Travelling through Vietnam is a dream come true, especially if you get the chance to enjoy its mountains and wonderful ethnic villages northwards that sprawl across the vast rice paddies. You’ll also fall in love with the canals that form part of the Mekong Delta in the southern part of the country, with more than 3000km of coastline in between. The transport infrastructure is also good, with buses, trains and flights available. If you’re a foodie, you can’t miss the street food; cheap enough to be affordable for any budget.
As with all countries, Vietnam also has its drawbacks. Many tourists have returned home having experienced scams, rough roads and aggressive vendors. That’s why we’ve put together some tips on how to avoid these problems and leave Vietnam with the best possible taste in your mouth, or as they mention in ATL Night Spots, enjoy your trip without a hassle.
1. Be open with the Vietnamese
The country has always been exposed to foreign tourists and its local residents are not as curious about tourists from neighbouring countries. As a result, many Vietnamese are not confident enough to speak English, even if they previously learnt it at school, and end up ignoring travellers who wander the streets. However, if you ask them directly for help, they are happy to offer it.
The Vietnamese are actually a very welcoming and helpful people. If you approach them politely and with a smile on your face, speak English very slowly, they are likely to help you just as politely. We also recommend you learn a couple of Vietnamese words so that you can greet and thank them appropriately.
2. Connecting to the internet in Vietnam
Most hotels and restaurants have Wi-Fi, but it’s worth getting a SIM card so you can connect anywhere to the internet for just $3. Because the street names are so long, tourists are more likely to use digital maps as they’re more convenient.
Having an internet connection also allows you to pass the time during certain monotone moments of your trip. If you’re online, you can watch a show or stream a film, or even download it on the app in case you’re going somewhere without internet access. Also, if you’re a gamer, you can access gaming sites. If you are someone who enjoys casino games Asiabet is great bet. Through the web you will have access to the best casinos and bookmakers in the country. Classic games like roulette or poker are always fun, but if you want to get a feel for a genuine Vietnamese gaming experience, it is advisable to try out Mahjong or Pachinko. Before you play, however, make sure you choose a licensed and secure casino.
Ask the shop owner or your hotel receptionist for help registering online, as it can be a bit tricky.
3. Pay attention to the dong banknotes
The dong is the country’s currency and notes range from 200 to 500,000 dong. It can be a bit overwhelming to sort through all the zeros, especially since almost all the notes look alike.
If you’re in a hurry and riding a taxi, it can be quite easy to make a mistake and pay with the wrong note. Therefore, it’s very important that you sort out your notes in your hotel room before you leave to avoid mistakes like this. If you do make a mistake, though, it’s best not to think about it too much.
International credit and debit cards are widely accepted at hotels and restaurants in Vietnam, but cash is the norm. As a result, there are plenty of ATMs scattered around the streets and you can easily exchange currency at banks.
4. Beware of taxi scams
For many, motorbike taxis are the best way to get around Vietnam’s streets. Scams, however, are not uncommon, and the best way to avoid them is to know your destination and some of the landmarks you’ll encounter along the way. It’s also important to agree a price beforehand and be prepared to pay a little more than the locals.
For regular taxis, it’s best to research about the main taxi companies points out. The smaller, independent ones tend to have their taximeters set to count faster and their driving is much more aggressive.
5. Knowing the transport options in Vietnam
Overnight buses are a good way to travel long distances and save on accommodation, although there is not much legroom. Upper bunks do offer a little more privacy but you’ll be right up against the streetlights, so it’s advisable to carry a sleeping mask.
The best option may be to take a flight for a little more money, especially as the country has a number of low-cost airlines with cheap tickets. However, there are often delays and they’re also very strict about hand luggage.
6. Precautions in Vietnam
Violent crime is rare in Vietnam and weapon possession is highly regulated, though pickpockets still exist there too. It’s important to be vigilant and not use your mobile phone too much outdoors, also, leave your passport at your hotel room.
Be careful not to drink too much, too, as drunk tourists are easy prey for pickpockets when they return to their hotel.
7. Road safety in big cities
At first, traffic may seem chaotic, but there is a method to the madness. Traffic moves around pedestrians when they want to cross the street if they keep moving at a slow and steady pace. If you don’t dare, it’s best to raise your hand so that you can be stand out among the crowd.
If you want to travel by motorbike, it’s best to book it at quieter destinations. Remember to always wear a helmet and pay attention to the exhaust pipe as it can cause burns to your calves. You should also be careful with your feet and place them facing inwards so as not to bump into other local motorcyclists. Also, remember to wear closed shoes for better feet protection.