Exploring Vietnam: Travel Tips and Tricks

Photo by Preben Nilsen on Unsplash

Once thought of as unknown and mysterious, Vietnam is emerging as a vibrant and enchanting place to visit, especially for travelers looking for alternatives to the more popular tourist trap destinations. From backpackers to businessmen, visitors are falling in love with this captivating Southeast Asian country. Vietnam is full of contradictions: snowy mountains in the north or tropical beaches in the south; small villages or huge cities; traveling solo or taking a group tour. However you wish to explore Vietnam, here are some travel tips and tricks that will help you to enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Planning

Like most countries, Vietnam requires that visitors obtain a visa to enter. As it is far easier to arrange for your visa prior to arriving at the airport, do your research and arrange your visa before your trip. Other logical actions to take when planning your trip include deciding how long you will visit, when you will visit (taking the weather into consideration), and whether you want to do solo or group tours. You should also familiarize yourself with the monetary system (units of money are called dongs, and they are very large), and learn a few phrases in Vietnamese (or in my case, go with someone who speaks the language).

Itinerary

Vietnam is a larger country than you might think. The distance between Hanoi in the north, and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in the south is over 1,600 kilometers (994 miles). Vietnam can be divided into three sections: north, central, and south. Before traveling, you should decide where you want to visit and for how long. If Ha Long Bay is your dream beach destination, allow yourself days to explore this natural wonder. If you prefer city life, be sure to budget enough time for Saigon. Be certain that you are giving yourself plenty of travel time, too, as trains and planes can often take longer than planned in Southeast Asia.

Culture

Photo by Ruslan Bardash on Unsplash

Vietnamese culture is pulsating and alive, and you won’t find a better bowl of pho anywhere on the planet. Foodies will adore exploring Vietnamese cuisine, from street vendors to restaurants, it’s almost impossible to not come away fully satiated. It is, however, advisable to not drink the country’s tap water. French architecture infuses the cities and gives buildings a very distinct look. Vendors expect you to haggle over the prices of items, so make sure to practice beforehand. The traffic is heavy, particularly with motorbikes, so exercise caution when crossing streets. Above all else, leave your expectations at home and allow yourself to fall in love with this amazing country.