Useful Information For First Time Travelers To Vietnam

Useful information for first time travelers to Vietnam

If you have never been to Vietnam and it appears to be the next destination when your holiday or vacation comes. Let us help you with this short information to make the travel planning fun and avoid creating some new nerves among so much to read on the internet. Check out my further blogs with information about Ho Chi Minh City

One of the most attractive features of Vietnam as a destination is that although it is a relatively inexpensive country to explore, it is also one of the safest destinations in Southeast Asia.

Vietnam is ranked as one of the most safest Asian countries to Visit

Check out my personal Blog about this HERE & Visit


Aside from the horrific “American War” as it’s called in Vietnam, the country has so much to offer from a lot of gorgeous sceneries, the beaches, the rice terraces to mountains and breathtaking landscapes. The Mother Nature has been very generous to this land, blessing with some of the most stunning landscapes you could ever imagine.


1. When to go

Choosing a suitable time for your trip might be the first thing you thought of when you have days off and plan your journey. Let’s divide the land into three parts: the North, the Central and the South. The weather in those 3 part is totally different. The question when is the best time to travel to sounds a bit tricky due to the different weather of different regions of Vietnam. I’ve witnessed the high season for tourism of the country is from December to April but honestly, different time means that you have different things to explore.



But let’s check the advantage of traveling to Vietnam between December and April

Avoid storms of July and August that affect your trip (cancel or miss some excursions due to bad weather).
Avoid rainy season of the South (from May to October).
Avoid super hot summer weather.
Cold and dry in the North and Central, warm in the South.

2. How many days?

If you go with a travel agent, here is some suggestion:

Visit all country in the most basic way: 10 days.

Within 10 days you will have enough time to go to main and popular cities of Vietnam like Hanoi, Mai Chau o Sapa, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City or Mekong Delta. You will have chances to meet the culture of this Asian country from North to South or vice versa.

Visit all country combined with beach relax: 14 days.

You might have heard of some beautiful beaches in Vietnam that worth a relaxation such as Da Nang beach, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc. Once you are a fan of sand and see, don’t miss this chance to breathe the beach air of Vietnam. Kiwi In Saigon’s favourite beach North from Ho Chi Minh City was Nha trang Beach.

Visit only the North: 6 days.

You only interested in the North part? So you can spend 6 days to get deep insight into this zone. Spending time in Hanoi, Sapa or Mai Chau for mountainous atmosphere and then go to the sea in Halong Bay. Don’t go in July or August, storms might affect your trip and expectations.

Visit only the South: 6 days.

The main places that you might want to experiment is Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi tunnels (for fans of history) and the Mekong Delta zone.

I’ve seen travelers who don’t book the multi-days package tours of the travel agents they often stay between 2 and 4 weeks (in line with the visa restrictions).

3. Currency and money

One of the useful information for first time travelers to Vietnam is getting to know the Dong currency.

The most updated exchange rate is: 1 USD = 23,248 Dong (As of 30 August 2018)

Enter Vietnam, you can exchange money in the airport or banks. Please be careful that after the payment, you receive the note which must remain intact, not torn and too dim. Additionally, with your dollars, you have to make sure one more thing that there is no stain or text on it. The bank will not accept or exchange it with lower rates from the store or the hotel so you cannot make the payment with them. I personally for better exchange rates use Saigon’s Gold Shops, but will discuss this in another blog I will talk about

In case you do not like using cash, you should still exchange a little because we still preferred it over and only smart restaurants and hotels equipped with the new imprint. You have to pay the bank fee is 3 – 3.5% for using the credit card. Visa, Master Card is the most common type of cards in Vietnam. I actually when Kiwi In Saigon Pays my Rent with my Visa Debit Card, I get charged 3.5% as well.  In addition, you can use Amex or JCB. Maestro, Cirrus and Plus will be more difficult to make the payment. It is better if you can check with the seller before buying or using service that they accept credit card or not or exchange rates they will use. Vietnam still really is a cash society therefore if you are travelling out of the big cities, ensure that you have enough cash in your wallet. As many local places do not have Visa/Eftpos/Smart-Card facilities


Pocket tips:

– You should ask for the price before buying anything or use any service (for example taxi, eat street food, drink, etc.).
– One local coffee has the price from 25000 Dong (about US$1.07). One local meal (such as Banh Mi, Bun Cha, Banh Cuon, Pho, etc.) has price from 40000 Dong (about US$1.72). One meal in restaurants is from 250000 per person (about $10.76). Always double check when there is a restaurant menu without any prices. That is a clear indication to be warned

4. Passport and Visa

To enter Vietnam, you will need to bring your passport that is valid for at least months on the date you enter.

Please check out my Visa Blog HERE I will show you the easiest method of applying for Passport Visa into Vietnam


A valid visa is required for almost citizens of foreign countries to visit Vietnam for any purposes. Citizens of some countries who have a visa exemption agreement with Vietnam do not need to get a visa to Vietnam for a certain period of time. And also not all travelers who require a visa to Vietnam are supported with visa on arrival. Hence, make sure whether you need a visa to Vietnam or not and are supported with visa on arrival.


Nowadays, there are two available ways to obtain a visa to Vietnam: apply for visa at Vietnam Embassy or apply for Visa on arrival. Of course, visa on arrival is more convenient and less time-consuming, but please notice that, it is only applicable for those who travel to Vietnam by air. By applying for Vietnam visa online, you can receive your Approval Letter before you leave home, which will simplify your arrival and save time. Personally for me (Kiwi In Saigon) Applying online and getting my approval letter and visa is so much easier.

Please check out my Visa Blog HERE I will show you the easiest method of applying for Passport Visa into Vietnam

5. What to bring?

Personal papers

  • Passport & Vietnam Visa/Visa Approval Letter if be required
  • Travel assurance (Optional)
  • Flight tickets
  • All travel confirmation voucher
  • Photos of passport in separate place
  • Last updated information for your trip.

Clothing and luggage

Depend on the period of time of travel above you can bring suitable clothes. Light jacket, comfortable shoes, convenient clothes are recommended since you will explore different zones with different weather and temperature. Don’t just bring shorts and too revealing clothes because they are not allowed to enter pagodas and temples. If in doubt you can easily buy more cheap clothes once you get here.



There are ATM machines available anywhere, so you do not need to bring to much cash. You can withdraw cash from them with the good exchange rate. Keep lots of pence in Dong to buy small things or pay for transportation. The best ATM’s are HSBC (Hong Kong Bank) They allow you to withdrawal from 5,000,000 (US$215)  Dong up to 10,000,000 (US$230). The usual ATM (Cash-flow Machines) will only allow 2,000,000 (US$86). However all you need to do is keep putting your cash-flow card back into the machines and doing more cash withdrawals. The only negative thing to doing this, is that each transactions costs around US$6.00 per withdrawal


Personal items

Bathroom supplies. Bring it from your home, or you can buy it from many shops when you get arrival in Vietnam. These things often set up in most of hotels and hostels in Vietnam. The good idea is always carrying toiletries in your day-pack when you have an outside day. Basically you can buy everything here that you would back at home including many well known brands. And actually for cheaper aswell

Electrical equipment

Smart-phone or iPad is a great thing to have. Internet connection and Wi-Fi is available almost anywhere. In Vietnam, the voltage is 220V so you ought to bring the electrical adapter if your equipment uses the different voltage. Chargers and pre-charged battery are very necessary when you have a long trip. Just buy a converter for your power supplies before you come. You can buy them here but you would have to search around. I bought mine from Amazon.


In one word, Vietnam is beautiful in its own way even though not yet to be a famous touristic destination in all around the world. If you are having a pretty vague concept about this country, find out more about top cities to visit in Vietnam and plan your own holidays. Going off the beaten track is also exciting, but maybe try this on your second trip to Vietnam. Enjoy your stay Kiwi In Saigon


Are You Coming to Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, And Need A Local Expat Kiwi-Vietnamese To Be Your Guide.

Then Book My Services 

To check out my Ho Chi Minh City Kiwi Tour Guide Services – Click HERE


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