Things you should know before traveling to Vietnam
Thanks to its plethora of amazing sights, mind-blowing history, and fascinating wonders, Vietnam is now deservedly the number one go-to destination for any adventure traveler looking to explore south-east Asia.
However, for all its wonders, beauty, and excitements, Vietnam can be a country of extremes– little wonder why many people often suggest that it is not a place for the faint-hearted. For example, when the weather is hot in this part of the world, it is really, really hot; and when it rains, its as though oceans are pouring from the sky.
But the weather isn’t the only extreme experience you might encounter in Vietnam.
As you glide through the country, moving from HCMC to Sapa, Hoi An to Can Tho, not only does the climate condition change buto the language changes too. So you see, while Vietnam certainly has many things to blow your mind away, it definitely has some elements that can overwhelm you too.
We've compiled a list of things we believe you should know to prepare for the extraordinary contrasts and experiences of Vietnam.
Weather can pose a challenge
As we've touched upon, the weather conditions in Vietnam can be quite challenging. Regardless of where in Vietnam you’re headed, the climate conditions can differ wildly from place to place and you'll want to prepare yourself for whatever conditions you meet once you touchdown. In HCMC, for instance, during the period between May and October, it is advisable that you prepare for both sweltering temperatures and soaking wet conditions. However, the extremely impressive lightning shows you’re likely to be experience to in this part of the country will make putting up with the extreme weather conditions worth it. Unlike Saigon, Hanoi has four seasons with extremely hot and sticky summers and overwhelmingly cold winters. So you’ll need more than just your regular beach wears to stay warm if you plan on traveling to the north.
Be ready to take plenty of naps
One of the biggest modern conundrums is people’s inability to find or sustain quality sleep. Across the globe, we simply work ourselves so hard that we seldom take daytime breaks or naps. Vietnam, on the contrary, doesn’t share this sentiment with the rest of the world.. So when you’re heading to this part of south-east Asia, you should bear in mind that you’re bound to find plenty of Vietnamese taking midday snooze at random locations, and in awkward positions (don’t be surprised to see people napping, or even snoring during the day, on their bikes). While this may seem like an utterly strange concept to you as a visitor, it might actually be what you need yourself to keep your energy levels refreshed during your trip. But in case you’re not a napper, you can still take your midday or evening break at the nearest coffee shop (the Vietnamese are world-renowned for their tasty and calming coffee), while you catch up on your emails or post some of the exciting pictures you’ve snapped on the day on social media.
Eat all you find, but beware
It is common knowledge that nothing beats Vietnamese cuisine, but you will still want to be careful with your hygiene, which is why it is highly recommended that you check out this popular website, Explore One Vietnam, for a list of places, choice of foods, and types of restaurants that are ideal for tourists and visitors alike. As much as you’d love to wine and dine with the locals, it is important for you to bear in mind that your system may not be used to everything Vietnamese, and to avoid throwing up in public places or rushing down to your lodge to hit the toilet, you should make sure that you have the right info and guide as far as feeding yourself goes.
Keep your gadgets and wallets away
Although Vietnam is a peaceful country with equally peaceful cities, it is not without its fair share of local thieves and pickpocket, most of whom are known to target strangers and foreigners. Especially when you’re heading to backpackers’ districts such as Hanoi’s Old Quarter and Saigon’s Pham Ngu Lao. Always carry your phones, smart gadgets, wallets, and other devices in a waist purse with a strap that goes across your body, and be sure to keep the purse in front of you.
Keep your accommodation address and details handy
Even though there’s a little chance that you could miss your destination, you still want have your hotel’s business card, lodge details, or hostel address to make your return from tours, sightseeing, and adventures much easier. Once you have this with you, you can always show it to the nearest local you find for description or your cyclo driver, or you can even hand it over to your taxi driver.
Take plenty of cash
Although Vietnam is gradually starting to accept the global cashless policies and concepts, it is still a cash-based economy at large, which means that most places you visit may not have the facilities to accept credit cards - ATMs can be scarce too.
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