If you are planning to have a trip to Vietnam, check out these 25 things to know before traveling in Vietnam.
General Information about Vietnam
The basic and important information you need to know before traveling in Vietnam
1. When to Go
The best time to visit Vietnam is spring, from February to April, which is the period with the lowest rainfall of the year. At this time, it is still a little bit cool in the north and very dry in the south. The second option is that you can come to Vietnam in the summer, from April to July; quite good weather for Halong Bay travel and a cooler atmosphere in the south, but note that there could be unexpected showers in the afternoon.
If you are a resident of ASEAN countries, you are allowed to enter Vietnam for a specific period that does not require a visa application. This also applied to residents of England, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Learn more about how to obtain a Vietnam visa here.
The motorbike tour is one of the must-try experiences in Vietnam. To experience Vietnam like a real local, you should get on the back of a bike riding around downtown. Motorbike makes commuting more flexible and somehow creates many habits of Vietnamese such as stopping at a vendor to buy something without getting off of the bike. The scene of hundreds of motorbikes driving on the street in peak hour has become a signature of the metropolitans like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and has always impressed international visitors.
Countless motorbikes lining up on a ferry
|To have fun trips in Ho Chi Minh City, check out our authentic motorbike tours with professional local guides!|
4. Useful Vietnamese Phrases
Knowing some of the simple phrases of the place where you are going to visit always gives you advantages in your journey. For Vietnam, these are the phrases you should keep in mind:
- Greet and introduce yourself: Xin chào, tôi là [your name]
- Thank you: Cảm ơn
- Sorry / Excuse me: Xin lỗi
- Please help: Xin hãy giúp tôi
Learn more Vietnamese useful phrases here.
One of the strengths of Vietnam’s tourism is political stability. Visiting Vietnam, you needn’t worry about terrorism or demonstrating. Although things are becoming more complicated these days, Vietnam is still a country with an impressive peaceful atmosphere in general. However, you must mind your belongings and be careful with all your valuable assets since thefts and scams are quite common, especially in touristy areas.
What you need to know about using money in Vietnam
6. Preparing Cash
Although Vietnam is witnessing a fast growth in banking service and the use of bank cards or online payment, transactions involving cash still dominate the market. Moreover, some small shops in the market or street vendors where you can find unique stuff and services of Vietnam do not offer bank payment. Therefore, you should always bring with yourself some cash. You should learn to differentiate them as well since the color of some notes (with a large difference in value) is quite similar. This is one of the important things to know before traveling in Vietnam.
7. Cost of Traveling
To have a comfortable trip in big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, you might need approximately 5 to 7 million for 3 days. This includes hotel fees, food, transportation, and expenses for other recreational activities. Learn more about the costs in Vietnam here.
Check prices and reviews of top hotels in Vietnam here:
8. The Amount for Tips
Tipping is one of the things to know before traveling in Vietnam, depending on situations and services. In our country, it is not mandatory to give tips in local diners. Whether you tips or the amount of tips greatly depends on the customer service that you use. If you are very satisfied with the service, you can give tips of about 10% of the receipt. Or else, you only need to pay for what you ordered. However, in the case of staff in the tourism and hospitality industry, much of their income depends on your tips.
In Vietnam, bargaining is a culture that not only helps the customer to buy the products or services at a lower price but also gives the seller and the buyer chances to communicate with each other. So if you knew this thing before traveling in Vietnam, don’t be surprised why the Vietnamese bargain all the time.
Vietnam’s Historical and Cultural Symbols
Symbols that you often come across and should acknowledge avoiding offending the locals
10. National flower
There has been no flower officially announced as Vietnam national flower. However, when it comes to the national flower, most Vietnamese think of the lotus. Lotus has long been recognized as the symbol of purity and beauty, and it has appeared almost anywhere in Vietnam, from long-established architectures to logo of modern brand names. That is the reason why the majority of Vietnamese take the lotus as the national flower.
11. Ao dai
Ao dai is famous all over the world to be one of the most beautiful and delicate national costumes. Ao dai has had a long history and has evolved into many shapes and forms before reaching today’s design. Looked simple, Ao dai requires excellent tailoring skills to make and a fit body shape to wear.
Ao dai – the national and traditional costume of Vietnam
12. Water puppet
Water puppet exists nowhere in the world but in Vietnam. This is a kind of folk art that originated in the north of Vietnam and has developed and become popular all over the nation today. The art of water puppets lies in the puppet controlling skills, the music, and the stage decoration. This is a must when you visit Vietnam.
13. Folk music
You can divide Vietnam into three areas based on some significant cultures of each area, and music is one of which. There is a variety of folk music all over Vietnam, including cheo, tuong, quan ho, chau van, ca tru, cai luong, etc. Each type of music represents life and the people there. They are played by unique instruments and have distinct performance styles. They are dying out, and maybe not for everyone, even the locals, but are beautiful treasures of the past.
14. Historical figures
Talking about Vietnam’s key figures, there are some people you should know about. The dynasty of Hung Kings is considered to be the first governmental reign of Vietnam, while names such as Ngo Quyen, Quang Trung (Nguyen Hue), and Ly Thuong Kiet are that of Vietnamese heroes who led the nation to fight against invaders and achieve great victories. Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap were the ones who led the Vietnamese through the wars with France and America. There are a lot more. You should get yourself familiar with these figures since they are who Vietnamese people give much respect to, and we expect tourists to do the same.
Religions in Vietnam
Similar to historical and cultural symbols, you should have an overview of religions in Vietnam to respect the local traditions.
15. Folk religion
In Vietnam, whether you follow a religion or not, you always have an altar for worshiping ancestors. That is a part of folk religion in Vietnam. It is by default that every Vietnamese practices this religion, and it has been more or less a Vietnamese tradition rather than a religious act. This is among the most interesting things to know before traveling in Vietnam.
Even though Buddhism is the second largest religion in Vietnam, the proportion is only about 1/6 that of folk religion. Whether following Buddhism or not, Vietnamese has always had a positive attitude toward this religion and most of Vietnamese go to pagodas or temples on special occasion, although they are atheist.
Visitors are advised to dress modestly when coming to religious or historical areas
17. The harmony of all religions
Besides folk religion and Buddhism, there is a wide range of religions that exist in Vietnam, such as Christianity and Islam. All religions exist in harmony, and each has its own religious place and practices which the government supports well.
Places to Visit in Vietnam
Wonderful places that you should pay a visit when traveling to Vietnam
18. Beautiful nature
With a long coastline, various terrains at different land levels, the landscape and tourism destinations in Vietnam can indulge your needs to relax in nature. Sandy and sunny beaches of Mui Ne, clear water in Nha Trang, forests and national parks across the country with diverse wildlife, challenging trekking trails in the mountains in the northwest of Vietnam, giant and primitive caves in Quang Binh, calm rivers in the countrysides like Mekong Delta region.
Untouched nature in Northwest Vietnam
Learn more about the beautiful landscapes of Vietnam.
19. Historical and cultural monuments
Suffering from wars for more than a thousand years, there are countless museums and monuments in Vietnam. However, besides museums showcasing stuff related to war, some museums are dedicated to the preservation of art and cultural artifacts. You can spend time wandering in these museums when you want to hide from the hot sun. Another place you should visit is the local markets in Vietnam, where you can be closest to the culture of the destination you are visiting. You can find almost everything in markets, from foods, textiles, to cosmetics and electronics.
Check out cheap bus tickets when traveling in Vietnam:
20. Religious architectures
In Vietnam, there are many different religions co-exist with amazing designs. You can find here churches, temples, pagodas, mosques, and so on. There are some renowned religious places that you should pay a visit like One Pillar Pagoda, Thien Mu Pagoda, Mariamman Hindu Temple, and Tan Dinh Church.
Captivating designs of a Khmer pagoda in Vietnam
21. Bars, pubs, coffee shops with live music
If you are seeking a place for some music and dancing, a variety of bars and pubs in big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City will definitely satisfy you. Besides, there are coffee shops that put on live music performances with various genres. It can be acoustic, pop, or even rock. Singers are not really famous but passionate about music and performance.
Foods and Drinks in Vietnam
What you need to know about safe and delicious eating and drinking in Vietnam
22. Food hygiene
If this is your first time visiting Vietnam, you should mind all the food you eat. Otherwise, you might have stomachache which will ruin your trip. Ingredients in Vietnam are very fresh, but not all the food is made of fresh ingredients and newly made by the time you eat it. Therefore, you should check carefully the cooking process and cleanliness of utensils when trying food served in street vendors, especially when your stomach is not in good condition.
23. Water safety
Unlike many European or American countries, you cannot use tap water in Vietnam to drink directly. Water needs to be boiled before drinking. A suggested solution is you should buy yourself mineral water in convenience stores or bring your own bottle of boiled water with the electric kettle in hotels or hostels, instead of drinking water directly from any tap.
Our advice is to bring your own travel water bottle which you can refill with drinkable water from your hotel or at coffee shops.
24. Popular dishes
There are some popular and well-known dishes of Vietnam that you must try: pho, banh mi, com tam (broken rice), different kinds of noodles such as bun rieu, bun bo Hue, etc. These are the masterpieces of Vietnamese cuisine which cannot be skipped if you already get to Vietnam. There are also plant-based versions for vegan travelers.
Pho – the most famous dish in Vietnamese cuisine
Contact us now to plan your Food Tour in Ho Chi Minh City!
25. Popular drinks
Coming to Vietnam, Vietnamese coffee is a must-try. You can watch hundreds of videos online talking about the special of Vietnamese coffee but you cannot fully feel that until you try it. In your plan, make space for a slow-paced morning with a Vietnamese coffee which will be perfectly accompanied by com tam or banh mi. Other than coffee, tra da (iced tea), coconut juice, and sugarcane juice are good alternatives to cool your thirst. These are the most popular drinks in Vietnam.
Vietnamese egg coffee
Summary of 25 Things to Know Before Traveling in Vietnam
Above are 25 things to know before traveling in Vietnam. If you are planning to have a trip to the S-shaped country, read our blog for other helpful information so you can experience Vietnam to the fullest.