Vietnam is a very popular country in Southeast Asia, with many backpackers worldwide adding it to their travel bucket lists. And this is not surprising, considering how gorgeous it is. Did you know that Vietnamese people are known for their optimistic outlook in the face of adversity? No matter the difficulties, they keep a positive attitude, which allows them to make the most of the resources and possibilities they have.
Vietnam has a rich history and culture, and it’s also a country where adventure awaits you – there are different activities you can do there, whether climbing the heights, scuba diving, or indulging your taste buds in delicious Vietnamese food. If you’re planning to go to Vietnam soon, take a look at the following list of 7 things you should know beforehand so that you can avoid pitfalls and ensure you have a good time.
Start by applying for a visa
Entering Vietnam is not easy – in fact, the process will be tedious, particularly if you are planning to stay there for more than 15 days. So, before you travel to Vietnam, make sure to apply for your Vietnam evisa. Luckily, the process is straightforward, and all you have to do is prepare all the necessary documents (your passport’s photocopy, your photograph, and a bank card) and complete the application for the visa online.
The visa is valid for 30 days from the day you first enter the country, and the cost is reasonable, including fees and processing. Please check Visagov.com for more information about a Vietnam visa and how you can apply for it.
Keep in mind that Vietnam is located in a tropical zone, so tropical illnesses affect the country. Therefore, it’s essential to visit your doctor before travelling to the country so you can get the necessary vaccinations that will keep you safe. Also, if you’re visiting rural areas, you’ll want to arrange anti-malarial medication.
Be aware of the mosquitoes in Vietnam – they can carry dengue fever, leading to mild or severe symptoms. Once you arrive in the country, you shouldn’t drink tap water, as it can be contaminated and can make you sick, leading to conditions like gastroenteritis, giardia, hepatitis A and so on. Use antibacterial gel as frequently as possible to keep stomach bugs away and a medical face mask to prevent respiratory infections.
Prepare a multi-destination itinerary
Given that Vietnam is a very diverse country, our advice is to create a rough itinerary to get the most out of your experience in the country. Keep in mind that Vietnam isn’t a country that you can explore in a few days – if you have more time on your hands, ideally, you should stay in Vietnam for at least three weeks to visit its highlights, such as Hanoi, Ha Long, Sapa, Da Nag, Mekong River Delta, and so on.
When creating your Vietnam itinerary, consider the travel time. Suppose you move from one town to the nearest one; it’s essential to remember that you won’t find any late-night buses to take you to the destination. Travelling to the next town takes around 4-5 hours, so you should take the first (or the last) bus and reduce travel time. Luckily, there are many things to do in Vietnam, and managing your time effectively is all you need to do to ensure a wonderful experience.
Learn the local language
While English is spoken in some areas of Vietnam – namely, the ones that are most popular among tourists – it’s a good idea to learn some basic Vietnamese words and phrases. This will be appreciated in the country for sure, as it will come off as politeness. But that’s not the only reason why you should consider learning some Vietnamese.
Not everyone in Vietnam understands English, so if you want to have a smoother communication experience with Vietnamese people and get around easily, buy a Vietnamese phrasebook and start learning. If you’re staying in Vietnam for a longer time, taking an online course will help you get the basics of the Vietnamese language right.
Be prepared for haggling
In Vietnam, haggling is a norm – people expect you to bargain, so that’s what you should do. Always be prepared to negotiate in different contexts, especially at souvenir shops and markets– but make sure to keep things fun and friendly, and don’t offer a very low price, as this can come off as insulting.
Treat bargaining as a game and offer a lower price for the one initially proposed. Ultimately, it is likely that you will reach a mutually acceptable price. Remember: attitude matters significantly when bargaining, so approach the situation the right way and always be polite!
Don’t display too much affection
Public displays of affection aren’t really welcomed into Vietnamese culture, regardless of your sexual orientation. If you kiss or hold hands – or even hug in public, expect people in the country to raise eyebrows! Vietnam is a very traditionalist country, and romantic liaisons are considered a social taboo in many areas of the country, so it is best to be less romantic during your stay in Vietnam.
When meeting with locals of the opposite sex, handshaking is the standard greeting – anything else will not be appreciated, so make sure to consider social etiquette before visiting the country.
Don’t miss out on Vietnamese street food
While there are various high-end restaurants in Vietnam, the country is renowned for its sublime street food. Not only is it out-of-this world tasty, but it is also very cheap! For instance, Banh mi is a popular street food – and there’s a good reason for that! The baguette has a thin, crisp crust and an airy texture and is packed with meat (chicken or pork), stuffed with delicious veggies, and usually flavoured with chilli, mayo and coriander. It’s absolutely delicious, so you should definitely try it.
Other delicious dishes are Banh xeo (stuffed rice pancakes) and Bun Cha (Vietnamese meatballs). Of course, these aren’t the only delicious dishes you can eat in Vietnam, and if you want to find the best food, we recommend eating early, just as locals do, to ensure you will find a satisfying option that will delight your taste buds.
There you have it: a list of essential aspects you should know before travelling to Vietnam. We recommend keeping these aspects in mind to ensure you will make the most of your time in the country.