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11 things you should know before traveling to Vietnam

Updated: Feb 8

Climate, documents, and health are just some of the things you should take into account before traveling to any country. Find out here how to prepare yourself before any trip!


Discovering the wonders of this country, rich in culture and stunning landscapes, can be an incredible experience.


Being well-prepared is essential to make the most of this adventure. From the weather to travel practices and gastronomic suggestions, this guide aims to provide you with a solid foundation to create an unforgettable trip.


To help you plan your trip to Vietnam, today we are going to share with you some information that may be useful in the initial planning phase.


Disclaimer: In this article you will find some links to different travel's partners. They are all trustworthy and if you use some of them to book an experience or stay, for example, you are helping us maintaining the work we do on this project.

Things you should know before traveling to Vietnam


1. Visas and Documents

Firstly, if you intend to travel to Vietnam, make sure you have a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry into the country.


A visa is mandatory for Portuguese citizens and must be requested in advance.


You can make the request on the official government website; It is relatively easy to fill out and costs 25 USD. You need the following documents: a photo of yourself, a photo of your passport, the date of entry into the country, and your credit card number for payment. The visa takes at least 3 working days to be issued and you will receive it by email. We recommend that you print it when you receive it; we had to show it in digital format and on paper.


We entered and left the country via land borders, and it went very well. If you do the same, make sure you set the entry and exit port in the correct country. We've seen some people get into trouble because they put in the wrong port.


2. Health 

Before traveling to Southeast Asia, we scheduled a traveler's medical consultation. This consultation served to find out which vaccines were mandatory or recommended.


For Vietnam, there are no mandatory vaccines, but we were recommended vaccines for Hepatitis A, Typhoid Fever, and Japanese Encephalitis, and those were the ones we took.


We also recommend that you take a first aid kit and some medicines.

Good travel insurance is essential for a restful vacation!

Food poisoning is very common and you never know if you might need it. It's better to be safe than sorry. Get your insurance now with IATI Seguros, with our link you can get a 5% discount on all insurance.




Language

Vietnamese is the official language. However, English is spoken in most tourist places.


Learning a few words in Vietnamese is often appreciated by locals. We leave you a list of some words that you can learn:

  • - Hello / Xin Chao

  • - Thank you / Cam on

  • - Sorry / Xin lỗi

  • - Goodbye / Tam biet

  • - Yes / Da

  • - No / Không

  • - How much? / Bao nhiêu?



Currency 

The official currency is the Vietnamese dong (VND). 1€ corresponds to 27,000 VND.

Physical money is still widely used in Vietnam, so make sure you always have some cash with you.


During this trip, we always used the Revolut Card. It's safe, and we don't pay exchange fees. If you want to sign up for the Revolut Card, it's very easy and costs just €7.5. You may eventually have to pay withdrawal fees from local banks, but this cannot be avoided.

In Vietnam, Agribank was the bank where we paid the least withdrawal fees. Regardless of the amount, the cost was always 22,000 VND.


Culture 

The Vietnamese are smiling and friendly people. You should respect their culture and pay attention to your clothing when visiting sacred places.


Vietnam is a country with rich religious diversity but Buddhism remains the country's main religion.

Don't forget to take off your shoes when entering houses or temples, this is a common practice that shows respect for cleanliness and sacred spaces.



Weather

The weather in Vietnam is a real challenge. As a general rule, the best time to visit the country is from November to April, but this varies depending on the region of the country.

However, that doesn't mean that if you visit at this time, you won't get rain.


During the period between May and October, some regions may experience the rainy season, so you should be prepared for heavy rainfall.


We visited Vietnam in May, and the weather was OK. We caught some rain in Hue and Ho Chi Minh, but overall it didn't stop us from doing any activities.




Safety 

Vietnam is a safe country, but, like anywhere else, you should be careful, especially in busy places.


There are some frequent scams that are being done to tourists, and if you know what they are, you can avoid them. One of them is with street vendors; You will see some vendors with baskets of fruit on their shoulders who invite you to try and take a photo, but in the end, they want payment or for you to buy their products. There are others, like shoe shiners… In general, they are not very insistent; smile, say thank you, and continue on your way.


Vietnam is also a country with many solo travelers, both women and men, it is very easy to meet new people and make friends, especially if you stay in a hostel.



Transport

Vietnam has an excellent transport service, including planes, trains, buses, minivans, and taxis, offering options for all tastes and budgets. We always use 12go to buy tickets and it always went very well!


  • Airplane: Vietnam is served by three airports, one in the north (Hanoi), one in the center (Da Nang), and one in the south (Ho Chi Minh). This is the quickest way to get around if you don't have many days to explore the country but is also the most expensive.


  • Train: The main cities are served by train. It is a more comfortable option than the bus, but with the disadvantage that train stations are usually located on the outskirts of cities and not in the center, like buses.


  • Bus: This was the means of transport we used most in Vietnam. For large trips, we always opt for night buses, which are a great way to save time and money. These buses have different seats than the common ones, as they are a type of bed. In general, they are comfortable, most have a bathroom, they make a few stops depending on the length of the trip, each place has a blanket available and you always have to take off your shoes before entering. This is a local experience, which we really recommend you do, it is also the most used means of transport by Vietnamese people.


  • Minivan: For shorter trips, the option is always minivans, which are comfortable and, as a rule, can be found in central locations in the city.


  • Taxi/GRAB: GRAB is the "Uber" of Asia and, as a rule, has very affordable prices. Using it is a way of knowing the amount you will pay at the end of the trip. As for the taxi, make sure you negotiate the price before getting in.


  • Scooter: For trips within the same city, we chose to rent a scooter, if necessary. For example, we rent in Ninh Binh, Hué, Da Nang, and Dalat.

Be aware that traffic in Vietnam is chaotic, and this is not the right place to learn how to ride a motorbike! Only rent a scooter if you have experience driving and feel comfortable.


Cell phone/Internet

Honestly, we think that internet access is essential in any country. Using Google Maps, making an urgent call, or calling a Grab may be necessary in any situation.



For this, you have two solutions: make an eSIM or buy a local SIM card.

The most practical solution to stay connected to the Internet is to buy an eSIM. At Airalo, you have several options for several days at very affordable prices. To do this, simply have an eSIM-compatible cell phone and purchase the card through the Airalo app. It's very easy, fast and intuitive.

The second option is to buy a local SIM card. There are several companies offering this service, but the most used is Viettel. A card costs around €10 for 30 days.



Food 

Vietnamese cuisine is very rich and offers several delicious options, from pho, to banh mi, to bún chả and spring rolls. There is a variety of dishes that provide a unique gastronomic experience.


There are some precautions you should take, such as avoiding eating raw foods and choosing to consume only bottled water.



Main cities

Vietnam is an incredible country with so much to offer. Hanoi, Halong Bay, and Hoi An are just some of the places you really can't miss.


In our previous article, we shared with you a 15-day itinerary in Vietnam. But honestly, the more days you stay, the better. This way, you can enjoy all the wonders that this country has to offer you.

From the hustle and bustle of vibrant cities to the serenity of natural landscapes, Vietnam offers a unique experience worth exploring in depth.




These are the tips we have for you today. We hope you find this information useful in planning your trip to Vietnam and that you love the country as much as we do.


We hope your trip is full of unforgettable discoveries and moments that remain in your memory.


Bon voyage!



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