Vietnam offers accommodation for every budget and taste, from basic hostels to luxury resorts. Remember your passport. All accommodation will ask for yours and some may keep it until you check out.
Bargaining with local traders and drivers is important if you don’t want to pay excessive amounts. This being said, Vietnam isn’t infamous for ripping off foreigners.
As will be mentioned the climate in Vietnam can get really hot and wet! Be sure to bring cool clothing as well as rain gear.
The first impression that you’ll probably get is of how manic the traffic is. Crossing busy streets can seem really daunting. But if you wait until traffic has subsided a bit and cross the road slowly and steadily, the motorbikes will avoid you.
While crime, especially violent crime, isn’t a serious issue be careful of carrying a handbag or using your cellphone on the street. Occasionally those items are snatched by thieves who then speed away on a motorbike. Rather carry your things in a backpack and when on the pavement or street avoid using your phone.
Because climates vary across Vietnam, there isn’t a bad time to visit: when one region is wet and humid, another will be experiencing a sunny and pleasant temperate climate.
North Vietnam has 2 distinct seasons. Summer lasts from May to October when it is warm and humid. This is also when the region experiences its highest rainfall. Winters are cool and misty, and last from November to April. During the coldest months (January – March) temperatures may fall as low 10°C.
In Central Vietnam the weather can swing dramatically on any given day. The hot and dry season starts in January and lasts until August. During the winter season, between September and December, rainfall increases. In October and November, Central Vietnam is the most likely zone to be hit by typhoons.
Southern Vietnam is warm all year-round, however the climate is split into the wet and dry seasons. The wet season starts in November and ends in April. The months from June to August receive tropical monsoons causing some serious flooding, especially in the Mekong delta. The wet season lasts from May to October.
The local currency is the Vietnam Dong (VND). Since currencies remain volatile, it is difficult to attach a value to the Dong. However one thing is certain. In Vietnam, everyone can be a millionaire! One million dong is about €40 ($45).
ATMs and currency exchange offices are available all over the country. In big cities and touristy areas, you can settle some bills in USD.
Tip: do not accept damaged or partially destroyed banknotes, you may find it difficult to spend them.
Trains are reasonably priced and fairly comfortable if you get an air-conditioned carriage (and a sleeper on overnight routes). But note there are no real express trains.
Plane: Very cheap if you book ahead (often less than the equivalent bus fare) and the network is pretty comprehensive. However cancellations are quite common.
Car: Very useful for travelling at your own pace or for visiting regions with minimal public transport. Cars always come with a driver as part of the rental deal.
Bus: On the main highways services are quite good, although it’s not a particularly relaxing way to travel. Out in the sticks things deteriorate rapidly. Open-tour buses are very inexpensive and worth considering.
Vietnam allows nationals of 23 countries to enter Vietnam without a visa for varying time periods. French people for example benefit from a 15 day visa exemption. However, all visitors must hold a passport valid for 6 months after the return date.
Travelers visiting Vietnam can either submit an application at a Vietnamese embassy or apply for a visa online and collect it at the airport on arrival in Vietnam.