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So, you’re planning on going to Vietnam? Excellent news!
There is so much to think about when visiting any new country, from making sure they’ll let you in to making sure you aren’t left short of money or carrying around a load of unnecessary baggage.
To help you focus on the excitement of bobbing along on a junk boat, cycling through national parks and relaxing on sandy beaches, our Vietnam Travel Specialists have offered their own personal advice for making your trip hassle free and answer some of the most frequently asked questions from our travellers.
Whilst we have done our best to cover as much as possible below, please feel free to get in touch if you find you’re still left looking for answers and we’ll gladly help!
Do I need a visa?
If you are a British passport holder and are spending 15 days or less in Vietnam (without returning within 30 days) then up until 30th June 2021, you will be able to travel visa-free to Vietnam. If your trip extends to 16 days and beyond or you’ll be re-entering the country during your trip, then you will need to obtain a visa in advance. Fortunately, there is an official e-visa service available!
If you are a non-British passport holder, there is a chance that you may require a visa to travel to Vietnam and it is best that you check with your local embassy well in advance of your arrival.
For more advice, including entering Cambodia as part of your adventure to South East Asia, please check out our handy Visa & Passport page.
How much luggage can I bring with me?
Even though your international flights will most likely allow more, we recommend bringing no more than 20kg with you. Domestic flights in Vietnam are limited at 20kg for a checked bag per person (+7kg for hand luggage) but even if you’re not flying about, you won’t want to be lugging great big heavy bags around with you in such a tropical climate!
You can easily travel around Vietnam with either a backpack or a suitcase and both are suitable. However, You may find that some footpaths can become quite obstructed with scooters and street food vendors so if you plan on taking your bags far, then a rucksack would be best.
In fact, pack as light as possible and leave plenty of room for souvenirs, artwork, tailored clothes and stunning Vietnamese silk. You can even purchase an extra suitcase for your way back and get all your presents for the year!
We do also recommend that you bring along a smaller backpack as well. During several trips (Sapa, Bai Tu Long Bay and Mekong Delta), you may be able to leave your ‘large baggage’ safely behind in the hotel in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
What vaccinations do I need?
As we’re not medically trained, unfortunately we are not able to provide you with any advice on vaccinations or medical care whilst you are away. However, the likelihood is that you will require some form of jabs.
The best thing to do is to chat to your travel GP, and they can also discuss with you any medications you are on, and can give you the ins and outs of the side effects that you can expect should you need any.
We also highly recommend using the NHS Fit For Travel website for the most up to date information and advice. They also have a handy Malaria Map.
In terms of malaria, most of the coast of Vietnam is low to no risk, so you likely won’t need to take tablets, unless you are spending a prolonged time in high risk inland areas. In the end it is a personal preference as some people are simply diligent with bug spray while others get eaten alive and would worry less if they took the tablets.
Is the Vespa tour safe and something you would recommend?
100%! The The Vespa tour in Ho Chi Minh City is a real Rickshaw favourite and a fantastic experience no matter what age. We would recommend it to absolutely everyone, from grandparents to grandchildren. If you love food and a bit of an adventure it really is the best way to see the city. You’ll have a helmet, a professional driver, and all the amazing Vietnamese food you can eat!
For smaller children, talk to your Travel Specialist for the best way to experience the Vespa tour as a family and as all bikes are 125cc, should be covered by all normal travel insurance packages.
What currency should I bring?
American Dollars, all the way.
Whilst Vietnamese Dong is no longer a closed currency, you will likely pay a premium if you try and obtain some before you travel and with monetary exchange services everywhere in Vietnam, you can easily swap some Dollar for some Dong once you arrive. If you can though, avoid exchanging at airports as the rates are never as good. There are also ATMs absolutely everywhere in the main towns and cities so you can easily withdraw money as you go.
We recommend to take your US Dollars in small denominations so that you can use them in a pinch. Bringing a bunch of $1, $5 & $10 bills are great for tipping and entrance fees, as well as saving you having to find change for 80,000 Dong when you can just hand over $2!
As Vietnam is still so heavily dollarized, it is possible to pay in Dollar for many local goods and services – even if you may receive your change in Dong. Ultimately, it is best to carry a 50/50 split of Dollar and Dong with you at all times as otherwise you’ll either never have the right amount or need a rucksack for your money!
Should I tip?
Although you’re not required to tip while in Vietnam, it is customary and is also very much appreciated. Whilst we of course pay our guides and drivers a fair wage, tips still make up a significant portion of the income of Vietnamese working in tourism. The amount you wish to tip is entirely up to you. As a guideline, if you have a guide for a day you would tip $5-10 USD or 100,000 dong per couple, for bell boys $1-2USD would be sufficient. Most restaurants that are not owned by the government charge a standard 10% service fee, so you won’t have to give an extra tip. If this isn’t included, then a 5–10% tip is greatly appreciated.
What adaptors do I need?
Ah, the classic plug question! Electricity in Vietnam is 220 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second, so if you travel to Vietnam with a device that does not accept 220 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter.
The electrical sockets are different from what you’re accustomed to, so it’s best that you take along a universal plug adaptor to make sure you’re covered. If you forget before you travel, you can easily pick one up from the airport or in town once you arrive. Most hotels also tend to keep some behind the front desk so if you’re totally at a loss, do ask the friendly staff if you can borrow one.
What should I pack?
Because of the changing weather conditions, you’ll want to bring along light/thin clothing as well as some warmer clothing for the evenings (especially in Sapa). We recommend bringing layers of clothing that you can remove or add to. There’s no need to bring along mosquito netting as that will be provided to you locally, wherever needed.
Remember to dress modestly with your knees and the tops of your shoulders covered, particularly at religious sites. Always remove your shoes before entering temples: you’ll know where to put them when you find a sea of shoes!