Here’s some informative and insightful advice to help you make the most of your travels:
Try not to over pack! Remember that you’ll be able to purchase just about anything here for a fraction of the price. As for the essentials, we recommend that you:
- Pack comfortable, lightweight clothing in cotton or other natural fabrics for everyday use.
- Bring a long-sleeved shirt and pants to help ward off biting insects at night.
- Bring a sweater or two for chillier weather if you intend to travel to the North.
- Pack a lightweight raincoat regardless of the season.
- Plan to wear strong, but easy to remove shoes.
- Come prepared with insect repellent and sunscreen.
- Try to speak the local language: a simple “hello”, “goodbye”, or “thank you” is always greatly appreciated!
- Respect local dress standards and dress modestly, especially in the countryside or at religious sites.
- Do not show affection in public.
- Do not buy or use drugs of any kind.
- Remember to always ask permission before taking pictures of locals.
- Do not lose your temper or behave aggressively, as it is deemed extremely impolite and embarrassing.
- Sun: Avoid heat stroke, dehydration, and sunburn by drinking plenty of water and applying sunscreen regularly.
- Eye trouble: Wear protective sunglasses to prevent against potential eye trouble from dust, debris, exhaust, and other irritants.
- Food and water: Always clean your fruits and vegetables with purified water or peel them prior to eating. Only accept bottled water, as the tap water in Vietnam is not suitable for drinking. Avoid undercooked cuisine, and always wash or sanitize your hands before eating. Be sure to select venues that are busy with a constant turnover (you’ll know the food is fresh!).
- Medical Treatment: If you have a pre-existing medical condition, please make arrangements with your doctor before traveling. If you are traveling with medicine, be sure to have a copy of your prescription handy to avoid any issues with the authorities.
- Travel Insurance: All participants should come prepared with their own travel insurance.
- Drugs: Do not buy or use drugs of any kind. Drug users are fully responsible for their actions and stiff penalties are in place.
- Sexual tourism: Know that child sexual tourism is strictly forbidden. Pedophiles will be pursued and prosecuted, both here and in their home country.
Dress & Behavior
Always respect local dress standards, so as to not offend the locals.
- Men should avoid walking around bare-chested.
- Women should avoid wearing low-cut or tight sleeveless tops.
- At religious sites, knees and shoulders must be covered.
- Shoes must be removed at the entrances of temples, pagodas, some shops and homes.
- Avoid touching people on the head, as it may offend.
- Use your feet just for walking or playing sports, and do not place them on furniture or use them to point.
- Locals are naturally curious about foreign visitors. Privacy can mean something very different in Asia; so, don’t be offended if people stare.
- Avoid rickshaw rides after dark.
- When crossing the road make sure to continuously look both ways and walk slowly!
- Leave all your valuables, documents, credit cards, etc. at home before venturing out.
- Don’t give money directly to beggars, instead donate to a local charity or cause.
- However frustrated, don't loose your temper- you’ll ‘lose face' and it won't get you very far!
- The currency in Vietnam is the Đồng (Vnd). Check online for the current exchange rate.
- As in many parts of the world, the US dollar is also widely accepted for direct payment in hotels, restaurants, and shops.
- Most currencies can easily be exchanged at the airport and other local kiosks.
- Notify your bank of your travels before departure to avoid any potential issues.
- Vietnam has mostly a cash economy, but ATMs are widely available. Consider any international fees you may incur from your provider.
- Tipping small amounts of money for good services rendered is generally appreciated.
Visas for Vietnam are available on arrival but authorization must be obtained in advance. To save delays at the airport upon arrival, visas are best obtained from the embassy or consulate in your home country before traveling. Vietnam Bike Tours® can also help you to arrange for a Vietnamese VOA. Remember to make sure your passport is valid for at least six-months before travel.
- Keep it local. Buying local goods and services supports a sustainable local economy, and ensures that your money is well distributed.
- Avoid purchasing products that exploit or destroy wildlife, including those that are made from animal skins, shells or horns.
- Anything can be tailored, and often in a 24 hour time period. The national dress for women (ao dai) makes for a unique souvenir.
- Jewelry (particularly silver jewelry) can be a good buy throughout the region and beautiful lacquer ware products are a bargain in Vietnam.
- Always remember that in Asia street prices are "flexible" and you can bargain for the price you want*
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