In this section, you will find the most useful and practical advice from our experienced tour managers and guides who have escorted travellers from many different backgrounds at different times of the year. Before reading this, you also should take a closeh look at the Fast Facts section where we provide key information concerning the destination you will visit.
1. What to pack
You should take as few clothes as you can when travelling here, for three reasons: Firstly, laundry services are very cheap (outside of, not in hotels) , and available everywhere. Second, the cost of a T-shirt from a street vendor is at the most US$3-5. Việt Nam are also clothes-exporting countries so they are very inexpensive here. Not only clothes, almost anything you want can be found here. Thirdly, all Asian airlines have a check-in baggage limit of 20kg (44 pounds) per person. Save space for souvenirs!
The weather is very hot and humid (average humidity around 80%) so light and cotton clothes are most comfortable. They also dry more quickly.
Long trousers and shirts with sleeves are required if you intend to visit temples, pagodas or communal houses. Slip-on shoes or sandals are also more convenient because you will be required to take your shoes off when entering these buildings.
Most hotels in this region, from 3-star standard upward, provide a hair-dryer, soap, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste on a daily basis. So bringing your own is not necessary.
A raincoat or poncho is a good idea, especially during the rainy reason. The peak months of rainy season are July and August in northern Việt Nam, October and November in central Việt Nam and June and July in southern Việt Nam.
Insect repellent is necessary when you trek, stay in a homestay or take an overnight cruise.
Here is a suggestion list for the most practical items:
- 4-5 pairs of shorts/skirts and T-shirts/blouses
- 1 pair of long pants and a long-sleeve shirt
- 4-5 sets of underwear
- Warm clothes if travelling to central and northern Việt Nam during the cold season (December-April)
- 1 pair of (cloth) slip-on shoes and 1 pair of sandals (or slippers)
- 4-5 pairs of socks
- Insect repellent
- Sun cream
- 1 hat
- 1 pair of sunglasses.
- One flash light
- Body spray
- Mobile phone (if you need to stay in touch)
- Reading material for long flights/bus trips
- 2. Money matters
Take only major credit cards (Visa, Master Card, Amex) with you. Alert your bank regarding your travel plans ahead of time to avoid the refusal of payment on major purchases, because Southeast Asia is regarded as a high-risk area for fraud and when in doubt banks will immediately place a block on your card.
Cash, especially US$, is king. Take several hundred dollars with you, especially when you travel to remote areas
The US$2 bank note is valuable here. It is believed that it brings good luck, so if you carry a lot of US$2 bills you will make venders/waiters very happy!
Vendors will not accept old and torn bills, neither will they accept coins – the minmum denomination accepted is US$1.
3. Travel documents
You must have a valid Việt Nam visa in your passport before boarding your flight and you can can only enter the country on or after the date approved in the visa - please check it carefully when you receive it.
Copies of travel documents are necessary and should be kept seperately from your passport.
4. During your travel
4.1. Food and drink
If you take malaria pills, you may experience diarrhea during the first two days as your body gets used to the medication.
If you have any food allergies, please inform your guide at the outset.
The weather is very humid so you should take as much fluid as you can to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Immediately after arrival it is advisable not to eat rich food, especially dishes made with coconut milk which may upset your stomach. You should wait until your jetlag has gone.
Always keep your travel documents and valuables in the hotel safe. As a matter of policy, hotels will take no responsibility for the loss of items left in your room. Carrying them around with you is not a good idea either as their loss will result in considerable inconvenience and may delay your trip.
Hồ Chí Minh City is infamous for its motorbike bag snatchers. Necklaces should be kept under shirt collars to avoid unnecessary attention. While taking pictures on the street, make sure that the camera strap is firmly looped around your neck or wrist.
Pick-pockets are common in markets in Hà Nội, so cash should be kept either in the hotel safe or or in concealed pockets.
4.3. Travelling around on your own
You should always keep a copy of your hotel’s and local guide’s business card with you in case you get lost.
In order to avoid fraudulent taxis, ask the hotel staff to call a taxi for you. This is to ensure you have a reliable driver and can always trace it back in case of problems.
All taxi fares in Việt Nam are quoted in VND. If you are asked to pay in US$ you are being cheated.
Always bargain before taking a cyclo or purchasing something from street vendors