I close the series of articles on VIETNAM with a small list of tips for preparing your trip to the country of ex-Indochina and some tips to make the most of it on the spot and avoid any inconvenience or at least learn about it. This article is subjective and only concerns my personal opinion. I still hope to give you good advice to visit this beautiful country.
1- PREPARE AN ITINERARY
This advice is for travellers who like their stay to be a minimum organized. I belong to this category and that does not prevent me from using the word “adventure” when describing my trips. I still find it important to know which city, which monument, which place I want to visit without setting me specific dates and times, do you agree with me?
In general, I note the key points on my guide and I decide on the spot according to my desires. For example, I plan to stay in the same hotel for 3 nights and list the things to do and see around this place.
2- CHOOSE YOUR ACCOMMODATION WELL
This advice can be interpreted differently depending on the type of trip you want to experience. I like to alternate between comfortable 3 * hotels and cheaper hotels or guesthouses that reflect the culture of the country we are visiting. Immersing yourself in local customs and traditions is a great experience that any traveller should get to know and test for even a few nights.
As for hotels in Vietnam, the mid-range hotels are OK. Read traveller reviews before booking. The hotel that I liked in Hanoi is the Gondola Hotel. Ideally located 2 minutes walk from Hoan Kiem Lake and the main attractions, this hotel is welcoming and clean, the rooms are comfortable and the service is decent. The price of a double room is around 45 € per night with breakfast.
I went through the site www.agoda.com to book all of my hotel nights in Vietnam. I like this booking platform which offers fairly attractive prices with many flash promotions. The use is simple and fast, the cancellation is in many cases, free up to 48 hours before departure and you can reserve the room several months before and be debited only 72 hours before your arrival at the hotel.
3- BOOK YOUR INTERNAL FLIGHTS IN ADVANCE
Many travellers find it very easy and simple to book internal flights at the last minute. I work for an airline and I can tell you that it is not that simple. It depends on the destinations of course. Often, taking it at the last minute, you do not benefit from promotions or low prices, prices are generally higher. Don’t ask me why but that’s how it is and I admit that I don’t find it very logical but hey, we don’t remake the world!
I booked my internal flights about 1 month in advance to make the return journey Hanoi-Danang with the company Vietnam Airlines. I was lucky enough to get a promotion that had just been put online, so I paid for my € 60 round trip ticket, which is not expensive. By returning to the site a few days later, the prices had already increased (90 €) so if you come across a promotion, do not wait to hope that the prices will drop (friend’s advice).
4- PREPARE EXCURSIONS AND LAND (OR SEA) TRANSPORT 48 HOURS BEFORE
When I arrived in Vietnam, I hadn’t booked any excursions. As I said above, I prefer to organize my activities on-site, feeling and depending on the weather (or my moods). However, I encountered a few surprises there; I thought I could go to a local agency and find an excursion or transport for the next day without a problem but it was not the case. Finally, I still managed to find alternatives but which did not necessarily correspond to what I had originally planned. So I strongly advise you to book your excursions and your transport at least 48 hours before to get what you want. I am thinking in particular of the night bus that we booked at the last minute to go from Hanoi to Sapa(the night train was already full) and the cruise to Halong Bay where we did not have a cabin that met our expectations.
5- THE WATER IS NOT DRINKABLE
In many Asian countries, the water is not drinkable, buy your bottles of water at the local supermarket or grocery store. In general, hotels provide you with 2 free bottles per day.
6- IN VIETNAM, YOU ARE A MILLIONAIRE
Don’t get me wrong, this title is ironic! All that to tell you that the local currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND) and that 1 € = 24,000 VND. With that, you quickly become a millionaire and your wallet is pretty well stocked. The coins do not exist, there are only banknotes. PS: many traders accept the dollar.
7- WATCH OUT FOR SCAMS IN THE STREET AND PICKPOCKETS
Photo via PinterestLike everywhere, you tell me. You have to be attentive (even downstairs!) Without becoming paranoid. It is important to learn about safety in the cities where you travel, but it should not scare you or you decide to cancel your trip. There is insecurity, theft, scams EVERYWHERE in the world. Yes, some destinations are safer than others but you may very well have this type of inconvenience in certain neighbourhoods near you. In short, I reassure you, Vietnam is not at all dangerous (by the way, what does that mean dangerous ?? The visions of danger are so different …). I advise you, however, to be attentive to your business, as everywhere, there are pickpockets, there are scams and we cannot always escape them.
I’m going to tell you about a little scam to which I was entitled during my trip. It was nothing bad or dangerous, but we still feel very silly at the time. If you know the city of Hanoi, you know that many street vendors walk around with big baskets to sell souvenirs, cakes and all kinds of trinkets. A doughnut vendor walked past me and I wanted to taste it. So I asked her for 2 doughnuts for 20,000 VND (€ 1). I did not have a 20,000 VND note, so I handed her a 50,000 VND note to make a change. [I am laughing while writing this episode to you so much I was made quickly LOL]. So she puts 2 doughnuts in a small bag and sees my 50,000 VND bill. In 2 minutes top time, she adds 2 other doughnuts (at that time I was trying to tell her that I wanted only 2 and not 4), she takes my ticket and goes (limit running)! Do you see the image of the elderly little lady walking away quickly while I end up with 4 doughnuts in my hands? Here it is. It was only the second day in this country and after this little passage (rather funny but annoying), I preferred to give extra when I bought souvenirs on the markets or in the street.
8- DON’T BE IN A HURRY
Anyway, on vacation, it’s not the goal, is not it? Certain situations can nevertheless be annoying like non-punctuality. Of the 15 days of travel in Vietnam, we were on time only 3 times among all the excursions and transport in which we participated. When I say 3 times it is the night train from Sapa to Hanoi, the flight between Hanoi and Danang and the taxi between Hue and Hoi An. For each excursion, we were at least 30 minutes late (at least… ). It is not death, of course, but when you want to enjoy your whole days without wasting time, 30 minutes is a lot. You should also know that the sun sets early (around 5.30-6 p.m.) so you have to get up early to enjoy your days in their entirety.
9- VIETNAMESE TRAFFIC IS A CULTURAL SHOCK
Traffic is certainly the biggest difference I have found between France and Vietnam. It was my biggest shock when arriving in Hanoi: this aspect is especially marked in the big cities, we have not seen this messy traffic in Sapa or Hoi An for example. Scooters are everywhere, I’m sure there are as many scooters as people in Hanoi! The prohibited senses and the fires are very present but nobody seems to see them. Horns are used for EVERYTHING, I mean EVERYTHING and even trains honk! We can see pedestrian crossings but priority does not exist. The trick? Look straight ahead, take a firm step, do not run and lo and behold, you have successfully crossed a street. The scooters will bypass you without stopping but don’t worry, they don’t drive fast (between 30 and 40 km / h I think) in the city centre. In short, after a few days in Hanoi, the crossing has become a breeze LOL.
10- SOME RULES OF GOOD CONDUCT
♦ Vietnamese like many Asians do not kiss to say hello, they shake hands.
♦ Be careful not to wear too short clothes (shorts, tank tops, skirts, etc.) in places of worship out of respect.
♦ Do not plant your chopsticks in a bowl of rice, it is the sign of a ritual for the dead
♦ The Vietnamese are very direct and will not beat around the bush to tell you something, do not be upset, it is part of their education.
ARE THESE TIPS USEFUL TO YOU? ARE YOU PLANNING A TRIP TO VIETNAM? ♥
ARE THESE TIPS USEFUL TO YOU? ARE YOU PLANNING A TRIP TO VIETNAM? ♥
Plan your trip to Vietnam with the Comptoir des Voyages agency, which will be happy to provide you with information and carry out your travel plan!