Common Misconceptions When Traveling to Vietnam

By: Rachel Cabakoff

1. I NEVER BURN

One common misconception they fail to realize is the strength of the sun in Vietnam. Among the various beach towns in Vietnam — Mui Ne, Da Nang, Phu Quoc, the list goes on — newcomers are divided into several categories according to the degree of sunburn they receive.

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We’ll start with Snow White. This includes those who have practically just landed and decided it would be a good idea to rush straight to the beach to bask in the hot sun and soak in the temperate waters.

A few hours later they reach the second sunburn category: Lobster. Covered in bright pink, blotchy marks, their burns can be spotted a mile away. The following 2-3 days, none of them are found near the beach until finally, they’ve reached a nice, olive-tone tan, no more burns. Many of my friends frequent these various beaches and every time I warn them about the dangers of Vietnam’s cruel sun — when in doubt, SPF will be your best friend here.


2. RIDING A MORTOBIKE IS AN EASY AND PLEASANT EXPERIENCE

It may be easy for those who have driven a motorbike before but there is no need to hop on one right away. One important aspect to keep in mind is that international licenses are not valid in Vietnam meaning any police officer may stop you and take your motorbike. This will then be followed by a ticket and lost valuable travel time. Secondly, the chaotic traffic throughout the streets with little to no traffic rules on the roads is too dangerous for any first-time motorbike driver. All in all, it is your safest option to hold off and save it for a later date. Leave the driving to the xe oms (motorbike taxis).

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3. COFFEE AND TEA SHOULD ONLY BE BOUGHT IN DALAT

Most newcomers may not realize this but Vietnam is known for its delicious coffee and café atmosphere. Coffee and tea can be purchased elsewhere other than Dalat. This is a common misconception about Dalat. In fact it is all the same. Save yourself a few dollars and purchase the coffee and tea in Mui Ne. On the other hand, one item you should really keep an eye out for while in Dalat is the cocoa.

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4. AIR CONDITIONING IS GREAT ALL OF THE TIME

Yes, ok it is great but remember, everything in moderation, right? Switching from the outdoor temperature to the AC too often can cause you to catch a cold during your travels. Stay healthy and make sure your room temperature does not exceed 10 degrees Celsius.

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5. ALL THE CLOTHES IN VIETNAM ARE OF POOR QUALITY, IT IS BEST NOT TO BOTHER

This is another common misconception about Vietnam. Home of some of the most talented tailors and designers, one can find great merchandise here from head to toe. From the shopping centers like Vincom Center and Diamond Plaza to the local markets such as, Saigon Square and Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City — one can find something for all ages. If you happen to be passing through Hoi An, take advantage of some of the best tailors in the country.

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So be sure to bring some Vietnamese Dong along with you. You can exchange your money at the local airports or at various exchange stations located throughout the markets and shopping centers. As far as packing goes, I would pack light so you’ll have plenty of room for all of the souvenirs you may end up buying while on your trip.

Fun fact — according to the Ministry of Finance of Vietnam, “...The first country on the list of major importers of textiles and clothing from Vietnam was the United States. In early 2014, nearly 1.435 million different types of products were imported from Vietnam. The U.S. was followed by Japan and South Korea with about 379.366 and 278.098 million. Major importers from Europe included Germany, bringing in Vietnam textiles and clothing at 106.783 million. In addition to Great Britain, Spain and the Netherlands bringing in roughly 99,159 million dollars, 74.697 and 34.249 million respectively."


6. LEARNING TO KITE SURF ONLY TAKES FIVE MINUTES

In reality, you will need at least 3 to 5 hours of training before you can get on a board. It is not as easy as it looks! A great spot to learn how to surf, kite surf or windsurf is in Vung Tau, Nha Trang and Mui Ne. Takeoff surf school takes beginners and experts through the different steps and skills — from learning new tricks to conquering the waves.

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7. YOU CANNOT BUY TRIPS FROM LOCAL TRAVEL AGENCIES

Usually tour operators announce this warning to all travelers who enter into Vietnam. This is a common misconception. In fact, you are able to purchase the same exact types of tours through street agencies with similar options.

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8. FOR A 12-14 DAY TRIP YOU CAN GO ON MULTIPLE EXCURSIONS

Theoretically, yes. However, one must take into account the amount of distance and time it takes to get from one location to another. For example, one trip could take 4-5 hours one-way by bus and the same on the way back. It is best to take into account travel time and plan for one or two long trips (some great options include Dalat and Nha Trang and two trips around Mui Ne).

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9. FINALLY

A common mistake newcomers make when traveling to a new country is that they don’t take the time to learn about the unique culture and history of that particular place prior to their trip. This is important not only for Vietnam, but when planning for any type of trip it is best to research about the location you are traveling to. Otherwise, you may miss out on interesting sights and sounds that may be right in front of you. When it comes to Vietnam citypassguide.com is your go-to. With anything and everything from day trips, tours, restaurants and nightlife in Vietnam, you can’t go wrong.

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