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Vietnam....free roaming!

  • kierantrave-
    lmonkey

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2010
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 8

    Hey all,

    Am looking to fly into Saigon from Bangkok around the middle of Feb and then take my time travelling up the coast to Hanoi before flying to Hong Kong.

    May book a hotel in HCMC but apart from that I'm thinking of winging it completely with nothing planned (apart from a rough route and sights to see etc). Will be travelling by myself and, after reading up lots, it looks like accommodation and travel should be ok to find.

    Is this true? Does anyone have any advice on whether it is better to be part of a "tour" group or do you meet lots of like minded travellers on the way anyway? Anyone think that the Open Tour is a good idea?

    Cheers for any help. Am thinking it could be a cracking few weeks in Vietnam!

    Kieran.

    #1 Posted: 31/12/2010 - 04:28

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  • jonyd1

    Joined Travelfish
    29th September, 2010
    Posts: 23

    Hi Kieran - I just got back from my first trip to Vietnam - you will love it! I rarely booked ahead of time and never had any trouble finding a place to stay. I suggest just wandering around and checking out a few rooms until you see something you like.

    As for the tour groups, I tend to stay away from them. It's easy enough to get around Vietnam on your own, and there are plenty of other people floating around you will run into - many of them on their own as well. Enjoy!

    #2 Posted: 31/12/2010 - 04:49

  • JiroIsCount-
    ing

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd December, 2010
    Posts: 24

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Good Day.Kieran..

    Nice to hear that you are interested to visit Saigon (HCMC) after your Bangkok trip..btw Bangkok is awesome.and they smile a lot.I love it there..!

    Im in Saigon right now and been in Vietnam for years (on and off)...Based on my travel and living here experience.....I have the following advise for you..

    -Most locals in general dont speak English...It is always convenient for you to write the names of places you want to go to and let them read to understand.

    -I suggest you stay in Pham Ngu Lao Street or Bui Vien Street in District 1...Many foreigners,expats, backpackers stay here..it will be convenient for you..trust me...althoughit is a bit busy and a lil noisy at night..

    -Prior booking is not necessary..You can find many guest house, hotels, hostel in those areas I mentioned above. Warning: when you stroll along those streets-some locals may approach you and bring you to a hotel....its good for you to just deny them and scout by yourself.....

    -If you want to see and roam around the city (HCMC / Saigon City)...I advise to do it by yourself...have a good pair of rubber shoes or sandals....it is much better if just walk around...there are some maps available...and tourist books...

    -If you want to travel and see other "tourist spots" , I suggest you go with groups..There are many travel agencies along those streets I suggested above...I will not name names here in my post.....


    be careful with your bags all the time anywhere you go.
    be careful with your DSLR cameras and or Point and Shoot cameras and phones
    be careful when paying...be familirize with the paper money,,,,500,000 is almost the same as 20,000 and 10,000 is almost the same as 100,000
    exchange money from a reputable money exchange or bank and NOT IN YOUR HOTEL
    if you want to hang out in those bars with chairs and table along the sidewalk,,,again be careful with your bag..dont place anything on the table or chair...
    dont hang out in parks..
    dont talk to strangers approaching you and trying to help you and give you instructions in the streets...
    be careful in that small park infront of the museum....if approach by someone (locals and non-locals) dont mind them and dont entertain them..
    be careful in that park near Pham Ngu Lao.
    be careful with your things while riding motorbike.
    always take with you wherever yoou go..the business card of your hotel..
    have the address and phone number of your embassy in your wallet
    be careful while ccrossing the streets././/watch out with those motorbikes..hehe

    In general, HCMC(Saigon CIty) is ok and safe....you will be fine as long as your are informed...

    I cant give further advise and suggestion....if you need particular info.. i will glad to help as long as I can and I know......PM me...

    Enjoy and travel safe

    #3 Posted: 31/12/2010 - 09:33

  • 69bertie

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd December, 2009
    Posts: 90

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Just to add to JiroIsCounting advice, if you end up with 500k dong notes, put them separate to other notes. The 500k and 20k are both blue, easy to mistake. When changing money, shop around. Plenty of places around that do the biz. I would not use a bank if changing USD. There is also no need to change £GBP to USD if you intend to use Dongs. Currently you can get around 31000 vnd for £1. I would use vnd wherever possible. Yes, lots of shops, bars etc will take USD but check the exchange rate on offer. Some I've seen have been as low as 17000vnd when even the official rate is 19500 (the black market rate - at Gold shops, is up near 21000). 

    #4 Posted: 31/12/2010 - 11:10

  • JiroIsCount-
    ing

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd December, 2010
    Posts: 24

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    69bertie is correct!
    i forgot... 500k VND and 20k VND are almost the same too....( sorry it is not frequent i got hold of that paper bill - lols)...

    banks are legit and safe...(but the rate is not that high)

    hotel are safe (but rates are the lowest you can get around town)

    blackmarkets/gold shops are legit but there is a risk....

    money exchange are safe and legit and sometimes higher than the bank rate

    #5 Posted: 31/12/2010 - 17:25

  • 69bertie

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd December, 2009
    Posts: 90

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    :-) Paper? 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 notes are. The rest 50k, 100k, 200k & 500k are made from polymer (plastic). They are fairly robust but do check notes for nicks, tears  and holes. You'll find the Vietnamese seem to be very paranoid about even slightly damaged notes and as such, any note over 50k can be difficult to change if damaged. If you are given one as change don't be afraid to hand it back. When I was given a damaged 100k note in a cafe and sent it back, all the owner did was giggle and smile.

    #6 Posted: 31/12/2010 - 20:01

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