Your Ultimate Guide to Vietnam: Top Travel Tips

Your Ultimate Guide to Vietnam: Top Travel Tips

Vietnam is a country that offers a lot of attractions and experiences for travelers who want to discover its beauty and culture. However, traveling to Vietnam also requires some preparation and planning, as well as some awareness and respect for the local customs and norms. In this blog post, we will give you some tips for a successful trip to Vietnam.

Updated on 17-10-2023
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Visa

Starting from August 15th, if you plan to stay in Vietnam for less than 45 days and you are a citizen of one of the following countries: France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Japan, Russia, South Korea, or Belarus, you can benefit from a visa exemption. You simply need to present a valid passport (valid for 6 months beyond the planned return date) upon your arrival in Vietnam.

However, for a stay exceeding 45 days, citizens of these countries require a visa. There are two options to obtain it: through the embassy or online (E-visa):

  • For the embassy option, please contact the Vietnamese Embassy in your country. Click on the Embassy's website link.

  • For the online visa (tourist visa only): You need to register at this link.

Approval for this visa is sent within 3-5 working days after the application. The cost of this type of visa is $25 USD.

>>> Learn More About: E-visa Vietnam 2023: Procedures and Updated News

Backpack

It would be advisable to prepare both a backpack and a suitcase for your luggage. The backpack will allow you to carry your personal belongings and essential items during excursions and cruises (such as your passport, travel documents, travel pharmacy, toiletries, etc.).

Another larger bag (or suitcase) will be used to store the rest of your belongings, which will be checked in and stored in the aircraft's cargo hold.

When you stay with a host family, are on a cruise, or go hiking, the backpack will always be with you, while the suitcases will remain in the car or at the hotel. This arrangement is much more convenient for you.

Regarding air transfers, the allowed weight for domestic flights (depending on the airline) is typically 20 to 23 kg per person for checked baggage (one piece only) and 7 to 12 kg for carry-on bags. Any excess weight will incur a charge of approximately 2-3 euros per kilogram, and you will need to pay this fee when checking in at the Vietnam Airlines counter at the airport.

What to Pack?

If you are embarking on a journey from Northern Vietnam to the South or vice versa, it's essential to consider the climate during your travel dates (you can check the best time to visit Vietnam). The country experiences four distinct seasons with varying weather conditions, and the altitude of the destinations you plan to visit also plays a role. Here's a non-exhaustive list of clothing and accessories that we recommend you bring:

Northern and mountainous regions during winter & spring (November - March) when it's cool or cold (10-25 degrees Celsius): Jeans, T-shirts, thick socks, a raincoat, a sweater or fleece, a windbreaker, sturdy and comfortable walking shoes.

Northern regions in autumn & summer and the South (May-October) when it's hot with high temperatures: Loose-fitting cotton pants, lightweight pants or dresses for outings, T-shirts, socks, a hat, sunglasses, sturdy and comfortable walking shoes, sandals.

Miscellaneous items: A money belt and passport holder, a travel pharmacy kit, sunscreen.

This packing list takes into account the varying weather conditions you might encounter while traveling from North to South Vietnam.

Money

International cards like Visa or Mastercard are widely accepted in hotels, shops, and restaurants. However, Vietnamese banks typically apply an additional commission of 3% to 4%, which can increase the cost of services.

It's also possible to pay with US dollars (USD) in some major city establishments. However, settling transactions in dong – the local currency, abbreviated as VND – is much more convenient and cost-effective. It is highly recommended to obtain dong from a currency exchange or bank counter, or through an ATM, on your first day. The exchange rate can vary, but on average, 1 USD is worth around 23,000 VND.

The most commonly used dong banknotes come in denominations from 1,000 to 500,000 VND. Starting from 20,000 VND, the banknotes are moisture-resistant (50,000, 100,000, 200,000, and 500,000 VND).

Once you've exchanged 50 USD, you might feel like a "millionaire"! However, it's essential to note that 15,000 or 20,000 dongs represent only the cost of a bottle of water (less than a dollar). A meal at a local restaurant typically ranges from 50,000 to 100,000 dongs (2-4 USD). In a fancier restaurant with appetizers, main courses, and desserts, you can expect to pay between 150,000 to 3000,000 dong (6 to 12 USD).

Payment

Regarding payment, you can settle your payment with us in the following ways:

  1. Bank Transfer before your departure.
  2. Credit Card (Visa, Mastercard, Amex). However, please note that if you choose to pay by Visa or Mastercard, there will be an additional 3% charge on the total amount, and if you opt for Amex, there will be a 4% surcharge on the deposit. Payment will be in the local currency.
  3. Cash Payment upon your arrival. We accept US dollars and Euros (exchange rate USD/EUR calculated on the day of payment). However, please be aware that we do not accept bills that are marked or too old. We recommend obtaining new bills from your bank to avoid any inconveniences during your journey.

Tipping

A somewhat delicate but nevertheless useful matter for our clients is tipping. It is common to show appreciation to guides and drivers with a tip in kind, although tipping is not obligatory. The decision to tip and the amount are entirely at your discretion, based on the services provided by your travel companions. From our perspective, it is arbitrary to include this gesture in our quote.

As a rough guideline, consider setting aside 3 - 6 USD per traveler per day for the guide and half that amount (2-3 USD per person per day) for the driver. Tips can be given in Euros, USD, or Dong (local currency) and should be given at the end of each leg of the journey, when you are parting ways with the guide/driver as you move to another region.

All other small tips for cyclo-pullers, rowers, boatmen, porters, etc., are included and will be handled by our guide, allowing you to travel more comfortably.

Vaccinations

Several vaccinations are recommended by certain institutes, such as Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Polio, Hepatitis B, Meningitis A, C, Hepatitis A, and malaria prophylaxis. However, local authorities or our agency do not mandate any vaccinations because we offer safe travel conditions.

As malaria is prevalent in tropical countries like Vietnam, preventive medication is advisable only if you plan on multi-day trekking in the mountains or forests. Otherwise, using mosquito repellent in the form of cream or a wristband should suffice. When staying with locals, your hosts will provide a mosquito net for the night.

Food and Drinks

Tap water is clean but not potable. Therefore, it's imperative to drink bottled water or water that has been boiled for more than 30 seconds (starting from boiling).

Complimentary bottled water is provided in the car throughout your visits (02 bottles of 500ml per person per day or 01 large bottle of 1500ml per person per day).

Other beverages are at your expense. Vietnam remains a very affordable country, with prices ranging from 0.75 to 1.1 USD for a beer or soda and 1 to 1.8 USD for a fruit juice (prices may vary depending on the restaurant).

Insurance

You should obtain a travel insurance policy that covers at least emergency medical expenses and repatriation. Our clients often choose companies like Europe Assistance, Mutuaide Assistance, Mondial Assistance, or ACE Travel Insurance, for example. However, please remember that typically, for a short stay abroad of a few weeks, you may already have coverage if you purchase your plane ticket with your credit card.

Security

Exercise caution when visiting highly touristy sites, which are often hotspots for pickpockets targeting tourists, especially in major cities and markets. Avoid wearing valuable jewelry and keep your passport, airline tickets, and other valuables in the hotel safe. While Vietnam is generally considered a safe country, it's advisable to stick to well-lit and busy streets and avenues to limit your exposure.

Money Belt

A practical trend among travelers is to get a money belt, which you can easily purchase in France for around ten euros. These belts are readily available online and in major sporting goods or travel stores. A money belt offers several advantages, including securing your money, keeping it with you at all times, protecting your bills from moisture and rain, and lightening the load in your often crowded and heavy pockets.

Traffic

Traffic in Vietnam is unique, so be cautious when crossing the street. Neither pedestrian green lights nor crosswalks are strictly obeyed by cars or motorcycles.

Cross the road slowly and at a steady pace; vehicles will navigate around you like a school of fish avoiding an obstacle. Do not attempt to cross the road quickly, as you might in a Western country.

Gifts to Give

European products are highly appreciated in Vietnam. Small gifts like lipstick or perfume are likely to please women, while men often prefer French wine or liquor. For children you may encounter on your journey, pens, colored pencils, or candies usually bring smiles.

Working Hours of Guides and Drivers

Typically, tours begin around 8:00 - 8:30 in the morning and conclude around 5:00 - 5:30 in the evening, with an average of 8 hours dedicated to visits per day. However, there is flexibility in working hours based on your preferences. You can start your day later and finish later than usual or vice versa. Occasionally, for long journeys, an early start might be necessary. Please discuss your preferred schedule directly with your guide.

It's important to note that the actual working hours of guides may sometimes be shorter or longer than 8 hours a day, depending on the daily itinerary (number and duration of visits, transfers, etc.). Therefore, don't be surprised if the guide drops you off at the hotel around 4:00 PM or 6:00 PM instead of the planned 5:00 PM.

For "half-board" days, the guide and driver will generally be at your service from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (except for the aforementioned cases). After 5:00 PM, you'll have free time for independent exploration to put your newfound knowledge of Vietnam to the test.

Dinner will be at your expense without the company of the guide and driver.

For "full-board" days, the guide and driver will accompany you to the restaurant for dinner and return you to your hotel if needed.

During free periods, you'll have complete freedom without the company of your guide and driver.

Laundry

All hotels offer quick laundry services (same day or within 24 hours), which are chargeable depending on the chosen category.

Internet and SIM Card

Regarding the internet, most hotels in major cities now offer free internet access. Additionally, cybercafés are becoming more common in all cities. It's common in Vietnam to provide you with Wi-Fi access wherever you are; just ask for it.

For travelers, it's ideal to get a local SIM card quickly. This allows you to avoid unexpected charges from your French SIM card and provides internet access throughout Vietnam, as well as the ability to make calls and send messages as needed. The average price of a SIM card in Vietnam is around 2 to 8 euros, depending on internet capacity and features.

To call Vietnam, dial 00 84 followed by the digits of the number you are calling. For example, our office number, 243 36983617, becomes +84 243 6983617. You can share our contact information with your loved ones, friends, as listed on the last page of this document.

Useful contacts on site

Kampa Tour
WhatsApp & Hotline: 
Tel : 
Courriel : 

Site web : https://kampatour.com/

Embassies and consulates in Vietnam

Autralian embassy in Vietnam
5, Dao Tan str, Cong Vi ward, Ba Dinh dist, Hanoi
Tel. : +84 24 3774 0100 (General enquiries) ou +84 24 3774 0100 (Emergency contacts in Hanoi) ou 1300 555 135 (within Australia)
Site internet : https://vietnam.embassy.gov.au/

Australian Consulate-General Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
20th Floor, Vincom Center, 47 Ly Tu Trong Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: +84 28 3521 8100

U.S. Embassy in Vietnam
7 Lang Ha Street, Ba Dinh District in Hanoi
Tel: +84 24 3850 5000
Site internet: https://vn.usembassy.gov/

U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh city
4 Le Duan Blvd., District 1, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Tel: +84 28 3520 4200

 

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<div class=fs18>Mrs Duong Thi LAN</div>Travel Consultant
Mrs Duong Thi LAN
Travel Consultant
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