Vietnam is experiencing a real boom in tourism, with 15.5 million people visiting the East Asian nation in 2018. It is a place that has a great deal to offer travelers, including hauntingly beautiful temples, unique and delicious cuisine, and welcoming locals. Here are some top tips to help you make the most of your visit to Vietnam.
Arrange your Visa for Vietnam as Soon as Possible
The easiest way to travel to Vietnam is with the Vietnam eVisa. Citizens from 80 countries (including UK, US, Canada, Australia, Brazil and China) are eligible to apply for the electronic visa online, eliminating the need to apply from an embassy or consulate.
The Vietnam eVisa application form is easy and quick to fill in. It is necessary to complete the form with basic personal details and information about your passport, and the reason for traveling, and to answer a few security questions such as whether or not you have a criminal record. All you need to apply is a passport valid for at least 6 months, a current email address at which to receive the approved eVisa and a debit or credit card to make the payment. Applicants are also required to print at least 1 copy of the eVisa to present upon arrival in Vietnam.
Find below some further tips to keep in mind when visiting Vietnam. Don’t pack your bags until you’ve memorized it.
Haggle: The Asking Price Is More of a Suggestion
In Vietnam, haggling is simply part of everyday life and not something to be afraid of. Prices are always very cheap (especially for Western tourists) but you can get even better bargains if you perfect the art of haggling.
In restaurants and supermarkets, the prices are fixed, but virtually everywhere else they are negotiable (at marketplaces, in beauty salons, and in small shops). When bartering, try not to avoid showing any displays of wealth such as expensive watches, jewelry or cameras. Remember that one of the best techniques is to start walking away and wait to receive that final offer.
Ho Chi Mihn City: Not All Districts are Created Equal
Ho Chi Mihn City, formerly Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam, with over 8 million inhabitants. Since Colonial times the city has been divided into districts. This fascinating city is definitely worth checking out, especially for those who like big and bustling cities. But it’s worth remembering that most points of interest are concentrated in just a few districts of this expansive metropolis:
- District 1 is the Central Business District, a great blend of modern skyscrapers and historic temples and palaces.
- District 2 is being heavily developed as the most modern and exclusive of the districts. This means that it is one of the best parts of the city for dining.
- District 3 has some of the city’s most impressive homes and official buildings from the French colonial era.
Food: So Much To Eat, So Little Time
Vietnamese food is taking the world by storm. It is a unique blend of salty, sweet and sour and spicy. Top dishes include noodle soup, spring rolls, and steamed buns. One of the best options for sampling the local cuisine is from street food vendors. Portions in restaurants tend to be small, so order a few to make sure you don’t go hungry.
There Is Free Wi-Fi All Around
You should have no trouble staying connected whilst in Vietnam. Many coffee shops have outstanding connection speeds. Even some street vendors offer free WiFi. You can also easily buy a local SIM card if you need to stay constantly connected. They are on offer at Saigon airport and are surprisingly cheap. Most hostels and hotels will also offer free WiFi.
The Best Beaches in Vietnam
With over 2,000 miles of coastline, Vietnam has a wide variety of beaches of different shapes and sizes. Here are some of the best:
- Ho Coc Beach: Seen by many as the best beach in Vietnam, this enchanting beach is found in the town of the same name, a short drive away from Ho Chi Minh City. Apart from the 3 miles of golden sands, it is also located close to hot springs and lush rainforest.
- Long Beach: This ever-popular beach is situated on Phu Quoc, Vietnam’s largest island. It is great for snorkeling, Stand Up Paddle and kayak.
- Star Beach: Also on the island of Phu Quoc, this beach is even more picturesque with its fine white sand, large palms, and light blue waters.
- Danang Beach: The scene of fighting during the Vietnam War, the crescent-shaped Danang has its own coral reef, making it a great choice for scuba diving. It is located midway up the country’s east coast.
What To Wear
Vietnam is not a particularly socially conservative country, so Western visitors should not worry too much about offending the locals by not covering up. The best advice is just to follow common sense. Away from the beach, you should always wear a top or shirt and it is a good idea not to wear overly revealing clothing when visiting temples. It is a good idea to try and bring a long-sleeved shirt and thin trousers with you in case you find yourself somewhere with air conditioning.
Vietnam Is More Than Just Its Cities
When traveling across Vietnam, don’t be afraid to venture away from the major cities. There may be more infrastructure, restaurants, and Wi-Fi connection in Ho Chi Minh City or Laos, but staying in smaller towns is a great way to experience authentic Vietnamese life, as well as a chance to find even bigger savings.