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Vietnam forum

in 3 weeks from north to south...a little help with planning

Posted by thronesofblood on 7/1/2012 at 09:40

hello dear travelfish members

a good friend of mine (21) and i (20) plan to go to vietnam this summer (july). we want to travel from hanoi to ho-chi-minh city in 3 weeks.
we only want to buy our flights and a travel insurance in advance. everything else (eg. train tickets, trips, hotels, ...) we would like to buy spontaneously when we're actually in vietnam.

our route would roughly look like this:

Hanoi -> Hue -> Hoi An -> Nha Trang -> Mui Ne -> Ho-Chi-Minh City

things we absolutely want to see: the "ha long bay" and the "my son sanctuary".
everything else would also be visited and planned spontaneously!

since it's our first trip in an asian country, there are a couple of questions we could use a little help:

-how much money will we approximately need for these 3 weeks (we don't need and want 5* hotels and french cuisine...)? we plan to take us-dollars into the county and then change a part of it into dong.
-do we have to declare the money and electric devices (like my camera) when we come through customs?
-which inoculations do you recommend to make?
-eventhough i've seen video footage of the traffic in vietnam and it looks pretty frightening, maybe we still would like to rent a motorcycle when we're there. what kind of driving license would we need in order to rent and drive a motorcycle?

it's very important for us that we behave in a conformist manner when we're in a foreign country so we also have a couple of questions concerning the customs of vietnam:
-is it usual to tip vietnam?
-how is it with giving things? with both hands or just with the right one?
-what's the deal with feet and vietnamese people?

well i think that's enough for today. if you have any additional advice do not hesitate to give it to us...we would be very thankful.


PS: sorry if my english isn't too proper: i'm swiss ;)

#1 thronesofblood has been a member since 7/1/2012. Posts: 2

Posted by daawgon on 7/1/2012 at 13:21

Your itinerary should include Sapa - an awesome NW mountain community. Backpackers need not tip at all - actually, nobody need tip, but many high rollers insist on this.

Prices are on the rise here, but I think $50. a day (for everything) will do you fine. The large cities will be costlier than the smaller towns. It's actually quite wise to wing it here - certainly no shortage of hotels or guesthouses. I suggest 2* small hotels starting about $20. to $35. Travelfish has very good hotel suggestions, but their prices are out of date in my opinion!

You only need to declare cash when you're bringing in a great deal - over several thousand. I just use my debit card to get Dong at the ATM. They do like USD here, but you will get better value with Dong. Be extremely careful where you carry cash as drive-by slashings do happen in this country (especially in Saigon and Nha Trang).

As to transport, stay off the highways - those long distance open tour buses are terrible and damn dangerous. I like Vietnam Airlines (advance online purchase is cheaper). Summer will be extremely hot everywhere, and on the wet side down South.

Vietnam is a country where you need to do your homework quite well before travel - read the many forums to know all about problems and weather conditions. I keep returning here for one reason - the Vietnamese people are so very nice to me. Talk to the locals (not the people at the hotels) - book Hanoikids and other student tour groups (Saigonhotpot and Danangkids) - you won't be sorry!

#2 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,152
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Posted by CrankyCarrot on 9/1/2012 at 07:46

Posted from within Vietnam.

As far as licenses go, I'm pretty sure you need to have an international drivers license ...officially. In reality I seriously doubt most of the tourists on motorbikes here have them. It's also not that difficult to evade the traffic police by simply speeding away from them.

If you were to be pulled over, it's something like a 5 to 10 dollar bribe to get off the hook. Just assume any law official you're dealing with is corrupt and has a price. That's usually how it goes in SE Asia in my experience.

#3 CrankyCarrot has been a member since 24/3/2010. Location: Thailand. Posts: 662
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Posted by thronesofblood on 9/1/2012 at 09:11

hey daawgon and CrankyCarrot

thanks so much for your answers!

i took Sapa in our planning - it really looks like that it'd a trip that is worth it ;)
concerning the money: is it true that in most hotels you pay just for the room and it doesn't matter how many people are actually in there?
we will most likely use (night-)trains since we can save some money by not sleeping in a hotel and also being able to travel quite nicely!

thanks for the advice! as i said, we're not shure if we'll actually rent a bike - but it's nice to know that it would be a possibility!

have a nice day


#4 thronesofblood has been a member since 7/1/2012. Posts: 2

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