Tips for traveling smart in Vietnam
Save yourself the headache of not knowing what, where, and how! I jotted these tips down as I learned them during my time in Vietnam so I could share them with you! xx
What to know before you go...
Learn the currency conversion sooner than later so you don’t get ripped off! You can easily sort this one out on the plane ride over...
Personally, I found the quickest way to memorize the conversion is by remembering what 100,000 ₫ equals to in my currency.
For example 100,000 ₫ = 5.65$ CAD
Also you're gonna wanna take money out at airport's ATM.
TIP: 2,000,000 ₫ is a good amount to take out from the ATM it should last you 5-7 days. Each time you take out money, you'll pay a 5$ CAD surcharge; make it last!
Cash is the most common form of payment, most places don't take credit card.
Learn how to haggle! If you want to save yourself from countless situations where you WILL be charged the western rate. Always negotiate, unless the price is listed.
Whatever the asking price is - you offer half of that.
Know what the acceptable clothing standards are.
In Vietnam it’s not respectful to have everything ‘hanging out’ if you know what I mean! Pack tops and shorts that don’t let everything show.
Buy some 'traveller' pants sold at the markets, maybe the ones with the cool elephants on them! They’re so light-weight and comfy, perfect for the heat!
Say LESS words when trying to communicate when there's a language barrier...
Use key words when trying to translate to get your message across, not full sentences.
For example, repeat a few key words like..
Less or more
Near or far
No or yes
Don't say “Pardon me, can you please come here.” They just won't understand that..
Tip: Download Google Translate, it's a life saver! #BLESS
Many hotels (which are also listed on Airbnb) offer free breakfast, take full advantage of this! ... I always go up for seconds!
Stay at an Airbnb to avoid unsafe situations, theft, or having to leave your passport in a hotels possession. (some hotels will ask to keep your passport at the front desk)
Taking a picture of your passport is fine, but don’t leave your passport in someone else’s possession.
Save a pin at each place you’re staying at as soon as you arrive.
In case you get lost in the streets, and your address isn't adding up (this will happen often.) Just ask me about my first night out in Ho Chi Minh... OH GOD!
Every fancy hotel has an awesome pool, a lot of the time it doesn’t matter if you’re a guest staying there, all you need to do is buy a drink to use the pool...
Read more about how to look like a luxury traveller on a budget here.
I swear by walking right through the lobby and straight to the elevator where you can suss out which floor the pool is on, and go right up! If they ask what room number is yours, before serving you, then you know it’s a guest only facility... AND SCRAM!
9/10 times though, I've used the pool for free, no problem, if I buy something.
TIP: Get a data plan the day you arrive if you want to use Grab (basically Uber.) Or if you want to have convenient access to the internet everywhere you go.
It’s useful for navigating and ridiculously cheap so, why not!
4G for 200.000 ₫ = 12$ CAD
Download Grab ride share app, for cheaper rides around Vietnam. You can even link your credit card to the app! However, most drivers only accept cash payments.
If you want to travel by train book as soon as you can, because the comfy seats go first, and, you want one of those for a 10+ hour journey.
Traveling by plane will save you a lot of time.
How to avoid carry on luggage fees..
Many airlines in South East Asia only permit 7 kg of carry on. Check in online and go straight through security, depending on the airline company you can do this with Vietnam Airlines. Budget lines not so much the case.. Veitjet and Jetstar Pacific will put bag tags on your possessions to make sure they have been weighed prior to boarding.
If this is the case, and you still want to avoid checking your bag at cost. Take one of the tags off your purse or backpack and reapply it to your suitcase. (I’m not suggesting this will work every time but it worked for me.)
If you decide to proceed without the tags on your suitcase they will fag you down, and weigh your bag at the boarding gate before you get on the plane.
Food Safety tips
Avoid street vendor if you want a cold beverage or smoothie with ice. It’s very questionable if that ice is filtered or not. You don’t want to get sick!
Wash all your fruit and vegetables in filtered water if you’re not cooking it, better safe than sorry.
(If you're cooking it make sure the water has been boiled for a minimum of 10 minutes.)
Golden rule; if no one is eating there, you shouldn't either!
Eat at peek times when the locals are eating. Slow hours might mean the food isn't always as fresh.
Carry your own utensils or chop sticks around, if you want to eat street food often. The cutlery can sometimes be the culprit to food poisoning.
Tour guide Tips
Book your Ha long bay tour in advance, the good over night cruises fill up quick.
To see that view point of Ha Long Bay from above (you know the one that everyone gets a Instagram picture of) It’s located at the top of Bai Tho mountain.
A quick 10-minute drive from the port in Ha Long Bay.
If you're in Hoi An and need advice about what tours to book in Vietnam or any questions about Cambodia.
Laughing Roo Travel Company was so helpful and I highly recommend stopping in.
If you have any other questions or concerns I might of missed, comment below and I'm happy to help! xx