Taxis, overnight trains and buses, the back of a local’s motorbike – whichever mode of transport you choose, chances are you'll leave Vietnam with plenty of stories to tell.
We've got a few tips to make your journey as smooth as possible (potholes not withstanding) whichever way you choose to travel.
Walking around Vietnam is a challenge, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.
Drivers honk their horns constantly, often for no good reason. A honk could mean get out of my way, apologies for getting in your way, I’m turning left and/or right – or all of the above!
Confidence is key when crossing the road in Vietnam. Walk with purpose, and be quick on your feet.
The single biggest danger you face while traveling in Vietnam, is having a traffic accident.
If you do become injured on the road, don't expect that anyone will call an ambulance. Make sure you tell locals clearly that you will pay the ambulance fee. Hospitals will also not admit you unless you prove that you can pay the bill.
Grab a firm hold on your bag while you cross the street. It isn't uncommon for the 'snatch and grab' manouver to be played on un-assuming tourists.
Vietnam is crawling with motorbike rental scams and misunderstandings. Keep in mind these common-sense tips:
Overnight buses are a favorite hunting ground for thieves.
Don't fall asleep with earphones on, or your phone in sight. Get a padlock for your luggage, as it'll be stowed beaneath the bus, and keep valuable items such as your passport with you.
Try using your bag as a pillow if you find it takes up space. Though, you might find the driving is so erratic and terrifying you probably won't sleep for long anyway.
These buses are designed for the Vietnamese to travel long distances, so travelers may find it a little uncomfortable. Most sleeper buses do have reclining seats which can be transformed into a bed. Try to get on at one of the first stops, and cuddle up next to the window for extra comfort.
There have been reports of buses being over booked, so ensure you book your ticket in advance so you’re not left standing for 14 hours. Shop around for a good deal, as bus prices do vary.
When you stop for a bathroom break, take your belongings with you. The toilets can be pretty ordinary, so pack some hand sanitsiser and wet wipes.
There's not much to eat and will be very few rest stops, on these bus journeys. But it's a cost effective way to get from A to B, and sometimes the sights oustide the window are the best part! If you don't care much for views, just close your eyes and think of the cold Saigon beer you’ll be enjoying at the other end.
Trains are a popular, and more comfortable, way to travel through Vietnam. It's sometimes safer to buy your ticket at the station, as tour companies and travel agents have been known to sell you a budget ticket at an inflated price.
You won't know this until you turn up at the train station, as there's nothing printed on the ticket saying which class you're booked in.
A few thousand Dong to upgrade your class is money well spent, but that all depends if you prefer sleeping on a wooden mattress, or your're a lover of foam mattress sleeping arrangements.
If you're allergic to dust or mould, avoid sleeping on the top bunk. One of our very own Nomads had an allergic reaction on the overnight train from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang.
Abide by the customs and rituals of Vietnam to avoid offending the locals, with this list of do's and don'ts in Vietnam.
Vietnam is generally a safe place to travel but, like any country, it isn't without its share of scams and petty crime. Here's what you need to know to avoid becoming the next target.
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