Jaipur, also known as the Pink City, is the largest city in the state of Rajasthan. Jaipur gets its nickname due to the architecture having a pink hue. Nowadays, the buildings in the city have more of a salmon color due to sun damage. Some of India’s well known landmarks such as the Hawa Mahal can be found in Jaipur. While visiting the Pink City of Jaipur, Lisa and I explored these amazing places.
The first thing we wanted to check out was the beautiful Hawa Mahal. You can’t look up Jaipur without coming across a picture of the majestic pink structure. Built in 1799, the Hawa Mahal was constructed of red sandstone with over 950 small windows called Jharokhas. The reason for the Jharokhas was to allow the royal women to view the festivities of the streets below without being seen. If you wish to enter the Hawa Mahal, the entrance fee is 200 rupees for foreigners and 50 rupees for Indian visitors.
To get the best view of the Hawa Mahal go check out the Wind View Cafe which is located just across the street. There you can get incredible pictures of the Hawa Mahal from the rooftop cafe.
Galta-Ji Temple (Monkey Temple)
Located on the outskirts of Jaipur, the Galta-Ji Temple (also known as the Monkey Temple), rests within a crevice among the hills. The Galta-Ji Temple is well for its large population of rhesus macaques and langur monkeys which is why people have given it the nickname Monkey Temple. Keep in mind, the monkeys at the temple are WILD so please approach with caution. The Galta-Ji Temple is also known for its natural spring that fills seven large pools called kunds. Hindu’s from all over travel to Galtai-Ji to bathe in these kunds to cleanse their souls.
When visiting the Galta-Ji Temple, be sure to enter on the Western Side. That way, you can also visit the Sun Temple and get a panoramic view of Jaipur.
The City Palace
If you love learning about history then you better head to the City Palace located in central Jaipur. The City Palace hosts a marvelous museum that displays historical artifacts from previous eras as well as well maintained art pieces. There is an artisan section of the palace where you can purchase handmade crafts from vendors selling anything from jewelry to one-of-a-kind paintings. The City Palace still houses the Royal Family of Jaipur therefore some of the areas in the palace are restricted to visitors. The entrance fee for foreigners is 500 rupees and 190 rupees for Indian visitors.
Lisa and I visited the old Indian capital of Agra to see the infamous Taj Mahal. The only problem though, is that the Taj Mahal is closed every Friday. Guess what day we happened to be there? Yep, it was Friday. And of course we had a train to catch that evening so we weren’t able to extend our stay. Feeling a little down, we wanted to make use of our time in Agra and decided to see the famed Agra Fort where Indian royalty once called home.
The Agra Fort is an immense fortress that over looks the city of Agra, India. Also known as the Red Fort of Agra, the Agra Fort was used as a military fortress as well as a royal palace for the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty. The third Mughal Emperor, Akbar, rebuilt the fort using red sandstone from Rajasthan and completed the remodel in 1573. From the fort you can see the great Taj Mahal looming in the distance.
In a tragic twist of fate, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, (the Emperor who commissioned the construction of the Taj Mahal), was imprisoned at the Agra Fort by his third son Aurangzeb during an overthrow. From 1658 until his death in 1666, Shah Jahan could only gaze upon his beloved Taj Mahal from the confines of his cell. It is rumored that Shah Jahan was imprisoned in the tower known as Muasamman Burj which has a marble balcony that faces the Taj Mahal.
The architecture of the fort is truly astounding. From the intricate inlay carvings to the massive sandstone walls there’s a lot to behold. Personally, I loved the decorative arches above all the hallways of the fort. Along with the sandstone, the arches made the fort truly feel like a palace.
The entrance fee for the Agra Fort differs between foreigners and locals. For foreigners, the price of entry is 550 rupees while local price is only 40 rupees each. Be aware that camera tripods are not allowed inside the fort, but in case you happen to bring one there is a cloak room where you can store it free of charge.
Like any touristy place, be sure you visit the fort as early as possible to avoid the big crowds as well as the heat. Bring water to stay hydrated as well as some snacks. There are guides available at the fort if you would like more in depth knowledge about the history and architecture.
While walking around one of the gardens in the fort, I heard Lisa burst into laughter. I turned around to see her holding a squirrel in the palm of her hand! Apparently the squirrels in the fort are so use to visitors that they will just come right up to you. There are even people inside the fort that will give you food grains to place in your palm for the squirrels to eat. Just be sure to tip the guys!
While Lisa and I were enjoying the wonderful village of Pushkar, we decided that we wanted to do at least one tour during our stay. The staff at our hotel recommended that we try a camel safari tour through the desert just outside the city. Lisa and I had never done that before and thought that would be a great experience. The tour agency we went through was called Pushkar Sun Dune Camel and Horse Safari. For 700 rupees each, Lisa and I opted for the sunset camel safari which was about two hours. We would be provided transportation to and from our hotel as well as an English speaking tour guide.
Around 5:15pm a tuktuk arrived at our hotel to take us to the starting point of our camel tour. I was excited! I had never ridden a camel before or any animal of that size for that matter. Lisa and I sat on the rear of the tuktuk as it sped through the city traffic.
The Starting Point
Once we arrived at the dropoff, I could see two camels laying out in the sand near the road. The camels paid no attention to the strangers approaching them. Too preoccupied with their evening meal of grain. Even though the camels were laying down they were still massive! From floor to their head was about five feet at least and about eight feet long. Two young men approached us as we were gawking at the camels. One of them introduced himself as our tour guide and indicated that the other was his assistant. Our guide’s name is Raul, and he works for the Pushkar Sun Dune Camel and Horse Safari.
Meet the Camels
Raul introduced us to our camels one by one. The one I picked out was named Romeo and Lisa’s camel was named Jimmy. You would think that we’d get a lecture or some type of tutorial on how to ride a camel, but no. Raul asked me to hang my backpack off the front of the saddle then mount the camel. I was a bit nervous getting on my camel, especially since he(Romeo) watched me the entire time I was near him. Once I was on, Raul instructed me to lean back as much as I could. Before I could ask why, Romeo stood up back legs first which caused my body to lurch forward. Then Romeo proceeded to stand up on all fours finally leveling me out. I watched Lisa go through the same steps: Awkwardly getting on the camel, laughing as she flew forward when the camel stood up, and being completely mesmerized by being on a freakin’ camel!
As we rode off towards the sunset, our guide Raul would serenade us with traditional Indian songs as we trudged through the desert. At one point we spotted a wild Antelope grazing on the little vegetation was found amongst the sands. Without warning, the reigns of my camel fell off and the two guides had to slowly approach my camel and attempt to put the reigns back on. I thought that at any moment my camel might take off running with me on its back! Good thing our guides were experienced and easily placed the reigns back on without any incident.
The Gypsy Stop
Towards dusk we came across a Gypsy camp where other camel tour groups had joined together. Raul informed us that this was a free stop where we could watch Gypsys’ perform traditional songs and dances. One performance I enjoyed in particular involved two Gypsy woman dancing while balancing bowls on their heads which were lit on fire!
Lisa and I watched the dancers for about fifteen minutes before we started walking around the encampment. We saw tons of other camels with intricate designs shaved into their hides. Some even had gold and silver nose rings that would compliment their heavily adorned saddles.
As the Gypsy performances came to an end, people started returning to their camels and chariots. Lisa and I found our camels and awaited for Raul and his assistant to join us before we mounted our camels and set off. The ride back to our starting point was calm and relaxing. The sunset was a glowing brilliantly behind us as the moon was illuminating our path ahead. Raul continued telling Lisa and I other facts about the desert as well as historical information about Pushkar itself.
We had reached the end of the tour at around 7:30 just as the sun had completely disappeared over the horizon. Lisa and I disembarked off our camels one by one with the assistance of Raul. Raul’s assistant grabbed two bags of grain and placed them in front of our camels. Lisa and I took a seat next to the camp and Raul offered us some hot chai tea. As we drank our chai, we watched enormous fruit bats fly over head silhouetted by the moon. Sipping chai next to camels underneath a full desert moon was just the way I wanted to spend my evening.
Once Lisa and I had finished our chai tea, Raul gave us a ride back into Pushkar and dropped us off back at our hotel. We thanked him so much for such an amazing and authentic experience.
A Wonderful Experience
Overall, the tour was amazing and definitely worth trying if you ever find yourself in Pushkar. Riding the camels through the desert was an experience by itself, but watching Gypsy performances as well as viewing the sunset on the back of a camel was truly spectacular. Next time we would want to try the overnight camel safari where we would be able to camp out in the desert!
As with most countries, there are those out there that prey on unsuspecting tourists and try to swindle whatever money they can out from under people’s feet. India is no exception to this. During our travels, Lisa and I came across a few scams that can be found in India. Thankfully, we had read from other blog posts about the scams and knew how to avoid them. Here are a few common scams in India and what you should do to avoid them.
Your Hotel/Hostel has closed down
In this scam, you are taking a taxi to your accommodation when you are informed by your driver that your hotel has been closed down. The driver will then tell you about another hotel or hostel that they recommend and will promptly drive you to it. In this scenario the driver gets a commission for taking you to said hotel and you would be overcharged for staying there.
To avoid this, it helps to have a working phone so you could call your hotel and confirm that they had indeed not closed down. Having the app Maps.Me downloaded with your hotel saved on it also helps to show that your hotel does exist and can help you make sure your driver is going in the right direction. If all else, Uber exists in India! Take a prepaid ride in an Uber car that guarantees you’ll arrive at your destination.
Buy me Milk or Food from this Store.
While walking through cities and villages you may be approached from a beggar on the street asking you to buy them food or milk from a specific store. In this scam, the beggar and the store owner have a deal with eachother. When you purchase items from that particular store and give said items to the beggar, the beggar will then return the items to the store for a small amount of money. The store makes money off of you and keeps their products while the beggar only gets a small cash cut.
To avoid this scam, be able to recognize it while it happens. If someone is asking for food and is pointing to a specific store, they are probably a part of this scam. Trust your gut feeling on this one.
I’m Not Trying to Sell You Anything, but You Should Check Out this Tourist Center…
Lisa and I encountered this scam during our first day in New Delhi. While walking through Connaught Place in New Delhi, we were approached by a young man claiming to be practicing his English. Right away, he states that he isn’t trying to sell us anything and that he truly just wants to converse with English speakers. The young man asked us where we were from, where we are traveling to, and how long we are traveling for. The young man then informed us about this Tourist Center a few blocks away that could give us free information that could help us during our stay in India. I was totally swayed by how nice this guy was being towards us and fell for the trap. Lisa was still very wary and was relatively silent as the young man and I conversed on our way to this Tourist Center.
We arrived at the Tourist Center, which was off the beaten track. Once there, our new “friend” informed us that this place would help us and thanked us for allowing him to practice his english. We walked in and immediately was ushered into a room where a man was waiting for us. He gave us a friendly greeting and asked us what are plans were for India. After explaining a simplified version of our India trip, the man started giving us tour offers and began even planning out our entire India trip for us. We stated that we were still unsure on what we were doing and were going to play by ear. The man insisted that his plan was our best option to have the best experience in India. Lisa stated that we had already booked a train leaving New Delhi and his reply was, “Don’t worry we can cancel it for you and book you a better train”. It was now apparent to me that we were being scammed into buying over priced tour packages. Lisa and I thanked the man and said that we needed time to think about it. The man was clearly upset about our response and repeatedly told us that his travel arrangements were the best bargain we could get anywhere.
Lisa and I had read that scammers in big cities such as New Delhi will lure tourists to these centers and would get paid commission if the tourists purchase any packages. It was made obvious that this was a scam when we were approached by at least a dozen other men asking the same exact things as the first guy; claimed to be wanting to practice English, was not trying to sell us something, and informing us of some tourist center nearby that we should visit. Seriously, it felt as if all of these guys had the same script that they would recite to tourists. Once we told them that we were fine and didn’t need any help they would get agitated and storm off. We even ran into the first guy again and he was visibly upset when we told him that we left the tourist center without booking anything.
So, how can you avoid this scam? Be wary when a stranger approaches you and asks you about your travel plans. Once they mention that you should visit a tourist center, that’s your first red flag that this could be a scam. Once you realize it’s a scam, politely let the person know that you’re not interested and walk away. They will try and convince you that they are not trying to sell you something, but you must be persistent.
Don’t Let the Scams Ruin Your Trip
I know these scams can sound like a deterrent to even consider traveling to India, but don’t let them. India is an amazing country that has beauty that you cannot find elsewhere. When it comes to the scams, being educated about them is your greatest weapon against them. If I hadn’t read about the scams before my trip to India I know I would have fallen for them easily.
I hope these tips help you out on your trip to India. As always be safe, alert, and keep an upbeat attitude to ensure an amazing trip through the beautiful country of India.
I have read from other blogs that if you can travel to India, you can travel anywhere. Honestly, I think there is some truth in that. India is an industrious third-world country that is in between old tradition and modernization. India can be overwhelming at times, but it is definitely worth visiting once if not multiple times. Here’s a few things I put together to give you an idea on what to expect while traveling through India.
India is Huge
India is a lot bigger than you think. With over 3.2 million square kilometers of land, it could take days to travel city to city by land travel.
There’s a lot of Dudes
Due to the preference for sons, the ratio from men to women in India is quite high. Not saying that it was bad seeing men everywhere, it was just very apparent that there was a lack of female presence in most public spaces.
Expect a lot of Selfies with Locals
This one gave me quite the laugh. While visiting the Red Fort in New Delhi, Lisa and I were approached by locals asking to take selfies with them. At first one person would politely ask us if they can take a picture with us and before we knew it we had small groups coming up to us asking to take pictures with us. It was really entertaining because it made us feel somewhat like celebrities. It even got to the point where we had to start declining offers to take pictures.
It wasn’t just at the Red Fort either. At just about all of the tourist hot spots we would have people ask to take pictures with us. What was nice is that everyone would ask permission first before snapping away. So be prepared for random selfies with locals throughout your stay.
The Railway System is the way to Travel
Taking the train in India is the best and most budget friendly mode of travel through India. It is also a great way to see the beautful country side outside of the the busy cities. Book your train tickets in advance! We learned the hard way that train tickets sell out fast, so be sure that that’s one of the first things you do.
Cows are Everywhere
In Hinduism, cows are a very sacred animal. As India is home to the largest population of Hindus, therefore the people there treat their cows with a lot of respect. It’s a common sight to see a small heard of cows casually walking through city streets. Seriously I’ve seen more cows in India than I have seen cats in India.
India is a conservative country that requires you to dress appropriately, especially near religious sites. Unfortunately, the dress code is more aimed towards woman. Shoulders and legs should be covered at all times unless you want to be starred at by both men and women. As a man, you can pretty much wear whatever you want without any harassment from locals.
Most Restaurants are Vegetarian
Again, cows are sacred in India, so don’t expect to find beef anywhere. If I came across any place that sold meat it was always chicken.
Be Wary of Scams
As in most cities, there are people who are trying to swindle money out of you any way they can. Read my post of the most common scams in India here.
The Poverty Can Be a Little Overwhelming
As with most developing countries, poverty is a very common sight especially in the larger cities. In India it is no different. You can be feet away from a brilliant historical monument and at the same time be right next to a slum with children begging for anything. It can be hard to witness, but it is a reality for a lot of people living in India.
India is an Ancient Land with Loads of History
There are texts in India that date back to over five millennia ago, making India home to some of the oldest civilizations in the world. There are temples that are still erect that date back thousands of years.
Hoi An was one of the most enchanting cities we were able to visit during our travels in Vietnam. From the pastel-colored buildings, delicious food, and rooftop cafes. It’s hard for one not to fall in love with Hoi An. If you find yourself in this beautiful city on the coast here’s a few things I recommend you try to enrich your stay.
The Cheapest of Beer
First things first, you have arrived in the land of incredibly cheap beer! I know other cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi boast about their cheap beer, but only in Hoi An can you find it everywhere! Some restaurants sell it as low as 3,000d ($0.13 USD)! The beer is brewed fresh from the restaurant you’re buying it from, which is why it is so cheap. I know what you’re thinking, because of the price it must be poor quality right? WRONG! I had a fresh beer at the Fish and Chips restaurant that was 3,000d and that was one of the most refreshing beers I had in Vietnam! Not saying that there are some out there that do taste like what you would imagine a beer under 0.50 cents would taste like. I had one beer near the night market that gave me a headache within a few sips, but that was the one out of 5 different restaurants that I sampled.
Get Something Tailored
You want to get a suit tailored just to your liking? Hoi An is the place to do it! With a plethora of tailors throughout the city you can find one that suits your needs (see what I did there?). Just making my way old town I biked by at least half a dozen tailors displaying their work in front of their shops. And by cheap, I mean custom three piece suit around $50 bucks kind of cheap. The shops are able to make a suit or dress for you in just a few days time making it very convenient for those spending only a small time in Hoi An.
Stay at a Homestay
If you’re planning on spending some time in Hoi An I highly recommend that you stay in one of the many homestays available in the town. Why a homestay? For one, most if not all of the homestays offer free bike rentals which is an awesome way to explore the town for no money. Two, the families at the homestays are incredibly friendly and will offer advice on what to do and see in Hoi An. The homestay Lisa and I stayed at, The Strawberry Garden Homestay, offered free bike rentals and free breakfast every morning. Our host, Ruby, helped us with any questions we had and even helped us arrange a private car to take us to Da Nang. Click Hereto read a detailed post about our stay at the Strawberry Garden Homestay.
Get a Custom Stamp Made
Do you wish to immortalize your face in the form of a stamp? Well I got some good news for you! There is a shop in Hoi An that will do just that! For just 300,000d($13.21 USD) you can get a custom stamp made of any picture. Located at 48B Bach Dang St. Hoi An, the lovely lady at Kha Dau Nghe Thuat shop will make you a customized stamp that she hand makes herself! Perfect for stamping all those postcards you still need to mail out! It takes about day to make and will last a lifetime.
Check out the Japanese Covered Bridge
Built in the late 1700’s, the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge is a sight to see for anyone visiting Hoi An. The Japanese Bridge is a reminder of how culturally diverse Hoi An was in the past and arguably still is. You can purchase the Hoi An Tourist ticket at the price of 120,000d to cross the bridge and see the temple at the other side. The Hoi An Tourist ticket allows you access to other historical buildings and landmarks in Hoi An. The Japanese Bridge can get pretty crowded so I recommend seeing it as early in the day as possible to avoid the crowds.
Shopping at the Night Market
If you love shopping as much as Lisa does, then Hoi An is your land of milk and honey. Hoi An has dozens upon dozens of shops sporting anything from homemade lanterns to custom leather boots. There is a night market located across the river from Old Town where you can find a whole bunch of goodies like paper pop-up cards, Vietnamese rice picking hats, and oriental fans. At the night market you can find the shops that sell the handmade lanterns that Hoi An is renown for. Even if you don’t buy one, they make for an amazing picture, just be sure to take it while the merchant is making a sale otherwise they might get annoyed. The night market also has a bunch of food carts so you can fill your appetite while you shop till you drop.
Watch the Lanterns in the River
One of the most dazzling sights to see in Hoi An are the lanterns floating down the Thu Bon River. For a small fee, you can purchase a floating lantern from the dozens of merchants near the boats by the river. I enjoyed watching the lanterns from the bridges that stretched across the river. There’s something very mystical about watching them float on by past the sampans to their destination unknown.
Take a Cooking Class
Want to learn a new recipe to impress your friends back home? Try taking a cooking class at one of the restaurants in Hoi An. Learn how to make Cau Lau, a traditional noodle dish that is local to Hoi An and is a dish you can’t skip out on. Made with pork, noodles, and vegetables that traditionally can only be found in Hoi An.
Get Leather Made
For every tailor in Hoi An there’s a leather shop to match it. Leather is everywhere in Hoi An! You can get anything from wallets, purses, satchels to jackets, shoes, and even backpacks! Just make sure the shop you’re buying from is selling you “true” leather. Some shops sell a product si-mi-li which they try and pass as leather, but its not. The price for the leather goods is incredibly cheap for what they are. I almost bought myself a pair of custom oxfords for 1,300,000d (that’s $57.82 USD!) just because of the price! The turnaround time is unreal as well with most things taking only a few hours to a day to make.
Our stay in Phong Nha National Park was nothing less than amazing thanks to the wonderful staff at the Hoa Phong Hotel. Lisa and I had planned to go to Phong Nha to see everything the beautiful national park had to offer and after searching Agoda.com for a while we found the lovely Hoa Phong Hotel. The Hoa Phong Hotel rested beneath limestone mountains that surround Phong Nha and 200m from the Song Con River. We had emailed the hotel prior to ask for a pickup at the Dong Hoi Railway Station as well as a room with a double bed with a mountain view. Being surrounded by beautiful limestone mountains we thought why not be able to view them from our room? The Hoa Phong Hotel was quick to respond to us and were delighted to adhere to our requests (seriously it took less than 5 minutes to get a reply from them!).
We booked three nights for a total of 885,600d ($39 USD) which included a room with a double bed overlooking a behemoth limestone mountain. Free breakfast and coffee was included in our stay which was available from 7:00-10:00 every morning. The hotel also offered guided tours to the many caves that are found in Phong Nha. We decided to do the Discovery Cave Tour which took us to the Botanical Gardens, Paradise Cave, and the Dark Cave. The hotel gave us ample information about the tour and told us their favorite things about it.
On our last day, the Hoa Phong Hotel helped us find a bus that would take us back to the Dong Hoi Railway Station and even offered to let us keep the room for free until our bus arrived (which was not until 17:00 that evening). The Hoa Phong went above and beyond to make sure Lisa and I had the best experience possible in Phong Nha. I’m definitely going to stay here again next time I find myself in Phong Nha.
Lisa and I planned to stay in Hoi An for a total of four days and three nights, enough time to relax and enjoy everything the beach city has to offer. What made our stay in Hoi An beyond spectacular was the wonderful Strawberry Garden Homestay and the loving family who took care of us.
Upon arriving at the Strawberry Garden Homestay, which is located just one kilometer outside of Old Town, we were greeted by our host Ruby. Ruby welcomed us into the homestay, offering us home made tea and delectable local rice snacks. While we sat down and enjoyed the lovely treats in front of us, Ruby told us of all the and tours that her homestay offers as well as what is located nearby. The Strawberry Garden Homestay offers bikes for guests to take to explore the city free of charge. There is also an option for renting a motorbike for 140,000 Dong a day. Free breakfast every morning of your stay which includes a meal plus a drink. All homemade of course. If need be, they offer a laundry service for a nominal fee per kilo.
One of our biggest joys was playing with their incredibly friendly dog, who was always excited to see us every time we returned to the homestay. The way he crosses his paws when he lays down was almost to cute too handle. Everyday, Ruby would ask us how we were doing and if there was anything she could do to help make our stay better. Ruby made the Strawberry Garden Homestay feel like home for both my wife and I. We even debated staying another few nights due to how wonderful our stay there was! If you ever find yourself in Hoi An, do yourself a favor and spend your stay at the Strawberry Garden Homestay.
Taking the train in Vietnam was an amazing experience that I was fortunate to have. I had read through other blogs that taking a train allows you see the more rural parts of Vietnam that are far from the main cities. Having never taking a train before, I was intrigued by the notion and wanted to experience it for myself. Lisa and I decided to to book the SE10 train going from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang as our first trip. The trip would take 7 ½ hours to complete and would take us through the rural parts of Vietnam. To get the most out of the experience we chose to take the day train so we could appreciate all the the views as we passed by. We brought two backpacks with us which we stored in the overhead storage compartments above our seats. Throughout the trip, the train would occasionally stop at other stations to pick up fellow backpackers and daily commuters on their way to work.
Where to Buy Tickets
There are a few different ways to purchase a train ticket. You can go to the local train station and purchase a physical ticket there. Go online to sites like Baolau.com, Vietnam-Railway.com, or 12go.asiaand purchase a digital ticket that you can download or print. Or you can purchase train tickets through your hostel, homestay, or hotel. Sometimes you can get a deal with your accommodation where they will arrange a car to drop you off or pick you up from the train station.
We chose Baolau.com to purchase our tickets to Nha Trang from Ho Chi Minh city. We purchased soft seats that cost 189,000VND ($8.32USD) + 10,000VND ($0.44USD) service fee. When we purchased tickets through Baolau.com we were first sent an email receipt of the tickets then had to wait a few minutes to an hour for the actual ticket to be emailed to us. Through Baolau.com we were able to download a PDF file of the train ticket onto our phones which was convenient.
Before boarding our train we took screenshots of our tickets just in case the PDF wouldn’t load and ended up using that to board the train with no problem at all. We met some other travelers who were panicking because they didn’t know if they needed a printed ticket or not, rest assured the screenshot of the ticket is more than enough. Keep in mind that if you are unsure about something don’t hesitate to ask any employee at the train station. Through our experience the train staff are very helpful and will approach you to see if you’re ok or if you have any questions.
Types of Seats
When purchasing train tickets you are given the option of what kind of seat you want. They range from hard seats, soft seats, four person berths and six person berths. The hard seats are the cheapest option, but the least comfortable. They are wooden benches similar to the ones you would find outside of a train station. The soft seat is a vinyl-covered seat and is one of the more comfortable of the seating options on the train. A four-person berth is a room with two bunk beds adjacent to one another. These are used primarily for night travel and are more costly than the soft seat and hard seat option. The six-person berth is a room with two three-person bunk beds that are adjacent to one another. The six-person berth is cheaper than the four-person berth however you are now dealing with six people sharing the same amount of space that the four-person berth would be sharing.
Benefits of Taking a Train
Amazing views of the countryside.
Inexpensive option for long travel.
By taking an overnight train you can eliminate having to find an additional accommodation for the night.
U.S. citizens traveling to Vietnam by air can apply for a Visa on arrival (VOA) with the acceptance of an approval letter. What’s an approval letter? An approval letter is a legitimate document issued from Vietnam Immigration that grants Visa applicants the ability to pick up their Visa on arrival at any of the international airports in Vietnam. The price for the approval letter starts at $8 and up depending on what site you use. Once approved, you will be sent the approval letter via email in 3 to 5 business days. The accepted approval letter includes your name as well as the name of 7 of applicants (Vietnam processes 8 applicants at a given time). When I bought my airline tickets I was actually given a promotional deal that included a free approval letter, so I recommend buying your flight ticket before applying for the approval letter.
When You Arrive in Vietnam
Once you land at any of the international airports you are directed to the Immigration Office where you will finish applying for your Visa. There you will fill out your Visa application form and wait in line to submit your forms. You will need your passport, passport photo, approval letter, and the $25.00 USD for the stamp fee. Once you submit all that to the immigration official at the counter you can take a seat and wait for your name to be called. When your name is called you can pick up your passport that has your Vietnam Visa in it and be on your way!
Before Applying for Visa on Arrival Make Sure You Have:
A Passport with 6 months validity
A Passport picture 2x2in (you can take your passport at the Immigration Office at the airport for about 5.00 USD)