EXPECT NOTHING & ENJOY THE RIDE

Vietnam is a country that will awaken all your senses and pull you in from all sides. With its fascinating history, gorgeous landscapes and tasty food Vietnam is a must visit country in Asia.

Even if you’ve already visited South East Asia before, Vietnam will feel like something you’ve never experienced before. The best thing you can do is to expect nothing and simply enjoy the thrill of this exhilarating country.

I visited Vietnam together with my mom as part of my 3 month whirlwind trip through Asia. We’ve spent a little over a week in the Northern part of Vietnam and while some might say that’s not enough it did give us a first glimpse into this amazing country and a taste of its delicious food.

From the buzzing crowds in Hanoi, to the rice fields and mountains in Sapa. From the touristy but still impressive Halong Bay to the rather unknown and otherworldly Ninh Binh.

Vietnam is a country of contrasts, where loud and achingly busy cities lie close to calm water and majestic limestone karsts.

Every now and then I wish I could just pull up a small plastic stool on the side of the road, sit down, and devour a bowl of Phở in the centre of a chaotic city square.

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT VIETNAM

Just like with a lot of other countries there’s no actual bad time to visit Vietnam. It just depends on what you want to do during your trip.

The months of March and April are generally the best months to visit due to the fact that there’s a lot less rainfall and temperatures that won’t scorch your skin. While you will usually have gorgeous sunny skies, you’ll still want to plan for rain. A lot of locals wear thin plastic ponchos, which can be a good solution. If you wear anything too thick, you’ll overheat, so opt for ultra-lightweight materials.

May to October is monsoon season in Vietnam and while that means that it can rain hours on end it’s still one of the busier times in Vietnam due to the Summer holiday vacations in both Europe and the USA.

Vietnam can get incredibly hot, so winter is a good time to travel if you prefer more temperate weather. Vietnamese New Year, Tết, is the biggest celebration of the year, and this is one of the best times to visit.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN TRAVELING TO VIETNAM

Language – The official language in Vietnam is Vietnamese. A large proportion of the vocabulary of Vietnamese has been borrowed from Chinese, and the influence of Tai languages is also evident.
French is the most spoken foreign language in Vietnam, a legacy of the former colonial days. French is spoken by a significant section of the Vietnamese as a second language. English has also attained popularity in the country and at most tourist attractions and main sights you’ll find someone who can help you out in English.

Currency – The currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong and 1€ equals 25.900 VND.

Credit Cards & ATM’s – You won’t have a problem finding ATMs in Vietnam’s big cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. Most ATMs accept Visa cards, but you might struggle to find one that accepts Maestro.

Safety – While traveling through Vietnam is absolutely safe you do need to be aware of petty theft. But hey, you name me one country in Europe where that’s not the case either. A big tip I can give you is that when you’re in big cities you don’t walk around with your phone in your hand. It’s not uncommon for people to ride up next to you on their bikes and grab your phone out of your hands.

TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST VISIT TO VIETNAM

Get your VISA on time – It probably goes without saying but getting your VISA for Vietnam sorted should be your number one priority. Every traveler requires one and it’s a good idea to do this well in advance. The Vietnam e-Visa is available to passport holders from 81 countries. Double-check to see if your country is included on the list – otherwise you will need to apply for a different visa. You will need a JPG photo, a passport with six months’ validity, an international credit or debit card, and a temporary Vietnam address (the address of your first hotel will do, so make sure you’ve booked at least one night’s accommodation). You need to provide your entry and exit dates.

Go to Vietnam’s e-Visa official website and upload the required documents. Then supply the required information about your journey. After payment, you will receive a registration code. Keep this number safe as you might need it later. If approved, you will be able to visit the website and download your e-Visa after three working days.

Get a local SIM card – Even though most hotels and posher eateries are likely to have free (and super fast) wifi, having access to all your favorite travel apps like Google Maps, Google Translate, and Grab Taxi 24/7 can help avoid unnecessary stress. Simply grab your local SIM-card at the airport when you arrive.

Cash is KING – Especially at markets and local eateries they will only accept cash. If you must use a local ATM, try to withdraw large sums at once to avoid hefty bank charges. The withdrawal limit typically ranges between 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 VND, with fees ranging from 22,000 to 99,000 VND. 

Don’t drink the tap water – The tap water in Vietnam is not safe to drink and chances are very high that you would get sick.

Bring bug spray – Although you won’t have to worry about malaria in the major tourist areas of Vietnam, dengue fever and the Zika virus aren’t uncommon. Make sure to protect yourself from any bites by packing a good mosquito repellant.

Pack a travel adaptor – The standard voltage in Vietnam is 220V with a frequency of 50Hz, and the typical plug types are A (2 vertical pins), C (2 round pins), and F (Schuko plug).


VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDES

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