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Vietnam Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Vietnam vacation


lanvht
Vietnamese Language, useful information for travelers 5 stars
1. Overview
Vietnamese is one of a few languages in Asia that uses Latin alphabet instead of symbol. This makes it a lot easier to interpret street signs and even to learn to speak. The modern Vietnamese was created by a Spanish Missionary to facilitate the process of French colonization. As a result, it is a no big surprise that the pronunciation resembles that of Spanish.

The major difference between these two languages is that Vietnamese has 6 intonations in speaking and writing. You might not be able to master Vietnamese in your short traveling period. However, knowing some basic words will impress the local and make yourself more friendly and approachable than a passer-by.

You will not have much difficulty traveling in Vietnam, since many Vietnamese, especially young people, can speak English quite fluently (learn whether you can get by with just English in Vietnam). Even though some of them are shy to foreigners, they will readily help you if you get lost and ask for direction. Some others are keen on speaking to you because that helps them improve their communication in a foreign language.

2. Learning Vietnamese
It is generally agreed that if one decides to stay in a country for some extended period of time, he should at least put efforts into learning the native language. Vietnamese is one of those “exotic” languages that one can learn in this ever-so-tiny little rock called Earth. Many people these days are comfortable with at least one foreign language. The Europeans count on their brethren in the block: Italiano, Francais, Norsk and so on. The North Americans are mostly schooled with either Espanol or Francais. But to tell one’s peers that he has an excellent command of the thing called Tiếng Việt, that is how-entirely different.

Not only learning a new language can be fun and useful, but it is also a sign of respect for the local people and culture. If one puts himself into the shoes of some expat’s neighbor, it is very reasonable now to see how the girl next door expects to hear a complement from this new guy, after 2 months he has been in town, is it not?

Let’s be clear from the start, while the Vietnamese grammar is among the easiest to pick up, its pronunciation is ranked well enough in the “more difficult” group of languages. A Voxy estimation gives that the average Joe needs to spend some 1100 class hours, plus outside practice, to achieve proficiency. “We mean real study”.

There are expats in Vietnam who have stayed for years and mastered the language, which in some extreme cases like the famous Joe Ruelle, or Dâu Tây (Western Berry) as the locals like to call him, even manage to write blogs and host television shows. Dâu Tây blogs that nowhere else in the world people are so eager to talk to foreigners and let them practice their new tongue like they are here. And since Vietnamese are that welcoming, one gets preferred treatment once he is capable of rolling with the locals.

Not to exaggerate, but it is widely accepted that if one stays clear of the very few who think foreigners’ pocket is limitless and they are here to be milked, Vietnam is some of the most friendly and hospitable countries in the world. That VIP access is even wider opened once he speaks the native tone. The locals just love it! In very few ways a foreigner can ever hope to understand a country as much as the natives do. An experience is only as rich as one makes of it. Learning the language is a good way to start true understanding, and as ones become one with the people, it is an experience that is the reward itself. Bây giờ thì lấy sách ra học, mau!!! (If you do not know what this means, well, it's time to learn Vietnamese!)

This article is written by Ha Nguyen from Vietnam Heritage Travel Company for full story and more pictures please visit
http://www.travelagencyinvietnam.com/travel-news/vietnamese-language-useful-information-for-travelers.html


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lanvht
Vietnam Motorbike Tour, the safety guidance for travelers 5 stars
When coming to Vietnam, beside big cities’ well-known tourism destinations, many foreign travelers love spending their time chasing the wind on the road of the wildly mountainous areas by motorbike. We tell you How and Why!

1. Reasons for choosing motorbike
Motorbike is considered the best means of transportation for travelling mountainous areas due to its convenience and initiative. With a motorbike, one is free to go wherever he loves, despite all kinds of road’s condition. He can stop whenever he feels like to take photographs or relaxing, instead of depending on the driver or tour guide. Motorbike helps integrating people with nature and fresh air, and one will never be afraid of motion sickness. If choosing a car, people are likely to waste hours sleeping in passenger’s seat with air condition, not to mention the car sick caused by consecutive slopes and mountain passes. Riding on the motorbike means living on every single kilometer of your itinerary! Moreover, one can ride a motorbike in any kind of terrains, and it is much easier to repair in case of breaking down.

2. Which kind of motorbike and when?
100 cc-or-more semi-automatic motorbikes are all suitable for roads in Northern Vietnam’s mountainous area. The main criteria for choosing motorbike are strong engine, gasoline-saving and flexible packing space.

Weather is one of the most essential issues regarding planning for motorbike trip. The best time for exploring those mighty areas is from late September to the beginning of December or after Tet Nguyen Dan, when there is almost no rain and the temperature is cool. The spring’s rain and summer’s heat in high region somehow are hazardous for health as well as damaging to the road’s quality.

3. Be well-prepared!
There are indispensable things that one has to bring whenever travelling to remote areas such as specialized clothes and shoes, personal stuff, map, contact information and medical bags. However, a motorbike trip requires more than that. One will have to be well-prepared with a protective helmet and a motorcycle repair tool kit, and of course, certain skills of mending engine. An extra spark-plug and motorbike’s key are always in need. Remember to maintain the whole motorbike before setting off, change the oil and check its tyres, brakes, mirrors, horn and light. Fill up your motorbike with gasoline and know the location of gasoline station!

4. On the way
If possible, travelling in groups of two or three motorbikes with one experienced leader is advisable. All members of the group are required to have detailed itinerary to get rid the risk of getting lost. People should not ride parallel to each other and talk while controlling the motorbike, thus, stop the bike if feeling a need for a conversation.

Pay attention to the bend and ones driving contrariwise and do not drive into other lane. Sometimes, there may be animals like buffaloes, cows, dogs or even pigs crossing the road, so one should decrease the speed and avoid making them panic. At night or in rain weather, when the vision is limited, travelers had better pause the journey for resting and safety reasons.

5. Other things to remember
• Do not ride when you feel tired or sleepy.
• Do not ride after drinking alcohol.
• Avoid riding too fast or stop without noticing.
• Observe carefully and pay attention to road signs.
• Bring your identity paper and driving license because there will be police checking along the road (however they will not be very strict to foreigners)
• Be extremely careful when crossing the stream; be sure about the depth of the water to have the best arrangement.
• Respect the ethnic minority people and their distinctive culture.
• Protect the environment and always remember: Safe is of primary important.

This article is written by Ha Nguyen from Vietnam Heritage Travel Company for full story and more pictures please visit
http://www.travelcompanyinvietnam.com/vietnam-travel-news/vietnam-motorbike-tour-the-safety-guidance-for-travelers.html


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lotramar
Sapa 1 stars
Sapa

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Alucard
Prices during holidays 2 stars
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
I am sure you would love to explore Vietnam during the Tet holidays, since you can not only explore the beauty of Vietnam, but also experience a very important event there, Tet holidays. However, you would have to be super careful while purchasing anything in the markets, in some small shops or anywhere on the streets. Vietnamese people tend to increase their prices for everything. But bargaining is something impossible to miss during the Tet holidays, so you can just state your price and if it sounds reasonable to them, you might get it for half of the original price.

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Alucard
Helmet for your own safety 3 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
If you come to Vietnam before December 2007, you can see a lot of motorbikes on the streets in big cities, but none of the drivers would be wearing any helmets at all. As many motorbike accidents have taken places, there is a new law in Vietnam that all drivers would have to wear helmets whereever they go on their motorbikes. Well then let me tell you some funny stories around this helmet topic. The government and the police in particular can check if citizens wear their helmets while riding motorbikes or not, but they totally forget about the quality of these helmets sold in the market. You would not want to know how shitty the quality of these helmets can be. However, I think it is not too bad, since getting around on motorbikes in big cities can be really slow because of the heavy traffic. Anyway, if you decide to hire motorbikes to get around in big cities in Vietnam, you have to hire a helmet as well. I don’t think that it is going to be expensive to hire one, but you would have to pay more when you want to park your motorbike anywhere because they would have to keep your helmet as well so that you don’t have to carry it everywhere you go.

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Alucard
Medical Insurance for travelers 4 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This should be a great news for all travelers to Vietnam. Bao Viet Insurance company has prepared a new kind of health insurance, traveler’s medical insurance for foreigners in Vietnam. However, if you plan on staying in Vietnam for more than 3 months, you will not be able to apply for this insurance because it just covers max. 180 days. This kind of medical insurance is very new in Vietnam, starting from 2006 and is of course not very well-known yet. Tourists coming to Vietnam always have to worry about the health care system in Vietnam, as it does not meet the European or American standard. Most of the time, travelers would have to buy an international traveler’s medical insurance, which is a lot more expensive.

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Alucard
Safety and hospitality in Vietnam 5 stars
This country is recognized as one of the most secured countries, as you don’t have to worry about being assassinated or some like that at all. Right, there are so many cases of pickpokets, that I have to agree, but Vietnam is still very safe for tourists. In the north, tourists might have some problems with the locals as they have a lot of different kinds of scams trying to rob tourists the best. In the south however, you will not face this problem as often. The locals in the south are pretty friendly and helpful. I even heard this story from one of the customers in our travel agency. They traveled to Nha Trang and wanted to buy some sun cream, which costed about 50.000 dVN and they did not have enough money with them. The vendor just told them to just use the sun cream and pay her back the day after that. I mean that doesn’t sound too unfamiliar to me at all as I already know that Vietnamese vendors will try their best to satisfy the buyers. I am telling you this not that you will come to Vietnam and try to do some tricks to the vendors because they might be helpful and trusty but not dumb at all.

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Alucard
Visiting Vietnam during Tet Holidays 3 stars
If you are interested in Vietnamese tradition and culture, you should visit Vietnam during these traditional festivals, like Trung Thu, Mid-Autumm Festival, or like Tet holidays. Actually during Tet holidays all prices go up like crazy. Even something very popular and cheap like vegetables also cost a lot of money. Vietnamese vendors always raise their prices during these special occasions, which really makes me uncomfortable going shopping around. I mean Tet is a pretty special occasion, not only for Vietnamese people, but also for Chinese people or in some other countries. It is not like this should also be special for tourists and visitors, too. It is however pretty nice to see how traditional occasions in other countries. But be careful whenever you are in Vietnam during these occasions, since everything is very pricy everywhere for everything.

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Alucard
Streets in Vietnam 2 stars
I have to say this is a very big problems in Vietnam right now. There are too many corruptions within the political system and especially in choosing which constructor should take care of which street and so on. They just take such a big amount of bribes and in return they let some shitty companies take care of the constructions the whole time. About the companies, after paying too much for the bribe, there is not much money left for the construction anymore. So they cut off a lot of raw material and don’t even care about the quality of the streets at all. But anyway, because of this the streets are always flooded after a hard rain and all the streets will be filled with gabbage and everything. I will never recommend you to come to Vietnam in rainy season at all.

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Alucard
Honeymoon trip 5 stars
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
This could be a bit strange for European culture, but Vietnamese people usually skip this step. I think because Vietnamese people in the old time never had time for a trip for themselves, they had to work all the time to support their family and as getting married also means bringing some more labors into the family. Many young people do go on honeymoon trips nowadays, but just for a couple of days, just to have some time to start off their own lives, without living by their parents and receiving spending money from them.

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Alucard
Health system 2 stars
Health issues and the quality of medical facilities vary enormously depending on where and how you travel in Vietnam. Many of the major cities are now very well developed, although travelling to rural areas can expose you to a variety of health riskes and inadequate medical care. No actual vaccinations are officially required. Malaria prophylaxis is no longer recommended but visitors are advised to check with their doctors or travel immunization clinics regarding the advisability of inoculation against typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A & B. So I will suggest bringing your own first-aid kit and your most necessary medicine.

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Alucard
Bringing the bride back home 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This is a very strange ceremony for a wedding, but it comes originally from old days, when the groom and the bride had not known each other until the wedding day. So this is kind of very important for them to show everyone that they are now together and will from then on belong to each other. Nowadays, rich grooms will try to impress other people by renting some very expensive cars to drive their wives home. On the other hand, there are more and more people that love romantic atmosphere and prefer something traditional than showing off their richness. They use cyclos for this ride, which can probably cost even more than hiring some expensive cars, as they would have to hire many cyclos at the same time for this ride. In Mekong Delta, this might be the most interesting ceremony after all. Most grooms have to take their wives home on canals, rivers and all that, by jolly boats. You may be able to see this kind of wedding when you are in Mekong Delta.

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Alucard
Wedding party 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The groom will go to the bride’s family to give them presents and the couple must worship her forefathers with two candles. If the candles burn bright and continuously, the couples will be happy forever. The person, whose candle extinguishes first and too early, will die young in their marriage. If both of them just don’t burn continuously, their marriage will not be happy as expected.
The groom will then take his wife back to his parents‘ house and have lunch with them, and prepare for a big wedding party in the evening at a restaurant. This party is usually for friends, colleagues and relatives. And the participants will give the newly weds some presents or some money hidden in envelopes.
^


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Alucard
Rice 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Vietnamese have a reverence for com (rice), that is the “staft of life”, not only at every meal but also in the vietnamese economy and vietnamese culture. Vietnamese people can create rice into every possible kind of food such as wrappers, wine or noodles. One very common type of rice variations is rice paper, which is used in a lot of different kinds of food like spring rolls and sommer rolls and egg rolls and all that. My most favourite one is rice porridge. You can cook a lot of variations with rice porridge. Try to cook the porridge together with chicken and get the chicken out, shred it and mixed it with cabbage in slices and fish sauce and slices of onion or just simply cook the porridge with some salt and add some herbs and then eat it with some specially salted duck eggs. These porridges are simple and taste just great.

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Alucard
Specialties in the south 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Ha... this is my strength. I mean I need a very long time considering what I should write about the specialties in the north and the centre. I would have to say, my favourite food is what they have in the south. People in the south just simply love vegetables, especially fresh. Therefore, they have as many kinds of food with vegetables as possible and almost all of kinds of soup are eaten with fresh salad and herbs. They are also the kings and queens of well-done fish sauce. Alright, I will tell you some of these specialties: banh tam(kind of rice noodle eaten with fish sauce), banh tam bi(rice noodle eaten with specially made pork meat, fish sauce and coconut cream), banh cu cai (pork meat, carrots and turnip in a rice paste, eaten with fish sauce), bun rieu (rice noodle soup well cooked with minced meat mixed with grinded field craps and eggs), canh bun (same as bun rieu, just eaten with cooked bindweed), bun bo gio heo (rice noodle soup with pig’s feet), chao long (rice porridge with internal organs of a pig. This is orginally from poor families) etc. I think this should be enough, I am getting hungry already. I hope that you will like them when you have the chance to try.

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Alucard
Specialties in the centre 5 stars
This might sound a bit crazy, but this is what really happened. The emperor Tu Duc expected 50 different dishes to be prepared by 50 cooks and served by 50 servants at every meal. This is probably the reason why all dishes from this former royal region are all in good style and have great presentation. Coming to Hoi An, you will have to try Cao Lau. This is very special, what you can only find in Hoi An. You may already heard of Mi Quang, originally from Da Nang, but are still not very familiar with Cao Lau from Hoi An. When my family and I were there, looking for a good restaurant to have a good dinner, we found this one place in the Old Quarter. I tried Cao Lau there. I was a bit hesitated at first because it was pretty new for me and to be honest, the food in the centre of Vietnam is absolutely not that good. However I really liked that portion of Cao Lau. It is a kind of soup, in which you cannot really find any soup water, but all pork meat and shrimps and salad and some other herbs and a special kind of noodle. It has a very similar yellow color of Mi Quang from Da Nang but tastes absolutely different. I mean it is not better or worse than Mi Quang. Not even close to that, I just think they deserve your try once.

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Alucard
Specialties in the north 5 stars
As you might already know, “pho” has been the greatest specialties in this region for generations. However, I like the version from southern people way better. People in the north don’t really like herbs at all, so they don’t add a lot of different kinds of herbs. In the south, people add beansprouts, basil, coriander etc. in their pho to add more flavor, which also makes pho healthier. Anyway, this is how I personally like pho, you might like the orginal pho better, since you are not so used to eating a lot of herbs with soup. Another famous specialty from this region is banh cuon, a kind of rice crepe rolls. Banh Cuon are wafer thin rice sheets containing chopped pork, fried garlic, chopped mushrooms, which are eaten with well-done fish sauce and cooked beansprouts and some salad. Well, I would just like to introduce you to these two specialties, which I think is enough to give you the urge traveling to Vietnam.

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Alucard
Pre-ceremony for the wedding 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Let me call this dinner a pre-ceremony because the bride is already considered the groom's family's daughter-in-law. In the evening before the wedding day, the bride’s parents will make a small dinner for their daughter. Different from the other cultures, this dinner doesn’t have the assignment to help the girl enjoy her last day being single. Quite a contrary, the bride will thank her parents for bringing her up and her mother will teach her how to take care of her new family, her husband and her parents in law. The dinner is normally full of emotion and all the family will cry because the girl isn’t a member of this family any more and she will not have many chances to take care of her own parents after getting married.

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Alucard
Food 5 stars
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Vietnamese food is very well-known for being good for your health. There are about 500 traditional dishes, and Vietnamese people do spend a lot of time cooking great meals for their family. Vietnamese people cook their meals with many different kinds of vegetables and herbs and there is no meal without these two at all. For rich family, they do eat a lot of meat and fish, but for the poor it is very common for a meal with just fish or vegetable and some soja sauce or some fish sauce or some salt and rice. Vietnamese people are not used to adding butter or cheese into their food. A big difference between Vietnamese food and Chinese food is that Vietnamese people love fresh food, Chinese rather fried stuff, which makes Vietnamese food way healthier than Chinese food. Moreover Vietnamese food is more bearable than any Thai food because Thai food is always too spicy and you normally cannot feel the real taste of the food anymore. Anyway, for Vietnamese food, fish sauce and fresh herbs and vegetables are indispensable for all meals. Try as much local food as you can when you are in Vietnam, you will see what I am saying here.

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Alucard
Engagement party 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
According to Vietnamese tradition, the groom’s parents must visit the bride’s family to ask the girl for their son. The groom’s family also bring fruits and cakes for worshiping the ancestor of the girl to introduce their son to them. Reciprocating this kindness, the bride’s family will invite the groom and his parents for a meal. It is very important that the guy should go with someone old from his relative if his parents died in order to show his respect to the girl’s family. On the other hand, only the old in the bride’s family can talk with the groom’s family about the wedding. Young people have no rights to talk in this talk at all. On this engagement party, the bride can require or the groom can announce how many jewelries he will give her and when the wedding will take place.

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