Vietnam is a great destination for an adventurous vacation. There are a few things I feel are important to know when going that I had either not been told beforehand or weren’t completely confident on when visiting.
1. Don’t throw out your train tickets. This is important. When riding the train in Vietnam you show your ticket to get onto the train, but that is not the last time they will ask for it. Sometimes you will have to show the ticket again after you get off the train as you are leaving the station. I know at home when I get on the train once I show it the first time I usually toss it. We were lucky we didn’t do that this time and had I just happened to keep them crumpled up in my pockets.
2. Keep luggage tickets for domestic flights. Similar to #1. When you check a bag you get that sticker receipt. I believe that is mostly in case you loose your luggage so they can track it quick and figure out where it is. Make sure to hold on to this. When you land and pick up your luggage you will have to show that receipt and your luggage in order to leave the airport.
3. Visas on Arrival. We decided to do a VOA instead of obtaining a visa beforehand. I was really nervous about this. It seemed a little sketchy. It turned out to work out just fine though. Just make sure you do everything necessary. You must use a reputable company a few months before departure in order to receive your Letter of Approval. They will also walk you through what all you need. Another great resource for information source is Tripadvisor.com they have a great article on it here. Also, make sure when you arrive you have $45 US CASH, you must pay this in order to get your 30 day visa.
4. “Buy Something!” This is what you will hear in Vietnam when passing a tourist shop especially in Sapa and Hoi An. Don’t ever look just to be nice. Smile and say “no thank you”. If you aren’t interested in buying anything from their store don’t act like you might. It will only make it harder to walk away.
5. The people are eager to help. I had heard different stories regarding the people in Vietnam. What I experienced is for the most part everyone is more than happy to help tourists. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for directions. I found a lot of the time they went above and beyond to help us out.