Vietnam Travel Tips
The best way to travel in Vietnam
1. Overall Vietnam can be divided into 3 main regions – North, Central and South –
Vietnam is in general humid and hot. 3 different weather regions. It can be snowing in Sapa while a blazing hot sunny day down in Phu Quoc.
• Northern Vietnam: expect hot wet summers and cool dry winters up North. It can get quite cold here during northern hemisphere winter – from September to November – particularly next to the border with China.
• Central Vietnam: experiences hot, dry weather between January & August when temperatures can hit the mid-thirties.
• Southern Vietnam: boasts a full tropical climate, with only 2 defined seasons – wet and dry. The best time to go is obviously during the latter, from December to April.
Spring is a great time to travel in Saigon, Mekong Delta, Hoi An and Hanoi, and Halong Bay.If you choose to go to Halong Bay, stay 2 nights because of the road trip, poor roads, it is a long way to go for 1 night, and you see a lot more in the 2 days.
• Be prepared to bargain, especially at markets, where you should pay about half of the asking price (except at fixed price stores).
• Avoid very cheap excursions because you will get what you pay for - lots of time on the bus, few of the sights you were promised.
• In the summer, Vietnam is hot and humid, so you can leave your jeans at home. Unlike Saigon, Hanoi has four seasons with very hot and sticky summers and rather cold and humid winters. Pack accordingly if you plan to be there from November to January. Can be extremely cold so be sure to pack a warm jacket.
2. There are three or four reliable taxi companies in the south, Mai Linh and Vinasun are the most common and the most reliable.
Some more reliable taxi brand can be Taxi Group in the North, but the fare is a bit high compared to other taxi companies. Smaller companies may literally take you for a ride. Rogue taxis are known to lock their doors and refuse to let you out unless you pay an exorbitant fee. Always insist on a metered taxi. Hanoi taxis are less reliable and rip off whoever they can, including other Vietnamese. Try a small Hanoi taxi company called 'Hanoi Star' for reliability and honesty.
Recently, there are many other convenient transportation facilities in Vietnam, such as Grab, Go Viet and other taxi booking mobile app like Urber. In our experience, choosing the car booking app is more convenient and cost saving. However, you should have Internet connection by using Wifi or buy a local SIM.
3. When crossing the road – especially in HCMC – always keep looking to the left and right and walk slowly! Make eye contact with oncoming motorbikes and check that they see you so that they can avoid you. Be prepared for zebra crossings to be ignored and for motor vehicles to expect you as a pedestrian to give way to them. At rush hour motorcyclists take to the pavements in droves in attempt to beat traffic jams, endangering the lives of pedestrians.
4. Staying connecting through internet connection becomes more and more important. Spending a huge chunk of your fortune just for data access is definitely not a smart way to end a getaway.
There are definitely ways to get cheaper data when travelling, depending on your personal preference and convenience. Purchasing a SIM card from Viet Nam is an easy option for many of us. Prepaid SIM cards packages are usually limited by either number of days or data usage. If you are travelling to Viet Nam, this option is often the cheapest.
If your phone is locked, but uses the GSM system, you can still use it in foreign countries. Ask your mobile provider about international roaming plans. But it is so expensive. Another option for a locked or GSM-non-compatible phone is to use a cheap local phone and SIM card while you’re overseas. This could be especially helpful for trips, because it gives you affordable local communication.
Once you land at your destination's airport, you'll see many shops selling tourist SIM cards but the prices is so high. For good telephone/internet service make sure that you buy your sim card through an established service provider in Vietnam, such as our website. The most-used brand there is Viettel, Mobifone and Vinaphone. In hotel, the regulation is not allowed to provide SIM card because it is not a tourist standard service, but you could in some motels. There are a few things you need to take note of when purchasing SIM card overseas:
o Get the SIM card that fits your phone-be it the nano or micro SIM card.
o Keep your local SIM card in a safe and secure place and remember where you put it. If you misplace the original SIM card, you can't transfer it back when you return!
o If you are an iPhone user, remember to bring your SIM card tray removal pin. I always attach it to my keychain and keys, so that I constantly have it with me. That said, with iPhones being so common, the shop that sells you the SIM card will usually have their own pin.
5. Dress modestly and appropriately when visiting local dwellings and religious sites, etc. Make an offering to the gods and put a donation into the box if you want to make a good impression.
Wear a mask when walking in the cities, to avoid breathing in vehicle fumes and other noxious smells. Always ask permission first before taking photographs, especially in minority areas.
Frequently asked questions