Vietnam – practically


There are different types of visas, shorter and longer. Also the time needed to proceed your visa differs. I got a 3-month-long one in the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh in Cambodia, issued in regular time of 48 hours and I paid 60$.

Border crossings

Cambodia – Vietnam (Prek Chak – Ha Tien): You need to fill a health form (1$) and get an entry stamp in your passport.

Hanoi (airport):You get an exit stamp in your passport and that’s all.

– Roads are in rather good condition and mainly asphalted. Cycling along the coast, it’s impossible to totally avoid the main 1A highway but there are plenty of smaller roads to detour too. The 1A road has a wide hard shoulder and it’s safe to cycle, although rather loud. Everybody honks in Vietnam.

– Entering and leaving Ho Chi Minh is actually more trouble-free than it seems. There are separate lanes for motorbikes and bicycles which makes everything way easier. Hanoi is more chaotic but smaller so there’s no drama.

– Traffic in Vietnam is intense due to high density. Most of it is caused by motorbikes and lorries. There aren’t that many cars. You need to be careful and look around as adhering to the highway code is an abstract concept here.

– People are friendly and they seem to understand better that, being a foreigner, you have limited chances of having a successful communication so they wave their hands and show prices with their fingers or on calculators. It’s relatively difficult to meet someone who speaks English.

– Before eating or buying anything it’s crucial to set the price first! Vietnam is probably the only country on my route where sellers increase prices to non-Vietnamese.

– Bringing the price down is not a reason to feel ashamed, neither is it a form of begging (because I guess that’s how bargaining is seen in Europe). Here it’s a sign of intelligence (I’m forever grateful to a Hindu seller who taught me this precious lesson a long time ago). Here you gain respect, if you can avoid being ripped off. Don’t take haggling personally and treat it as an everyday exam of common sense and your stay here will be way more enjoyable.

– Prices of food and drinks can be very different in roadside eateries and tourist spots.

– ATMs are available in every city and town. Vietnamese dong can be bought only after entering the country and it has to be exchanged before leaving, otherwise it’s just waste paper. The currency is not convertible.

– The Internet works well. WI-FI is widespread (even in small bars in villages) so you don’t really have to buy a Vietnamese SIM card.

– There are plenty of dogs. I have a confirmed suspicion that sporadically, they appear also on plates.

– Food in Vietnam is better than in Cambodia. Restaurants and eateries can be found wherever there are people.

– There are numerous bars where you can try delicious Vietnamese coffee. Don’t miss it. Besides that, bars are usually equipped with hammocks which are wonderful for a relaxing break.

– There are hotels in every city and town but sometimes they have signs only in Vietnamese. Look out for ‘Nhà nghi’ sign.

– In Vietnam there are plenty of beautiful, although not always clean, beaches. In places recommended by tourist guides you will find, like everywhere else, long and sandy beaches but expect also crowds of people and rows of multistorey hotels behind your back. If you prefer quieter places, all you need to do is to reach any village by the sea. They might not have posh restaurants on the boardwalk (as there won’t be any boardwalks) but you will share the beach only with a couple of fishermen.

– It’s worth it to go to the mountains too, especially to Sunday market in Bac Ha.

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