trip. Instead, you can just step into one of the agencies and decide on the next stage of your trip.
The agencies are convenient and for the most part, they are safe and secure to use. However, it’s best to still take the time to investigate the agency before using its services. In most cases, you should focus on user reviews and trust the wisdom of the crowds when it comes to travel agents.
Book a Room for The First Couple of Nights
Chances are that you’ll go exploring and that you won’t spend a lot of time in one hotel. However, it’s still a good idea to book a hotel for the first couple of nights so that you have enough time to accommodate yourself in Vietnam.
Large cities such as Hanoi can be rather hectic and there are tourists everywhere. However, the city’s infrastructure isn’t always made for tourists and there are bikes all over the streets. Having a room of your own when you first get there can mean a lot.
Haggling is Common
Haggling over prices is common practice in most venues in Vietnam. This doesn’t work for restaurants, but when it comes to shops, markets, and beauty salons, it’s even expected and the first price you hear will usually be way too high.
Bars also don’t accept haggling and it would be rude to do so, but you are expected to tip about 10 to 20 percent of the bill. Haggling may be somewhat unusual for westerners but it can also be good fun (especially if you’re good at it). Again, this is a good place to be mindful of the exchange rate.
What to Wear While in Vietnam
The dress code is rather laid back and there’s no reason to worry too much about what you’re wearing while out on the town. Shorts, skirts, and light T-shirts are commonly worn everywhere and that’s what tourists should wear as well.
If a place has a dress code, which may be the case with some restaurants and bars, it will probably be quite clear about it. Keep in mind that some buses will be air-conditioned and that they may get quite cold if you’re dressed for the summer.
List of Things to Pack
Here’s a list of things that you must pack when going to Vietnam, that covers the basics: you’ll need your visa and an international permit, some US dollars in cash, a light waterproof jacket, a mini first aid kit, and a day bag or a rucksack.
Try to have a travel wash with you, and a set of comfortable sandals to wear. A mosquito repellent is also a must since that’s going to be a problem you’ll have to deal with. A travel guide is also useful if you’re traveling on your own and set out to explore.