Any tips for Vietnam?

Has anyone got any tips about what to take for this holiday? Padded pants obviously........

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I hope the list i have made below helps out first-time visitors. It may seem cynical and anti-vietnamese. It’s not. I love this country; i want you to love it, too. I’d just like to alert travelers to beware of the common first-time mistakes that may sour their experience of the local people and the country overall.

- The price for goods and services is…whatever you’ll pay.

- Buy your train tickets directly at the train station, not from your hotel or an agent.

- Breakfast is often included, and often sucks

- Traffic accidents are the #1 cause of tourist death worldwide; riding a motorbike in vietnam kicks ass.

-Vietnamese people outside of the tourist industry are amazingly hospitable and sweet.

-Vietnam is bigger than you think.

- Be sure the soup is boiling.

- Avoid packaged ‘day tours’ as much as possible.

- Keep your belongings secure on the overnight buses and trains:

I’ve never heard of any theft on the train, but i’ve heard numerous stories of others having valuables stolen on the overnight “sleeper” buses. Personally, i’ve had an amazing and much missed hat stolen on the bus. Always take your belongings with you at rest areas and meals. Assume that if it’s hanging out, or left alone, it can be taken.

- Hanoi for tradition and ‘attractions’; ho chi minh city for style and modern culture:

The eternal hanoi vs. Ho chi minh city debate is pointless. These two great cities are both worth visiting, but for different reasons. Hanoi is very much the governmental capital, and you can feel it immediately. The body of ho chi minh is preserved here. The ancient pagodas still point out from the willowy lakesides, the french quarter is better preserved and more quaint. It is the quintessential capital city- straight, low-key and traditional.

For vibrancy, culture and nightlife, Saigon (Ho Chi minh City) is the place to be. Sexy neon lights, rooftop bars, sophisticated cafes, a burgeoning art and music scene, saigon is the city most foreign expats prefer, and for good reason. The ‘attractions’ here are not the draw; it’s the culture and people.

- You can be stylish, but dress conservatively.

- Don’t put your iphone on the table.

- Rooftop bars:

Anywhere i go, i love rooftop bars. Cool breeze, city lights, paper airplanes…vietnam has more rooftop bars than any other country i’ve visited.

- For the best value hotels, try the alleys.

 

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