Are you planning a trip to Vietnam in coming time? searching for some local traditional customs and regulations that may help on the first timer about some 28 Vietnam travel tips before going to Vietnam
Here are Our 28 Vietnam Travel Tips to know before going to Vietnam
1. Know the price to avoid scamming
Unfortunately, Vietnam is notorious for scamming and rip-offs and such taxi drivers, moto-taxi drivers, and overfriendly street vendors are really good at tricking unsuspecting tourists.
Besides, in many street restaurants where they do not have the price on the menu, it’s tricky to check the bill.
Visitors are advised to ask the price before deciding to order anything.
2. Bed bugs and mosquitoes
Nothing is more frightening than the prospect of getting bites from bed bugs and mosquitoes. Bed bugs can especially be crawling under your mattress seam or bedside tables in the dorms if you do not check them first after arrival. Noted Vietnam travel tips
3. Water and food safety
It’s never safe to drink tap water in Vietnam, due to the high amount of metal and contamination. The best choice is to drink bottled and filter water if available.
As for food, bear in mind that most Vietnamese street food is potentially unhygienic as it’s unlikely to trace back to the sources of ingredients.
4. Traffic and driving safety
Honking, running a red light, driving in the wrong lane, texting on the phone… such habits prevail on the streets of Vietnam, creating non-stop chaos and a bustling pace of traffic.
Therefore if you’ve ever considered taking up driving in the country, beware of the possibility of any crash or accident even if you’re driving carefully!
5. Dress conservatively
Remember not to wear any short-sleeved shirts or short pants whenever you enter sacred places. In big cities, clothes might not be a major issue but when it comes to small towns or visiting old people, dressing informally will be considered out of respect.
6. Beware of the weather
Visitors cannot guarantee seeing the best of any majestic landscape if it’s not in season. Sometimes it’s possible to end up in a hotel for the whole day during the rainy season, or having to cancel your trip because the town is being flooded.
One of the most important things to know before going to Vietnam is to study and understand Vietnam’s weather. With such an elongated country, it’s only natural the weather is significantly different from region to region in Vietnam. This is how extreme the weather can be – It was snowing in Sapa while I couldn’t tolerate the hot sun in Mui Ne when I was traveling in Vietnam!
Northern Vietnam: The winter is very cold, especially in places bordering China, and the temperature drops to single digits and even minus degree Celsius temperatures are common in the north of Vietnam. The summers are hot and it showers sometimes as well during this season. The wet season is often accompanied by typhoons and storms that cause landslides and other natural calamities.
So the ideal time to travel in the north is just after the summer and before the arrival of the monsoons, i.e between March & May. Or right after the monsoon and before the onset of summer between October & November (which can be tricky given the typhoons).
Central Vietnam: The weather in the central is tropical in nature where dry weather lasts between January & August, monsoons arrive in August and last until November, given the window for ttravellers between October to January.
Southern Vietnam: As you go south in Vietnam, the climate is full-fledged tropical, characterised by two seasons prominently, the wet and the dry, which is more or less same as the above in central Vietnam, making it ideal for travel from December to April.
Typhoons in Vietnam: Typhoons are a common occurrence in countries like Vietnam or the Philippines. And entering Vietnam without knowing about them is a huge gamble. Although you can’t predict years in advance, usually, the country knows the arrival of typhoons and the people prepare accordingly. So check the weather online for typhoons.
Central and South Vietnam regions are prone to typhoons between August & November, where floods are common, while the typhoons arrive a little early in the north, around late June or July. Overall, October tends to be stormy in the entire country, and the typhoon season typically ends around December every year.
7. Avoid going out late
Vietnam may come across as one of the safest countries in the world but recent incidents regarding sexual harassment to Western women might make you think twice if planning to go back to a hostel at midnight.
The police will offer no help even if you report an incident to them and it might take a while for your embassy to take your case into consideration.
8. Never climb the mountain alone
Nothing beats the thrill and excitement of being alone, completely immersed in nature, without following any tour guide. However, it’s been warned that the dangers of the cliffs and routes in Vietnam’s forests and mountains are considerably unpredictable. And the death of a 22-year-old British mountain climber last year should be a precious reminder for any hikers.
9. Delayed airlines
Most Vietnamese airlines have acquired a notoriety for delaying the flights regardless of the price you have paid. Therefore if you plan an important meeting or have an urgent trip, consider carefully the flight time and add on extra hours in your itinerary for waiting!
10. High pollution
Recently, big cities in Vietnam have become potential competitors against Beijing in the list of the most polluted cities in the world. Visitors better get a face mask if planning to tour around the city during rush hours.
11. Don’t drink too much
One of the best things about traveling to Vietnam is the country offers a variety of cheap alcoholic drinks. However, as for their quality standard, the hangover might be even worse than you can imagine.
12. Be prepared if you’re a vegan or vegetarian
Even though Buddhism is the most popular religion in Vietnam, a majority of people still frown upon the idea of going vegan or vegetarian. It’s often tricky to get a vegetarian meal if you opt for a normal restaurant instead of vegan places.
13. Avoid national holidays Vietnam Travel Tips
It’s advisable to check out the national holiday schedule before setting off in Vietnam as most of the locals will make their way back to their hometown, leaving the city like a ghost-haunted place.
At its worst, especially during the New Year period, local restaurants will close down for days without any further notice of the reopening dates.
14. Don’t let the size of the country fool you
One of the things not to do in Vietnam is to underestimate the size of this country. It might look like a thin strip of land next to the sea on a map, but did you know that the length of the country from the north to the south is more than 1800km at least? And it takes more than 36 hours to travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh! Now you get an idea of Vietnam’s size, right?
15. Have a rough itinerary in mind
Since you shouldn’t take Vietnam for a little country, having a rough itinerary for your Vietnam trip surely goes a long way. You don’t plan everything end-to-end but make an outline or a trail that you would want to cover in Vietnam. The minimum time to travel in Vietnam from the north or the south to the other end is 3 weeks
This is close to the ideal time to travel in Vietnam as ideally, you need at least a month to explore Vietnam to a certain level. Anything less than 3 weeks mean you have to forgo a few places obviously, but the key lies in how many places you want to explore.
16. The best time to visit Vietnam is subjective
One of the things to know before visiting Vietnam is zeroing on the best time to travel, which is really subjective. As the country has different weather in various regions, it is the first thing among the things to consider. And although Vietnam is suitable for travel throughout the year, the best time really depends on the experiences that you are looking for.
As a rule of thumb, the best time to visit Vietnam is spring, between February to April and autumn, from August to October. This is when the number of travelers is high. And places can be expensive & in demand, tours can get full quickly and bargaining might not be feasible. But if you want to spend a summer in Vietnam, you can choose the summertime from February to June to travel, when the flight tickets, accommodations, and tour packages will be much cheaper. Tips for Vietnam travel
North (Hanoi, Ninh Binh/Tam Coc, Halong Bay, Sapa, Ha Giang, Cuc Phuong, Mai Chau & Mu Cang Chai)
Overall, the best months to travel in the north & northeast Vietnam is from October to April, although it gets quite cold during December and January. The best for trekking in regions like Sapa and around Mu Cang Chai is from September & November, and from March to May.
Central Vietnam (Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Nha Trang, Dalat, Phong Nha & Quy Nhon)
The best time to visit these places in central Vietnam is from late November to May when you can completely avoid the rains and typhoons. However, summer would be prevalent during this time. So if you are not a summer-person, you wouldn’t enjoy being here during this time.
South Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh, Long Hai, The Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc, Con Dao, Phan Thiet/Mui Ne & Ho Tram)
The ideal time to travel in South Vietnam is the same as that of central regions, i.e from late November to May, with the time between February to May being hotter.
17. Get off the typical tourist places to find your own paradise
The best things to do in Vietnam, the places to explore and experiences to enjoy are not yet touristy or commercialised! So if you wander off the main attractions and create your own offbeat trail, you’ll stumble upon the better places in Vietnam, which are wonderful, cheap and authentic.
If you want to experience the countryside laden with lush fields, terraced paddy farms and wildflowers, head to the north and the north-east of Vietnam. If mountains are your thing, central Vietnam away from the coast would keep you enthralled. Similarly, the places close to popular cities in the south have many things to offer travelers.
18. Understand the currency Vietnamese Dong
The Vietnamese currency is called Dong, abbreviated as VND. The denominations are really small, with the least value being 500 VND, which almost has no value. So it takes a while to understand the many notes with the different number of zeroes on it. And if you don’t pay enough attention while transacting, it is quite possible to lose money. Everything is in multiples of thousands, and some notes look similar.
The US dollars are freely accepted almost everywhere, but keep an eye on the currency exchange rates if you wish to exchange. There are scores of shops offering currency exchange. But it’s better to inquire in multiple shops before finalising as the rates differ. Avoid the exchange at the airports. Our next Vietnam travel tips
19. ATM’s aren’t there in EVERY town in Vietnam
Although cash is the king of Vietnam, ATM’s aren’t in every corner in all the cities. Of course, the bigger towns are an exception to this but in towns like Phong Nha or Tam Coc, there is just a handful of them even in 2018. So make sure to stock enough cash when you are in bigger cities to cover up for off the beat/smaller towns.
Also, make sure you have some dollars that you can get converted to VND to begin your trip. If you could get Dong before arriving it’s the best, but since they aren’t available easily, get some currency in cash, preferably USD. Euros or pounds also could be exchanged although USD is the most widely accepted currency after Dong in Vietnam.
20. You can work while you travel because Wifi is great
If you are a digital nomad or you work while traveling, then Vietnam isn’t a bad place at all, for the Wifi is decent in every town. It is not as blazing it is in Thailand, but the Wifi is excellent enough for you to get work done, make video calls or simply enjoy!
Almost all the hostels and hotels provide very good internet. So you can also avoid buying a local sim if the internet is all you need.
21. Morning people are at an advantage
Vietnam sleeps early and begins the day quite early. Irrespective of the region, Vietnamese are early risers. Maybe because of the geography or the weather, whatever the reasons are, it means that if you are a morning person, you have more advantage as a traveler.
The tours start early, the attractions open as early as 7 AM in many towns. And it is way less crowded along with pleasant weather during the mornings. And except a few places in Ho Chi Minh, Danang or Hanoi, most cities wind up early in the night. Shops begin to close around 9 PM and by 11 PM, it would get deserted. So make the most of it rising early while in Vietnam!
22. Vietnamese coffee is awesome and really strong
The food in Vietnam is simply awesome, but Vietnamese coffee is another level altogether. If you are a coffee-addict, be assured that you’ll end up buying coffee to your home, apart from the fact that you’ll have it all the time in Vietnam!
But unlike any other country, Vietnamese coffee is usually very strong. Whether you consume it as a black coffee or add ice or condensed milk, with the cold coffee being the most popular drink, it is strong. So you might want to keep your hydration levels in check especially if you are traveling during summer and are prone to the habit of drinking excessive coffee!
23. Go for registered taxis for Vietnam Travel Tips
Cabs are a convenient way to travel in Vietnam, especially if you are traveling in groups. But tourists are often asked to pay higher prices since either the meter is faulty or tuned for higher prices or the taxis are fake.
Vinasun taxis that have a uniform color code is professional and reliable, and not that expensive if covering long distances within big cities. Avoid getting into random cabs. Also, there are motorbikes by Grab where motorists will drive you around, which is cheaper than the cabs.
24. If you thought that the capital Hanoi is busy, well, Ho Chi Minh is
Being the capital, Hanoi must be bustling and happening, but it is far quieter and devoid of glamour. On the other hand, Ho Chi Minh in the south is the nightlife capital and a vibrant city that always looks busy.
Hanoi is more urbanised and progressed, whereas if you want to entertain yourself either through socialising or shopping, Ho Chi Minh is the place to be. Hanoi is rich in history while Ho Chi Minh is known for its unique culture.
25. Not everyone speaks or understands English
If you travel to the interior of Vietnam, not everyone would understand English, and it would be difficult to get around. Even in the big cities, although most hotel owners, people in cafes and tourist centres speak English, in most cases they aren’t fluent and it is just basic English. So keep that in mind and learning a few Vietnamese phrases would help!
26. Traffic is hectic and honking is common
If you are not used to heavy traffic, then that’s the first cultural shock that you would encounter in Vietnam. Delays are common, and traffic jams are a regular thing, especially in Ho Chi Minh.
Honking isn’t rude or offence unlike in many parts of the world. It just means that they are in a hurry and they want you to make way for them.
27. Vietnam Travel Tips: Avoid tap water
Tap water isn’t suitable for drinking. Bottled water is very cheap and most hostels provide purified water. So go for these and avoid drinking water directly from the tap at any cost.
28. People are friendly and helpful
One of the things to know about Vietnamese culture is its people. They are welcoming, helpful and friendly, although the youngsters these days might have money on their mind when it comes to tourists. A few times money may be the motive for the locals to befriend tourists but that’s not always the case.
Recommended Vietnam Tours:
- Tour Guide Vietnam & Transfers
- Northern Vietnam Tours with Locals
- Hanoi Car Rental
- Hire a Car with local Driver
Questions About Vietnam Travel Tips?
Do you have any questions about traveling to Vietnam? Ask me anything in the comment section below. We’ll do our best to help!
Featured ToursByLocals Vietnam