The famous Ho Chi Minh Trail was a labyrinth of complex truck routes, foot and bicycle paths and river transportation. In memory of the important role...
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Explore Vietnam on this 2 week multi adventure odyssey from North to South. The trip starts in Hanoi the capital of Vietnam from where you head north...
Halong bay is natural wonder of the world and one of Vietnam’s five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, magnificent Halong Bay lies 160km to the east of Hanoi...
Vietnam is a country most people have heard of and the country is becoming a famous tourist destination in South East Asia. Things have come a long way in the past decade and visitors from all over the world are now discovering what a hidden gem of a country Vietnam is. Brilliant green rice fields, bustling city streets, thatched bamboo huts, grand colonial buildings, exotic temples and pagodas, deserted sandy beaches, breathtaking mountain scenery, conical straw hats, colourful ethnic minorities, graceful women in ao dai tunics, delicious cuisine, luxurious hotels and resorts and more, much more, it’s all here in Vietnam.
Domestic Flights: None
Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for travelling in Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia & Laos. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat is a good idea in the rainy season. During the winter months warm clothing is needed for visiting the north of Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos. Visitors to Buddhist countries should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting religious buildings and shoes should be removed before entering a private home.
Mainly 220V but in some areas 110V is also used.
The cuisine of Vietnam comes as a pleasant surprise to many visitors and is definitely a part of the Vietnam experience not to be missed. One of the characteristics of Vietnamese food is that it is always fresh being bought the same morning straight from the market. Food is usually prepared with a minimum of oil and served with the ubiquitous fish sauce called nuoc mam. Typical Vietnamese dishes you can expect to try include pho, a type of rice noodle soup eaten for breakfast, cha gio, deep-fried spring rolls and goi ngo sen, a delicious salad made with lotus stems, shrimps and peanuts. Due to the strong Buddhist influence in Vietnam, vegetarian food is widely available.
No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio. Malaria is present in most of the region and it is advisable to take precautions especially if travelling off the beaten track. Medical facilities are rather limited in all countries and it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before travelling in case evacuation is needed.
Hours of business
VIETNAM Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from 07:30 or 08:00 until 17:00 or 18:00 and often close for lunch between 11:30 and 13:00. Some offices also open Saturday morning. Shops open early and close any time between 18:00 and 22:00. Most shops are open 7 days a week.
Because Vietnamese has six different tones, it is a difficult language for most foreigners to speak despite the fact that the Roman alphabet is used in modern Vietnamese. The same word can have six different meanings depending on the tone used to pronounce it. In the cities and larger towns English is becoming popular and is now spoken by many younger people while some of the older generation still speak fluent French. Russian and Chinese are also spoken by some people.
The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong although US Dollars are accepted in many hotels, restaurants and shops. Banks are open Monday to Friday and some are open Saturday morning. In the major cities there are bureaux de change and most hotels will change US Dollars although for other currencies it is usually necessary to visit a bank. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks and some exchange bureaux but can be difficult to change outside of the major cities. Visa Card and Mastercard are now accepted in many hotels, restaurants and shops but US Dollars cash are still the most reliable form of money to carry. There are some ATM machines appearing now in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
January 1 New Year's Day
January/February Tet or Vietnamese New Year. The actual dates vary from year to year according to the lunar calendar. Officially three days holiday but many businesses close down for a full week. This is the busiest time of the year for travelling in Vietnam and hotels, flights and trains are often full.
April 30 Liberation of Saigon Day
May 1 International Labour Day
September 2 National Day
Souvenirs to look out for in Vietnam include lacquerware, silk, conical hats, woodcarvings, hill tribe fabrics and handicrafts, embroidery, marble, ceramics, silver jewellery, antique watches and paintings. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have the best choice when it comes to shopping but Hoi An in the centre of Vietnam is also a very good place to hunt for bargains.
Most hotels now have IDD phones in rooms and it is possible to send faxes from hotels and post offices although be warned these services are expensive in all four countries. Away from the major cities it may not always be possible to make international calls. Internet cafes are becoming popular in the major cities in Vietnam, and many travellers now prefer to keep in touch by e-mail. Postcards can be bought at all the main tourist sites and stamps are available from post offices and some hotel reception desks
Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in these developing nations. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped a small amount for their troubles.
All visitors are required to have a valid visa to enter Vietnam. A one-month tourist visa is usually sufficient for most visitors though it is possible to arrange 3-month and 6-month multiple entry visas for regular visitors. All visitors must obtain visa approval from the Vietnamese Immigration Department before a visa is issued. The Indochina Trekking Company can arrange for a visa authorization to be sent to the Vietnamese embassy or consulate where the visa is to be collected once the following information has been forwarded: full name, date of birth, nationality, passport number and sex. This information should be forwarded at least one month before departure. One copy of the visa authorization will be sent to the embassy or consulate where the visa is to be collected and a second will be forwarded to the person collecting the visa. A fee is payable to Exotissimo for the visa authorization and to the embassy or consulate for the visa stamping. The person collecting the visa must complete two application forms and hand these in with two passport photos when collecting the visa. In situations where it is more convenient Exotissimo is also authorized to issue visas on arrival at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi, Danang International Airport in Danang and Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. The same authorization procedure and a minimum of 5 working days notice is still required. In emergency cases Exotissimo can arrange a visa on arrival if notice of 2 working days is given. On entering Vietnam all visitors must complete a entry/exit form including a customs declaration (white/yellow colour). It is important that the bottom copy (yellow sheet) of this form is kept safe with your passport while in Vietnam and is presented to the customs and immigration officials on departure.
Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Finnish citizens will be exempted from requiring visas as of day 1 when they enter, exit or stay in Viet Nam for less than 15 days.
VIETNAM Hanoi and the north of Vietnam have a distinct winter and summer season with the mainly dry winter lasting from November through to April with average temperatures of 18-20 oC. Summer lasts from May to October and is hot and humid with temperatures around 30 oC. Hue and Danang in the centre of the country have very hot, dry weather from February to August with temperatures reaching the mid 30s Celsius, but can experience some quite heavy rainfall between September and January. Ho Chi Minh City and the south have a hot, dry season from December till April with average temperatures around 28 oC and a rainy season lasting from May through till November. It rarely rains for long periods even in the rainy season with most rain coming in short, heavy bursts.
It is not advisable to drink tap water in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere. Ice in drinks is generally OK in good standard hotels and restaurants but it is best to avoid it on street stalls or in country areas.
The trip has been very well organised with the right balance of cycling, sight-seeing and getting a taste for local culture. Reno always went beyond the duties of a guide to keep us informed and entertained, he has a great skill for interacting with many different people. Tsung was a very safe driver and always very efficient in getting us organised to start riding and never far away at anytime. I look forward to my next trip with Indotrek- Jason Fitzpatrick