Anything to know before traveling in Viet Nam

13 January, 2018

Vietnam is a friendly and safe place to travel. With a sprinkling of common sense, your trip should be smooth and trouble free. We hope the list as below helps out first-time visitors

1. The Essentials

Passport and Visa: In addition to the originals, keep photocopies or scanned copies of your passport and visa in case you lose your passport.

Travel Medical insurance information: Keep a printout with you.

Cash: Keep enough cash with you as many stores and restaurants only take cash. Many tourist restaurants and stores take credit card but they will often add a surcharge 2-3% on top of the international transaction fees you will incur through your credit card company.

Money belt: Remember, like any large city, be cautious of petty theft and use a money belt to keep your money secure.

2. Appropriate Clothing

Moisture wicking clothing: In Ho Chi Minh city, rainy season is from June to November. And dry season is during the rest of the year, although it stays between 25-35C throughout the year. Lightweight clothing is important for this kind of weather.

Light rain jacket: For the rain, a light jacket is fine but a plastic poncho may also work well. You will see many locals wearing ponchos while riding their bike in the rain so the poncho may be more suitable if you plan on doing cycling or motorcycling tours around the country.

3. Appropriate Shoes

Walking shoes: Ho Chi Minh city and other cities in Vietnam are very conducive to walking, once you get past the occasional motorbike driver on the sidewalk! You may find that you end up walking several kilometres a day so good walking shoes are a must.

Activity based shoes: If you plan on doing outdoor activities or trekking, special shoes are very important. If you forget to bring them, many hostels and hotels can provide shoes that guests have left behind but your size may not be available. Even buying shoes here may be difficult if your shoe size is larger than that of the average Vietnamese person.

4. Medication

Brand name medication: The medication regulations in Vietnam are different than in other countries such that over-the-counter medicines are both cheap and readily available. Many of brand name medicines like Pepto Bismol and Tylenol are quite expensive but their non brand name counterparts are very cheap. If you prefer to take a cetain brand of medicine, bring extra!

Special medication: Some non mainstream medications may be difficult to find here. Bring enough for your stay.

5. Bathroom Supplies

Toilet paper – It may be beneficial to keep toilet paper with you while traveling, especially on long bus rides. Most hotels, hostels are restaurants in the city have conventional toilets but many bus stop bathrooms have squatting-style toilets without toilet paper.

Female supplies: Sanitary napkins are easy to find here but tampons are not.

6. Sun Protection

UV protection: The sun is very powerful here so high SPF lotions or sprays are a must.

Even local residents protect themselves from the sun by wearing long sleeves, hats and sun umbrellas! Of course long sleeves in this heat is not very pleasant but neither is sunburn!

Insect Protection.

Insect repellent with Deet: Dengue fever and malaria are transmitted by mosquitos so an insect repellent with Deet is a good thing to have. Although malaria is rare and is confined to the rural areas, dengue fever is more prevalent.

Cortisone cream: Bites can be highly unpleasant and the last thing you need is an infection from scratching too much.

7. Electronics

Chargers and backup chargers: Remember to bring all necessary chargers for your electronics. Pre-charged battery packs are very useful for long bus and train rides.

Shape converter: Most hostels and hotels will have outlets that accept multiple plug shapes but the voltage is still 220V. A shape converter may come in handy for outlets that don't accept your plug type.

Computer-like gadget: A smartphone or ipod is a great thing to have!. Wifi is readily available almost anywhere. You can call home for free or use GoogleMaps, which works very well in Ho Chi Minh city. A laptop might be too bulky to carry around and too expensive of an item to have stolen. When you are using your phone on the street, make sure to do it discreetly and away from the curb. It is all too easy for someone to grab the phone while on their motorbike.

8. Proper Information.

Travel books: Travel books can be invaluable here for important information about hospitals, money, embassies, and more. Keep in mind that the latest edition of a travel book is usually a year out of date so locations and phone numbers for restaurants or stores may change. Fortunately, the location of public service offices are usually less transient.

Location information: Have with you the addresses, phone numbers, location and maps for your hotels before arriving so that you can relay information to your taxi driver.

If you forget any items, most things are available here but at a premium. Proper packing will ensure that you have a relaxing and hassle-free vacation.