Vietnam is an amazing country and we think that every traveler should visit it. Vietnam got us mainly because of the beautiful and diverse nature, nice people and delicious gastronomy. You do not have to worry that you will forget to pack something in Vietnam, because everything here us very cheap to buy. Rather, we can advise you on practical things about visas, best mobile operator and SIM cards or transport.
1) Vietnam Visa
Czech citizens are subject to a visa requirement, so do not forget your visa before traveling to Vietnam. You can do it easily via Internet on internet via this websites. The visas are processed within a few days, but it is recommended to process it at least 2 weeks in advance. Especially if you want to visit Vietnam during the New Year celebrations, make it even 3 weeks in advance. These celebrations can disrupt all administration. The visa is valid for 30 days, costs $25 and is submitted on paper form .) Always check visa requirement before you travel there!
2) Vietnam currency and ATM withdraw (without fee)
You will have to pay with cash in most places in Vietnam. We recommend bringing US dollars and exchange them for Vietnamese dongs. However, if you do not have the opportunity to import dollars, you can withdraw money from ATMs, but in most banks there is a withdrawal fee. But we have for you a tip for a vietnamese bank withou any fees!! It is called VPBank and can be found in most cities (except Sapa). On the Internet you may find that another bank that does not charge is MBank. Unfortunately the times changed and it will also charge you.
3) Best mobile operator and SIM card in Vietnam
You can buy very cheap SIM cards and tariffs in Vietnam, so be sure to get one. We compared several operators in terms of price and coverage, and Viettel came out like the best option. ATTENTION: prices at the airport are usually higher than prices in the city, so if you do not mind spending a few minutes searching for an operator, we recommend you to wait for the city to buy a SIM in official store. We purchased a SIM card for a month with 12 GB of data for 17,000 VND (approx. 6,6 EUR).
4) Traveling around Vietnam
The most common means of transport are trains or buses. Buses tend to be cheaper than trains, but sometimes (with some companies) seats are less comfortable. We usually used night buses, which had special lying seats. The most luxury buses even have screens and toilets. Usually it is not necessary to buy tickets in advance via the Internet (except for New Year celebrations). In every city you will find several carriers, much more choice and different prices than on the Internet! Buying tickets was not a problem even in smaller towns (for example Cat Ba Island), as almost every company sold tickets here.
But once we made a mistake with buying a ticket through the hotel and not asking about the company. Mrs. from the reception told us that it is a tourist bus and the driver does not drive like crazy ( bus drivers in Vietnam drive like madmen), but eventually bus arrived with an hour delay and took mainly locals (so constantly stopping somewhere). To make matters worse, he served something like a local post and transported a fish sauce for someone. Sauce spilled on the Tom’s backpack and everything terribly smelled. Even our taxi driver said the smell is hard to handle. Moreover, the driver and his assistants did not speak English, so the arrangement with them was not easy and they were not very pleasant to foreigners. This experience has become us with with us Hung Thanh Travel company
Our tips for bus companies:
From Ho CHi Minh: Thanh Buoi (luxorious option)
From Da Lat: Futa bus line
From Sapa: Green Sapabus
From Cat Ba island: Cat Ba Express
From Ninh Binh: Daichii bus
And of course Vietnam is known as a motorbike country. Renting a motorcycle in Vietnam is very cheap (from 4 to 11 EUR a day) and it is a completely different experience. Traffic situation in cities is crazy, but when you go out it is calmer 🙂
5) Food and cuisine in Vietnamu
Vietnam is well known for its gastronomy with unique dishes. Who doesn’t know Bum Bo Nam Bo, Bun Cha, Pho soup or spring rolls? Not only is Vietnamese food excellent, it is also very cheap, so there is no need to bring food supplies from your home country. We ate both for dinner on average for 4 EUR. Vietnam is also famous for its coffee, so coffee lovers will be in heaven! You can buy coffee in the average shop from 0,5 to 1 EUR. As a rule, if you pay more for it, you pay the tourist price.