Travel tips for Vietnam
Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
127Trip End Aug 01, 2007
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We are sorry to be departing Vietnam; it was a wonderful travel experience for us. Although we've spent almost three weeks here, there are a lot of places we missed and sites we would have enjoyed spending more time exploring. But since we only have a few months left to get to another ten nations, onward we go into China...
Our travel tips for Vietnam.
Vietnam is a surprisingly easy, logistically simple, culturally rich, and amazingly rewarding place to experience Asia. Especially for an inexperienced traveler, it is a great introduction to this diverse and vibrant region, offers a lot of bang of the buck, contains a huge variety of historical and natural sites, and can be negotiated with relatively little hassle.
As an independent traveler, Vietnam is an extremely simple nation to get around. There is an established and highly competitive network of travel agencies, tour providers and bus companies that provide any service you might need at reasonable prices. Making your own arrangements is very easy since many hotels have English websites and on-line booking capabilities and the dozens of "travel cafes" in every destination make en route planning a breeze.
We felt safe everywhere we traveled in Vietnam. Crime rates are quite low and you are far more likely to be scammed into overpaying for services by unscrupulous travel agents than be a victim of any type of violent crime. Avoid troubles with travel agencies by getting a detailed written receipt for any ticket, tour, or service you purchase.
Basic English is spoken and understood by almost every person working in tourism-related industries, but most of the general population knows little or no English. Important signs, leaflets, and public information are usually printed in English.
The Vietnamese people were universally friendly and welcoming to us. You might think that there would be some animosity or grudge against Americans for the death and destruction wrought by the war. We never felt the slightest bit of hostility or ill will, and even encountered many locals with family and friends living in the States.
Vietnam is a very cheap country to travel in. We'd say that pretty much everything here costs about ¼ to ½ of a comparable good or service in the USA. Food, transport, and guided tours are ridiculously inexpensive and hotels in Vietnam offer some of the best value for the money of anywhere on earth. For around $15-30 here you can expect a spotlessly clean, centrally located, well-appointed room in a midrange hotel usually including breakfast. As your budget goes up, the amenities increase dramatically. Every city has numerous ATMs at which you can make withdrawals to purchase the loads of reasonably-priced handicrafts and custom tailored clothing available for sale.
Geographically, Vietnam is a very long and narrow nation with most places of interest to a tourist lying along a straight line. To save a lot of time backtracking it would be prudent to plan a one-way itinerary from South to North or vice versa. There can be some long bus rides, but domestic flights are cheap and can save you days of sitting in packed coaches.