Vietnam Travel Tips
Although we’ve listed a ton of great boutiques, don’t miss the gift stores in luxury hotels—they typically carry higher quality merchandise. Expect to pay a little bit more, but the five-star hotels will generally carry unique pieces, and sometimes they’ll stock high end designers. But keep in mind while you shop, that anything bought must be lugged around for the rest of the trip; try to buy stock items (things you can get all over Vietnam) at your last destination. It’s also a good idea to think ahead and pack an extra bag to carry home all your goodies—you’re going to need it!
Vietnam, though known for its stunning laquerware and captivating black and white photography, is also a great place to get beautiful hand-made clothing. Be sure to bring your favorite item to give the tailor some idea of what you’re looking for to ensure a perfect fit.
It is an extremely smart idea to keep the address and number of your hotel with you at all times; there might be a language barrier and a written confirmation of where you need to go can often bridge the gap.
Visa and Travel Documents
Citizens of some Asian countries are exempt from visas for short-term stays. Japanese citizens may stay for 15 days without a visa, while Singaporeans, Thai and Malaysians are granted 30-day visa waivers. Filipinos may stay 21 days without a visa.
You are able to receive your visa on arrival at HCMC (Saigon), Danang and Hanoi airports if you have your Visa Authorization Letter. Make sure you also have US dollars for the visa fee, passport sized photo and your passport. We’d even recommend stashing the exact change, your passport sized photo, and the letter into an envelope to make everything move a bit faster.
If you do not arrive by air to those specific cities, you must obtain a visa prior to arrival in Vietnam.
Upon entering Vietnam you will be presented with a yellow form that covers customs and immigration. Don’t lose it—you’ll need it to leave the country.
Immunizations are recommended, but consult your physician or healthcare provider:
Diptheria and tetanus
Japanese B Encephalitis
Also, although malaria is still rare, dengue fever is on the increase and commonly contracted by travelers. Make sure to sleep beneath a mosquito net in open-style rooms and always apply repellent. Bring all prescription medication.
At the Airport
Luggage allowances vary airline to airline. Visit the sites below.
Vietnam’s currency, the Vietnam Dong (VND), exchanges at a rate of about 16,500 to the US Dollar.
As the dollar is still valuable in Cambodia (!) we advise bringing a good number of singles ($200) to use as tips. Higher-end restaurants often include service charges in the bill, and although tips are not expected in more casual restaurants and bars, they are appreciated.
Shops are not responsible for damages incurred during shipping, so we recommend purchasing shipping insurance if you chose to ship items home.
Vietnam’s country is +84, and operates on Greenwich meantime +7 hours. (When it’s noon in Vietnam, it’s midnight in New York.)