Ten things you need to know before travelling to Vietnam

Vietnam has recently become the destination of choice for many intrepid Australian travellers. Travelling to Vietnam, the visitors will get the opportunities to experience a rich culture, beautiful landscapes, golden beaches, friendly people and most of all, amazing food.


However, there are a few things you need to know if you plan a trip to Vietnam and these will ensure you have a wonderful and safe time there. Here we list out our top 10 important things to know about Vietnam.


1. You need a visa to visit Vietnam


Before leaving for Vietnam, make sure you have a valid visa. Check out our tips on how to get a visa to visit Vietnam.


2. Vietnamese people are friendly but slightly shy with foreign visitors


This is particularly true if you travel to the country side. They tend to steer clear from foreign visitors or watch them from afar. But don’t hesitate to ask for help if you are lost or in troubles. The Vietnamese will help you. If you treat the locals with respect, you will be given lots of kindness and help.


The Vietnamese have a great sense of humour. If you are lucky enough to get to know their sense of humour, your holidays will be full of memories that will bring you a smile every time.


3. Do not be over-ambitious when planning your trip in Vietnam


Many visitors under-estimate the size of Vietnam as a country. Even though it is narrow, the country is rather long, it is 1700 km from the north to the south. The country landscapes are very diverse and there are many places worth visiting. Make sure you allocate at least a couple of weeks to visit the country knowing you will still not see everything.


However, we can assure you that once you are in Vietnam, you will soon plan a returning trip. And no two trips will be the same as there are so many places to visit and things to do in Vietnam.


4. Vietnam weather is varied throughout the country


As the country is long, it makes the country’s weather varied between the north and the south. The north of Vietnam, including Hanoi, has two distinct seasons: hot (from May to October) and cold (from November to April). The weather in the north could be described as being similar to Hong Long weather. It could reach 10 degrees celsius in winter and 40 degrees celsius in summer.


The weather in the middle of Vietnam is generally hot all year round. But during the storm season (May to November) the weather is quite harsh and unpredictable. The south of Vietnam, including Hochminh city, is also generally hot all year round and consists of dry (from December to April) and wet season (May to November).


Make sure you bring appropriate clothes when visit Vietnam. Clothes made from more breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen are recommended. And a raincoat would always come in handy.


Summer in Vietnam, especially during the months of June, July and August are unbearable hot. We recommend you to avoid these months if possible.


5. It is easy to stay connected


It is easy and cheap to stay connected in Vietnam. All you need is to buy a SIM card in Vietnam which is available in almost every corner shop. And if you run out of credit, the card can also be topped up easily and cheaply.


If you are not sure how to register the SIM card or top it up, the shop owners would be happy to assist you.


6. The traffic is very hectic


There are millions of cars, motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians every where in Vietnam, all fight for a path to get to where they want to go, and get there as fast as they can. All of this is happening while there is virtually not traffic rules. There are, but not many people follow them. So one can imagine how chaotic the traffic in Vietnam can be.


If you are a visitor and you need to get somewhere fast, get a taxi and let the drivers negotiate the roads. If you are doing a leisure walk around the city and need to cross a street, make sure you keep a slow pace at all time. Make yourself predictable in your route and speed. That way the traffic can plan their moves around you, rather than into you.


If you really get a bit nervous crossing the streets, ask a local to walk with you. They will be very happy to hold you hand across the streets.

Travelling to Vietnam - top 10 things to know

7. Be careful with taxi scams


Unfortunately there are a few scammers in Vietnam who will try to trick you to a bad far. There are a few signs of the scammers.


– Their taxis always look slight worse for wear as they normally purchase old taxi that were discarded.
– The meter machine always seems a bit broken and actually not working.
– They normally park in front of a tourist attraction waiting for customers. Normal taxis drive around looking for fares, not parking stand still for hours waiting for fares.


How to avoid a taxi scam:


– If you are not sure of the taxi you are getting in, always negotiate on the price before getting in a taxi.
– Make sure you see clearly the cash you hand over. Some of Vietnamese note look similar, like VND10,000 note has the same colour as VND100,000 note. Make sure the drives do not swap the notes quickly and make you pay more.
– Stay with the more reputable taxi companies. They might be slightly more expensive, but you will be less likely be scammed. Some of these bigger taxi companies include Hanoi Taxi, Sun Taxi, Mai Linh Taxi.
– Always note down the taxi telephone number and cab number. If you feel you are scammed you can always report the driver.
– In larger city, use ride services such as Grab. It is more visible to book, track your journey and your fare.


8. Use your credit cards carefully


Cash is king in Vietnam. If possible you should pay for everything in cash. However, it is not always practical as the Vietnamese Dong has very little value and to pay for everything in cash will require you to bring with you a big pile of cash at all time.


If you need to pay by credit cards, make sure you pay in more established businesses, such as for hotels, reputable hotels. Make sure you see your credit cards at all time when paying for services. For smaller establishments, it is better to pay with cash.


9. Crime


It is quite safe to travel in Vietnam as the Vietnamese is generally peaceful people. However, as common sense prevails, avoid enter quiet rugged-looking areas, especially late at night and especially in larger cities.


You will be more likely be the victims of petty theft such pick pocketing. Make sure you have your bags in front of you and within your sight at all time when walking the streets.


10. Bring with you a first aid kits


Make sure you update your first aid kits and bring with when travelling to Vietnam. Carry insect repellence and sun block out with you at all time. Clean your hand. Do not drink tap water. Eat cooked food. Carry anti diarrhea medication with you at all time.


See our other tips on staying safe in Vietnam here.


There are many things to consider when travelling to a different culture. But if you come prepared, your travelling to Vietnam will be the best holidays you could dream of. For more information, check out Australian government website smarttraveller for further travelling information for Vietnam and other countries.