Travel Tips

  • 1. Basic Vietnamese phrase

    Hello Xin chào (seen chow)
    Goodbye Tạm biệt (tam byet)
    Good morning Chào buổi sáng (chow buh sang)
    Good afternoon Chào buổi chiều (chow buh chieu)
    Good evening Chào buổi tối (chow buh toy)
    Good night Chúc ngủ ngon (Chuc ngu ngon)
    How are you? Bạn có khỏe không? (ban co kwe khome?)
    I'm fine, thank you Cảm ơn bạn, tôi khỏe (gahm un ban thoy kwe)
    And you? Bạn thì sao? (ban ty sao?)
    What's your name? Bạn tên gì? (ban thane zee)
    My name is... Tôi tên là... (thoy thane la...)
    Thank you Cảm ơn (gahm un)
    You're welcome Không có gì (khom ga zee)
    Yes Vâng (vung)
    No Không (khome)
    Excuse me... Xin lỗi (seen loy)
    I'd like to eat Tôi muốn ăn (thoy moowan un)
    I'd like to drink Tôi muốn uống (thoy moowan oowanh)
    Good Tốt (thote)
    Bad Không tốt (khome thote)
    How much Bao nhiêu (bow nyew)
    Too expensive Mắc quá (mahk qwa)
    Hotel Khách sạn (khack san)
    Hot Nóng (nom)
    Cold Lạnh (lang)
    Coffee Cà phê (cah feh)
    Tea Trà (chah)


  • 2. Counting in Vietnamese

    1 = một (mote)

    2 = hai (hi)

    3 = ba (bah)

    4 = bốn (bone)

    5 = năm (nam)

    6 = sáu (sow--as in female pig)

    7 = bảy (bye)

    8 = tám (tam)

    9 = chín (chin)

    10 = mười (moo-ee)

  • 3. Customs regulations

    Arriving in Vietnam, all visitors must fill in Declaration Forms and show their luggage to Customs Officials upon request. There are no limited amounts of foreign currency, objects made of gold, silver, precious metals and gemstones or plated with silver or gold but visitors must declare these in detail on the customs forms.

    Entry: Tourists are authorized to bring in the following items duty-free: Cigarettes: 400 pieces; Cigars: 50-100; Tobacco: 500 gram; Liquor: 1.5l; Personal effects of a reasonable quantity. Small gift items valued at not more than US$ 500.

    Note: There is no limit to the amounts of cash, precious metals and gems people can bring in, but amounts of over US$ 7,000 must be declared. It is prohibited for any visitor to bring into Vietnam the followings * Weapons, explosives and inflammable objects. * Opium and other narcotics. * Cultural materials unsuitable to Vietnamese society.

    Exit: Goods of commercial nature and articles of high value require export permits issued by the Customs Office. Antiques, some precious stones and animals listed in Vietnam's red-book may not be brought out of the country.

  • 4. Baggage

    Airline baggage allowance regulations are based on a weight and measurement system. Combined overall dimensions for checked baggage could not exceed 106 inches. Carry-on luggage cannot exceed 45 inches. For flights within continents baggage is limited to 44 lbs. (20 kilos). One bag not to exceed 106 inches may be taken on escorted programs. For additional bags, there will be an additional charge of approximately $3 per bag per handling.
  • 5. Clothing

    Light, comfortable, easy to launder clothing is recommended. Winter months in Hanoi and rainy season in the central region can get cool so a sweater or light jacket will come in handy. Good walking shoes and sandals that can be easily removed are recommended.

    Before entering temples and homes, generally it is polite to remove your shoes. Look to see if there are shoes at the door - if so follow suit. Slip-on shoes are the most convenient footwear. Wear long skirt/pants or trousers when visiting the Ho chi Minh mausoleum in Hanoi as access will be denied for men or women with bare knees and shoulders.

  • 6. Business hours (GMT+7)

    Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from 7:30am or 8:00am until 5:00pm or 6:00pm, and often close for lunch between 11:30am and 1:30pm. Some offices also open Saturday morning. Shops open early and close any time between 6:00pm and 10:00pm. Most shops and restaurants are open 7 days a week.
  • 7. Electrical current

    The usual voltage is between 220V and 240V, 50 cycles; but sometimes you encounter 110V, also at 50 cycles, just to confuse things. Two-pin (ungrounded) plug is more popular than three-pin one. If you have any devices needing a special outlet, please bring its adapter kit. The best investment is a universal AC adapter, which will enable you to plug it in anywhere without frying the innards.
  • 8. Body Language

    In Asia it is inappropriate for couples to show excessive affection in public. Never raise your voice or show anger, it is best to keep smiling and remain calm, but firm. Saving face in Asia is very important and the language barrier can be quite difficult at times. Asians do not like to admit they cannot understand you or saying no. They may say yes when they should be saying no or perhaps simply walk away from you. Use both hands when passing to others, eg, money, room key. When hailing a taxi or using your hand to call someone over to you, lift your arm up in front of you, turn your hand palm down and make a scooping motion with your fingers.
  • 9. Shopping tips

    • Ladies have a traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai (long silk dress) and other tailor-made clothing.
    • Vietnam is renowned for stunning quality lacqureware pictures, bowls, plates & drink coasters.
    • Vietnamese art. Saigon and Hanoi has many great traditional and contemporary art shops offering sculptures, carvings, rattan, and stunning paintings.
    • Vietnam’s coffee is some of the best in the world. Renowned for its unique flavor and richness, it’s no wonder the global coffee giant Nestlé reportedly buys a third of the country’s entire coffee export. When purchasing your coffee also get yourself a coffee grinder and a stainless steel coffee filter.
    • Shoes and Handbags. All women love their shoes and hand bags and Vietnamese women are no different! You will find an enormous range and variety of shoes and handbags, from reasonable quality brand name rip-offs to original Vietnamese designed masterpieces.
    • Men often have a casual or business suite made. Vietnam's tailors are some of the most skilled in the world and fantastically cheap.
    • You can get some very cheap yet practical tourist items. Wooden business card holders, for example, are cheap and compact, and friends and business acquaintances love them.
  • 10. Bargaining

    In shops that display a set price then bargaining is not appropriate. Items such as water and snacks will have a set price but you can bargain when buying fruit. When bargaining -remember a smile and a laugh will go a long way. Have fun and enjoy the selling process. Just remember though that what you are bargaining for may only be worth $1 at home, not much to you but quite a lot for a Vietnamese family.
  • 11. Laundry

    Most of the hotels we use in Vietnam provide a laundry service although this can be quite expensive, sometimes as much as US$1 per item. It is 24 hrs services and you got it back within day. Alternatively the side streets of most towns and cities are teeming with laundries where the average cost per kilo of laundry is US$2 – US$ 3.5. Please note that write down all items to ensure you got it back without losing.
  • 12. Questions

    Locals will frequently ask you the following questions: How old are you? Are you married? Do you have any children? Vietnamese have a complex hierarchy of addressing each other and they will call you ‘sister’, ‘uncle’, ‘grandmother’, etc. So it is important that they know these details that seem to us to be quite personal.
  • 13. Happy House

    A handy stash of toilet paper can be valuable as it is not always available when you need it! Some sewage systems here are not powerful enough to handle toilet paper, in this case use the rubbish bin provided. You will know when you need to do this.
  • 14. Health

    Water - Always drink bottled water, and lots of it to avoid dehydration. If you feel a headache coming on it is usually because of lack of water.

    Traveller’s Diarrhea - Very common and can be attributed to the change in climate, food, routine and water. If affected, drink plenty of bottled water and rehydration fluids and salts. Rest as much as possible and stick to plain steamed rice.

    Cuts and abrasions - ensure you keep these clean as seemingly minor cuts can easily become infected in the humidity.

  • 15. How to walk in Vietnam

    Walking around Vietnam is an exciting new adventure, however initially you will feel intimidated by the chaos. It is important that you cross the road slowly and NEVER RUN. The traffic will weave around you if it knows where you are going, so be predictable. Watch how the locals do it and at first cross with them, you will get the hang of it if you just relax.

    Before venturing out, be sure to take a hotel business card. It will be a godsend when you are tired and lost.

  • 16. Tipping

    Tipping has become part of the tour industry here so it is handy to keep small money handy for this. A general guideline per person is - $5 per day for a tour guide, $2 per day for driver, $1 for cyclo driver, porter, bus driver, boat driver, etc. A small tip in restaurants is appropriate.

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