Isn’t it great when you go to a country and you come alive with fascination, jumping out of your hotel bed every morning wanting to explore and discover more? I just love when I find a place like that. Recently, I had these kinds of moments with Vietnam.
I travelled here for the first time a few weeks ago and I enjoyed every single moment. The food, the culture, the people, the architecture, the history, I loved and was interested in everything!
You always learn a lot about a country when you visit and this is why I’ve put together some simple travel tips to make your time in Vietnam even more amazing, oh and a tad safer too. So first time visitors take note!
General Travel Tips:
If you are thinking about travelling to somewhere in Asia, yet don’t want to spend a heavy penny on accommodation, Vietnam may be your best bet. The gorgeous yet ridiculously attainable accommodation you can find here is some times too good to be true. We stayed at The Earth Villa in Hội An, and couldn’t believe the quality for the little price we paid. Of course like with anything travel-wise, make sure you shop around and check various hotel sites such as Agoda, Booking.com and Trivago.
We flew Jetstar while travelling domestically in Vietnam. We found it much cheaper to book the flights while we were in Vietnam rather than book them prior to arriving. As with any budget airline, if you want to have check in luggage, you have to pay, and normally it’s quite pricey. However, because we booked our flights in Vietnam, buying the extra check on baggage ended up being super cheap too. This was perfect for us as we had three big suitcases to drag around the country!
We decided to tip quite a bit in Vietnam, especially because food was so cheap, and was normally mouthwateringly good too. To give you an idea of how much to tip/if you should tip at all, our little tipping guide went a bit like this:
- Good food and service: 10-15% of bill
- Decent food and service: 5-10% of bill
- Average food and service: No tipping
Watch Out For:
Note: Please don’t be scared! These are just things to be wary of – we felt totally safe in Vietnam and fortunately didn’t experience any of this. Just keep your guard up in case, just like you should with any new country you travel to.
Taxi Scams –
There are quite a few ‘fake’ taxi services in Vietnam so make sure you’re vigilant and do your research about the best companies to catch before you arrive. Vinasun Taxi service is known to be good, however the ‘fake’ taxis can tend to look exactly the same as the real ones. To make sure you’re catching a verified taxi, check the phone number on the side of the car. The fake taxis will have a slightly different phone number to the real deal.
Another tip – make sure the taxi drops you in front of your hotel. They have been known to take foreigners around the corner from their hotels to try to demand more money. Also keep a track of where you are going. The taxis have also been known to take tourists to other hotels to either try to convince them that that’s the hotel they booked, or that they should stay there instead of their hotel. We always had Google Maps up on our phone with every taxi trip we took so we could easily track exactly where we were going.
Shoe Fixers –
I got the shock of my life when a man in Hanoi ran over to me from the other side of the road and pointed at my feet, then grabbed my foot and started putting glue on the sole of my sandal to fix where it was coming a part! Of course I pulled my foot away and yelled ‘NO!’ He followed us up the street a bit but eventually left us alone. From then on we were more aware about these ‘shoe fixers’. So just beware if you see anyone pointing at your feet, and running at you with glue, it’s not a free shoe fixing service!
Pickpocketing is common in Vietnam, so it’s best to keep an extra eye out and keep a hand on your bag to secure it. We were always extra careful when we were around busier places, such as markets, restaurants, tourist sites, and even walking close to and across the road. I find small cross body bags are best to have while sightseeing. These bags are great as they ensure that you only take only the necessities out with you, mainly because you can’t fit much in them. See some of my favourite cross body bags here and here. In Vietnam, I would only take either my camera or phone with me when I went out and I’d only take a small amount of cash. Your hotel will generally ask to look after your key while you go out, so that’s also one less thing for you to carry. Even though we felt totally safe walking around Vietnam, taking less things with you makes you feel less vulnerable and more relaxed and confident.
Overwhelmed? I hope not! As I mentioned above, we felt safe the whole time we were in Vietnam, and you will too!