9 Tips for Your First Trip in Vietnam - Intentional Travelers

16 Jun 9 Tips for Your First Trip in Vietnam

This is a guest post by Denise Nelson. She shares some travel tips about one of our favorite countries to visit: Vietnam.

Traveling to other countries is a life’s dream. There are so many unique places waiting for you to experience them, and Vietnam is no exception to that! Vietnam might not be known for its beaches or coastlines, but it is known for scenic views, fantastic food, and the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

The last trip I took to Vietnam, I saw a lot of tourists struggling in the country. There’s no need to struggle or stress and with my 9 tips for your first trip, you’ll be ready to enjoy Vietnam!

Eat Street Food

Street food is one of the best ways to save money and have some of the most delicious food in Vietnam. Street food stalls are almost always busy, which makes their food fresher. Since stomach illness is one of the causes of illness to tourists, avoid going to less busy places to save time; stay in line and wait for fresh food that won’t make you sick.

Eating street food won’t just save you money, it’ll also save you time. While you may think, the line is long; you would’ve spent more time waiting at a restaurant with a possible waitlist. Grab your street food, enjoy the fresh and quality taste, and continue your trip.

Bring Your Own Medications

I’m not just talking about your prescription medications. Bring along your painkillers, headache medicine, allergy medications, and whatever else. While there are medications in Vietnam that you can use, the medication is geared to work in that population. The medicine you buy in Vietnam may not be the strength you need, or may not work for you.

The medicine you buy in Vietnam will also cost you much more than it would if you brought it from home. Remember to pack all the medication you think you will need.

Plan Your Itinerary

Know where you’re going, where you want to visit, and how long the train rides, bike trips, or taxi rides will be. The reason it’s best to plan is that everything is not as close as you think it is. For instance, if you wanted to plan a bike trip from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, it’ll take you more than 40 hours.
Therefore, you don’t want to give yourself ten days to view Vietnam on a bike trip if you want to see more than one city in Vietnam. You’re going to need more time.

Learn Transportation Routes

Knowing when your buses will arrive, the times, and knowing they change at night are important. You could get lost in the big cities of Vietnam if you don’t know the bus system. At first, learn the buses you need to take to get to your lodging, then slowly add busses as you go through your itinerary.

Knowing where your going is one thing, knowing how to get there and back is a whole other story.

Smile and Ask for Help

The locals are very friendly, but if you look lost, they won’t offer help. Be confident in yourself, put on your best smile and ask a passerby if you need help. The Vietnamese people are friendly and will smile back at you while helping you to get to your destination.

Smile and be friendly and you’ll have the same done for you while you travel.

Learn to Bargain

The prices are different for everyone in Vietnam. This may seem strange if you come from a western country where prices are fixed, and we don’t haggle. On the streets of Vietnam, street vendors will entice you to look at their goods, and when you ask the price, be prepared to haggle. Some cyclists even find that they are able to haggle down prices for bike parts for their mountain bikes, which help them as they bike the countryside.

Be firm when you name your lowest price and be ready to leave the stall without purchasing anything. Many tourists get overcharged, but if you are willing to walk away, the vendor will respect that, and they may agree to it or call out their lowest price. The choice is then up to you.

Know the Currency

You need to familiarize yourself with the Vietnamese currency: the Dong. Look at the bills, look at the numbers, and be aware. A lot of bills look similar, such as the 10,000 dong compared to the 100,000 dong and 50,000 dong compared to the 500,000 dong.

Many tourists lose money because they don’t look at their bills before handing them over to the vendor. Don’t lose out on your change!

Be Aware of Your Belongings Always

Vietnam is a safe travel destination you can visit, but that doesn’t mean people won’t steal your stuff if it’s lying around. Just like in any other country you visit or live in, do not leave your belongings unattended.

Keep your luggage close until you unpack in your room and keep all your money, shopping, bags, whatever near or on you always. Don’t give someone an opportunity to take your stuff.

Book a Place to Stay in Person

You may think booking an Airbnb or hotel online is the cheapest option. You’re wrong. If you download a map of Vietnam and it shows you lodging in the area, find a place in person and haggle with them about the room. Not only will you end up with a lower price, but you may find yourself with some nice perks as well!

Utilize these tips, and you’ll have no trouble experiencing Vietnam like a pro. The vacation, experiences, and memories you make are what’s important, not sticking to a schedule or a plan. Get off the beaten path, roam free, and enjoy your time in this exotic location.

Are you ready for Vietnam? It’s waiting for you!

About the Author: Hi there! I’m Denise and I’m a mountain biker who enjoys cross-country biking all around the world. I worked as a trainer for 6 years before becoming a co-founder of a private biking lessons school to teach people how to properly train and ride bikes to prepare them for cross-country and any activities they want to indulge in. I own a small fitness store in New York, carrying products I believe in!

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  • Lianne Bronzo
    Posted at 22:02h, 16 June

    I just had a guest post about Vietnam travel tips/itinerary as well! Coincidence 🙂

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