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Top 10 things to know before travelling in Vietnam

Are you planning to travel to Vietnam ? I'd like to give you some special things before you go to Vietnam, to help you know more about Vietnam and we hope that It will be help you to have perfect trip in Vietnam.

1, Vietnam is bigger than you think
The train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (1726 km) takes about 34 hours. By bus, maybe 50 hours. It’s not unlike a trip from New York to Los Angeles.

If you’re doing the whole north to south trip, give yourself three weeks or be prepared to rush, or fly. There is so much to see between Hanoi and HCMC. You don’t want to watch it whizz by your window. Don’t underestimate Vietnam’s size and give yourself time to explore. If you only have a week or two, stick to either the Northern, Central or Southern regions. Don’t try to force it all down in one short fling.

2, Hanoi for tradition and attraction, Ho Chi Minh city for style and modern culture
The eternal Hanoi vs. Ho Chi Minh City debate is pointless. These two great cities are both worth visiting, but for different reasons.

Hanoi is very much the governmental capital, and you can feel it immediately. The body of Ho Chi Minh is preserved here. The ancient pagodas still point out from the willowy lakesides, the French quarter is better preserved and more quaint. It is the quintessential capital city- straight, low-key and traditional.

For vibrancy, culture and nightlife, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is the place to be. Sexy neon lights, rooftop bars, sophisticated cafes, a burgeoning art and music scene, Saigon is the city most foreign expats prefer, and for good reason. The ‘attractions’ here are not the draw; it’s the culture and people.

3,  Vietnamese people outside of the tourist industry are amazingly hospitable and sweet
Time and time again, you may have been hear travelers complain that they were treated like “walking ATM machines” throughout Vietnam. Generally, these travelers largely stuck to the aforementioned “backpacker trail” and didn’t study-up on prices before going in.

I’ve had nothing but extreme hospitality and kindness outside of the tourist areas. Happy school children waving “hello”, invitations to karaoke and beer in the evening, free snacks on the “hard seat” trains…the list goes on. Just like everywhere else, people are great in Vietnam. Don’t let the touts and scammers sour your opinion.

4,  Don’t confuse number  15 and 50
One of those “petty” things to watch out for. Street vendors such as coconut sellers or shoe shiners will trick you and claim that you agreed to a higher “50” thousand dong and not the “15” thousand you were 100% sure was understood. The price of a coconut or a shoe shine is around 15,000 dong, so be sure that “15” is understood before the coconut is cracked open or your shoes are shined. Don’t fall for the “50”. Once their end of the deal is met, you can’t win the argument. It’s ’50’.

What I do is try to take out 15,000 dong and show it to the seller before we commit. Or, I use my fingers to illustrate “1” and “5” so there is no confusion in the end. 35,000 dong may seem like a small amount to fuss over, but being overcharged is a tourist’s #1 reason for never returning to Vietnam.

5, Exchange Money At The Banks
This is may be a universal rule, but for the most part in Vietnam, you’ll get the best rates at the banks. Be sure to exchange a decent amount of money to get the best rate, as well. Also, many places accept US Cash. So if you’re of the lucky few who have US cash in your bank account, then bring a handful of that as well. Although I’m American, I have ZERO money in my US bank accounts, so that was a buzz kill.

6,  The price for goods and services is ...Whatever you’ll pay
This is something that is difficult for you to understand. If you are used to a fixed price for everything in your country and you generally believe what you hear and read.

Remember, it is normal in Vietnam for locals to overcharge or inflate prices when they feel they can get more money for something. It’s been happening here in Vietnam since long before tourists ever arrived. It is not necessarily that they are “ripping you off”. It’s just the fluid way that small transactions happen in Vietnam. Sellers will make false claims, pretend you’ve agreed to a higher price, or give you back less change than you’re owed. Happens every day. Be careful, educate yourself and know that….

7,  Pay close attention to your dong
Vietnam uses the dong as its currency. Making jokes about your ‘dong’ is a prerequisite for travel here. However, handing over more of your dong is a serious problem for newbies in Vietnam. Be careful.

About : 22,500 dong = 1 usd

Remember, 20,000 dong looks a lot like 500,000 dong.

Look your bills over twice before handing them off. It’s a small, easy mistake that could cost you a day’s budget.

8,  Don’t put your iphone and wallet on the table
Violent crime is rare, but like any large cities, both have their fair share of pickpockets. Be especially aware in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and Saigon’s Pham Ngu Lao. There is no need to be overly cautious, simply be aware of yourself and your belongings.

Loop the strap of your day bag or purse under the leg of your chair. Keep your phone in your front pocket and don’t limp-wristedly take photos in super-busy areas. Place your bag or purse between you and the driver, if riding on a motorbike. Be weary of any strange, sexy women approaching you at night. Don’t let it all hang out.

9,  Vietnamese carry their houses on their motorbikes
In fact, the one thing that makes Vietnam very unique of all the Southeast Asian countries is that the  Vietnamese transport a lot on their motorbikes, from a mountain of caged chickens to dresser bureaus and furniture… a whole gamut of things which will make your jaw drop.

This makes them very skilled motorists and … a little dangerous. 

10, Don’t trust the taxi meter

Ripping off unsuspecting passengers is an art form for dishonest drivers. Not all taxi drivers are dishonest but to be safe, stick with reliable companies such as Hanoi Taxi, Mai Linh and Vinasun.


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