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Vietnam Travel Tips

Congratulations on your referral adoptive families! In order to assist you in getting well prepared for your upcoming trips, Lotus Travel's experienced adoption travel advisors have came up with the following useful travel tips to provide you with some basic insights of Vietnam. Please review all sections before your departure.

Prior to your departure

  • Contact airlines to reconfirm your flights after you've received your plane tickets. Most airlines required reconfirmation at least 72 hours prior to departure.
  • For U.S. major airlines, seat assignments, baby bassinets, meals and other requests can be made when you reconfirm your flights.
  • Bulkhead seats are usually allocated to those who have physical disabilities and special needs first.
  • If the airline you are traveling with do not pre-assign seats, make sure to arrive at the airport airline counter to receive better seat assignments.
  • Remember to bring along your adoption agency's emergency contact number in case you need assistance while in Vietnam. At the same time, leave the number with your relatives and friends so they can help reach the agency for you if you failed to contact its staff.
  • Inform your credit card companies of your trip. If you normally do not use your cards very often, as a security feature, they might decline the charges out of suspicion from usage in a different country.
  • Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are acceptable in most places, but a three percent bank fee applies.

Weather of Vietnam

The country has a tropical-monsoon climate and most areas will only have two seasons: a rainy season where it is hot, humid and will rain most days during the months of May through September; and a dry season where it will be sunny but colder and dry in the months of November through April. Some areas in the north, such as Haiphong and Hanoi will experience all four seasons as we do in North America. Refer to our temperature guide for specific temperatures.

Packing

Pack light! It is easy to forget that you are able to purchase items while you are in Vietnam, or the amenities that hotels provide for your convenience.

  • Laundry service is available in most hotels so it is unnecessary to bring an outfit for each day. One nice outfit for special occasions, a light jacket, and three sets of casual clothes should be adequate. Keep in mind that if you happen to need an extra shirt, you can always purchase one at a nearby store.
  • Hairdryers are also readily available at most hotels so you can take them off your packing list.
  • Other than snacks for the plane-ride, it is unnecessary to bring along snacks for your entire trip. Snacks and treats are available at any nearby store. However, if you are traveling with young children who have a particular favorite snack, you may want to bring a extra few for the trip.
  • If you are bringing any prescribed medications, be sure to keep them in their original case. It may also be important to make a list of the medications as well as which doctor they were prescribed from and their office phone numbers. This list will be helpful if you lose your luggage or left your prescriptions at the hotel.
  • You will have access to over-the-counter medications while in Vietnam; however, you may want to make a small "illness kit" including: aspirin; heartburn medication; diarrhea medication; daily vitamins; calcium tablets; and any other medication that you may use on a regular basis.
  • A small sewing-kit may also come in handy. Be sure to have this in the bag that you will check due to the new airline regulations.
  • A small collapsible umbrella is helpful if you will be traveling during the rainy months.
  • You should pack an empty extra bag for additional purchases you make while on your trip.

Checked in luggage and carry-on restrictions

  • Most U.S. domestic and international flights allow two checked bags per person, up to 50 pounds per bag and one carry-on bag per person (no larger than 14"x9"x22").
  • All airlines reserve the right to charge an additional fee for excessive luggage, in which varies from airline to airline. Check with your airline for specific charges.
  • Note that the aircraft may not have enough room for over-weighted luggage if the flight is completely full. Pack light! Necessities such as clothes, medications, toys, and baby formula are fully available in Vietnam.
  • Contact the airline counter immediately in the event your luggage is lost. Travelers may want to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect against baggage loss or delayfor additional protection.

Intra Vietnam Travel

  • The major airports in Vietnam are the Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) located 28 miles north of Hanoiand Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) just 4.5 miles from Ho Chi Minh City.  
  • Metered taxis and buses are widely available as your means of transportation upon your arrival. Jot down the taxi driver's registration number (displayed on rear side of the vehicle) for security reasons while traveling by taxi.
  • Although Vietnam is rated one of the world's safest travel destination, pick pocketing and handbag snatching are not uncommon. Be cautious with your personal belongings, such as cameras, wallets, jewelries, passports and identity cards; it might be a good idea to store all your valuables in your hotel room's safe.
  • Bring along photocopies of your passports and identity cards in case of theft.
  • Noted that you will need to present your original passports during the hotel check-in procedures.
  • A five to ten percent charge is included on bills in most hotels and restaurants; however, additional tips are still expected.
  • When crossing the streets, remember to keep walking. Do not stop or jump back as bicyclists and scooters know how to avoid pedestrians. Also, jaywalking i is acceptable for pedestrians.
  • General office hours are from 7:30 am to 11:30 am and 1 pm to 5 pm Monday through Friday, whereas banks operate from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday.
  • Offices and banks are closed during Saturday, Sunday, the Tet/Lunar New Year holiday, the Liberation Day on April 30th, the International Labor Day on May 1st, the National Day on September 2nd and the New Year's Day on Jan 1st.
  • Dress nicely and formerly when visiting government offices (such as during your consulate appointments) as government officials in Vietnam are very important and demand respect.

Important Social Etiquette

  • Handshaking and vocal greetings are the norm.
  • Footwear should be removed when entering Buddhist pagodas.
  • Never touch the Vietnamese on their heads, as it is highly inappropriate.
  • Photo taking is prohibited at ports, airports and harbors; always ask for permission before taking pictures of people.
  • Vietnamese might laugh during occasions in which other cultures found inappropriate; do not take this as an insult or offense.
  • Vietnamese might decline gifts during the first offer because they are frightened of not showing enough gratitude or appearing to be greedy.
  • In general, Vietnamese are very friendly and eager to offer assistance whenever applicable; however, they sometimes can be over enthusiastic.

Traveling with children

  • Pack light. Try not to have more than one carry-on bag. It is hard to get onboard/off the plane with children while juggling too many carry-ons.
  • Bring along sufficient clothes, medication, snacks, children activity and storybooks and crayons in a carry-on bag.
  • Bring hand sanitizer (travel size) for hand wash.
  • Bring convenience foods, such as instant noodles or snack bars in case kids get hungry during a flight delay or happened to miss their meals.
  • Children easily get tired due to travel schedule and jet lag. It is important to make sure they sleep on a routine schedule in order to recover from jet lag soon and avoid busy tour schedules at all times.

Food and beverages

  • Avoid street side eateries as Americans are not used to the food they offer and may have trouble digesting the food.
  • The traditional condiment is fish sauce which might be too strong for Americans as it is quite salty.
  • Western restaurants are widely available in Vietnam.
  • Tap water is undrinkable.Avoid drinking any beverages served with crushed ice.   

Upon your departure to the U.S.

  • All travelers are adhered to a $14 USD airport tax per person when departing Vietnam.
  • In order to deter drug abuse and drug trafficking, the Vietnamese government imposes severe penalties for possession or trafficking of illegal drugs (even small amounts). If convicted, defendants can be sentenced to death. Therefore, never look after or carry any luggage for strangers.
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