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Quick-fire answers to our most frequently asked questions
In this section we've put together some of the questions we frequently get asked about our tours and about travel in Indochina. If your question is not answered below please don't hesitate to contact us directly.
The best time to travel in Vietnam is when there is a reduced chance of rain: https://swallowtravel.com/blog/when-is-the-best-time-to-visit-vietnam-b89.html
At any time of the year, climate may not so good in some regions but it’s still good in some others. So, you can always select a suitable trip in Vietnam. Just prepare air ticket from/to your country, apply Vietnam entry visa. In case you do not have time to apply visa in your country, we can help you obtain visa on arrival (getting visa at the arrival airport)
Vietnam is one of the safest countries for traveling. Women and independent travelers have found it relatively hassle-free and easy to travel throughout the country. Petty theft, such as pickpockets and drive-by bag snatchers, is more rampant in HCMC than elsewhere in the country. Visitors are advised to avoid wearing extravagant jewelry or carrying large amounts of money when walking in the streets. If you do choose to drive a motorbike or ride a bicycle, always wear a helmet.
No vaccination is required to enter Vietnam. However visitors are advised to have up-to-date inoculations for Cholera, Hepatitis A and B, Malaria, Typhoid and Tuberculosis. Malaria is prevalent in the remote mountainous regions. Please ask your doctor regarding immunizations and for the best preventative measures.
Vietnam has strict laws on bringing in anti-government literature, pornography, firearms and weapons. CDs and tapes are often retained for screening, but will be returned after a few days. It is illegal to remove antiques from Vietnam. When buying handicrafts, especially those that look old, ask the retailer for a receipt and a declaration that the item may be exported.
In Vietnam the local currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), which has a variety of notes ranging from 200 all the way to the 500,000 note. However the main notes are the 10,000 – 20,000 – 50,000 – 100,000, 200,000 and the 500,000. Please take care with 20,000 and 500,000 notes since they are both blue and can cause some confusion (and not everyone is honest enough to give you the right change).We recommend that you keep your 500,000 notes separate from your 20,000 and other VND notes to avoid confusion and loss of money. The US Dollar is widely accepted at major shops and restaurants throughout Vietnam, though the exchange rate chosen may often vary from the official one, making it more costly than VND. It is, however, very easy to exchange at banks, hotels and other exchanges throughout the country. The British Pound, the Euro and various other major currencies are also easily exchanged for VND. When exchanging your home currency for VND, ensure that your notes are undamaged, banks and exchanges wont accept notes which are torn, very crumpled, or have writing on them. Similarly, also make sure the VND that you receive is not damaged. The exchange rates fluctuate a lot, however the approximate rates can be viewed at:http://www.xe.com/currency/vnd-vietnamese-dong. ATM machines are now readily available throughout most cities and resorts. However, its still highly recommended that you always have some local currency with you. Visa and Master card are now becoming more accepted in many of the larger hotels and restaurants, especially in the bigger cities, the surcharge is usually around 3%.
Eating in Vietnam ranges from noodle soup for 1.5USD, eaten on the street to a banquet style in one of the luxury hotels. Vietnamese restaurants offer a broad selection of tempting international fare that includes French, Italian, American, Indian, Chinese and Japanese food. Seasonal fruits (including tropical fruits such as dragon fruit, rambutans, and longans), fresh vegetables, and local seafood are readily available. All fruits and vegetables should be cooked or peeled. Vietnamese eat mainly rice and noodles. Typical Vietnamese dishes you can expect to try include “pho”, a type of rice noodle soup eaten for breakfast. “Com”, boiled rice is eaten for lunch and for dinner. Nuoc Mam, the fermented fish sauce is commonly used in almost all Vietnamese foods. Due to the strong Buddhist influence in Vietnam, vegetarian food is widely available. Running water is available in cities. Water from wells is common in the countryside. For drinking, bottled water or mineral water which is safe and available everywhere are highly recommended. Ice at international hotels is safe. Beer is provided locally and also imported. Some of the most popular brands of beer are Bia Hoi, 333, Saigon, Hanoi, Tiger, Carlsberg and Heineken.
Vietnam is particularly known for its various styles of lacquer ware and its growing silk industry. A wide array of other handicrafts is also available, including conical hats, hill tribe fabrics and handicrafts, silver jewellery, quality hand embroidery, wood carvings, ceramics, silk painting, brass and marble figurines and ivory and tortoise shell accessories. Dong Khoi street in HCMC is a good place for Vietnamese silk, handicrafts while Hanoi old quarter of 36 streets is full of queer local souvenirs. Hoi An in the centre of Vietnam is also a very good place to hunt for bargains. it is advisable to buy items at the your departure point like Hanoi Capital or Saigon to avoid having to carry all the goodies for the rest of the trip. Fine handicrafts, embroidery articles, rattan and bamboo products, lacquer wares, marble carvings are some of the products are worth buying in Vietnam. Silk in Vietnam are some of the highest qualities in the world. Women and men can have their clothes custom tailored in a day or two. A pair of suits costs only USD 100 to USD 150 including materials and labor. A t-shirt costs 3USD and 5USD an embroidered one. Tailors are located along all main streets downtown. Let us know if you like recommendations. Visitors are free to buy products in Vietnam for personal use. The exception to this principal is antiques. Antiques considered of national interest will be confiscated without refund or recourse to their return. In general this applies to articles of ancients ( over 50 years old ) or religious nature. “National Interest” is interpreted by an expert at the airport.
Tipping is not compulsory when you use our services. Tipping for service is at very much at your discretion, however, it is much appreciated and particularly rewarding when a good job has been done. Normally a tip of a couple of dollars is very well received, if you have a private tour guide or driver around $5 per day is the average rate. We can advise you directly about this, if you require it.
No airport tax is required for both International filghts and Domestic flights as it is included in when you buy the ticket.
It is easy to stay in touch with friends and family when in Vietnam, via internet and phone. Internet is widely available throughout the country cities and towns and many hotels, cafes and restaurants provide free Wi-Fi for paying guests to access via their personal computer or mobile device. As well as free Wi-Fi, pay-as-you-go internet SIM cards can be easily purchased from airports, mobile phone stores, post offices and convenience stores and loaded with 4G internet credit. The most reliable pre-activated SIM cards are; Mobifone, Vinaphone and Viettel; they provide the best wireless coverage and cost around 80,000 VND (around $4usd). All three of these service providers offer 4G service throughout Vietnam as cheap as 60,000 VND (around $2.50) for 1GB of data. For those who dont have a computer or mobile device that can connect to Wi-Fi, Cyber Cafes are a good option and very cheap, as little as 2,000 to 3,000 VND an hour (2 or 3 US cents). We have A Vietnam's tourist Sim card with 6GB of high speed, 100 local SMS, 60 minutes local calls, 30 minutes international calls and Promotion card at 10USD/sim card. Please contact us for further information.
In Viet Nam we use 220V. Power outlets usually feature two-prong round or flat sockets however, there is no set standard. It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor or check with your accommodation for a connecting adaptor.
We use all air-conditioned vehicles operated by experienced and skillful drivers during your tour:
In the more adventurous tours, four-wheel drive vehicles will be used. Domestic air fares quoted are based on economy class. Business class can be arranged on request with surcharge.
Most of the tours you can wear comfortable clothes but any tour includes a visit to temples, please wear clothes longer than your knees, clothes with sleeves. If you visit northern Vietnam, you should check with us the winter time for bringing warm clothes with you.
Cambodia is basically a very safe destination. As in every part of the world, it is important to never leave your belongings unattended. At some places you might meet some annoying souvenir sellers. A friendly “no” however, is mostly sufficient here.
The dry season lasts from November to April with the cooler period in December and January
Approval is not required for visas to Cambodia (except for citizens from Afghanistan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan Sri Lanka, Sudan and Nigeria). Foreign tourists are generally admitted into Cambodia for 30 days with a visa on arrival without prior authorization or for 30 days with a visa issued at a Cambodian embassy. This costs USD 35 USD and requires the filling in of an application form and one passport photo. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your expected departure date. Please contact your local Cambodian embassy for the most accurate information. Or you can consider to apply E-visa only via official website of Cambodia Government: https://www.evisa.gov.kh/
The national currency of Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel. It is available in 100, 500, 1’000, 2’000, 5’000, 10’000, 20’000 and 100’000 notes. Since the Riel is linked with the exchange rate of the US Dollar, the US Dollar became the main cash. Riel are mostly given back as change (1 USD = 4000 Riel). Both currencies are accepted equally.
Vietnam Dong is the official currency in Vietnam, which you can’t purchase or difficult to purchase outside of the country. Major Banks in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city can handle quite a lot of different currencies, however, USD is the most widely accepted. So we recommend taking a combination of USD cash, USD traveler’s cheques with the bulk in traveler’s cheques for safety reasons. American Express, Visa are the most popular brands.
You can change cash and travelers’ cheques at big hotels or at authorized foreign exchange banks in main cities. Outside the main cities and tourist area, authorized foreign exchange banks are few and far between. So if heading off the beaten path, remember to stock up with enough cash (USD or VND) to the last trip.
Wherever you travel to, you’ll always find someone willing to change dollars cash into VND, though rates will vary. When receiving dong, you’ll be presented with a huge pile of notes. Refuse any badly torn notes and ask for a mix of denominations so that you always have a few low-value notes in hand.
Test Despite of the fact that Vietnamese government attempts to outlaw the practice, the US Dollars still acts as an alternative currency which is almost completely interchangeable with Vietnam Dong. Many prices, especially for hotels, tours and expensive restaurants, are still quoted in USD, though you can pay in dong if you’d rather - just check what exchange rate they’re using.
For everyday expenses, we recommend you carry a mix of US Dollars cash and Vietnam Dong. For larger items or when the exchange rate works in your favour, use dollars. For cyclos, local food stalls and small purchases, it’s best to use Vietnam Dong. In either case, make sure you always have a stock of small notes so that there is no need to worry about change.
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