Planning on travelling to Vietnam? Only about 9 hours away by direct flight from Australia, Vietnam is a fascinating country to visit. If you’ve never visited before and are currently planning a trip to Vietnam, these travel tips will help you sort out the logistics.
Travelling to Vietnam: Book your flights
Currently both Qantas and Vietnam Airlines operate direct flights to Ho Chi Minh from Sydney and Melbourne. If you don’t mind a transit stop, your options extend to Singapore Airlines, TigerAir, Jetstar and AirAsia. The latter 3 airlines have the additional benefit of being low cost airlines and therefore relatively cheap if you’re not flying with check in luggage and don’t mind bringing your own meals.
Travelling to Vietnam: Organise a visa
Depending on your passport and your intended length of stay, you may or may not need a visa to travel to Vietnam. Some nationalities are exempt from Vietnamese visa requirements. If, however you are American or Australian, you will need a visa. The Vietnamese Immigration Department now issues visas on arrival if you enter the country by air; however if you are crossing a land border you will need to get a visa from a Vietnamese embassy. To take advantage of the visa on arrival process, applicants can apply online, obtain an approval letter and use this to pick up a visa on arrival at a Vietnamese airport.
Travelling to Vietnam: Book accommodation
Even if you prefer to travel spontaneously, I highly recommend booking at least the first night of your accommodation on arriving in Vietnam. There’s plenty of accommodation options in Vietnam to pick from, whether you prefer to stay at a 4-star beachside hotel in Da Nang, boutique hotels in Hanoi or a local AirBnB apartment in Ho Chi Minh. If you decide to book with AirBnB, you’ll get $45 off your first booking with them, and to sweeten the deal, you’ll also score a free $30 prepaid offer from Optus if you book before November 2016.
Travelling to Vietnam: Local SIM cards
If you need to connect with friends and family, or if you’re expecting an important email while travelling in Vietnam, you’re going to need a phone and data connection. You could simply use global roaming on your home network, but this is expensive and you may come home to a gigantic data bill. Instead, make sure your phone is unlocked before you leave Australia, and buy a cheap activated pre-paid SIM card on arrival. The best provider in Vietnam is Mobifone. Where possible, take advantage of free WiFi while travelling in Vietnam.
Travelling to Vietnam: Money
The local currency in Vietnam is called the Dong, at an exchange of around 0.00005 to the Aussie dollar – that’s a lot of zeros! You can either exchange money at an Australian foreign exchange desk before you leave, which will be relatively more expensive, or use the ATM at the airport when you land in Vietnam to withdraw cash. You can also exchange money at foreign bureaus, found in all major cities in Vietnam, but don’t change money on the street. Make sure to count your change – with such large denominations, it’s easy to get confused.
Travelling to Vietnam: Organise a tour
While you can travel to Vietnam independently, if you are looking for an easy way to organize all the logistics for your trip, a tour is the most convenient option. When I visited Vietnam, I organized airport transfers, booked train tickets to Sapa and transfers from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay through a tour agency.This helped to smooth my trip planning and meant I could focus on simply enjoying my time there instead of having to figure out the logistics of transport.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN VIETNAM: