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Visiting Vietnam | A Brief Guide

Vietnam is one of the safest and most affordable places to travel in the entire world. With no reason not to visit this awesome country, here are the best ways to go about planning your trip!

When To Travel

Plan your trip for the High Season between November and February. The weather during this time is the most pleasant, with mild temperatures. You get fair prices for ideal weather conditions. The cheapest time to travel, however, is during the Low Season, from May to October, when it’s hot and rainy. You want to avoid visiting during late summer to avoid tropical storms. Coastal areas are vulnerable to torrential rains, which can cause road closings and flooding. During High Season, you can find boutique stays for $50-$100 per night, hostels for $10 per night, and luxury stays for $150-$200 per night.

Key Transportation Essentials

You want to fly between major cities as your transportation of choice as flights are a cheap and fast way to get around. There are over 20 airports in the country. If you don’t want to have to head over to the airport frequently, you can also take the outskirt roads and busses which do not encounter as much traffic as the major cities. Using trains and buses is not recommend, however, as the railroad is underdeveloped. The traffic in Vietnam is hectic with frequent accidents. Taxis services like Grab Taxi are ideal, as they are an official ride-sharing service. When you arrive, get a local SIM card. You will gain unlimited data and access to maps and bus routes.

What You Need to Travel

Be sure to bring your passport and ID, money, visa, and a universal travel adaptor. The visa you’ll need to legally travel in Vietnam can be purchased as the 30-day e-visa that is available online. You can also contact a Vietnamese embassy to apply, but know that it may take more time to receive your visa this way.

Basic Currency Information

The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese dong (VND), but US dollars are accepted in most areas in the country. Some small-town storefronts and shops may not allow US dollars. It is imperative that you get familiar with currency differences. One US dollar is equal to over 23,000 VND. Be aware of the variations in cost to prevent overcharges.

Where To Stay

Your trip plans will influence the towns where you’ll want to stay. For instance, if you want to stay closer to the beach, you should head to Nha Trang and book a hotel or resort by the water. If you want to be near shopping, head toward the river and stay in Saigon. Wherever you choose, you will likely begin your journey by arriving in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, as these airports take international flights.

Understanding Vietnamese Culture

To get in touch with Vietnamese culture, book a cooking class, workshop, or visit a museum. You can also see musical performances and take temple tours. Vietnam was heavily influenced by China during colonization, so a great deal of Vietnamese culture is influenced by Buddhist and Confucian teachings.

Vietnam Travel Don'ts 

Vietnamese culture is mild-mannered but does contain certain things to be aware of. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Do not dress with uncovered shoulders or pants that rise above the knee.
  • Do not take photos, particularly at sacred places, without permission.
  • Do not sit before any elders have been seated.
  • Do not forget to ask if you should take off your shoes before entering someone’s home.
  • Do not stick your chopsticks upright in the bowl. To put them down, place them horizontally on top of the bowl.
  • Do not make public scenes.
  • Cuddling and kissing in public is frowned upon.

Food and Authentic Cuisines

Popular foods include pho (the national food) and banh mi (a popular street food) which both emerged after French colonization. The lunchtime favorite is Bun cha. Coconut milk and Sugarcane Juice are midday refreshers, and Ruou Nep is a popular Vietnamese Rice Wine to have in the late evening.

Local Vietnamese Society

Vietnamese culture is a mix of conservative and liberal and is very tolerant of the LGBTQ + community. There are no laws against same-sex relationships. Violent crime is very rare in Vietnam, and it is unlikely that you will experience any issues. Communicating well with locals requires paying attention to nonverbal gestures between the words. Saving face is part of being polite, and smiles have different meanings.

Vietnam Travel Do’s

  • Do keep a strong, DEET-based bug repellent with you, as mosquitos in Vietnam can cause Dengue fever.
  • Do rent electric motorbikes. You can keep a steady speed without the chaos of city driving. Motorbike accidents are alarmingly common, however, so be careful while riding. 

Places to Avoid

Stay away from high-speed highways. Avoid urban areas in the evening as these are where burglaries are more likely to occur. During storms, avoid Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City, as these are more susceptible to heavy flooding. Steep elevation comes with its own safety risks. Avoid Vietnam’s highest peak at Fan Si Peak, spanning 10,312 feet. 

Languages Spoken in Vietnam

Vietnamese is the first and official language, and English is the next popular second language. Highlander languages and some Chinese, Khmer, and French can be heard as well. There are about 110 recognized languages spoken in the country. 

Illegal Actions in Vietnam

It is illegal to spread and disseminate pornography, according to Vietnam’s Criminal Code. Distribution of unhealthy products can result in a fine or a prison sentence of six months to three years. Words against the National Flag, Emblem, or Anthem are criminal offenses and can lead to warnings or prison for six months to three years. Badmouthing politics, discussing history, racism, sexism, or religion, and stating false information are illegal acts.

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