Vietnam is a beautifully diverse country, and whether you’re flying in from Vancouver or from your stopover in Hong Kong with Hong Kong Airlines, you’re going to notice a wide variety of cultural differences and unique surroundings upon arrival.
Here are some tips to ensure your trip to Vietnam is as epic as it should be.
Carry local money (Vietnamese dong) with you at all times. Many of the best food can be found at authentic hole-in-the-wall or grab-and-go spots (check out our food guide for recommendations), and most of them don’t accept credit cards. The best place to exchange Canadian dollars is at the airport, and you can exchange American cash at hotels as well. There are also ATMs on every corner in the major cities, but they sometimes run out of cash, so plan ahead.
Be wary of the water; drink bottled or boiled, and avoid having drinks with ice, unless someone can vouch for it being safe. Your stomach will thank you for weeks to come.
Vietnam is the land of hectic scooter traffic, and crossing the street in its major cities can seem like a daunting task. If you are waiting for a gap in traffic you may be waiting for hours, so the key is just to GO FOR IT.
If you’re in a group, round up the troops and cross as one. When crossing, raise your hand up as if to fend off oncoming traffic by summoning your inner superhero. Finally, never stop in the middle of the street; just keep walking!
The perfect launchpad for your trip to Vietnam is a stopover in Hong Kong — this combo will truly let you experience the urban and emerging sides of Asia. Hong Kong Airlines has got you covered with quick and easy flights over to Hanoi. The staff is so hospitable you will feel right at home on your journey, and the views along the way are next level stunning!
If you fly out of Hong Kong International Airport, make sure to stop by Club Autus; it’s an amazing lounge experience that will immediately make you feel like a VIP. Keep that feeling going during your trip with an inflight Skybar and an iPad 4 mini (to catch up on your favourite shows during the 1.5 hour flight). But your trip is just getting started!
Eating like a local
Discover the hidden alleys of Hanoi and Saigon. This is where the true hidden gems are. For example, take the alley that leads to Thuy’s snail soup or the one that leads to Café Giang, the original egg coffee.
Tipping isn’t just a nice optional gesture in Vietnam; it’s a way of life. Our local guide Tuyen recommends leaving the housekeeper $1 per night in a hotel, leaving servers 10% of the bill, and offering the bellboy 50 cents to $1 for a big suitcase. However, you do not need to tip taxi drivers. We know you’re on a budget while travelling, but anything you can spare will be appreciated!
After acquiring all of Uber’s Southeast Asia operations earlier this year, Grab is your go-to rideshare program in Vietnam, and it’s an excellent and affordable transportation option. If you choose to take a taxi, know that many offer inconsistent rates, so it is recommended to agree on a price at the beginning of your ride. An alternative is to take a trusted Mai Linh taxi, which charge by metre pricing in the local currency.
(And if you leave Vietnam without receiving at least one ride on the back of a moto taxi, you’ve missed out.)
Seeking out accommodation with air conditioning is a MUST in Vietnam, at least in the summer months. Our guide Tuyen says A/C is his favourite invention in the world, and about 45 minutes into our time in Hanoi in July, we were on the exact same sweaty page.
Haggling for a price is a part of the culture in Vietnam. It is recommended to negotiate with a vendor pretty much everywhere but the supermarket. Start at half the original price (or less), pretend to walk away, and they will likely call you back so you can meet in the middle. Negotiation is more art than science, and we hope you create a masterpiece of deals.
One pet peeve of the locals is when us tourists wag our finger at service staff members to summon them over. This is considered very rude. Instead, if you’re calling over a server, lower your body in your seat and wave your fingers by your head. The only thing worse than a clueless tourist is a rude clueless tourist, so don’t be that person!
Okay, you’re all set for your trip to Vietnam, now there’s only one thing left to do – check out these Hong Kong and Vietnam flight specials from Hong Kong Airlines and book that flight! Ready, jet, go!
For more information on Vietnam, visit Bestway Tours & Safaris.
Enter for your chance to win the following prize:
- 2 x Economy class return tickets from Vancouver – Hong Kong – Ho Chi Minh City, provided by Hong Kong Airlines
- 3 x nights accommodation in Hong Kong for two people on a twin-sharing basis, provided by Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB)
- Airport-hotel return transfers
- Two tours for two people in Hong Kong (choice of hotel and tours are at the discretion of HKTB)
- A trip for 2 people to Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, provided by Bestway Tours & Safaris
- 3 x nights accommodation for two people (choice of hotel and program are at the discretion of Bestway Tours & Safaris)
- Transfer services
- Entrance fees and boat fees where applicable
- Vietnam Visa on Arrival Approval letter
- Pre-arranged meals
- Guided by an English-speaking local guide
Blackout dates: 11 December 2018 – 5 January 2019, 29 January – 17 February 2019, 16-25 April 2019, 22 Jun – 10 Sep 2019, 11 December – 5 January 2020
To enter for your chance to win the prize listed above, courtesy of Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Tourism Board, and Bestway Tours & Safaris, fill in the Google form below:
Contest entries will be accepted from the time and date of publishing until 11:59 pm on December 10, 2018. One winner will be chosen at random and contacted directly from Hong Kong Airlines.