It is a good precaution know before traveling to any country and his trip to Vietnam deserves a little advance preparation to enjoy complete serenity of your vacation in this wonderful country. Just gather some practical data such as that presented below and we’ll do the rest for you to enjoy an unforgettable stay in Vietnam.
Useful information for preparing your trip to Vietnam:
Vietnamese Population: 90.5 million spread over 54 ethnic groups
Capital of Vietnam: Hanoi
Currency: Dong or Vietnam Dong (VND)
Time: GMT + 7 ie Madrid + 5 + 6 Madrid summer and winter
International code for Vietnam: +84 (calling from outside must omit the “0” appearing first local number, for example, the number 0915559203 would +84915559203)
Visa: you must have a visa to enter Vietnam (further information below in this page), can handle all the paperwork if they wish.
Vietnam is a little wider than Italy but its geographical and cultural diversity is immense. Highlights four seasons in the mountainous north, although the lush south enjoys a tropical climate throughout the year.
The cultural diversity of Vietnam comes from its history dating back to 4000 years ago. Its historical legacy includes more than a century of Chinese occupation, which left a strong cultural influence is very evident in the architecture of the pagodas, local cuisine and practice of Confucianism. In many parts of Vietnam, the remains of the French colonial legacy is still very visible especially in the architectural style of the villas and administrative buildings yellowcake, as well as bakeries and cafes (did you know that Vietnam is the second largest exporter of coffee in the world?)
Although much of Vietnam has not changed much, you see in big cities infrastructure and modern technology. Visitors can choose between different levels of comfort: luxury or budget accommodation, public or private transport, local and gourmet restaurants.
By doing tourism in Vietnam , it is possible through the different historical periods through which it has passed this country.Vietnam Tourism will let you know a country with a rich past and a great future.
1. Highlights of Vietnam
Tourists who come for the first time in Hanoi and Vietnam begin traveling south to Ho Chi Minh City or vice versa.
It is the cultural heart of Vietnam and the “Paris of the East”, where you can see pagodas off French colonial villas.
World Heritage Site by UNESCO, with thousands of limestone peaks covered by jungle emerging from the Bay. The cruises of one or more nights aboard a junk are very successful.
You have to take a train from Hanoi to reach the mountains of Sapa, near the Chinese border.
Do not forget to hike through this former French station altitude, where it is cooler than in the city. It will be the opportunity to meet ethnic communities living in splendid scenery and take a traditional embroidered clothing.
Mai Chau Valley
An alternative to less touristy Sapa and only four hours drive from Hanoi where various ethnic minorities live. It is ideal for walks on foot or by bicycle and to immerse themselves in the culture.
In Hue, the ancient capital of Vietnam, you will discover the real past of the country. The Citadel and the Royal Tombs represent an era of cultural renaissance.
World Heritage City by UNESCO, Hoi An was a city stage Dutch spice traders. Hoi An has magnificent architecture, white sandy beaches, hundreds of tailor shops and restaurants as well as quality cooking classes. It is a quiet and romantic city not to be missed.
For travelers who want to relax on the beach while on vacation. Fishing, diving and kayaking are some of the possible activities.
Dalat is in the highlands of central Mexico. It is a favorite destination for newly married Vietnamese thanks to a cool climate, flower farms and villas of the French colonial era. Is also an ideal place for walks, bike rides and golfing on land internationally.
Phan Thiet / Mui Ne
Seaside town four hours drive from Ho Chi Minh City. The climatic conditions are ideal for windsurfing, sailing down the giant sand dunes sleigh.
Ho Chi Minh City
Cosmopolitan center where you can access the system Cu Chi Tunnels and the Mekong Delta. The climate is humid and warm Saigon throughout the year.
You can visit the Mekong Delta on one or more days from Ho Chi Minh City. Visitors can go traditional sampan to Cai Be or visit the floating markets of Can Tho. The one night cruise aboard the comfortable boat Bassac offers one of the best experiences can be found on the Mekong Delta. The more adventurous can enjoy cycling and sleep in local guesthouse.You can also take a fast boat from Chau Doc to the Cambodian border, near Phnom Penh.
Phu Quoc Island
The island is about an hour by plane from Ho Chi Minh City. Phu Quoc offers tranquility and an ideal climate when typhoons affecting the coastal areas of the continent.
If you seek a cultural trip, picturesque landscapes, entertainment or adventure, Vietnam is your destination!
2. Visa to travel to Vietnam
Visitors must obtain a visa before arriving in Vietnam. Buffalo Tours can arrange the invitation letter to Vietnam reduced for tourists who book one of our travel price. The process is as follows:
• Sending passport details and dates of departure and arrival to Buffalo Tours by fax 14 days before departure to Vietnam.
• Buffalo Tours transfers the details to the Immigration Department
• Department of Immigration informs Buffalo Tours of visa approval and sends it by fax or telex to the Embassy or Consulate in the country of residence of the visitor.
• Buffalo Tours sends a copy of the invitation letter by fax / email to the travel agent or direct customer
. • Visitors can not obtain a visa on arrival at the airport unless they have a letter of invitation
• You must have a passport valid for at least six months.
• It takes out the invitation letter and two photographs recent passport size to get the visa stamp in one of the international airports in Vietnam.
• The stamp on arrival worth US $ 45 (payable in cash only).
3. Map of Vietnam
4. Check in Vietnam
All visitors must fill in a form on arrival. We must deliver while passport and visa to immigration officials and customs officers. The part “Output” will be pulled and returned to visitors. It is essential to observe this part to present the day of departure.
If you have not engaged the assistance of Buffalo Tours representative upon arrival at the airport, we advise you to do the following:
Saigon Airport is approximately 7 kilometers northwest of the city center. It is best to take a taxi to the output terminal to the city. The journey should cost them between 10 and 15 dollars.
Noi Bai airport in Hanoi is approximately 35 kilometers north of the city (45 minutes drive). A taxi to the city center costs about $ 16 (312000 dongs). There is a taxi rank outside the airport representatives (please taxis Noi Bai). The price is enrolled cartel then the counter is not necessary. Agree the price before sitting in the taxi. Avoid people directly propose a taxi inside or outside the airport. We recommend that you go directly to the taxi stand.
5. Money and currency of Vietnam
The official currency is the Dong. The Dong is not convertible and the time of writing, the exchange rate is approximately 1 per 21,000 dong or 1 per 27,000 dong.
You can pay in US dollars in most of the great restaurants and shops. You can change cash travelers checks at banks and bureaux de change but must show passport. Normally charge a commission, between 2% and 5%, to change travelers checks. Visa and Mastercard are increasingly accepted in many large hotels and restaurants, particularly in large cities.
Check the state of Vietnamese banknotes they receive because if most restaurants and shops are torn will not accept them. It is also best not to change too much money at one time not to meet with a huge wad of cash. The maximum value is 500,000 dong that is about $ 30. In 2004, Vietnam introduced pieces of coin 200, 1000 and 5000 dongs for less important transactions. The other tickets worth 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000, 100 000 dong. They are identified by the colors pretty easy.
Several international banks are present in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh ATMs available 24 hours a day, as ANZ and HSBC Bank in Hanoi Ho Chi Minh City. In these banks, you can withdraw money with Visa and Mastercard or other like Cirrus. In small towns, it is best to carry cash.
Remember well the dong can not be changed outside of Vietnam.
6. Tipping in Vietnam
Tipping to guides and drivers is a personal choice but to help, we include below some indications:
– Restaurants: the average amount is $ 1
– Guides and drivers: between 1.50 and $ 3 per day per person for guides (as . the size of the group), $ 1 per day per person for drivers
– Buttons: the average amount is $ 1
– Rulers / Waitresses: the average amount is $ 1 per day
Visitors traveling in large groups or those who make an adventure trip can increase tipping, however this depends entirely on you, do not forget that it is just an indication.
Tips crews (in Halong Bay for example) and lodges “all inclusive” are generally common – tip for equipment excluding private guides – $ 10 per day (based on 2-4 people).
Buttons: the average amount is $ 0.50 per bag.
Rulers / Waitresses: the average amount is $ 1 per day
7. The climate in Vietnam
The elongated shape of Vietnam gives its varied climate, with a tropical and subtropical zone. Generally, the best time to travel to Vietnam during less rainy months, ie April / May and October / November.
Note well that the high tourist season is between November and March while the low season is between April and October.
The South (Ho Chi Minh Phan Thiet)
In the South, it is hot all year round and there are two seasons. Between May and October is the wet season with daily downpours, but are short and easily predictable. In November and April is the dry season which is usually usually sunny and humidity.
El Centro (Nha Trang to Hue)
Nha Trang enjoys sunny weather almost all year round but between November and December, heavy rains irrigate the region. In Dalat, located at 1500 meters altitude, it is cooler than in the coastal region, particularly between November and March. Typhoons affect regions of Hue and Danang when the weather turns cold, covered and moist.
El Norte (from Hanoi to Sapa)
In this region, between May and October is the summer and temperatures are between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius with occasional heavy showers. In winter, that is from December to March, temperatures are between 10 and 15 degrees. The months of February and March may be wet because of the rain and an overcast sky.
8. Security in Vietnam
Vietnam was elected one of the safest destinations in the world. According ladies and single travelers, is a country through which you can go easily and smoothly.
However, there are some isolated cases of petty crime and pickpockets in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi lesser extent.
9. Food and Vietnamese food
Rice or noodles with soup, sauteed and other main dishes are a typical Vietnamese meal. Generally, the dishes are not spicy and are accompanied by spicy sauce, nuoc mam (fish sauce) and soy sauce.
The Pho is a traditional Vietnamese breakfast. It’s a big bowl of broth flavored with fresh coriander and bean sprouts in adding noodles with thin slices of beef or chicken.
The three main regions, the North, Centre and South have their own culinary specialties. Overall, the North is famous for noodle soups and meat dishes or sauteed seafood. Centre region, near Hue in particular has the most elaborate cuisine from around the country. In the South, where a variety of spices, food tends to be spicier.
With its 3000 kilometers of coastline, seafood is varied and delicious. They find crabs, shrimp, lobster and squid in bulk, not to mention the hundreds of varieties of fish.
10. Clothing for your trip in Vietnam
Advise with a light, comfortable clothing and wash easily. It can be quite cold in Hanoi during the winter and in the Centre during the rainy season, then, provide a jacket might be a good idea. It is also recommended to wear walking shoes and sandals that are easily removed, especially to visit the temples and private homes.
11. Population and Demographics of Vietnam
Most of the population is constituted by the Viet or Kinh (85%) who speak Vietnamese. The minority population consists of 50 ethnic communities living mainly in mountain regions of North and Centre. Tribes best known are the Tay, Hmong, Zao, the Thai White and Black (the two come mainly from the north) and Hoa. Each tribe has its own customs and its own dialect although the Vietnamese is the language of instruction in local schools.
The official language, Vietnamese, is a tonal language that can be compared to Khmer of Cambodia. Each syllable can be written with six different tones that determine the meaning of the word. It is the reason why foreigners have so much difficulty in learning. In communities of mountain regions also speak other languages such as Chinese, Khmer or cham.Although Vietnam has similarities with Southeast Asian languages such as Chinese, Vietnamese belongs to another language group.
The Vietnamese is written in the Roman alphabet and accents define the different tones. Were Catholic missionaries who, in the 17th century, created this writing system called Quoc Ngu translate sacred texts. But in the end, particularly after the First World War, this system replaced the old man who had been used for centuries unofficially.
13. Public holidays in Vietnam
The most important and most celebrated day of the year is Tet, or Lunar New Year coincides with the cycle of the moon.Usually takes place in late January or early February. The celebrations officially last three days, although many shops close down the whole week. Liberation of Saigon (April 30th), International Labour Day (1 May), the anniversary of Ho Chi Minh (May 19) and the Vietnam National Day (September 2) are other major holidays.
Recommendation trip during Tet
Buffalo Tours does not recommend traveling during Tet (usually a week before and after the day of Tet). During this period, although the country is lively, trains, buses and flights are full or expensive restaurants, shops, tailors and some important tourist sites closed. The floating markets of the Mekong not take place the week following the Tet.
If they have no other choice but to travel during this period it is possible that the services received are not those who receive other seasons.
About the Tet
Tet Nguyen Dan is the most important for the ethnic majority Kinh festival. In Vietnam, it is believed that the twelve months of the year depend on the first day of the lunar year, then people strive to organize a perfect Tet.
In Hanoi, the narrow streets of the old town come alive. All they hurry to go to the hairdresser, buying new clothes, polishing the house, visiting friends, pay their debts and traditional candy store. Businesses engage red flags where you can read: “Chuc Mung Nam Moi” (Happy New Year) and city streets are illuminated. Many open houses throughout the city to sell bushes “kumquat” only. Others sell peaches, symbol of life and happiness that people carry home to celebrate the arrival of spring. And sellers through the city with its peach strapped to their bicycles, the streets are like forests alive pink.
In the south, people decorates his house with branches of yellow apricots and place a coconut, a papaya a handle and a custard apple on the family altar. The names of these fruits, those in the southern dialect form a sentence that brings success and satisfaction.
During Tet, it is said that there are three crucial meetings. The first home meets three deities: Tien Su, the genius who has family in their traditional way; Tho Cong, who oversees the land where the family lives and Tao Quan, the Kitchen God who watches the family meal. The second meeting brings together the living and the dead. People placed offerings of food and drink at the altars of their ancestors, light incense and invites the ancestors to join the celebrations of Tet. The third meeting was organized with the immediate family. The day of the new year, members gather to share a dinner of traditional food: banh chung (square glutinous rice cake stuffed pork and peas), mang (soup of boiled bamboo shoots and fried pork) and x or gac (orange sticky rice). Then, the family visits the local pagoda and sometimes attends the fireworks in the city.
14. Post and telecommunications in Vietnam
The Vietnamese postal service proposed by most telecommunications services. They could find some special services such as: EMS (fast service sent email), DHL fast delivery service throughout the world, UPS and other delivery services.
Email and Internet:
Thanks to technology, email services and Internet are available in many hotels and offices in Vietnam. You can also find these services in the Internet cafes (95% use ADSL) scattered through the streets of major cities. In an office, the cost to use the Internet is usually 3000-6000 dong per hour (or between $ 0.19 and $ 0.38) but hotels can be more expensive. Many cafés offer WiFi, then it is easy when traveling with a laptop.
Phone booth and calling card: call home for a phone booth is easy. There are booths at post offices or on the streets of big cities. Phone cards are sold in shops, bookstores and restaurants. However, it is becoming easier to call the Internet. Many Internet cafes propose this option.
International calls: still costs quite expensive international call directly. However, 178 and 171 services enable call home for half price. So, will cost about $ 0.60 a minute to call most countries. How does it work? It’s simple:
Mark 171 (or 178) + 00 + country code + city code + phone number
Note well that use this service on your phone from your hotel can be a bit more expensive because it will be charged a fee.
But making international calls over the Internet is an inexpensive option.
Mobile : Vinaphone, Mobiphone and Viettel: In Vietnam, three operators Global System for Mobile Communications (GMS) are shared.
They can use their mobile thanks to roaming but sometimes it is not very reliable. These providers also propose prepaid cards VINA and MOBI. The best choice for your phone call in Vietnam is to buy a prepaid SIM card. They can also rent a mobile on site or in any mobile phone shop down the street.
Time Zone : Vietnam is in the same time zone as Thailand, or UTC / GMT + 7h. Vietnam does not change from summer schedule.
15. Business hours in Vietnam
Like most Vietnamese are early risers, shops open their doors early too. Government offices are open Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 16:30. Most shops are open Monday to Saturday from 8h00 to 17h00.
The banks are open Monday to Friday from 8h00 to 15h30 and 8h00 to 13h00 on Saturday. Generally close between 11h30 and 13h30 to eat.
Many stores, shops and all government offices are closed during these hours.
Some shops are open from 8h00 to 21h00 and sometimes even later.