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Tips For Traveling in Vietnam

January 24, 2011

Here are some tips for you when you travel to Vietnam. Some of the things I list here are also tips for traveling in general.

There are many excellent online sources for traveling these days, but there is nothing like having a printed travel guide book when you are in a foreign country. Some guidebooks can feel bulky and heavy to carry in a suitcase. You can find inexpensive ones in English on streets of Vietnam. They were about US$5 when we bought one in Vietnam.

LITTLE ONES ON A FLIGHT

Are you traveling with small kids? Here is a good inexpensive entertainment for your girls during a flight. My daughters both loved playing with their sticker books. My older one received a sticker book from her friend in the States and loved it and I found an Indonesian version here. They are about Rp. 69,000 ($7) at a local book store. We don’t have a fancy MP3 player to play a movie, so our girls had to play with conventional toys. Good enough for them.

HELPFUL TO HAVE DURING A TRIP
Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City
☆Kleenex (2-3 packages)
☆hand wipes
☆hand gels (optional)
☆iTouch (WiFi is everywhere)
☆handkerchief
☆hair conditioner (all the hotels we stayed did not provide one)
☆bandaids
☆hat and sunscreen (if you are going to do Mekong Delta Trip)

Hoi An
☆sweater or jacket (if you are going to travel to Hoi An in winter)
☆at least 2 pairs of shoes (sandals are fine for the sunny weather) for the wet weather

Overnight Train Ride
☆make-up remover wipes (if you put make-up on, obviously!)
☆bottles for water for drinking and brushing teeth

Let me tell you about iTouch. It is super useful to have it during your trip for looking for store address, finding reviews, and even make phone calls through Skype you download to your iTouch. We used Skype to call our hotel in Hoi An as they changed our reservation. It was our lifeline.

LAUNDRY SERVICES

Laundry Services are everywhere and it is CHEAP! Both in Saigon and Hoi An, it was $1/kilo. We used laundry services twice. In Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City we asked our travel agent the nearest laundry places as the hotel laundry service was expensive. There were two locations our travel guy showed us that are located close to our hotel. You should take advantage of the service. Everything came back nice and clean.

TAXI

I have heard stories about people being ripped off by taxi drivers in Vietnam. Here are two companies you can trust and we used them all the time and had no problems: VINASUN and MAILINH. They have a meter in their cars, so you know that the prices are legit. It’s a peace of mind to know what companies to use. We did not need to use Taxi at all in Hoi An.

SOUVENIRS

These are just ideas. I’m sure there are other wonderful items we didn’t pick up.

We bought many of our souvenirs at Ben Thanh Market. This market is one of the places you have got to check out if you are a tourist in Saigon. It’s like a tourist trap though. I would like to post about it if people are not sick of hearing about my trip! My husband bought cashews as he heard that cashew nuts are popular souvenir from Vietnam. I bought those fried coconut and my girls and I LOVED them. I bought many little cases made of fabric. I love my travel jewelry case, so I bought several to give away as a gift.

If you shop at Ben Thanh Market, don’t rush to buy at the first store unless you don’t really care how much you have to pay. There are always several stores that sell the same items and they are usually next to each other, so it’s easy to ask around and go back to your favorite. Our Vietnamese friend told us that the Ao Dai for kids should be around $5. In my experience, the first store always gave me the highest price and there are other vendors who gave me cheaper prices without hesitation.


I also bought a few Vietnamese coffee maker. They are 20,000 Dong ($1).

HOI AN

RAIN

It rained the first three days we were in Hoi An. It felt chilly on the first day and people wore jackets and sweaters. We didn’t bring our umbrellas, but the hotels provided us two in our rooms. We also bought those cheap plastic rain coats. It’s like a garbage bag with arms. I wouldn’t pay more than $1 for this. It came very handy.

TAILORS IN HOI AN

Hoi An is very famous for its tailors. Everyone who goes there seems to make something during their trip. We read on Trip Advisor that YALY (shown above) was one of the best places to make clothes. We were right there, but we didn’t try. We felt that you need at least 3 (or preferably 4) full days to make something you’ll be satisfied with. We only had two full days there and didn’t think it was enough to make a suit for my husband, so we forewent the idea. Maybe next time.

If you want to make something there, I think it will help a lot to have your favorite clothing item that you can no longer buy at a store to give as an example and ask to make the exact copy of the item. Don’t bring something you can’t afford to lose or get ruined though.

SHOES SHOPPING

These shoe stores look just like the ones you’re familiar with, right? Well, they are very different. The shoes you see in display are mere samples. They are all order made shoe stores.


We didn’t buy any clothes, but we had some shoes made. I had two pairs of sandals made, and my husband had a pair of sneakers made. What we did was we used a shoe store where we found sample shoes we liked. If you have a pair of shoes or sandals that you would love to make a copy, bring them and make the exact copy of the shoes. Make sure you have at least 2 full days. I wish we had the third full day in Hoi An since one of my sandals I made (no photo here) fell apart, but I couldn’t take them back to have them fixed as we ran out of time.

WORLD HERITAGE

For visiting the World Heritage Sites, you buy tickets for $5 per person to visit some designated buildings you can tour in Hoi An. The tickets are good for 24 hours. We bought tickets on the first day, but I wish we did that on the 2nd day. If you have two full days there, I’d suggest that you spend the first day to just walk around, learn about the city, maybe find a tailor or shoe maker and enjoy the scenery. Then, you can use the second day to go visit specific sites. We only used two tickets and they expired!

VIETNAM AIRLINES

We took a flight back from Hoi An to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City to catch our flight back to Jakarta from Saigon. I was very impressed with the Vietnam Airlines. Clean with individual screen for something like $55 per person to fly back from Hoi An to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City.

SUITCASES

If you are looking into buying a suitcase, may I suggest something? It is so much easier to use a suitcase with 4 wheels. It is flexible as it goes to any directions and easier on your arm. It also feels much lighter as you can just push it as opposed to pulling the weight of a suitcase with two wheels while you drag it. Your kids can even push the suitcase with 4 wheels, but it’s too heavy for kids to pull a suitcase with 2 wheels. I’m not a sales person and I don’t have any particular brand I am suggesting. There is no price differences between a 2 wheeled one and 4 wheeled one. Why not have an easier equipment unless you have a particular designs in mind?

I hope you enjoyed my two cents. Just a little note from me to you who are thinking about traveling to Vietnam. Bon Voyage!

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2011 8:18 pm

    Oh gosh, that was pretty comprehensive! I will surely refer to this when I’ll go to Vietnam, Kaho, thanks for these tips!

  2. January 25, 2011 1:25 am

    Very good post! Packed with so much information and pics. Loved it! Will surely refer to this when we plan a trip to Vietnam! Thanks!

  3. January 25, 2011 2:17 am

    Kaho, what an amazing post! I loved seeing all your photos of your holiday to Vietnam and your travelling tips are fantastic – I’ve never been to Vietnam myself but armed with your list, I think I would feel like an expert :) I like your idea of sticker books for the plane flight.

  4. January 25, 2011 11:11 am

    Mariella and the Diplo Wife, thanks!! I’m happy to hear that! Amanda, thanks for the compliment. I think your daughter will love that sticker book when she gets older.

  5. May 18, 2013 9:13 am

    Hi there I am so excited I found your site, I really found you by mistake, while I was researching on Google for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say thank
    you for a marvelous post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the excellent job.

    • May 20, 2013 9:29 am

      Thanks and I’m happy to know that you came to my blog. Thanks for your time to browse through my blog!

  6. Kim permalink
    January 20, 2014 10:58 am

    Thank you for a great blog on Vietnam. Pictures were great and very cute.
    Did you have to take any travel vaccination for Vietnam before your trip?

    • January 20, 2014 11:45 am

      Kim, thank you for the great question! Since we had lived in Jakarta, Indonesia and we already had vaccinations required to live in Indonesia, we didn’t even think about it. I think all the vaccinations required to go to Indonesia covered those that needed for visiting Vietnam. I realize that I’m not really helping you with this. Sorry… I don’t think you need to take any vaccination, but please check another source.

  7. February 28, 2014 2:48 am

    Hi,
    Your experience and pics are great. I’m a real Vietnamese person, and after reading your blog I have to say that you are really specialize in expart;)
    Besides, you anyone want to ask more information about Vietnam, just feel free to ask me :)
    Becki

    • February 28, 2014 3:56 am

      Siue Nhan Tuti, thank you so much for your kind words and offering to answer questions!

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