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Tips & Advice

Advice for a safe and comfortable trip to Vietnam. Generally, Vietnamese people are very appreciative if they see you trying to abide by the customs, and very forgiving if you get it wrong or forget. If you make the effort, you will be rewarded.


What to take

There are a few things you should consider taking with you on your travels:

· A map / guidebook

· Photocopies of your passport, visa and possibly spare copies of credit cards, licenses and ID cards in case your wallet is lost or stolen

· Cash in US$ 20’s and $ 100’s, and possibly smaller denominations for emergencies

· A folding umbrella if planning to visit during the rainy season. The wettest months are July and August.

· Zip lock bags. They are cheap, disposable, and keep all kinds of things fresh and dry.

· Hotel cards: You should keep your hotel cards or brochures help when trying to find your way back or to show taxi drivers.

· Business Cards. You will discover that practically everyone in Vietnam has a card of some kind. The proper way to offer your card is to hold it by the corners with both hands.

What to wear

It’s worthwhile that you dress appropriately, for both the weather, and also not to cause offence to the local people. Vietnamese have conservative dress codes, and it is only in larger cities that these codes are a little more relaxed. Do not wear revealing clothing

Appropriate dress differs from North to South. Southern Vietnam is tropical year round and people dress comfortably and casually. Lightweight cotton and wool fabrics will be comfortable at any time of year. Synthetics may resist wrinkles, but can be very warm to wear. Generally, short pants are more appropriate near the beach or a farm, however tourists wearing shorts in the cities are becoming more acceptable, though long pants and jeans are generally more socially acceptable.

Don't wear singlets, shorts, dresses or skirts, or tops with low-neck lines and bare shoulders to Temples and Pagodas. To do this is considered extremely rude and offensive. Dress modestly and appropriately when visiting local dwellings and religious sites, etc.

Winter in Hanoi (November through April) can be cool, and a coat may be necessary. Dress here is a bit more formal than the fashionable South. If traveling on business, jackets and ties are usually appropriate, regardless of the weather. Remember that Vietnam is a tropical country and most of the year it is warm and humid, so if you are not used to tropical weather, be prepared to change your clothes two or three times a day.

Security advice for visiting Vietnam

Vietnam is generally one of the safest countries you are likely to visit, the government takes a very strong view on ensuring the safety of foreigners visiting Vietnam. However Vietnam still has a very low per capita income and like everywhere people will take risks, and generally most crime will occur without your knowledge (i.e. pick pocketing, hotel room theft) so commonsense prevails. The most noticeable day light robbery that occurs right in front of your eyes, will just be down to your lack of bargaining skills. Here’s some advice on avoiding the quiet crime and keeping safe

· Prepare before your journey and consider appropriate travel insurance

· Store your cash, credit cards, airline tickets and other valuables in a safe place. Most mid range and top end hotels have in-room safes, otherwise ask the reception to keep your valuable things in their deposit facility (ask for a receipt of you are extra concerned).

· Leave your valuables behind before a night out on the town, or going to the beach.

· Never carry more money than you need when walking around the streets and do not wear large amounts of jewellery. There are two reasons doing this:
(1) It is considered impolite to flaunt wealth in public;
(2) It is more likely that you may become a victim of a pickpocket or drive-by bag snatcher.

* Don't be paranoid about your security, just be aware of your surroundings.

Travel advice while visiting Vietnam

· Take a hotel business card from the reception desk before venturing out from your hotel. This will make your return to the hotel in a taxi much easier.

· Carry a roll of toilet paper in your daypack on long excursions from your hotel. You never know when you might need it!

· If invited into a home, always remove your shoes at the front door when entering.

· Ask for permission when taking a photograph of someone, particularly in minority areas. If they indicate that they do not want you to, then abide by their wishes. DO NOT offer money or push the issue. Never take video cameras into an ethnic minority village. They are considered to be too intrusive by the local people.

· Do not try to take photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security.

· Drink plenty of bottled water, particularly during the summer months. If you are not used to traveling in a tropical climate such as Vietnam you may not notice the dehydration (darker urine is a sign of dehydration). If you drink tea, coffee & alcohol you should increase you water intake accordingly as these will dehydrate you more.

· Avoid giving the following items to local people when trekking through ethnic minority villages:

o Empty water bottles, since you cannot guarantee that the empty bottles will be disposed of in a correct manner and sometimes these are recycled and sold.

o Sweets and candy, since people have very limited access to dental health.

o Pens to the local people. If you want to give pens, ask your guide to introduce you to the local teacher and donate them to the whole community.

o Do not offer money directly to minority people, instead donate to a local charity

· Never sleep or sit with the soles of your feet pointing towards the family altar when in someone’s house.

· Never lose your temper in public or when bargaining for a purchase. This is considered a serious loss of face for both parties. Always maintain a cool and happy demeanor and you will be reciprocated with the same.

* It's in your best interests not to drink the tap water, especially after flooding!

· Avoid cyclo ride after dark.

· When crossing the road, especially in Ho Chi Minh city, always keep looking to the left and right and walk slowly!


The currency of Vietnam is "Dong" (abbreviated "d" or VND). Bank coins are 200d, 500d, 1000d, 5000d. Bank notes are 1,000d; 2,000d; 5,000d; 10,000d; 20,000d; 50,000d, 100,000d, 200,000d and 500,000d. The US Dollar is widely accepted. At this time the official rate of exchange is approximately VND 17,450 to USD 01.

The ATM network in Vietnam is growing rapidly and most towns now have ATM’s at various banks throughout the country.

Credit Cards and Travelers' Cheques are accepted at most hotels, resorts, restaurants and souvenir shops in major cities and holiday destinations. Visitors are recommended to some carry US Dollars in small notes. Travelers can change their money for Vietnamese Dong (VND) at banks, hotels and jewellery shops throughout the country.


Taxis with meters are available in big cities. The price is about US$ 0.5per kilometer. Some metered taxi drivers can speak a little English, though it is useful to have a written address, business card or map to inform the driver.

Requesting the meter is generally recommended unless you are familiar with the local fare prices. Bargaining for your fare is also sometimes possible, if not using the meter. If the driver indicates the meter is broken, consider trying another taxi, and the meter is likely to be immediately self repairing.

Business hours

· Offices: 07:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 01:00 p.m. to 04:30 p.m., closed on Saturday and Sundays

* Banks: 08:00am to 03:00pm, closed on Friday afternoons, Saturday and Sunday.
* Note: Local variations may apply.

Electricity in Vietnam

The usual voltage is between 220V and 240V, 50 cycles; but sometimes you encounter 110V, also at 50 cycles, just to confuse things. The two-pin (ungrounded) plug is more popular than three-pin plug. If you have any devices needing a special outlet, it is advisable to bring an adapter, though top end hotels generally will have these available for use.






Plug type


Long distance calls are best made at post offices, hotels or telephone booths (phone cards are available at post offices). Normally, hotels are more expensive and get 15-20% service charge on top of the bill. Internet phone is an alternative choice and much cheaper.

Internet cafes with ADSL can be found easily in Vietnam. Costs vary, however for an hour it is around US$0.50. All top end hotels and most mid range hotels either provide free internet access or have internet facilities available for use.

Tipping is not obligatory in Vietnam, however, if the level of service is very good or exceptional, a tip is always appreciated. A tip for good service might be about 5-10% of the bill.


Bargaining is a way of life in much of South East Asia. While some shops in Vietnam now have fixed prices, it is still possible to bargain. Most shops however in Vietnam don't have fixed prices so the shop keeper will start with a high price which you are then expected to bargain down until you reach a fair price. Bargaining should always be relaxed and can be a lot of fun but you should remember that it is considered disrespectful to agree a price but then walk away.

Public Holidays & Festivals

We list the main public holidays on the calendar, though many local districts have additional holidays or festivals at various times of the year celebrating lunar or annual events.

Jan 01: International New Year Days
Mid Feb Lunar New Year
Mid Apr: Country Anniversary of the first King
Apr 30: Liberation Day
May 1: Labour Day (May Day)
Sep 2: National Day


Customs & Habits
Language & Literature
Festival & Folk-games
Vietnam weather
Customs regulations
Vietnam Visa
Vietnam embassies
Vietnam tasty
Tips & advice
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