Impression & Tips from Recent Visits

I plan to visit Vietnam at the end of this year after 20 years away. Can anyone, who has been back there recently, give me some tips of what to do or to bring? Things and places to see, visit or avoid?

When is the best time to visit?

Recommended Sight-Seeing

Phu Quoc is an island off the southern coast of VN and takes approx. 7 hrs to get there by ship (boarding at about 4-5PM and 11-12 midnight). Due to the island not yet turned into a tourist resort, there are alot of natural scenaries with end- lessly long (and clean) beaches with peaceful fishing villages. The trip getting to the island may be torturous but the reward can be great. Once on the island, you could also rent a small boat and visit nearby islands. I definitely would go back again and probably would stay for at least one week. You better go soon before the Singaporeans turn it into a tourist and casino resort. If you go there only for holiday then you should plan a trip to Ha Long Bay, Hue (these were places that I did not have time to go but would have if I had had enough time) before the resort developers destroy their natural beauty. There are other nice places but it depends on where you wish to visit. As for me, I definitely would visit VN again.


  • Immunization: cholera, hepatitis-A, tetanus, malaria. The VN Embassy would not recommend that you immunize yourself but for your own protection and peace of mind, I would recommend it.
  • Clothes: light clothing. Depending on how much you spend travelling you will need many changes of clothes. Saigon was very dusty so I had to change/shower all the time. Sun-glasses, sun cream if you are sensitive.
  • Money: bring as much as US$ as you can afford (there is supposed to be a theoretical limit of US $5000 per person). Bring a small amount of small change ("airport" cost, etc).
  • Other things such as "cultural" products such as books, video tapes, video camera would have to be declared and may be subjected to inspection (note that I said "may be" as there are "unofficial" ways around it). This happens in entering and exiting VN.
  • I found that you can buy almost anything in Saigon.
  • Be prepared to pay more for the transportation (domestic airline tickets) as overseas Vietnamese would be charged the foreigner's rate.
  • Places to avoid: it depends on your criteria.
  • I went just before Tet. I was advised that the exchange rate from US $ during Tet was not as good as there would be so many Vietnamese coming back to VN at that time. But this is up to you. The weather at the time before Tet: late December and early January was perfect: no rain, and not too hot (in Saigon).
  • Bring an open mind. There are many poor people in VN. They don't mind pestering you for any amount of money as they need to survive. Things have changed a great deal over the years. I was prepared mentally before the visit but I could not help being shocked by the changes there. Try to blend in as much as you can.
  • If you have any friends/relatives/family in VN then they would be able to help making your trip more enjoyable/memorable.
  • Small flash light and spare battery
  • A baseball cap or some sort of a hat
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Antibiotic soap (Dial brand is one)
  • Some first aid stuffs (bandaids, antiseptics, etc.)
  • A pocket knife (any thing with a blade less than 4 inches can be taken on the plane with you.)
  • A mace (you can sneek this in with your check luggage)
  • Sun glasses (you will definitely need this. Get one that is photochromic so you can wear it at night when out motorcycle riding)
  • A lot of anti-diarhea medicine. Some fruit can cause diarhea just because you are not use to it (such as vu' su*a~)
  • Tylenol or aspirin, The noise will drive you crazy.
  • Pen and pencil for when you need to fill out some thing.
  • Eye drops. It is very dusty over there.
  • Anti-itch and anti-allergy medicine.
  • Make a copy of all your travel documents (tickets, passport, visa, etc.) and give it to some one here in the US that you can trust to help you in case of trouble.
  • Confirm your flight at least 2 days before you depart (both in US and VN)
  • If you plan to travel to the country side, bring a water filter tube
  • Average cost per Vie^.t Kie^`u at VN customs is $5. Believe me, this will save you more time and trouble than you you can imagine.
  • Remember to smile and don't take harassment from anyone. First impression is everything

  • Hepatitis-A vaccine only lasts a week. You are better off getting Hepatitis-B shots. There are three shots total spread out over three months, but you can get the first two in within one month.
    Hepatitis-A and Hepatitis-B are two different diseases. 
    Hepatitis-A is spread through food and water. Hepatitis-B is 
    spread through blood and sex. 
    The shot for Hepatitis-A which only lasts for weeks is called 
    Immune Globulin. It's not a real vaccine. There is a real vaccine 
    for Hepatitis-A called Havrix which you can get in Canada and 
    Europe. The referred series of shots referred seems to be for
    Havrix (the Hepatitis-B vaccine is over 6 months, I think).
    Source: Soc.Culture.VietNamese Usenet Group. Courtesy of: Thong, Paul, Nam-Viet, & more to be added ...