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7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Travelling to Vietnam

Travelling to another country is a rewarding experience that anyone should try at least once a year or even once in a lifetime. Visiting places that offer a much different culture than yours is even more exciting with the new sights and sounds to discover that will broaden your horizons.

But for many people, this can be a traumatic experience especially when they get scammed by the locals and won’t even have a clue what happened because most people don’t speak English.

Take Vietnam for example. There are many stories of scammed tourists throughout the country. But that shouldn’t hinder you from visiting the country’s lovely places. Learn from the various experiences of other travellers summarized below.

Vietnam Sleeps Early

This should be the first thing on your list of “Vietnam travel tips.” While on a holiday, most of us like to stay up late and party hard. Be prepared, Vietnam’s nightlife is a bummer.

Most places, including restaurants and shops, shut early. The streets aren’t safe and you are most likely to find your hostel gate locked if you come home after midnight. Though some bars and clubs try hard to act as bastions of a vibrant party culture, they disappoint.

Photo CC by JustinJensen

Vietnamese are Skilled Motorists

You will be surprised to see the kind of things Vietnamese carry on their motorbikes – furniture, food, pets and what not! 90% of the total Vietnamese traffic consists of motorbikes.

You may feel tempted to mount one of the bikes, don’t. Vietnamese streets are a mayhem of trucks, cars and motorbikes. You will fall down before you know.

Ditch Elite Restaurants for Street Food

Vietnamese street food isn’t always hygienic but it is tasty for sure. A good idea is to eat at a food cart or local street joint where the food is cooked in front of you.

Try Pho, it’s Vietnam’s national dish. It is a kind of soup made with nutritious and fragrant rice and served with fresh herbs. It tastes best when served hot. While you may eat from street carts, make sure you do not drink from taps. Always buy bottled water.

Photo CC Michael Cory

Beware of Scam Artists and Street Pilfers

You have been warned. Hagglers usually makes to the top of “7 things I wish I knew before travelling to Vietnam” list. Keep all your belongings close to you. Vietnam is full of purse-snatchers and street thieves. If you are out late at night, keep a close watch. Do not keep your phone on the table, hold it in your hands.

Hang your camera, do not keep it inside your bag. If you are doing a bus journey, hold everything you own and sleep. Do not leave your belongings in the hostel. Pack light for this trip and carry your baggage with you to everywhere you go.

Don’t Book Your Tours Online

Do not book Vietnam travel packages online. This is an easy way to get caught out by fraud. Counterfeit travel agencies use the name of big brands to rob you of your money. This happens because there seems to be no strict rules on trademark rights in the country.

If you book tours online, you could easily end up paying a lot more than what you would pay if you booked locally after reaching Vietnam.

Photo CC Nathan O’Nions

Handling Dong Will Give You a Hard Time

Vietnamese currency, dong, will drive you crazy. The conversion rate is insane with 31,610 VND equivalent to 1 GBP. You will have a very hard time making the conversions in your mind. Frankly speaking, you are advised to not even try.

The more important thing is to make sure you know your notes well. The zeros on the Vietnamese dong are confusing. The 10,000 dong note looks a lot like the 100,000 dong one. A good way is to recognize notes by their colour.

Vegetarians are Welcome

There are many good Vegetarian restaurants in Vietnam and they also have elaborate menus. Vietnam sells meat substitutes. It is probably the only place in the world where you will get vegetarian shrimps or chicken. The food in these Vegetarian restaurants is tasty yet inexpensive.

Vietnam is a splendid place to visit and discover. Just make sure to know how you can be safe in the country so that you can have memorable trips worth cherishing.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

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