Vietnam is a small country in Southeast Asia but it has many interesting locations for travelers to visit. 

Ever since I was young, my family had a tradition to travel at least once a year to explore new places in Vietnam. Even still, I have not visited all of the most famous destinations in my home country. Tourism in Vietnam keeps growing and there are endless amounts of places and activities for you to experience. 

From the perspective of a local with 20-years experience traveling across the country, here are my tips to make the most out of your trip in Vietnam.

Everything starts with a greeting in Vietnam

"Xin chào" means "Hello" - Image source: internet

“Xin chào” means “Hello” – Image source: internet

It is always good to start with simple things: How to greet the local people with their own language. 

When you meet someone, just simply say “xin chao”, which means “hello”. Vietnamese are very friendly and always like to interact with travellers, but the majority of the population can not speak English. Knowing the local language, even just a few useful phrases, will be appreciated by the locals. 

(If you are interested in learning Vietnamese to make the best advantage of your trip, there are Vietnamese language courses in Helsinki) 

Keep some Vietnam Dongs on hand while travel around

Vietnamese Dongs – Image source: internet

It is important to have cash while traveling in Vietnam since card payment is not yet widely used in the country. More importantly, you should try to keep small change in your pocket. It would be super helpful when dealing with purchases from local street vendors or paying for transportation such as bus, taxi, etc. 

Currency in Vietnam uses bigger numbers than most Western countries. For example, the largest note is 500,000 while the notes from 10,000 to 50,000 are used most daily. Therefore, having a large amount of money on hand is inconvenient, not to mention risky. 

Do notice that dirty or damaged notes are not accepted sometimes since they could be devalued. So, checking the change when you purchase anything is never a bad idea. 

You can easily exchange money at the airport, local banks or gold jewelry shops.

Buying Vietnamese sim card

Different types of sim cards for travellers in Vietnam – Image source: internet

Buying a travel sim card is very convenient and affordable. With a local sim card, you can contact your hosts, hotels and other local services easier. Moreover, the operators in Vietnam provide very low cost internet connection that you can use to access mobile app services such as  motorbike taxi and food delivery. Some suggestions are Grab, GoViet and FastGo. 

Although it is very easy to buy a travel sim card at the local telephone shop, I would recommend to buy at the airport since they have clearer instructions and suitable packages with internet access. The price of sim card at the airport is affordable ( around 8-10 euros for unlimited data included) 

The most trusted mobile network operators are Viettel, Mobifone, and Vinaphone.

Being friendly is key

You will find that all along Vietnam, there is always a friendly atmosphere and helpful people. While in public transport, you should try to have conversations with the locals, especially young people because they are more likely to understand English. Locals have a lot to offer when it comes to sharing experiences and recommending things to do such as places to visit and foods to try.

Do ask the price before purchase and bargain in the flea market

Night market in Ha Long Bay – Image source: internet

If you buy anything at a flea market or from street vendors, you should always confirm the price before making a decision. Bargaining is an art! I would suggest you get familiar with the prices in Vietnam from friends or your tour guide and check the quality of what you are about to purchase. It is true that sellers will ask for higher prices from foreigners but you also find high quality products with reasonable prices. 

Use eye contact while crossing the street

Crossing the streets in Vietnam take courage – Image source: internet

The traffic in Vietnam is quite infamous for being chaotic and messy. Many visitors could be afraid of the chaos and share bad experiences about traffic in big cities. So my tip for you is to keep eye contact with drivers while crossing the street and put your hand up high so that they know you are about to walk across.

Flights for long distance trips within the country

Image source: internet

Flying is the recommended way for travellers to cover long distances such as between Ho Chi Minh and Da Lat, or Da Nang and Ha Noi. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, the prices for domestic flights are very cheap. For example, a flight from Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang could cost as low as $10 with a low-cost airline. Secondly, road trips in Vietnam are time consuming because there are very few highways in Vietnam. 

Experience the food tours

Vietnamese Food Tours – Image source: internet

Vietnamese cuisine is amazing and well known for its street food. People eat out as often as eating at home because the food is cheap and the menu of each restaurant is diverse and creative. 

There are so many different types of food available from all the regions of Vietnam, that it’s easy to get lost in the amount of options. That’s why food tours have become a popular service for travellers. It’s easy to find examples of food tours in Vietnam from the internet, and you can find private tour guides for yourself on TripAdvisor.

Interested in travelling in Vietnam and Vietnamese culture?

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About BiziVietnam
BiziVietnam is the first ever non-profit organisation in Finland dedicated to empowering cultural connections and strengthening the Vietnamese cultural footprint in locals, internationals and Vietnamese people in Finland; along with promoting cooperation opportunities between Finland and Vietnam. Follow us on Social Media for the latest news and upcoming events.