1. General Information
Vietnam is situated in South-East-Asia in the eats of Laos. With it’s innumerable national parcs that offer untouched nature and wildlife, the long coastline and the Mekong Delta, Vietnam is the perfect destination for nature lovers.
- population: 95’415’000
- area: 331’690 km²
- time zone: UTC +7
- famous native animals: giant catfish, bat, turtle, crocodile, elephant, tiger, collar bear, several monkeys
The official language of Vietnam is vietnamese. Some people, especially the young also speak a little english. When visiting Vietnam adjust to not beeing able to have real conversations with most locals as most of them don’t speak any english and you probably don’t master vietnamese as well. But don’t matter. We were mostly able to communicate with a mixture of english and sign language. To not get surprised you should at least know the tradicional food and its ingredients. It will ease ordering food a lot. Nevertheless, most people in hotels and tourist agencies speak some english.
3. Money Issues
The official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), 1$ = 23325VND. There are ATM’s in every town where you can withdraw your money. Note that the maximum amount of withdrawable money is 2’500’000 VND (~107$). At the ATM’s you always get notes of 200’000 or 500’000 VND. Make sure to change these “big” notes into smaller ones e.g. in shopping malls or bigger supermarkets as small shops and street stalls only accept small bank notes. You can only pay directly by creditcard in hotels, hostels and bigger shops.
Vietnam is a quiet safe country. With common sense you won’t have problems. But nevertheless always be aware of pick-pockets and respect the people and the culture. Most people we met were friendly and tried to help us.
Public transport in Vietnam is very easy. In bigger cities there are regular buses running through the city. You buy your ticket from the driver or ticket collector. These buses are very cheap but sometimes you need to be “tourist prices”.
Another option for transportation is the train. There is a train route from Hanoi till Ho-Chi-Minh-City. You can purchase tickets online or directly at the station. Train tickets are more expensive than bus tickets and you can choose between “soft seat” (normal seats), sleepers for 4 person and for 6 person.
Furthermore you can take the famous sleeper buses or shuttle buses by tourist agencies ehich we found was the best and most comfortable way of travelling. These buses are cheaper than the train and as we know the cheapest way for travelling long distances.