Vietnam Travel Tips 2010

Here are my tips from my experience in Vietnam for those who are travelling in the near future:

  • Do not consume ice or tap water. It is untreated from what I can gather, and I ran into stomach issues from consuming just lettuce that was washed with tap water. You may have a more ironclad stomach. It is advised that you carry anti-diarrhea and anti-vommit medicines.
  • As a preference, try to travel in Vinasun or Mei-ling taxis. These are metered and you shouldn’t get ripped off. Stay away from push-bike carts and people offering rides on the back of bikes – Taxis are extremely cheap.
  • Anything that doesn’t have a price marked, bargain. If you do decide to bargain in the markets, make sure you have an intention to buy the goods if the price is right. Otherwise you may cop some abusive language! Therefore, do not ask for a price on anything you have no intention of buying.
  • If you understand Vietnamese, bargain in English and listen in on their backchat.
  • Anything you want to buy, you are guaranteed that more than one person will have it. Therefore, offer an outrageous price to see how low they will go. You can walk away to test this price, as they will only let you walk away if the price is below their cost.
  • When going through Immigration, use English only to avoid any issues (think it’s been cleaned up alot lately, but in the past you may have had to fork out bribe money)

If I remember anything, I will keep adding…

My personal opinions about Vietnam

  • Food not that great in quality and taste. Way better at home (Australia).
  • The People tend to be grumpy. A smile on your face doesn’t get you anywhere (obviously there are exceptions – hotels and reputable restaurants tend to treat you well)
  • The roads are bad condition and congested. Very hard to get around without a local.
  • Most things overall are extremely cheap.

Day 5 – Nha Trang/Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Woke up nice and early for the journey back to Ho Chi Minh. It is a very long drive (8hrs) with rest stops, covering only 400km. This is mainly due to traffic and road conditions. You get use to the constant darting around on the road while trying to get around slower cars and avoiding oncoming traffic.

By the time we got there, we checked into our hotel and went to a very classy/westernised restaurant. The food and atmosphere was great (address details in pic)! Highly recommended.

Nice Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh

Day 4 – Nha Trang, Vietnam

Spent most of the day on a private beach (pay to enter). This beach was beautiful and rivaled the beaches of Australia. It was untouched to the point that you see little crabs running around digging holes on the beach and burrowing. I’d recommend anyone travelling to Nha Trang to check out this beach. You may need to be part of a tour to access it, as it’s location is quite isoloated.

On the way home we saw a truck rollover. No surprise considering how they drive on these roads…

Our last stop for the day was to see the old relics of the native tribes that used to live in Nha Trang. These buildings had great structure and shape and well worth a visit.

Day 3 – Nha Trang, Vietnam

What an interesting day this turned out to be.

The day started off at Monkey Island, a place where scientists kept monkeys for research. This is now a thing of the past, and the island is now a resthaven for monkeys and tourists. Caught a cruise over to Monkey Island from Nha Trang, and had the opportunity to feed the monkeys and lie on the beach.

At this point I got attacked by a killer monkey (joking)! I ended up getting bitten by a monkey while trying to save my possessions from being raided by a monkey, and he retaliated and bit me on the arm. The locals fixed me up on the spot and reassured me that the monkeys here do not carry viruses or infectious diseases. I watched a monkey circus where monkeys were trained to perform tricks. This was very ammusing to watch!

The beach here on the island is nothing special. The Australian beaches are much cleaner and nicer. There is soft sand leading up to the beaches back at home, rather than coarse pebbles and stones.

Last event for the day was to get a mud bath and sit in a hot spring. The mud bath felt great, but the mud is extremely hard to wash off your swimwear afterwards! This is something you must try in Nha Trang. The location is tucked away, so you may need a guide.

Day 2 – Nha Trang, Vietnam

Got picked up from my hotel in Ho Chi Minh City to be driven to Nha Trang.

Had breakfast at a place overlooking the river before hitting the road. The road to Nha Trang was only about 400 kms but it took over 8 hours to travel. There were stops, but it was mainly due to the crowded roads and the condition of the road. You’ll be lucky to hit 80km/hr, and it’s more typical to be coasting along at 60km/hr.

Had lunch at a beautiful resort. We sat literally meteres from the ocean. Pictures and resort name are below for those interested.

Once we arrived, we checked into the hotel and had dinner later on that evening. That was it for the day, the majority spent on the road.

Day 1 – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Arrived in Ho Chi Minh City after a stop over in Bangkok overnight (and after a 4hr delayed flight out of Australia). Stayed in the Novotel Airport hotel in Bangkok, which was decked out beautifully. Ashame that it was only a stop over.

First impressions of Vietnam after landing at the airport was that everything was very very quiet. I later found out that family/friends were not allowed into the airport for pickup. They needed to wait outside behind a fence. The atmosphere inside the airport felt lifeless.

It was quite a cultural shock once we hit the roads of Vietnam. Soooo many motorbikes, and everyone ignores all the road rules. Everyone is darting around everywhere, and most traffic signals are ignored. The weather was also extremely hot and humid (37C that day).

I ended up making my way to the market which was in District 1. I also stayed at a hotel in District 1. Many things are cheap at the market, but as a travelling foreigner you get earmarked for sales. You will notice a lot of people trying to sell you practically anything. They will probably tug your shirt if you get close enough to them!

After getting dinner at a restaurant in District 5 (suckling pig is cheap!), we called it a night.