Prewarned is pre-armed. Get to know the country’s basic facts before going and it’s half the battle won, leaving pure relaxation and appreciation of your surroundings.
Facts at a Glance
Vietnamese (official), Chinese, English, and French.
Buddhism, Taoism, and Catholic.
North Vietnam has Southern Mediterranean type climate. South Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate.
Vietnamese Dong (VND) in denominations of 500,000; 200,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20,000; 10,000 banknotes. Coins include VND 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500 and 200. These values have paper note equivalences.
Travellers cheques are accepted at most banks. Hotels sometimes charge a commission. Cash dollars in good condition are accepted in many places, so small denominations are useful to carry. The exchange rate can fluctuate considerably. Remaining Vietnamese currency can be exchanged for US dollars at the exchange bureau at the airport.
Most major hotels and big restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi accept Visa and MasterCard.
Most shops, banks and businesses open from 8am to 4 or 5pm with a 1-2 hour lunch break
Tipping is not customary in Vietnam, but is appreciated. A 5-10% tip for a meal in a good restaurant may equal a day’s wages.
There are numerous discos and karaoke bars. As in most places, it is preferable to explore in the company of a long-term resident, to avoid the traditional rip-offs.
220V, 50Hz / 110V, 50Hz
Print film is widely sold, but risks having been badly stored, so best buy from reputable photo dealers rather than street vendors. Slide film is available only in large cities. Photo-processing shops are everywhere with one hour processing facilities.
Vietnam Airlines-Hanoi: (84-4) 8253824; Ho Chi Minh City: (84-8) 8292118; Bangkok: (66-2) 6569056-8; Phnom Penh: (855-23) 424426; Vientiane: (856-21) 216761 Vietnam National Administration of Tourism-Tel: (84-4) 8261061; Fax: (84-4) 8261115