Travelo Vietnam is truly unique, affordable and professional different kinds of packages; Cycling, trekking, soft & hard adventure, bird, kayaking, culture and leisure’s tour in Vietnam, etc. We offer wide ranges of high quality mountain cycling adventure tours for all active people who want to explore Vietnam plus Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar by their unique way.
Our company is run by Victor Dung and Tony Nguyen who has great experience and knowledge in outdoor – activities sports, really adventure tours manager in Vietnam. He has been working as Tour Manager and tour leader for all most Cycling travel Clubs, Peace wheels, CTC Cycling Holidays, Comebiking, RedSpokes, X-Trekkers, Monogram S.A, Tradewind, Marathon Travel, Starship Travel,Strumenti di Viaggio Torino, Lake Como Cycling, Flora and Fauna Field Tours, Team Gorky, Odans Travel, ODPELJI.SE, HELIA SLOVENIA, ENZ.ZO, bluesky travel, Rothar Cycle Tours, Klub Podróży HORYZONTY, Generous Adventures Travel Auctions for a Better World, Hash House Harriers, Discover Adventure. Etc…, Help For Heroes, a dozens of international adventure tours partners and private cycling groups, Family cycling, Charity cylcling, Individual for over Ten Years. Otherwise, we offer wide selections of Trekking tour in North Vietnam, North Laos, Cambodia, Adventure Tours, off the beaten tracks tours, kayaking tours covering in whole Vietnam.
What is differences?
Our name: Travelo Vietnam is unique name in Vietnam, the travellers travel slowly to distinct the difference. that is the reason why we stand out of the crowded and easily search on website or social networks.
Our cycling route
Travelo Vietnam aims to take tourists to see real Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. 70 to 80% of our cycling routes are off road and back roads to enjoy untouched regions, the countryside, the villages, hill tribal track, the people to experience their cultures and their wonderful smile children.Our phiosophy is: to provide once in a lifetime adventure tour with real life experience and see realcountry.
Our team carefully design and newly develop cycling routes for fun and enjoyable to suit all level of cyclists. Being advance for cycling in Vietnam, our team has always worked hard to develop new product for our customers. More than cycling, we are really excited to show tourists our country, meeting with the people and interacting with the community. You will enjoy local food to experience rural Vietnam at its most authentic.
Our cycling guide:
The tour will be led by one of English – speaking guides. All our guides have great knowledge of history, local culture, and religions of the area where you are cycling and introduce that experiences for you . our guides have been trained in this field and is fully licensed in tour guiding by Vietnam National Tourism. Our guides are also medically skilled in first Aid by SOS and they know how to deal with hard situations.
Our support team carry your luggages and provide a nice place for tea and coffee break on the route ( 20 – 25 km for each stage). Our staff will make any running repairs on your bikes. Once riding we keep you stop with water, fruits, soft drinks and snacks, energy bars, and we make sure you get a nice cold towle drink with cold towel as well. Prepare picnic lunch enroute for cyclis,.at the end of cycling day, we make sure you will enjoy good meal, clean and prepare bike for next days.
Fully support and carry our luggages in whole cycling trip.
We often used mini bus and bus with air condition for transfer and back up as itineraries.
We use van Support bikes and cyclist
( 1 – 4 pax) we use Van to support and carry out bikes.
( 5 – 8 pax) we use one Van and one truck to supports.
(10 – 25 people), we use one bus and one truck support and carry lugguages and bikes.
When cycling we stay in friendly hotel, guesthouse or homestays. Some are more basic than others! Bear in mind that some of the places we overnight in are not on the standard tourist trail.In larger cities and towns, our hotels are generally more western style and are three or four hotels or resort. Please do not expect the same standard as you would your home.
Our mountain bikes:
we use the new 4300/4500.Etc… trek moutain bikes for all most cycling trip with different size from
13.5’’ – 23,5’’.We generally use models of TREK mountain bikes because they are high quality, durable pieces of equipment. Besides We like the versatility and durability of the mountain bike as it has been designed to cope with different types of terrain and riding. Our trips can be on asphalt and can often be broken or potholed, and there are usually unsurfaced sections included, so mountain bikes are the most suitable. They also have the range of gears to cope with the hills.
Each bike comes with a single water bottle cage, if you prefer more you are welcome to bring your own. Bikes also have gel seat cover slips if you prefer a softer ride. If you have your own saddle that you are comfortable with seat, you are welcome to bring it and we’ll fit it. On long tours women specific seats are recommended and we have some available, but we cannot guarantee we will available for every tour.These bikes also are available for rent in case you want to go it alone or just need a bike for a day.
Our maps, elevation, gps:
When you book our tours, we will deliver our detail cycling itinerary with route maps, elevation and Gps downloads. the cyclist can ride and enjoy on the road.
All the meals which, are mentioned in itinerary, are included in the price of this tour. Most of meals are Vietnamese local food in Homestays. while in towns, we will enjoy Vietnamese cuisine in delicious restaurants: Meals consist of a variety of banlanced dishes and aim for universal appeal, we avoid highly spiced foods. Vegetarians are certainly welcome and are always accommodated, please let us know of any dietary concerns at time of booking.
We supply highly nutritious food and hot drinks whilst cycling enroute. Every cycling day our support team organise picnic lunch enroute where the scenery is extraordinary. Especially, cycling in the North Vietnam, Hochi minh trail and cycling through Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia. We can turn impossible things into possible.
Homestay in the villages is simple interm of bedding condition and ementies. We will sleep on beds or floor with mattress, clean sheet, pillow and mosquito nets. Toilet is usually western style.
We strongly believe that Responsible Tourism can support to local communities: proving incomes,positive cultural exchanges and an incentive to protect natural invironment. We recognise that there is always space for improvement. We continually strive to narrow the gap between principle and practice.
All travellers want a good sense of balance and we strive to make right balance between price and sevices for your tours. We want to offer you best sevices, accommodation for clients with affordable price.
We are local people and work with local ground services suppliers for long years, we have been keep at competitive price for clients wit its best services.
Our tour cost an everage of USD 100 – 150 USD a day.for some people that is cheap. While for another it is expensive. This is the reason why we try to our best to work hard and offer extraordinary services and high quality accommodation at price well below our competitors and a high standard of services and accommodation than another travel agency in our price ranges.
As reliable and specialize adventure tour in Vietnam. Travelo Vietnam strive to offer wide ranges of REAL outdoor activities sports such as cycling, trekking, hiking, kayaking and off the beaten tracks itineraries for active and adventurous people who have plan or arrange plan to travel Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.
We also acknowledge that the traveller have a little information about these destination or very confused with a hundred of copied itinerary companies when do search on Internet or social network. Therefore, Travelo Vietnam stands out of crowded and unique name, assist and consult for travelers have real adventure holiday. we offer outline frame itinerary how the tour going or what you expect when you travel with us. there are outlines following as
Air port or cross border picking up.
Our adventure tour guide and vehicle support will meet you at Air Port or Vietnam International border gates to assist and pick you up to Hotel or starting cycling point.
After meeting our group and tour leader, the adventure tour guide will meet you and do brief itinerary for currently adventure itinerary. to make sure with you everything is running smoothly and safely.
choose and fix the gears
All our bikes are available for you with your name tag, you can check and adjust the saddle, change pedals, cover gel seat or GPS computers if you have your own.
On the tour
We always have one local guide for group less 10 travelers, meanwhile, we supply one professional cycling guide plus one assistant for group over ten people.
Our support vehicle:
We use one van for group 2- 4 cyclist plus with luggage, cold box and necessary things for cycling tours
We use one van plus one truck for group less than ten people for caring luggage and bikes .
Our daily cycling distance; we ride point to point in each day with everage 80 – 120 km / day.
On your bikes
We regularly ride every 20 – 25 km (depend on terrain and elevations) stop for refreshment and fill up energy honey tea, coffee, tropical fruits, energy drinks, cake . the next distance is 25 – 30 km for picnic lunch.
We offten organise picnic lunch for over one week cycling itinerary. you will be feasted by fresh, delicious and hot food whilst cycling with us.
Kodak moment: all our cycling itineraries boast highlight magnificent scenery and cultural values, you can ride by your own speed and interact with local people, shooting photos and share your experience with them.
Off your bikes
Upon arriving in hotel, we offer chili cold beer for long day cycling challenge if you enjoy ( but not include in our itinerary) while our support staff clean and prepare your bike for the next day’ s cycling.
We offer incredible local food for dinner meals in well selected restaurant in our cycling trips. you will enjoy delicious food at the best restaurant in town
We strive to offer a good mix of accommodation on all of our tours, always aiming for local charm. Depending on the tour, we stay at three- or four-star lodges that compliment the local culture, and sometimes logistics forces us to become creative. If we have a great cycle route through an area where there isn’t any accommodation, so we will find a local family that is happy to work with us or perhaps set up tents for the night. In isolated or newly developing areas, we are sometimes forced to stay somewhere more basic than we would like, but it is only for one night and we make sure everything is clean and comfortable. And these places are certainly authentic, and often form some of the better memories of your tour.
Vietnam is one of the most magnificent countries in South East Asia, which is safe to travel and full of wonders. Although the root of Vietnam’s culture are firmly bedded in a thousand years of Chinese domination, the French colonialist brought European – style administration, Christianity in the form of Catholicism.
- Vietnam is one of the most magnificent countries in South East Asia, which is safe to travel and full of wonders. Although the root of Vietnam’s culture are firmly bedded in a thousand years of Chinese domination, the French colonialist brought European – style administration, Christianity in the form of Catholicism. Vietnamese are very gracious, polite and generous with conservative nature of Confucianism inherited from Chinese. They are very appreciative for visitors try to abibe by their customs. The following Vietnamese travel tips Dos and Do’nts will help you to avoid somes social taboo and make your trip to Vietnam a culturally and socially enrich experience.
- Do not sit with your feet pointing towards people, when visiting someone’s house. Do not sit or sleep with your sole of your feet, back toward the family altar.
- Do not give a handkerchiefs, anything black, yellow flower chrysanthemums as a gift. Bring fruit, sweet, flowers, or incense as a gift if invited to a Vietnamese home.
- Do not sit until show where to sit. The oldest person sit first.
- Do not carry a large a mount of money or wear a lot of jewellery. Never leave your bag unattended. You may become a victim pickpocket or driver – by bag snatcher.
- Do not show off, keep a low profile, and a cool head, remain polite, losing temper in Vietnam mean a “loss face”
- Do not cause Vietnamese to loss face. The conceipt of “save face” is extremely importance in East Asia social relationship. Avoid behavior that cause embarrassment to another party, and hol back behavior that can be misconstrued overly aggressive.
- Do not take cameras video into the ethic minority villages. They are considered to be too intrusive by the local people.
- Do not take some photo of some bodies without asking for permission. Do not take picture of anything to do with the military, which is considered a breach of national security
- Vietnam travel tip DO’S
- DO dress conservatively,never wear shorts, dresses, skirts or tops with low neck lines and bare shoulders to temple and pagodas.
- Do avoid public display of affections with a member of a apposite sex, anything beyond holding seriously frowned upon.
- Do use both hands to pass things. But do not pass anything over someone’s head.
- Do learn to use chopsticks. Try to finish everything on your plate, and rest your chopsticks on top of bowls when you are finished eating. Hold your spoon in your left hand while eating soup.
- Do hold your bag infront of you and easy grab, especially when you hire a motobike taxi to avoid bag snatching.
- Do take your shoes off at the entrance if you are invited to a Vietnamese home.
- Do expect toiletries in your hitel room such as toothbrush, comb, soaps, shampoo etc. But do carry toilet paper with you when you go out.
- Do drink plenty of bottled water, especially when you walking around sightseeing. Do expect to pay less local beer than for a bottle of water.
- Do keep valuables such as cashes, credit cards and airline tickets etc in a safe box.
- Do change money from recognized money changer
- Do get medical insurance before your travel.
Rules of the roads
- Always wear a correctly adjusted helmets
- Always ride at the speed you are comfortable with
- Do not over do it or ride beyond your abilities as accidents are not fun. If stretches are too technical for you. It is better to walk than fall.
- Always ride with at least one another person in case of difficulty
- Give each of other plenty of space the tracks – nothing is worse than a file up.
- The person infront has right of way anh may not be aware of what a person behind doing, so if you overtaking, let the person in front of you know which side you passing on.
- Always stop at Junctions, unless specifically told not to by the guide
- If in doubt as to the route, stop and wait for the rest of the group and tour leader
- If you get lost, go back to the last place where you were sure you saw other group members and wait them where we will find you.
- In general, the leader rides at or near the back of the group, and the supported vehicles ( where applicable) are right at the back. With two guides one will be towards the front, one at the back
- For safety, always know the final destination for each day, alway carry some money and emergency number
- Drink plenty of water and take some energy bars incase you get hungry between meals.
- Dogs: dont try to race off. Stop normally enough to frighten the dogs aways, get off your bike kneeling between you and the dog and pretend to througha stone and throw one if you have to.
On the bikes
- Set up your bike properly ( saddle height…) and carry out basic safety check
- Particularly the brakes, beforeyou riding each day if in doubt ask your guide
- Concentrate on the track in front of you and resist waving to local whilst riding as this is frequent cause accidents. If you want to enjoy of the view, it’s safiest to stop
- Used the gear frequently to maintain a comfortable and constant peddalling rate
- Lower gears ( easier) and higher revolutions are sustainable for a longer period than a slow revs in a highe gear.
- Anticipate gear changes, especially when the track start going up hill or approaching an obtacle, dont try and change the gear half way up a hill whenr you can no longer pedal. It doesnt work.
- Be aware of the position of your feet when going around corners: on a right hand bend, have your left foot down, and on the lelf hand bend have your right foot down. This dramatically increases your traction and corner control
- Be a ware of your body position and how to alter it for maximum stability, eg.. Moving you behind off the back of the seat and gripping your seat between your legs on steep down hill sections maintains stability, improve braking control and prevent you from over the bars.
- Use the both brakes simultaneously, control your speed by letting them on and off frequently rather than holding them on all the times ( this puts less strain on your hands / wrist and will stop skidding)
- Braking whilst cornering requires skill brake before corner not in them unless you know howl.
- In soft sand and loose gravel, change down a gear , move your weight back and keep pedalling going a straight line to avoid loosing steering control.
- Be lelax: the bike will find its way over most obstacles. If you let it. A relaxed upper body will reduce fatigue and the likelihood of falling off.
- Where possible try and help other members of the group – teamwork get you there faster
- If hiring a bike, bring your own saddle from your home if you have a comfortable one.
Check your passport
It is absolutely standard requirement for entry into any country in the world that you have valided passport at least 06 months beyond the date you complete your travel. If your passport have less than 06 month validity you should to apply a new one before you start you trip.
If you do apply for new one, make sure you can get it before travel date. If your passport has onely few pages left, you should have more pages inser. In most parts of Vietnam, Laos, cambodia you will have to show your passport when check into hotels, resorts, guesthouses and homestays. You will alos neet itwhen you buy airline, tickets, changing airline date,exchange money, traveler’s cheques in local banks.
Make a copy of your itinerary and travel documents
Travel and cycling in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Mynamar. We highly recommend that you should make two photocopies of all your travel documents incase of emergency or if your documents are lost or stolent. Leave one copy with a friend or relative at home. It is always a great idea t let at least one person know excactly where you will be staying and how to contact you in an emergency. Carry the other copy with you stored separately from the originals. Documents to make copies of includes
+ Passport ID page
+ Foreign visa ( if applicable)
+ Approval letter for visa on arrival
+ Some passport size photos
+ Hotel confirmation
+ Airline tickets
+ Driver’s license
+ Credit cards brought on the trip
+ Travel’s check serial number
. if you lose passport or travel documents, you must report it at once to your local guide, tour leader, the local police
and the nearest ambassy or consulate of your country.
Most travelers to Vietnam need to apply to visa
Vietnamese entry visa is required for all foreigners wishing to visit Vietnam except for citizens of countries with visa exemption agreements who may stay up to 30 days with out visa. Exempted countries include most Asean countries
1. Citizens of Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Mynamar and Laos for visit of 30 days at
2. Citizens of Philipphin for visit of 21 days at the maximum.
3. Citizens of Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Denmark, Russia and Finland for visits of 15 days at the maximum.
4. Citizens of Brunei for visit of 14 days at a muximum.
5. Citizens of France holding valid diplomatic official passports for visits of 90 days at the maximum or
serveral visits of 60 days at the maximum.
6. Citizens of Chile holding valid diplomatic or official passports for visit of 90 days at the maximum.
7. APEC Bussiness Travel Card ( ABTC) Holders from Asia – Pacific Cooperation ( APEC) members
economies for visit of 60 days at the maximum.
8. for those who travel to Phu Quoc island – Vietnam: foreigners and Vietnamese nationals bearing foreign passports who enters Vietnam through an international border gate and then travel to Phu Quoc island and Stay in Phu Quoc less than 30 days will also be granted Vietnam visa exemption. Passport must be valid for at least 45 days. After arriving in Phu Quoc Island, if visitors want to travel to other localities or stay in Island more than 30 days, the immigration department will be responsible for issuing visas right spots .All other citizens are require to get an entry visa before arrival or pre approved entry visa(a visa that is issued on arrival at Vietnam’s Internationa Airport): Hanoi international airport, Danang International Airport,Can Tho International Airport, CamRanh ,International Airport in Nha Trang city, Tan San Nhat International Airport in Hochiminh city. You must be arranged before arriving in Vietnam
9: Citizens of United Kingdom, Republic of France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Belarus fo visits of 15 days at maximum.
There are two ways to obtain your visa to Vietnam
1: Apply by yourself at embassy or consulate of Vietnam in your country or to any one of the Vietnam embassies and consulates around the world.
Document needed: passport of 06 months validity, visa application form, visa forms are available directly at the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your country or by sending the embassy or consulate a stamped, self – addressed envelope addressed to the visa section. Fee vary between embassies. It will take 04 to 10working days depending on your country of origin.
2: Visa on arrival.
Incase of there is no embassy or consulate in your country, or you just make Vietnam part of a multi – destination trip, then visa on arrival as your best option.
This is the most likely way to obtain your visa without having to chase down embassies, consulates and the like prior to your trip and is valid alternative when applying for a tourist visa. The entry visa will be stamped on your passportas you pass through our immigration check points at the air port . through valid for 30 days, it can be extended once you enter Vietnam, with this type of visa, you can go to Vietnam by air
When you book an tour you will be issued with a confirmation Invoice. To make sure that all the services which you have booked and paid for are shown on you travel documents and that are names have been spelled correctly. If you have booked additional services like extra night accommodation, transfers, excursions, please make sure that you have been issued with a voucher for these services .
Thanks to policies to promote tourism, custom regulations in Vietnam today are getting simpler than ever before. However, as a sensible visitor, you should pay attention to basic information about essential documentation and things you are obliged and not obliged to bring along on arrival at and departure from Vietnam.
Goods and Products:
You are able to bring the maximum amount of the followings; otherwise, it is mandatory to declare and pay import
Tobacco: 100 gram
Liquor: 1.5 liters
Perfume and jewellery for personal use
Souvenirs and gift items valued at not more than US$ 300
Materials Under Declaration
There are no restrictions on the amount of currency, gold, precious metals and stones; however, you have to declare on the customs forms provided that your luggage includes:
Declare if you bring:
Foreign currency: in excess of US$ 5,000
Vietnam Dong: in excess of VND15.000.000
Gold: in excess of 300gr
Gold and jewellery not for personal use
Video tapes, CDs: CDs and tapes are often kept for screening and returned to you after a few days
Things below should be excluded from your luggage:
Weapon, ammunition, explosives and inflammable objects
– Military technical equipment; drugs, opium and other narcotics
– Anti-government literature; pornographic literature, etc.
On top of this; antiques, some types of precious stones, wild animals, rare and precious plants listed in Vietnam’s redbook could not be exported. Visitors are normally required to fill in arrival-departure forms and also custom forms on condition that you bring things that require declaration or exceed duty-free norm. Nevertheless, from 15 November 2010, arrival-departure forms are exempted for all visitors in all international airports and 12 border checkpoints in Vietnam. Thus, it is likely that may not have to fill in any form when you visit Vietnam.
Please be noted that this is only a brief summary and that customs regulation in Vietnam are subject to change at any time. So, always double check all information before making any important decisions. The Vietnamese Customs maintain an extremely informative website (www.customs.gov.vn/English/Lists/CustomsFormalities/Traveller.aspx) which you can refer to.
How to use US dollars, Vietnamese Dong, Credit and Debit Cards in vietnam is one of the most important and complicated thing for all travelers’mind is Money. Before travelling to Vietnam, please take fee minutes to rea through this informations so that your trip goes smoothly
How to spend money.
The official currency in Vietnam is Dong. The Dong is non-convertible and in december 2014 trades at approximately 21,300 to USD. You can use the website of Vietcombank to see the daily exchange rate. The U S dollar, preferably crisp clean bills, is widely accepted among major shops and restaurants. The downside to this is that the prices will be converted from Dong at the vendor’s chosen exchange rate, which may or may not be close to the official exchange rate, and will be rounded up to the nearest USD, making it more expensive than the cost in Dong.It is illegal to list prices or ask for payment in any currency that is not the Dong.The Euro, Pound and various other currencies are also easy to exchange. If you intend to exchange your home currency for Dong, ensure your notes are clean and undamaged, as banks and other exchanges will not accept any notes which are torn, excessively crumpled or have writing on them. Visa and Master card are becoming more accepted in many of the bigger hotels and restaurants, especially in the larger cities with usually a surcharge of 3%. Make sure that the Vietnamese notes you receive are not torn, this is because many shops and restaurants will not accept them. Also try not to change too much money at one time, as you will end up with a large wad of notes. The largest denomination is currently 500,000 dong (approx. USD 24). Be careful, the 20,000 notes look only slightly different from the 500,000 one but the value is a big gap. Handy tip: Keep 500,000 dong notes separate from your other dong notes. Less chance of confusion then. Other paper notes are 1,000, 2,000, 5,000; 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 and 200,000 Dong. Most are clearly identifiable by colour.
When you are agreeing prices with Taxi drivers or shops, always use Dong to save arguments later about the exchange rate you were expecting. While most will use the official rate of the nationals banks, some do try to argue differently. Always double check the conversion rate you have been offered.Also with such high denominations of note, be careful of common scams run by street sellers where you are short changed by a factor of ten (eg as part of your change, you may receive five 2000 dong notes as “100,000 VND!”).
Outside Vietnam the Dong is normally not accepted (excluding Cambodia and Laos), so before leaving the country remember to exchange any Dong left. In Saigon airport you can change before immigration at two bank booth that use the standard rate plus 2% fee. After immigration there are two more small booths that charge no fee, no receipt and standard rate. On arrival there are two exchange booth with a normal exchange rate and a bunch of ATMs outside turning right.
There are a number of international banks operating in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with 24hour cash withdrawal facilities. Most ATMs enables you to get cash from VISA, MASTER CARD, Cirrus, Maestro, Plus and JCBnetwork. Under Vietnamese law, ATM may only dispense cash in Vietnamese Dong. Current amounts that can be withdrawn at any one time is usually very low, 2,000,000 Dong with an additional usage charge variable from 30.000d up. On March 2014 the situation is getting worse particularly for debit card using MasterCard circuit (Cirrus, Maestro), while Visa debit is accepted by more ATMs. Banks are increasing fee against foreign debit cards, both Techcombank and Vietinbank charge 55.000d (the last even without showing the amount, just a generic message “There will be fees”, or even without a message). Avoid both, use SCB. Vietcom bank usually charges 20,000 dong.In HCM City , the best choice is still (September 2014) Commonwealth Bank (Australia) with zero fee and a max limit of more than 10.000.000d, 4 ATMs around Bui Vien St, no plan to extend the net ouside HCMC. ANZ and HSBC have a 10.000.000d and 4,800,000d but with high fees. Citibank ATM at HCM Airport permits withdrawals of 8,500,000 Dong. Dong A can go up to 5.000.000 Dong but it only accepts card from the Visa circuit, no MasterCard .There is nothing to stop you putting your card back in to get more money out, but remember you are still subject to your own bank’s daily cash withdrawal limits, about 500E for Maestro/MasterCard network in Europe, and you pay your bank fee every time. Also, ensure you tell your bank before travelling to Vietnam if you intend to use your card to withdraw cash from ATM’s. The machines here use the magnetic strip not the more secure chip technology.Note for Australians: Stored value cards where you preload with one or more foreign currencies are generally poor value. To make up for “no fees”, they generally offer a poor exchange rate that contains very large hidden fees. For instance Commonwealth Bank’s Travel Money card charges a hidden fee (via the poor rate) of about 12% on converting from AUD to VND, and the same fee again on converting back to AUD. Getting any unused funds back once you’re home may also be difficult. You can benefit if the exchange rate drops dramatically after you have loaded the card, but it could also go the other way. A way to avoid these fees hidden in the exchange rate is to only load the card with your home currency, which is AUD for Australians. Then you won’t have to pay to convert unused funds back to AUD after the trip, and all conversions to VND while overseas will happen at the time of transaction, using MasterCard’s rate, which is approximately the ‘correct’ exchange rate (what you’d see if you Googled ‘Convert AUD to VND’ – this is what bankers call a ‘mid-rate’ and contains no hidden fees) and you only pay an explicit, flat 3% fee.
Two cards available to Australians are the Citibank Plus visa debit card, which uses your own funds, and the 28Degrees MasterCard, which is a credit card (and which from Jan 1 2014 will charge hefty fees for cash withdrawals even for cards which are in credit). Both have no foreign exchange fees and one of the best exchange rates you’ll get. The 28Degrees card was the Choice Magazine “Travel Card of 2012”.
Note for Italy: Only one fee free debit card exist, CheBanca (Maestro/MasterCard), zero fee, zero cost, standard.
MasterCard exchange rate but like other MC card limited support in Vietnam.Some large stores, hotels and restaurants may accept credit cards but most of them will not! Make sure you check beforehand. Firstly, any establishment that allows credit card purchases will generally only accept Visa and MasterCard. You may have some difficulty in finding places that accept American Express, Diners International or credit cards from other charge card companies. You will most probably be charged a 2-3% transaction fee for credit card purchases. On top of that, you may be charged an international transaction fee through your credit card bank or company, usually 3-5% of the purchase price. If you are an avid traveller, it may be beneficial to obtain a no international fee credit card. The best ones are the Discover It Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or the American Express Platinum Card.
In many instances, paying by credit card may not be an available option or may not be cost effective, but there are certain advantages to paying with a credit card. The first is that Visa and MasterCard give you the best exchange rate of the week. The exchange rate that they will give you will be better than what you will get for cash at the banks. Another important consideration when paying for things with credit card is that there is often inherent insurance provided by either the charge card company (Visa/MasterCard) or your credit card company. For large amount items such as hotels or flights, it may be beneficial to use your credit card, just in case there is a discrepancy or emergency. Depending on your coverage, you can claim or dispute all sorts of things if you pay by credit card – hotel burglary, fraudulent transactions, insurance for jewelry purchases and more. However, be very, very aware of the transaction fees and the associated costs, because the cost of using your credit card in Vietnam may not be justified.
By joining with Travelo Vietnam, you can be sure that safety and well- being is our prime concern.We have built up a network of local offices, and local staffs enable us to maintain constant contact events on the ground in each of our destination, and to ensure thah every aspect of your tour run as smoothly as possible . If you find yourelf worrying far too much about all the terrible things that might h appen to you whislt traveling in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia. Remember that generally Vietnam cycling travel is safe and group travel is more so if you would like us to recommend some advice please contact us by email:All of our components are use in trips. High quality products , imported directly from Factory, workshop in the world, guaranteed by safety
Our tour price do not include insurance. However, it is a condition of joining our tours that traveler are fully insured for any medical expenses they may incur whislt traveling. At the start of your travel the tour guide guide will ask and collect your insurance document and will note down the policy number and emergency contact number.Travel insurance is compulsory for any participant. It is adviced that all travelers should have travel insurance covered before your departure. This will be helpful incase of medical emergency evacuation. It is with go safe. The travel insurance will cover against hospital and medical expenses, the cover rela tes to expenses as a consequence of accidents occurring to the bearer during the period of insurance and /or unforseen illnesses which arise during that period as well.. However travel insurance will cover all your valuable things, luggages , laptop, ipad, camera broken, lost or cut off itinerary once you traveling. Please come to visit WORLD NOMADS.COM to get more details
Concessions are available on some entrance feesfor holders of some students and youth cards. If you have a card or entitled to one, you should bring it along so you can take advantage of any discount.
Health and medical
When you are planning trip in Vietnam. it is important to get up date with all necessary Vietnam travel health information. Here, we compiled some handy tips and advice about how to get prepared for your trip to help to ensure that you stay healthy during your travel. Though we have taken the greatest care to make sure that the information on this page is accurate. It is your responsibility to visit your doctor or medical facility at least 06 months before you depart for full Vietnam travel health information.
Vaccinations are not officially required by the Vietnamese authorities, However, immunization against cholera, hepatitis, typhoid, tetanus, polio, and Japanese encephalitis is strongly adviced. Please consult your doctor for further medical advice. Also bring mosquito repellent. Wearing long sleeved shirts and slacks from dusk onward and avoiding perfume is also recommended. In addition to an ample supply of any prescription drugs you are taking ( a prescription which can be filled incase your pills go missing) bring medicines for: headaches, diarrhea, constipation, insect bites, sorethroats, eyes drops, cuts, etc. Medical standards outside Hanoi and Hochiminh city, SiemReap and luang Prabang are lower than those found in western countries.
Personal medical kits
You should bring along a personal supply of basic medical items such as plaster, aspirin, insect repellent etc. In area of limites or suspect medical facilities, some travellers also like to take their own medical kit which can be used by the local medical staff in case of accident or illness. Our adventure tour leader carry a comprehensive First Aid Kits (include a sterile pack) for emergencies but do not dispense medicine.
Exisiting medical conditions
All persons joining uor tours are assumed to be in good health and to have a sufficient level of fitness to complete their chosen itinerary. If you have existing medical condition or disability you must make this known at the time of booking. If accepted on the tours, you must also make your condition know to the cyclign tour leader.
What to pack.
The first thing to remember when you ara packing for your trip is that your airline baggage allowance is alpmost certainly going to be no more than 20 kg. The next thing to remember is that apart from a few occasions when hotel poster will take your bags from hotel out to tour bus, you will have to carry your own lauggage.
For ease of use, the best type of bag to bring is backpack or hold all, preferably with some sorts of shoulder strap. This type of bag tent to be less bulky and easier to handle than rigid suitcase. Wheeled suitcases might be useful for airport.In addition to your maain bag, we also recommend that you should bringA small day pack for items like camera, water, suncream, hat, soft drink, cakes for getting hungry between meals.A money belt or waist pouch ( bum bag) for your travel document and money.Your luggage, bags and personal item are your own responsibility at all times.
Luggage requirement check list
As a guideline we have compiled a list of things that you might need on your tour. Naturally, you have your own ideas, so please remember that with the exception of the essentials these list are intended as a guide and you should choose which items you wish to bring.
- Keep a note of emergency contact number for your visa or ATM card, and the serial number of any travel’s cheques, if used.
- Travel insurance
- Take a photocophy of your policy with you and make sure that you leave a photocophy at home
- Airline ticket
- Travel document, service vouchers
- Comfortable clothing for cycling allowing your leg to move freely
- Cycling gloves
- Stiff soled cycling shoes
- Insulated water bottle
- Waterroof jacket ( rain is always possible in Indochina)
- Spare inner tube
- Front and rear bike lights
- Cycling water bottle
- Money belt or pouch
- Torch and batteries
- Personal washing/ shaving kit
- Camera and memory cards
- Lightweight wind/ waterproof jacket.
Travelo Vietnam have professional cycling guides who have been passionate about cycling for many years. Cycling team carefully design and newly develop cycling routes for fun and enjoyable to suit all level of cyclists. Being advance for cycling in Vietnam, our team has always worked hard to develop new product for our customers.
More than cycling, we are really excited to show tourists our country, meeting with the people and interacting with the community. You will enjoy local food to experience rural Vietnam at its most authentic. Most of our cycling guides are , full well trained by Vietnam National Administration Departerment . and well educated with First Aid Certification by Vietnam SOS.. They are proud and eager to promote cycling across Vietnam and the region
The official currency in Vietnam is Dong. The Dong is non-convertible and in december 2014 trades at approximately 21,300 to USD. You can use the website of Vietcombank to see the daily exchange rate. The U S dollar, preferably crisp clean bills, is widely accepted among major shops and restaurants. The downside to this is that the prices will be converted from Dong at the vendor’s chosen exchange rate, which may or may not be close to the official exchange rate, and will be rounded up to the nearest USD, making it more expensive than the cost in Dong.
It is illegal to list prices or ask for payment in any currency that is not the Dong.
The Euro, Pound and various other currencies are also easy to exchange. If you intend to exchange your home currency for Dong, ensure your notes are clean and undamaged, as banks and other exchanges will not accept any notes which are torn, excessively crumpled or have writing on them. Visa and Master card are becoming more accepted in many of the bigger hotels and restaurants, especially in the larger cities with usually a surcharge of 3%.
Make sure that the Vietnamese notes you receive are not torn, this is because many shops and restaurants will not accept them. Also try not to change too much money at one time, as you will end up with a large wad of notes. The largest denomination is currently 500,000 dong (approx. USD 24). Be careful, the 20,000 notes look only slightly different from the 500,000 one but the value is a big gap. Handy tip: Keep 500,000 dong notes separate from your other dong notes. Less chance of confusion then. Other paper notes are 1,000, 2,000, 5,000; 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 and 200,000 Dong. Most are clearly identifiable by colour.
When you are agreeing prices with Taxi drivers or shops, always use Dong to save arguments later about the exchange rate you were expecting. While most will use the official rate of the nationals banks, some do try to argue differently. Always double check the conversion rate you have been offered.
Also with such high denominations of note, be careful of common scams run by street sellers where you are short changed by a factor of ten (eg as part of your change, you may receive five 2000 dong notes as “100,000 VND!”).
Outside Vietnam the Dong is normally not accepted (excluding Cambodia and Laos), so before leaving the country remember to exchange any Dong left. In Saigon airport you can change before immigration at two bank booth that use the standard rate plus 2% fee. After immigration there are two more small booths that charge no fee, no receipt and standard rate. On arrival there are two exchange booth with a normal exchange rate and a bunch of ATMs outside turning righ.
There are a number of international banks operating in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with 24hour cash withdrawal facilities. Most ATMs enables you to get cash from VISA, MASTER CARD, Cirrus, Maestro, Plus and JCB network.
Under Vietnamese law, ATM may only dispense cash in Vietnamese Dong. Current amounts that can be withdrawn at any one time is usually very low, 2,000,000 Dong with an additional usage charge variable from 30.000d up. On March 2014 the situation is getting worse particularly for debit card using MasterCard circuit (Cirrus, Maestro), while Visa debit is accepted by more ATMs. Banks are increasing fee against foreign debit cards, both Techcombank and Vietinbank charge 55.000d (the last even without showing the amount, just a generic message “There will be fees”, or even without a message). Avoid both, use SCB. Vietcom bank usually charges 20,000 dong.
In HCM City the best choise is still (September 2014) Commonwealth Bank (Australia) with zero fee and a max limit of more than 10.000.000d, 4 ATMs around Bui Vien St, no plan to extend the net ouside HCMC. ANZ and HSBC have a 10.000.000d and 4,800,000d but with high fees.
Citibank ATM at HCM Airport permits withdrawals of 8,500,000 Dong. Donga can go up to 5.000.000 Dong but it only accepts card from the Visa circuit, no MasterCard.
There is nothing to stop you putting your card back in to get more money out, but remember you are still subject to your own bank’s daily cash withdrawal limits, about 500E for Maestro/MasterCard network in Europe, and you pay your bank fee every time. Also, ensure you tell your bank before travelling to Vietnam if you intend to use your card to withdraw cash from ATM’s. The machines here use the magnetic strip not the more secure chip technology.
Note for Australians: Stored value cards where you preload with one or more foreign currencies are generally poor value. To make up for “no fees”, they generally offer a poor exchange rate that contains very large hidden fees. For instance Commonwealth Bank’s Travel Money card charges a hidden fee (via the poor rate) of about 12% on converting from AUD to VND, and the same fee again on converting back to AUD. Getting any unused funds back once you’re home may also be difficult. You can benefit if the exchange rate drops dramatically after you have loaded the card, but it could also go the other way. A way to avoid these fees hidden in the exchange rate is to only load the card with your home currency, which is AUD for Australians. Then you won’t have to pay to convert unused funds back to AUD after the trip, and all conversions to VND while overseas will happen at the time of transaction, using MasterCard’s rate, which is approximately the ‘correct’ exchange rate (what you’d see if you Googled ‘Convert AUD to VND’ – this is what bankers call a ‘mid-rate’ and contains no hidden fees) and you only pay an explicit, flat 3% fee.
Two cards available to Australians are the Citibank Plus visa debit card, which uses your own funds, and the 28Degrees MasterCard, which is a credit card (and which from Jan 1 2014 will charge hefty fees for cash withdrawals even for cards which are in credit). Both have no foreign exchange fees and one of the best exchange rates you’ll get. The 28Degrees card was the Choice Magazine “Travel Card of 2012”.
Note for Italy: Only one fee free debit card exist, CheBanca (Maestro/MasterCard), zero fee, zero cost, standard MasterCard exchange rate but like other MC card limited support in Vietnam.
Hanoi and northern Vietnam have a distinct winter and summer season. A dryer winter lasts from November to April with average temperatures of 18 – 20ºC. Summer lasts from May to October and is hot and humid with temperatures around 30 – 35ºC. In areas like Sapa, prepare accordingly for the winter months as it has been known to snow on occasion.
Hue and Danang, in the center of the country, have very hot, dry weather from February to August with temperatures reaching over 35ºC. The region can experience quite heavy rainfall between September and January.
Ho Chi Minh City and the south have a hot, dry season from December till April with average temperatures around 28ºC. The rainy season lasts from May through till November. It rarely rains for long periods, even in the rainy season, with most rain coming in short, heavy bursts.
|HANOI (North)||DANANG (Center)||SAIGON (South)|
|Av. Rainfall (mm)|
Do I need a visa to enter Vietnam?
Yes! Except for few countries with visa exemptions (most Asian countries, Korea, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, all others are required to have a Vietnamese visa or a pre-approved entry visa letter supplied before arrival to Vietnam by your Vietnam Immigration Office.
How do I apply for a visa to Vietnam ?
There are 2 ways to get your Vietnam visa:
1. Get your visa in the country where you are living by contacting the visa department at the Vietnam Embassy or Consulate there.
Documents needed: Passport of 6 months’ validity; visa application forms; and probably some others required by the embassy or consulate. Visa forms are available directly from the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your country.
Fees: vary from embassy to embassy.
Duration: It will take between 4 to 10 days depending on your country of origin.
2. Get your visa upon arrival in Vietnam with pre-approved entry visa letter.
Relax and we will handle everything from here for you.* Travelo Vietnam, as your sponsor, will email you the Visa Approval Letter issued by the Vietnam Immigration Office here. When you enter Vietnam by air** you will, fill out a short form, and give the issuing officer two passport photos and a fee. He/she will give you the all important visa and stamp on your passport.
How long does it take? Normally it takes 2-3 days to complete from when we receive all your information.
How much does it cost? This depends on the typr of visa you require (Tourist or Business, 1 or 3 months, Single or Multiple Entry). Please get this information from our Travelo Vietnam consultant.
How long can I stay? The regular Tourist visa are valid for 30 days. You can extend it here if needed.
Documents needed: Please send us a complete copy of your passport via email including your full name as it appears on your passport, date of birth, gender, nationality, passport numbers, passport expiry date, and your arrival date to Vietnam or flight information.
(*) We can only obtain the visa for you once you have decided to book a tour with us. This is set by the Vietnam Immigration Department.
(**) Visa upon arrival can only be arranged when you enter Vietnam by air (Hanoi, Danang, Saigon).
Shopping culture is huge in Vietnam. And, visiting the many local markets, shopping districts, and shopping centres is a great experience. Bargaining is the norm at many of these places. Vietnam offers some excellent products at great value, so be sure to schedule some shopping time while in Vietnam.
Tips for shopping and bargaining in Vietnam
- If the item does not have a price tag, the price is nearly always negotiable.
- When negotiating a price, knock at least three quarters off the top.
- If negotiations are getting you nowhere start to walk, you will be amazed by the number of sellers that will agree on your price while walking away.
- Vietnam has recently changed from paper to polymer (plastic) bank notes, and some of the notes look very similar because of their color, and because of all the zeroes. For example the 20,000 Dong note looks very similar to the 200,000 dong note, and the same goes for the 50,000 and 500,000 dong notes. So It always pays to double check before handing over any money and also when receiving change.
- When you enter into a negotiation figure on a price that you feel good about and shoot for that.
- Always remain positive and smiling throughout the process.
Wandering around and shopping in Hanoi is endless. Look for great bargains and interesting products at these recommended spots:
Dong Xuan Market – Although it is mainly set up for Vietnam wholesalers selling to the numerous Hanoi shops, it is stil a great place to see Vietnam in action, and maybe even get a good buy on something.
Dong Xuan Night Market – On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings Hang Dao and Hang Duong streets are pedestrian only lit up for Hanoi’s largest night market. The market has a range of cheap products including clothes, cell phone cases, and sunglasses. Lots of great local energy and street food to be found along the side streets as well.
Warning: The night market has become notorious for pick-pocketers and bag slashers. Please leave all valuables at your hotel, do not take your passport, do not take a bag or purse, and only take as much money as you will need for the evening. If you do this you will not have any problems at all, and soon those pesky theives will have nothing better to do but go home.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter – The Old Quarter’s shopping possibilities are endless! You can walk around and around for days shopping and bargaining, and filling up your luggage with souvenirs and gifts. Most of the streets are organized to sell a certain product. Look for shoe street, silver street, and kitchen supply street to start off. Hang Bong is well known for its numerous multi-floored art galleries.
Luxury Shopping and Brand Names – Near the Opera House and Metropole Hotel, there are a number of true brand name stores. Find Louis Vulton, Gucci, and others here.
Ho Chi Minh City perhaps some of the best shopping areas in the country. Here are some recommended markets in Ho Chi Minh city:
Ben Thanh Market – Number one on any trip to Saigon should be the historic Ben Thanh Market, located in District One. The variety of items for sale here is quite staggering with the sale of everything from clothing, fabrics, cosmetics, fake Rolexes and coffee, to fruit, vegetables and live animals. As mentioned Dong Khoi Street in District One is the place to go for top quality brand labels, and is well worth a visit. Dong Khoi’s trendy neighbourhood also host some quality Vietnamese art and craft shops, cafés, and nightclubs.
Diamond Plaza – The most popular shopping mall is Diamond Plaza, which has a good rang of quality designer clothing, fragrances and electronics, with a cinema and bowling alley on the upper floors.
Saigon Tax Trade Center – Sitting on the corner of Nguyen Hue and Le Loi Street is the Saigon Tax trade center. The ground floor mostly specializes in locally made gold and silver jewelry. Throughout the store there is great quality local and imported clothing, shoes, cosmetics and tourist souvenirs. Of special note is the 3rd floor where you will find a seller of pirated DVDs along with a reasonable sized supermarket selling a great selection of local and imported foods from around the world.
Parkson Department Store – Parkson Department Store, which opened its doors in 2005, is different from the two mentioned above, as the entire store is owned operated entirely by Parkson, and they sell more of the big ticket items such as plasma TVs and electronics, along with the usual clothing and cosmetics. Great for a quick look if you have the time.
An Dong Wholesale Market (Near China Town) – Shoppers are presented with an overwhelming choice of clothes fabrics, jewelry and food, but with an emphasis on clothing and fabrics. Even though this is a wholesale market store holders are happy to sell to the public and international travelers. Fewer tourists frequent An Dong because it’s a little further away and not as well known as Ben Thanh, however it’s a great opportunity to see a local Vietnamese market in action. The ground level of An Dong specializes in mainly gold jewelry and food, with the upper levels of the market selling clothing and home items.
Binh Tay in Cho Lon (China Town) – Nearly every major city in the world has a China Town and Saigon is no different. Cho Lon District is Saigon’s China Town with the huge Binh Tay wholesale market at its focal point, is bigger than Ben Thanh, and just like An Dong, sellers are happy to sell to everyone. Binh Tay has a huge array of items imported from China (as you can imagine), around the world, as well as locally made items.
Warning: this market is not air-conditioned and not well ventilated so its recommend you get there early in the morning to beat the heat.
Great things to buy in Vietnam
- Ladies have a traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai (long silk dress) and other tailor-made clothing.
- Vietnam is renowned for stunning quality lacqureware pictures, bowls, plates & drink coasters.
- Vietnamese art. Saigon and Hanoi has many great traditional and contemporary art shops offering sculptures, carvings, rattan, and stunning paintings.
- Vietnam’s coffee is some of the best in the world. Renowned for its unique flavor and richness, it’s no wonder the global coffee giant Nestlé reportedly buys a third of the country’s entire coffee export. When purchasing your coffee also get yourself a coffee grinder and a stainless steel coffee filter.
- Shoes and Handbags. All women love their shoes and hand bags and Vietnamese women are no different! You will find an enormous range and variety of shoes and handbags, from reasonable quality brand name rip-offs to original Vietnamese designed masterpieces.
- Men often have a casual or business suite made. Vietnam’s tailors are some of the most skilled in the world and fantastically cheap.
- You can get some very cheap yet practical tourist items. Wooden business card holders, for example, are cheap and compact, and friends and business acquaintances love them.
Crossing the street in Hanoi or Saigon, or any other city in Vietnam can be an daunting. The traffic is maddening and chaotic, there seems to be no traffic rules, and there is not a working cross-walk in the country. To help you cope with the action of crossing the street safely, here are a few tips that we picked up along the way:
- Don’t hesitate. Waiting for a lull in traffic is hopeless, so if you want to get across, just go.
- Don’t stop and make a sudden unexpected turn in opposite direction when you’re in the middle of the street. Keep going at an even pace. Know that traffic will adjust to you.
- Don’t look just one way. Vehicles can sometimes go against the flow of traffic so do pay attention to both directions. Make eye contact with oncoming road users helps see whether they notice you and your movement pattern.
- Don’t run! If anything is going to get you killed in Vietnam, it’s attempting to run across the street. Take it slow, walk in a straight line, keep a steady pace, and traffic will flow smoothly around you.
Crossing the street in Vietnam is anything but pedestrian. But if you approach the problem with a healthy dose of newfound confidence you should live to tell the story.
It is best to travel light in Vietnam. One medium sized bag and a day pack will provide more than enough room to carry everything you’ll need to survive for one month, and still have enough space for the things you’ll buy in Vietnam.
There is extensive consumer goods in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, so do not worry about running out of or forgetting something.
Here is Travelo Vietnam version of a fun and helpful Before-you-go Checklist. Print this page out, stick it to your fridge, and begin checking off all the items.
2 – 3 months before you go:
᩿ Check your passport to ensure that it is valid with at least 6 months prior to the date you will arrive in Vietnam.
᩿ See your doctor to ensure your healthy and fit enough for your trip.
᩿ See your doctor or specialist about any necessary vaccinations.
᩿ Begin a book about Vietnam (fiction or nonfiction is okay).
᩿ Follow Travelo Vietnam on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates, news, and stories about Vietnam.
1 month before you go:
᩿ Look into and purchase the necessary travel insurance
᩿ Scan all your important documents and identification (including your passport) and email it to yourself and a friend at home
᩿ Start an address book of friends that you will want to send postcards to
᩿ Have a few business cards printed (you can make them yourself if you don’t have any)
᩿ Find a friend to water your plants and take care of your pets
᩿ Begin learning a few Vietnamese greetings
᩿ Start practising using chopsticks
᩿ Have our phone unlocked if you are planning to use your phone in Vietnam
1 week before you go:
᩿ Collect, print, and email any other important documents, like your itinerary
᩿ Get a few passport pictures for your visa on arrival in Vietnam (or if you are planning to travel to Cambodia or Laos)
᩿ Collect and record any important / emergency phone numbers – Email Travelo Vietnam for their list as well
᩿ Prepare your lightweight, quick-dry clothing (summer), your warmer comfy clothes (winter months), as well as your sun hat, and swimsuit.
᩿ Prepare flashlight, alarm clock, sunglasses, insect repellent, personal first aid kit.
᩿ Prepare any medications, toiletries, and sunscreen.
᩿ Change money in US dollars (crisp $100 bills is best), or traveler checks (not recommended)
᩿ Prepare your breathable raincoat
᩿ Prepare footwear: sandals, hiking shoes, walking shoes
᩿ Cable locks for your luggage
᩿ Double check that your camera and photography equipment is in good working order
᩿ Buy any gifts you are planning on giving to friends or people you meet in Vietanam
᩿ Start your ‘Departure for Vietnam Countdown’ on Facebook
2 days before you go:
᩿ Reconfirm your flight
᩿ Clean out your fridge of perishables
᩿ Try to get some sleep, because the excitement is building!
1 day before you go:
᩿ Say your farewells
᩿ Zip up that suitcase, it’s time to head to Vietnam!
Safe and happy travels!
Hotels and hostels in Vietnam, as well as many homestays and private hosts must register your presence with the police. You will be expected to hand over your passport, along with your visa number. Many people do not like this one bit. A handy tip is to photocopy your passport details several times, write you visa number on this when you get it on entry, and then hand this copy in instead of your original.
The official currency, the Vietnamese Dong, is non-convertible and is currently at about 21,000 (Mar. 2012) VND to 1 USD. The US dollar, preferably crisp clean bills*, is widely accepted among major shops and restaurants. Travelers checks can be cashed at authorized foreign exchange outlets and banks, and always require presentation of passport. There is normally a 2 to 5 percent transaction fee for cashing travelers’ checks. Visa and Mastercard are accepted in some of the bigger hotels, restaurants, and shops.
There are also a small number of international banks now operating in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. There are also many 24-hour ATM machines now all over Vietnam. The ANZ machines work with all cards and give the highest widrawl amounts.
(*) When changing money you may find that your UDS will not be accepted if it is not crisp and clean. One hundred dollar bills also offer a slightly higher rate.
No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However, visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio. Malaria is present in most of the region and it is advisable to take precautions especially if traveling off the beaten track. Medical facilities are rather limited in all of the country and it is essential to purchase good comprehensive medical insurance policy before traveling in case evacuation is needed.
The cuisine of Vietnam comes as a pleasant surprise to many visitors and is definitely a part of the Vietnam experience not to be missed. One of the characteristics of Vietnamese food is that it is always fresh; being bought the same morning straight from the market. Food is usually prepared with a minimal amount of oil and served with the ubiquitous fish sauce called nuoc mam.
Typical Vietnamese dishes you can expect to try include pho, a type of rice noodle soup eaten for breakfast; cha gio, deep-fried spring rolls; and goi ngo sen, a delicious salad made with lotus stems, shrimp and peanuts. Due to the strong Buddhist influence in Vietnam, vegetarian food is widely available, however fish sauce is in nearly everything.
For those who have never used chopsticks, it might be a good idea to learn before you come to Vietnam – or you can bring your own fork. Not to worry though, spoons are offered at almost every restaurant.
International phone charges are steep in Vietnam and many hotels, especially up-market ones, add extra fees. It is however very easy to pick up a SIM card virtually anywhere in Vietnam. Be sure to unlock your phone before you come or you will find that the SIM card won’t work. Many SIM cards are also 3G.
Faxes can be sent from hotels, business centers and post offices. Again, rates vary. To rent a mobile phone call 821-8465 in Hanoi or 824-2382 in Ho Chi Minh City.
A suggestion for making international calls is to log onto or sign up for an internet phone provider, like skype, before leaving home. There are also ones that have been recently set up in Vietnam.
Email and interent is readily available in almost every hotel. Although, a times it can be a little tempermental as the servers tend to be overloaded.
In Vietnam, tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped, especially if the service exceeds expectations.
If you consider tipping tour guides, drivers, hotel staff, boat crews, waiters or waitresses, and cyclo drivers here are a few tips that will help you along you way:
- There is no standard amount or percentage for tipping;
- People rarely tip at street-food stands;
- If you want to tip the hotel staff, ask if there is a community tip box;
- If someone ever politely declines your tip, thank them, take back your tip, and please do not overly press the issue (this is normal Vietnamese culture);
- A fair tip for tour guides and drivers on a one-day tour is about 100,000 VND, but it is completely up to you;
- For or multi-day tours you might tip more depending on how long the trip was, the quality of your guide, etc.
It is not advisable to drink tap water in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand or Myanmar, but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere. Ice in drinks is generally okay in good standard hotels and restaurants but it is best to avoid it on street stalls or in countryside areas.
To be a more responsibe traavler you are best to bring a refillable water bottle with you and fill it at water stations in your hotel. We at the Travelo Vietnam office have a water station as well, so if you like, you can always come pay us a visit and fill up your water bottle here!
Here are a list of the public holidays in Vietnam. Hotels and transport with be busy at these times with domestic tourists who are travelling with their families.
January 1: New Year’s Day
End of January / Beginning of February: Tet or Vietnamese New Year. The actual dates vary from year to year according to the lunar calendar. Officially 3 days are given for the holiday but many businesses close down for a full week. This is the busiest time of year for traveling in Vietnam and hotels, flights and trains are often full.
April 30: Liberation of Saigon Day
May 1: International Labour Day
May 19: Birthday of Ho Chi Minh
September 2: National Day
Check out the Do’s and Don’ts page to help you avoid some of the social taboos during your visit. Take these into consideration and you will be rewarded with a culturally and socially enriching experience.
Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from 7:30am or 8:00am until 5:00pm or 6:00pm, and often close for lunch between 11:30am and 1:30pm. Some offices also open Saturday morning. Shops open early and close any time between 6:00pm and 10:00pm. Most shops and restaurants are open 7 days a week.
- Obey the road rules if you can work out what they are
- Maintain direction no matter what
- Remember the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
- Expect the totally unexpected
- Do not be surprised when a 10-metre boat slung on a pole between two motor cycles crosses the expressway in front of you.
- Do not be surprised if, despite bird flu, a flock of ducks suddenly fills the entire the highway
- Do not be surprised if a laden bus (or anything else) comes at you on the wrong side of an expressway.
- Red traffic lights often seem to be only advisory
- Do not stop immediately on a red light or someone behind will run into you
- The man with the two full-size refrigerators on the back of his mortor cycle is NOT going to stop at a red light.
- Traffic roundabouts are only a slight inconvenience to traffic
- It’s quite reasonable to go the wrong way up one-way streets
- When doing something totally stupid like going the wrong way up a one-way street or into oncoming traffic, blast away on your horn
- Ride with a finger pressed almost continuously on the horn since this is easier than obeying road rules
- Just because you have four on the bike and are going the wrong way up a one-way street does not mean the police will stop you
- Lights are not used during the day because they use too much electricity
- Traffic lights can often be hidden behind trees or signs
- “No left turn” signs are usually inconspicuous and can be moved from time to time
- Just because you are turning left and on the left side of the carriageway doesn’t mean someone will not pass you on the left to go straight ahead
- Just because someone is on the left side of the carriage-way in front of you does not mean they do not intend to suddenly turn right
- Ditto if they are on the right side of the road
- Just because there is a wall of motorbikes spanning both sides of the road facing you, don’t think you are necessarily heading into a one-way street.
- Just because there is a car bearing down on you on your side of the road doesn’t mean he’s on the correct side of the road
- Crash helmets are for putting in the basket at the front of your bike
- Remember most car drivers don’t own a cars – they own motorbikes and drive accordingly
- Double ditto for bus drivers
- If you are going to be hit by a car make sure it is not a government car
- Avoid foreigners since most are riding Russian bikes and need to keep going or the engine cuts out
- Avoid any drivers wearing a green hat as they are probably xe om drivers and thus feel they are right of way
- What rules?
The main thing to consider is the weather. It can be freezing cold in the Northern mountains, and at the same time incredibly hot and humid on the Southern coast. If you are traveling in the North or the Central Highlands during the winter months definitely bring long pants and a warm coat or sweater (preferably not cotton). It seems that it is always raining somewhere in Vietnam, so lightweight, breathable rain gear is essential.
In the hot summer months, dress cool but conservative. Many Vietnamese cannot understand why foreigners insist on wearing short-shorts, tank tops and sleeveless t-shirts when they have the money to dress well. For the Vietnamese, appearance is very important, so if you are dealing with or as an official of any rank, make sure you are dressed appropriately.
The rule on shoes are a little more lax. Flip flops are a must on your travels. It is okay to wear leather sandals to a business meeting. Proper, broken-in footware is needed if you plan on doing any trekking.
A summer hat and sunglasses are also advised.