Before You Go
Preparing for a Vietnam Vacation
Vietnam has come a long way since proclaiming its independence in 1975. Each year more and more tourists consider Vietnam as a traveling destination and the country is more than willing to welcome guests. Just like any other destination, having a successful trip is all about preparation.
Preparing for a trip to Vietnam includes many things, such as checking the weather for the time of year you will travel and making sure all of your documents are in order. You also need to obtain Vietnam currency and undergo immunizations at least 6 weeks before making the trip.
Perhaps the biggest decision to make as part of your preparation is choosing an organized tour to help you navigate Vietnam. Some people decide to travel Vietnam on their own and have trouble getting around. An alternative is hiring a tour guide and package that will take you to your desired locations. HanoiTravelTour.com offers a number of different tours that can give you the best Vietnam experience possible. We’ll take care of all the details and all you need to do is show up.
Steps for a Successful Trip
1. Check the weather – If you plan on traveling to Northern Vietnam you need to pay special attention to the weather patterns. Possibly the best time to travel there is between August and November. The cold winter months last from December to March so if you like warmer temperatures avoid traveling during this time. Northern Vietnam can get quite cold and you will need to be prepared with warm clothes. Southern Vietnam stays warm throughout the year and any time is a good time to visit.
2. Find out the dates of festivals and celebrations – Vietnam celebrates many holidays, including Christmas and the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. The Lunar New Year, or Tet, occurs anywhere from late January to early February and this may not be the best time to visit as most people stay home to celebrate with their family. Generally people that work and have business take about four days off to celebrate. April 30 is Saigon Liberation Day and September 2 is celebrated as the National Day of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. You may find a lot of businesses closed during these holidays.
3. Choosing to travel independently or with a tour – Some people like to explore new countries on their own while others would much rather travel with a guided group that has a plan and accommodations are taken care of for you. Hiring a tour guide and traveling with others can help you avoid many mistakes, including paying too much for items and attractions, getting lost, or even finding yourself in a bad area of town. Most guides charge small fees and their experience is well worth the cost. They can also act as translators and this can be very helpful when ordering food and purchasing goods.
4. Getting your passport and visa – Obtaining a passport and valid visa is probably the most important thing to do when preparing for a trip to Vietnam. If you don’t already have a passport you need to go to your local post office and apply for one. Most people can get a visa by applying for one online through reliable websites. Don’t wait until the last minute to gather these items as they can take a while sometimes.
5. Determine the cost of your trip and collect Vietnam currency – The official currency of Vietnam is Dong. It is advised that tourists wishing to dine and shop in Vietnam should exchange their money into Vietnam currency for convenience. In some of the main shopping areas and hotels American currency is accepted, but you shouldn’t plan your trip assuming your money will be accepted. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks throughout Vietnam. The airport is the ideal place to exchange currency as you can do it as soon as you arrive.
6. Getting around Vietnam – If you are traveling with a group on a guided tour you won’t have to worry about transportation because all of that is probably taken care of for you in advance. However if you plan on navigating the country on your own you need to be prepared for many different forms of transportation. A lot of the major cities have a good system of trains and busses for transportation. Sometimes you will travel by car if you need to get somewhere a few hours away.
7. Understanding the language and currency – It is recommended to buy a book that translates Vietnamese into English. A lot of these books will list some of the most common phrases like hello, goodbye, and thank you. Language won’t be as big of a problem if you have a tour guide helping you along the way, but if you decide to travel on your own or get away from the tour for a little while, a book that translates will be helpful.
Having a good understanding of the currency will also be beneficial when ordering food and buying local goods from street markets. There is a lot of bargaining that takes place at local markets and you don’t want to be taken advantage of. Come prepared and know what you are paying for the items you buy. It is unfortunate but occasionally some vendors will attempt to get you to overpay for their items.
Here are Some Things You Might Need
If you are scheduled to travel with a tour then make sure to ask them for a list of things you will need to bring for your trip. Such organizations that offer tours can usually help you figure out what you need. If you won’t be with a tour see what you can find by doing some online research.
Here is a quick list of things you will need for your Vietnam vacation:
• Copies of your passport and visa
• Vietnam currency
• A book that can help you translate
• An umbrella – especially during the raining season
• A safe way to carry money