Friday, December 2, 2016 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

How to Survive Your Trip to Vietnam

Travelers have a love/hate relationship with Vietnam. It could be your best vacation ever, or your absolute worst. Don’t shy away from this country, but welcome its beauty as well as its challenges! Here are some tips to make your trip to Vietnam a wonderful experience.

 

1    Be Friendly

The Vietnamese don’t have the best reputation for being friendly, but that doesn’t mean you should put on a sour face. People in Vietnam don’t have a particularly high view of Westerners, so if you are from the West (especially the United States or France), you have the opportunity to negate some of negative stereotypes. Be the one who makes an effort to be kind.
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2    Beware of Scams

A popular tourist scam is the taxi scam, where the meter will be tampered with or you’ll be locked in the car until you pay a bribe. Don’t get caught in one of these. Make sure you go with a trusted taxi company. Also, keep an eye out for a variety of other scams. Anywhere you go, people try to scam tourists, but it is often worse in Vietnam than in many other places. Scams are very common on tourist traps so keep that in mind.
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3    Be Careful at Night

Like anywhere else, be cautious when it comes to nightlife. Night clubs have a curfew, and the only ones allowed to operate past the curfew have paid a hefty price for the privilege. Don’t stay out late illegally, or your night could end in the back of a police car. Also, beware of pickpockets and other con artists.
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4    Get a Sim Card from a Reliable Dealer

The phone plans that work best come from big brand-name sim card providers. Check into local options before you buy so that you’ll be able to stay in touch with people and have the ability to call in case of emergencies.
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5    Don’t Drink the Water

Don’t drink the water, unless you’re dying to find out what it’s like to have an illness in a foreign country. You should be aware of certain foods you should never eat overseas if you dont want to spoil the trip. You can buy safe bottled water and sodas at many places.
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6    Be Respectful at Religious Sites

If you’re visiting a temple or another sacred site, make sure that what you are wearing is appropriate. Also, be sure to act with respect and decorum. In many cases, you need to ask before you take photos. The last thing you want to do is offend such a deep and sensitive aspect of Vietnamese culture.
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7    When in Vietnam, Travel Like the Vietnamese

It’s a well-known fact that traffic in Vietnam is absolutely terrifying. Be prepared to jump into this mayhem! Keep in mind that roads are crazy, sidewalks are not for walking, and pedestrians have to be vigilant if they want to stay safe. Choose safe taxi options and don’t take unnecessary risks.
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8    Be Careful What You Eat

Not everything is sanitary, and even what is safe for locals can’t be handled by travelers. Your immune system and stomach are not used to a lot of what you might encounter. Stick to fresh stuff that’s not too spicy.
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9    Bargain

Vietnam’s markets run on the barter system. Be tough with your bartering—the vendors are expecting to be able to charge you a lot and rip you off. Get to know good prices and haggle hard. If all else fails, try acting like you’re going to walk away. And do it for real if you can’t get a good price. You’re bound to find the same item from another vendor.
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10    Count Your Change

Many people assume that it’s acceptable to rip off tourists, especially Westerners. Make sure to count your change and demand all of it back. Watch your wallet and be careful to give the correct currency notes. And don’t do business with sketchy people. You’ve saved for your trip, and you don’t want to lose your money on scams because you’re not paying close enough attention.
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11    Don’t Get Offended

Many travelers have found Vietnam to be an extremely unfriendly place. Westerners are not very popular with the locals, and generally they don’t treat tourists with much respect. However, if you know this going in, you can avoid getting offended. Accept your experience for what it is. Know what you’re getting into, and refuse to let people get under your skin.
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12    Take a Look Around
Vietnam is beautiful! Enjoy the scenery and the culture. There is so much to be enjoyed and appreciated.
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Vietnam can be a challenge for Westerners. Keep an open mind but realize that you may not be welcomed with open arms, especially if you’re traveling on a budget. Vietnam should not be avoided like some of the most dangerous places for people vacationing but if you can cope with Vietnams culture and their way of life, you will have a good time.

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