Top Five Tips for Crossing the Street in Vietnam

By: Vinh Dao

With over six seven people crowding the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, the motorbike is the preferred mode of transportation and it is estimated that over five million take to the roads of Saigon on a daily basis. In most metropolitan cities, a high concentration of traffic on its own is no cause for concern. Add drivers with little regard for traffic rules however and you have a recipe for the most chaotic traffic in Southeast Asia. The sheer volume of bikes usually prevents any break in traffic and will make the most confident traveller question their ability to cross the road. Luckily, a taxi is always a wave of the arm away but for many visitors crossing the street in HCMC is considered a rite of passage and a must in any itinerary. It is an art to crossing the streets in Ho Chi Minh City and we have accumulated some helpful tips to help you safely (or as safe as possible) cross the streets in the city.

Vietnamese IslandsImage source: solsoutofoffice.com

1. Enlist the help of a local. Vietnamese people are very friendly and most are more than happy to help you cross the road.

2. Commit yourself. Though every instinct in your body is screaming for you to stop, turn around and head back, don’t. Turning back can be more dangerous than continuing on.

3. Walk at an even pace and don’t dart through traffic. Head in a straight line and look at the incoming traffic. Unlike home where the traffic won’t move for you, traffic in Vietnam will flow…. around you.

4. Put your arm in the air. It makes you more visible to traffic and is an added precaution. Hopefully the arm will indicate to the motorists that you are in fact crossing the street and to look out for you.

5. Look out for buses and cars. They are big, fast and generally don’t stop for anything or anyone.

After your feet cross the pavement to the other side, just remember to exhale and relax. You’ve safely crossed the street!

Video source: Christian Regler

Other articles:

18 Tips To Get You By In Saigon

Tips on Starting a Business in Vietnam

Top 5 tips to rent a motorbike in Vietnam

5 tips to manage your online reputation on Tripadvisor

Tips to spot and avoid scam and pick pocket

Banner Image source: annawickham.com


Things not to do in Vietnam

By: Quang Mai

Following the post about “Tips to spot and avoid scams and pick pockets”, City Pass Guide provides a list of things not to do in Vietnam that can secure visitors and help them to make their trip in Vietnam enjoyable.

On the street

To avoid being robbed or becoming victims of pickpockets, we highly recommended travelers not to carry more money than they need when walking around the streets, especially when you are alone. Wear as little jewelry as possible, as even fake jewels attract unwelcome attention from would-be robbers. In fact, thieves and drive-by snatchers do not have time to decide if jewelry is high value or not; they simply take whatever opportunity comes their way through a moment’s carelessness.

When taking a ride by xe om (motorbike taxi) make sure your bag, if any, is not on display or easy to grab. Bag snatches, although relatively rare, are probably the most likely crime a tourist will encounter, and it the risk is increased enormously if your prized camera or laptops are clearly visible.

Cultural issues

Wearing large amounts of jewelry is considered impolite because it seems to be flaunting wealth in public.

Don't wear singlets, shorts, dresses or skirts, or tops with low-neck lines and bare shoulders to Temples and Pagodas. To do this is considered extremely rude and offensive. Don’t be surprised when you notice some local ladies wearing them. Such dress is actually being criticized in many official and unofficial discussions in both online and print /media. You should not create any chances for locals to lay the blame on western culture.

Never sleep or sit with the soles of your feet pointing towards the family altar when in someone's house.

Never lose your temper in public or when bargaining for a purchase. This is considered a serious loss of face for both parties. Always maintain a cool and happy demeanor and you will be reciprocated with the same.

Physical displays of affection between lovers in public are frowned upon. That’s why you may usually come across couples holding hands while very seldom you can see a couple give kiss to each others in the public area. In fact, you may catch some couples hugging or even kissing to pose their selves in front of a camera. They are actually a part of the new generation of Vietnamese who are open-minded and affected by film and entertaining industry.

Ethnic minorities

Avoid giving empty water bottles, sweets and candies or pens to the local people when trekking through ethnic minority villages. You cannot guarantee that the empty bottles will be disposed of in a correct manner, and the people have no access to dental health. If you want to give pens, ask your guide to introduce you to the local teacher and donate them to the whole community.

Never take video cameras into the ethnic minority villages. They are considered to be too intrusive by the local people.

Political issues

Blogging is acceptable if your content stays steer clear of sensitive stories about the government. It is OK to share your personal experiences and review accommodation or restaurants but nothing else. Talk about anything like corruption in the government or even the Vietnam War can lead to a negative reaction on the part of the authorities. Therefore we definitely highlight this important point. It’s better to forget the term of “Freedom of Speech” while travelling in Vietnam.

Do not try to take photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security.

Anything that depicts pornography is highly illegal. Prostitution also happens to be illegal. If you love bars and nightclubs, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi probably can serve your interests. But always keep in mind that sharing a hotel room with a Vietnamese of the opposite sex is generally not permitted.

Trading in or possession of drugs is illegal and a capital offence in Vietnam. As in other countries, drug abuse costs a lot in terms of prevention or even reduction, but it seems that it can never be completely eradicated. Therefore, don’t ever carry drugs with you while you are travelling in Vietnam.


Other articles:

Top 5 tips for crossing the street in Vietnam

Top 5 photo tips for travelers in Vietnam

Top 5 tips to rent a motorbike in Vietnam

5 tips to manage your online reputation on Tripadvisor

5 tips of preparation for better score at golf

5 tips to take pictures of fireworks in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi

Tips to spot and avoid scam and pick pocket

Top 5 tips for preventing theft in Vietnam

The art of bargaining in Vietnam



Vietnam Travel Update: June 2021

By: City Pass Guide

A Light at the End of the Tunnel?

After months of no real movement towards re-opening the country for international travellers, there seems to be a chink of light shining at the end of what has been a very long tunnel for Vietnam’s travel industry.

Vietnam Travel Update: June 2021

Firstly, 6 months after the subject was first raised, Vietnam and Singapore have reportedly agreed to work towards a reciprocal programme of vaccination recognition that will allow commercial flights between the two nations to restart.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son and the Singaporean Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Vivian Balakrishnan made the announcement at a meeting in Hanoi on Monday 21st June, highlighting the need for the mutual programme so that the economy of both countries can begin to recover after 16 months of travel restrictions.

 In addition to this welcome news, it was also announced that Vietnam will reduce the amount of time visitors to the country will be required to stay in central quarantine, if they are fully vaccinated.

Vietnam Travel Update: June 2021

The announcement came on Friday June 25th at a meeting between the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and outlined how fully vaccinated people will be able to quarantine for just seven days, rather than 21, which is the current requirement.

Details of when the new restrictions will come into action were not given at the meeting, nor were details of whether or not the programme will be rolled out across the country, but it will certainly be views as a positive step for many people who have been waiting to return to Vietnam or to go and visit family in other countries.

At present the programme will only be accessible to people coming from countries that have managed Covid-19 well, including those nations that have achieved herd immunity through vaccination.

Vietnam Travel Update: June 2021

Finally, as Vietnam’s vaccination drive begins to move up a gear, Phu Quoc has been identified as a priority location for vaccinations to be distributed. The aim is to fully vaccinate the island’s residents so that vaccine passports can be trailed in the top tourist destination.

Well known for its variety of luxury resorts and beautiful landscapes Phu Quoc will be an appealing destination to travellers who have been unable to leave their own country for over a year. However, permission to enter Phu Quoc will also be limited to people who are fully vaccinated, and even then, restrictions may still be in place.

The news may be scant consolation for the hundreds of thousands of tourism workers in other areas of the country, but we must hope that this is the first step on the road to recovery.


Special Flowers for Tet

By: Robert Fouldes

Every Tet holiday we also celebrate and enjoy the arrival of spring. Everyone looks for the best flowers and ornamental plants to decorate their homes, to provide a striking visual effect and to create a feeling of freshness, helping us to look forward to a new year filled with luck, happiness and good fortune. Some of the popular flowers for this occasion are yellow apricot blossom, cherry blossom, kumquat, chrysanthemum, orchid, and narcissus. We find great joy in decorating our homes with flowers for Tet, raising our feelings as well as beautifying our homes, we also find ourselves expressing ourselves through personal tastes and communicating something of ourselves through the aesthetic of our style and decoration, in some cases hoping to mark ourselves as a connoisseur or arbiter of taste.

Let us consider what flower varieties are the hottest choices in this New Year / Tet 2019?

1. Chaenomeles japonica

This is a kind of flowering shrub that visually combines the cherry blossom of northern Japan and the southern yellow apricot blossom. Chaenomeles japonica is also known as Maule’s quince, belonging to the rose family with a short woody bush growing to about 100 – 200 cm. The shrub is slender and graceful, rich in colour, the flowers have broad petals, grow to be evenly sized, with cleverly arranged petals 3 - 5 cm diameter. The petals open by day and close at night and can be expected to be in flower for up to 2 months. The flower shows a diverse range of colour, bright red, crimson, red-orange, red rose. When in bloom, this flowering shrub is like a red fire, symbolizing wealth, peace, virtue and the common good. It is usually cultivated as a bonsai, and will also bear fruit. The shrub produces apple-like fruit, green until turning yellow when ripe, it appears quite like a pear, is fragrant, hard and usually sour, but it can be used to make preserves.

The price of Chaenomeles japonica varies from 1 to 10 million VND depending on the shape and size of the tree.

special flowers for tetImage source: giahuygarden.vn

2. Prunus mume Sieb

Prunus mume Sieb is a kind of white apricot blossom. It is a woody species, belonging to the rose family. The more rough and hardy the tree trunk is, the more beautiful it is considered. The flower buds are pink, but when blooming they gradually become white with very tight layers of petals. When the petals are shed, the remaining calyx (that protected the flower bud) gradually changes to red looking like a new flower, then this too falls away after a period of time, because of this, the flower has another name “twice apricot blossom” meaning that the flower blooms two times. Prunus mume Sieb symbolically represents the honourable man, for principles and values of virtue. The three most favoured silhouettes of the Prunus mume Sieb are the triangle, the straight and the slantwise. The triangle is also known as 3 elements: sky – earth – human with a large root and three branches forming the tree trunk. The straight upright appearance is straightforward, honest and strong. The slantwise is also known as the silhouette of a waterfall, leaning to one side, the shape often bending as would a tree growing on a steep mountain slope, which means reverence to the superior, the master.

Most of the Prunus mume Sieb cost from 2 to 15 million VND depending on the shape, silhouette and age.

special flowers for tetImage source: sohanews.com

3. Camelliathea amplexicaulis

Also known as Japanese Red Camellia (and has been called the Japan Rose), the flowers possess a conspicuous beauty and exude a beautiful, elegant and gentle scent (tea being a variety of Camellia). Camellia can be considered a gourmet plant with an added reward of flowers. Wherever you place the tea flower, the whole area will benefit and become refreshed and brightened as the flowers exude their wonderful aroma. Tea flowers come in many different colours such as reddish brown (deep tea), dark pink (pomegranate tea), pink rose (royal tea), white (white tea), yellow (gold flower tea) and sometimes hybrid combinations of white and pink stripes, red stripes, speckled (octagonal tea). The flowers are large and conspicuous usually with 5 to 9 petals. The Tea flowers will bloom for 5-15 days. The flowers symbolically represent perfection, loyalty, humility, dignity and grace.

Flowers cost from 500 thousand to 120 million, depending on the colour of the flower and the age of the tree.

special flowers for tetImage source: blogspot.com

4. Camellia sasanqua

The flowers are fresh and vibrant, but they do not overpower us with a dazzling feeling, but radiate our senses with a feeling of warmth. The petals are broad, curved, and gently embrace the yellow stamens, the fragrance is very light. These flowers include two varieties, one with single petals and one with dual petals. The colours are quite diverse with white, pink, dark pink, yellow, with the most popular being crimson. Blooms can last up to 20 days; the flowers are often very thick and cover trees with a high density. Camellia sasanqua represents harmony, joyful life and friendship of the family (in Chinese, the name of the flower is synonymous with the big house, the main house).

Flowers cost from 500 thousand VND to 100 million VND, depending on the shape, age and age of the tree.

special flowers for tetImage source: kenhhomestay.com

5. Hibernation Rhododendron

According to the ancients, the rhododendron flower is a symbol of gentleness, peace, prosperity and reunion. For some European countries, this flower is considered a symbol of glory and pride. Rhododendrons can also have another name: Azalea. Possessing a brilliant beauty with warm colours, azaleas are commonly dark red, dark pink, pink, purple, orange, white. Every time the flower blooms, it fills the space around it with vitality. An interesting aspect of the rhododendron is its hibernation, in cold dry periods the plant will reduce its water content, but the cells will remain alive, in Autumn / Fall, the tree will slowly fall into hibernation with the appearance of dry branches. When the water supply at the roots resumes, after 2 days the tree will wake and on the third day will bud and the flowers will begin to sprout. On the 7th day, the flowers will begin to bloom, and after 15 days the buds will fully bloom with brilliance.

The price of hibernation rhododendron is quite low, from 150-500 thousand VND / bunch of 30-50 branches.

special flowers for tetImage source: kenh14cdn.com

6. Classic Rose

Classic Roses are always loved for their beauty, romantic association, elegance and luxurious appearance. In addition, the number of blooms on each bush/tree is usually quite large. The rose bush also radiates a broad gentle fragrance that adds to its attraction. Classic Roses are a diverse and widely cultivated species. The flowers have many varieties such as Van Khoi Rose, Sapa Rose, Lipstick Rose, Bach Xep Rose or imported pink called Tree Rose, all with various colours: white, pink, dark pink, yellow, red, purple or veined stripes. Rose blooms usually last for 7-10 days, with some types of super long lasting blooms persisting for a whole month.

Classic roses are priced at VND 1.5 - 250 million depending on the origin and freshness.

special flowers for tetImage source: vuonhongvanloan.com

7. Peony

Peony was dubbed the king of flowers with a beautiful, noble and gorgeous bloom. Charming and delicate as roses, the petals are narrow, smooth, layered from the centre to the outside, giving a full shape, but the size is much larger (20-30cm) than a rose, making it stand out in every space. It also possesses a passionate and charming scent along with various striking colours such as pure white fawn, a noble and fresh pink, an attractive bright red, a charming high purple, a warm golden shine, a keen purple, and a charming pink colour to a unique reddish purple. The flower symbolises wealth, prosperity, beauty and wisdom and is a popular gift all around the world. The Peony will bloom for 7-10 weeks in suitable conditions.

Peony flowers cost between VND 500,000 and VND 8 million.

special flowers for tetImage source: tronghoa.vn

8. Winterberry

Winterberry is a shrub that grows wild in many countries such as the Netherlands, Canada, and the United States. The tree is tall, beautiful, with slender glossy green leaves, it produces small white flowers, then clusters of berries along its branches, appearing as yellow then ripening to a striking red; these berries are also a favourite food of birds. The tree is at its most beautiful in the late winter and early spring, a clear sign of the New Year. Europeans have long used the Winterberry along with other flowers to decorate and bring a feeling of warmth to the home in the middle of the cold winter season. In the climate of southern Vietnam, fruiting branches can be kept fresh for 7-10 days. If the climate is as cold as in the north, they can be kept for months.

Winterberry prices are quite expensive because of their origin, incurring import and storage fees. Each branch will cost around 200-400 thousand VND, a large collection for about 5 - 50 million VND.

special flowers for tetImage source: wikimedia.org

9. Forsythi

This flower blooms in early spring; the blooms are a bright yellow colour, like the apricot blossom in southern Vietnam. However, Forsythi blooms in clusters, with the flowers clinging along the length of its long slim branches. The flowers have 4 long petals stretching out to hug the pistil. The Forsythi grows as a wild-flower in many European and American countries. They also have the name "Easter Tree " or "Golden Rain", and are often grown as fences/hedges or in parks. The plants often shed their leaves before flowering. Each flower cluster appears to possess great intricate beauty, but close observation reveals quite a simple structure, but it remains visually dominating. The yellow colour always raises one's spirits, inspiring and bringing joy wherever they are found. The flowers can stay fresh for about 15-20 days.

The prices range from 300-500 VND / branch, depending on the height. A large plant is available for about VND 4 - 15 million.

special flowers for tetImage source: amazonaws.com

10. Hybrid Orchid

The Orchid is still the first choice for many flower lovers, but the type of orchid most sought after recently is the Hybrid Orchid, even though their prices are quite high, from several million to nearly ten billion VND. The Flowers have a very distinctive appearance with different colours, diverse shapes and width of petals. There are many types of orchids such as Rhynchostylis gigantea, Dendrobium anosmum, White Dendrobium Nestor… each species having a unique appearance, in fact, all are unique. For example the Paphiopedilum parishii orchid or “mutant beard”, originated from Germany, its shape is intriguing as it appears to be adorned by two long beards, it holds the price of 4.6 million VND / plant. Dendrobium anosmum orchid is marked by broad, thick, firm but not too long petals, costing from 5 million VND / plant. Rothschild: an almost extinct orchid species with only a small number remaining in the Kinabalu region of Malaysia - dubbed the "gold of Kinabalu", blooms only once every 15 years, the flowers costing upwards from 110 million VND. To get these orchids, collectors must order a long time in advance, and sometimes there will be no guarantee that they will receive them at a given time, such are their rarity, but for many flower lovers and collectors, the investment is worth both the time and money, for them to attain the object of their passionate desire.

special flowers for tetImage source: ytimg.com

Banner Image source: ynghiahoa.net


Keeping your digital camera clean

By: Vinh Dao

Destinations to clean your digital camera

If you are traveling throughout Vietnam, you’ve probably brought your camera along. If you didn’t, I would be shocked as this country is picture perfect for shutterbugs. Other than the obvious problem of dropping your camera, there is another less obvious problem that can arise with camera gear.

Lens fungus is the bane of camera lenses and occurs quite often in Southeast Asia due to the high humidity and oppressive heat. Lens fungus is caused by moisture trapped inside or on the surface of the lens and looks like a small spider web on the surface. Caught early enough, it can be cheap to fix and won’t affect the image quality of the lens. If you leave it for a few weeks, you might have a serious problem on your hands.

The best way to avoid lens fungus is to keep your camera and lenses cleaned and in airtight containers with bags of silica gel, which helps absorb moisture. Also, another preventative measure is to place your camera in a sealed ziplock bag when going to and from areas with vastly different temperatures. This prevents condensation from building up.

If you’ve happened to drop your camera or it just stops working, there are a plethora of shops around the Dong Khoi area that offer camera repair but aren’t authorised camera repair shops. Canon and Nikon owners are in luck as there are authorised repair centres in Hanoi and HCMC. These shops are the recommended fix but will be pricier than other repair shops.

However, if you have an older out of warranty camera and just want to extend the life of it until you get back home, we have located a couple of places in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City that have English-speaking technicians.

But when you go to these non-certified camera shops, just remember the adage: Caveat Emptor!

 Canon Hanoi

No.130A, Giang Vo, Ba Dinh District
Phone: 04 3771 1966

Canon HCMC

No. 10A, Tran Hung Dao, District 1
Phone: 08 3838 9383

 Non-certified repair shop in HCMC - Huy Camera

No. 29 Huynh Thuc Khang, District 1
Phone: 09 0927 2818

 Nikon Hanoi - Viet Hong Building

2nd Floor 58 Tran Nhan Tong, Hai Ba Trung District
Phone: 04 3909 3843

 Nikon HCMC - Vietnam Business Center

No. 57 – 59 Ho Tung Mau, District 1
Phone: 08 3422 4883

 Non-certified repair shop in HCMC - Pham The

No. 11 Le Cong Kieu, District 1
Phone: 08 829 5888

 Non-certified repair shop in HCMC - Cuong Thinh

No. 145 Cao Thang, District 10

 Non-certified repair shop in Hanoi - Vu Nhat

No. 20 Thang Thi, Hoan Kiem District
Phone: 04 826 5161

 Non-certified repair shop in Hanoi - Nguyen Long

No. 17 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem District
Phone: 09 1260 6066

Google's New Update Affects All Hoteliers

By: City Pass Guide

Breaking news: Your online bookings may be at risk

Did you hear that explosion? Google just set off its Mobile nuke. Media's calling the new algorithm update "mobilegeddon."

Basically, if your site is not mobile-friendly, you can expect a significant drop in your search rank. And since 90% of search engine clicks occur on the first page (Chitika), that could spell disaster for many unprepared tourism stakeholders.

Starting today, if you're not toe-to-toe with the search giant's expectations, you just lost a large chunk of bookings.

Yeah it's grim, but Google moves faster than any of us. All we can do is adapt.

Let's take a look at all the warning signs that told us this was inevitable:

1) Last year, mobile bookings rose by over 36%. Almost 21% of booking, 17% of room nights and 15% of revenue came from tablets and mobile devices. 25% of all bookings and revenue came from non-desktop mediums. (HeBS Digital Research).

2) 40% of page views were generated from non-desktop devices in 2014. (Tnooz)

3) In 2014, desktop website bookings declined by 4.4%, while desktop visitors declined by over 13%. (Tnooz)

4) Smartphones saw a surge in purchases in Vietnam in 2014. According to The Giodidong, 52% of all phone users own and use a smartphone.

5) Check out the infographics below, straight from Google. They drive the final nail in the coffin:

How Google's New Update Will Affect Hoteliers

How Google's New Update Will Affect Hoteliers

The warning signs were there: Google told businesses to brace for impact back in February.

So how will this update affect your business?

"Businesses that depend on people finding them through localized search will suffer most. Most of us use Google search engine on our phones and tablets. Imagine what happen when typing "activities in Saigon" or "Italian food in Ho Chi Minh City?" The many non mobile friendly website that relate to these subjects will fall off the screen. It will result in a substantial traffic decrease for them and a loss of sales."
Patrick Gaveau, CEO of Innovo JSC says
"Google has always been about relevancy, and content is king," he says. "But that's changing. Yes, they're saying content is still extremely important, but user experience is just as important. It's not sufficient to have all the right content — if people come to your site and the content is there but it's not readable, that's not good."
Itai Sadan, CEO of Duda, adds

Tnooz concludes that:

"Investing in your property website to maximize revenue from the three screens (desktop, mobile, tablet) is paramount to the very existence of your property. Coupled with a robust, well-funded digital marketing strategy, this will allow you to improve your property’s bottom line and leave the comp set in the dust."

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