Vietnam travel tips
From the exciting pace of the cities to breathtaking rural landscapes and villages, Vietnam’s diversity is astounding. In the capital Hanoi, you will find peaceful lakes, wide tree-lined boulevards, and a fascinating Old Quarter. From Hanoi you can take an overnight boat trip on Halong Bay, with its thousands of limestone islands, or head to the mountains of Sapa.
With its modern vibe and frenetic energy, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) makes for a complete contrast, and is a great jumping off point for an exploration of the Mekong Delta, a mountain getaway to Dalat or a beach holiday in Nha Trang. And don’t forget the Central Vietnam towns of Hue and Hoi An. Here you will find history, culture, cuisine, beaches and some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in all Asia. If you have already booked your trip to Vietnam click here to download our pre-departure guide.
For road journeys in Vietnam, air-conditioned Hyundai with 25-40 seats are used for groups of six or more travellers. Modern sedan cars and minibuses are used for smaller groups. A combination of cyclos, boats, bicycles and your own two feet are used to explore Vietnam's towns, while domestic flights are sometimes used, with modern Airbus 320 or Fokker 70 planes. Flight schedules frequently change in Vietnam, which may impact travel plans.
Metered taxis can be used in the towns and cities, however it pays to be vigilant about scams and to use reputable taxi companies. if being greeted by a transfer driver, ensure they are wearing a Travel Indochina t-shirt and carrying a Travel Indochina signboard with your name to avoid scams, particularly at Hanoi's airport.
Internet access & communication
Internet access is widely available throughout Vietnam and is inexpensive. Some hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants in the cities now offer free WiFi connections. International phone calls can be very expensive in Vietnam, with rates from 4-6 USD per minute. Reverse charge calls cannot be made.
Mobile phones work in Vietnam, though you will need to contact your service provider beforehand to enable roaming. Alternatively, you can purchase a local SIM card on arrival. International post generally takes 7-10 days to reach its destination, with the cost similar to charges in Western countries.
Food & drink
Vietnamese cuisine is real highlight of any journey in Vietnam, with fresh, fragrant flavours, wonderful use of seasonal, locally grown produce, and a French influence apparent. Rice and rice noodles are staples, along with baguettes. Fresh seafood is in abundance, and vegetarians are well catered for. Vietnam's famous soup, pho, is a must to try, and there are many more delicious dishes on offer from pork cooked in claypot to succulent lemongrass prawns and fresh spring rolls.
In Hanoi, try the local fish dish cha ca, and in Hue, enjoy the country's famed imperial cuisine. There are also many places serving cuisines from around the world, particularly in the cities. Travellers should be aware that eating raw, cold food has a higher risk of stomach upset than cooked dishes. Tap water should be avoided, however bottled water is readily available and provided free in most hotel rooms.
We believe tipping is a great way to show your appreciation for receiving great service, and while it is accepted practice in Asia, it should never feel like an obligation. At the beginning of each trip, your Western tour leader or local guide will ask for a small sum (around 50 cents a day) to cover tips for hotel porters and boat crews throughout the trip.
This helps prevent over tipping and having to always carry small change. We are confident that you will be extremely happy with the service you receive from our guides, drivers and tour leaders, and in many cases will choose to show this through a tip, so we do not include compulsory tipping for any Travel Indochina representatives on any of our trips. The choice to tip is always completely up to you.
Swimming at the many beaches and bays in Vietnam is usually safe. On occasion jellyfish can be found in the waters around Vietnam. The most likely time of year they are present is during the months of June through to August in the north, and during the months of August and September in the south. Swimming can still be enjoyed during these months, however please be aware and exercise some caution.
We're proud to offer a robust and practical responsible travel policy. In Vietnam we currently work with NGO's and regional charities such as Streets International,The Loreto Foundation, The Spiral Foundation, Creativity for Humanity and KOTO. We also issue each of our travellers with a tread lightly booklet so they understand how to best mitigate their impact on the environment. To read more about our responsible travel partners and the other programmes we are involved in, take a look at our responsible travel page.