Vietnam Travel Tips
Arrange things from the previous day, clean the house neat or return books to the library is the things need to do before moving.
On the departure day, you often rush and hustle, plus in high spirits may not be able to remember everything you need to bring. To have a perfect trip, we should take time to prepare a day before, arranging everything.
Packing and checking
If waiting for the departure day to packing, maybe we will forget many necessary things at home. Therefore, packing in the day before would be an ideal time for you to overcome this case as well as carry on exactly what you want. Let’s pack your clothes and necessary things in suitcases, then cosmetic and bath items. You should also consider what to carry what has baggage weight allowed.
Learn about the weather where you are going to is the one of the important things. Knowing the temperature and climate will help you bring the suitable clothes. Ready to face the trip cancellation or delay if bad weather is something you should psychologically prepare.
Clean the house
Let’s do it before traveling. What could be more pleasant when returning after a long trip is a clean and tidy house? Clean the refrigerator before going, remove the expired food, wash dishes, clean the floor, etc. Make sure that all the windows in the house have been carefully bolted, turn off heating, air conditioner. If you foster pet, please send someone to take care of before you leave. Return books to the library in one thing you should keep in mind.
Download necessary things to computer
Please download the needed information for your job, the exciting destinations in upcoming tour to personal computer, telephone at home, when your internet is working fine. The wifi is not always stable where you go.
Bring the chargers
Remember to bring the chargers to energize the camera, cell phone, laptop or music player. There are plenty of people often forgets the charger while traveling and it’s hard to deal with out of battery status.
Call to the bank
The banks may suspect when seeing your account used abroad and will they will temporarily lock it. It happened a lot. For the smooth trip without trouble about money, call your bank to inform them about this trip. The banks may suspect when seeing your account used abroad and will they will temporarily lock it. It happened a lot. For the smooth trip without trouble about money, call your bank to inform them about this trip.
Check the overall
A day before traveling, call the company to make sure your ticket has been booked, no delayed flight and hotel to confirm your reservation. In addition, you should contact with the taxi, baby sitting service at the tourist place, etc. to make sure that the trip will not be encounter any obstacles.
When you travel for several days, you should talk to your friends, relatives and neighbors care for your house, water the plants in front of house or hold the letters from post office.
Fashion & handmake stuff
There are a lot of T-shirt, beaded handbags, Ao Dai (traditional or renovated style), items made from silk, shoes, slippers etc. showing on the street, store or hotel outlet. In addition, Clothing handmade is quite popular in Vietnam that tourist likes so much so you can have a nice dress, shirt, or handbag following your interests thanks to Vietnamese tailors or hand makers. You can have a tailor for a new dress suitable for you such as Ao Dai that can be made within 2 days (in Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, Hue, etc.).
Art and handicrafts
Those things could be unique and meaningful souvenirs to give as presents or become decoration at home such as leaf hats (non la), wood-block prints, potteries, brocades, lacquer ware, reed mats, oil and watercolor paintings, blinds made from bamboo, carpets, scarves and leatherwork. Those souvenirs can be bought at shops, markets or other places.
Gem and jewelry
The jewelry business is increasing in recent years. Vietnam produces some good gems, but there are plenty of fakes and flawed ones around. We recommend that you should buy gems at prestigious locations and be on the alert with cheap prices.
- To know more places for shopping, you should ask your hotel’s staff or tour guides who know the city well; they can give you many options of shops. Thus, you should ask the best high quality shops which have reasonable prices. In addition, going shopping with tour guides; you can avoid unfortunate circumstances such as scams, getting lost, etc. In case of buying heavy and bulky items, you can ask sellers for a delivery to the place where you stay.
- Prepare cash to pay if your credit cards don’t work or are not be accepted. Credit cards are used only in supermarket, shopping centers and big shops.
- Before buying something, you should survey the price and do comparative shopping from other shops, do not get emotional about items in front of sellers because they will not make a discount for you.
- Try to ignore and not buy from peddlers. If they offer you something, you should not take or do as what they say.
- Be careful when you cross the major shopping streets.
Passport has a very important role, especially for travel devotees. If you lose it, the procedure is not simple. However, not everyone knows how to ensure their safety passport.
Here are some ways to help you keep your passport smartly and carefully to avoid losing it.
Never send via mail post
If you need to renew your passport, functional agency will ask you to send them the old passport for cancellation. Do not ever put it into the envelope, stamped and send via mail post, go directly submit or use sending service with guarantee receipt, because the post office will have more responsibility for goods being sent. If it gets lost, you will have start again from scratch.
Do not take if it’s not necessary
Once you have ID card, there’s no reason for you to bring your passport when going out if not really necessary. If your bag or purse is stolen which contains passport, it is a big trouble to do it again. Anyway, redo an ID card is simpler than a passport.
Store in a safe place
It will be not safe if you put your passport into underwear, computer desk drawer or jewelry box because that’s the place where a thief will be searched first. Let’s hide it where no one can expect or difficult to access such as safe box.
Photo a copy to keep
If you’re traveling overseas that you lose your passport, you will need a copy (or scan) to be able to return home. Keeping this copy is just as important as the original. If you have an electronic copy, make sure that it has been encrypted in a file on an encrypted disk.
Notify the lost passport immediately
If your passport is lost or misplaced, especially when you are traveling abroad, take notice of your lost passport to the authorities immediately. Do not waste your time to relive in the past.
There are some things involving to custom and culture of Vietnam ethnic minorities that tourists should know to avoid unfortunate mistakes. The people of Vietnam northwestern mountain are very friendly and warm but there are many of their customs are taboo to do. If understanding the customs, the trip will be more enjoyable.
If entering the gate attached with knives, wooden swords or chicken wing accompany with a hat, umbrella or backpack on you, Ha Nhi ethnic minority will punish. Tourists should not come because it is to get rid of ghost of funeral custom. For Tay, Thai, Giay, lao and Xa Pho ethnic minorities also be noted these same things. On the day of cult, they often force the group of green leaves, or jaws of pigs and cattle in the high pole to warn strangers to know to avoid.
In addition, tourists can’t make sound as whistle when walking around village because Vietnamese ethnic minorities think whistling is to call the devil to come. When meet the children in the village, tourists do not touch the head or kiss on children’s heads that are supposed to make children frightened and vulnerable to ill.
The illustration - ethnic children
Entering Vietnamese ethnic minorities’ houses
Before coming to the house of Vietnamese ethnic minorities, the first tourists need to do is observe carefully in front of the house or at the top of the stair there is any green foliage, thorn branches, woven grill plate or lattice or not. If tourists see one of them, tourists do not step in the house because it is a sign to warn strangers do not enter.
For some people as Ha Nhi ethnic minority, their house often has 2 layer doors. Tourists only can enter the first gate. If they want to enter the second gate, they should be allowed by homeowners.
If the house has two stairs, tourists should observe to decide the stair should to walk on. If visitors go with the landlord or local officials they should go along to the homeowner or local officials step up first.
The illustration - a scene of stilt house
Visitors are not allowed to sit on the space to worship. Often, the space to worship located in the center of the house. For Mong ethnic minority, the head of table and chairs for their parents, even if their parents were dead, visitors do not permitted to sit in that chair and turn back into the shrine. Tourists should follow the instruction of the homeowners.
Kitchen is the place to welcome and worship kitchen Christ. Tourists should not to let their legs on to the stone at kitchen because Vietnamese ethnic minorities think that the stone is the settle of kitchen Christ.
Do not bake the rice or sticky rice after they boiled because they think the crop will be failure that year. Doors and main pillars are used to worship door and pillar god. Therefore, tourists should not hang hats, lean on pillar or sit down at windowsill. If the landlord has not invited tourists to sit down, please don’t sit on the cushion because that place is often for superiors or guests.
Tourists should actively greet homeowners with a sincere attitude. When saying goodbye, visitors can shake hand. They do not need to say goodbye but remember always a friendly smile. Need to avoid such rude call from Meo, Man that so call them as Hmong, Dao ethnic minorities. Tourists should not talk too loud with fierce gestures.
Eating and Drinking
When homeowners do not invited to sit on same at position with old people, following their instruction. According to concept of seat is different in each ethnic minority. With the Giay, Dao, the row near the altar dedicated to the oldest, most distinguished guests. For Thai, Tay, Muong, window borders where the owner puts two cups is for the ancestor, so tourists do not sit in such position. When someone invites you or people around a drink, do not take drinking glasses immediately. How much you drink, how your drinking ability is. You should not refuse and not drink all.
Drinking Can wine
Tourists also do not pour wine, pick up all the food before homeowners. Especially, when the meal was finished, they do not upside down the bowl and cup on the tray, excepting shaman only be allowed to do so to get rid of evil. When sitting to drink Can wine, chat or share with the homeowners, guests do not point fingers forward. Because the Hmong think that behavior expresses unwillingness to speak or not to respect to the person is talking.
Tourist should take note of sleeping under the instruction of the owner. Do not let the foot toward the altar. In some areas of Hmong, Dao, Thai, they do not get white screen in the house. Do not walk up too late and use the blanket cover upside down.
Currency exchange tips
You've been planning your vacation for months, reading guidebooks and magazines, drawing up an itinerary, checking airfares and hotels. What's left to think about? Money. You might assume that exchange rates are similar no matter where you change your currency, but the way you convert dollars to VNDong can seriously affect the cost of your trip. Happily, there are a few basic rules you can follow to get the very best rate.
First things first: Avoid converting money before you leave your country. The advantage, of course, would be convenience: you'd arrive at your destination with local currency in your pocket. Most major metropolitan banks exchange dollars for foreign currency, as do many travel agents.
For example: Chase Manhattan Bank launched Currency to Go, an online service that delivers any of 75 foreign currencies to your doorstep overnight, even if you're not a Chase customer. The only catch? According to Ed Perkins, consumer travel advocate for the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), you'll almost always get a terrible exchange rate.
Say you're traveling to Greece and you want to land with 100,000 drachmas. If you walked into a branch of the Bank of New York, one of the nation's largest banks, you'd pay $335 for them, based on the exchange rate in early March. A travel agent using ezForex would charge you $316. And if you went through Currency to Go, you'd pay $320, including a $10 shipping charge. None of those prices sound outrageous, until you check the wholesale rate: just $289.25. (The wholesale, or "interbank," rate is the one posted in the business section of most newspapers. It's what banks charge each other to convert large sums of money.)
The best option for obtaining cash abroad is to use your bank's debit card at an ATM upon arrival.
As good as credit cards can be for purchases, though, avoid using them to withdraw cash from ATM's. Visa and MasterCard will give you the wholesale exchange rate plus the standard 1 percent conversion fee, but you'll also get slapped with a $10 or a 2 percent cash-advance fee, whichever is higher. What's more, your card issuer will begin charging you interest immediately, usually at a higher rate than for purchases. The interest rate will vary depending on your card, but the conclusion is the same: getting cash with a credit card is never a good deal.
Of course, there will be times when you can't find an ATM or an establishment that takes plastic. If you need to exchange money or traveler's checks abroad, try to use a bank. Hotels and exchange kiosks will just about always give you worse exchange rates. Why? As intermediaries in the process, their insurance and handling costs are greater, so they must skim off a little more of your money to turn a profit. If you want to comparison-shop around town, look at the difference in the posted buy and sell prices (called the "spread"). The larger the spread, the worse the deal for you.
Finally, make sure you don't get stuck with a lot of foreign currency at the end of your trip. Every time you convert money you pay, so you'll take another hit changing your cash back to dollars.
Before traveling be sure to:
- Activate ATM and/or credit card.
- Bring your PIN code(s) - consisting of numbers, NOT letters (European ATMs have numerical key pads only) - to facilitate use of both ATM and credit card(s) (becoming increasingly important with new "chip & pin" technology).
- Check with your bank to ensure you are able to withdraw cash on your cards abroad.
- Advise your bank that you will be traveling abroad and plan to use your card/s for shopping etc. (to avoid fraud, they may refuse charges made overseas unless they know they are being made by the card owner).
- Check also that cards are valid for at least 30 days beyond completion of your vacation.
- Ask your credit card and traveler's check companies for emergency numbers (suitable for international access - not those starting with 0800) to report loss. Always keep these numbers with you while traveling (but separate from cards and checks).
Trustworthy exchange spots
As mention above, travelers can exchange their money upon your arrival at these international airports:
- At Tan Son Nhat International Airport:
- At Da Nang International Airport: Currency exchange counter at the arrival station
- At Noi Bai International Airport: Automatic teller machines are located on the 1st floor and 2nd floor, there are currency exchange services at Level 1.
Otherwise, you can do the exchange at the banks (Vietcombank, Sacombank, Techcombank. etc.) with trustworthy and reasonable rate. Also, travelers can go to the Post offices with the same rate
There are a lot of choices for this, so you can compare the rate to get a reasonable rate for your currency exchange. And, post offices or currency exchange agencies offer your demands.
With a large number of vehicles which pass daily, it makes some foreigners who come to Vietnam scared of crossing streets. It is not hard because you just need to follow our directions below:
- Crossing street on the zebra - crossing.
- If there is a signal light for pedestrians, you have to comply with the signal (waiting for the green light).
- When you cross the street, observe carefully to avoid unfortunate circumstances. You should walk slowly to allow time for riders moving vehicles so they don’t crash you.
When coming to Vietnam, you can challenge yourself on a motorbike for a traveling around the place you stay. This will be a good experience for you. On the other hand, you can get on a motor taxi for your travel.
- Make sure that you know some trafic rules in Vietnam and wear your helmet when drive a motorbiike or bike.
- Ask first and bargain the price before getting on any motor taxis
- Please look out for scams and double pricing
Ao Tu Than
One of the traditional Vietnamese costumes is ao tu than or ao ngu than. They are design in 4 or 5-part dress which consists of a flowing outer tunic reaching almost to the floor, a long skirt, Yem - an ancient bodice, and a silk sash which is tied at the waist as a belt. The ao tu than are worn by peasant women in daily day. Therefore, ao tu than is usually made with plain fabric in dark colors. However, the ao tu than would be not fabric in dark color as usual, it would be decorated in colors for special occasion. Up to present, ao tu than is not very easy to find on the street but it is also worn in special days or fashion shows and special events for tourism promotion.
Yem is the ancient Vietnamese bodice for Vietnamese women all classes. Once upon a time, yem was combined with lotus as a beauty of Vietnam in the past. It is in diamond or square-cut piece of cloth draped over women’s chest with strings to tight at the neck and back. In the past, yem was designed to wear with ao thu than or ao ngu than to go to special events. Therefore, it became a precious national costume of Vietnam in the past and it is now a reminder of past story of the old. However, yem is not popular to wear at present and yem is reformed in many ways to suit for present fashion.
The Ao Dai
The symbol of Vietnamese national costume is ao dai. The ao dai starts from two words ao and dai in which “ao” classifies the item as a piece of clothing on the upper part of the body and “dai” means long. Actually, ao dai was originally from ao ngu than - an outfit at the court in Hue and then, the ao dai was redesigned some times until now. Now, the ao dai has many details but it still consist of 2 parts such as ao and dai. Especially, the tight - fitting silk style creates the charm and cute in a woman. Therefore, Vietnamese woman wears ao dai on a special day or national holiday and ao dai now is a uniform of a company or a school/university.
Ao ba ba
Ao ba ba is the traditional costume of southern Vietnamese. The ao ba ba also has 2 parts the long-sleeved, button-down silk shirt and pair of silk pants. The shirt has a long and split at two sides of the waist - two flaps and it also has 2 pockets for convenient use. In the past, both men and women usually wear ao ba ba to do farming. Especially, women wearing dark colors are just for working and bright and colorful outfits are for special occasion. Nowadays, ao ba ba is almost worn in rural area and especially in west of Vietnam. Although ao ba ba isn’t now worn popularly as in the past, it has an important position in spirit in history, culture and Vietnamese.
In Vietnam, there are three main international airports: Noi Bai international airport which is in Hanoi city serves the north, Da Nang international airport which is in Da Nang city serves the central and Tan Son Nhat international airport which is in Ho Chi Minh city serves the south.
The quickest and safest way to travel inside Vietnam is flying, below are some domestic flights:
- Air Mekong: Covers destinations in southern Vietnam and Hanoi. (www.airmekong.com.vn)
- Jetstar Pacific Airlines: a budget airline which has very affordable fares, though serves far fewer destinations. (www.jetstar.com)
- Vasco: Has flights from Ho Chi Minh city to Con Dao islands and the Mekong Delta. (www.vasco.com.vn)
- Vietnam Airlines: The leading local carrier with the most comprehensive network and best reliability. (www.vietnamairlines.com.vn)
- Train: The railway system in Vietnam has established over a hundred years ago. The North – South Express Railway is the longest train route in Vietnam which has the total length of 1.729km; it passes by most provinces that lie between the two ends of the country. (http://www.vietnamexpresstrain.com)
- Bus: Bus travel is the cheapest and the most common way to travel in Vietnam. It is easy to find buses which go to tourism destinations or provinces in Vietnam. Interprovincial buses are usually high quality with good services. You can purchase tickets from registered ticket booths or travel agencies. The price depends on the distance of the route and the type of seats chosen.
Other kinds of transportation
- Taxi: Taxi is a popular mean of transport in Vietnam in recent years but it is only predominantly in big cities and urban areas. There are two types of taxies: “official” and “unofficial”. The “official” taxies belongs to the taxi corporations which have high and consistent quality at a reasonable price such as Mai Linh Taxi (Tel: 184.108.40.206), Vinasun (Tel: 220.127.116.11), Hanoi Taxi (Tel: 18.104.22.168), etc. The “unofficial” taxi is usually belongs to individual driver. Those taxies have poor service as well as quality and are unreliable and vague in fee calculation.
- Bycicle: Visitors can ride bycicle to contemplate beautiful landscapes of Vietnam through biking tours.
- Motorbike: Motorbikes are used widely in Vietnam. If you want to ride one by yourself, you have to have driver license and wear helmet. Motorbike taxi is a cheap way to get to another place within the city, you should ask and bargain the price before getting on a motorbike.
The cost of travel in Vietnam can vary from low as basement or up to sky high, depending on the way you choose. Normal tourists could spend just about US$15 a day, while a conventional budget traveler can live it up from US$25 to US$35. Mid-range travelers can have a ball from US$50 to US$150 a day, staying comfortably, eating well and travelling flexibly. At the top end, spending US$250 or more a day, anything is possible. Vietnam is not quite as cheap as it used to be due to rampant inflation, but it is still a great deal compared with many other countries in the world.
The official currency is the Vietnam dong (d), but the US dollar is pretty widely accepted in some tourist centers and most hotels. As you venture off the trail, make sure you are packing plenty of local currency. Room prices can start from at least US$5 in busy tourist centers. Spending US$10 to US$30 more will boost the comforts quickly, and rooms will generally include air-con, satellite TV, fridge and hot water. Make it up to US$50 and three-star frills are available. At US$100 and above, it’s five-star territory in many destinations. Although Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) tend to be more expensive than the provinces, don’t be afraid to negotiate for a discount if it is low season or if numbers are down.
Dining out in Vietnam can be really interesting, just like an adventure itself. Surfing the street stalls and markets, meals can be found for US$1 or less. For those who don’t find any interest in street food, local restaurants are more comfortable and you can eat well for between US$2 and US$5. Then there are the Vietnamese gourmet restaurants, where you can still only spend around US$15 with drinks; with the right wines you could easily spend US$50.
Domestic flights are quite good choice for longer journeys, particularly with low-cost carrier Jetstar Pacific on the scene. A one-way ticket from Hanoi to HCMC is around US$100, although Jetstar can be cheaper. Trains are great value and a good way to cover long distances like Hanoi to Hue or HCMC to Nha Trang.
Bus travel seems to be a good way when you want to go to the western, as long as you manage to pay the local price. Public buses between major destinations have fixed fares, but for bus travel in remote areas, overcharging is the rule. For maximum flexibility, many travelers prefer to rent a car or 4WD and go exploring with a guide. Costs run from about US$30 around town to US$100 or more a day up-country (including the driver’s food and lodging). A guide costs from US$15 to US$50, depending on the destination.
Foreigners can be overcharged sometimes, particularly when buying souvenirs and occasionally in restaurants. However, don’t assume that everyone is trying to rip you off. Despite widespread poverty, many Vietnamese still nice enough to only ask the local price for many goods and services.
The major currency of Vietnam is the dong, which is abbreviated to ‘d’. Banknotes come in denominations of 500d, 1.000d, 2.000d, 5.000d, 10.000d, 20.000d, 50.000d, 100.000d, 200.000d and 500.000d. Now that Ho Chi Minh has been canonized (against his wishes), his picture is on every banknote. The second currency is the US dollar and that needs no introduction.
In the past, it used to be just a couple of foreign banks in Hanoi and HCMC that offered ATMs, but Vietnamese banks have now got into this game in a big way. Vietcombank has the best network in the country, including most of the major tourist destinations and all the big cities. Agribank, Vietin Bank and Sacombank are also well represented. Every branch stocks a useful leaflet with a list of their nationwide ATMs. Withdrawals are issued in dong, and there is a single withdrawal limit of 2,000,000d (about US$125). However, you can do multiple withdrawals until you hit your own account limit. ANZ offers 4,000,000d withdrawals per transaction. Most banks charge 20,000d per transaction. Cash advances for larger amounts of dong, as well as US dollars, can be arranged over the counter during office hours.
Some bargaining is necessary in most tourist spots such as markets, souvenir shops and some but not all fashion shops. Whenever you want to buy souvenirs, or anything, remember that in Asia ‘saving face’ is important, so bargaining should be good-natured. Smile and don’t get angry or argue with the sellers. In some cases you will be able to get a 50% discount or more, at other times this may only be 10%. And once the money is accepted, the deal is done. Don’t waste times getting stressed if you find out someone else got it for less; it is about paying the price that is right for you, not always the local price.
The black market operates quite openly. While the practice is technically illegal, law enforcement is virtually nonexistent. Private individuals and some shops and restaurants will exchange US dollars for dong and vice versa. Ironically, black market exchange rates are usually worse than the official exchange rates, so the only advantage is the convenience of changing money when and where you like.
If people approach you on the street with offers to change money at rates better than the official one, you can rest assured that you are being set up for a rip-off. Fake notes or too few notes, they will get you somehow. Remember, if an offer seems too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.
Most major currencies can be exchanged at leading banks in Vietnam, but at some tourist centers, the US-dollar remains king. Vietcombank is the most organised of the local banks for changing cash and can deal with euros, pounds and pretty much anything else you are packing. The further you get from the tourist trail, the US dollar exchange rate worsens; so stock up on dong as much as you can if you are heading into remote areas. In small towns it can be difficult to get change for the larger notes, so keep a stack of smaller bills handy. Changing US$100 will make you an instant millionaire.
It’s not too excessive to check that any big dollar bills you take along do not have any small tears or look too tatty and too old, or else no one will accept them in Vietnam.
You cannot legally take dong out of Vietnam but you can reconvert reasonable amounts of it into US dollars on departure.
Most land border crossings now have some sort of official currency exchange boots, offering the best rates available in these remote parts of the country.
Visa, MasterCard and JCB cards are now widely accepted in all major cities and many tourist centers. However, a 3% commission charge on every transaction is pretty common; check beforehand, as some charge higher commissions than others. Some merchants also accept Amex, but the surcharge is typically 4%. Better hotels and restaurants do not usually slap on an additional charge.
If you wish to withdraw a cash advance from Visa, MasterCard and JCB, this is possible at Vietcombank branches in most cities, as well as at some foreign banks in HCMC and Hanoi. Banks generally charge a 3% commission for this service. This is handy if you want to take out large sums, as the ATMs have low daily limits.
There are many places to go and many things to do when traveling in Vietnam. However, famous specialization tourist site of the British Rough Guides has listed the things should not miss for tourists when visiting in Vietnam on "inspiration" on their website.
The highland kermis of ethnic minority is always an attractive spot for tourists. People may see clearly the ethnic’s special culture through traditional colorful costumes, cuisine and their own handicrafts. The boisterous atmosphere is also particular spirit of those kermises, symbolize is Bac Ha kermis.
Temples and pagodas
Temples reflect religious characteristics of Vietnam, as well as a unique architecture with the beauty essence that Bai Dinh pagoda in Ninh Binh is an example.
It is the most important holiday of Vietnamese in year. In these days, many traditional customs of Vietnam by regions are shown. Tet atmosphere bustling with blooming, decorative street lights and colorful performances, spectacular fireworks or concerts skillful art dragon dance always attracts people as well as foreign tourists.
Cu Chi tunnels
Just reached the top 10 – the most underground world (according to CNN), Cu Chi tunnels have many interesting and attractive experiences than you think. Coming here, tourists will experience the life underground as real residents previously (sightseeing, eating). This defense system is still an attractive destination for many tourists, especially veterans.
Drinking draught beer at the small cabarets located deep in the heart of Hanoi's Old Quarter is an interesting thing for foreign tourists. This way helps you save money but this is a chance to be a member of them in their special lifestyles.
Ancient capital of Hue
Relics of Hue in its retention characteristics of particular historical tombs, ancient ramparts time kings. Cultural and architectural works of art are always impressed with not only foreign tourists but also Vietnamese.
Water puppet show
Water puppet is the unique art form of traditional folk theater, born from wet rice culture. Due to the unique and innovative performances, puppetry water quickly receives many visitors’ loves.
Come to Hoi An and visit the tailoring shops here, you will be surprised when seeing the tailors cutting and sewing as a lighting to make a fashion product after only a few hours.
Climbing Fansipan – Vietnam’s highest mountain and exploring the highland town of Sapa are the first choices when visiting Vietnam of foreign tourists. Come to Sapa, tourists will be surprised for scenic sky blend together incredibly romantic and poetic. Weather and cool air in Sapa is one of the many attractions visitors.
As one of the largest freshwater lake in Vietnam, belongs to Dak Lak province, Lak lake is a destination to attract pilgrims. Only once paddling dug – out canoes on a peaceful lake or riding elephants roam in vast water space, or explore the woods surrounding the lake will make visitors memorable.
Travel in Hoi An
Possessing a rich cultural heritage with the beautiful house still retains the old value, Hoi An town is rustic, casual, romantic, always charming and anxiety all visitors’ heart.
Red river delta
Have a sightseeing trip to the peaceful countryside of the northern regions and experience the simple life is not only not changed over the years, but also still retains many traditional beauty in cultural activities is one of the tourist attractions in here.
Mekong delta tourist is one of the most fascinating tours in Vietnam. Coming there, besides visiting the floral and fruit garden, tourists also take a boat trip on one of nine tributaries of Mekong river, listen to folk music (đờn ca tài tử), enjoy Southern specialties, tourists hardly skip visiting the floating markets, and a feature found only in the western rivers.
Watching the scenic streets by cyclo is a special flavor not get anywhere outside Vietnam. This way makes traveling tourists (especially foreigners) just feels something new, just closer to the life and culture of Vietnam. Sightseeing by cyclo is common in the old town Ha Noi, Hoi An, etc.
Ha Long bay cruise
As one of the 7 natural wonders of the new world and is recognized as a world natural heritage, Ha Long Bay as a beautiful gentle watercolor painting. To admire the beauty of this, visitors must go inside the yacht bay. There will have full day tours, spending the night on the cruise with many attractive activities visitors as squid fishing, swimming, rowing kayak.
Relaxing in Phu Quoc
Phu Quoc is blessed for blue beaches and pristine natural beauty with coconut trees along the coastline. Come to the South of Phu Quoc – An Thoi, tourists will admire the beauty of the marine life in the pure water.
Thong Nhat train
Let the bike on the train, then sit down, relax and enjoy the beautiful views from South to North when the ship runs slowly between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city.
The French colonial heritages can be easily found with the impressive architecture as the Hanoi Opera House, the French house painted yellow wall with a fireplace or wood stairs in niches characterized, Norte Dame Cathedral, etc. Currently in the old town and many other towns in Hanoi still remains durable French architecture over the years.
Performing traditional music is one of the important performance art in Vietnam. Each region has its own unique music. Foreign tourists often enjoy watching and listening to traditional types such as “ca trù”, “quan họ”, “cải lương”, etc.
Going to markets
One of the things that make tourists interested is walking around and shopping at the market. Beside fresh food, there are food kiosks to have a light meal, as the region that sells typical dishes. For example, Binh Tay market has soup, spring rolls, rice cakes or bread, etc for sales. In addition, tourists will have a chance to experience the “bargain” culture when traveling in Vietnam.
Playing adventure sports
Due to the structure of special terrain so when coming to Vietnam, tourists will enjoy the adventure sports such as climbing, parasailing, kite surfing, kayak or biking mountains, suitable for those who preferred strong feeling.
Cao Dai oratories
A place for worship of the Cao Dai religion - one of the most influential religious in Vietnam, it is built with special architecture (modeled Tay Ninh Holy See, but smaller and more simply). It also often has ceremonies and cultural activities specific to religious believers.
Ba Na people’s village
Ba Na is famous for communal house where is the meeting place of the villagers in the village in the Central Highlands. Ba Na communal house has many unique features in the architecture, shape, and pattern. If possible, let’s make a visit to Gia Lai and live together with Ba Na people in communal houses to learn more about Highland culture. In Hanoi, visitors can also admire the Ba Na communal house at the Museum of Ethnology.
Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the kitchen roadside, mobile food stalls around the streets, enjoying fresh delicious dishes typical of each region is one of the cultural experiences and exciting cuisine in Vietnam.
Have fun in Nha Trang
Scuba diving in the remote on a small island offshore, but green as emeralds in Nha Trang is one of the most amazing things to come. Or just relax on the sea to enjoy the fresh air sandy slopes is enough to wowing visitors at the paradise beach of Vietnam.
Check – out procedure sometimes has much trouble and some following suggestions will help you make this work becomes easier. For many travelers, check – out at hotels usually includes packing up clothes, calling bellboy, getting on the car and rush to the airport. Besides, some visitors need more time to check – out (forget or lost something).
1. Walking around the room once to review
Lift the blankets and pillows to look inside, check under the bed, open safety box, toilet, bathroom, hanging cabinets to ensure that nothing misses out. The fact that it is not easy to find things once you have checked out and were on your way to the airport.
2. Do not forget the charger
While you are checking the room which you remember to collect your belongings, there is a neglected place – the sockets which are hidden under the table or on the top of bar counter. The cameras, phones or computers chargers will be extremely valuable when the battery is low and nowhere sells it.
3. Souvenir pack
You will absolutely not be considered valueless or stingy when carrying on what the customers can keep such as soap, shampoo, comb, etc. Of course items like towels, hair dryer, etc. will not be named in this list. Please keep them as a souvenir or add to personal luggage to serve for next trips in case the property is not fully equipped. The truth that many high – class hotels, resorts focus into the design of equipments such as bottles of shower gel, shampoo, pens, envelopes extremely stylish to impress visitors. They are also pleased when you take it. Because when you bring it away, you will promote their image to everyone and above all, the cost was included it in the price you pay when staying.
4. Recheck used items
If you use the mini bar, snacks, called food or drinks, just remember to check the hotel charge. The common case is duplicated into a number and double the price. For example, you use Wi-Fi a day, the hotel features two or you open a packet of potato chips they charged both style chocolate. Ask them to check and pay what you use.
5. Tipping for housekeepers
Tip is a pretty personal issue so some guests agree and the others disagree. In most cases in Northern America, people usually leave 1 – 2 dollars a day for housekeepers. The place to put it is often on tables, shelves, or you can write some message for them to express your politeness. In European countries, tipping culture is not as popular as in U.S. or Canada. It depends on the customer satisfaction of the service that they receive. There are some ideas completely refute tipping for housekeepers because they had salary already. Yet in America, who do this job are less involved in labor unions and enjoy many benefits as in Europe. That is why many tourists are pleased to get used to tip when traveling in Northern America.
Several Main Features of Vietnamese Culinary Tradition
Vietnam territory is divided into three distinct areas: North – Central – South. Therefore, Vietnamese cuisine is influenced pretty much from the cultural characteristics of each region, so that it was crystallized very own taste, made Vietnam traditional cuisine more rich and unique.
Vietnam culinary tradition is the synthesis and processing of a variety of fruits and vegetables. Typically, the “culture” of Vietnamese vegetables meals can include soup, stock, boiled, fried, etc.
Another feature that makes the culinary tradition of Vietnam difference from others is not to pay too much attention on nutrition in each meal. It is a mixture and combination of spices, different ingredient to provide a delicious meal. Therefore, Vietnam cuisine does not have too much meat or fancy decorations like others.
In addition, the most special thing of Vietnam cuisine makes the world impressive is the taste from the various types of additives such as herbs, peppers, green pepper, etc. It is not only bringing specific dishes, but also clearly reflecting the daily life and custom of the people in each region.
Regional Variations in Vietnamese Cuisine
Each region in Vietnam has own features make the cuisine rich and diversified. Firstly, we can talk about the Northern cuisine of Vietnam. It is not as spicy, fatty, sweet as other areas, primarily using diluted fish sauce, shrimp paste. People use more vegetables and freshwater fishes. Many people appreciated the cuisine of Hanoi, which is considered it is the most typical representative of the Vietnam cuisine.
Next one is the Central cuisine, it has a unique feature. There are many dishes which is spicier, saltier than the North and South. The provinces of Central such as Hue, Da Nang, Binh Dinh are famous with different sour shrimp pastes. In particular, Hue cuisine is influence from royal cuisine so it is very picky in processing and presentation.
Finally is the Southern cuisine, which was influenced by Chinese, Cambodia and Thailand cuisine. People often use more sugar or coconut milk for many dishes. This cuisine also produced numerous kinds of dried fish paste. It uses more saltwater and brackish water than the North.
Some specialties that tourists should taste once when traveling in Vienam
- Hanoi noodles (Phở Hà Nội): There are a lot of specialties in Hanoi but the most favorite dish is a simple broth of rice noodle called “Phở”. It is a dish that defines Hanoi special foods. Simply because Pho in Hanoi is quite different from any other places. It has the special flavor of the broth stewed with marrowbones, the savour of boiled beef. The broth must be clear, the rice noodle must be thin and tender. The colours of the ingredients from a nice colourful picture. Mixed with boiling hot stock, it provoke your senses, makes you feel as if you are enjoying the beauty of nature.
- Hanoi Bun Cha (Bún chả Hà Nội): “Bún chả” is a Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodle, which is thought to have originated from Hanoi. Bun cha is serve with grilled fatty pork over a plate of white rice noodle and herbs with a side dish of dipping sauce. The dish was described in 1959 by Vietnamese food writer Vu Bang (1913 – 1984) who described Hanoi as a town “transfixed by Bun cha”. It is popular in the Northern region of Vietnam. In the South, a similar dish of rice vermicelli and grilled meat is called “bún thịt nướng”
Hanoi Bun Cha
- Hanoi Fried Spring Rolls (Nem Hà Nội): Hanoi fried spring rolls are very popular and appear on almost every restaurant menu. Hanoians are very proud of their spring rolls. It’s a perfect starter for whoever loves fried spring rolls. This dish can be said as one of the traditional one, especially for Tet holiday, the death anniversary award must not be missing this item.
Hanoi Fried Spring Rolls
- Hanoi Cha Ca La Vong (Chả cá Lã Vọng Hà Nội): Hanoi’s iconic dish “Cha ca La Vong” tops every foodie’s must-try list when headed for the northern Vietnamese city. Cha ca simply means “grilled fish” in the local language, and this delightful dish of fish, turmeric, and dill takes its name from the restaurant that created it. What makes Cha ca La Vong such a popular and famous dish? The taste, and the experience. Fillets of freshwater fish such as snakehead or catfish are first marinated for hours in a delicious blend of pepper, fish sauce, turmeric and ginger, and left to chill. When the flavours have seeped in, the generous chunks of fish are served to you, together with a heap of spring onions, ginger, dill, and fresh herbs – raw.
Hanoi Cha Ca La Vong
- Quang Noodles (Mì Quảng): This noodle dish is a complex mixture of flavors and texture. The vibrant wide yellow turmeric noodles, sesame rice crackers, roasted peanuts, fresh herbs, and flavorful but light broth sets Quang noodle apart from other Vietnamese noodle soups like “phở” and “bún bò huế”. Unlike these noodle soups, Quang noodle is served with very little broth and almost like a dry noodle dish or noodle salad with the broth serving to bring all the flavors together. This dish has multiple steps but is well worth it. It’s something that can be done to eat for the weekend.
Eat or non eat street food is a popular question among almost people - both Vietnamese and foreigners. Well, the answer is simple. However, this cuisine is one of attractive things of Vietnam that visitors should not pass by.
Beef noodles or pho and Saigon baguette are two famous dishes of Vietnam which you should taste at least once when you travel to Vietnam.
- Beef noodles or Pho: is a popular dish of Vietnamese because of its great and unforgetable flavor. The dish is delious with broth, linguine-shaped rice noodles, herbs and meat (beef or chicken) which all make an unique flavor. It is said that it is the Vietnam specilalties that is not easy to find at any nations where there is no Vietnamese.
- Saigon baguette: is one of the most famous dishes outside of Vietnam. Inside the bread could be several kinds of Vietnamese pork ham, liver pâté, veggies (cucumber, coriander, green onion, chili...) and sour things (pickled shreds of carrot and white radish).
- To avoid food-borne illness, the food you eat should be hot and cooked completely.
- You should not eat raw meats even salads and raw vegetable from venders; it is not safe at all. Many sushi restaurants will prepare raw fish properly and it is safer.
- When you eat outside, before paying, you should check the bill first to be sure.
Besides, street beverge is also very good with Vietnamese flavors. There are various drinks of many brands in Vietnam including sodas, fruit juices, beer, wine, coffee, tea, etc. They also exit at restaurant, hotel, coffee shop or even on the street. However, you can not easy finding 2 typical drinks in Vietnam which are Saigon coffee - Ho Chi Minh City and lemon ice tea - Ha Noi. They have their special features that is unique in Vietnam.
One of the Vietnamese typical beverages is Saigon milk coffee - a very famous street beverge with a cheap price. Especially, Vietnamese coffee has the special flavor which is like nowhere in the world. This coffee is black, thick, and very strong. Some Vietnamese people drink coffee mixed with condensed milk.
- If you buy drinks contained in bottles or cans, you should check the expiry date before drinking.
- Do not drink tap water because it is not clean.
Vietnam possesses a rich mixture of religions, which reflects the influence of many cultures. According to the constitution, every Vietnamese citizen is given the freedom of religion, but their right is often constrained, particularly with regard to any religious activities that could become a forum for dissent.
The Mahayana tradition of Buddhism is the most dominant religion in Vietnam, and over two-thirds of Vietnamese regard themselves as Buddhist. Nowadays, Buddhism still has a deep influence on the mass of the population and its effects go far beyond religion, touching on moral behavior and customs.
Buddhism is a path of spiritual practice and development leading to benevolent and avoiding malevolent things. Buddhists believe in cause and effect law which determines one's destiny.
Roman Catholicism was first brought to Vietnam by Portuguese Catholic missionaries in the sixteenth century and further bolstered its presence during French colonial period. However, the main turning point in development of Catholicism marked with the arrival of Alexander de Rhodes - a French Jesuit missionary.
During his 20 years, he made a lasting contribution to Vietnam by creating an alphabet which uses the Latin script with added diacritical marks and is still in use as the national language.
Islam in Vietnam is primarily the religion of the Cham people, a minority ethnic group related to Malays; however, roughly one-third of the Muslims in Vietnam are of other ethnic groups. They live primarily in Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, An Giang province, Ho Chi Minh City, and other provinces in the Center and South of Vietnam.
After 1975, most of the Muslim Khmer and Cham ethnic left Vietnam. The left only is a watered down version of Islam. Especially, they don’t speak or read Arabic, drink alcohol, pray once a week – on Friday, and celebrate Ramadan for only 3 days.
VIETNAM CAO DAI
Cao Dai was established in the Vietnamese city of Tay Ninh in 1926. Caodaist believe God spoke to them to establish a new religion. This is harmonious combination of various religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Taoism.
The Three teaching of Cao Dai are: Buddha, Sage, and Saint. It has two principle deities - Cao Dai, the Supreme God, and the Mother Goddess. This religious tradition aims to escape the endless cycle of reincarnation and is achieved by making good deeds rather than evil, being kind to animals and plants, and be helpful to society.
VIETNAM HOA HAO
Hoa Hao is a religious tradition based on Buddhism, founded by Huỳnh Phú Sổ in 1929. He simplified the complicated elements of Buddhism and made it more accessible and popular with the ordinary people.
The Hoa Hoa religion is attractive people by its simplicity and emphasis on practicing Buddhism at home rather than on temple and ordination.
There are 4 rules in this religion are advices for the followers need practicing: honor parents, love country, show own gratitude to the three precious things including Buddha, Buddhist doctrine and Buddhist priest and love the mankind.
1. Take a cruise to Ha Long Bay; contemplate one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
2. Relax on sunny beaches of Nha Trang city, Da Nang province, Phu Quoc Island, Con Dao Island as well as contemplate beautiful landscape.
3. Conquer sand hills in Mui Ne, admire gorgeous landscapes of brightly yellow sand hills, you can take photographs or play interesting games.
4. Have a cyclo around Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi to contemplate ancient architecture.
5. Visit Sa Pa and conquer Fansipan Mountain.
6. Have a bowl of “pho” or eat a Vietnamese baguette, two of famous street food of the world.
7. Check out the war remnants museum in Ho Chi Minh City to know more about Vietnamese history in the past.
8. Paddle a boat down Mekong delta and enjoy delicious ripe fruit at laden luxuriant orchards.
9. Drink Vietnamese coffee and perceive the difference which nowhere has.
10. Street food: Vietnam is famous for unique street food. It is not only cheap but also delicious with many kinds of dishes: Hue beef noodle soup (bun bo Hue), roll cake (banh cuon), sticky rice (xoi), etc.
- Have a plenty of change and do not keep much money in your pocket, try to bargain with local sellers to have a right price and give them the amount of money correctly.
- When you visit pagodas, churches or sanctuaries, remember to dress appropriately, smartly and modestly.
- Before you get in a taxi/car/cyclo or a motorbike, you should ask for the price first, use your arranged transportation as much as you can.
- Always ask permission first before taking photographs of people, especially the minority areas.
- Make sure that you have a business card from the reception desk of a hotel or a hostel where you stay. It will help you return to the hotel easily.
- Check your bottled water which you buy to check whether it is sealed or not and you should not drink the tap water either.
- Hold your bag in front of you and be careful with bag – snatching when you are riding or in pagodas.
- If you do not know how to bargain, you should do shopping in the supermarket, the price for foreigners in local markets are usually much higher.
- Remember to keep receipts and tickets when you go to shopping or park your bike, car or motorbike carefully.
- Carry some toilet papers with you all the time.
- You should not wear jewelry or carry expensive items to avoid some unintended circumstances which might become life-threatening situations such as assault, robbery, etc.
- Do not take pictures of anything to do with the military, it will be considered as a breach of national security.
- If you travel with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you should not show in public any personal displays of affection such as kissing, touching, hugging, etc. Find a hotel or a hostel, etc.
- Never lose your temper, you will lose your face and locals won’t speak to you again or not respect you.
Have a nice trip!
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