Five Things Not To Worry About When In Vietnam

Here are five things not to worry about when you get your Visa On Arrival for Vietnam. They may seem problematic and scary but honestly once you dive right in, they are all part of the magic of this wonderful country.

1. The heat

Ok yes, Vietnam is very hot and very humid, so in the peak of summer it’s not for the faint- hearted. However, there are ways to escape the heat. Firstly, come in winter and not summer and this will definitely bring the heat and humidity down. Although rainy season can cause some problems, it also brings lower temperatures, refreshing rain and contrary to what people might think, the rainy season doesn’t bring rain all day every day. Usually, it only rains for a few hours in the afternoon.

Also, the mountainous region of Dalat brings cooler temperatures year round which are perfect for those who want to escape the heat of the coast and cities.

If you come in winter and stay in the north it will be much, much cooler to the point where you will want a hat and coat. This often takes many people by surprise but places like Ha Long, Hanoi and Sapa can get very cold in winter.

Finally, although it may be hot and humid outside, Vietnam is well prepared for this and has very cool aircon in the majority of cafes, restaurants, buses, taxis, hostels and hotel rooms so once inside, the heat won’t be a problem!

2. The traffic

While it may look terrifying and impossible, there really is a knack to crossing the roads in Vietnam. It is surprisingly easy with a little bit of practice. The drivers and very skilled and used to having to swerve around tourists in the middle of the road. Just walk in a straight line, at a medium and consistent pace and put your hand out to the side to be more noticeable to oncoming traffic. Try not to cross in huge groups, as this gives motorbikes and cars no way to move around you or get out of your way. And don’t cross in front of buses or cars, let them go first! After doing this a few times with not even a scratch, you’ll soon see that it’s a fun part of life in Vietnam and nothing to worry about!

3. The street food

I have been sick more times from food poisoning in fancy restaurants than I have from street food in Vietnam. It is generally perfectly safe to eat and a must try! Make sure you go to a food stall that has a lot of people queuing for it (always a good sign!) and where they cook the food from scratch right in front of you. Don’t accept meat that isn’t fresh off the grill and don’t let them re-heat meat that they have already pre-cooked. Then, just make sure it is piping hot and all will be well! Trust me, Vietnamese street food is delicious and well worth a try.

4. Booking tours

Pretty much all tours can be booked from within Vietnam, in the popular tourist destinations such as Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh, Phuong Nha, Sapa, the Mekong etc. Most of them can be booked very last minute although the better and more expensive tours will book up faster. Always check reviews of travel agents before booking and make sure that the address of the Travel Agent matches the one on Google Maps. “Rogue” or “copycat” agents do crop up. These agents sell worse quality tours for less value under the name of a pre-existing and well-established company, who sells good quality tours. Tours in Vietnam (depending on price) usually always have an English speaking tour guide, lunch included, an air-conned bus or coach and water provided.

5. Bartering

Don’t take this too seriously! Just enjoy it. Even if you end up paying much more than the true value of the product, it will still only be a fraction of what you would pay back home and so really not worth stressing over. Try to let go of the notion that you are being “scammed” or “ripped off”. Any product is only worth what someone will pay for it, so if you are happy to pay the agreed price then everyone is a winner. As a general rule you should go in at half of whatever price you are offered and work up from there. Aim for 75% of the total price or less. Remember to smile, stay pleasant and be firm but fair. If you really don’t want to buy something, smile and walk away.

Try not to pick anything up unless you are seriously interested in buying it or you’ll get the shop owner rushing over to you in no time!

Another sneaky tip for people who are good at putting on a poker face is to fake disinterest and walk away which usually brings the price down by a good 10 or 20 percent!

Whatever the outcome, just enjoy it, and remember that if bargaining really isn’t your thing then you can try the bigger shopping centres and supermarkets for all of your purchases. These will be more expensive but will list all prices and so no haggling is necessary!

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