Vietnam travel tips
From the exciting pace of the cities to breathtaking rural landscapes and villages, Vietnam’s diversity is astounding. In the capital Hanoi, you will find peaceful lakes, wide tree-lined boulevards, and a fascinating Old Quarter. From Hanoi you can take an overnight boat trip on Halong Bay, with its thousands of limestone islands, or head to the mountains of Sapa.
With its modern vibe and frenetic energy, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) makes for a complete contrast, and is a great jumping off point for an exploration of the Mekong Delta, a mountain getaway to Dalat or a beach holiday in Nha Trang. And don’t forget the Central Vietnam towns of Hue and Hoi An. Here you will find history, culture, cuisine, beaches and some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in all Asia. If you have already booked your trip to Vietnam click here to download our pre-departure guide.
Health & fitness
As with travelling to other parts of Asia, you need to take precautions when visiting Vietnam. Some of the diseases known to exist in Vietnam include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rabies and HIV/AIDS. We strongly recommend you consult your doctor with regards to vaccinations and up-to-date health advice at a month before you depart.
International standard medical care facilities are available in Hanoi, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and Danang. In other areas, medical care facilities are more basic.
Citizens of Australia require a visa to visit Vietnam. You must organise your visa before departing your country of residence, unless you have gone through the official channels to obtain a visa on arrival service. You can arrange your visa up to six months before your scheduled arrival date into Vietnam. In addition, your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your departure from Vietnam.
All Vietnam visas are SINGLE ENTRY unless you have specifically requested MULTIPLE ENTRY and this is stamped into your passport. If you are entering Vietnam twice or more you will need to ensure you have a MULTIPLE ENTRY visa before you leave home. The status of your tourist visa cannot be changed after you arrive in Vietnam.
Tropical Storm Sontinh - Updated 27/10/2012
Please be advised that there is an active tropical storm internationally named as Sontinh in the east sea of Vietnam and is forecasted to make its landfall tonight or tomorrow Vietnam time to the coastal area of northern central Vietnam. At this stage all flights to and from the central cities including Hue and Danang have been cancelled today until further notice. Flights to and from Hanoi are still operated as normal however the Halong Bay overnight boats have been closed to tourists today. It is very likely the Halong bay will still closed until Tue 30th Oct 2012. more info
Safety & security
Though it Vietnam is considered safe by world standards, you should apply common sense when travelling as you would anywhere. Petty crime in Vietnam’s major cities has risen along with rising numbers of tourists.
We advise you to take a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers, and keep these in a safe place separate from the originals. In large cities, such as Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and Hanoi, it is advisable to keep valuables in your hotel safe, and wear as little jewellery as possible when you are out. Keeping your money and other valuables close to your body in a secure place is also a good idea.
We recommend you take taxis rather than cyclos when travelling at night; taxis in Vietnam are numerous, metered and inexpensive. To assist in finding your way back to your hotel, make sure you obtain a hotel address card to show drivers. Read our safety guidelines for further information.
- Ho Chi Minh by William J. Duiker (2000) will give you a solid overview of the life of Ho Chi Minh, who is affectionately called ‘Uncle Ho’ throughout Vietnam.
- A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann (2010) America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan is a biography of Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann and his experience with the US Army during the war.
- Shadows and Wind by Robert Templer examines the problems that arose in Vietnam as it sought to modernise after decades of conflict.
- Once Upon A Distant War by William Prochnau (1995) tells the stories of some of the Vietnam War's prominent correspondents, such as Neil Sheehan and Peter Arnett.
- In Retrospect - The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam by Robert McNamara (1996) a fantastic account from one of the war's key players. McNamara tells the inside story America’s experience in Vietnam.
- Lonely Planet World Food Vietnam by Richard Sterling (2012) is the definitive guide to Vietnamese cuisine, complete with mouth-watering photographs.
Useful words & phrases
What to take
- Flat walking shoes & sandals
- Hat & sunglasses
- Swimming attire
- Lightweight travel towel
- Money belt
- Lightweight waterproof coat or umbrella
- Basic first aid kit
- Alarm clock
- Small torch (flashlight)
- Travel plug/international adapter
- Women’s sanitary products
- Ear plugs/eye mask
- Day pack and/or small backpack
- Clothes for temples