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Monday, April 2, 2012

Do’s and Don’ts When Travelling in Vietnam

Vietnam is a friendly country that is generally safe to travel to and full of wonders like Hanoi, the Mekong Delta and let’s not forget the always scrumptious roasted sparrow entrees!

The Vietnamese are very appreciative if they see you trying to abide by their customs, and very forgiving when you get it wrong, but just in case here is a quick list of  Do’s and Don’ts for traveling in Vietnam.


- Wear shorts or old T-shirts to visit a Pagoda, they won’t let you in. Be sure to dress conservatively and dress for the occasion, you are after all visiting a piece of history

- Sit with your feet pointing towards a family altar if you are staying in someone’s house.

- Take pictures of anything to do with the military, this can be considered a breach of national security and trust us, you don’t want to see the inside of a Vietnamese jail.

- Take video cameras into the small villages, it is considered very intrusive and they’ll be too polite to ask you to stop filming.    

- Display any personal displays of affection! Just don’t do it. Find a hostel, hotel, whatever suits – but anything beyond holding hands is seriously frowned upon.

- Expect to sleep late as Vietnam starts moving at 6am and the noise can be overwhelming.


- Dress conservatively, especially you ladies out there. The dress code is more relaxed in major cities but do yourself (and the Vietnamese) a favor - don’t wear booty shorts to the fish market.

- Drink loads of water as you’re wandering around checking out the sights. The heat can be oppressive and heat stroke can be a real killjoy, so take our advice and drink up (water that is)!

- Hold your bag in front of you and wrap it around a limb when riding in a Cyclo – bag snatching is a big problem and if you are looking at a Pagoda there’s a good chance someone’s looking at your bag.

- If you’re invited into a local’s home (which is really the only way to travel), be sure to take your shoes off at the entrance.

- Travel by train, it’s one of the best ways to see the country through the eyes of the locals (prepare for the trains to be late and smelly – but that’s part of the charm, right?)

- Carry a bit of toilet paper with you at all times – we won’t go into detail – just trust us.

- Make sure that you have a hotel/hostel business card from the reception desk. This will make your return to the hotel in a taxi or cyclo much easier.

- Do expect to pay less for a beer than a bottle of water – but remember our hydration tip above!

There is no greater way to experience a culture and participate in a local community, than to become involved in a volunteer project during your travels. Vietnam offers ample opportunities to aid in developmental, environmental and educational projects throughout the country.  Our friends at Buffalo Tours can help you find out more about travelling responsibly while visiting Vietnam.

Read more stories from Active Travel Asia to help keep you travelling safely. 


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