Tips

Eat everything. Vietnamese food is delicious and you will want to try it all. Go ahead and buy a kilo of those strange looking purple fruit, but be aware of hygiene when you’re eating street food. Look to see if the vendor is using plastic gloves when preparing your food. If it looks dodgy, go down the block.

Don’t trust the taxi meter. Ripping off unsuspecting passengers is an art form for dishonest drivers. Stick with reliable companies such as Mai Linh and Vinasun.

Don’t stop, dash or backtrack while crossing the street. Remember that motorbikes are trying to anticipate your movements to avoid hitting you, so no suprises. Stay slow and steady with your head on swivel.

Leave the plastic at the hotel. Vietnam, especially once you get out of the major cities, is still a cash based economy. Most places won’t accept your credit card and ATM’s can be scarce.

Be a sensitive shutterbug. Most people in Vietnam love getting their photo taken (and will ask to have their photo taken with you), but there are some places (like Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum or military buildings) where taking photos can get you in a bit of trouble.

Pavements as motorbike parks. Parking space for motorbikes in Vietnam is at a premium and often pavements have become de facto parking lots. This means that sometimes pedestrians have no option but to share the road with the traffic. In this case, your head should be in swivel mode and your senses on high alert. The Dogma Collection things to know 166 see more at www.citypassguide.com Things to be aware of when travelling.

Tipping While tipping is not always expected, especially at local restaurants, International venues have become used to the practice and some will charge a small service fee on your bill. Leave enough for coffee, VND 5,000-10,000.

Motorbike safety. If you’re going to brave the traffic, make sure you take proper precautions. Always wear a helmet, avoid dangly jewellery and miniskirts and clip your purse to the bike to keep it safe from bag snatchers.

Bargain. Remember that negotiating is not rude, but expected. Get in the spirit and secure yourself a reasonable price. Never settle for the initial offer, especially in touristy areas. In English free bargaining areas, fingers represent VND10,000.

Where’s your wallet? Violent crime is extremely rare, but like any large tourist area it, has its fair share of pickpockets, most of whom hang out in the tourist areas. Keep your bags close to your body, avoid dangly jewellery and try not to be too flashy with your camera and phone.

Enjoy yourself. There is so much to do and see, but don’t forget to stop every once in a while to pull up a plastic chair and relax. Sometimes you can learn more from a streetside chat than at any museum. Even when English is a barrier, people are always welcoming.
GALLERY

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