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Liberty Central Saigon Centre Hotel
Liberty Central Saigon Centre Hotel - dream vacation

179 Le Thanh Ton St., District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Golden Central Hotel Saigon
Golden Central Hotel Saigon - dream vacation

140 Ly Tu Trong Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Blue Diamond Hotel
Blue Diamond Hotel - dream vacation

48-50 Thu Khoa Huan Ben Thanh Ward District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

A La Carte
A La Carte - dream vacation

Duong Dinh Nghe, Son Tra District , Da Nang

Novotel Saigon Centre Hotel
Novotel Saigon Centre Hotel - dream vacation

167 Hai Ba Trung Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Hotel Continental Saigon Ho Chi Minh City
Hotel Continental Saigon Ho Chi Minh City - dream vacation

132-134 Dong Khoi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi - dream vacation

15 Ngo Quyen Street , Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Edenstar Saigon Hotel
Edenstar Saigon Hotel - dream vacation

38 Bui Thi Xuan, Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam (Vi?t Nam), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (C?ng hòa xã h?i ch? ngh?a Vi?t Nam) is a country in Southeast Asia. Its neighbouring countries are China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west.



  • Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) — Vietnam's largest city
  • Da Nang — the third largest city
  • Dalat — hub of the highlands
  • Haiphong — the "port city", a major port in north Vietnam
  • Hanoi — Vietnam's capital and major tourist destination
  • Hoi An — well-preserved ancient port, near the ruins of My Son
  • Hue — former home of Vietnam's emperors
  • Nha Trang — burgeoning beach resort
  • Vinh — the major city in northern Vietnam with very nice Cua Lo Beach

Other destinations

  • Con Dao — island off the Mekong Delta
  • Cu Chi — site of the Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Cuc Phuong National Park — home to some of Asia's rarest wildlife and the Muong hill people
  • The DMZ — ruins of old American military bases, spectacular mountain scenery and rugged jungles
  • Ha Long Bay — famous for its unearthly scenery
  • Kontum — relaxed little town providing access to a number of ethnic minority villages
  • Sa Pa — meet native indigenous people in the hills by the Chinese border
  • Tam Coc — Ha Long Bay-like karst scenery along the river
  • Tay Ninh — main temple of the Cao ?ài faith



Vietnam's history is one of war, colonisation and rebellion. Occupied by China no fewer than four times, the Vietnamese managed to fight off the invaders just as often. Even during the periods in history when Vietnam was independent, it was mostly a tributary state to China until the French colonisation. Vietnam's last emperors were the Nguy?n Dynasty, who ruled from their capital at Hue from 1802 to 1945, although France exploited the succession crisis after the fall of T? ??c to de facto colonise Vietnam after 1884. Both the Chinese occupation and French colonisation have left a lasting impact on Vietnamese culture, with Confucianism forming the basis of Vietnamese social etiquette, and the French leaving a lasting imprint on Vietnamese cuisine.

After a brief Japanese occupation in World War II (see Pacific War), the Communist Viet Minh under the leadership of H? Chí Minh continued the insurgency against the French, with the last Emperor Bao Dai abdicating in 1945 and a proclamation of independence following soon after. The majority of French had left by 1945, but in 1946 they returned to continue the fight until their decisive defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The Geneva Conference partitioned the country into two at 17th parallel, with a Communist-led North supported by the Soviet Union, and Ngo Dinh Diem establishing a capitalist regime and declaring himself President of the Republic of Vietnam with the support of the United States in the South.

US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the Southern Vietnam government, escalating into the dispatch of 500,000 American troops in 1966 and what became known as the Vietnam War - although the Vietnamese refer to it as the American War. What was supposed to be a quick and decisive action soon degenerated into a quagmire, and U.S. armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, on April 30, 1975, a North Vietnamese tank drove into the South's Presidential Palace in Ho Chi Minh City and the war ended. An estimated 3 million Vietnamese and over 55,000 Americans were killed.

The American Vietnamese war was only one of many that the Vietnamese have fought, but it was the most brutal in its history. Over two thirds of the current population was born after 1975. American tourists will receive a particularly friendly welcome in Vietnam, as many young Vietnamese are admirers of American culture.

See Indochina Wars for more on these conflicts.


Vietnam is a one party authoritarian state, with the president as the head of state, and the prime minister as the head of government. The Vietnamese legislature is the unicameral National Assembly, from which the prime minister is selected. In practice, the president's position is only ceremonial, with the prime minister wielding the most authority in government.


Economic reconstruction of the reunited country has proven difficult. After the failures of the state-run economy started to become apparent, the country launched a program of ??i m?i (renovation), introducing elements of capitalism. The policy has proved highly successful, with Vietnam recording near 10% growth yearly (except for a brief interruption during the Asian economic crisis of 1997). The economy is much stronger than those of neighbouring Cambodia and Laos. Like most Communist countries around the world, there is a fine balance between allowing foreign investors and opening up the market.

There used to be extreme restrictions on foreigners owning property or attempting to sell. However, a new property regulation announced on 1 July 2015 now allows foreigners to own and lease apartments in Vietnam. The biggest property website in Vietnam is VN-Property.com.

It is very difficult for them to trade without negotiating 'fees'. Business can be done via local partnerships with all the attendant risks.

Power and services is another issue. There are often rolling blackouts at times when there is not enough electricity. For this reason, many shops have portable generators.

According to government estimates Vietnam sees 7.9 million tourist arrivals each year. Vietnam has a return rate of just 5% compared to Thailand’s whopping 50%.


Most people in Vietnam are ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh), though there is a sizable ethnic Chinese community in Ho Chi Minh City, most of whom are descended from migrants from Guangdong province and are hence bilingual in Cantonese or other Chinese dialects and Vietnamese. There are also numerous other ethnic groups who occupy the mountainous parts of the country, such as the Hmong, Muong, and Dao people. There's also a minority ethnic group in the lowlands near the border with Cambodia known as the Khmer Krom.

Buddhism, mostly of the Mahayana school, is the single largest religion in Vietnam, with over 80% of Vietnamese people identifying themselves as Buddhist and 40% practicing it. Christianity is the second largest religion at 11%, followed by the local Cao Dai religion. Islam, Hinduism and local religions also share small followings throughout the southern and central areas.


Due to its long history as a tributary state of China, as well as several periods of Chinese occupations, Vietnamese culture is strongly influenced by that of southern China, with Confucianism forming the basis of Vietnamese social etiquette. The Vietnamese language also contains many loan words from Chinese, though the two languages are unrelated. Buddhism remains the single largest religion in Vietnam. As in China, but unlike its Southeast Asian neighbors, the dominant school of Buddhism in Vietnam is the Mahayana School.

Nevertheless, Vietnamese culture remains distinct from Chinese culture as it has also absorbed cultural elements from neighboring Hindu civilizations such as the Champa and the Khmer empires. The French colonization also left a lasting impact on Vietnamese society, perhaps symbolised best by the Vietnamese fondness for baguettes and coffee. Southern and Central Vietnam, especially along the coast, have a much stronger Western influence, as compared to the North.

The division of Vietnam during what is locally called the American War has also resulted in cultural differences between northern and southern Vietnam that can been seen today. To this day, northern Vietnamese have a tendency to be more ideological, while southern Vietnamese tend to be more business-minded.


Vietnam is large enough to have several distinct climate zones.

  • The south has three somewhat distinct seasons: hot and dry from Mar-May/Jun; rainy from Jun/Jul-Nov; and cool and dry from Dec-Feb. April is the hottest month, with mid-day temperatures of 33°C (91°F) or more most days. During the rainy season, downpours can happen every afternoon, and occasional street flooding occurs. Temperatures range from stifling hot before a rainstorm to pleasantly cool afterwards. Mosquitoes are most numerous in the rainy season. Dec-Feb is the most pleasant time to visit, with cool evenings down to around 20°C (68°F).
  • The north has four distinct seasons, with a comparatively chilly winter (temperatures can dip below 15°C/59°F in Hanoi), a hot and wet summer and pleasant spring (Mar-Apr) and autumn (Oct-Dec) seasons. However, in the Highlands both extremes are amplified, with occasional snow in the winter and temperatures hitting 40°C (104°F) in the summer.
  • In the central regions the Hai Van pass separates two different weather patterns of the north starting in Langco (which is hotter in summer and cooler in winter) from the milder conditions south starting in Da Nang. Northeast monsoon conditions Sep-Feb with often strong winds, large sea swells and rain make this a miserable and difficult time to travel through Central Vietnam. Normally summers are hot and dry.


By far the largest holiday is T?t — the Lunar New Year — which takes place between late January and March. In the period leading up to T?t, the country is abuzz with preparations. Guys on motorbikes rush around delivering potted tangerine trees and flowering bushes, the traditional household decorations. People get a little bit stressed out and the elbows get sharper, especially in big cities, where the usual hectic level of traffic becomes almost homicidal. Then a few days before T?t the pace begins to slow down, as thousands of city residents depart for their ancestral home towns in the provinces. Finally on the first day of the new year an abrupt transformation occurs: the streets become quiet, almost deserted. Nearly all shops and restaurants close for three days, (the exception being a few that cater especially to foreign visitors; and hotels operate as usual.)

In the major cities, streets are decorated with lights and public festivities are organized which attract many thousands of residents. But for Vietnamese, T?t is mostly a private, family celebration. On the eve of the new year, families gather together and exchange good wishes (from more junior to more senior) and gifts of "lucky money" (from more senior to more junior). In the first three days of the year, the daytime hours are devoted to visiting -- houses of relatives on the first day, closest friends and important colleagues on the second day, and everyone else on the third day. Many people also visit pagodas. The evening hours are spent drinking and gambling (men) or chatting, playing, singing karaoke, and enjoying traditional snacks and sweets (women and children.)

Visiting Vietnam during T?t has good points and bad points. On the minus side: modes of transport are jammed just before the holiday as many Vietnamese travel to their home towns; hotels fill up, especially in smaller towns; and your choice of shopping and dining is severely limited in the first days of the new year (with a few places closed up to two weeks). On the plus side, you can observe the preparations and enjoy the public festivities; pagodas are especially active; no admission is charged to those museums and historical sites that stay open; and the foreigner-oriented travel industry of backpacker buses and resort hotels chugs along as usual. Visitors also stand a chance of being invited to join the festivities, especially if you have some local connections or manage to make some Vietnamese friends during your stay. When visiting during T?t, it's wise to get settled somewhere at least two days before the new year, and don't try to move again until a couple of days after.

Lesser holidays include 1 May, the traditional socialist labour day, 2 September, Vietnam's national day, King Hung celebration on 10 March of Lunar Calendar, commemorating past kings, and Reunification Day on 30 April, marking the fall of Saigon in 1975. Around those times, trains and planes tend to be sold out, and accommodation at the beach or in Dalat are hard to find. Best to book far in advance.

Get in

Visas and visa exemptions

Visitors from the following countries do not require a visa and can stay for the following number of days.

All other nationalities will require a visa in advance to visit Vietnam. You can apply for a visa on-line.

In order to boost tourism, the Vietnamese government has made the island of Phu Quoc a visa-free zone. Those flying there through Ho Chi Minh City or arriving by boat will not need to apply for a visa beforehand. This is regardless of your nationality. Visitors are given 15 days to spend on the island. Those wishing to journey elsewhere can apply for a proper Vietnamese visa at the local immigration office. All passports should be valid for at least 45 days when arriving in Phu Quoc.

Visas can be applied for at most Vietnamese embassies and consulates or on-line. The cost of applying for a visa depends on your nationality, as well as the embassy or consulate you are applying at. Check with the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your country of residence for details. If your country does not have a Vietnamese embassy or consulate, a popular alternative would to apply at the Vietnamese embassy in Bangkok.

Some Vietnamese Embassies offer a "While you wait service" (May 2008), where a single entry visa can be gained in 15 minutes. This service costs USD92, but approval is instant. You are required to bring a valid passport, passport photo and payment in cash (credit cards not accepted).

Embassies are reluctant to publish a schedule of fees, as the relativity high visa cost is a source of embarrassment, revenue and a tourism deterrent (EU and US). A reduction in the number of Western tourists has been partially offset by the removal of visa fees for certain nationalities (but not former Vietnamese) resulting in neighbouring countries filling the vacuum, although Visa free travel for neighbouring countries is part of Vietnam's commitment to visa free travel for fellow citizens of ASEAN (The Association of South East Asian Nations)

Foreign citizens of Vietnamese origin can apply for visa exemption that allows multiple entry for 3 months at a time which is valid for the duration of the passport.

An increasingly popular alternative is to arrange a visa on arrival, which is not only considerably cheaper but also alleviates the need for passports to be posted to the Vietnamese Embassy in the country of origin.

Visa fees

In April 2014 a 30 day single entry visa from the Consulate General of Vietnam in Vancouver, Canada cost CAD100. The same visa cost about 115 euros (plus shipping) from the Consulate of Vietnam in Turin, Italy. From the Consulate General of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Sydney, Australia the visa cost i. sept. 2014 was $95.

Visa on arrival

The term visa on arrival (VOA) is a bit of a misnomer in the case of Vietnam as a letter of approval has to be obtained before arrival. This is handled by a growing number of on-line agencies for a charge of USD 14-21 (2016), depending on the agency and amount of people applying together. Most agencies accept payment by credit card, and some by Western Union.

The agent in Vietnam obtains from the Department of Immigration a letter of approval bearing the visitor's name, date of birth, date of arrival, nationality and passport number, and then forwards that letter to the visitor (in PDF or JPEG format) by email or fax, usually within three working days. It is common to get the letter with several other applicants passport details (passport number, date of birth, name, etc.). You might share your personal information with up to 10-30 other applicants on the same letter(s). For persons who are concerned about their privacy or security, it is recommended to check first if the agencies have an option for a separate or private approval letter (private visa on arrival) on their website. Very few online agencies have this option. Another solution is to apply for a standard visa through the embassies to keep your personal details private.

After landing at any of the international airports (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh CityDa NangNha TrangVinh or Phu Quoc), the visitor goes to the "visa on arrival" counter, shows the letter, fills in an additional arrival form (can be pre-filled before departure), pays the stamping fee and receives an official stamp (sticker) in his or her passport. A stamping fee is USD 25 (USD 50 for a multiple entry visa) (2016). Only USD are accepted, and the notes must be in as-new condition else they will be refused. One passport photo is required as well. Some agencies say that two are required, however only one is usually needed.

Note that visas on arrival are not valid for border crossings and the official stamp can only be obtained at the three international airports. Therefore, visitors arriving by land from Cambodia, Laos or China must be in possession of a full visa when they arrive at the border.

Passengers of most, if not all, airlines travelling to Vietnam must present the approval letter at check-in, otherwise check-in will be refused.

Vietnam does not use arrival/departure cards.

Depending on the present level of SARS, avian flu you may be subjected to a so-called health-check. There is no examination, though, but yet another form to fill in and, of course, another fee. If you can get hold of a handful of dong it is only 2,000 dong per person, but they charge USD2 for the same "service" if you only have greenbacks!

Visa free zone

Phú Qu?c island, off of the southwestern coast is officially accessible to tourists from all countries without a visa for stays up to 30 days. Phu Quoc International Airport (IATA: PQC) receives some direct flights from European airports such as Stockholm-Arlanda operated by Thomson as well as flights from destinations in Asia.

Dual citizens

If you are a citizen of two foreign countries, you may be entering Vietnam on a different passport (Country A) than the one you have used to leave the previous country on your itinerary (Country B's passport). (E.g. because Country A's passport has a Vietnamese visa or offers a visa-free entry to Vietnam, while Country B's passport has a visa for the previous visited country). In this case, the Vietnamese immigration inspector will likely want to see the exit stamp and/or visa in your Country B passport as well. He may suggest putting the Vietnamese entry stamp into Country B passport as well, so that all your stamps would be in one place. Don't take him up on his offer; make sure that the Vietnamese entry stamp goes into the passport that either has the Vietnamese visa, or offers visa-free entry to Vietnam. Otherwise, you risk having problems when leaving Vietnam; the border control officers at your attempted exit point may declare your entry stamp "invalid" and send you back to your original point of entry to have the "error" "corrected"! (Personal observation, 2017).

By plane

Vietnam's main international airports are located at Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Both airports are served by numerous flights from major cities in East Asia and Southeast Asia, with some intercontinental services to Australia, Europe and the United States.

Other international airports are located at Da NangVinhNha Trang and Phu Quoc, though flights are limited to those from neighbouring Asian countries. As Da Nang is closer to the historical sites of Central Vietnam than the two main airports, it can make a convenient entry point for those who specifically wish to visit those sites.

The national carrier is Vietnam Airlines, which operates flights into Vietnam from various cities in Australia, Asia and Europe.

By train

There are direct international train services from Nanning and Beijing in China to Hanoi. Most require a change of trains at the border at Pingxiang/Dong Dang, but the Chinese-operated daily Nanning express (T871/MR2) runs through, although it still spends about four hours at the border for immigration.

The Chinese section of the old narrow-gauge Kunming-Hanoi line was temporarily shut down by landslides in 2002 and, as of 2017, remains closed for passenger service, probably permanently. To travel from Yunnan to Vietnam by train, you can now take a Chinese standard gauge train from Kunming to the Hekou North Station in China, cross the border from Hekou to Lao Cai on foot, and then take a Vietnamese train from Lao Cai to Hanoi. Both the Chinese and the Vietnamese lines have several trains a day; a daytime train from Kunming to Hekou can be matched with an overnight train from Lao Cai to Hanoi.

There are no train links to Laos or Cambodia.

By road


The main crossing is the Moc Bai/Bavet crossing on the Ho Chi Minh City - Phnom Penh road. Buses between the two cities cost US8-12 and take around 6 hr. Passengers vacate the vehicle at both countries' checkpoints. Only one passport photo is required for a Cambodian visa on arrival. Tours of the Mekong Delta (USD25-35, 2-3 days) can provide a more insightful journey between the two cities.

Through tickets to Siem Reap are also available (USD18), though it is cheaper to by a ticket to Phnom Penh and then arrange onward transport on one of the many connecting buses.

Close to the coast is the Xa Xia/Prek Chak border. Cambodian visas are available on arrival. Buses run between Ha Tien in Vietnam to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The Vietnamese consulate in Sihanoukville issues 30-day tourist visas on a same-day basis.

Coastal areas are also served by the Tinh Bien/Phnom Den border near Chau Doc in Vietnam

The Xa Mat/Trapeang Phlong crossing on the Ho Chi Minh City - Kampong Cham road is not well served by public transport but may be useful for accessing Kampong Cham and Eastern Cambodia.

Banlung in North Eastern Cambodia is connect to Pleiku in Vietnam by a crossing at Le Tanh/O Yadaw. Visas are available on arrival, one photo required. Change buses at Le Tanh.


There are three border crossings between China and Vietnam that can be used by foreigners:

  • Dongxing - Mong Cai (by road; onward travel Mong Cai to Ha Long by sea or by road)
  • Hekou - Lao Cai (by road and/or rail, but no international passenger train services)
  • Youyi Guan - Huu Nghi Quan (Friendship Pass - by road and/or rail)


There are six border crossings between Laos and Vietnam that can be used by foreigners (from North to South):

  • Tay Trang (Dien Bien province, Vietnam) - Sobboun (Phongsali province, Laos)
  • Na Mao (Thanh Hoa province, Vietnam) - Namsoi (Houaphanh province, Laos)
  • Nam Can (Vietnam) - Namkan (Xiangkhouang province, Laos)
  • Kaew Neua - Cau Treo (Keo Nua Pass)
  • Lao Bao (Vietnam) - Dansavan (Laos)
  • Ngoc Hoi (Kon Tum province, Vietnam) - Bo Y (Attapeu province, Laos)

Be wary of catching local buses from Laos to Vietnam. Not only are they often crammed with cargo (coal and live chickens, often underfoot) but many buses run in the middle of the night, stopping for several hours in order to wait for the border to open at 07:00. Whilst waiting, you will be herded off the bus (for several hours) where you will be approached by pushy locals offering assistance in getting a Laos exit stamp in exchange for money (usually USD5+). If you bargain hard (tiring, at 04:00) you can get the figure down to about USD2. The men will take your passports, which can be disconcerting, but they do provide the service they promise. It is unclear whether you can just wait for the border officials to do this. There is also a VIP bus from Savannakhet.

Get around

By plane

Flights are the fastest way to traverse this long country. The flight from Hanoi to HCMC is only about 2 hours.

There are many flights connecting the two largest cities, Hanoi and HCMC, to major towns such as Da NangHai PhongCan ThoHueNha TrangDa LatPhu Quoc. In the past most of these flights were cheap compared to European or North American flights. However, prices are higher than previously with, for example, a return connecting Hanoi to Da Nang costing around USD120-150 including taxes.

Domestic carriers are Vietnam Airlines with their subsidiary Vasco operating some shorter flights, Jetstar Pacific and VietJet.

By train

Although more expensive than buses, trains are undoubtedly the most comfortable way to travel overland in Vietnam. There is one major train line in Vietnam, the 1,723 km trunk between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, on which the Reunification Express runs. HCMC to Hanoi is more than 30 hours, and overnight hops between major destinations are usually possible, if not entirely convenient. It's a good way to see the countryside and meet upper-middle class locals, but unless you are travelling in a sleeper car it is no more comfortable than buses.

Air conditioned soft or hard sleeper is recommended, and purchasing as early as possible is a good idea as popular berths and routes are often bought out by tour companies and travel agents well before the departure time (hence being told the train is sold out at a station ticket window or popular tour company office does not mean there are no tickets available--they've simply been bought by another reseller). Booking at the train station itself is generally the safest way, just prepare on a piece of paper the destination, date, time, no. of passengers and class. However, unsold tickets can often be bought last minute from people hanging around at the station--a train is rarely sold out for real, as the railway company will add cars when demand is high. Commissions on these tickets will drop away as the departure time draws nearer. Tickets can be returned before departure for a 10% fee. There is also an official Vietnamese Railways website, which has English version and accepts payments by international bank cards.

Be cautious when using a travel agent to purchase your train tickets, since there is nothing printed on the ticket saying the class you are booked in. This results in a common scam with private travel agents where you will pay them to book a soft-sleeper ticket, they then book you a cheaper hard-sleeper ticket, and you don't know you've been scammed until you board the train and your berths are in the lower class. By then with the train on the verge of departing it is too late to go back to the scamming agent to demand compensation.

In addition, there are shorter routes from Hanoi leading northwest and northeast, with international crossings into China. One of the most popular of the shorter routes is the overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai (with bus service from Lao Cai to the tourist destination of Sapa).

Always try to buy your tickets at least 3 days in advance, to avoid disappointment, especially during peak holiday season, during which you should try to book at least 2 weeks in advance.

By bus

Long-distance bus services connect most cities in Vietnam. Most depart early in the morning to accommodate traffic and late afternoon rains, or run overnight. It is important to note that average road speeds are typically quite slow, even when travelling between cities. For example a 276 km (172 mi) journey from the Mekong Delta to Ho Chi Minh City by bus will likely take about 8 hours.

Public Buses travel between the cities' bus stations. In bigger places, you often have to use local transport to get into the city centre from there. Buses are generally in reasonable shape, and you have the chance to interact with locals.

Open Tour buses are run by a multitude of tour companies. They cater especially to tourists, offering ridiculous low rates (Hanoi to HCMC: USD20-25) and door-to-door service to your desired hostel. You can break the journey at any point and continue on a bus of the same company any time later, or simply buy tickets just for the stage you're willing to cover next. Note that if you're not planning to make more than 3-4 stops, it might be cheaper to buy separate tickets as you go (i.e. Hanoi to Hue can be as low as USD5). Most hotels and guesthouses can book seats for any connection, although you're better to shop around at travel agents, as prices will vary on any given ticket/bus company. Going to the bus company office may net you a commission-free fare, but most major bus operators have fixed pricing policies, which can only be circumvented through a travel agent.

Since tour companies charge very little, they do make commission on their stop-offs which are often at souvenir shops, where you do not have to buy; they always have toilets and drinks and water available for purchase. The estimated time for a bus trip will not be accurate and may be an additional couple of hours sometimes, due to the number of stop offs. Collecting the passengers at the start of the journey can also take quite a while too. Always be at least half an hour early to catch the bus. Try not to drink too much water, as rest stops, especially for overnight buses, may be just somewhere where there are a lot of bushes.

Vietnamese buses are made for Vietnamese people - bigger Westerners will be very uncomfortable, especially on overnight buses. Also, many Vietnamese are not used to travelling on long-haul buses, and will sometimes get sick - not very pleasant if you are stuck on an overnight bus with several Vietnamese throwing up behind you.

Even if you are sometimes bus-sick, it is advisable to book a sit at the middle rather than at the front of the bus. First, you will avoid viewing directly the short-sighted risks the driver is taking on the way. Second, you will somewhat escape the loud noise of non-stop honking (each time the bus passes another vehicle, that is about every 10 seconds).

Although the bus company will usually be happy to collect you at your hotel or guest house, boarding at the company office will guarantee a choice of seats and you'll avoid getting stuck at the back or unable to sit next to your travelling companions. The offices are generally located in or near the tourist area of town, and a short walk might make your trip that much more pleasant.

The long haul bus companies operate from north to south and back on the only main road (QL1). Be aware that if you take a bus going further than your destination, the bus will drop you off at the most convenient crossroad for it and not as you could have expected at the bus terminal of your destination. For Hué, this crossroad is 13 km from city centre, Nha Trang 10 km. At these crossroads, you'll find taxis or mototaxis to get you to your hotel.

If you travel with bicycle, negotiate the extra fee with the driver rather than the ticket counter before buying your ticket. The bicycle fee should be no more than 10% of the ticket price.

A scam that you may encounter is that after arriving at your location, the guides will ask you whether you have booked a hotel. Even though you haven't, say that you have and prepare the name of a hotel. If you say you have not booked one, they will charter a taxi for you and probably drop you at a hotel which they can collect commission. If you decide not to stay, things may get a little ugly, as they will demand that you pay the taxi fare, which they may quote as several times the actual fare for a ten minute ride.

Be very careful of your possessions on the overnight bus, as people (including bus employees) have been known to look through passenger's bags and take expensive items such as iPods and phones and sell them on for profit. If you are travelling with an iPod, do not fall asleep with it in you ear, as the chances are it will be nowhere to be found in the morning. Simply get a padlock for your hand luggage and lock everything up in there before you go to sleep.

By car

International Driving Permits are recognised in Vietnam. However, the concept of renting a car to drive yourself is almost non-existent, and when Vietnamese speak of renting a car they always mean hiring a car with a driver. (After a short time on local roads with their crazy traffic, you will be glad you left the driving to somebody used to it.) Since few Vietnamese own cars, they have frequent occasion to hire vehicles for family outings, special occasions, etc., and a thriving industry exists to serve that need. Vietnamese can easily hire anything from a small car to a 32-seat bus, for one day or several. Tourists can tap into that market indirectly by way of hotels and tour agents found in every tourist area. Additionally, international car brands have started to surface. Budget Car Rental, one of the largest car rental companies in the world, now offers chauffeur driven services in Vietnam. Hiring a small car for a day trip returning to the point of origin costs around USD60 for 8 hours (though the price changes with the cost of fuel.) (If you shop around and bargain hard for the lowest possible price, you will probably get an older, more beat-up car. If you are paying more than bare minimum, it's worth asking what sort of car it will be, and holding out for something comfortable.) Few drivers speak any English, so make sure you tell the hotel/agent exactly where you want to go, and have that communicated to the driver.

It's also possible to hire a car and driver for inter-city travel, at somewhat higher cost. A small car from Saigon to the beach resort of Mui Ne, a 4- or 5-hour trip depending on traffic, costs about USD70, and Dalat to Mui Ne about USD90. Long distance travel by car may be a good choice for several people travelling together, as it provides a flexible schedule and flexible access to remote sites. Keep in mind that although a network of paved roads exists in Vietnam, long-distance road travel in Vietnam by whatever means (bus or car) is slow, with average speed less than 50 km/hour. Highway 1, the north-south backbone of the country, is a two-lane road with very heavy truck and bus traffic. Similarly, the main road of the north-west - the so-called Hanoi (Noi Bai) - Lao Cai Expressway is, in reality, merely a good two-lane paved road, with speed limits varying from 60 to 80 km/h, reduced in many places to 40 km/h due to road work (as of 2017). Tolls on this "expressway" are pretty hefty, but motorists pay them, because the alternative is using local roads, which in some sections are not paved at all.

Generally speaking, describing Vietnamese driving habits as atrocious would be an understatement. Road courtesy is non-existent and drivers generally do not check their blind spots or mirrors (in fact, many vehicles have had their wing mirrors removed). Vietnamese drivers also tend to use their horn very often to get motorcyclists and cyclists out of their way. In addition, most roads do not have lane markings and even on those that do, drivers generally ignore the lane markings. As such, driving yourself in Vietnam is not recommended and you should leave your transportation needs in the hands of locals.

By bicycle

Adventurous travellers may wish to see Vietnam by cycling. Several adventure travel tours provide package tours with equipment. Most of the population get around on two wheels, so it's an excellent way to get closer to the people as well as off the beaten path.

Bicycles can be rented cheaply in many cities and are often a great way of covering larger distances. Good spots for cycling are Dalat, Hoi AnHue and Ninh Binh. On the other hand, attempting to cycle in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is virtually suicide without proper experience of traffic rules (or lack thereof, 'proper experience' in this case means understanding that everyone around you could potentially change direction without signalling and at any moment...)

In cities like HCMC and Hanoi, parking bicycles on pedestrian areas is not allowed and you'll have to go to a pay parking lot: 2000 dong per bike.

By motorcycle taxi

The xe ôm (literally "hugging vehicle"), a taxi-motorbike, is a common mode of transport for Vietnamese as well as tourists. They are widely available and reasonably cheap -- about 10,000 dong for a 10 minute trip, which should get you anywhere within the city centre. Walk the city streets, and every couple of minutes a guy will flag your attention and say "You !! Motobike?" Longer trips to outlying areas can be negotiated for 20,000-25,000 dong. Always agree on the fare before starting your trip.

Moto drivers rarely speak English. As with most things, a tourist will often be quoted an above-market price initially, and you need to be firm. If quoted anything over 10,000 dong for a short trip, remind the driver that you could take an air-con taxi for 15,000 dong so forget it. Occasionally drivers will demand more than the negotiated price at the end, so it's best to have exact change handy. Then you can pay the agreed amount and walk away, end of discussion.

In some cases they will take you wherever they want (tourist attractions or shops you didn't request to go) and sometimes they will wait for you to come back (even if you don't want them to wait) and will ask you for more money for having been waiting. Even if you speak some Vietnamese, this is not useful, since they will cheat you anyway or they will act as if they don't understand even if they do. Again, be firm and walk away.

By motorcycle

The 110 cc motorbike is the preferred mode of transport for the Vietnamese masses, and the large cities swarm with them. It's common to see whole families of four cruising along on a single motorbike. In most places where tourists go, you can easily rent your own, with prices ranging from 100,000 to 160,000 dong per day. Before reading on, however, you should be aware that it is illegal for foreigners to ride a motorbike in Vietnam unless they are in possession of a temporary Vietnamese motorcycle licence, or an International Driving Permit with a valid home country motorcycle license.

To convert your licence or International Driving Permit into a temporary Vietnamese licence you must hold a Vietnamese residence permit of at least three months' validity or a three-month tourist visa. In Hanoi you should apply to the Centre for Automotive Training and Mechanism, 83a Ly Thuong Kiet St; in HCMC to the Office of Transportation, 63 Ly Tu Trong St, District 1.

You should also be aware that if you ride unlicensed and have an accident in which a third party is injured or killed you could be subject to a term of imprisonment of 10-20 years, as well as paying a large sum in compensation to the victim or the victim's family. Moreover, even if your travel insurance policy covers you for motorcycling (check the small print as many don't), if you are injured when riding illegally the insurance company will not recompense you for medical attention, hospitalisation, evacuation to another country for hospitalisation or repatriation, the cost of which can run into tens of thousands of dollars.

With all that firmly in mind, please read on.

Desk clerks at small hotels often run a side business renting motorbikes to guests, or have a friend or relative who does. Tour booths can usually do the same. In small towns and beach resorts where traffic is light, e.g. Pho Quoc, it's a delightful way to get around and see the sights, and much cheaper than taxis if you make several stops or travel any distance. Roads are usually decent, though it's advisable not to ride too fast and always keep an eye on the road for the occasional pothole.

Riding in the big cities, especially Ho Chi Minh City, is a very different matter, and not advisable unless you are an experienced rider with a very cool head. Traffic is intense and chaotic, with a long list of unwritten rules that don't resemble traffic laws anywhere else. "Right of way" is a nearly unknown concept. Riding in HCMC is like finding yourself in the middle of a 3-D video game where anything can come at you from any direction, and you only have one life. Expats who brave the traffic at all typically have an apprenticeship of a few weeks or months riding on the back of others' motorbikes to learn the ways of the traffic, before attempting to ride themselves. Extreme caution is advised for short-term visitors.

Riding long distance in the countryside can also be harrowing depending on the route you take. Major roads between cities tend to be narrow despite being major, and full of tour buses hell-bent on speed, passing slow trucks where maybe they shouldn't have tried, and leaving not much room at the edge for motorbikes.

Two main categories of motorbike are available to rent: scooters (automatic transmission); and four-speed motorbikes, the gears of which you shift with your left foot. The ubiquitous Honda Super Cub is a common 4-speed bike that has a semi-automatic gearbox, i.e. no clutch so is relatively easy to ride. Other models may be fully manual and therefore you must also operate the clutch using your left hand - this takes a lot of skill and it's all too easy to over-rev and pull a wheelie or stall the engine - if you end up with such a bike then practice releasing the clutch gently before hitting the roads! Dirt bikes are becoming popular for rent in Hanoi, other cities are not yet ready for these beasts. Rental agents tend to steer foreigners toward scooters if available, on the (plausible) assumption that they don't know how to ride motorbikes that require shifting gears. Motorcycles of 175 cc and above are only legal to ride if you make a connection with a Vietnamese motorcycle club.

Most places you would want to stop at have parking attendants who will issue you a numbered tag and watch over your bike. Sometimes these parking operations are overseen by the establishment you are visiting, and sometimes they are free-lance operations set up in places where a lot of people go. You will usually see rows of bikes lined up parked. Depending on circumstance, you might park the bike yourself, or just take out the key, put it in neutral, and let the staff position it. In all but rare cases you keep the key. Parking is sometimes free at restaurants and cafes (look for "giu xe mien phi"). Elsewhere, fees range from 2,000 to 5,000 to 10,000 dong.

Traffic police in the cities pull over lots of locals (often for reasons that are hard to discern), but conventional wisdom has it that they rarely bother foreigners due to the language barrier. Obeying the traffic laws is nevertheless advisable, especially if you have failed to obtain a Vietnamese license. Cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi have several one way streets, and it is too easy to just steer into them unknowingly as there are limited signs warning you. BE SURE that if you break law, the police who are sneaking just at the right spot, will ask you to pull over and will fine you. They will also threaten to confiscate your bike. The quoted price for the fine is negotiable, and being apologetic and friendly can get you back on road quickly, with a few dollars less in your pockets. It is less likely that they will bully or harasses you.

Helmets have also been required by law since December 2007, so if you don't have one already ask your rental agent to provide you with one. Riding without a helmet greatly increases attention from the police.

By cyclo

While slowly being supplanted by motorbikes, cyclo pedicabs still roam the streets of Vietnam's cities and towns. They are especially common in scenic smaller, less busy cities like Hue, where it's pleasant to cruise slowly along taking in the sights. Though the ride will be slow, hot and sometimes dangerous, you'll generally need to pay more than for a motorbike for the equivalent distance. On the plus side, some drivers (particularly in the South) are very friendly and happy to give you a running commentary on the sights. Cyclo drivers are notoriously mercenary and will always ask for a high price to start with. Sometimes they will also demand more than the agreed price at the end. (Japanese tourists, especially women, are most often targeted with this scam since they are more responsive to the threat that the driver will call the police and make trouble for them if they don't pay as demanded.) A reasonable price is about 20,000 dong for up to 2 km (1.2 mi), and if the driver disagrees, simply walk away. (You won't get far before that driver or another takes your offer.) Prices for a sight-seeing circuit with intermediate stops are more complex to negotiate and more subject to conflict at the end. If you plan to stop somewhere for any length of time, it's best to settle up with the driver, make no promises, and start fresh later. Some drivers start with a very low rate to get you into their cycle and then if required to wait for you or otherwise vary the agreed price, bring out a typed up price list of their "standard rates" which are inflated beyond belief. If even slightly unsure ask the driver show you his list of charges. Then negotiate from that point or walk away. To avoid trouble, it's also best to have exact change for the amount you agreed to pay, so if the driver tries to revise the deal, you can just lay your cash on the seat and leave.

By boat

You will be missing a big part of Vietnamese life if you do not spend some time on a boat. Do be careful though because many boats, although seaworthy, are not designed to first world standards. An example is the ferry from Phu Quoc to the mainland. This ferry has one tiny entrance for all passengers to board. When full, which it usually is, there are approximately 200 people on board. In the event of an accident, the chance of everyone getting out of the boat fast enough would be very small. The idea of an emergency exit does not exist there.

Tour boats can be chartered for around USD20 for a day's tour; but beware of safety issues if you charter a boat, make sure the boat is registered for carrying tourists and has enough life jackets and other safety equipment on board. Or you can book a tour through a tour company; but be aware that in Vietnam most Tour Agents charge whatever markup they want and therefore the tourist is often paying margins of 30-40% and the boat owner and operator (of anything from a van to a boat etc.) are paid very little of the total amount.

Ha Long Bay is a famous destination for one- to three-day boat trips among its scenic limestone islands. The problem is that all the boats seem to visit the same places - and with high prices, poor quality boats and service real value is hard to come by. Many boats have a USD10 corkage fee, and forbid BYO alcohol, while on-board alcohol and seafood is about the same price as in Europe in some places. If there is rain, mist or low cloud, you may not see much. Try to pick a clear day.

Dozens of small family-operated boats ply the river in Hue taking visitors to the imperial tombs southwest of the city. This journey is long because the boats are slow, taking about 4 hours or so to make the journey in one direction.

Snorkel - fishing - lunch trips are available from Nha TrangHoi An, and Phu Quoc to nearby islands. In Central Vietnam northeast monsoon season limits many sea boat tours during the months Sep-Feb; other parts of Vietnam seem less affected.

A 90-minute hydrofoil boat operates from Saigon to the seaside resort of Vung Tau for about 200,000 dong each way, the fastest way to reach the beach from the city.

River tours are perhaps the most interesting. A day-long boat trip forms the core of almost any tour of the Mekong region.


See also: Vietnamese phrasebook

The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. Like Thai and most Chinese dialects, Vietnamese is a tonal language that uses a change in pitch to inflect different meanings, and this can make it difficult for Westerners to master. While it is very different from Western languages, a traveller may be surprised to learn that the basic grammar is pretty simple. Verbs are static regardless of the past or future and parts of speech are pretty straightforward. The major difficulties lie in the pronunciation of the various tones and some of the sounds.

Vietnamese consists of four main dialects: the northern dialect spoken around Hanoi, the north-central dialect spoken around Vinh, the central dialect spoken around Hue, and the southern dialect spoken around Ho Chi Minh City.

While the Hanoi dialect is taken as the "standard" and widely used in broadcasting, there is no de facto standard in the educational system. Northerners naturally think that southern accent is for "hai lua" (country folk) and will always recommend you to stick to the northern accent, but the choice of accents should depend on where you plan to live. If you are working in Saigon, the economic centre of Vietnam, the southern accent is what you will hear every day.

For students of the language, the written Latin alphabet is a relief. Unlike English, Vietnamese spelling accurately reflects the pronunciation, although the sounds of letters are different or even don't exist in English.

Although Chinese characters are no longer used to write Vietnamese, the Vietnamese lexicon continues to be heavily influenced by the Chinese language. Some words are loanwords from Chinese like "hotel" (khach san), "children" (nhi d?ng), "communist party" (dang cong san); some are formed based on Chinese roots/characters, like "representative" (dai dien) or "bird flu" (cum ga). Any knowledge of the Chinese language will make it much easier to learn Vietnamese. Vietnamese is also full of French and English loanwords.

Although the Vietnamese people appreciate any effort to learn their language, most seldom experience foreign accents. Consequently, learners may find it frustrating that no one can understand what they try to say. Staff in hotels and children tend to have a more tolerant ear for foreign accents and it is not unheard of for children to effectively help translate your badly pronounced Vietnamese into authentic Vietnamese for adults.

Besides Vietnamese, Ho Chi Minh City is home to a sizeable ethnic Chinese community, many of whom speak Cantonese. The more remote parts of the country are also home to many ethnic minorities who speak various languages belonging to the Mon-Khmer, Tai-Kadai and Austronesian language families.

Most Vietnamese youths learn English in school, so many young people have a basic grasp of English, but proficiency is generally poor. However, most hotel and airline staff will know enough English to communicate. Directional signs are generally bilingual in both Vietnamese and English.

Despite Indochina's colonial history in which French was the medium of education, French is no longer widely taught in Vietnamese schools and aside from a few educated elite among the elderly, is much less useful than English when trying to communicate with locals.

Russian is also spoken by some Vietnamese who have studied, worked, or done business in the USSR or Russia.

In the big cities, some of the big international luxury hotel chains will have staff who can speak other foreign languages such as Mandarin, Japanese, or Korean. At the more popular tourist sites, such Hanoi's Temple of Literature, guides conduct tours in a number of foreign languages, including German, French, Spanish, Korean or Japanese.


Vietnam will show you sides of Asia that you've dreamed of. Lush rice fields at the bottom of stunningly gorgeous highlands, colourful water markets on the streams of the Mekong Delta and the endless bustling city life of Hanoi, where anything from school kids to fridges and huge piles of vegetables are transported on the back of countless motorcycles. Although Vietnam's huge cities are rapidly transforming into modern Asian metropolises, traditional culture is never far away.

City life

Head to Hoi An with its Venice-like canals and beautiful old town for some top sightseeing. Enjoy the old port, wander through its endless winding alleys and take a pick from its countless fine restaurants and shops, or relax on the beach. Once a fishermen's village, this town's now well-protected by preservation laws and has turned into a major hot spot for visitors. Hanoi is of course the summit of Asian city life. It's an incredible myriad of ancient traditions, old and modern architecture, sounds, smells, bustling commerce and famously crazy traffic. It's chaotic and enchanting at once - a great place to discover both ancient and contemporary Vietnam. Most sights are in the Old Quarter, including the famous Hoan Kiem Lake and the beautiful Bach Ma Temple. Spend a day or two in Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, the country's largest city. Nowhere are contrasts between old and new more ubiquitous and alive than here, where you'll find ancient pagodas and traditional street life at the feet of giant skyscrapers. Top sights include the Reunification Palace and Giac Lam Pagoda. Also well worth visiting is the former imperial town of Hue, with its beautiful Citadel and the Tombs of the Emperors along the Perfume River.

Landscapes and nature

Few countries are blessed with landscapes as captivating as those of Vietnam. For many travellers, the country's awe-inspiring limestone scenery, perfect beaches, islands, mountain ranges, rice fields and lakes are its greatest treasures. One of Vietnam's top attractions, Ha Long Bay, boasts thousands of limestone pillars and islands topped with dense jungle vegetation. Among the bustling port life, you'll find floating fishermen's villages, caves, and island lakes. Neighbouring Lan Ha Bay is as spectacular, but less busy. Head to Sa Pa and the Muong Hoa valley to get take in the views of local rice fields against a background of bamboo forests. Also in the north is Tam Coc near Ninh Binh. This area is famous for its karst scenery, rice fields, and caves and is best explored by hired boat.

Phu Quoc, off the Cambodian coast, is the largest island in the country. Its delightful palm-lined beaches and tropical forests can compete with any in the world. Most famous in the south is of course the Mekong Delta. Here, the Mekong River empties into the South China Sea via a maze of smaller streams. It's a lush, green region and the source of half of Vietnam's agricultural produce. It offers scenic views of the rivers and rices fields as far as the eye can see. Here, natural landscapes and culture go hand in hand as life revolves around the water. The Mekong streams are a major means of transportation and host floating markets.

Some best picks in terms of natural wonders can be found in the country's national parks. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is famous for its natural caves and grottos, with underground rivers and cave beaches as well as stunning stalagmites and stalactites. For wildlife, try Cuc Phuong National Park.


For better insight in Vietnam's ancient traditions, culture and history, visit one of the many museums, some with truly excellent collections. The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City will leave a lasting impression, particularly the chilling collection of war photography. Although not exactly neutral in tone, there are English labels. The HCMC Museum is in a building worth seeing on its own, and gives a nice overview of the city's history. For a broader history collection, try the fine History Museum, which has artefacts from several Vietnamese cultures on display. In Hanoi, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is an excellent place to dive into the life of the country's tribal people. In the centre of town is the Fine Arts Museum has all kinds of arts on display, from high-quality wood and stone carvings to fabulous ceramics and textiles. Descriptions in English.


Motorbiking is popular with locals and tourists alike. Given that motorbikes are the main mode of transport in Vietnam, they can give a particularly authentic view of travelling through the country.

Renting or buying a bike is possible in many cities. Also consider Motorbike adventure tours, which involve being guided on multi-day drives to remote regions of the country. Most tours include accommodation, petrol, helmets, drivers and entry tickets to local places of interest. Guides usually speak good English or French and offer customised tours if desired. Motorbike Sightseeing Tours are similar but have a more local range specific to one city or area and can focus on food, shopping or sightseeing.



The national currency is the dong (??ng), denoted by the symbol "?" (ISO code: VND). It is difficult to find or exchange outside Vietnam; change money on arrival and try to get rid of any leftovers before leaving the country. Continuing inflation and a series of devaluations continues to steadily push down the value of the dong.

Notes are available in denominations of 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000 dong. In 2003, coins were also introduced in denominations of 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000 dong, although these are rarely seen.

Prices are widely advertised in U.S. dollars, namely because of the unstable currency valuation of the dong, but unlike neighbouring Cambodia, for instance, payment is often expected in dong only, especially outside major tourist destinations. It is also easier to bargain with dong, especially since dollar prices are already rounded. Dollar bills in less than perfect condition may be rejected. USD2 bills (especially those printed in the 1970s) are considered lucky in Vietnam and are worth more than USD2. They make a good tip/gift, and many Vietnamese will keep them in their wallet for luck. USD50 and USD100 notes get a higher exchange rate than notes of lower denominations.

Most visitors opt to keep the bulk of their cash in U.S. dollars and exchange or withdraw dong as needed. There is often a considerable spread in dong buy/sell rates, and sometimes the same hotel has different rates for different services. In addition to banks and official exchange counters, you can exchange most hard currencies (Sterling, Yen, Swiss Francs, Euro etc.) at gold shops, often at slightly better than official rates. This is illegal, but enforcement is minimal. Hotels and travel agencies can also exchange money with differing exchange rates so look for the best rate.


For credit card payments, there is usually a 3% surcharge, so cash may be advantageous for large transactions.

Traveller cheques of well known companies are widely accepted, but usually a small fee is charged. Fees might also be the only thing that would keep you from getting cash advances on Visa- or MasterCard at most banks. Through both ways you can also get hold of U.S. dollars, though there will be even higher fees. There are mentions in some popular travel books about Vietcombank not charging any commission fees to cash AMEX travellers cheques. However, this is no longer true.

ATMs are becoming more and more common and can be found in most bigger cities and every tourist destination. They will accept a selection of credit and bank-cards, including Visa, MasterCard, Maestro or Cirrus and several other systems. Typically withdrawals are limited to 2,000,000 dong per transaction, and will incur a 20,000 dong service fee. Citibank, unlike most banks in SE Asia, offers no charges for withdrawal.

  • Agribank allows up to 3,000,000 dong per transaction (25,000,000 dong per day) with a 22,000 dong charge. (June 2016)
  • ANZ Bank allows up to 4,000,000-10,000,000 per transaction (15,000,000 dong per day) with a 40,000 dong charge.
  • BIDV Bank allows up to 5,000,000 per transaction with a 50,000 dong charge and 5,000 dong VAT (Mar 2015).
  • DongA Bank allows up to (at least) 5,000,000 per transaction with no charge. (Mar 2015)
  • EXIMBANK allows up to 2,000,000 per transaction with no charge. (June 2016)
  • HSBC allows up to 5,000,000 per transaction with 100,000 dong charge. (June 2016)
  • Techcombank allows up to 15,000,000 per transaction with no charge. (June 2016)
  • VIB allows up to 2,000,000 per transaction with a 50,000 dong charge.
  • Vietcombank allows up to 2,000,000 per transaction with a 20,000 dong charge.
  • Vietinbank allows up to 2,000,000 per transaction with a 55,000 dong charge. (June 2016)
  • Sacombank allows up to 2,000,000 dong per transaction with a 30,000 dong charge. (July 2016)

There are branches of money transfer companies like Western Union, but this is always one of the more expensive ways to get money. However, it's better for larger amounts. A USD800 transfer costs 5 dollars from America and the exchange rate is quite good. You may also transfer USD to Vietnam.

On most land borders connecting to Cambodia, China and Laos there are freelance money changers to take care of your financial leftovers, but be assured they'll get the better of you if you don't know the going rate. Note for travellers departing from Hanoi airport: There are no money exchange establishments once you finish your immigration, so exchange your dong before you enter the departure hall unless you plan to shop.

As you travel about, you will find there are clusters of shops all selling similar goods, such as 20 sewing machine shops together, then 30 hardware shops all together, 200 motorcycle repair shops in the same block. Prices are competitive. Be wary of watch shops selling original authentic fakes. Other fake watches are available but not as cheap as other surrounding countries. Pirated software is oddly, very hard to find and not sold openly. However Movie DVDs of indifferent quality are widely available from USD1, although not all may have an English language option. The local post office will strictly not allow them to be posted abroad.


Tipping is not expected in Vietnam with the exception of bellhops in high-end hotels, and the Vietnamese themselves generally do not practise it, though tips will not be refused if offered. Some establishments which are used to serving Western tourists have come to expect tips, though it is still perfectly acceptable not to tip. In any case, the price quoted to you is often many times what locals will pay, so tipping can be considered unnecessary in most circumstances. To avoid paying an involuntary tip when a taxi driver claims he doesn't have small change always try to carry small denominations.


Overcharging has long been an issue in Vietnam tourism, and it is an issue both for foreigners and for Vietnamese people whose accents identify them as being from another region. It can happen anywhere on anything from a hotel room, a ride in a taxi, coffee, a meal, clothing, or basic grocery stuff. Your coffee suddenly becomes 100% more expensive and a restaurant may present you an English menu with inflated prices. A friendly local who spent 30 minutes talking with you may also feel like overcharging you on anything.

Vietnamese hold a diverse view on this issue, and the practice also varies somewhat from region to region, but in general it is more common in Vietnam than other neighbouring countries to see it socially acceptable to overcharge foreigners. They may argue inflated prices are still cheap and they may blame the cheap cost of living which attracts a lot of backpackers with bare-bone budgets. According to this school of thought, if tourists complain about it, it's because they're stingy. Rich tourists should not have a problem being overcharged. In general, in the south, while vendors have no qualms overcharging an ignorant foreigner, they will generally allow you to bargain prices down to the local price if you know what it is and insist on it. On the other hand, vendors in the north tend to hold more strongly onto the belief that foreigners should be overcharged, and they will usually refuse to sell items to you unless you agree to pay the grossly inflated foreigner price.

The good news is that standard prices are much more common than in the early 1990s. You will absolutely spoil your trip if you assume that everyone is cheating you. Just try to be smart. In a restaurant, learn some names of common dishes in Vietnamese, insist that you need to read the Vietnamese menu, and compare it. If owners argue that the portion of dishes in the English menu is different, it's definitely a scam so move to another place. Learn some Vietnamese numbers and try to see how much a local pays a vendor. Also try basic bargaining tactics: Think how much it is back home, ask for big discount and walk away, pretending that the price isn't right. Many products tend to be standardized and compare more.

Try to be as clear as possible on the agreed price. You may agree 20,000 dong with a "xe om" driver for a specific trip, but at the end he may claim you are due 40,000 dong. Then you pay 20,000 dong, smile and say goodbye, because you have a good memory.


Shopping in supermarkets (self-service grocery stores, with prices of goods posted on shelves, and check-out lanes with cash registers) is much less common in Vietnam than in most European and North American countries, or even in China or Thailand. As of 2016, most grocery shopping still happens in traditional street markets. A few supermarkets exist in Hanoi and other major cities, but they are primarily places to shop for imported groceries (European, American, Japanese, or Korean products), as well as local "luxury" brands. Consumer staples, such as fresh produce, even when they are sold in a supermarket, may be considerably more expensive than in a traditional street market.


Vietnam is cheap by most standards. A month's stay can be as cheap as USD250 using basic rooms, local food, and public transportation.


Food is at the very core of Vietnamese culture: every significant holiday on the Vietnamese cultural calendar, all the important milestones in a Vietnamese person's life, and indeed, most of the important day-to-day social events and interactions - food plays a central role in each. Special dishes are prepared and served with great care for every birth, marriage and death, and the anniversaries of ancestors' deaths. More business deals are struck over dinner tables than over boardroom tables, and when friends get together, they eat together. Preparing food and eating together remains the focus of family life.

Vietnamese cuisine varies slightly from region to region, with many regions having their own specialties. Generally, northern Vietnamese cuisine is known for being bland, central Vietnamese cuisine is known for being spicy, while southern Vietnamese cuisine is known for being sweet.

At the same time, the Vietnamese are surprisingly modest about their cuisine. (An old proverb/joke says that, "a fortunate man has a French house, a Japanese wife, and a Chinese chef.) High-end restaurants tend to serve "Asian-fusion" cuisine, with elements of Thai, Japanese, and Chinese mixed in. The most authentic Vietnamese food is found at street side "restaurants" (A collection of plastic outdoor furniture placed on the footpath), with most walk-in restaurants being mainly for tourists. Definite regional styles exist -- northern, central, and southern, each with unique dishes. Central style is perhaps the most celebrated, with dishes such as mi quang (wheat noodles with herbs, pork, and shrimp), banh canh cua (crab soup with thick rice noodles) and bun bo Hue (beef soup with herbs and noodles).

Many Vietnamese dishes are flavoured with fish sauce (n??c m?m), which smells and tastes like anchovies (quite salty and fishy) straight from the bottle, but blends into food very well. (Try taking home a bottle of fish sauce, and using it instead of salt in almost any savoury dish -- you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.) Fish sauce is also mixed with lime juice, sugar, water, and spices to form a tasty dip/condiment called n??c ch?m, served on the table with most meals. Vegetables, herbs and spices, notably Vietnamese coriander or cilantro (rau mùi or rau ngò), mint (rau r?m) and basil (rau húng), accompany almost every dish and help make Vietnamese food much lighter and more aromatic than the cuisine of its neighbouring countries, especially China.

Vietnam's national dish is ph? (pronounced like the fu- in funny, but with tone), a broth soup with beef or chicken and rice noodles (a form of rice linguine or fettuccine). Ph? is normally served with plates of fresh herbs (usually including Asian basil), cut limes, hot chilies and scalded bean sprouts which you can add according to your taste, along with chili paste, chili sauce, and sweet soybean sauce. Ph? bò, the classic form of ph?, is made with beef broth that is often simmered for many hours and may include one or more types of beef (skirt, flank, tripe, etc.). Ph? gà is the same idea, but with chicken broth and chicken meat. Vegetarian ph? is made with tofu and vegetable stock, and ph? with pork, fish or shrimp can also be found. Ph? is the original Vietnamese fast food, which locals grab for a quick meal. Most ph? places specialize in ph? and can serve you a bowl as fast as you could get a Big Mac. It's available at any time of the day, but locals eat most often the vegetarian kind for breakfast. Famous ph? restaurants can be found in Hanoi. The ph? served at roadside stalls or informal restaurants tend to be cheaper and taste better than those served in fancier restaurants.

Street side eateries in Vietnam typically advertise ph? and c?m. Though c?m literally means rice, the sign means the restaurant serves a plate of rice accompanied with fish or meat and vegetables. C?m is used to indicate eating in general, even when rice is not served (i.e., An c?m chua?- Have you eaten yet) Though they may look filthy, street side eateries are generally safe so long as you avoid under cooked food.

In rural and regional areas it is usually safest to eat the locally grown types of food as these are usually bought each day from the market. It is not uncommon that after you have ordered your meal a young child of the family will be seen running out the back towards the nearest market to purchase the items.

Most restaurants/cafes in Vietnam will have a bewildering variety of food available. It is very common for menus to be up to 10-15 pages. These will include all types of Vietnamese food, plus some token Western food, possibly some Chinese and maybe a pad Thai as well. It is generally best to stick with the specialty of the area as this food will be the freshest and also the best-prepared.

In restaurants it is common practice for the wait staff to place a plastic packet (stamped with the restaurant's name) containing a moist towelette on your table. They are not free. They cost between 2,000-4,000 dong. If you open it, you will be charged for it. Also, peanuts or other nuts will be offered to you while you are browsing the menu. Those are not free, either. If you eat any, you will be charged.

Vegetarian food is quite easy to find anywhere in Vietnam due in large part to the Buddhist influence. These restaurants will run from upscale to street stall. Any Vietnamese dish with meat can be made vegetarian with the addition of fake meats. Besides the Buddhist influence of two vegetarian days a month, Cao Dai people eat vegetarian for 16 days, and followers of the Quan Yin sect eat vegan daily. Look for any sign that says Com Chay or simply remember the phrase An Chay.

Coffee, baguettes, and pastries were originally introduced by the French colonisers, but all three have been localised and remain popular. More on cà phê below, but coffee shops that also serve light fare can be found in almost every village and on many street corners in the bigger cities. Bánh mì Hanoi are French bread sandwiches, freshly baked white bread baguettes filled with grilled meats or liver or pork pâté, plus fresh herbs and vegetables. Most pastry shops serve a variety of sweets and quick foods.

Vietnamese waters are in danger of collapse from over-fishing. Nevertheless, for the moment if you like seafood, you may find bliss in Vietnam. The ultimate seafood experience may be travelling to a seaside village or beach resort area in the south to try the local seafood restaurants that serve shrimp, crab, and locally-caught fish. Follow the locals to a good restaurant. The food will still be swimming when you order it, it will be well-prepared, very affordable by Western standards, and served in friendly surroundings often with spectacular views.

All Vietnamese restaurants are controlled by the government, and some are fully owned by the government. Most restaurants' hours are 10:00-22:00. Some open at 07:00 and some at 06:00 or 08:00. In 24-hour restaurants, there will be two prices. Prices are normal from 06:00 to 22:00, then doubled from 22:00 to 06:00. For example, rice usually costs 10,000 dong, but if you order after 22:00, the price will be 20,000 dong. This policy is government-mandated, to discourage people from eating late. Some dishes are not served after 22:00.


Drinking in a Vietnamese bar is a great experience. One of the interesting things is that during the day, it is almost impossible to see a bar anywhere. Once the sun goes down though, dozens appear on the streets out of nowhere.

Watch out for ice in drinks. Factory-made ice is generally safe, but anything else can be suspect. Factory ice has a hollow, cylindrical shape. Avoid irregular chunks of ice as it may be unclean.


Don't miss out on bia h?i, (literally "air beer"), or draught beer made daily. It's available throughout Vietnam, mostly from small bars on street corners. Bia hoi bars give you the opportunity to relax, drinking in a Vietnamese bar surrounded by the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Every traveller can easily find these bars to experience what the locals are enjoying. Only 5,000 dong each. The beer is brewed daily and each bar gets a fresh batch delivered every day in metal kegs. It's a very light (3% alcohol) refreshing lager at a fraction of the cost of draught or bottled beer in the Western-style bars. Bia hoi is not always made in sanitary conditions and its making is not monitored by any health agency.

The most popular beer (draught, bottle or can) among the southern Vietnamese is Saigon Do (Red Saigon). For the northern Vietnamese Bia Hanoi (Hanoi beer) is the most popular brand, whereas central Vietnamese prefer Festival beer or Bia Huda. 333, pronounced "ba-ba-ba" is a local brand, but it's somewhat bland; for a bit more flavour, look for Bia Saigon in the green bottle and a bigger bottle than Bia Saigon Special. Bia Saigon is also available as little stronger export version. Expect to pay about 20,000-30,000 dong per bottle of Saigon or Hanoi, slightly more for other brands. Bière Larue is also good, and you can find local brands in every larger city.

It's common for beer in Vietnam to be drunk over ice. This means that the cans or bottles need not be chilled. If you are drinking with Vietnamese people it is considered polite to top up their beer/ice before re-filling your own drink. It is also considered necessary to drink when a toast is proposed: "mot, hai, ba, do" ("one, two, three, cheers"). Saying "Tr?m Ph?n Tr?m" (100% 100) implies you will empty your glass.


Another popular drink among locals and tourists alike is the coffee (cà phê). Do be careful when drinking locally-prepared coffee as the locals tend to drink it incredibly strong with about 4 teaspoons of sugar per cup. It is usually served black or with sweetened condensed milk - usually over ice.

Vietnamese coffee beans are fried, not roasted. If you are picky, bring your own coffee.

Soft drinks

Coconut water is a favourite in the hot southern part of the country. N??c mía, or sugar cane juice, is served from distinctive metal carts with a crank-powered sugar cane stalk crushers that release the juice. Another thirst quencher is the fabulous sinh t?, a selection of sliced fresh fruit in a big glass, combined with crushed ice, sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk. You can also have it blended in a mixer. You could place any fruit-type after the word sinh t?, e.g., sinh t? b? (avocado smoothie) or sinh t? d?a (pineapple smoothie). If you prefer to have orange juice, you won't use the word sinh t? but n??c (literally: water) or n??c cam if you would like to have an orange juice. Juices are usually without condensed milk or coconut milk.

Wine and liquor

Vietnamese "r??u ??" or rice alcohol (r??u means liquor or wine [not beer]) is served in tiny porcelain cups often with candied fruit or pickles. It's commonly served to male guests and visitors. Vietnamese women don't drink much alcohol, well at least in public. It's not recommended for tourists.

Dating back to French colonial times, Vietnam adopted a tradition of viticulture. Dalat is its centre, and you can get extremely good red and white wine for about USD2-3, however this is very hard to find. Most restaurant wine is Australian and you will be charged Australian prices as well, making wine comparatively expensive compared to drinking beer or spirits.

Rice spirits and local vodka is cheap in Vietnam by Western standards. Local vodkas cost about USD2-4 for a 750 ml bottle. Russian champagne is also common. When at Nha Trang, look for the all-you-can-drink boat trips for around USD10-15 for an all-day trip and party with on-board band.


Lodging is not an issue in Vietnam, even if you're travelling on a tight budget. Accommodation in Vietnam ranges from scruffy USD6-a-night dorm accommodation in backpacking hostels to world-class resorts, both in large cities and in popular coastal and rural destinations. Even backpacking hostels and budget hotels are far cleaner and nicer than in neighbouring countries (Cambodia, Thailand, Laos), and cheap hotels that charge USD8-10 for a double room are often very clean and equipped with towels, clean white sheets, soap, disposable toothbrushes and so on. Service in many of the very inexpensive hotels is quite good (since the rate that a person pays per night could equal a Vietnamese national's weekly pay), although daily cleaning and modern amenities like television may not be provided. In hotels costing a few dollars more (USD12 per room upwards, more in Hanoi) you can expect an en suite bath, telephone, air conditioning and television. As with hotels elsewhere in the world, mini-refrigerators in Vietnamese hotels are often stocked with drinks and snacks, but these can be horribly overpriced and you would be much better off buying such items on the street. Adequate plumbing can be a problem in some hotels, but the standard is constantly improving.

It is a legal requirement that all hotels register the details of foreign guests with the local police. For this reason they will always ask for your passport when you check in. The process usually only takes a few minutes, after which they will return your passport. However, because non-payment by guests is by no means unknown, some hotels retain passports until check-out. If a place looks dodgy, then ask that they register you while you wait and take your passport with you afterwards. Few people have had a problem with this as it is routine across the country. You might find it helpful to carry some photocopies of your passport (personal data page and visa) which you can hand over to the hotel.


If you want to meet local people, stop by a school. In Ho Chi Minh City, visit the American Language School, where you'll be welcomed enthusiastically and invited to go into a class and say hi. You'll feel like a rock star. The Vietnamese love to meet new people, and teachers welcome the opportunity for their students to meet foreigners.

An excellent novel set in modern-day Vietnam is Dragon House by John Shors. It's the story of two Americans who travel to Vietnam to open a centre to house and educate Vietnamese street children.

Former BBC reporter in Hanoi, Bill Hayton, has written a good introduction to most aspects of life in Vietnam, the economy, politics, social life, etc. It's called Vietnam, Rising Dragon, published in 2010.


You can volunteer as an English teacher through many volunteer organisations. However, if you have a TEFL/TESOL qualification and a degree then it's very easy to find paid teaching work. Without qualifications it's also possible to find work, but it takes more patience to find a job, and often there are concessions to make with payment, school location and working hours (weekends). Most teaching jobs will pay USD15-20 an hour. There are also many you-pay-to-volunteer organisations which allow you to help local communities, such as Love Volunteers, I to I and Global Volunteers. (But you must avoid some organized fraud. Ex: V4D, VTYD, RAKI, VVN...)

Legally, a work permit is required to work in Vietnam, although many foreigners do not bother, especially if the intention is to work for only a short period of time. Visa extensions are generally easy to obtain (your school will have to do this for you) although the immigration department will eventually insist on you obtaining a work permit before any more visas are issued. If your aim is to remain for a longer term, then it is possible to obtain a work permit although your school will need to do this for you. To apply, your employer will be required to submit the following: A contract and application letter from your school; a full, medical health check (done locally); a criminal record check (the criteria for this varies from province to province, some requiring a check from your home country, others, a check done solely in Vietnam); a copy of your TESOL/CELTA/TEFL and degree certificates; your 'registration of stay' form; a copy of your passport/visa. Sometimes, you may be asked to pay a small fee although the better schools will generally offer to do this for you. Work permits are valid for 3 years and are renewable for a period of up to 12 years.

Once you have a work permit, it is then a relatively simple process to apply for a temporary residence permit, which will alleviate your visa worries. The validity and procedure for renewal is the same as a work permit.

Stay safe


Vietnam is a relatively safe place for tourists, especially when travelling in groups.

While many safety warnings in travel guidebooks are no more than scaremongering, tourist areas are prime petty crime locales. Violent crime towards foreigners is uncommon, but pickpockets and motorbike snatching are not uncommon in larger cities. Thieves on motorbikes snatch bags, mobile phones, cameras, and jewellery off pedestrians and other motorbike drivers. Don't wear your bag on your shoulder when riding a motorbike. Don't place it in the motorbike basket. When walking along a road, keep your bag on your inboard shoulder. If your bag is snatched, don't resist to the point of being dragged onto the roadway.

Reports of thefts from hotel rooms, including upmarket hotels, have been heard occasionally. Do not assume that your hotel room strongbox is inviolable.

Avoid fights and arguments with locals. Westerners may be bigger than Vietnamese, but if you're dealing with 5 or more Vietnamese guys then you're in serious trouble. Keep in mind that yelling is highly insulting to Vietnamese and may prompt a violent response. Vietnamese in general are placid and kind. As a visitor, you should respect local laws and customs. Altercations can be avoided easily by showing courtesy and tolerating cultural differences. Be on your best behaviour when drinking with Vietnamese men.


Corruption is a big problem in Vietnam and locals are convinced that the police are not to be trusted. While police officers frequently go on patrol with a specific task or remit, motorcycle drivers may be stopped for a variety of reasons such as random checks of paperwork and licences and will fine foreigners around USD20 for each offence (the average traffic fine for locals is around USD5-10). Remember to be polite, but resolute and stand your ground. Traffic officers are required to write traffic violations in their notebook and must give you a receipt for your fine which must then be paid at the station (not to the officer), although always keep in mind that for certain offences, (especially missing paperwork relevant to the vehicle you are riding) officers have the right to confiscate and impound your bike. If you have a phone, you could threaten to call your embassy and he may back down although in most cases, it is often best to prevent any further escalation of the situation and simply pay the fine.

You generally won't encounter any problems with the police in more remote or rural areas because officers are likely to have a very poor command of the English language. That said, the larger cities and areas that are frequented by tourists are seeing an increase in police who are proficient in communicating with tourists.

Immigration officers are known to take bribes. During the early Doi Moi (the reform in 1990s), bribes could be a few U.S. dollars, a few packs of 555 cigarettes. Today although officers still seem to have no problems with taking them, it is absolutely risk-free and acceptable if you don't bribe.

Most government offices will also require a small "gratuity" before processing paperwork. This is most commonly encountered when trying to obtain permits of residence for private accommodation or work/residence permits.

The international monitoring group Transparency International has rated Vietnam as one of the most corrupt nations in Asia.


Despite its seeming abundance, prostitution is illegal in Vietnam. The age of consent is 18. Vietnamese penal law levies penalties of up to 20 years in prison for sexually exploiting women or children, and several other countries have laws that allow them to prosecute their own citizens who travel abroad to engage in sex with children.

Remember that under Vietnamese law, it is illegal to take a Vietnamese national to a hotel room. While this law is rarely enforced, you could find yourself in even deeper water if you report a crime disclosing that you shared a room with a Vietnamese national.

As well as the legal issues, there are two additional risks for those indulging in this activity. First, HIV/AIDS is prevalent in Vietnam with many going untreated due to the taboo nature of the disease. There is always a chance of a prostitute being infected, so be sure to use protection. Second, there is a danger of theft when taking any unfamiliar woman back to a hotel or guest house. The tale of a man waking up to find his wallet, mobile phone or laptop missing is all too common. Stories also abound of Westerners being drugged while in a hotel room or being led to a dark, quiet place where they are relieved of their possessions by criminal gangs.


Most scams in Vietnam involve transportation, hotel prices, or the two-menu system practised by some restaurants.

Many taxi drivers in Saigon and Hanoi install rigged meters, charging up to 2 to 8 times more. The best way to reduce your chances is by taking a taxi from reputable companies such as Mai Linh (+84 38 38 38 38) and Vinasun in Saigon and Mai Linh and Taxigroup in Hanoi (but note that taking these companies is not a guarantee). If you don't know what a reasonable fare is, it is generally a bad idea to agree on a price in advance. The two recommended companies have quite reliable meters. The former suggested Saigon tourist taxi cannot be recommended at all.

Taxis are abundant in Saigon and you can get a taxi at any time of the day or (night). You can also call a taxi, and usually people at the call centre will be able to either converse in English, or will pass on the phone to someone who can. Rule of thumb to detect scammers: if the taxi doesn't have the fare charges written, or drivers name and photo on the dashboard, immediately ask the taxi to stop and get out. It is a definite scam.

As always it is advisable to walk 100m away from any tourist deposit point (bus arrival, train station etc.), as many taxi waiting here are either scammers or pay a comission to the cartel.

When leaving the airport, the taxi driver may insist that you pay the airport toll. He might not be very forthcoming with the price, and if you give him cash, he will pay the toll and pocket the rest.

Many taxi drivers in Saigon and Hanoi try to overcharge newly arrived gullible travellers. You should consult some guidebooks and travel forums to prepare yourself for those petty scams and to learn more about how to avoid them. The airport toll fee is Saigon is 10,000 dong (Jul 2012). This is quoted along with the fare written on the dashboard of the taxi. You can confidently say "airport toll only 10,000 dong" and refuse to pay anything else such as parking, etc., (unless there were more toll roads in between). Usually, the driver will not argue it out. In Saigon, a trip to backpackers street should not cost more than 250,000 dong from the airport.

In several other cities of Vietnam, such as Dalat, Hoi AnNha Trang, etc., do NOT travel by meter. The airports are as far as 30-40 km from these places and meter will cost you from 500,000-650,000 dong. However, you can either take a bus from the airport to city centre, or pre-negotiate a rate with the taxi for 200,000-300,000 dong. Pay attention to sides of taxis. Usually a rate for the airport is written on the door.

If you ever get caught in a big taxi scam (such as rigged meter), you should get out of the vehicule and retreive your belongings as if everything was all right, then refuse to pay the demanded price and threaten to call the police. Usually they will accept a more reasonable fare, but be prepared to face the driver's anger, so it is better to do this with a few witnesses around.

Taxi and cyclo drivers may claim that they don't have change when accepting payment for an agreed-upon fare. The best way to handle this is to either carry smaller bills or be ready to stand your ground. Generally the driver is only trying to get an extra dollar or so by rounding the fare up, but to prevent this scam from becoming more popular it is advised to stay calm and firm about the price.

When you meet an over friendly cyclo driver who says, "never mind how much you would pay" or "you can pay whatever you like at the end of the trip". He may try to show you his book of comments from international tourists. This kind of driver has to be a scammer. If you still want to use his service you should make it clear about the agreed price and don't pay more than that. Just be clear what you are willing to pay. The cyclo drivers are just trying to make a living.

Hotel owners may tell you that the room price is 200,000 dong. However, when checking out, they may insist that the price is USD20, charging you almost double. Another trick is to tell customers that a room is a few dollars, but following day they'll say that price was for a fan room only and it's another price for an air-con room. These days, legitimate hotel owners seem to be aware of these scams and are usually willing to help by writing down how much the room is per persons per day (in U.S. dollars or dong), if it has air-con or not. Staff of legitimate hotels also never ask for payment from a guest when they check in. Watch out if they insist that you should pay when you check out but refuse to write down the price on paper.

Some restaurants are known to have two menus, one for local people and another one for foreigners. The only way to deal with it is to learn a few Vietnamese phrases and insist that you should be shown only the Vietnamese menu. If they hesitate to show you the local menu, walk away.

Fake monks

Buddhism in Vietnam generally follows the Mahayana school, meaning that the monks are required to be vegetarian and generally do not go on alms rounds. Instead, the monks either grow their own food or buy their food using temple donations. Monks do not sell religious items (shops selling religious items are staffed by laypersons, not by monks) or ask people for donations. Instead, donations are to be placed in temple donation boxes. It is entirely up to an individual to decide whether or not he/she wishes to donate, and how much he/she wishes to donate. "Monks" who approach tourists for donations are imposters.


The first discovery for many tourists who just arrive in Vietnam is that they need to learn how to cross a road all over again. You may see a tourist standing on the road for 5 minutes without knowing how to cross it. Traffic in Vietnam can be a nightmare. Back home, you may never witness the moment of crash, seeing injured victims lying on the road, or hearing a BANG sound. Staying in Vietnam for more than a month, you will have fair chance of experiencing all these.

Roads are packed. Some intersections in main cities such as HanoiHo Chi Minh City have traffic lights patrolled by police, most are either non-functional or ignored.

To cross the road, don't try to avoid the motorbikes, let them avoid you. Step a little forward, a little more, and you will see motorcycle drivers to slow down a bit, or go to another way. Make your pace and path predictable to other drivers, don't change your speed or direction suddenly, and move forward until you arrive at your destination.

The simplest way, if available, is to follow a local, stand next to them in the opposite side of the traffic (if you get hit, he will get it first) and he will give you the best chance of crossing a road.

If you are injured, don't expect that local people are willing to help for even calling an ambulance because it is not free. Make sure you tell the local clearly that you will pay the ambulance fee. Hospitals will also not admit you until you prove that you can pay the bill.

Highways are also risky with an average of 30 deaths a day and some locals will not even venture on them if not in a big vehicle (car or bus). Taking a bicycle or motorbike on highways is an adventure for risk takers, but definitely not for a family with children.


  • Petty crime in nightclubs is not unknown. Don't escalate an incident: avoid quarrelling with local people as drunks can be violent.
  • Clubs are full of working girls trolling for clients. They may also be looking for wallets and mobile phones.
  • Walking very late alone on the streets in the tourist area is safe, but you avoid unfamiliar women engaging you in conversation. They may try to touch you, sweet talk you, and then pick your pocket.
  • Don't ask taxi drivers to recommend nightspots. Most taxi drivers earn commissions from bars and lounges to bring in foreign tourists. When you walk one of these places, they will quote reasonable prices. But when you received the tab, it may include extravagant charges. Do your homework beforehand and tell the taxi drivers where you want to go, and insist on going to where you want to go despite their remonstrations. Most nightspots are reputable. Going to those with a mostly foreign clientele is a good practice.


Little wildlife remains, let alone anything dangerous to humans. Venomous snakes, such as cobras, may still be common in rural areas, but virtually everything else has either become extinct or exists in such small numbers that the chances of even seeing one are remote. Tigers may exist in very small numbers in remote areas, but this is unconfirmed.

Stay healthy

Tropical diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are endemic in rural Vietnam. Malaria isn't as much a concern in the bigger cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, but always remember to take mosquito liquid repellent with you. It may be very useful, especially in the countryside and crowded neighbourhoods.

Thanks to much improved hygiene in recent years, cooked food sold by street vendors and restaurants, including blended ice drinks, are mostly safe. Use common sense and follow the tips under the Traveller's diarrhea article and you'll most likely be fine.


Public hospitals in Vietnam are generally not up to the standards of the West, and have a tendency to be understaffed and overcrowded. Doctors and nurses at public hospitals also typically do not speak any foreign languages, so if you do not speak Vietnamese, you will probably need to bring a translator with you. In general, hospitals will only accept your case if you can demonstrate the ability to pay for their services.

There are private hospitals in HanoiHo Chi Minh City and Da Nang that cater mainly for Western expatriates and provide excellent healthcare, with staff members who are able to speak English and French, though you would be paying a steep premium for their services. The French-run FV Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City is the best known of Vietnam's private hospitals, and is a popular destination for medical tourists. Most of the expatriate-oriented private hospitals accept international travel insurance.


Vietnam has a high rate of HIV. (0.5% of the Population 2014).


In traditional Vietnamese culture, elders are treated with great deference and respect. While expectations are more relaxed when foreigners are involved, it's a good idea to show politeness, respect and restraint towards those who look older than you.

It's common to be stared at by locals in some regions, especially in the rural areas outside of big cities, and in the central and northern parts of the country. Southerners are usually more used to foreigners. Wherever you are, though, expect some probing questions whenever a conversation starts: How old are you? Are you married? Do you have children? While this might seem nosy in the West, they're perfectly normal, good-natured questions here—it helps people determine how they should address you. The best thing to do is just play along.

An Asian woman travelling with a non-Asian man often attracts a more undesirable kind of attention. Probably due to memories of the sexual escapades of GIs during the Vietnam War, people will often assume she is an escort or prostitute, and she may be insulted or harassed, even if she has no relationship to the man. These prejudices have lessened somewhat in recent years, but they are still present. The Vietnamese themselves generally do not engage in public displays of affection, even among married couples, as it is considered to be disrespectful, so it is advisable for couples to show restraint while in public.

The American War

The most surprising thing about the topic of the Vietnam War (the American or Reunification War, as it is called in Vietnam) is that many Vietnamese do not bear any animosity against visitors from the countries that participated, and in the South many Vietnamese (especially older Vietnamese involved in the conflict or with relatives in the war) appreciate or at least respect the previous American-led or French-led military efforts against the North. Two-thirds of the population were born after the war and are quite positive towards the West. Some attractions present an anti-American viewpoint on the war, whilst many are surprisingly restrained.

Be sensitive if you must discuss past conflicts. Well over 3 million Vietnamese died, and it is best to avoid any conversations that could be taken as an insult to the sacrifices made by both sides during the wars. Do not assume that all Vietnamese think alike as some Vietnamese in the South are still bitter about having lost against the North.

Souvenir shops in Vietnam sell lots of T-shirts with the red flag and portraits of "Uncle Ho." Many overseas Vietnamese are highly critical of the government of Vietnam, so you may want to consider this before wearing communist paraphernalia in their communities back home. A less controversial purchase would be a nón lá (straw hat) instead.


Although the official census claims most Vietnamese are non-religious, you wouldn't know it to see them. Whether they attend services or not, most Vietnamese are in fact strong believers, incorporating a variety of religious traditions, beliefs and rituals into their daily lives.

As in neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, the most influential and widespread religion in Vietnam is Buddhism. Buddhism in Vietnam generally follows the Mahayana school, which is widespread in China, unlike the neighbouring Southeast Asian countries which follow the Theravada school. This means that monks are required to be vegetarian, and pious individuals seeking a particular blessing will often forgo meat as well. Unlike other Southeast Asian countries, it is not customary for monks to collect foodstuffs in the streets. Instead, they will either buy their food using temple donations, or grow their own food. Monks who hang out in tourist areas requesting donations are bogus. Similar to China and neighbouring countries, Swastikas are commonly seen in Buddhist temples as a religious symbol; they are positive signs representing sacredness and blessing, and have no connection to Nazism or anti-Semitism.

Also, and more than in neighboring countries, Vietnam has a sizable proportion of Christians (11%, of mostly Roman Catholics). Christianity is especially prominent in major cities, where at least a few churches can be found. It is common for strangers and acquaintances to ask you to come to their church, although offence will not usually be taken if you decline

Much like the Chinese, Vietnamese people place strong emphasis on spirits and ancestor worship. You'll see at least one shrine in every Vietnamese home and place of business, where occupants burn incense to honor or placate certain spirits. These are often decorated with statuettes or pictures of sacred figures: for devout Buddhists, this might be Buddha or Bodhisattva; for Catholics, a crucifix or the Virgin Mary; for "non-religious" people, depictions of various traditional deities or spirits. If you see someone's photograph featured on a shrine, it's most often that of a family member who's passed away. Burning joss sticks (sticks of incense) for the spirits of departed family members is generally a token of respect.

Vietnamese are generally quite superstitious when it comes to death and the spirit world, and there are certain taboos you'll want to avoid. Some of these include:

  • Placing chopsticks upright in the middle of a bowl of rice: Bowls of rice are arranged in this way next to the body of the deceased at funerals, so it reminds people of funerals.
  • Taking photos of an odd-numbered group: The superstition goes that the person in the middle of a group will be singled out by evil spirits. Photos of even-numbered groups (2, 4, 6, or 8 people, and so on) are fine.
  • Sitting with your back facing a family shrine: Considered disrespectful to the shrine, and to the spirits of the deceased.
  • Climbing onto altars to pose for photographs with the statues: Considered very disrespectful to the deities being venerated.



Land-line numbers in Hanoi and HCMC have a sequence of eight numbers, others have seven.

  • Vietnam international code: +84
  • Hanoi area code : (4)
  • Ho Chi Minh area code : (8)

VoIP calls

Telephone bills are 30% to 40% cheaper if dialed with 171 or 178 services.

  • Domestic call : 171 (178) + 0 + Area code + Number.
  • International call : 171 (178) + 00 + Country code + Area code + Number.

Since hotels and guesthouses often charge higher for telephone calls, try to find a post office or any reliable public service.

Mobile phones

Mobile numbers in Vietnam must always be dialed with all 9 or 10 digits (including a "0" prefixing the "1nn" or "9nn" within Vietnam), no matter where they are being called from. The 1nn or 9nn is a mobile prefix, not an "area code", as such and the second and sometimes third digits (the nn part) denotes the original mobile network assigned. As is the case with most mobile numbers, they can also be called within or outside Vietnam using the international format.

There are many mobile networks with different codes:

  • G Mobile: 199, 99 (GSM 900)
  • Mobifone: 90, 93, 122, 124, 126 (GSM 900/1800)
  • SFone: 95 (CDMA)(not available)
  • Vietnamobile: 92, 188, 186 (GSM 900)
  • Viettel: 98, 97, 96, 165, 166, 167, 168, 169 (GSM 900)
  • Vinaphone: 91, 94, 121, 123, 125 (GSM 900)
  • You can buy a SIM card in any shop selling mobile phones. The standard price is no higher than 75,000 dong, but foreigners are often charged 100,000 dong. SIM cards are also easily available at both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City Airports from official carrier booths which makes it quick, easy, and scam-free to get a SIM on arrival. One month of 3G data or 4G data, with a limited amount of credit for text and voice calls, can cost as little as 140,000 dong.
  • Prepaid account charges vary from 890-1,600 dong per minute. Recharge cards are available in denominations of 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000 dong.
  • Roaming on Vietnam's GSM networks is possible with foreign mobile phones, subject to agreements between operators.

Useful numbers

  • Police 113
  • Fire Brigade 114
  • Hospital 115
  • Time 117
  • General Information 1080


  • Internet access is available in all but the most remote towns. Internet cafes are available in most tourist spots and rates are fairly cheap, ranging from 2,000-10,000 dong per hour. Connection speeds are high, especially in the big cities.
  • Many hotels and restaurants provide free Wi-Fi or terminals for their guests. If you bring your own phone and/or laptop, several providers offer mobile Internet services (EDGE/3G or LTE/4G) services as well.
  • Internet censorship is applied to a very small number of Internet services.
    • Facebook is no longer blocked (Apr 2014)
    • BBC websites are no longer blocked (May 2015).
    • wordpress.com and its subdomains (free wordpress blogs) may be blocked in some areas.

A quick Google search for the relevant programs should help you bypass the ban quite easily. There was also a report that telecom companies were blocking the use of Skype, although this ban has now apparently been lifted. Other sites such as Gmail, YouTube, and Wikipedia are all unaffected. If web censorship is a problem, try the Tor Browser

Hear about travel to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam as the Amateur Traveler talks to Jodi Ettenberg from legalnomads.com.

Kate in Senggigi

What does budget travel mean to you?

For some of my friends, it means downgrading to a three-star hotel instead of a luxury property. For others, it’s giving up their private rooms for hostel dorms.

Budget travel is unique to everyone. The broadest definition of budget travel is being financially conscious during your travels.

I asked my Facebook fans a question: how low-budget would you go? Hostel dorms? Couchsurfing? Never eating in a restaurant, ever? They had a lot of great answers and I’ve included them throughout this post.

Leon Nicaragua

Extreme Budget Travel

I define extreme budget travel — or what I like to call traveling “on the hobo” — as traveling while spending the least amount of money possible.

“I had some Couchsurfers come stay with me that are doing a long term trip with a $0 budget for accommodation. If they can’t find CS hosts they camp. One was sleeping in temples in Myanmar. He said his average is $5/day but oftentimes only spends $3. They also only hitchhike everywhere.” –Nathan

Accommodation? Free only. Couchsurfing or camping in their own tent or van. Possibly sleeping in churches, temples or mosques. Free lodging via working gigs. Hostel dorms if there’s no other option.

Transportation? Free or very cheap only. Hitchhiking or traveling in their own vehicle. If anything, an occasional bus ride or public transit.

Food? Cheap only. Supermarket fare or cheap street food. No restaurants, ever. Maybe an occasional takeaway kebab.

Attractions? Free only. In cities, walking around and taking photos, enjoying free museums and attractions. In the countryside, hiking and exploring. Forget about paying for a ticket.

How to get by? Working from time to time. WWOOFing, Workaway gigs, working in hostels or bars, busking, random gigs along the way.

And while there are occasional exceptions, the above is largely how extreme budget travelers spend their time on the road.

Here are some examples:

We Visited Over 50 Countries In Our Van Spending Just $8 Per Day

This is How a Guy Traveled Through Southeast Asia On Just $10 Per Day

I just came back from a 5-months travel. I’ve done hitch-hiked over 15 000km, and have been living as a homeless for pretty much 4 months.

Amman Skyline

The Pros of Extreme Budget Travel

Travel longer. See more. The less you spend, the more time you have to see everything the world has to offer. The price you would pay for a midrange two-week trip could grow into a multi-month extravaganza when traveling on the hobo.

Enjoying the same sights at a fraction of the price. Nobody charges you to walk through the piazzas of Florence, nor do you pay anything to enjoy the white sand beaches of Boracay. It feels awesome to look around and know that you paid far less than everyone else!

Expensive destinations aren’t off-limits. One thing I noticed was that extreme budget travelers don’t shy away from expensive countries. You find just as many extreme budget travelers in Norway and Australia as you do in Laos and India.

“Curiously enough it’s easier to spend less in expensive countries. It’s easier to say no to a $25 hotel room and camp, than to say no to a $5 hotel room and camp. In Europe I’d go camping and couchsurfing all the time out of necessity, but here in Asia I’d happily pay for accommodation, because it’s cheaper. But of course that adds up and in the end I pay more. I remember spending 6 months in the US and Canada and I spend $0 on accommodation. :D” –Meph248 on Reddit

Having more local experience. You’ll get to know locals more intimately, whether it means couchsurfing in locals’ homes, working with locals, hitchhiking with locals, or shopping at the local markets. Plenty of travelers will pass through the same town without having a conversation with someone who wasn’t a waiter or hostel employee.

The time of your life — on very little cash. You’ll have great stories to tell your kids someday!

“I did $5 a day while touring the Balkans for a month. I managed! -Free lodging and food by volunteering at a hostel (even had my own room at the top floor) -Free private beach access through a guy I was seeing -Free drinks every night at the bar across the street because the owner swore I was Serena Williams

That about covers all bases! Lol” –Gloria, The Blog Abroad

The possibility of extending your trip indefinitely. If you pick up enough paid gigs in between, you can keep on traveling forever. This especially works well if you pick up gigs, either officially or under the table, in high-paying countries like Australia.

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

The Pitfalls of Extreme Budget Travel

Reduced safety. If you don’t have funds allocated for accommodation or private transportation, what happens when none of the Couchsurfing hosts in town appeal to you? What happens if your bus is delayed, you show up in Tegucigalpa late at night, and you can’t afford a cab to your accommodation?

Not having money for instances like these sacrifices your safety.

“I would never want to absolutely rely on couchsurfing for the whole of my trip. I couchsurf where I can but when I can’t find a decent host I book a hostel. I think when you get too desperate to couchsurf you end up pushing the safety limit a bit and staying with dubious people.” –Britt, Adventure Lies in Front

Just how bad can the result be? Read this heartbreaking post by Trish on Free Candie.

Missing cool activities and social events. You meet a cool group of fellow travelers and they’re all going whitewater rafting. They want you to join — but you can’t do that. And sure, you can walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge if the $300 Bridgeclimb is out of your price range, but would you go to Leon, Nicaragua, and skip $30 volcano boarding? What about a $5 wine tasting in a Tuscan town? And even if it’s just a $4 hostel shuttle to the beach, which all your friends from the hostel are taking, you’re stuck on the much longer 25-cent local bus.

Less exposure to local cuisine. Yes, there’s fresh produce and markets and supermarkets can be their own adventure, but if you’re making pasta in the hostel every night, you’re missing out on one of the best parts of traveling — the food.

“As a student in EU having a long-term schengen visa on a third-world passport, I think I have hit the bottom after sleeping at airports, night buses, railway stations, common areas of hostels. taking pictures of food in local markets and then coming back to cook pasta in hostel kitchen :-(” –Anshul

No backup savings. In the event of an emergency — say, you need to fly home for the funeral of a dear friend — you don’t have the cash to do so. Most of the time, travel insurance will only reimburse you if it’s a member of your immediate family.

Isolation and discomfort. If you’re not comfortable in your accommodation, you have fewer options and may be far from the city center or tourist zone. If you’re limited with money, you can’t just pick up and leave — you might need to stick it out for at least a night.

“Ive couchsurfed once and they tried to convert me to their religion so i just left.” –Christipede

No alone time. If you’re a natural extrovert, this probably won’t be an issue, but traveling on the hobo requires you to socialize with lots of people on a daily basis, especially if you’re couchsurfing. If you’re an introvert, you’ll have difficulties carving out alone time to relax your mind. (Camping solo is one way around this, however.)

Mooching off others. Conversely, depending on others day after day can wear away at you. Sure, you can help cook and clean, or play music, and you know you’ll pay it back to other travelers someday, but you might get uncomfortable having strangers host and feed you for free on a regular basis.

“It’s funny. I’m open to going extremely low budget. As long as I can be self-reliant about it. Meaning I’d rather sleep (legally or semi-legally) on an abandoned beach or in a corner of a park than ask for someone’s couch. This is strange, I know, since the spirit of travel is tied so intrinsically into the good will of others. I guess I’d rather rely on others for their company (and their rum!) and then slip off to my tent for the night.” –Bring Limes

Resentment. Is this the trip you had in mind? Is this even the kind of trip you’d want? Wouldn’t you rather be in a nice hotel room, eating in restaurants, doing cool activities, and not having to work every now and then? After weeks of depriving yourself, over and over, you could end up feeling resentful. It might not be worth the savings.

“I feel like [extreme budget travel] would detract from the travel experience itself. If I was wrapped up in my head worrying about money and a budget the whole time it would take away from experiences. I certainly don’t travel luxuriously, but I choose to travel within my means without missing out on things.” –Megan, Forks and Footprints

Blue Night Shadows

A Lot of People Think They Can Do This

I’m an avid Redditor but don’t comment often. What makes me comments are posts like these:

“Me and my cousin are going on a trip in 2015 for 16 months around SE Asia. we plan on visiting 19 countries in that time: Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri lanka, Tawain, Thailand, Vietnam, Bhutan

We dont really know what months to go to the different countries and theres not much info online about it, so im asking you we kind of want summer all the time around. Also what places should we see in different countries? Im thinking that 12k USD will be enough for this trip? no including air fare, is that close to accurate?”

Oh God.

First of all, no, $12K will not be nearly enough. I really hope he meant $12K each, because even $24k for two would not be enough for a trip like that, especially with countries like Bhutan and Japan on the list. The only way it would be possible would be through extreme budget travel, and just the idea of traveling that way for 16 months makes me want to curl into a ball and hide.

I get emails all the time from travelers who want to travel as long and as much as possible, so they squish their budget down to the bare minimum. They tell me that yeah, they really want to see as much as possible, so they’re going to couchsurf and camp and they’ll be able to stretch their trip to as long as possible. I give them advice, wish them luck, tell them to buy travel insurance.

Some of them end up traveling this way — and have a fabulous, life-changing trip. Others end up miserable and return home much sooner than planned.

My worry about these travelers is that they won’t end up enjoying themselves on what should be the trip of a lifetime. I believe that far more people think they can handle long-term extreme budget travel than can actually handle this style of travel on a long-term basis.

It doesn’t help that traveling on the hobo is romanticized in popular culture, complete with scenes of waking up on a farm in Provence, harvesting olives all day, then having huge dinners with wine every night before hopping on a train to the next idyllic destination.

In short, it’s fun to travel on the hobo if you’re doing it for fun. It’s not so fun if you’re doing it because you can’t afford anything else.

Bike Lady in Ferrara

Special Concerns for Women Travelers

I feel like there needs to be an asterisk when talking about extreme budget travel as a woman. Just like there needs to be an asterisk with almost every kind of travel.

If you haven’t read Why Travel Safety Is Different For Women, please read it now.

In that piece, I talk about how women are attuned to the risk of sexual assault every minute of every day. It never leaves our minds, and each day we make dozens of micro-decisions for the sake of self-protection. For that reason, we need to be extra careful when it comes to extreme budget travel.

“extreme budget travel is a luxury that men can have I think. as a woman, I always need to have a little extra to get myself out of a bad guesthouse or take taxis rather than walk. I’m sure some women have managed it, but i wouldn’t feel safe on a low low budget. I usually budget $50/day with an extra $500/month of travel, although I rarely use it all. it gives me enough cushion to get a single room rather than share a dorm with just one man, etc.” –Lily

Camping alone or sleeping outside leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Staying in a sketchy guesthouse with a badly locking door leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Hitchhiking with strangers leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Taking public transportation in a rough city at night leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Accepting food and drinks prepared by Couchsurfing hosts leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

That doesn’t mean that women can’t do extreme budget travel — I know women who do it and love it. I know that some take extra precautions, like carrying pepper spray and a knife. And even then, many of them have done so safely; most of them have only had a few scary but ultimately non-dangerous incidents, like I have.

But it doesn’t mean that the risk isn’t there. You need to evaluate that risk closely.

Kyoto Apartment

It’s Not For Everyone

If you want to try out extreme budget travel and you think you would enjoy it, go for it! I’m happy for people to travel in any way they’d like, as long as it’s not harmful to others.

There are plenty of people for whom extreme budget travel is a great choice. And they’re a surprisingly diverse group of people.

My issue with it is that I think a lot of people underestimate how difficult it is to live this way on a long-term basis. In short, it’s not for as many people who think it’s for them. So many people attempt it, burn out, and leave their trip with regrets.

Costa Brava Mountains

Short-Term Extreme Budget Travel

What if you only did the extreme budget travel thing for a shorter time? Say, for a two-week trip or just for a month or two out of a yearlong RTW trip? What if you just did it when you traveled in Australia and went back to spending more money in Southeast Asia?

I think that’s actually a very smart idea. This way, you get to try it out, reduce costs in the most expensive destinations, and see if you are interested in doing it long-term.

“I don’t mind dorms for cheap travel, although a few weeks is the max I could do that without at least a few nights in a private. I’m planning to couch surf and WWOOFing a lot in Japan, since I want to go for a while without spending thousands and thousands. I can’t live on that low though- it’s boring to only have enough to eat and stay in the hostel!” –Alexandria

Marigolds in Pienza

How to Maintain Your Sanity While Traveling on the Hobo

Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Walking a mile out of the way for loaves of bread that cost 20 cents less is the definition of insanity. Instead, reduce your big expenses like accommodation and transportation, or stick to cheap countries.

Travel slower. Spending more time in fewer destinations will majorly cut down your costs. When you spend longer in a destination, you’ll get to know the cheaper places, you’ll spend less time sightseeing, and your transportation costs will be lower.

Stick to cheaper regions — not just cheaper countries. Most people consider Thailand a cheap country but don’t take into account that the beach resorts in the south are MUCH more expensive than the rest of the country. Stick to rural, less-visited areas for lower costs. In Thailand, you’ll find the cheapest prices in the north.

Set up a separate bank account for splurges. Use it for special activities like seeing Angkor Wat, getting scuba certified, or having a restaurant meal in a fabulous food region.

Plan on getting private accommodation every few weeks or so. Just a few days in a room to yourself will make you feel so much better, especially if you’re an introvert.

Have a re-entry fund saved up and don’t touch it. This is money to cushion your return home. How much do you need? Depends on your situation. Some people like to have enough to secure a new apartment and pay for a few months of frugal expenses; others just need a thousand dollars or so. The choice is yours.

Don’t scrimp on travel insurance. Even if you’re committed to spending as little as possible, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you weigh your health against saving money. Not to mention that it will save your ass financially in the event that you get severely injured and need an air ambulance to another country. I use and recommend World Nomads.

Leaving the Generalife

One Last Tip: Check Your Privilege

When you’ve been traveling on the hobo for awhile, there will be dark days. You’ll be down to your last few dollars and unable to eat anything but rice and pasta. You’ll be tired. You’ll be lonely. You’ll be treading water and you won’t know when you’ll earn enough to leave town.

This happens to all travelers. We all go through tough times, but extreme budget travelers are additionally vulnerable because of their lack of money.

Even when you’re at your lowest, it’s important to remember that you hold enormous privilege. You’re living this lifestyle by choice, and you’ve experienced far more than the vast majority of the world will ever be able to.

Don’t refer to yourself as poor. Don’t take food donations meant for the needy. And for the love of God, don’t compare yourself to the homeless.

Instead, practice gratitude each day. Be kind. Use what you’ve learned to create a better life for everyone you meet, both on the road and at home.

And if you choose to settle down for some time — whether it’s just for a few weeks or something more permanent — open up your home to vagabonds like yourself. Feed them, give them a place to sleep, show them your favorite spots in town. It’s time to repay the kindness that you’ve been gifted on your journey.

Have you ever tried extreme budget travel? Did you enjoy it?The truth about extreme budget travel

Celebrating Vietnamese New Year in San JoseLast Monday was the start of the Lunar New Year. You might recognize it as the “Chinese New Year,” but it’s also celebrated in other parts of Asia that traditionally used the Chinese calendar. In Vietnam, the holiday is called Tet, and it is the most important festival of the year. Tet celebrates the arrival […]

The article Celebrating Vietnamese New Year in California originated at EverInTransit.com

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This a guest post courtesy of Deanna Gregorio of TravelCuts.

So, you’ve decided you want to (literally) see the world. From the penguins of Antarctica to the Inca ruins of Peru and the foodie treats of Europe, there’s no part of this great planet that you’re willing to miss. Awesome! It’s going to take effort and dedication (and savings), but if you want this, you can make it happen. Here are our tips to make the planning process go as smoothly as possible …


Small Money Jar on a World Map

Money, money, money. No matter how you look at it, you’re going to have to be wise about how you save and spend your dollars if you want the trip of a lifetime. One of the best ways to make this easier is to participate in SWAP, so you can work AND travel. These are the destinations supported by SWAP, which we can help you book …

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Austria
  • Japan
  • Thailand*
  • Vietnam*

*These are specifically teaching positions

It depends on where you’re going, but a good rule of thumb is to budget about $100.00/day for Europe, Australia, & New Zealand; about $45.00/day for Asia; $35/day for South America (but this varies from country to country); and anywhere from $60-$100+/day in Africa, depending on where you are staying. These estimated budgets include your accommodation, activities, food, and transportation. Keep in mind that you can bring costs down if you have a friend or family member to stay with, or really inflate your costs by staying in luxury everywhere you go. Make sure you always pair your travel with an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), if you’re a student! It’s one of the best ways to save while travelling.

If you’re planning to work and travel, you should have about $6,000 saved up for Europe & Australia, and $4,500 saved up for Asia. SWAP requires you to have a specific amount of “support funds” saved before you leave; depending on exchange rates this may be less or more than our suggested amounts. Always be certain you have the required funds BEFORE leaving to participate in SWAP!

Besides working & travelling, there are a lot of ways to make your money go further. We’ve all heard the old adage about “the cost of a cup of coffee a day”, but it seriously makes an impact. If you take the $1.75 you’d normally spend on your daily coffee and put it into a travel fund instead, you could easily save $500 (or more, depending on your caffeine addiction) in a year. Want new clothes? Instead of going shopping, arrange a clothing swap with your friends and you can all refresh your wardrobes without spending a penny! Take this opportunity to do a few odd or freelance jobs for people you know. You’ll want to take loads of photos on your journey, so why not brush up on your photography skills by doing a few freelance gigs? The biggest tip we can give you is to invest the money you do make. Take a portion of every paycheque you get (even $100/month helps!) and invest it in a savings account. If you set up automatic deductions, you won’t even have a chance to miss the money you’re saving, and it will grow into a beautiful travel fund right before your eyes.

Where to Go

Pushpins in a British Map

So you’ve saved up to traverse the world, but where do you start? This is a big world, and you need to have a plan if you’re going to make the most of your time abroad. Here are a few suggested routes from us …

  • Start Europe, travelling West to East. Make your way to Russia and take the Trans-Mongolian train to China. From here, participate in a tour (or individual exploration) around South East Asia. From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump over to the South Pacific. When it’s time to head home, you can sleep on the long flight, full of memories from the trip of a lifetime.
  • Start Australia, working abroad with SWAP. Travel over to South East Asia for a minimum of 3 months. Next, you’ll want to move on to the Middle East & Africa (if Safari is on YOUR bucket list, this is the place to do it!) before making your way to South America, and then back home. It’s only a 6-hour flight from SJO to YYZ!
  • Start Costa Rica, and take a Spanish class with SWAP! Travel through South America (starting in Colombia and ending in Brazil), then jump over to western Africa and be sure to visit Morocco on your way to Europe!

Really, the most important thing is that you decide beforehand which countries are on your MUST-SEE list, and which you’re okay with missing. There’s often wiggle room during your trip, but absolutely have your start and end point decided and confirmed before you leave. A book like Rough Guides: Best Day on Earth can help you figure out where to go and what to do!

When to Book

Young Woman on Her Cellphone

Early is ALWAYS best. If you’re taking on a trip of great magnitude, you’ll want to save every possible penny. Booking your major flights at least 6 months ahead of time will get you the best fares. The closer you get to departure date, the more you will end up paying for your flights. If you’re in London and decide to take a last minute trip to Paris, booking that flight last minute won’t break the bank (although ideally, you’d book all flights well in advance to get the best price).

When you’re booking your flights, REMEMBER to also book your travel insurance! For a year’s coverage, travelcuts has travel insurance as low as $486*. It’s a minimal cost ($1.33 per day!) and oh-so-necessary when planning a big, multi-continent trip. If something happened while travelling and you had to end your trip early, that would be heartbreaking enough on its own. But imagine all your hard work to save up going to waste as well? That would be a real tragedy. So make sure you book your travel insurance before you leave!

You’ll also want to consider the time of year you travel. If you’re starting out in Australia, you may want to start your journey during Canadian Winter. Beginning in Europe, you may want to book for Fall as it’s a less popular season for travel (thus CHEAPER), and you can be around for the Christmas Markets in December. Decide before you leave how long you want to be abroad – and save accordingly. You’ll likely be spending a year or more away from home, but it’s definitely worth it for a trip of this magnitude.

travelcuts can help you make the most of your time and money, whether you’re taking on the whole world, or just a few countries! Check out travelcuts.com and get started.

The post A Trip Around the World: Preparing appeared first on Vagabondish.

B4MKC0 New York City, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Main entrance exterior on Fifth Avenue.. Image shot 2006. Exact date unknown.

The highest priority on the rundown is unequivocally skewed towards the upper east, particularly New York and Washington D.C. who assert between them 16 of the main 20. General New York has 32 sections, while D.C. claims 17 and Chicago a respectable 16.

Washington Monument – Washington, DC

It’s fascinating that arrangements for a landmark to George Washington were initially examined in 1783, development started in 1848, and consummation came in 1884 and people in general got in 1888. His adherents needed to manufacture one as tremendous as their regard and commitment and numerous were rejected for being excessively gaudy for the new Republic. The lift that was included 1889 is still what guests ride to the perception decks and their colossal perspectives of the capital. Actually, it is a great Greek-enlivened monolith of 555 ft. in marble, stone and bluestone gneiss. It likewise contains about 193 remembrance stones gave for incorporation. The givers went from the Sae of Utah, the Welsh individuals of New York to the Ottoman Empire.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral – New York City, NY

The neo-Gothic Cathedral of St. Patrick is the biggest Catholic Church in the United States and surely among the most wonderful. Its marble-clad block exterior must been an effective, forcing site when it opened in 1879. Its 330ft twin neo Gothic towers took off over the area and were said to be noticeable for twenty miles, since predominated by growing high rises.

Inside it has the traditional shape of the Latin cross. Its altars were designed by a Borgia, a Medici and Tiffany &co. Its renowned stained glass was crafted in England but the rose window, in the Gothic tradition was crafted by Charles Connick, a master of stained glass who the New York Times described as “the world’s greatest contemporary craftsman in stained glass.” A Pieta, three times larger than Michelangelo’s in the Vatican was added in 1906. Five million people go every year to worship and just experience this architectural wonder.


Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial – Washington, DC

U ndoubtedly loaded with impalpable significance for Americans, the dedication is a significantly moving knowledge wherever you’re from. Straightforwardness can induce an expressiveness the most fantastic outline may not. The façade of the 600 foot straight dark mass of Indian stone records the names of the 58,175 names Americans who kicked the bucket in the war. Its impact is escalated by the choice to develop down as opposed to, as though to reflect the drop into the profundities of the savagery on the plunge into the and in the end, after the last name to rise a touched and changed individual, once again into the place that is known for the living. Maya Lin, a Chinese American from Ohio was only 21 years of age when she won the commission. There are 57,939 names on the first. Last time anyone checked, that has developed to 58,286. In a 1983 meeting distributed in the AIA Journal, Lin clarified her motivation, “I considered what demise is, the thing that a misfortune is. A sharp torment that decreases with time, yet can never fully mend over. A scar. The thought struck me there on the site. Take a blade and cut open the earth, and with time the grass would recuperate it.”

Chrysler Building – New York City, NY

In the same way as other gems the Chrysler Building opened to terrible surveys. It was rejected as an attention stunt by Chrysler to beat the Manhattan Bank to culmination and depose the Eiffel Tower as the world’s tallest working at the time. Its draftsman William van Alen was likewise rejected as a “Dr. of Altitude.” But its Art Deco style has developed in stature since its prime in the 1920’s and 30’s. It came to be viewed as over the top kitsch however went to end up its own school of furniture, publication workmanship and phones. The Chrysler is one of the remnant of a dying breed, the Art Deco high rise. A counterpoint to the grave Vietnam dedication the Chrysler emanates the brash, sure advanced extravagance of Art Deco getting it done. In the event that it had a perception deck, it might well have overshadowed the Empire State working in ubiquity. Its inside is yet all the more dazzling. Forlorn Planet guides propose the best perspectives are from the side of third and 44th. On the other hand humorously from the perception deck of the Empire State. Where else would you be able to see foreboding figures in the picture of Chrysler auto parts?


The post America’s Favorite Buildings appeared first on Geeky Traveller.

Photo: Francisco Osorio

Photo: Francisco Osorio

On Jan. 21st, my parents will drive an hour to our state capitol to march in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington — an event that’s expected to be one of the largest demonstrations in American history, taking place in D.C. on the same day. When I told my boyfriend that my dad was going, his first reaction was to ask why. And for a second, it was funny for the two of us to picture my dad marching alongside thousands of women, many of whom are expected to be wearing what’s called a “pussyhat.”

The only explanation I needed to give my boyfriend was, “the march is for everyone,” but his question got me thinking about the politics I grew up with, and especially about my father and what I’ve learned from him.

My dad is the most politically-aware person that I know. He doesn’t have a college education, he’s always worked in the trades, but he can speak more eloquently and more compassionately about politics than any intellectual I have met throughout my education. If you don’t know how the housing market crash happened, my dad can explain it with specific names and dates. He can recall decades-old Supreme Court decisions. He follows the careers of up-and-coming journalists with an intense interest. He can quote the Constitution far beyond the first and second amendments. If there is bullshit afloat in the United States political system, my dad does not rant about it on Facebook, he doesn’t even have Facebook, he pens a letter to whomever he feels is responsible. In fact, my father communicating with politicians via letters and emails is so commonplace in our family that I almost forgot to mention it here.

When my college education turned toward women’s studies, my dad studied women’s movements too. Each time I came home, he had a new feminist factoid to give me so I’d know he was on my side. Sometimes, though, these attempts at solidarity came in heavy personal stories instead. I will never forget the car ride I had with my father when he told me that as a young man, he had been the only one at a party to stop a group sexual assault that was occurring on an unconscious woman. He acted alone, he got hurt, but he was successful.

At the time, I snarled at all these attempts my dad made at connecting with me. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized how privileged I’ve been to have had a feminist for a dad. When I was growing up, my parents worked a lot, night shifts, my mom, especially. My sister and I spent a lot of time with my dad. He often made us dinner, he had to brush and braid my waist-length hair, he coached our farm league and he picked us up from field hockey practice. He didn’t do any of that to make a statement or to challenge expected gender roles within a marriage, he was just doing what he could to raise his kids alongside my mom. Before I could realize it, and probably without even meaning to, my dad set the bar for every man who I have ever let into my life.

Although my dad has always been moral, he hasn’t always been into politics. My dad grew up outside of Boston in a suburb called Needham. He was the son of a World War II veteran and the youngest of five brothers, three of whom fought in Vietnam. Boston and its surrounding suburbs were different when my dad was wandering them in the ‘60s and ‘70s. He’s recalled watching people step over the corpse of a homeless man, the murder of a friend’s sister that happened in his neighborhood, and the immense, surreal contrast of walking out of a polluted Boston alleyway, into an impeccable Fenway Park.

The America that my dad raised me in was very different from the one that he was raised in. And yet, many of the same issues still persist. While my dad grew up watching activists protest nonviolently against desegregation, and get beaten in the streets defending their Constitutional right to vote, my generation is waking up to the fact that police brutality is the civil rights issue of our time.

When my dad was a teenager, abortion was illegal and birth control was widely unavailable. And yet, 44 years after Roe v. Wade was decided, the two daughters he raised still have to walk by screaming protesters carrying grotesque signs every time we need a checkup at Planned Parenthood.

Before I could realize it, and probably without even meaning to, my dad set the bar for every man who I have ever let into my life.

Today, my dad can talk politics because he’s spent his entire life paying attention. That life brought him to create two daughters — and if you’re the father of daughters, how can you ignore how the political system treats women? Especially if it hasn’t changed much from how it treated your mother, or your wife.

My outspoken, Red Sox-loving, Harley-riding, gardening-mechanic dad is marching with a bunch of women on Jan. 21st because his eyes are open to the struggles of women everywhere.

While my parents march together in Maine for my sister and me, I’ll be marching in Washington D.C. for them. I’m marching because my parents taught me that a woman’s body is her own. I’m marching because I watched Ferguson unfold on the news while I was living with my parents, and all three of us woke up to the pattern of police brutality. I’m marching because Flint, Michigan has now gone more than 1,000 days without clean drinking water. I’m marching because climate change is a scientifically-proven fact and the political administration I’m about to live under is one of very few on Earth that doesn’t believe in it. I’m marching because I’m a low-income resident of rural Maine, with $35k in student loan debt, working full-time in a field that I have a degree in — if my Affordable Care Act benefits are repealed, I’ll have to go without healthcare. I’m marching because I’ve spent years working in restaurants alongside undocumented immigrants, and I’m proud to have New Americans as friends — the dwindling population of my state needs them here.

I’m marching because I’m my father’s daughter and I was raised to pay attention. Yes, maybe it’s a little funny to picture my dad writing yet another letter to a politician who may never read it. Or to picture him marching in a sea of women wearing pussyhats. But if there’s one thing I’ve come to respect about my dad, it’s that he acts when others don’t. Sometimes he stands alone, sometimes he gets hurt, but often, he’s successful. More like this: I am a male and I am so over anti-feminism

Photo: optische_taeschung

They say “once you leave home, you can never go back.”

When you come back, you aren’t the person you were. The place isn’t what it once was. The people who were your world have left, passed away, or they themselves have simply changed.

Do you think it’s true?

Sure, you come back and try to feel that strange sense of place, you try to recognize a sense of comfort coming from within yourself, but the streets have changed and that voice inside you knows when you’re lying. What once was a grid of welcome mats to one-and-a-half storied postcard homes is now the bearer of bad news in the form of sprawling apartment buildings, Starbucks, and gas stations. What once was a phone full of contacts ready to go at a moment’s notice on a Saturday night is two friends with an hour to spare before they go home to their kids. What once was your oasis as a teenager, your haven from parents, authority, and the man, is just another sticky movie theatre ran by pimply, bowtied teenagers with smartphones sticking out of their vest pockets.

But stay with me here. Somewhere across the globe, maybe you get a jolt.

Photo by the author

You find a town, a neighborhood, a city block where the hair stands up on the back of your neck. Where your stomach churns a little in skeptical recognition. Your adrenaline starts pumping as you experience a feeling you haven’t felt in decades: the sensation of belonging. Of being home. Of knowing that at least geographically, you’re doing something right.

For myself, I didn’t think it was possible. I had searched teeny villages in the south of Vietnam. I had moved from Midwestern farmland to concrete jungles to the Bible Belt to the sea and back again. I had spent years uprooting myself, convincing my brain that wherever I landed that the feeling of home would develop as I made friends, formed routines, and settled my bones. A sense of comfort certainly grows from nothing eventually, but never a sense of home.

That jolt for me was Sternschanze, a neighborhood in Hamburg, Germany. I want to call it vibrant and colorful, but those words lead the imagination down too mundane of an avenue. They’re not good enough. They’re not good enough because while the neighborhood certainly is vibrant and colorful, there’s something completely shitty about it, too. Something completely shitty, yet totally mesmerizing. It’s not shitty like San Francisco – a city I always wanted to like, but at my core felt was too dark and too dirty to deserve its idolization – Sternschanze is shitty and vivid in a thousand different colors. Vibrant. Endearing, even. If Paris were a rainbow, Sternschanze would be broken shards of rainbow-colored glass forming an unintentional mosaic in the gravel of some dark, dingy alley behind a tandoori hole-in-the-wall. Sternschanze feels like a reflection of myself and all of the people I love. It has flaws. It is raw and gritty and falling apart, and it’s creative and hopeful and deserving in its humility and lack of pretension. Posters advertising various degrees of artistic expressions overlap on already cluttered walls, street art takes over the grounds of common areas, and boutiques built on artsy business ideas and a prayer line the cracked sidewalks. One block on one tiny street takes you from the Persian scarf shop with three concrete walls and one of pashminas to the second-hand vinyl shop where peeling wallpaper gives away the building’s past to the Italian shop that only sells expensive leather shoes and red wine. All of these are scrunched underneath massive white Edwardian-esque buildings that seem lucky to have avoided demolition. You can feel the characters oozing beyond their doorsteps, into the air, and onto the page. You can feel the opening movie title sequence unfurling as it pans down the street, eccentric characters weaving in and out of view, yelling mouthfuls of “hallos” and “genaus” to each other between bites of falafel and oddly-flavored sips of tea. It is a world churning with ideas and opinions unblemished by gentrification, unconcerned with status, and alive.

Just thinking about it makes me aware of my arms. My blood pumps a little harder and my adrenaline starts flowing. And while this strange infatuation with a starving artist of a neighborhood made me realize that this sensation of home can exist anywhere, the thing that I find even harder to believe is that it opens the door for it to exist elsewhere, too. Imagine: the sensation of home in three places. Half a dozen. Twenty-two, maybe. I don’t know.

Photo: Hotel Henri

It was just Sternschanze, too. Just a few too-short blocks. As I walked past petite mothers with exhausted children sharing sidewalks with tight-jeaned hipsters sharing sidewalks with suited businessmen, leaving behind my own dreams of starting an Edwardian falafel shop, the city started immediately changing. Sternschanze turned into the Reeperbahn, the neighborhood notorious for sex, cheap bars, and discotheques. In midday, it’s a bit less lewd: it reminds me of a kitschy Vietnamese theme park. Massive signs in colors dulled by daylight, full garbage cans the most evident signs of life, and sighs of desperate commercialism in bits of rust, flecks of missing paint, and burned-out colored lightbulbs. At night these signs glow neon, happy, young voices fill the stagnant air, and stories are lived and either rarely remembered or rarely forgotten. Then I passed the miles of green in the gardens of Planten un Blomen; the Jungfernstieg, the stylish promenade where parents once paraded their daughters on Sunday afternoons; and the Rathaus, the gorgeous town hall. These other worlds sandwiched inside Hamburg — from the lascivious to the political — made that feeling I recognized more meaningful, and not just because it was fleeting. It confirmed that it’s a feeling not easily recreated, and second-hand imposters won’t do.

I want to ask others if they’ve had this sensation, but I’m not quite sure if I’ll be understood. Most people have roots that are undeniable, and this sense of home is not up for questioning to them. Some might mistake it for meaning “hometown.” Still others stay put for decades forming one, forcing one, leaving the argument for spontaneous feelings of home subject to quizzical looks, furrowed eyebrows, and uncomfortable coughs.

But if you’re a traveler and you understand, debate aside, here’s to second homes. Maybe even third, fourth, and fifths. They may be far away, but they’re always there.

This article originally appeared on The Strange and New and is republished here with permission.

More like this: When home is not where you're from

35 of the world’s best places to travel in 2017


With so much negativity in the media, the world is often portrayed as risky, dangerous. And yet as travelers we learn the same lesson over and over: Preconceived notions of places and cultures are almost always wrong.

The world is, in fact, safer, more hospitable, more open and accepting than non-travelers could ever imagine. If only people everywhere could realize that on the opposite side of the globe are people not so different, so foreign, as they might believe.

Let’s make 2017 the year of traveling fearlessly. These places are just starting points. The next step is taking action. We hope to see you on the road.


1. Jordan


1. Jordan

Completely safe oasis isolated from the instability of the region

Jordan is a place of supernatural beauty. Imagine Yosemite as a desert with super luxury tented camps. That’s a bit how Wadi Rum feels. And Petra is so ancient you could use the Bible as your guidebook rather than a Lonely Planet. Beyond these obvious destinations, there’s also Al Salt, Jarash, and Amman. Travel here with an open mind, and get ready for and a hospitality that will blow away any expectations. Photo by Scott Sporleder.


2. Los Angeles


2. Los Angeles

Epicenter of Southern California with quick access to nature

LA has it all. The food options, historic sites, and outdoor access are enough to make you forget the 45-minute drives it takes to reach them. Your best bet (as always) is to hook up with locals (try travelstoke if you don’t know anyone there), and plan your travels around different neighborhoods. Photo by Scott Sporleder.


3. Yucatán Peninsula


3. Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico

No-worries area of Mexico with luxury haciendas in the middle of the jungle

Beyond Chichen Itzá are other lesser known Mayan ruins worth exploring throughout the region, along with the cenotes, as well as world-class diving (the world’s second largest coral reef after the Great Barrier Reef, is on the Carribean side of Mexico) and beaches. Of special note is Rosas y Chocolate, one of the top urban hotels in all of Mexico, pictured above.


4. Sisimiut, Greenland


4. Sisimiut, Greenland

Above the Arctic Circle, and almost like dropping off the map

Sisimiut is the second-largest town in Greenland. 5,500 people live on a tiny, rocky promontory just north of the Arctic Circle. If you are lucky enough to travel to Greenland, your goal should be connecting with locals and getting invited to a kaffemik. These are celebrations such as birthdays or weddings, and guests may can come anytime you want and leave whenever they feel like it. Photo by Greenland Travel.


5. Península Valdés, Argentina


5. Península Valdés, Argentina

The overlooked part of Patagonia, with stunning marine wildlife

The stark, windswept, and seldom-visited Atlantic coast of Patagonia has intense concentrations of wildlife with its epicenter at Peninsula Valdes. Each year between June and December is the Southern Right Whale migration. Throughout the year are other wildlife viewing possibilities, including Magellanic penguins, and elephant seals. Awesome family adventure. Image: Matiasso


6. Hamburg


6. Hamburg, Germany

Harbor city unlike anywhere else in Germany

Hamburg is more fish than sausage and more tea than beer. It’s home to one of Germany’s oldest red-light district, the Reeperbahn, where many musicians, like the Beatles, got their start. Explore the Speicherstadt, attend the Hamburger Dom, or check out a Sankt Pauli soccer game; Hamburg’s notoriously rowdy soccer team. Image: Nick Sheerbart


7. Faroe Islands


7. Faroe Islands

Otherworldly North Atlantic escape

Off in the North Atlantic somewhere between Iceland and Norway, this group of 18 islands is like a dream world: dramatic sea stacks, well-trodden hiking trails, and cosmopolitan small cities with great food scenes. The country has incredible infrastructure with most islands connected by bridge or undersea tunnel. For those islands not connected by road, there are fast ferries and subsidized helicopter transport. Photo by Stefan Klopp.


8. Auckland


8. Auckland, New Zealand

Ultimate urban backpacker hub for exploring wilderness and beaches

Auckland is one of the largest cities by land area in the world, with plenty of natural reserves, surf spots, and Maori cultural experiences throughout and surrounding the city. There’s also a great cafe culture. It’s a perfect base for exploring both coasts of NZ’s North Island. Photo by Rulo Luna.


9. Dominical, Costa Rica


9. Dominical, Costa Rica

Surf, yoga, and natural foods paradise within easy reach

Out of all the places in Costa Rica that should’ve gotten overrun with mass tourism, Dominical has been spared. It remains a small, uncrowded town with a super cool expat scene and awesome restaurants. There are exceptional AirBnb properties overlooking nearby Domincalito (as well as in town). For surfing, Dominical is almost never flat. Photo: Blaze Nowara.




10. Montreal, Canada

Multicultural city with world-class paddling options and nightlife

2017 marks Montreal’s 375th anniversary, and the city plans to celebrate all year. Join in for a big party and some birthday cake on May 17, the official date that the city was founded on. Culturally diverse Montreal will also welcome you with free festivals, concerts, cultural activities, exhibitions, foodie events, tastings, tours, and theatrical performances. Photo: Michael Vesia.


11. Portmagee, Ireland


11. Portmagee, Ireland

Coastal Irish village with access to ancient sites

Portmagee is both a rad little village on its own, and the departure point for Skellig Michael. Take a ferry there, hang with puffins and dolphins all day, enjoy seafood caught steps away at the family owned Moorings Guesthouse while listening to traditional Irish song and dance and lulled to sleep by the ocean. Photo by Tony Webster.


12. Belfast, Maine


12. Belfast, Maine

Scenic seaport on Penobscot Bay, loaded with architectural treasures and historic districts

Belfast is known for welcoming the back-to-the-land movement of the ’70s. It gets a lot of credit for the craft beers of Marshall Wharf, Delvino’s authentic Italian food, served in an old hardware store, and the many local farmers who’ve taken the torch from those revolutionary back-to-the-landers and are fueling the city’s sustainable food movement. Photo by Bruce C. Cooper.


13. Havana


13. Havana, Cuba

Rapidly transitioning nation grounded in Caribbean culture and vibrancy


Cuba has been among the hottest places to travel for our staff at Matador, with reports always containing two elements: 1. People have more fun there than anywhere else they’ve been in years, and 2. The wifi is the worst they’ve found anywhere (Correlation anyone?). On a recent filmmaking journey, it was noted: “Everyone here has rocking chairs. This is place where people know how to chill.”


14. New York City


14. New York City

An energy unrivaled anywhere in the world

With so many things to do and places to see, NYC can be quite disorienting for a first-time visitor, which you should just accept as part of the experience. The quintessential walking city, stroll the Highline, Brooklyn bridge, and Riverside Park. Photo by Jaden D.


15. Franklin, Tennessee


15. Franklin, Tennessee

Classic small town southern vibes and beautiful watershed

A short drive from Nashville, Franklin has a great small town vibe with their Main Street as the site of numerous festivals and the Harpeth River (and connected trails) flowing right through town. The upcoming September Pilgrimage Festival will be in its 3rd year, and with Justin Timberlake as producer, it is going to be awesome.


16. Durango


16. Durango, Colorado

Outdoor adventure hub in a region dotted with storybook towns

Durango is one of the raddest towns in the US with the powerful, free-flowing Animas River running deep through the San Juan Mountains and right through the city. World class ski resort + backcountry adventures via kayaks, skis/snowboard, and great events from Snowdown in January to the La Plata County Fair in August. Photo by Avery Woodard.


17. Abu Dhabi


17. Abu Dhabi, UAE

One of the best places in the world to experience Islamic culture

Abu Dhabi is a desert emirate, dotted with oasis towns, date farms, historic forts, natural reserves, mangroves, and dunes that have lured explorers throughout history. As one of the largest mosques on the planet, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque receives pilgrims from all over the world during Eid celebrations. Outside of prayer times, it’s also open to non-Muslims and has free guided tours.


18. Seattle


18. Seattle

All in one foodie, art, music, and outdoor adventure destination

Seattle has been blowing up for the last two decades and continues to be one of the most interesting cultural centers in the US. But beyond the city itself, Seattle is special for its geography. Simply jump on a ferry for a day trip to the San Juan Islands or over to the Olympic Peninsula and you’re deep in coastal rainforests and mountain ranges–another world. Photo by Vincent Lock.


19. Sicily


19. Sicily, Italy

The Mediterranean’s largest island, rich in archeological sites and culture

Sicily has retained a strong sense of identity, and nowhere is it more enmeshed with the rich history than in the ancient walled neighborhood of Ortigia, in Siracusa. The high stone buildings and cobblestone streets give the sense of stepping back in time. Make sure to also hit up Mt. Etna (Europe’s tallest active volcano), Cefalù, and Taormina. Actually, just go everywhere. Photo by Scott Sporleder.


20. Varanasi


20. Varanasi, India

The cultural center of North India

According to Hindu mythology, Varanasi was founded by Lord Shiva. The city is one of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism. It is also a city surrounded by death. The biggest tourist attraction here is to witness the cremations that take place along the banks of the Ganges. Varanasi is Photo: Arushi Saini Photography.


21. St. Petersburg


21. St. Petersburg, Russia

Russia’s cultural capital

The historic districts of St. Petersburg comprise a UNESCO world heritage site, and the Hermitage is among the top museums in the world. Bar hop along the trendy Ruben Street and wander the massive Nevsky Prospekt main drag. Lastly, as Russia prepares to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, St. Petersburg will serve as the backdrop for the 2017 Confederations Cup Final. Photo by Victor Bergmann.


22. Quebec City


22. Quebec City, Canada

While Canada is 150 years old in 2017, Quebec City dates back to 1608 and is like nowhere else in North America. The fortifications and French colonial stone buildings of the Old Town make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time. Photo by Julien Samson.


23. Charleston


23. Charleston, South Carolina

One of the most fun party weekends in the US

Take your time here in the Lowcountry. Have a meal at Hominy Grill, a sailboat ride up around Fort Sumter, spend an evening being touristy on King Street, and definitely take the short ride to Folly Beach. Sipping beers and eating seafood at Red’s Ice House overlooking the fishing boats on Shem Creek isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon either. Photo by North Charleston.


24. Montreux


24. Montreux, Switzerland

The French Swiss city, surrounded by vineyards and towering alps

Belle Époque buildings overlook a long promenade along Lake Geneva, making Montreux one of the most picturesque places in the world. Every July is the Montreux Jazz Festival, which celebrated its 50th year in 2016. Photo by Karim Kanoun Photography.


25. Óbidos, Portugal


25. Óbidos, Portugal

Portugal’s scenic literary powerhouse near world class-surf

Once you’ve walked the 13th century streets, filled your bag with books and your stomach with bacalhau and vinho verde, you can drive 45 minutes to Lisbon or explore the area around Óbidos. Peniche, a surf paradise, is 25km away, and there’s a natural park (Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiro) also nearby. Photo by lagrossemadame.


26. Pokhara, Nepal


26. Pokhara, Nepal

Nepal’s relaxing, fresh, and super close-to-nature second city

Nepal’s second city doesn’t rival the capital Kathmandu in many respects but it’s the hands-down winner for a relaxed vibe and adventure access. The hilltop viewpoint of Sarangkot is one of the best places in the world for paragliding; there are kilometers of trails just around Fewa Lake, and if you’re out of energy, Pokhara is an ideal place to chill out. Photo: Aalok dhakal.


27. Cabo San Lucas


27. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Works all ways: place to get waves, have family fun, or as a romantic getaway

Most people associate Cabo with spring break, tequila, and loud music. The scene has changed over the last few years, with the main attractions being nature wildlife, and classy upscale resorts. Photo: Ben Horton.


28. Nelson, Canada


28. Nelson, Canada

The friendliest little ski town in British Columbia

Nelson’s history includes the settlement of the pacifist Doukhobors from Russia as well as Vietnam draft dodgers, which played no small part in its progressive values and “hippie vibes.” Nelson has a thriving music, arts, and cultural scene, and a surprising amount of cafes, bars, restaurants and locally-owned shops for a city of only 10,000 people. Photo: Carlo Alcos.


29. Altér do Chão, Brazil


29. Altér do Chão, Brazil

The “Brazilian Caribbean” hidden in the Amazon jungle

This is the perfect place to explore the Amazon rainforest. You can go on day trips to see sloths, river dolphins, and other animals, and you can taste exotic fruits and food only found here there. If you go during the rainy season, Altér do Chão is super quiet, with a hippie-ish vibe. Photo by lubasi.


30. George Town, Malaysia


30. George Town, Malaysia

A mind-blowing combination of Chinese, Indian, and Malay cultures

Spice, herb, and fresh produce stands between colonial architecture and street art offers a sensational experience with the chatter of diverse languages, like being a walk away from India and China. Photo by Ah Wei (Lung Wei).


31. Luang Prabang, Laos


31. Luang Prabang, Laos

A relaxed introduction for newcomers to Asia


Travel through Asia can be expensive, especially if you want to visit many countries and large cities. That said, if you know where to go it can be much more affordable. SimplyHolidayDeals.co.uk with Price of Travel put together this infographic breaking down how to travel Asia without breaking the bank. Here are the top 10 cheapest cities for 2017.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

Hoi An, Vietnam

 Hoi An Markettp. Hội An, Vietnamwalk the market and learn the locals way of life #markstravelingfeet #vietnam

Manila, Philipines

 Sofitel Philippine Plaza ManilaManila, PhilippinesEnjoy a day at the pool that overlooks Manila bay.

Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)

 Belmond Governor’s ResidenceYangon, MyanmarGorgeous teak hotel (was once the Govenor of Kayins residence) in downtown Yangon. The food is delicious and the small gift store has items not found anywhere else. Super pricy though.

Vientiane, Laos

 Patuxay MonumentVientiane, LaosCool war monument dedicated to the people who fought for independence from France. You can go to the top and have a great view of the city. #history

Goa, India

 Patnem BeachCanacona, India❤️

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

 pho chay nhuHo Chi Minh City, VietnamSmall, family-owned, dive restaurant. Vegan pho was delicious! #cheap-eats

Pokhara, Nepal

 Hotel Middle Path & SpaPokhara, NepalPeaceful place

Chiang Mai, Thailand

 Chiang MaiTambon Pa Daet, ThailandOne of our greatest finds- honest, good, cheap street food outside our hotel. #cheap-eats #open-late #streetfood

Hanoi, Vietnam

 Turtle TowerHanoi, Vietnam#history

Delhi (New Delhi), India

 Red FortNew Delhi, IndiaRed fort build by #Mugal empire, must see in New Delhi, this #monuments is full of #detail and #history.

Lonely Planet Vietnam (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

#1 best-selling guide to Vietnam

Lonely Planet Vietnam is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Eat, drink and shop til you drop in beautiful, ancient Hoi An; kite surf in Mui Ne; or visit the impressive pagodas and royal tombs of Hue; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Vietnam and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Vietnam Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, people & culture, food & drink, arts & architecture, environment Free, convenient pull-out Ho Chi Minh City & Hanoi map (included in print version), plus over 86 maps Covers HanoiHo Chi Minh CityHoi An, Halong Bay, Mui Ne, Hue, Danang, Nha Trang, Dalat, Sapa, Siem Reap & the temples of Angkor (Cambodia) and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Vietnam, our most comprehensive guide to Vietnam, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand or Southeast Asia on a Shoestring for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

*Best-selling guide to Vietnam. Source: Nielsen BookScan. Australia, UK and USA

Vietnam: Where To Go, What To See - A Vietnam Travel Guide (Vietnam,Hanoi,Cần Thơ,Danang,Haiphong,Ho Chi Minh City,Biên Hòa) (Volume 1)

Worldwide Travellers

Worldwide Travellers Present: Vietnam - The Ultimate Travel Guide • Are you looking to visit a country you've never been to ? • Have you already booked your trip and you're now curious what to expect ? • Maybe a friend loved the trip and you want to have the same great experience now... Either Way, We Got You Covered ! In This Single Guide, You Will Find All The Information You'll Need What This Guide Covers: Major CitiesTraditionsSightsMust-Do ActivitiesHotelsRestaurantsand so much more !

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Vietnam and Angkor Wat


DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Vietnam and Angkor Wat will lead you straight to the best attractions this beautiful part of the world has to offer.

Explore the floating markets of the Mekong Delta, the hill towns in the north, and all the best beaches to be found in between; zip around old Hanoi in a pedal-powered cyclo; and be sure to indulge in the exquisite local cuisine.

Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Vietnam and Angkor Wat.

   • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights.    • Detailed city maps each include a street finder index for easy navigation.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations.

With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Vietnam and Angkor Wat truly shows you what others only tell you.

Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide.

Vietnam Backpacker Photo Journey #5: Forbidden City of Hue

Scott David Plumlee

Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it! The narrative of this book explores the historical sights around Hue, and serves as a cautionary tale that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

In this fifth volume, I will be touring the ancient capitol city of Hue to discover opulent royal palaces, iconic Buddhist pagodas, and elaborate imperial mausoleums. This travel story is not as action-packed or humorous as the previous books, but it will delight the history buff with lots of 17th century dates and emperor names. Adding a personal perspective into the modern Vietnamese culture, it reveals the political opinions of two college students that I befriended, as well as my own reflections on their tyrannical history.

Text exert from page 11:"The walled gateway into the Imperial City is very impressive, being fortified by an enormous moat. Originally founded in the 17th century by the feudal Nguyen Dynasty emperors, it served as the national capital from 1802 to 1945. Deep within these walls was the Forbidden Purple City where only the emperor, his concubines, and their servants could access; the punishment for trespassing was death. Luckily for us, it is now a UNESCO Site, so we can safely go inside." Throughout this eBook, all of these amazing sights are presented as full-color photography to place you in the shoes of the author.

Are you are planning a trip to Vietnam or just daydreaming of the adventure? This travel narrative will give you an insight into what real backpacking is all about: overnight bus rides, making new friends, eating local food, appreciating new cultures, philosophical insights, and being comfortably lost. This adventurous story will inspire your wanderlust to explore SE Asia as a Vietnam Backpacker!

DOWNLOAD Your Copy Today! You are just one click away from a historically-rich adventure!

Amazon customer reviewer wrote:"Scott's series of ongoing travel pictographs and unique perspective keep on satisfying my senses of historic, social, cultural and culinary curiosities. Guaranteed to revive your wanderlust and provide a sane roadmap to your future travels!"

I would like to extend a special editorial thanks to: Dr. Gail Devoid, Laura Haley Conner, Shirley Plumlee, Cheryl Cohen, Teri Halstead, Lauren Anderson, Carys Jones, Verla Kellar, Jace Martin and Denise Koryzma Reid.

Visit the author's website to see the full collection of travel books and enjoy a 15-page preview at: www.davidchain.com/travels.htm

Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Tempt your tastebuds with pho noodle soup in Vietnam, sail past the limestone peaks of Halong Bay, or experience the transcendent tranquility of temples like Angkor Wat; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - customs, history, art, music, dance, landscapes, environment, cuisine Over 70 maps Covers Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand , our most comprehensive guide to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for a guide focused on the individual countries included in this destination? Check out Lonely Planet's Vietnam guide, Laos guide, Cambodia guide or Thailand guide for a comprehensive look at all these countries have to offer; or Discover Thailand, a photo-rich guide to Thailand's most popular attractions.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Greg Bloom, Austin Bush, Iain Stewart and Richard Waters.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

National Geographic Traveler: Vietnam, 3rd Edition

James Sullivan

In this completely updated and revised guide to Vietnam, James Sullivan's enthusiasm for his adopted country is clear in his coverage of all of major sites, along with some lesser known surprises as well. The book begins in the ancient capital of Hanoi, moving on to surrounding sites including fabled Ha Long Bay and hilltribe villages tucked away in the jungle-covered mountains; North-Central Vietnam, including visits to Vietnamese tunnels related to the Vietnam War; the ancient cities of Hue and Hoi An; the Southern Central Highlands, featuring wildlife-filled Cat Tien National Park; bustling Ho Chi Minh City; and the vast Mekong Delta. Several in-depth features delve deeper into Vietnam's history and culture, including discussions on the hilltribes and the life of the boatpeople in the Mekong Delta; and self-guided walks and drives take you, for example, through Hanoi's picturesque Old Quarter and along the cliffside beauty between Hue and Danang. You'll also find lists of Not-To-Be-Missed Sites; experiential sidebars that guide you to get to know Vietnam more intimately, including where to see water puppets, train trips to Trai Mat, and the new "in" beaches to visit; and a hefty Travelwise section offers hand-picked hotels and restaurants.Aimed at active travelers who want authentic, enriching, cultural experiences and expert advice from a trustworthy source, National Geographic Travelers provide ways for people to experience a place rather than just visit, and give the true feel of each destination not easily found online.

Vietnam Travel Guide: History of Vietnam, typical costs, top things to see and do, traveling, accommodation, cuisine, festivals, sports and activities, shopping, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, Nha Trang

Alex Pitt

Are you planning a trip to Vietnam? Always been in love with Vietnam and everything Vietnamese? Simply browsing and dreaming of a Southeast Asian holiday? Then this book is for you! This book will put your doubts of whether going to Vietnam is worth it. The magical country has so much to offer for holiday visitors in terms of activities, festivals, food, drinks, sightseeing, beaches and more. Plan your holiday with this clever extensive Vietnamese travel guide. Or, if you were unsure of where to go for your Asian holiday - allow me to introduce you to Vietnam and convince you to visit this magical, beautiful Southeast Asian country. You can read about Vietnamese history, typical costs and how to save money, cuisine, culture, where to go, how to get there, what to see, when and where to see it, how to stay safe and more secret tips! I am Alex Pitt - adventurer, climber, survivor, nomad, traveler and writer and I would like to present to you the exotic country of Vietnam. This book includes: A thorough history of Vietnam Typical costs Money-saving tips Top things to see and do in Vietnam Tips for first-time travelers to Vietnam Where to go in Vietnam When to go in Vietnam Getting to Vietnam Getting around in Vietnam Accommodation Food and drinks Health The media Crime and personal safety Festivals and religious events Sports and activities Shopping Essentials Hanoi Ho Chi Minh City Hoi An Nha Trang Are you ready to learn about Vietnam? Ready to pack your bags and travel? Scroll up, hit that buy button!

Vietnam in my heart: The Paradise on Earth

Kayla Smith

Did you watch the movie Kong: Skull Island in the cinema last month? Do you know where the film was shot?If you had not watched the movie and had no idea how spectacular its background was, this e-book would tell you. The film locations were 90 percent in Vietnam, a small but beautiful country in Southeast Asia. By telling his real experiences when visiting the locations of the movie, the author has brought magnificent landscapes to the book pages and precious traveling information to readers. Thanks to him, “Vietnam - The Paradise on Earth” has become worth remembering tips and skills for anyone who wants to travel Vietnam.In this e-book, readers will be able to find:-Where the film locations of Kong: Skull Island is-The most beautiful and mysterious caves in Quang Binh-What games you can play when visiting Quang Ninh-How magnificent the landscapes in Ninh Binh are-What it feels like to ride a Kayak-How friendly Vietnamese people are-What delicious foods you should try-How to travel Vietnam with the least budgetThe author will guide you through every detail and destination that she’ve come. All of the foods she have tried and the places she have been to were amazing. Taking out your bag and starting packing for a trip to Vietnam are what you will want to do most after reading this book. Hesitate no more and discover Vietnam right away!

Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.


Petty crime against tourists is increasing, particularly in the larger cities. Although violent crimes such as armed robbery are still relatively rare in Vietnam, perpetrators have grown increasingly bold. Knives and razors have been used in attempted robberies in Ho Chi Minh City. Motorcyclists grab bags and other valuables from pedestrians and from passengers or drivers on motorbikes; this often results in injury to the victim. Hotels and tourist areas are more likely to be targeted by criminals. Thefts also occur on crowded buses and trains and in shopping centres and markets. Bag slashing is a frequent occurrence in crowded streets and markets. Avoid showing signs of affluence and ensure that your personal belongings and passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.

When leaving the airport, you should only use authorized airport taxis or hotel transportation. Authorized taxi companies usually have operators posted at airports who are responsible for monitoring taxi services. These companies publish the taxi driver’s name and vehicle number on a card that should be affixed to the windshield (in front of the driver’s seat). Individuals posing as taxi drivers have targeted foreign visitors at Hanoi airport and robbed them by forcing them to withdraw money from automatic banking machines. Travellers have also been robbed by drivers who greeted them upon arrival with a placard showing their name. If you are expecting to be picked up, ask for your driver’s name, phone number and licence plate number before you travel. Be familiar with your hotel’s address and neighbouring landmarks because taxi drivers have taken unaware visitors to the wrong establishment, in order to receive a commission. Never share a taxi with a stranger.

Threats of physical injury related to personal disputes occasionally occur. If you are in this position, contact the local police and the closest Canadian government office immediately.

Credit card fraud

Both tourists and expatriates have been targeted by credit card forgery crime. Avoid using your credit card in smaller establishments, and pay careful attention when others are handling your card. Consider obtaining a second card, with a low credit limit, for use during your stay in Asia.


Tourists have been victims of gambling scams in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (particularly in the Pham Ngu Lao neighbourhood). This scam usually starts with a friendly invitation to someone’s home to meet a relative interested in visiting or studying in Canada. While the visitor is waiting for this individual, a casual game of cards will begin. Even though they started with only a small wager, victims have reported losing thousands of dollars over the course of an evening.


Public demonstrations are generally not tolerated in Vietnam and can carry heavy penalties, including lengthy jail sentences. Avoid demonstrations and follow the advice of local authorities.


Traffic accidents occur frequently, often causing death or serious injury. Motorcycle riders and pedestrians are common victims. Driving standards are poor, vehicles and roads are often badly maintained, and roads in major cities are congested. Rain can flood potholes and roads, especially those in the north, can become impassable during the rainy season. Travelling after dark is dangerous.

Driving without a Vietnamese driver’s licence is illegal. If you are involved in a traffic accident, you may face criminal charges and have to pay compensation if someone is injured. You may be prohibited from leaving the country before paying this compensation. Hiring a car and driver for personal transportation is strongly recommended. Rent a motorcycle only if you are accustomed to local driving standards and be aware that insurance is not included with these rentals. Motorcycle taxis (known as “xe oms”) are unsafe and should be avoided.

Bus accidents are not uncommon. A number of fatal boat accidents have occurred in past years, some in Halong Bay. Ensure that your tour operator follows up-to-date safety regulations.

Keep ticket stubs at all times when travelling by train, as they are required when exiting the train station. Passengers without a ticket stub will be required to pay the fare again. 

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.


Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, further out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy & Armed Robbery Report, published by the International Maritime Bureau.

General safety information

Travel near military facilities in some parts of the central highlands and in some border areas is restricted.

Unexploded landmines are a hazard in some rural areas of central Vietnam.

Improper farming and production practices, as well as overall poor hygiene in food preparation, make food safety a concern. Exercise a high degree of caution, particularly when consuming street food and beverages containing ice cubes. Avoid drinking non-bottled water.

Never leave your food or drink unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery. Do not purchase liquor from street vendors, as the quality cannot be assured.

Hotel rooms and electronic communications may be monitored. Hotel staff require your passport in order to register it with local authorities. The staff may insist on keeping your passport until your departure, but there is no legal reason for them to do so. You may request the return of your passport once it has been registered.

Emergency services

Dial 113 to reach police, 114 for firefighters and 115 for ambulance.


Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.


Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Japanese encephalitis

Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending time outdoors in rural areas) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.


Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.


Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).


Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Southeast Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, leptospirosis, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southeast Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.

Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.


Insects and Illness

In Southeastern Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, lymphatic filariasis, and malaria.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.



  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.


Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in Southeastern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.

Avian Influenza

There have been human cases of avian influenza ("bird flu”) in this country. Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread by contact with infected birds or surfaces and objects contaminated by their feces or other secretions.

Avoid unnecessary contact with domestic poultry and wild birds as well as surfaces contaminated with their feces or other secretions. Ensure all poultry dishes and eggs are thoroughly cooked.


Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

Hand, foot and mouth disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that mainly affects infants and children. Travellers are at increased risk if visiting or living in overcrowded conditions. There is no vaccine for this disease.


Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.

Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Health-care services are below Canadian standards. Medical facilities and supplies are limited outside of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Serious medical problems may require evacuation.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.


Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict and include the death penalty.

Penalties for drinking and driving are strict. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines and jail sentences.

Gambling outside of licensed casinos is illegal in Vietnam.

Photography of military installations and border crossings is prohibited.

Involvement in politics, possession of political or sexually explicit material, or involvement in an unsanctioned religious activity can result in detention. Participation in a public demonstration is generally not tolerated in Vietnam and can carry heavy penalties, including lengthy jail sentences.

Visitors are not allowed to invite Vietnamese nationals of the opposite sex into their hotel rooms to stay overnight. Visitors are allowed to stay with a Vietnamese family, providing they have obtained permission from local authorities. It is the responsibility of the Vietnamese host to register their foreign guests with local authorities.

Cash in excess of US$5,000, or the equivalent in any other foreign currency, must be declared upon arrival. Anyone arriving in the country with more than 300 grams of gold, including jewellery, gold bar and raw gold, must also make a declaration.

Vietnamese law restricts the export of antiques, but these laws are vague and unevenly enforced. If you purchase non-antique items of value, retain receipts and confirmation from shop owners and/or the Ministry of Culture and the Vietnam General Department of Customs to prevent seizure of your items upon departure.

You must hold a valid Vietnamese driver’s licence to drive a motor vehicle in Vietnam, including motorcycles of 50cc or more. You can apply for a Vietnamese driver’s licence at an office of the Department of Public Works and Transportation in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

Motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear a helmet.


The currency is the Vietnamese dong (VND). U.S. dollar traveller’s cheques cannot be exchanged outside major cities and tourist areas. Credit cards are accepted at major hotels throughout the country, as well as at an increasing number of restaurants and shops. Automated banking machines are available throughout Vietnam.


The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from June to September in the north and south, and from October to December in central Vietnam. Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides. Seasonal flooding occurs in October and November in central Vietnam. Flooding is common in and around Hanoi, particularly along the Red River, and in the Mekong River Delta regions in the south.

Typhoons usually occur between June and December and affect primarily central and northern Vietnam. These storms can result in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and can hamper the provision of essential services. Monitor local news and weather reports, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities. Consult our Typhoons and monsoons page for more information.