Things to know before traveling to Vietnam

For the first time traveling to Vietnam, a beautiful country of stunning food, water buffaloes, huge rice paddies and xe om, you might know very little about it all. But you can learn very quickly in a little over a week. Indochina travel tours

  1. Beware of counterfeit tour agencies
Find a reliable tour agency to enjoy the beauty of Vietnam
Find a reliable tour agency to enjoy the beauty of Vietnam-source: Internet

Don’t let what I’m about to share deter you as still, there are so many nice Vietnamese. Among all the countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam will force you to be more streetwise and raise your guard. In Vietnam, counterfeit agency scams and theft are a lingering problem. There is an abundance of counterfeit tourist agencies ranging from fake tourist agencies to airlines shops, which use the name of some reliable reputable companies. However, they are not likely to be very dangerous, just trying to nab business from more popular companies. Vietnam travel tours

Tip: On deciding upon agencies to go with, use your best judgement.  Don’t trust store front signs and have the address if you are looking for a specific store.

  1. There are curfews
There are curfews in Vietnam
There are curfews in Vietnam-source: Internet

Almost all of cities, even big cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi capital city seem to go to bed at around 11:00 pm (though it might be earlier).  Even though clubs and bars stay open, businesses and restaurants will surely be closed. This means, guesthouses and hostels also close relatively early. Some have a doorbell outside you can ring or a night guard to let guests in. Otherwise, front desk person is sound asleep on their cot in the lobby, Internet and lobby lights are off.

Tip: Confirm with your guesthouse/hostel whether there are curfews or not. Ask if you come home late, what protocol is. Tell your guesthouse that you may be arriving late so they will not give your room away if you have had reservations but you suspect your flight may arrive late.

  1. Not from an agent or your hotel, buy your train tickets directly at the train station.
Train station in Vietnam
Train station in Vietnam-source: Internet

Traveling by train is such a great way to peacefully and safely see the pastoral scenery without the constant honking. You will love the train in Vietnam! If your hotel asks for your next destination, they might want to arrange your bus ticket or flight, or buy your train ticket, for a substantial “service fee” (generally, VND 200,000 (~$9)/ ticket). They will tell you that it is the actual cost of the ticket. Disappointedly, it is a lie.

Spend 30 minutes of your time, hire a xe om (motorbike taxi) to bring you to the train station and directly purchase your tickets there. Or, buy your ticket out of town right away when you arrive by train. Don’t go to the train station without ticket expecting to hop on the next train as tickets do tend to sell out days in advance.

  1. Riding a motorbike is the best way to discover Vietnam
Riding a motorbike is the best way to discover Vietnam
Riding a motorbike is the best way to discover Vietnam-source: Internet

Getting out to the countryside on your own two wheels is one of the highlights of Vietnam and definitely an unforgettable experience. Rent your own for $7 (automatic) or $5 (manual) throughout this beautiful country. To avoid stalling in the middle of nowhere, don’t forget to fill it up with gas. As there are some very dangerous routes such as Sapa and Mui Ne, be sure to have travel health insurance and to be ready in the case of an emergency, bring your information card. Please don’t if you are apprehensive to drive your own. You will become a worse driver due to the lack of confidence. Pay a little extra to get a local accompany with you on a day trip (around $13 per day).

  1. Avoid packaged day tours as much as possible
Avoid packaged day tours as much as possible
Avoid packaged day tours as much as possible-source: Internet

It is tempting, as, all over the backpacker districts, these easy options are advertised. Even though trips to the My Son ruins, the Mekong Delta, the Cu Chi Tunnels and the DMZ cost as low as $5/day, all over the route, they will make unnecessary stops to give you a great chance to spend money at their bathrooms, gift shops, friends’ restaurants, etc. It’s such a big fat waste of your time!

Brave it on your own rented motorbike or spend the extra money to hire a private car. You are basically a prisoner for a day once you pay the money and get on the cramped little bus. Choose your own way!

You can read more:

I Love Vietnam.

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