Things to know before travelling to Vietnam

For a generation or more reference to Vietnam meant war. Happily that War and the unification of North and South that resulted in peace happened 40 years ago so it is a distant memory. The natural hospitality and friendliness of the Vietnamese has shone through ever since and the gems found throughout the Country are once again on show to everyone including the huge numbers who now travel from different parts of the world to enjoy everything from the French colonial architecture, largely from the 19th Century, the religious sites, museums and the natural beauty to the cuisine and the stunning beaches.

Vietnam tour packages include the highlights of the Country and good tour companies can accommodate groups that have particular interests and therefore their travel in Vietnamis tailored to those interests. The country has varying seasons. The latitudes it covers mean that when there is rain in the far north the rest of the country may well be dry. Rain is only an inconvenience, not a reason not to travel to Vietnam or indeed include the country in Indochina tourpackages. By all means do your research as you begin to consider Vietnam for a holiday and feel free to ask any questions about what Vietnam tour packages provide. In the meantime here is some advicefor you to get a better idea of what to expect both from the people and the places.

travel in vietnam

•    Bargains. Everyone likes a bargain and in many walks of life you will be able to negotiate from the first price you are quoted. Prices will vary from city to city and remote areas to popular towns and resorts. It is natural that locals will seek extra profit from overseas tourists who travel in Vietnam. How determined you are to get the best price varies from person to person. The main thing is that you are happy and the vendor doesn’t lose face in the negotiation.

•    Cuisine. While Vietnamese food has not spread as widely as Chinese, Indian and Thai it is delicious and sold in the street as you will find in many Asian countries. There are some things that may not be to your taste but every busy street vendor will be selling fresh food and hence there will be no worry over hygiene. There are restaurant guides and if you are on Vietnam tour packages a great deal will be organised for you. However if you have free time and need a restaurant go into one where the locals are already eating; testimony enough.

•    Look around. One of the thingsaboutIndochina tour packages you should always expect the unexpected and in your free time you should go looking for it. That does not mean good advice includes exploring strange places at night; you wouldn’t at home either.

•    The latest news. If you keep your eyes open for posters or leaflets, you may see something to interest you that is current.

•    Differences. When you travel in Vietnamyou can expect new foodand the drinks, soft and alcoholic. You may see familiar labels you but the products will have been produced for the local market; they may be different from home.

•    Touring. Your itinerary will be fairly comprehensive and all arranged if you are on Vietnam tour packages. Ifyou have some free timedon’t be worried about joining a local tour.

•    Transport. Buses are cheap and the best way to travel although they may be crowded. If you get in a taxi be certain you know the cost before you start your journey.

•    Health. Health facilities will not as good as home, in particular in remote areas. Carry a first aid kit and if you feel the need for particular medication take it with you when you travel to Vietnam.

•    Small time crime. You should be careful as pickpockets frequent towns and cities, especially tourist areas. Keep documents safe and only carry things you need. It is best to have photocopies of valuable documents like your passport and tickets and to have a hotel safe deposit box.

•    Approach from strangers. This will happen regularly and often they mean no harm but as a tourist,strangers will see you as an opportunity to earn money. Just politely refuse any approach and they will usually go away.If all your arrangements are made by a tour company then there will only be the odd occasion when you can look lost and needing help.

travel to vietnam

There are distinct regions in Vietnam with its two major cities, Hanoi the capital and the larger former capital of South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). All Vietnam tour packages include them both while Indochina tour packages are likely to do so as well.

There is over 3,000 kilometres of coastline with the seasons ensuring that if rain is expected in one part of the country it will be warm and sunny in another part. You need to decide on your itinerary accordingly.

Here are some of the highlights of travel to Vietnam and if there is something a little off the ‘’beaten track’’ that interests you then mention it.

•    Hanoi is a beautiful city with wide boulevards of green, a legacy of the colonial times when the French were in control. There are fine examples of their architecture that are just part of this beautiful city. Rural life with villages where the local farmers live as they have done for generations lie immediately you leave the city.

•    Hoan Kiem Lake within the city boundaries legend tells was where King Le Loi received and then returned a sword which he used to repel the Chinese.

•    Halong Bay is due east of Hanoi. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site with over 100 kilometres of coastline, numerous bays and islands. Tiny fishing villages are scattered along the coastline and a cruise in this area is an essential part of any Vietnam holiday.Cat Ba,the largest of the Islands, has great beaches, tropical green forests with caves, rivers and valleys.

•    Sa Pa Terraces are in the northern highlands. This is a poor region of Vietnam where the locals grow rice and vegetables. They sit in the Muong HoaValley below Fanispan Mountain which at over 3,000 metres is the highest peak of the whole of Indochina.

•    The Northern Highlands near the Chinese border is the place for those that want to explore. This region is great for trekking and climbing

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•    Danang is the third city of Vietnam located in the centre of the country. It is the main industrial city in Vietnam and has good transport connections for trading. . It is a great base for exploring some significant sites of interest reasonably close by including the ancient capital, the imperial city of Hue, the old town of Hoi An and the ruins at My Son, the former site of over 70 temples and stupas, the centre of the Champasak Kingdom over 1,000 years ago. UNESCO has recognised the value of these places in world history and culture.

•    Central Coastal Resorts offer relaxation on great beaches perhaps in the mid-point of a tour when you need to build up your energy again. Nha Trang has developed from being a tiny village where fishing and agriculture were the main activities to a significant coastal resort attracting many tourists. Diving is especially popular as is the 3.3 kilometre cable car ride over the water.

•    Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Central Vietnam has the country’s largest cave, Son Doong, towards 9 kilometres long. It is close to the Cambodia border in a limestone region. It was only discovered in 1991 and contains a significant subterranean river. There is only a number of permits to visit each year and the monsoon rains even then may make it inaccessible

•    Cu Chi Tunnels remind everyone who sees them of the Vietnam War. The Vietcong used them to shelter from the Americans. They were a relatively sophisticated complex of tunnels where people had often to live for day on end. Everything needed for life was there though they could hardly be described as comfortable. Some of the tunnels are open to the tourist though they have had to be enlarged to accommodate tourists who are generally bigger than the Vietnamese who used them.

•    Ho Chi Ming City also bears evidence of both the French and the Americans. The city is a major economic hub with traditional architecture side by side with modern skyscrapers. Chinatown is fascinating and there are plenty of pagodas to add a third dimension to the skyline.

•    The Mekong Delta is the most fertile region of Vietnam. The river is navigable from the East Sea right up to Phnom Penh, the Capital of Cambodia. Inevitably the Mekong features strongly in Indochina tour packages. It is a delight to cruise on the river and see the daily life of locals. There are numerous small channels as well as those that accommodate the main traffic.

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