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  Travel help » Travel Tips

Getting Around Vietnam - Travel Around

Air :With more limited time, flight present the best option to hop between the further apart destinations in the north, south and central areas of Vietnam.Vietnam Airlines  has daily flights between Ho Chi Minh city,Da Nang, Hue, and  Regular flights are also provided between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City toDa Lat, Buon Ma Thuot, Hai Phong, Na San, Phu Quoc, Quy Nhon, Pleiku, and Vinh.

Pacific Airlines,  Indochina Airline and Jet Star Airline offer domestic flights between major cities as well as travel routes Asia cities at a generally lower rate than Vietnam Airlines.

Sea/River A local area network operates between ports. Simple water-means of transportation are widely used among Southern Provinces, while canoes are used to travel within bays and islands along the coast.

Road: VietnamTrains  are also quite popular, especially overnight trains in a soft sleeper.  Vietnam’s Reunification Express runs the entire coast between Hanoi and HCMC, with stops along the way in Hue, Dang Nang and Nha Trang.  In addition, the train is the main way to get between Hanoi and Sapa  in the north. 

Traffic drives on the right. There is a reasonable road network. However, roads are often in poor condition and may be inaccessible during the rainy season. Driving in Vietnam can be a harrowing experience as the normal rules of highway discipline are not followed by most drivers.

Taxis : Use one of the main companies and you shouldn’t have any problem. Make sure you have the address written down. Don’t use unmarked taxis, this is where you encounter difficulties.

Motor bike taxi : Agree on the price before you depart. And self driving is fun bot not highly recommended.

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Climate of Vietnam 

Vietnam is large enough to have several distinct climate zones. (See climate chart)

  • The South has three somewhat distinct seasons: hot and dry from March to May/; rainy from June to November; and cool and dry from December to February. April is the hottest month.
  • The Central has a variation of climate from coastal plains to central highlands. As the middle of the year tends to be warmer and humid than the south, similarly the winter gets cooler during the dry season from November to March.
  • The North has four distinct seasons, with a comparatively chilly winter and wet summer and pleasant spring  and autumn  seasons. However, in the mountain  both extremes are amplified, with occasional snow in the winter and temperatures hitting 40°C in the summer.

Business hours in Vietnam (GMT +7)

A normal working day in Vietnam starts from  7am to 8.30am and finish between  4pm to 6pm, from Monday to Friday and until noon on Saturday. Everything shuts down between noon and 1.30pm for lunch. Government workers tend to take longer breaks, so figure on getting nothing done between 11.30am and 2pm.

Post offices keep longer, from 6.30am to 9pm.

Banks open from 8am to 4pm and Saturday’s morning.

Museums also open in the weekend for visitors but close on Monday.

Temples and pagodas open every day, from around 5am to 9pm.

Markets open at 7am and close at 5pm, except Night market (By Dong Xuan market, in the evening of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 8pm to 3am)

Super-markets (mini-marts) open from 8am to 8pm or 9pm.

Most private shops, restaurants and street stalls stay open seven days a week, often until late at night.

Bars and night clubs generally open in the afternoon and to midnight (official closing time) but always till 1pm or 2pm (most)

Vietnamese currency - Vietnam Dong (VND)

The currency of Vietnam is  "Dong" (abb VND). Bank notes are: 200d and 500d (too small value - rarely used); 1,000d; 2,000d; 5,000d; 10,000d, 20,000d, 50,000d and 100,000d 200,000d and 500,000d. Coins have recently come into circulation but not widely been accepted due to inconvenience, including: 200d; 500d; 1,000d; 2,000d and 5,000d.

US dollar is widely accepted while most major currencies can be exchanged at  banks  or some hotels and jewelry shops. The official rate of exchange is approximately VND18,500 to US$1. With the relatively low value of Dong, you are recommended to carry US dollar.

ATMs can be a choice as it’s very popular in most of tourist destinations now.  Withdrawals are issued  in Dong (50,000d and 100,000d, 500,000d only). There is a  limit of 2,000,000d (about US$125) for each withdrawal and a daily limit of 20,000,000d. Fee is vary from 20, 000 to 50,000d (1,1-$3US) each time.

Visa,  MasterCard and  JCB cards are widely accepted. Some merchants also accept  Amex. A  4%-commission charge on every transaction (3% for other cards) is pretty common, due to bank’s policy.

Travellers Cheques are accepted at most of big hotels, restaurants but in major cities. If you only have travellers cheques, stock up on US dollars at a bank, which usually charge anywhere from  1.25% to 3% commission to change them into cash.  If your travellers cheques are in currencies other than US dollars, they may be useless beyond the major cities.

Vietnamese typical food and drinks

The most typical Vietnamese food is  Pho, the noodle soup with meat .  The main types are: Pho Bo with beef and Pho Ga with chicken.  Com – steamed white rice is eaten for lunch and dinner.  Nuoc Mam is the fermented fish sauce used to spice absolutely everything in Vietnam.

Seasonal fruits such as dragon fruit, rambutans and longans, fresh vegetables and local seafood are widely available.

Drinking water or ice is generally  not recommended, even in the cities. Bottled water is cheap and readily available, so we recommend you don't take the risk.Vietnam is a  beer culture and Hanoi is the “bia hoi” capital of Vietnam.  Bia hoi (draught beer) is one of things you  should not be missed. Beside beer, Vietnam is also a place to enjoy green tea ,  coffee  or something heavier,  wine (“Nep Moi” – the Vietnamese whisky).

Electricity in Vietnam

The usual voltage is between  220V and 240V,  50 cycles; but sometimes you encounter  110V, also at 50 cycles, just to confuse things.

Two-pin (ungrounded) plug is more popular than three-pin one. If you have any devices needing a special outlet, please bring its adapter kit. The best investment is a  universal AC adapter, which will enable you to plug it in anywhere without frying the innards.

Tipping and donation in Vietnam

Tipping is not expected in Vietnam but it is enormously appreciated. You should consider tipping guides, drivers, and staffs at hotels or restaurants if they have done good jobs.

How much you should tip? It’s up to you and depended on the situation. A good guide normally receives US$10 or more per day. A good driver gets US$5-10 daily.

It’s considered proper to make a small donation at the end of visit to a pagoda, especially if a monk has shown you around; most pagodas have contribution boxes for this purpose.

Things to do  in Vietnam

  • Store your cash, credit cards, airline tickets and other valuables in a safe place. Ask the reception to keep your valuable things in their deposit facility.
  • Take a hotel business card from the reception desk before venturing out from your hotel. This will make your return to the hotel in a taxi or cyclo much easier.
  • Dress appropriately. Vietnamese have conservative dress codes, and it is only in larger cities that these codes are a little more relaxed.
  • If invited into a home, always remove your shoes at the front door when entering.
  • Ask for permission when taking a photograph of someone. If they indicate that they do not want you to, then abide by their wishes.
 
 
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