Travel in Vietnam is often based around a journey between Hanoi and Saigon, taking in the highlights of the central region between the two. From colonial Hanoi and the karst scenery of Halong Bay, to the mercantile history of Hoi An, to fast-paced Saigon and the Mekong Delta, our Vietnam specialists use their personal experience of the country to plan your tailor-made tour of Vietnam in detail.
Tipping is not generally expected, but some small change for most services is appreciated. Hired drivers and guides are usually tipped, and it is customary to round up the bill for taxi drivers in the cities. In top hotels porters expect a small tip.
Most restaurants and hotels in Vietnam Tour Information now add a five to 10 percent service charge to their bills. Travellers to Vietnam over 18 years do not have to pay duty on the following items: 400 cigarettes, 100 cigars or 500g tobacco; 1.5 litres alcohol with alcohol content higher than 22% and 2 litres below 22%; up to 5kg tea and 3kg coffee; perfume and items for personal consumption within reasonable amounts; other goods to the value of five million Vietnamese dong. Hué is the old imperial capital of Vietnam with its royal palaces and palatial mausoleums, and nearby the battle sites of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) are reminders of the brutality of war.
Menus offer Chinese variations of spring rolls, steamed dumplings and noodles. The quaint town of Hoi An, once a major trading port, boasts the perfectly preserved architectural influences of the Asian merchants from the north, while the broad leafy boulevards of the capital Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are reminiscent of France. However, the country has also been left with a vivid legacy from different cultures evident in the character of its towns, as well as in the architecture and food.
The impact of Japanese and Chinese trade, French occupation and American intervention has left its stain on Vietnam, smeared over a period of more than two thousand years of recorded history. The only thing you really need consider is the price (which shouldn’t vary by much anyway). You get picked up at the travel agency you booked at and the bus continues on to 5-10 other places to pick up everyone else.
My experience with Vietnam was that it really didn’t matter – there are literally hundreds of travel agencies and many of them share the same tour operators. If you bring your own phone and/or laptop, several providers offer mobile internet services (EDGE/3G) services as well. Many hotels and restaurants provide free Wi-Fi or terminals for their guests.
Connection speeds are high, especially in the big cities. Internet cafes are available in most tourist spots and rates are fairly cheap, ranging from 2,000-10,000 dong per hour. Internet Internet access is available in all but the most remote towns.
Temperatures around the country can reach up to 40C in the height of the hot and rainy season (May to September), but the northern highlands and Hanoi can often seem chilly and damp in the winter.