Things to Know Before Traveling to Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the most sought after destinations in South East Asia by backpackers across the world. Here are a few tips and tricks for those thinking about making the journey to this beautiful country.

Lady Buddha in Danang, Vietnam.
The towering statue of Lady Buddha is one of the many sights to see in Danang, Vietnam.

Most Places Accept U.S. Currency

Most if not all places in Vietnam accept USD($)as a form of payment, but to get the most out of your money it’s best to use Vietnamese Dong.

Majority of Places will Charge 3% More if You Use Your Credit Card

Hotels, restaurants, and even some tour agencies will allow you to use your card, but will charge you 2-3% extra. As convenient as it can be to just charge things on you card, it’s still best to use cash to save the most money.

Look for Accommodations that include Breakfast

Breakfast in Vietnam

Booking a room that includes free breakfast can help save you tons of money. Plus, aren’t the best things free?

Arrange to Have Your Hotel Send a Car to Pick You Up

When arriving to a new city either by plane, bus, or train you will be bombarded by taxi drivers looking to rip off tired travelers. To avoid scams its safer to have your hotel arrange a car to pick you up.

Tipping is not Expected Except Near Tourist Spots

Night Market in Hoi An.
Walking the streets of Hoi An.

In general, most Vietnamese restaurants don’t expect you to tip. Due to the influx of tourism in the recent years, restaurants in and near popular tourist destinations have become more accepting of tip. An acceptable tip for good service is about 5-10%.

Bargain!

Bargaining down prices at street markets is widely acceptable and, if done right, can get the item down 50% of the asking price! A good technique to use is the “walk away”. Simply by saying that the item is too expensive and walking away from the merchant will usually cause the merchant to drop the price considerably. Even tours and accomodations can be talked down in price.  One exception to bargaining is never to bargain over the price of food. That’s just rude.

Take Overnight Trains and Sleeper Buses

Sleeper bus from Hanoi to Sapa.
I got some sleep on the overnight bus in Hanoi.

A great way to save money traveling through Vietnam is to take the overnight trains and sleeper buses. Like killing two birds with one stone, an overnight train or a sleeper bus takes care of both travel and lodging for the day. Be sure to stock up on snacks before getting on a sleeper bus because you never when the bus is going to stop and for how long. Also be conscious about your water intake during a bus ride; some sleeper buses do not contain bathrooms.

Download the Google Translate App

A shout out to Google for creating the amazing Google Translate app! This app has helped me out many times in my travels in Vietnam when it came to overcoming the language barrier. The app is completely free and will come in handy when trying to communicate to hotel staff, taxis, and merchants.

For a detailed list of Travel Apps check out our post Recommended Apps for Travel

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