Know Before You Go: Helpful Tips for First Time Visitors to Vietnam

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Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam

Vietnam is becoming a very popular destination for international tourists. Northern Vietnam is a relatively undisturbed paradise with rice paddies, water buffalo and mountains that will take your breath away. Cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh offer cultural history and incredible food while the coastal areas like world-famous Halong Bay are busy with tourists but offer stunning scenery.

No matter your age, travel experience or budget, Vietnam is a world class destination with a lot to offer. Holiday comparisons online reveal incredibly reasonable prices for flights and accommodation for travel to Vietnam while in-country spending is kept to a minimum thanks to exchange rates and generally low prices.

Like any destination, it’s always a good idea to do research ahead of any bookings. For first time visitors to this southeast Asian gem, Vietnam has the potential to be rather overwhelming; but a few helpful tips before traveling will ensure even the most timid travelers experience the very best of the country.

Ask for Help. While some people might say Vietnamese people are somewhat less friendly than their neighbours in Thailand, Cambodia or Laos, this is not the case. Unlike neighbouring populations, Vietnamese people won’t necessarily go out of their way to strike up a conversation but if you ask for help (especially with a smile), they’re almost always obliging.

Be Wary of Hustlers. As a foreign visitor, it can sometimes feel like you’re an easy target for pickpockets or scams in general. It’s good travel practice generally to keep your money and your documents somewhere safe and to be aware of your surroundings, so be sure to implement these practices on any Vietnam holiday.

If you’re staying at a hotel, arrange an airport pick up as airport taxis are notorious for scamming newly arrived (and jet-lagged) tourists. Make sure any taxi you hail knows the English names of main tourists sights in advance of your journey, and if you’re haggling at a market or a food stall – try to wait and see what price a local is charged and aim for the same when completing your own purchase.

Traffic in Vietnam

Traffic in Vietnam

Be Adventurous and Have a Sense of Humour. Vietnam can be intimidating and quite overwhelming at times but it’s important to persevere. If you keep your wits about you and are able to find humour in your experiences, your trip will be memorable and incredible. Be confident in your actions; don’t freeze up in Hanoi traffic, try exotic foods, don’t let yourself be taken advantage of and don’t take anything too personally. Southeast Asia has rules of its own and they can at times be a far cry from what most western tourists are used to, but if you’re respectful and have a sense of adventure you’re sure to have the trip of a lifetime.

Images by Simon Gurney and M M, used under Creative Comms license.

Categories: guest post, Vietnam

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