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FAQ Thread for Vietnam

The purpose of this thread is to provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about traveling in Vietnam I hope that this FAQ helps newcomers and others plan their trips to Vietnam. I would like to thank all the posters who have contributed information to this thread. To make searching easier for you, please find my index of some major topics as follows:

  1. Visa for Vietnam => find posts #115, 117, 111

  2. Ha Long bay tours/Cat Ba => #83, 84

  3. Vietnam - China border crossings => #7

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Advice for 12 Days in Vietnam: HCMC to Hanoi

Hello,

My girlfriend and I are heading to Vietnam for the last leg of our 3 month Southeast Asia backpacking journey. Unfortunately we only have about 12 full days there since we spent longer in Laos than expected. We arrive in Ho Chi Minh City by bus from Phnom Penh around 3pm on March 7th (barring any delays). We have flights booked from Hanoi back to Canada on March 20th.

The only part of the trip we really have planned so far is HCMC. We figure we'll spend 3 or 4 nights there, and will…

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Booking train tickets

I have searched but can't find the answer.
I will be travelling in Vietnam in March/April this year. Will probably stay a week around Hanoi/ Ba Ca/Halong Bay. I would then like to take the train south to Hue/Danang. How far in advance should I book a sleeper ticket? Should I do it now via the internet with Vietnam Railways or wait til I get to Hanoi and book through hotel/agent?
Many thanks
Ambar

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Don't be afraid to bargain in Vietnam...

Please don't take the 1st price offered you in Vietnam. Almost EVERYTHING (between individuals or with travel agencies, etc) is up for negotiation, whether it's for a hotel room, a motorbike ride, a trip to Halong Bay, or a simple piece of bread.

Only lazy travelers take the 1st price offered in Vietnam. I've lost count of how many times I've been quoted the SUCKER'S PRICE for something on this most recent trip. Insulting, inflated prices, such as $5 to go only a few blocks on the back of…

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Solo woman flying into HCMC

Unfortunately my friend bailed on me and I will be flying in to Ho Chi Minh city for the very first time alone March 9, 2015. My plan is to spend a few days there and then fly from HCMC to Phu Quoc where my friend will meet me sometime March 18 and we will travel the Mekong into Siem Reap. My question is how many days should I allow sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh, recommendations of interest and just how bad is it regards to bag snatching etc?

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Car rental in Vietnam

Anyone ever rent a car in Vietnam? How much? Do you need an International Driver's License or will a valid
license from USA be sufficient? Thanks.

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Halong Bay Tours

Hi everyone,

I'm doing a Hanoi trip this May with some of my girlfriends and we were researching Halong Bay. Seems like the average price for a 3D2N is USD200 if you book through a website. I read a lot of personal accounts on blogs that you are better off looking for tour packages when you are at Hanoi itself because the prices online are, apparently, a rip off. That being said, I have 2 questions:

1) I am planning to stay near the Old Quarters (but obviously) on the first night. Can I easily…

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Two "extra" days in central Vietnam

I’m planning to visit central Vietnam at the start of April. I have 7 full days (9 including travel).

I’m looking for an “easy” trip by backpacker standards – I just went to Bangladesh and although it’s a great country, there’s little tourism infrastructure there. I figure the Hue/Hoi An area is well-travelled so getting around and seeing the sights should be simple. However, I would also like to see a bit of everyday, rural Vietnam - Hoi An sounds lovely, but I want to go somewhere a little…

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Warning about buying gas in Hoi An

I live near the gas station at 478 Hai Ba Trung in Hoi An, and have witnessed several loud arguments between western tourists buying gas and the employees/owner of the gas station. At first I assumed the foreigners must be in the wrong, but I'm beginning to see a pattern here... Always look at the pump and check that it's reset to zero before taking the cap off the gas tank. And let them see that you are watching carefully what they're doing. Most Vietnamese are honest but I don't think…

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Nha trang, too busy. Any quieter on a beach nearby

Hi just arrived Nha trang. Bit overwhelming, anyone know of a quieter beach spot within 20k. Looking for cheap, cheerful & a few less high rise. Bungalow on beach would be lovely.