Vietnam - things you need to know before traveling
Vietnam is a very special country, get ready for the most chaotic traffic you ever experienced, interesting food where word vegetarian is still very strange, best coffee I have ever tried and probably country where light decorations are something very natural.
My trip started in Da Nang, next stop was Ho Chi Minh, than flying to the island named Phu Quoc and finished my trip in the capital Hanoi. Vietnam is a quite big country and in case you would love to visit at least all the main parts it will take you a while. Even though I have spend quite some time in that country there is still a lot to explore.
Let me start with the basic INFOs that you need to know to experience Vietnam as smooth as possible.
VISA: I am coming from Slovenia, which country is a part of EU and I did need a visa to enter a country. On this web page you can check weather you need a visa or not. First you need to apply for eVISA online where you get approval letter that you can enter the country. But this still doesn’t mean that you have official VISA to enter. When arriving to the airport go to the Visa on arrival counter to finish the process. Prepare 2 passport sized photos 4x6cm and an amount of USD for stamping fee ($25 for single entry; $50 for multiple entry visa). Once you get visa in your passport, you are good to go. Start this process at lest 48h before your arrival.
Get yourself a SIM card right at the airport, it will not cost you much but it will save you a lot of time. I mean those tips are very useful whatever Asian country you are planing to visit. Since google maps will probably be your best friend by the time of your visit and to move around smoothly you will need data on your cell phone. Make yourself a favour and buy that sim card. At the airport you will have many offers and choose the best one for you.
Sometimes moving between cities in Vietnam can be pretty challenging, since buses are not the best option and distances can be pretty long but you can give it a try. I was going around mostly with airplane from one bigger spot to another and with the bike/car or by foot around the cities. Most of the time I was flying with Jetstar Asia, who’s flights are pretty much affordable. There is another new airline company Boamboo but it is quite hard to deal with this company if you don’t have a Vietnam bank account. You can pay for your ticket in the bank at the counter. So far for me the best way to find my tickets is still Skyscanner, Kiwi or Xpedia. Be careful when packing for Vietnam, mostly only carry on is included.
While walking KEEP your PHONE in your POCKET! I was walking around Ho Chi Minh city and holding my phone in my hand since I was using Google maps to move around and while standing on the traffic light one of many motor bikes passed me by but I didn’t expect that one of those “bikes” will try to pull my phone out of my hand to rob me. Luckily this person didn’t manage to steal my phone, obviously I was holding my phone hard but I heard many stories after this incident how people lose their phones while taking photos or just holding their phones in hands. So be careful and keep your phone in a safe place.
Forget about CREDIT CARDS! Most of restaurants, cafes and basically almost every local place uses mostly cash. I did use ATM a lot and it worked great for me. The more you go out of the city the less you can use your card. So prepare yourself and have enough of cash.
Crossing the road can be pretty difficult. As I mentioned I have never experienced such a bad traffic and it was very very challenging to walk around. I was trying to move very slow when crossing the road but as I was told later on the best way to cross it is just to walk straight not even look left or right, be very dominant and just walk. I was told it is like a game of power. Just be careful whatever option you decide to choose.
GOOGLE TRANSLATOR will be your best friend probably. Not many people speak english, I would say almost none. The easiest way to communicate is to have open voice google translator all the time and just talk with locals through it. Otherwise is just too time consuming to get anything you need and can happen that you will get a wrong information etc.
These are some basic tips for you to make your visit more comfortable. Now let me get to serious business and tell you more about my trip HERE.