Traffic in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Vietnam Travel Tips and Advice

Travel tips and advice provide you with useful information as to deal with your daily routine while traveling in Vietnam such as money for food and drinks, for your shopping, for taxis; what you should do and don't for your security and for your safety.

It's best you are armed with both USD in cash and VND. VND should be limited to USD 50/person at a time when exchanging currencies. Be sure you have enough cash at weekends, as most banks are closed. VND is useless outside of Vietnam.

If possible check the exchange rates at http://www.vietcombank.com.vn and change your money at an authorized exchange bureau who would normally give better rates than banks. You can withdraw money from your credit card account via ATM or at bank counters. Via ATM, you'll get VND only; at bank counters, you'll need a passport along. At bank counters, sometimes you get USD and sometimes VND. It's just due to the financial crisis that most banks have difficulties with USD in cash since 2007.

Credit cards (Visa & Master) are accepted at fine-dining restaurants and most shops in Ha Noi, Hoi An and Sai Gon. Some charge an extra of 2.75% or 3%, but most have got the fees included in the price already.

It's better you pay for goods/services in the currency it's quoted, if you don't want to get low exchange rates. For drinking water, soft drinks you'd need about USD 2-3/person/day (or VN 20 000 - 50 000). An average meal at a tourist standard restaurant may cost you from USD 6 - 10 excluding drinks; at "local" restaurants, it costs less, and at fine-dining ones, it costs more. Getting around each city by taxi or motorbike, taxi should normally cost no more than USD 2-5 at a time. (all your hotels have good locations anyway.). Make sure the taxi has a meter and it's turned on when departing, otherwise a written price should have been agreed upon beforehand.

We don't haggle at restaurants while do at shops and in the market. Some big shops have fixed prices which mean they don't haggle, but still, sometimes, you may like to ask for a discount. Check a few shops before making decision. It seems Hoi An is still a shopping paradise in Vietnam where you get things nicely done with a price that you don't bother caring much about the quality. Better avoid shopping sessions before 1000-1100 A.M: just don't make yourself to be the first one at a shop on the day.

And whatever you do, keep not-necessarily a big smile present (which may not make much sense in some cultures), things will be on your side most of the time in Vietnam!

Also, security in Vietnam is just normally good, even for female travellers. Try to avoid dark streets at night. And beware of the traffic, of pickpockets, and of drive-by snatchers! Again, no need to be paranoid about these things, just use your common sense.