We’ve learned some things on our journey through Vietnam… And made some mistakes as well, just so you don’t have to! Here are our top tips for smooth travels in this part of the world.
1. Happy room
If you need the loo in Vietnam, just ask for the happy room…
2. Hand sanitizer
Speaking of happy rooms, we’ve found the toilets here pretty good. However it’s always a good idea to carry hand sanitizer and some tissues or toilet roll just in case conditions are less than pleasant… The toilets at the Phu Quoc night market are some we’d rather forget.
3. The local lingo
Vietnamese is a tonal language, so not very easy for Westerners to pick up: one word can have four or more different meanings depending on the intonation! But it’s nice to make a stab at the basics. Try ‘Xin Chao’ for hello, or even shorten it to an Italian sounding ‘Chao’ for hi.
If you’re not used to using chopsticks, get practicing now! (Mum, I am talking to you.) Yes, in hotels and upmarket restaurants you can ask for a knife and fork, but when eating street food for example, it’s always chopsticks. And trust us, you wouldn’t want to miss the amazing street food.
5. Noodle soup
Here’s one from experience: don’t order noodle soup if you are wearing white! Splashing is inevitable. Fact.
6. Mosquito repellent
So I did pack mosquito repellent, but one hot night in the Mekong Delta I forgot to put it on and got eaten alive. I had to wear a long skirt for the next five days just to hide the nasty, swollen blotches on my legs. No photos of that!
7. Plug adapters
Vietnamese hotels have multi purpose plug sockets that seem to accept both European plugs (two round pins) and US/Japanese plugs (two flat pins). I have even seen some accept British plugs (three square pins). After testing various plug adapters throughout my trip, I think the US/Japanese plugs fit the sockets best. They always seem to connect and don’t fall out of the socket. Above is a photo of my plug adapter.
Although major tourist sites and hotels will accept payment in US dollars, you’ll definitely need to get to grips with the Vietnamese currency, dong, for buying things from market stalls, local shops and eating in smaller restaurants. Hotels and banks will change dollars into dong, or it’s easy to withdraw dong cash from ATMs.
Wi-Fi is standard in all hotels across Vietnam, so it’s easy to stay in touch with home if you travel with a laptop or tablet computer.
10. Personal belongings
And talking of expensive things like laptop computers, you don’t have to be paranoid about things getting stolen in Vietnam. Just be sensible. Leave valuables in the safety box in your hotel room. I also recommend a shoulder bag which you can wear across you when sightseeing; just helps you to keep an eye on your things.
Please add any other Vietnam travel tips to the comments box below!