One of Southeast Asia’s most exciting and popular tourist destinations, Vietnam’s striking landscape and contrasting cities make it a truly magical place to visit. A hotspot for foodies, thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re visiting the charming capital of Hanoi with its older architecture and narrow streets or heading to a modern and bustling city like Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam is vast and changing throughout.
If you’re in the north, be sure to visit one of the great natural wonders of the world, Ha Long Bay. Known for its clear waters and limestone islands, this one’s definitely a must-visit location. Before you head to Vietnam, whether you’re travelling on a budget or splurging, here are nine essential travel tips to know before you board the plane.
1. Apply for your Visa
Visa’s are top of the list for a reason, you can’t travel without it and it’s so important to get it sorted before you start planning and booking your travel plans. Visa requirements are different for every country, if you’re from the UK and don’t plan on staying longer than 15 days then you don’t need a visa. However, the likelihood is that you will need to arrange your visa in advance. eVisa-Vietnam.com can take of everything for you, the online service makes it easy and simple to obtain the right visa for you. Both E-visas and visa on arrival are available, with fees and instructions clearly labelled.
2. Check your Travel Vaccinations
Wherever you’re coming from, always check your recommended travel vaccinations before travelling. Your GP can advise you on vaccinations and recommendations and then you can decide which you are comfortable having. It’s best to book an appointment with your GP 6-8 weeks before travelling.
3. Book Accommodation for your First Night
You can do as much research as possible to check the area that you’ll be staying in but there’s nothing quite like being there and experiencing it for yourself. This is particularly useful with hostels and hotels with fewer reviews, book accommodation for the first night to ensure you like the area. There’s an abundance of hostels and hotels around Vietnam and with sites such as booking.com and Hostelworld, you’ll be able to find somewhere you love to stay.
4. Pack the Right Clothes
Vietnam is hot the majority of the time but depending on the time of year you’re travelling, it could also be the rainy season. Make sure you pack the right clothes, shorts and t-shirts are widely accepted throughout Vietnam but pack clothes that cover shoulders and legs also for visiting sacred areas and temples.
5. Hostels or Hotels?
The word hostel no longer envisages a small room full of people with one bathroom. Hostels are now a bustling epicentre for travellers to meet, play ping pong and swim in the private pool. They have really come along way, both private and dorm rooms are available so if you’re looking to meet people and have fun then hostels are for you. Hotels are also a great option, much quieter and can range in price from extremely budget-friendly to luxurious.
6. How to Cross the Road
Vietnam roads are chaotic and crazy, crossing the road can be tough. The majority of locals and tourists ride motorbikes which means the roads are full of them. Once you get into the habit of crossing the roads, it gets better. If there are no traffic lights, the best thing is to walk slowly and the bikes will move around you.
7. Watch Your Belongings
Vietnam is a welcoming place and you do feel safe. However, with any place you need to be aware of the people around you and watch your belongings. Tourists are obvious targets with expensive cameras and phones. In crowded areas, keep your bag and valuables around your front and don’t leave them unattended.
8. Learn to Haggle
Haggling is a part of Vietnamese culture and could really help your travel budget go further. You can barter on almost anything including fruit, vegetables and souvenirs. Once you get the hang of it, it can be a lot of fun.
Well known for its incredible food, Vietnamese dishes are filled with amazing flavours and ingredients. Street food, in particular, is a massive part of Vietnamese culture and local life. Pull up a very small plastic stool on the side of the road and dive into a delicious meal. It’s best to buy from stalls where the food is made fresh and hot in front of you.
Vietnam is a fascinating place to visit filled with welcoming locals, delectable food and stunning landscape. Whether you’re a history buff, adrenaline junky or avid photographer, Vietnam is a must-visit country and should be on everyone’s bucket list.