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Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country on the Indochinese Peninsula. The country is a strip of land shaped like the letter ""S"", divided into 63 provinces and cities. China borders it to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, the East Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the east and south.

Since 1975 Vietnam has been a unified independent nation with economic growth among the highest in the world, and according to Citigroup, this ambitious growth is set to continue. Vietnam has the highest Global Growth Generators Index among 11 major economies.

Travel to this destination is also growing with niche tours such as cycling and gourmet themed trips building popularity. Vietnamese food is famed around the world for its freshness and delectability, while the bold landscapes and beach – peppered coastlines are a magnet for all manner of tourists. The country today also provides greater opportunities to travel in more remote areas while offering a well preserved and vibrant cultural heritage to immerse in. Its strong identity and proud people make it an enriching and enticing destination, where spending time conversing with the locals and sharing stories is often the highlight of any visit.

With its stable politics, strong economy and diverse culture, Vietnam is a wonderful destination for tourists and corporate event planners alike. Our Vietnam tours guarantee a wealth of memorable experiences.



The official currency in Vietnam is the Dong (VND) which is a non-convertible currency. American dollars are widely accepted in larger stores and supermarkets. Visa and MasterCard are accepted in many hotels, restaurants and large stores, especially in the bigger cities. ATMs are widely available throughout the country, and there are a number of international banks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city.

Traffic & Transportation

The traffic in Vietnam is busy, but slow. It may look like chaos but don’t be frightened to cross the road. Simply make your way shaking your whole hand at waist height. You’ll soon see other people doing the same.

Taxis are a popular way of getting around Hanoi but make sure you use a reputable company such as Mai Linh or Vina Sun.

If you are in a developed area, a cyclo is a fun form of transport.

Motorbike taxis: Travel by unlicensed motorbike is not safe and not recommended. Please note that this form of transport is not usually covered by insurance. Please check the fine print of your travel insurance policy to be sure of your cover.


Generally, there's no 'best' time for travelling in Vietnam as the seasons are a little vague and vary considerably from north to south, and within regions.

The North (Hanoi to Sapa)
  • April to October: temperatures between 30-35°C with occasional bursts of heavy rain.
  • December to March: temperatures between 10-15°C. February and March can be damp with drizzle and overcast skies.

The Centre (Hue to Nha Trang)
  • Nha Trang: sunshine all year round apart from November and December when the area has heavy rain.
  • Dalat: cooler than the coastal area, particularly from November to March.
  • Da Nang and Hue: typhoons from mid October to mid December

The South (Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet)
  • May to October: hot and wet
  • November to April: hot and humid

Health and Safety

Health and well-being
Please be aware that your health can be at risk in Vietnam due to poor sanitation and lack of effective medical facilities. Rural areas may not have pharmacies and hospitals so make sure you travel with a full supply of any prescribed medicine you take. If you need medical assistance, we suggest The Family Medical Practice in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. Every traveller is responsible for his or her own health.

First and foremost, make sure that you have travel insurance for your trip. You should also consult your doctor or local travel clinic for the latest information and advice on travelling to Vietnam before departure.

If you have a medical condition or allergy of which requires particular attention, carry a doctor’s letter with you that describes the nature of the condition and treatment needed. We also recommend you pack a medical kit, including Paracetamol and a diarrhea remedy.

Before travelling, please ensure you have adequate protection against disease. Contact your doctor for the latest medical advice on the vaccinations you need, no less than two months before your departure. Be aware that there is a malaria risk in rural parts of Vietnam.

Culture and customs

Vietnam's ancient culture can be traced back centuries and over the years has been influenced in different ways by the Chinese, Khmer, French and American cultures. For most Vietnamese people, connection to family and community is paramount - whether they are from rural villages or living in the fast-paced cities. Most festivals and holidays are spent with the extended family - participating in rituals, feasting on special foods, giving symbolic gifts and paying respects to ancestors. Most Vietnamese people practice a form of religion that is an interesting mix of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, although there are also a large number of practicing Catholics living in Vietnam. Having endured the hardship that the Vietnam War brought in the 1960s and 1970s, most Vietnamese people are keen to get on with life, living with a sense of optimism and humility.

Etiquette and cultural differences

Experiencing different cultures is one of the joys of travelling, and it is important that these differences are respected. Knowing a few important customs of the Vietnamese people will help make your visit more enjoyable:

 • Pointing your finger is seen as offensive. Try to gesture using your whole hand instead.
 • Refrain from public displays of affection, they are considered offensive.
 • Wear shorts to the knees and cover your shoulders, particularly at religious sites.
 • Always remove your shoes when entering a temple or somebody’s home.
 • Nude sunbathing is considered completely inappropriate, even on beaches.
 • Remove your hat when entering a religious site, addressing the elderly or encountering esteemed people such as monks.
 • It is improper to pat children on the head.
 • When using a toothpick, it is polite to cover your open mouth.
 • Don’t leave chopsticks sitting vertically in a rice bowl as it looks very similar to incense sticks that are burned for the dead.
 • When passing something to another person, use both your hands together or just your right hand. Never use just your left hand.
 • Try not to get angry. Showing any frustrations or annoyances by shouting or becoming abusive is extremely impolite and unlikely to achieve a positive outcome.

Food and drinks

Vietnamese food is fragrant, exciting and healthy. Around the country, you will find a delicious variety on offer, influenced from France, Thailand and even India.

The most popular dish is called “pho” and is often referred to as the "soul of the nation". It’s a noodle soup dish eaten every day, predominantly for breakfast. It is served in most Vietnamese restaurants and street food vendors. Don’t be afraid to try the street food, which is often the best food in the country. There are plenty of options, including:

1. Pho

Gaining international popularity, a steaming bowl of flavoursome Pho is one of Vietnam's most celebrated dishes. This noodle soup usually features clear noodles in a broth with beef or chicken and some vegetables and herbs.

2. Banh Xeo

This delicious crepe-like savoury pancake is often served with seafood or pork, onions, oil, lettuce and other condiments.

3. Banh Mi

The French influence in the region is obvious when considering the popularity of the fresh baguette in Vietnam. Take crusty bread and stuff it with pork or ham, coriander, salad and pickled condiments and you've got a favourite lunch or breakfast treat for locals and travellers alike.

4. Cha gio (fried Spring Roll):

“Chả giò” (or Nem Rán in the North) is one of the most popular traditional Vietnamese food. The main ingredients of a roll of “chả giò” are commonly seasonal ground meat, mushrooms, and diced vegetables such as carrots and jicama, rolled up in a sheet of moist rice paper. The roll is then deeply fried until the rice paper coat turns crispy and golden brown.

5. Gỏi cuốn (fresh Spring Roll)

Gỏi cuốn is a Vietnamese dish traditionally consisting of pork, prawn, vegetables, bún (rice vermicelli), and other ingredients wrapped in Vietnamese bánh tráng (commonly known as rice paper). They are served at room temperature (or cooled) and are not deep fried or cooked on the outside. It is listed at number 30 on World's 50 most delicious foods complied by CNN Go in 2011. Fresh gỏi cuốn has gained popularity among Vietnam’s neighboring countries and in the western hemisphere as well. These rolls are considered to be a very popular appetizer among customers in Vietnamese restaurants.

6. Fresh Fruit

When in Vietnam, take the opportunity to try exotic fruits not widely available elsewhere in the world. Rambutan, persimmon, mangosteen, dragon fruit, jackfruit and durian are all delicious snacks that can be bought cheaply from markets and roadside stalls.

It is not advisable to drink tap water in Vietnam. Bottled water is cheap and widely available.

Public holidays

 • TET (Vietnamese New Year): generally takes place at the end of January or early February and lasts for three days.
 • Liberation of Saigon: 30 April
 • International Worker’s Day: 1 May
 • Hung King’s memorial day: 10 March (lunar calendar)
 • Vietnamese National Day: 2 September

TET Travel Recommendation: we discourage to travel over the TET period. Transport is often fully booked or expensive. Lots of places are closed including restaurants, shops and key tourist sites.

Helpful tips

Tipping is a personal matter and travelers are encouraged to tip any amount they feel is appropriate. For your convenience, we have included a suggested tipping guide below:

 • Bellboy: $1-$2 per room
 • Chambermaid: $1 per day
 • Guides: $3-$10 per day, per person (depending on group size and performance)
 • Drivers: $2-$5 per day, per person (depending on group size and performance)
 • Restaurants: in smart establishments, you may find that the tip is already included in the bill. In local restaurants, tips are not expected but you may wish to leave loose change on the table.

Pre-departure checklist

 • Travel insurance
 • Passport with at least six months validity from date of entry
 • Photocopy of passport
 • Visa
 • Vaccinations
 • Foreign currency (US$) and/or ATM card
 • All relevant tickets
 • Reconfirmed flights
 • Light weight clothing (summer months and the south)
 • Warm clothing (mountainous regions and Hanoi in winter)
 • Appropriate shoes for trekking, cycling or walking
 • Insect repellent
 • Medication
 • First aid kit
 • Adaptor – 220V, 50Hz; 2 pin plugs
 • Small daypack (for day and overnight trips)
 • Water bottle and helmet (for cycling trips)

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