Vietnam

Set before the magical backdrop of some of the most breathtaking landscapes in South East Asia, Vietnam’s rich and diverse heritage reflects the culture, style and history of the country. The country’s recent French colonial history and colourful traditions sit side by side with a past filled with ancient glory and tragedy. This exotic destination offers magical wonders amidst historic and cultural sites. Each city in Vietnam has its own charm and, with the aromas of its world-famous street food, combines to provide an unforgettable travel experience.

When to Visit

The best time to visit  the north of Vietnam is from September to December when it's less humid and the sky is clear. In the south, December to April is warm and dry.

Highlights

HALONG BAY Halong Bay is one of the scenic wonders of the world. Here the limestone landscape meets the sea to create one of the most stunning natural wonders on earth. It is truly breathtaking.

SAIGON Saigon is the bustling, pulsating economic hub of the south and the modern face of Vietnam. It is a frenzy of activity but beneath this facade lies a city of history, culture and charm.

MEKONG DELTA Known as the food bowl of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is formed by the various streams and tributaries of the mighty Mekong River that split after a 4,350km journey through six countries.

SAPA & NORTHERN VIETNAM Sapa and northern Vietnam are some of the least visited yet most beautiful parts of Vietnam. The area is home to a number of ethnic communities and meeting them is a special experience.

HOI AN The ancient town of Hoi An is a great place to wander around. The cobble stoned streets, historical sites and old merchant buildings will have you stepping back to another time.

VIETNAMESE STREET FOOD Vietnam is a foodie’s paradise and no trip is complete without trying their street food. Walk to some of Hanoi’s best culinary hotspots with a food blogger and taste the best street eats.

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Useful Information

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Customs

Polite behavior is highly valued. One of the most important dimensions of politeness is for the young to show respect to their elders. In everyday life, younger people show this respect by using hierarchical terms of address when interacting with their seniors and parents regularly instruct their children on their proper usage. Younger people should also be the first to issue the common salutation chao when meeting someone older, should always invite their seniors to begin eating before they do, ask for permission to leave the house, announce their arrival when they return, and not dominate conversations or speak in a confrontational manner with their seniors. Prerevolutionary practices demanded that juniors bow or kowtow to their seniors, but the revolution has largely eliminated such practices. Many elders today feel that the revolution produced a general decline in politeness. People of the same gender often maintain close proximity in social contexts. Both males and females will hold hands or sit very close together. People of different genders, however, especially if they are not married or related, should not have physical contact. In general woman are expected to maintain greater decorum than men by avoiding alcohol and tobacco, speaking quietly, and dressing modestly. In many public spaces, however, people often avoid standing in queues, resulting in a chaotic  environment where people touch or press up against one another as they go about their business.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Vietnam and vaccination against Typhoid should also be considered. Depending on a travellers itinerary and activities, vaccination against Hepatitis B, Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis may also be considered. Cholera is present in Vietnam, but immunisation is usually not recommended. Care with food and beverage selection is far more important. Malaria and Dengue Fever are present in Vietnam, as such insect avoidance measures should be taken and Antimalarial drugs may be required. All travellers should be up-to-date with their routine "background" vaccinations. These include vaccinations for Tetanus and Diphtheria (with a booster within the last 10 years), Whooping Cough (which is often combined with the Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccination), Polio (with a booster in adult life), Measles, Mumps and Rubella (two combination vaccinations through life), Chicken Pox and a recent annual Influenza vaccination. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Vietnam should also ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. 

Electricity

Electrical Plug type: European & Japanese Voltage: 120 and 240 volts Modem Plug Type: USA Special Tip: As both 120 and 240 volt systems are used, always check the voltage of any socket before plugging in appliances. Source: Korjo Travel Products. To purchase adapters, or for further information view the Korjo adapter guide at www.korjo.com.au.

Communications

Country Code for Vietnam: + 84 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Emergency Services: Fire: 114 Police: 113 Ambulance: 115 The emergency services may not have English speaking staff. To avoid delay it may be best to seek the assistance of a Vietnamese speaker to call the emergency services.

Shopping

Vietnamese people rise early and consider sleeping in to be a sure indication of illness. Offices, museums and many shops open between 7am and 8am and close between 4pm and 5pm. Post offices keep longer hours and are generally open from 6.30am to 9pm.

Tipping

Generally, tipping is not expected in Vietnam, but is very much appreciated. Many Vietnam workers do not earn much money and always appreciate the extra money to be made in tips.

Getting around

Though still a little rough around the edges, Vietnam’s transport network is continuing to improve. Most travel takes place on the roads, which are largely of decent quality surface-wise. The vehicles themselves are also pretty good, with air-conditioned coaches ferrying tourists (and an increasing number of locals) up and down Highway 1, a desperately narrow and shockingly busy thoroughfare that runs from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, passing through Hué, Da Nang and Nha Trang en route. Off the main routes the vehicles are less salubrious. Trains run alongside Highway 1, and their sleeper berths are far more comfortable than buses for longer journeys. Lastly, the domestic flight network continues to evolve, and the cheap, comfortable services may save you days’ worth of travel by road or rail. That said, there’s plenty of room for improvement, particularly as regards road transport.

Language

Vietnamese. Others include English, French, Chinese and Khmer.

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