How’s Vietnam been treating me lately? I love it here! Vietnam is a tourist-friendly, safe and beautiful country. It is also a place where things are very cheap with lots of street food. Pho, spring rolls and Vietnamese baguettes are now my favourite food. I can’t stop eating them every day! Most of travellers I have met here say that their journeys in Vietnam went smoothly and safely. However, Vietnam can be a nightmare if you are not familiar with the customs, traditions and habits. There are things you should NEVER do in Vietnam in order to protect yourself and avoid offending someone by accident. There are also things you should ALWAYS do as a sign of showing respect and gratitude. Keep in mind that this is a developing country, and things don’t quite work the way you may be used to.
- Obtain a prearranged visa before travelling to Vietnam. It is way more convenient and time-saving than applying directly at Vietnam embassy.
- Learn about Vietnam prior to your trip to have a suitable travelling plan, choose reliable tour agencies and avoid badly run hotels. The good sources include friends who have traveled to Vietnam, travel forums …
- Take a hotel card before going out, so you can easily contact your hotel in case you get lost.
- Avoid unbranded taxi. Choose popular taxi brand such as Mai Linh, CP Group, Taxi Group, Vinasun…
- Bargain when purchasing in outdoor market, stalls, and souvenir shops. Remain friendly manner at all time. Bargain should be an enjoyable experience, not a battle.
- Look both ways, walk slowly and don’t change pace suddenly when crossing streets. The vehicles will find their way around you.
- Keep your packaging and clothes light and loose. You are sure to hit hot, sticky weather on some parts of Vietnam.
- Make it a habit to keep a hand on your wallet when you are in a crowed place. Keep your bag and camera strapped in front of you and hold them close to your body. Don’t make yourself an easy target.
- Check the change carefully. The 500,000 and 20,000 notes have similar blue colour while the 100,000 and 10,000 notes can be easy to get confused, especially when you are in a hurry or in the dark.
- Ask others how much things cost. Take advantage of local staffs at your hotel or restaurant. They might be experts of local prices.
- Do not let people carry your bags/luggage without your requesting. They may not be staffs of coaches, trains or hotels and you will never see your luggages again.
- Always ask the price first when you buy something on the local markets. Price for the same thing may vary from shop to shop.
- Do shopping in the supermarket if possible. It is the place that prices are fixed and foreigners will be charge the same price as the locals.
- Dress appropriately and conservatively when visiting religious places. You should cover your breast, legs, arms and tattoos to show respect to Vietnamese culture.
You Should Not
- Always ask for permission first when taking a photograph of people. Many locals find it annoying to be photographed, especially the older ones.
- Do not try to take photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security.
- Do not use public transportation during the rush hours. It will be overcrowded and inconvenient. Besides, it is also the golden time and place for pickpockets. They sometimes use the knives to rip your bag and you won’t even feel it.
- Do not wear valuable jewellery and do not show off your expensive electronic devices. You may become a victim of a drive-by bag snatcher.
- Never lose your temper in public. If you lose your temper, you will lose your face. Nobody will sympathize with you and locals will ignore your wish.
- Do not show too much affection to your lovers in public. Holding hands is accepted but not hugging or kissing.