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Vietnam FAQs

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1. When is the best time to go to Vietnam?

Travelers can visit Vietnam any time of the year, with no notable "off-season". The best places for beach going tends to vary throughout the year based on what the weather is doing. The wet season typically spans from May to September, though visitors are still able to visit most areas. In the northern regions average temperatures range from 17-22 C (62-71 F) during the cool and dry winter time from November through April, and can get as low as 10 C in the far north mountainous regions. Temperatures range from 25 to 35 C (77 - 95 F) in the south year-round and only sees slight variation between dry season and wet season (which runs from May to November).

2. What are the accommodations like?

In each location, we strive to use charming accommodations that are locally owned and characteristic of the area. These range from charming, family-run bed & breakfasts to luxurious, boutique hotels. Most accommodations have private baths, hot water and clean, comfortable rooms except in instances where noted, such as a homestay or village hiking trip. We strive to also find hotels in good locations, whether that be walking distance to main attractions, or out of the city if it is consistently noisy. Larger hotels are used in metropolitan areas as typically these are the only available options.

3. Do I need a converter/adapter for the electricity?

Vietnam generally uses 220 volt, 50hz electricity. They use types A, C, and G power sockets. It is recommended to bring a converter or to purchase one upon arrival. One will likely be needed to adapt the plug shape for any device you bring. Some hotels provide converters, but it is best to bring your own.

4. Are meals included?

Most meals are included for yourselves as well as your guide. You will need help translating the menus, and thus the guide will typically eat with you unless you specify a different arrangement. Occasionally meals will be up to you, particularly when you are in a larger city with many restaurant options that cater to tourists. Your guide is happy to give you restaurant recommendations for those meals on your own.

5. What are the tour guides like?

Our tour leaders are exceptional! They are fluent in English and Vietnamese, and some speak other ethnic minority languages as well. Our tour leaders all hold a guide certification from the Vietnam Tourism Authority, which is required to guide tours. Also, they are all trained in First Aid. Many were born and raised in the local areas where they guide and are among the very best guides available in each region. Some specialize in specific adventure activities as well, such as hiking. All of our tour leaders treat our travelers like friends, showing visitors both the major highlights and the local treasures.

6. What type of transportation is used?

Our Vietnam tours utilize a variety of transportation including private vans/cars, internal flights, yacht, train, etc. We use a mix of private/public transportation to provide travelers with the safest and most efficient transit in each area. Occasionally, we may include non-typical transportation modes (tuk-tuk, bicycle, kayak, motorboat, etc.) for short distances to give travelers a sense of local flavor. Each tour itinerary page has a description of the transportation included on that tour. If you have additional questions, just ask!

7. What type of food is typical of Vietnam?

Vietnamese cuisine is quite varied, having had many external influences over the years that have created an interesting mix of cooking methods and ingredients. Heavy Chinese influence in the north has led to a variety of stir fries and wok-based meals. In the south where a larger variety of crops are grown, grilled and fresh vegetables are more common with sauces added in. French presence in the recent past has led to the assimilation of French cuisine influence, and is often attributed with pho noodle soup's rise to popularity. Most meals include rice, as well as fish sauce which is a popular condiment added to almost every meal throughout the country.

8. Are these trips suitable for kids?

Yes! Many Vietnam tours are family friendly or can be changed and customized to fit a variety of interests and ages. Some tours minimize travel and drive times and maximize in-country activity that will keep younger minds engaged. Your Trip Planner can help advise you in this respect.

9. What is the typical age range on the Vietnam tours?

Typically, ages range from 25 to 65, however we have seen children as young as 6 and the "young at heart" as old as 90 on our trips!

10. Are these trips a good choice for solo travelers?

Absolutely! Our Vietnam tours tend to attract a great mix of solo travelers, families, friends, etc. We can often match you up with another group traveling on one of the set tours, or one with a more customized twist so long as it lines up with your dates and budget. Solo travelers should also take a look at our exclusive Solo Traveler Departures.

11. Do tour rates include international flights?

Tour rates do not include international flights. We find that it is usually less expensive for travelers to book these separately and this also allows you the flexibility to choose the schedule and routing that is most convenient for you. You can purchase international flights on your own, or we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in international flights.

12. How do I get to the hotel from the airport when I arrive?

A driver will be there to greet you at your arriving airport holding a sign with your last name on it. He will take you to your hotel the first night. You can opt to take a taxi transfer on your own, though we do not advise it. Many taxi drivers do not speak English. If you choose to take a taxi, be aware of the meter as drivers have a button they can push to raise the price.

13. Are there any discounts available?

Absolutely! We offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our Travel Discounts page for the latest offers and on-going discounts.

14. How much should I budget for tips?

Tips are not required on any of our tours. However, it is customary to offer a small tip for exceptional service. For a full day tour, we recommend $8-$10 per day for your guide and $4-$5 per day for a driver is common. Other travelers opt to bring small gifts from their home to give to service providers along the way.

15. How far in advance should I book?

You can book your Vietnam tour at any time and generally the earlier you book, the better. Booking early (3 months or more recommended, 6 months in advance for peak season dates) is especially important for travelers visiting during the height of the high season to ensure that first choice hotels are still available. Further, we usually recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that we arrange your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available. We are often able to accommodate last minute travelers as well (some even departing in less than one week!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice hotel may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip planner can recommend some other similar options that would be equally interesting!

16. Are tour dates flexible?

YES. Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed online. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of two travelers as long as hotels and a guide are available.

17. Can I extend or change my stay?

Absolutely! Give us a call for suggestions in the region. We can easily arrange for extensions to other Southeast Asia destinations such as neighboring Cambodia, Thailand or Laos. Let us know how you would like to customize your trip and we will do our best to accommodate you.

18. What should I pack?

You will receive a detailed packing list after you book your tour. Since the climate varies depending upon locations and season, it is difficult to offer many generalizations. Comfort is the rule and fancy clothes are not necessary for any of our Vietnam tours.

19. How safe is Vietnam?

Vietnam is a relatively safe country both in the rural countryside as well as in larger cities. As always, travelers need to be aware of their surroundings and use common sense when venturing out at night, but crime rates in general are very low, particularly against tourists. The most common issue reported are pickpockets when visiting crowded marketplaces or shopping areas. Be wise and keep your possessions hidden under your top layer of clothing to prevent anything from being stolen. Also, please be aware of metering tricks that taxi drivers try to pull on tourists.

20. Is the water safe to drink?

The tap water is generally NOT safe to drink anywhere in Vietnam. Bottled water is readily available at tourist sites, hotels, & restaurants, and hot water (boiled to make it safe) or tea is generally offered with a meal at a restaurant. Travelers can also use bottled water when brushing your teeth for extra precaution.

21. Can I use US dollars or do I need local currency? What is the local currency, exchange rate, etc.?

Generally USD is not accepted in most establishments in Vietnam outside of main cities. Vietnamese Dong (VND) is the only way to pay in Vietnam. Upon arrival, you should plan to exchange your money at a bank. The airports and hotels generally will give you a worse exchange rate. Check out a currency converter such as, www.oanda.com/currency/converter/, for the latest exchange rates.

22. Should I bring cash or Traveler's checks? Are ATMs available? Can I use credit cards?

Credit Cards are widely accepted in larger cities, but traveler's checks are not. Cash is required for travel to more rural areas and can be easily obtained at ATMs in larger cities.

23. Can I use my cell phone?

Yes, so long as your carrier has not locked your phone and it is possible to operate on their network. You should contact your phone carrier to find out if your phone will work properly. Another option is to buy a local SIM card once you are in Vietnam if you do have an unlocked phone. It is advised to also double check your international calling rates with your provider.

24. Do I need a visa/passport?

US citizens do need a Vietnam visa but do not necessarily need to apply for it in advance, though that is an option. A visa upon arrival option is also available for US citizens, but you need to obtain a Welcome Letter for this process which you can do ONLY at HCMC airport or Hanoi airport. Travelers are not allowed onto a plane to Vietnam without either a visa OR an invitation letter stating you can receive a visa upon arrival to Vietnam. Adventure Life can provide that letter for a small service charge, so please ask your Trip Planner if you need one written. Travelers will need a passport valid for at least 6 months after they depart. Non-US citizens are advised to contact their local consulate for entry requirements.

25. What immunizations are recommended/required?

No immunizations are currently required for visiting Vietnam. A yellow fever vaccination is required if you are arriving from another country with risk of yellow fever. This vaccination, which is valid for 10 years, must be administered at least 10 days before your arrival in the destination with yellow fever risk. Travelers must bring along their International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) as proof of vaccination. Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended. Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Malaria, and Rabies preventatives are also loosely recommended depending on where you plan to travel in Vietnam. For the most current information, please consult your doctor and/or check out the Center for Disease Control web-site.

26. What time zone is Vietnam?

Vietnam is in the Indochina Time Zone, or UTC+07:00.

27.  Is travel insurance recommended?

Absolutely!!! We work with a company called TravelGuard that provides reasonably priced insurance for trip cancellation, medical expenses, medical evacuation, lost bags, etc. They have two different types of insurance available, depending upon whether or not you will need the cancellation coverage. Check out our Once You're Booked page for more information.

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