Will I need to bargain for everything I want to buy?

Bargaining for souvenirs has long been the norm in Vietnam, however ‘fixed price’ boutiques are becoming more common. Even then, you may be able to garner a discount, especially if you buy more than one item. As in all Asian countries, ‘saving face’ is important, so bargaining should be good-natured. In some cases you will be able to get a 50% discount or more, at other times this may only be 10%. And it’s never a good idea to ask whether someone else got it for less – chances are they will have! In most cases you will not need to bargain for basic items such as bottled water, toiletries and food.

What is your best recommended tour?

The choice of the tour depends on your needs and expectations, but we can recommend you a tour like Truly Vietnam because it will take you to the best places in Vietnam and will give you the opportunity to meet the local people and to learn about their culture and traditions. You can also enjoy the tour called Inspiration of Indochina that will take you to Vietnam-Cambodia-Laos and will make you discover the best of these 3 fascinating countries. For your information, all our tours can be amended until they fit with your expectations and needs.

What is the best time to visit Vietnam?

You can visit Vietnam at any time in the year because there are not any extremes of climates or temperatures in Vietnam. However, the best period to travel to Vietnam is March, April and May where it is not cold, not too hot and there is no storm or flood in the North or Central.

What is the baggage allowance on domestic flights?

The baggage allowance in economy class with Vietnam Airlines on domestic flights is one piece of checked luggage weighing no more than 20kg (44 pounds), plus one piece of hand luggage weighing no more than 7kg (15 pounds).

What general food and water precautions should I take?

We advise you to use bottled water, even to clean your teeth. Always wash your hands thoroughly, particularly after handling local money. Ensure meats are thoroughly cooked. It is not necessary to avoid salads and herbs out of hand but remember uncooked foods do carry a greater risk. In general, establishments that cater to Western tourists make their own ice on the premises from bottled water. Elsewhere, ice is made from filtered water that is delivered in blocks from local factories. If in doubt as to the origin of ice, it’s a good idea to ask.

What are some of the local customs I should be aware of ?

Dress standards are fairly conservative, especially outside major cities. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong. You should try to keep your shoulders covered, especially outside major cities. Like many Asian countries, the concept of ‘saving face’ is important in Vietnam. Try to resolve any difficulties in a calm, friendly matter. Losing your temper will not get you anywhere.

Is Vietnam a safe country?

Vietnam is generally a safe destination by world standards, but usual common sense precautions are advisable. In recent years petty street crime in large cities has risen. Always keep a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers, and a detailed record of your traveler’s cheques. You should leave valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes wherever possible. In large cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, we recommend you wear as little jewellery as possible and keep your spending money close to your body in a secure place when out on the street.

Is there vegetarian food and western food available?

Vegetables and vegetarian dishes feature prominently in Vietnamese cuisine, though even vegetable dishes may use fish sauce as a base so if you are a strict Vegetarian it’s a good idea to ask about the ingredients used. Western food is widely available in major centres though is generally more expensive than Vietnamese.

Is it safe to catch a taxi or cyclo at night?

We generally advise against taking cyclos at night unless they are registered with a hotel. Taxis are safe and metered provided you use a reputable company. To assist in finding your way back to your hotel, make sure you obtain a hotel address card, to show drivers where you want to go.

I would like to bring some gifts for the local children – what do you suggest?

Gifts such as text books and pencils are most appropriate and best given to organisations (such as schools or clinics) rather than to individuals, as distribution through a community channel is more likely to occur equitably, and with dignity. We advise against giving gifts directly to children on the street, at home or in village communities. Gift giving creates inequality within communities and encourages children to start begging. Giving money (even to children who offer to act as guides) can also make children the primary income earners in their family, resulting in long-term school truancy.

How should I take money to Vietnam?

Bring a combination of debit and credit cards, as well as some USD cash. ATMs are widely available in airports, major cities and towns and issue Vietnamese dong. Most hotels change traveller’s cheques and cash at reasonable rates. Credit cards can be used in a number of shops and restaurants in major centres. If you bring traveller’s cheques, it is best to use USD, but these are now becoming harder to cash.

How much money will I need each day for food and other expenses?

Vietnam offers excellent value for your money. Allow approximately 20 USD per person for day-to-day living, which will buy you lunch and dinner at good local restaurants (your breakfast is always included), as well as refreshments during the day. Transport such as taxis and cyclos is cheap, and should cost you no more than 5 USD a day on average, and often much less. If you are travelling independently, you will need to factor in any entrance fees, which may be between 1-5 USD. High end and Western restaurants will cost more. Prices of alcohol varies. Beer is generally cheap, especially in local restaurants however wine is expensive, even by Western standards.

Do I need to tip in Vietnam?

Tipping inspires great service and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry in Vietnam. In local markets and basic restaurants we suggest rounding your bill up to the nearest 1 USD. In more up-market restaurants 5% to 10% is appropriate. If you are happy with the services provided by your guides and drivers, we suggest a tip of 3-5 USD per person per day for guides and 2 USD per person per day for drivers. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality.

Do I need to have any vaccination to enter Vietnam?

There is no need to take vaccination before entering Vietnam. However, for safety reason and for your health guarantee you should consult with your doctor before traveling. Some tourists may take malaria vaccination. Also, you should bring along insect repellent cream to avoid bitten by mosquitoes at some places.

Do I need a visa to visit Vietnam?

Visa is required for all nationalities except for ASEAN countries, Japan, Korea. And citizens of Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway visiting Vietnam for up to 15 days are exempted from Visas.Visa is valid for 30 days and is either issued by Vietnamese Embassies or General Consulate abroad, or upon arrival to Vietnam International airports. It is easy to arrange Visa on arrival to Vietnam. The entry visa will be stamped on your passport as you pass through our immigration checkpoint at the airport. For more information,please see Visa Services on our website.

Can I pay by credit card?

Payment can be made in cash, telegraphic transfer or credit card. Except for cash payment, a service charge may apply. Any bank charges levied by the sending bank relating to transfers to Vietnam Travel Solutions must be paid by the Client. A surcharge of 4% will be applied to payment by credit cards.

Can I drink the water?

We advise against drinking tap water in Vietnam. Bottled water provided on a complimentary basis by most hotels and is otherwise inexpensive and readily available.

Are western toilets available?

All hotels and guesthouses, including home-stays, are equipped with western toilets. Overnight trains usually have the options of Asian squat-style toilet at one of the carriage and a western-style toilet at the other. On long bus drives, we endeavour to time stops according to acceptable and hygienic toilet facilities which will, in most cases, include a western toilet. We recommend that you carry hand sanitizer and toilet paper.