FAQ about Vietnam Travel Guide
FAQ about Vietnam Travel Guide
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With beautiful landscapes, fascinating history, delicious food and the citizens’ hospitalities, Vietnam appears to outsiders in a brilliant way which is thrilling and relaxing at the same time. But for first-time travelers, there will always be concerns and questions making them hesitate to discover this wonderful land. So note to yourself these information below, or comment your questions and Journey on Air can give you the information you need.
When is the best time to visit Vietnam?
Many people who have never been to Vietnam may ask this question. So, great news is: there is no wrong time to visit Vietnam. This S-shaped country is over 1,000km (600 miles) in length with huge regional diversity. To decide the best time to visit this beautiful country depends largely on how far North or South your travel is, combining with other crucial factors such as festivals or national holidays.
Even though there is no wrong time to come to Vietnam, the views here are at their best in Spring (February to April) and Autumn (August to October). At that time, the rain is lighter, the weather is pleasant with sunny sky and breezy wind. Going to Vietnam in the summer may make it hard for old people or young kids to adapt to the hot and humid weather here, regardless of places you visit. But if that is your only free time to travel, Journey on Air is here to the rescue. We are partners of the most luxurious hotels and services and are proud to guarantee to give our customers the most pleasant and comfortable travelling experiences.
What public holidays are celebrated in Vietnam?
The largest national holiday in Vietnam called Tet, known as the Lunar New Year Eve that many countries in Asia celebrate. It's one of the largest festivals in Asia and occurs between January and February without any fixed day. During this time of the year, transportation and accommodations always go up in price or become fully booked as many Vietnamese people go back home to visit their family or fly abroad to enjoy the holiday. Other big national holidays here are:
- May 1 (International Workers Day)
- September 2 (National Day).
- April 30 (Reunification day) celebrates the reunification of North and South Vietnam, the event that ends the Vietnam War.
- In September or October (based on the lunisolar calendar), tourists may witness the colourful Mid-Autumn Festival (Chinese Moon Festival).
Great news is, you can still travel around big cities these days thanks to famous transport booking apps like Grab, Be or Gojek. These apps are easy to use, convenient and very cheap. It is not quite different from your country’s Uber app. However, you might know this: customers have to pay extra for their service on national holidays and sometimes it can double the price.
What’s the weather like in Vietnam?
Generally, Vietnam is warm and humid because of its location in the tropical area. However, the country is so long that weather varies in each region. It can be snowy (the real, authentic and white snow) in the mountainous area in the North, but the weather can be hot, humid with beautiful sunshine if visitors go to the beaches in the South.
Visitors are recommended to have a weather app in their phones to check for the weather before hitting the road.
What to wear in Vietnam?
Weather in Vietnam varies significantly, so it is obvious that your traveling closet needs to closely follow the weather here, or the time of year you visit as well as places you go. Big cities in Vietnam are really open that you can easily find girls with shorts or tank tops casually walking down the street. However, dressing standards can be much more conservative if you visit other provinces in Vietnam, especially the small and remote ones.
To respect this, and for the sake of your own comfort, we strongly recommend bringing modest and long clothes.You do not need to bring three piece suits or formal clothing. It is just simply that your clothes should cover your shoulders and knees, particularly when you visit pagodas or religious sites. A sarong is highly recommended, because of its flexibility in being a long dress or a blanket that shields you from the burning sun in Vietnam during summer time.
What are the best things to eat in Vietnam?
Many people consider Vietnamese food one of the healthiest cuisines in the world for the brilliant balance of nutrients like carbohydrates, fat, protein, minerals, and water in each and every dish here. Vietnamese cuisine varies by region. Each city, even each village you go, they may have their own list of unique local specialties that you should not miss.
Here in Vietnam, wherever you go, there are vendors and street food (they will definitely find you first!). Street food stalls are really popular here, making up for the vast majority of food restaurants. Sometimes, you can clearly see that the best and surprising local food experiences are made on the sidewalks with home cooks, not chefs in restaurants. This is truly a country where food choices vary from cheap street food to fancy fine-dining at restaurants.
For first-timers, deciding what to eat among thousands of food recommended online can be confusing. Note down our top 5 Vietnamese foods that you definitely need to try during your stay.
Bún Chả – Barbecued Pork with Rice Vermicelli
Bún chả can be one of the most famous foods after Mr. Obama’s visit to Vietnam. So clearly, it is one of the best dishes you should not miss. The dish has grilled pork strips and balls called chả served with rice vermicelli noodles (bún). People always serve this dish with a plate of fresh Vietnamese herbs and a bowl of delicious dipping sauce. Other side dishes like pickled vegetables like cabbage, carrots, onion or green papaya are also free and you can totally ask for a refill
Chả Cá – Grilled Fish with Turmeric
Chả Cá is one of the most unique specialties in Hanoi and definitely a big MUST when you come here. They even have a street name after this delicious meal – Cha Ca street. Hanoians even have a saying that “someone should try this once in their life before leaving this world.”
The main ingredient in Chả Cá is of course, grilled fish, typically mudfish or snake-head fish because they have fewer bones with tasty flesh.
Phở - Rice noodle
Pho is no doubt Vietnam's signature dish that you can find anywhere in Vietnam or even in foreign countries. It consists of rice noodles in a broth bowl with meat. A basic Pho bowl contains medium-rare beef and some cuts from the hard-boiled one, topped with fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro, and onions. Depending on the restaurant and your preference, you can also ask for more such as beef tendon, thinly-sliced pig stomach, or egg. Pho is priced somewhere between VND 20,000 and VND 50,000, but if you go to a fine-dining restaurant, the price can be much higher.
Banh mi - Vietnamese bread
Banh mi is a unique French-Vietnamese sandwich that you can buy and have a quick meal wherever you go. The dish consists of a toasted French baguette sandwich, pickled vegetables, pate, butter and chillies or hot peppers. Banh mi can be eaten with a wide range of meat fillings, including roasted pork belly, fried egg, grilled pork loin or flavoured chicken.
Banh xeo - Vietnamese crepe
If you observe the way people make it, you will see that this dish is somehow similar to a crepe or pancake with rice flour, coconut milk, turmeric, beef slices, shrimps, sliced onions, beansprouts, and mushrooms filling. Most street stalls, local markets, or restaurants sell a dish of Banh xeo for about VND 15,000 to VND 25,000, which is usually served with a bow of fresh herbs and rice papers. Eating Banh xeo is also an art - you have to wrap your Banh xeo and lemongrass pork skewers in lettuce leaves or rice papers , then dip the roll in fermented peanut sauce or sweet fish sauce.
What are the best things to drink in Vietnam?
Once coming to Vietnam, you will realize that the country's drinks are as delicious and diverse as its cuisine.
Looking at the culture here, you can see an obvious mark of one hundred years of French and a thousand years of Chinese rule as the Chinese affected the concept of food and drink as the theory of yin and yang, and the French brought coffee here in the 1800s. So here is a list of drinks that you should not miss in Vietnam:
Never leave Vietnam without trying the strong, unique coffee that you can not find the similar taste anywhere else. Here, coffee is served with a small metal drip filter over ice and condensed milk. The black one is somehow like expresso and the brown one has condensed milk in it. There is a saying that when it comes to local food and drink specials, you should go wherever the crowd is.
The most famous coffee may be the Egg Coffee. Egg Coffee is more of a dessert (a liquid version of Creme Brulee or so) than a beverage. Made with egg, sugar and condensed milk, Egg Coffee can be the best drink you can EAT in Vietnam. It is served hot or iced and you can even order the drink’s variations with chocolate, green beans, rum and beer. Despite its Hanoian root, you can have a nice cup of Egg Coffee in other cities like Da Nang and Saigon. Salty Coffee, an interesting twist of Egg Coffee and Coconut Coffee are equally famous and tasty.
Sugar Cane Juice
It is not as sickly sweet as you'd expect. Sugar cane juice is, on the contrary, considered "cooling". You can buy the drink from street vendors, who use electric squashing machines to squeeze the juice from sugar cane. To balance the sweet, sellers often mix the liquid with juice from lime or calamansi, a cute tiny sour citrus fruit smelling like mandarins. The finished product is truly refreshing on a sunny and hot day.
Fresh coconut water is really a popular drink in Vietnam so tourists can easily find the drink on Vietnam’s streets. The process is this: you choose a coconut, then the vendor will chop its head, put a straw on it and you can drink coconut water straight from the coconut.
The tip is, small coconuts tend to be sweeter than the large ones. Having coconut water on a hot day in Vietnam and you will fall in love with this simple drink immediately.
Fruit mix (Che)
In every corner of Vietnam, you can easily find a stall selling the popular sweet treat - Che. It is often like a bowl of colourful pudding with various toppings to eat. The dish usually includes fruit, sweet beans, seed, jelly, glutinous rice, coconut milk… This sweat drink comes with vast variety and combinations because each region has their own style of mixing Che. Travelers should not miss this, but beware since this sweet treat could be really addictive.
Side note: Apart from shipping service of the restaurants or stores themselves, you can easily have all of these delicious dishes by installing Vietnam’s famous delivery services called Now or Grab Food. All you have to do is log in, choose the restaurant you want to buy and the quantity then you are done. The food will be delivered despite the weather, the path or prices. If there are too many choices that you find it hard to make up your mind, here are some food review apps that you can totally count on: Foody, Lozi or even Now has a very credible review system for each and every restaurant on its system.
Is Vietnam a LGBTQI friendly destination?
You may read somewhere that Vietnam is really conservative and old-school. But when it comes to LGBT, this country is one of the most progressive in Southeast Asia. Even though the government have not approved same-sex marriage here yet, same-sex relationships or sexual encounters aren’t criminalized here. Moreover, Vietpride - a march that empowers people in LGBT community, has been attracting a lot of attention as well as support from the public.
But of course, as in such a conservative Asian country, simple things like public affection can draw some glances or raised eyebrows from old people catching a sight of it. But, Vietnam is more like a country where people mind their own business, and as long as you're doing does not affect theirs, you are fine. In conclusion, gay tourists shouldn’t really worry about discrimination.
Is Vietnam accessible for travelers with disabilities?
No disability should prevent people from traveling and discovering new lands. And I think it is safe to say that Vietnam is totally a wheelchair-friendly country.
Vietnam’s tourism really cares about tourists with disabilities. These days, there are more and more choices or resources for them to have the trip of their life. Most major hotels in Vietnam’s large cities can accommodate travelers with wheelchairs. But if you go to hotels in rural areas, this kind of service may be off the limit.
Do I need a visa to travel to Vietnam?
Below is a list of 24 nationalities that are excluded of tourist visa to Vietnam as of January 2019:
- Less than 90 days: Chile
- Less than 30 days: Cambodia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand
- Less than 21 days: The Philippines
- Less than 14 days: Brunei, Myanmar
- Less than 15 days: Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
- Passport holders of British National Overseas (BNO) are not included on the list for 15-day free visa exemption. Thus, people with these passports are required to apply for a visa to visit Vietnam.
- Foreign passports are not subject to having a visa to Phu Quoc island if their stay is no longer than 30 days. If the tourists transit through other international airports in Vietnam before arriving at Phu Quoc, they are still eligible for the exemption.
- People in APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) with valid passports are exempt from having a visa to Vietnam if they intend to stay no longer than 60 days.
- To enter Vietnam, all nations mentioned above need to have a passport valid for at least six months after the visa expiration date.
Is tipping customary in Vietnam?
Many visitors coming from Western countries may ask themselves once they are in a restaurant in Vietnam “Am I supposed to tip here?” So first and foremost, tipping is not a culture in Vietnam, thus it is not customary since not many employees count on tips to make up for their modest income from being a waiter/waitress like in the US. But, tipping is highly appreciated if you do.
What is the Internet access like in Vietnam?
Some people are still of the impression that Vietnam is still very poor, thus the facility here can not meet your requirements, especially when it comes to Internet access. You can now have a relief sigh that this kind of thought is totally wrong.
Nowadays in Vietnam, wireless connection is provided throughout the whole country, regardless of places, public or private areas. Internet and wi-fi are widely available. Around 98% of hotels and guesthouses have wi-fi. But if you stay in very remote places (such as national parks or the mountainous areas where signal is really weak), you may need to surf the net using 3G or 4G mobile phone connections.
Here, wi-fi is nearly free of charge everywhere. Most cafes and restaurants gave you the password for free with decent connection speeds. With around 50 cents for an hour, you can access the Internet in the Internet cafes.
Another way to post your check in pictures or call your family through Viber is using cellular networks by buying a phone SIM card then a package of 3G or 4G connection. After all the installation, you can have from 500MB up to 3 GB of high-speed connection. Because you have to pay for it, it is not surprising that cellular networks are likely to have the fastest and less interrupted speed.
Side note: You should bring a power plug adapter with you because most electrical outlets in Vietnam do not include a grounding hole. The electricity supply in Vietnam is 220 Volts. and 50 Hz. If you are in Vietnam now and your equipment’s plug is not compatible with the socket here, you can buy a converter or plug adapter in many convenient stores or order through several delivery services in Vietnam.
Can I use my mobile/ cell phone while in Vietnam?
The answer is yes of course! You are able to use your cell phone in most urban areas, although remote and mountainous areas may have limited or weak network coverage.
It is recommended that you buy a SIM card in Vietnam for calling or Internet surfing the time you stay here. Most unlocked phones from Europe, Asia and Australia and some unlocked phones from North America can be inserted with the local SIM card.
It takes no genius to use a mobile phone in Vietnam, plus it is worth familiarizing yourself to the places, regardless of the places you plan to travel. The three most popular networks providers in Vietnam are MobiFone, Vinaphone and Vietel. These three brands account for 90% of Vietnam’s mobile phones. If you want to travel to neighboring countries of Vietnam, buy a Viettel SIM card. Viettel’s SIM cards will also work in Cambodia and Laos.
What are the toilets like in Vietnam?
There is a huge gap between the living standards in urban and rural areas in Vietnam. What does this even mean? It means that the Westernized toilet you are familiar with in your country and the urban areas of Vietnam will be out of sight once you come to the countryside (But if you stay in a decent hotel, you will be able to use one). Toilet papers can be high-end items when you need them the most and you’ll soon have a habit of bringing your own whenever your mother nature calls.
Can I drink the water in Vietnam?
Like in any country in Southeast Asian, Vietnam’s running water is not recommended to be drunk straight from the tap. Water contamination is a major source of sickness thus it can lead to unexpected sickness like diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, typhoid, cholera, giardia, dysentery and hepatitis A. Tourists should also avoid raw vegetables, fruits with edible skins and iced drinks.
Are credit cards accepted widely in Vietnam?
The fact is, Vietnam is ruled by cash even though credit cards are accepted in many restaurants, hotels and shops but mostly in big cities or famous tourist attractions. It is better that tourists have a certain amount of cash with them because with many services here (street food, clothes stall or Xe Om), you can not use the credit card. So, pay attention to your Dong and do it very carefully. Note to yourself that the VND 10,000 looks a lot like the VND 200,000 and the VND 20,000 is quite similar to the superior VND 500,000! So be very careful when paying your bills because one small mistake may cost you a lot more than you notice!
Visa, Master Card, JBC and American Express are the most common. You can go to ATM stalls to withdraw cash to have cash advances on your credit cards, or, visit a bank’s office to withdraw from the counter. For credit card transactions, users can be charged from 3-4 percent per transaction.
What is ATM access like in Vietnam?
When tourists first come to Vietnam, you will easily find several ATMs at Vietnam’s major airports. Places that you can find ATMs are city streets, in the corner of all shopping malls or next to crowded universities, bars and restaurants. The Bank with the most ATMs in Vietnam is Vietcombank. There is also a huge number of international banks having ATMs across the country including ANZ, Citibank and HSBC.
Do I need to purchase travel insurance before traveling in Vietnam?
Among all the documents travellers have to submit to have a visa to Vietnam, you do not have to prove that you have bought travel insurance. But of course it is better and of great importance that you have one.
We all know that there are things that could happen on the road. No one can foresee the future - what if something will happen at your arrival, or even before you hit the road? But do not freak out, just think of some popular scenarios: a member of your family gets sick so you need to cancel your non-refundable packaged tour; or some accidents happen making your flight and hotels booking cancel; or worse, you may get some injury when hitting the road and need treatment at hospital. Do you want to pour all of your previous savings into one treatment?
It is not that Vietnam is unsafe to visit, but that anything can happen and surely you do not want yourself to be unprepared. Getting insurance sometimes can cost you up to thousands of dollars, but at least you know you are protected to a certain extent.
Journey on Air team hopes that all the information above can help you best prepare for a wonderful trip to Vietnam. And if you are still confused over this problem or do not know where to buy travel insurance, contact us to have your best support!