In our previous post Vietnam : From North to South, you probably have an idea of what you are going to find once you’ve get there.
Now, we want to feed you with some extras on before you book that ticket and avoid the surprises when you arrive at the airport.
Before Travelling to Vietnam:
Spanish citizens like Malaysian citizens are lucky to be able to enjoy “visa exemption” if our stay is equal to or less than 15 days. We only need our valid passports to legally enter the country.
If you plan to stay in the country for a longer periods of time, then you will need to apply for a visa. You can do it before traveling from the embassy in your home country or applying for an electronic visa. Another option is go for Visa On Arrival (VOA) when you arrive at the airport.
If you are from another country, then you’ll have to check what agreement your country has with Vietnam. To Check if you need a Visa Click Here!
There are no mandatory vaccines for a Spanish or Malaysian citizen to enter the Asian country. But if there are some recommended such as Typhoid Fever, Tetanus, Rabies and Diphtheria.
The best would be that you go to your nearest International Vaccination Center or visit your GP Doctor to receive all the information about it.
We don’t have the current information on COVID19 vaccine entry requirements as they could change without notice. It’s best to Google for the current requirements.
Arriving in Vietnam:
This country was located in Southeast Asia, it experiences tropical climate. So, Vietnam has only 2 seasons: the dry season and the wet/rainy season.
The wet/rainy season (a.k.a. monsoon) varies depending on the region, either the north (Hanoi, Sapa) or the south (Ho Chi Minh, Mekong Delta). Vietnam has an average temperature throughout the year of about 24ºC. Some northern regions, such as Sapa, are cooler throughout the year.
Just so you know, Vietnam stretches from north to south all along the coast just like Chile. Thus the weather in the north can be way different from the south.
Usually, the rainy season in the north of Vietnam stretches from May to August, and in the south, the monsoon season is usually between May and November. It can be very humid during this season.
Generally, the weather in Vietnam is quite unpredictable and ever-changing. It may be all sunny now, then a torrential downpour in the next hour. That’s why we advise you to always bring a raincoat/poncho when you’re here 🙂
How to Get Around
Vietnam is a big country (long to be exact). The distances between the north and south are greater than we think. For example Hanoi (located in the north) and Ho Chi Minh (in the south) is about 1,700km apart!
To travel between cities with such long distances, I’ll be a wiser choice to just travel by airplane. All major cities in Vietnam have an airport. There are several local airlines that operate between all these cities for cheap prices (between €30 and €60) and you will save a lot of your precious hours.
Another option would be the bus or the train. There are night services with bed-trains that travel around the country. Many backpackers use the bed-train like accommodation for the night and transportation between destinations. These are much cheaper but usually the journeys are about 15 and 16 hours. It is okay if you’re not in a rush and have lots of time to spare.
We went by airplane to go from Hai Phong to Da Nang and from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh. For the rest, we used trains and buses.
Currency and Prices
The official currency in Vietnam is the Dong. EUR€1 is the equivalent to approximately 27,000VND (Vietnam-Dong). Yes, you will have to hold that much money… hehehe 😉
Vietnam is a very-cheap-to-spend country if we compare it with the European countries. Thus, we must watch our spending and not taking things for granted as its easy to over-spend, since we assume its cheap-to-spend.
In Vietnam, you have to haggle for everything. Bargaining is something that absolutely normal in Vietnamese culture. Start asking the price and haggle with care. Our advice is, offer half the price of what the seller suggests and work your way to an agreement.
Vietnam has a great choice of accommodation for everyone with very competitive prices.
We’ve read that some tourists had bad experiences in some hotels where they had their belongings stolen or some operators made them pay more than expected when checking-out. Our advice is, whenever you book a hotel, read reviews from other customers first, then choose based on their good and bad ratings.
Other than that, use Booking.com, or any reputable price comparison site to make a booking or payments. That way you’re covered by the comparison site’s customer-satisfaction-guarantees. Plus, its harder for an operator to perform an unauthorised-charge your credit/debit card in the event of a dispute. Alternatively, like what we did, we paid the hotel/motel in VND cash at check-in, no exposure of our credit/debit card details whatsoever.
In addition to that is about hiring a tour/excursion. There are also many scams and ‘bad experiences’ posted on forums and other blogs as well. Especially the tours in Halong Bay. Be extra careful when choosing them, compare them with a few other operators and check for reviews/comments from other customers such as GoogleMaps, TripAdvisor or price-comparison websites. Better check-it, than chance-it.
As this is an Asian country, you will find a lot of rice, noodle soups and rolls. The rolls are a very typical dish in Vietnam. They are stuffed with vegetables and can be eaten raw or fried.
The food in Vietnam is very tasty. Many of their dishes have French influence due to the colonisation from back in the days. Don’t be afraid to try new foods because everything tastes great!
In Vietnam there are also many street food stalls. Not everyone likes to eat from them because of their “hygiene conditions.” We love them and eat their food most of the time since it’s cheaper and so far we have never had any stomach problems… hehehe
But if you do have a sensitive stomach, we recommend you to bring some “food poisoning” pills, just in case. And drinking only from bottled water sources does help in avoiding such incidents.
Overall, the country is quite safe. But, that doesn’t mean that you can tahe for granted and just let your guard down. Especially in touristy areas where the are more opportunities for bad people to do their thing…
We didn’t have any bad experience during our stay in Vietnam. We followed our rule-of-thumb, limit or never stay out after nightfall and if we really want to go out, stick to public-open areas, no back-lanes, side-lanes, oh-this-is-a-shortcut-from-google-maps, etc.
In Vietnam the traffic is horrible. The Vietnamese people usually travel by motorcycle/mopeds/scooters everywhere and there are thousands of them wherever you go.
In major cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the noise of the engines and the horns are annoying and trying to cross a street can be overwhelming. There aren’t many traffic signs, and even if there are signs, no one obeys them. But it is something you’ll have to live with if you wish to visit Vietnam 😉
If you’re interested to learn how to cross the road in Vietnam, there’s a movie about Vietnam : A Tourist Guide to Love (Netflix) you should watch. As the guy in this movie said, to cross the road, only go forward, don’t step backwards and you’ll be fine. As a disclaimer, you’re trying this at your own risk! We are not liable for any injury that may result from you trying to cross their roads!
Everything was Tiny!
We are neither too tall nor too big, but something that we found quite peculiar, in Vietnam everything seems to be miniature sized. Or at least that was our impression during our visit. Starting with the Vietnamese people who are usually short, having an average height of 164cm (5ft 4in) for men and 153cm (5ft) for the women. And their houses, shops and restaurants with tables and chairs are kid-sized, definitely not suitable for tall people!
And we believe that’s about it! You’ll have to experience everything else yourself. If you have any other doubts or questions you can write us in the comments below 🙂
Also you can be interested in our post: Vietnam in Video y Photos!