frequently asked questions
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With most major English centers, trainers are required to have Bachelor degree and teaching certificate (TESOL/ CELTA/ TEFL). Those with certificates or knowledge of TOEFL iBT, IELTS, SAT, GRE, GMAT are preferable.
However, if you do not hold any certificate, your circumstance may be considered if you have more than one year experience teaching English. In some English centers like ILA Vietnam center, trainers without certificate will need to join a training course conducted by the center.
Read more about Teach English in Vietnam
Vietnam's sole currency is Vietnam Dong - VND, which comes in notes and coins though the latter is barely seen today. Vietnam Dong notes come in denominations of:
VND 500; 1,000; 2,000;
VND 5,000; 10;000; 20,000;
VND 50,000; 100,000; 200,000; 500,000
At present the exchange rate is about VND 21,000 for 1 USD.
US dollars can also be used for your purchase while you are in larger cities' tourist areas but try to avoid doing so. Since late 2011, Vietnamese government has banned all price listing in dollars. Adding to that, Vietnamese sellers will charge you unfavourable rate if you pay in dollars.
Vietnamese currency is not common beyond Vietnam and Asia, so your banks will not have them in stocks if you are in North America or Europe. You can always get some as you land at one of the Vietnam's airport.
January is undoubtedly the coldest month in Hanoi (see Hanoi monthly average temperature). Though the idea of having 7-12 Celsius degree seems to be associated with a nice, cool and no-sweat atmosphere, the reality is rather dark and ugly. The drizzle that goes on days and nights - though not all the time - make the air wet, humid and chilly beyond imagination. The worst part is probably strong cold wind AND no central heating system available indoors!
The average temperature in Hanoi in January falls between 13 and 19 degree, not to mention the colder days which can make your trip rather miserable without warm clothing. The good news is that if you cannot afford to take them in your luggage from home, Hanoi has plenty to offer when it comes to shopping for clothes.
Tips: Essential things for Hanoi in January: scarf, mitten, thin layers of warm sweaters, socks and long-johns if you are from a tropical country.
Yes you need a visa for Vietnam. Only Singapore passport holder can come to Vietnam for a 30 day visit without a visa (see full list of countries with visa exemption agreement with Vietnam).
Australians can get a visa to Vietnam in 2 ways: applying for one at the embassy in Canberra or consulate in Sydney. An alternative option is get one on arrival (read full instructions about how Australians can get a visa for Vietnam).
Hope this helps.
Theme parks in Ho Chi Minh City differ by games, decorating themes and services offered to their guests. Hence, the “should go” theme park varies from this to that based on your interest or time of traveling.
Dam Sen Water Park, located at no.3 Hoa Binh Street, District 11 is a “should go” theme park for any one who loves swimming and other exciting water-based activities like twisting in spiral pipe, jumping in the wave pool, or floating along the “wandering river” and so on. This is an ideal place for family tourists, especially who travel in summer time. Parents can relax themselves in massage pool, while children playing in the pool for kids. The advantage of Dam Sen Water Park is its easy reach - it takes only half an hour to get there from Ben Thanh market.
Suoi Tien Theme Park is also a popular choice, about 1 hour away from the city center. Suoi Tien is popular among international tourists for it paints the picture of Vietnam's history. Characters from fairy tales to legends are sculptured after and displayed all through the park. Game facilities are also of better quality than Dam Sen Park.
Lac Canh Dai Nam Van Hien or often called Dai Nam is a huge theme park located at 1765A Binh Duong Boulevard, just 1.5 hour’s drive from Ho Chi Minh City. This 500 ha site consists of an amusement section with modern games and exciting sports, a zoo with more than 1000 kinds of birds and animals, a spacious spiritual area with great temples, towers, statues and accommodation area with hotels in traditional architecture. The grandiose spiritual area on can be seen as the highlight for the park and makes Dai Nam become a destination for cultural tourism also.
Decide on your own how far you want to go and how much fun you want to get!
We have been invited to a friend’s family home for a typical Vietnamese meal. We want to bring a gift to them. Is a bottle of wine or flowers appropriate? Or is there anything particular that we are e
Thank you for your question.
Frankly, there is no strict rule or code for gifts and presents when you are invited to enjoy a family meal in Vietnam. Without any wine or flower, the diner guests are still warmly welcomed by hospitable Vietnamese hosts.
However, fruit is always a nice gift and seems to be well received. So, you are highly recommended to pick up some nice fruits for the dessert. Besides, one could bring something nutritious for the elder, some alcohol, pastries for the family, or candy for the kids, though these gifts may make the dinner a lot more formal than it should.
You are also recommended to ask the host if there is anything you could help, and be willing to give them a hand in preparing the meal. Remember to wait for the oldest to eat first, ask once before the meal and once after your finish.
Enjoy the meal.
Read our Article "Visiting a Vietnamese Family" for more detailed insights.
I’m going to travel to Hanoi and want to taste some street food here. Can you please give me some suggestions?
Welcome to Hanoi.
There are variety of street food here which is offered by both vendors and small shops that utilize the pavement to accommodate customers.
Just walking around the Sword Lake or Hanoi Old Quarter for a while, tourists easily meet a number of vendors selling “bánh rán” (deep-fried glutinous rice donut), spiced fruit, “tào phớ” (tofu pudding), “cốm” (green young rice), boiled corn on the cob, or grilled sweet potatoes. Besides, one can enjoy “Phở” and other kinds of noodle for breakfast or lunch in various small shops. Some streets which is famous for its typical food located in Hanoi Old Quarter hat you should drop by is To Tich (selling sweetened mixed fruits), Ho Hoan Kiem (selling sweet, chilli and sour grated salad), Tam Thuong lane (selling deep-fried fermented pork roll).
Read The 5 street vendors you cannot miss in Hanoi for information.
It is hard to say which name is more popular now: Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City. To most young people, Ho Chi Minh City is more common while to most older generations (the middle-aged and elderly people), Saigon is still deeply in their mind.
The name Saigon, adopted over 300 years ago, was originally used to indicate an area of 1 km square where there were a lot of Hoa people (Chinese) living in the 18th century which is now known as the Chinatown or Cholon. It is said in the past, there were lots of woods and cotton trees in this area which yielded its name Saigon. Based on Chinese and ancient Vietnamese phonetics, “Sai” means “woods” and “gon” means “Cotton tree”.
However, this evidence is not strong enough to be an official explanation for the name Saigon. Besides, some people believe Saigon was derived from “Prei Nokor” , a former Khmer palace of Angkor Dynasty where there was a large community of Khmer people living before the expanding the country process of Nguyen Dynasty. That is the reason why most older people are more comfortable with the name “Saigon”. It is not only a historical name but also a part of their daily conversation since the very first days moving to the South.
The name, Ho Chi Minh City, officially became the name for Saigon in July, 1976 to honor the first prime minister of Vietnam, also the national hero Ho Chi Minh, a famous figure in Vietnam’s struggling and liberating history. Because it has just been used for over 30 years, Ho Chi Minh City is more popular to young people.
However, due to some phonetic characteristic, the name Saigon is used mostly by foreigners who come to visit Vietnam. Saigon is shorter and easier to pronounce,though!
Why Vietnam Tet Holiday changes its date from year to year? What will the date be for 2012? Is it ok to travel to Vietnam during that holiday?
Thank you for your questions. Vietnam Tet holiday is calculated based on the Lunar Calendar, which is different from Solar Calendar. Sometimes the Lunar Calendar has 13 months (leap year) instead of 12 months so the date of Tet holiday might change. It often falls into the end of January to early February.
As for your second question, Vietnam Tet Holiday 2012 will be January 23rd, 2012 (Solar Calendar). Most offices will be closed a few days before and after this date so be prepared (for example, please apply for your visa well in advance). Many Vietnamese overseas will return home, and those from the city will come back to the countryside so the traffic volume may be quite large. We suggest you to plan your travel well and book all the necessary flight tickets and tour service to avoid delays.
It will be a delight for you to get to know Tet Holiday - the most important holiday and event of the year for Vietnamese. If you are lucky, you will be invited to a Vietnamese family to enjoy the Tet holiday with them - which will totally change your idea of travel and travelling to Vietnam.
Here are a few reads and articles on the website which might be helpful to you:
Vietnam Lunar Calendar
Vietnam Tet Holiday
What you should know when visiting a Vietnamese family
I am planning to go to Hanoi in December, can you please let me know whether the weather will be ok for sightseeing and walking outside at that time? I am from Washington D.C.
Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam. December is in the winter in Hanoi. Therefore, it is cold but is still ok for travellers, especially those from temperate zone like you will not have a difficult time at all. The temperature is about 16 Celcius degree on average, with light rain and windy weather. You can go out for sightseeing comfortably, but make sure that you bring some warm clothes because Vietnam does not have central heating system like North America so it might be colder than it sounds.
Many Hanoians talk about having ice-cream and walking around the tree-lined Hoan Kiem Lake as a leisure activity during the winter days. Winter food in Vietnam is not about apple cider and fresh-from-the-oven brownies, but there are sure things to enjoy: sweet potatoes grilled on charcoal or toasted corn on the cob; chicken skewer and a hot bowl of pho will definitely give your stomach a satisfying feeling like you never feel before.
From Singapore to Hanoi, there are several options for you:
Vietnam Airlines: The national flag carrier, operates two daily flights back and forth between Singapore (SIN) and Hanoi (HAN). Flights depart from Hanoi at 10:30 and 14:00; return from Singapore at 15:50 and 19:20. The cheapest option (Saver rate) is $300 return tickets, taxes and fees included.
Singapore Airlines: The national airlines of Singapore or Singapore Airlines is among the most quality airlines in the world. There are daily flights between Singapore and Hanoi, leaving Hanoi at 9:50 and departing Singapore at 13:15. Return ticket costs between $320 (Sweet Deals) and $400 (Flexi), taxes and fees included.
Tiger Airways: Tiger Airways have mixed schedule of flights between Hanoi and Singapore and have different departing time everyday. In specific, it departs at 19:50 (Monday and Wednesday); 12:40 (Tuesday and Thursday); 21:15 (Friday); 13:00 (Saturday) and 10:50 (Sunday). Return ticket costs $200 on average and Tiger Airways offers the lowest cost for flight ticket on this route. Note that there is no meal offered on this flight.
The weather in Vietnam in December is totally reverse between in the North and the South. The weather in the North at that time is extreme with freezing atmosphere and dry air in almost any place. The temperature in this month can go under 0oC in some place, and snow and ice can be seen in this area, mostly in Sapa, Moc Chau or Dong Van. This is not a good time to visit any destination in this region. Weather in December in the Middle and the South of Vietnam is different from the North with warmer, rainier and more pleasant climates. The temperature in this month is kept around 20-25oC, which are perfect to the foreigners to come to avoid the extreme winter in their home countries.
There are several methods to get from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City such as travelling by motors, cars or airplane, but the most interesting way should be travel by train. Thanks to the significant investment of the government, the Unification Trains (also called North-South Express Train) now connect Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh in one integrated route, with the direct travel time often less than 40 hours. The magnificent scenery outside of the train windows is also the attractive point of travelling by trains. Along the road from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, there are a considerable number of beautiful attractions such as mountains, valleys, oceans and forests for you to witness and enjoy. The only worth considering point of travelling by train is that the safety of the train is not totally ensured with sometimes serious accidents occurred on the route, but It is still in the acceptable level, especially in the modern trains. More information about the train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City can be found at the North – South Express Train of this site.
The long plan trip across the ocean can be a nightmare for many travellers, including those experienced ones. A plane trip to Vietnam, unless departing from Hong Kong or Southeast Asia, will be a great pain for some. For example, from Toronto or New York to Hanoi, it takes 17 hours onboard, excluding the transiting time. Here is what you can do to alleviate the long trip pain:
1. Read your travel guide book: Sections in the Lonely Planet such as History and Geography are often scantily skimmed when you arrive. The time on the plane, however, can be an ideal period to know more about Vietnam. Imagine when you talk to the locals, you can be proud to think of yourself as "just-not-another-tourist".
2. Start your travel dairy: the boring landscape inside an airplane, with neither internet nor your favourite baseball match, can be an ideal environment for reflection. Think about where you are now, what you have prepared for the trip and what you are expecting. You will have fun revisiting these pages upon returning to your home country.
3. Make your to-do list: what food do you want to try, where do you want to visit, what do you want to learn, whom will you be telling your story along the way. Making to-do list can be a great way to make yourself satisfied after the trip to Vietnam.
4. Talk to your seat-mate: you never know whom you are sitting next to, until you TRY. Break the ice and make a new friend. Why not? You are going to Vietnam, a most-likely-totally-foreign place anyway.
5. Sleep: Sleeping is the best way to kill time and to help you avoid jetlag later when you land. Avoid caffeinated drinks whenever possible.
Tet is one of the most exciting festivals throughout the year in Vietnam. It is a wise choice to visit Saigon in Tet because there are a lot of activities going on on this special occasion.
Nguyen Hue Flower Street on Nguyen Hue Boulevard
The whole street is decorated with many kinds of flower and plants. However familiar you are with Nguyen Hue Street in daily life, you are still amazed how beautiful it is during Tet. The theme for the whole street is different from year to year. Thousands of colorful flower baskets of all kinds: orchids, daisy and carnations, gathered and arranged in an artistic way, will surely impress visitors. A gorgeous outfit with a nice camera can work out a good memorial album of Tet in Saigon. Spring can’t be better with the warmth of sunshine, the colorful flowers and happy people smiling everywhere on the street!
Flower Festival at Tao Dan Park
Tao Dan Park, located on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai-Cach Mang Thang Tam crossroads, is a place where Flower Festival is held every year. Different from Nguyen Hue Flower Street, Flower Festival brings visitors more chances to see much more kinds of flowers in an open and vast area. Besides, rocks and limestone are also exhibited. In another area, there are Vietnamese traditional games, such as: beating the pot with blind eyes or walking on a thin bridge (Cau Khi).
While Nguyen Hue Flower Street is free, Tao Dan park charges about $1-$1.5 for entrance ticket to the Flower Festival.
Besides these two major activities, you can also see lion and dragon dances in front of luxury hotels on the first days of Lunar New Year. Lion and dragon dances are believed to bring prosperity and luck for people in the upcoming year. Another fun activity to attend is to try the largest Banh Tet, a kind of tradition cake in the South Vietnam at Dam Sen Amusement Park (03 Hoa Binh St, Wd 3, Dist 11, HCMC) or join the fruit festival at Suoi Tien Theme Park (Tan Phu Ward, Dist. 9).
It is highly recommended that you bring a first-aid-kit with any of your trip. In addition, you might also want to include medication in case of diarrhea, sore-throat or those that you are on use. Consult your family doctor or a travel clinic for further details. If you head first to city centers such as Hanoi, Da Nang or Ho Chi Minh City, you can purchase your medication when you arrive.
Vietnam uses 127/220 V, 50Hz electricity. The power plug is mostly the 2 parallel flat prongs, 2 parallel prongs- French type (round) and the 2 parallel flat prongs with an earth connector. If your appliance uses different type of power socket, you can always buy an adapter from most tourist area or at the airport.
Vietnam should be correctly written as Viet Nam. Viet is the name of the people, which covers the 54 different ethnic groups in the country. Nam means South. Viet Nam means the Viet people living in the South.
To many people, Vietnam is not an unfamiliar name as it had been on the international press and media for such a long time. But what have been left in their minds are just images of war in a secluded corner of Southeast Asia, nothing more. So hardly does anyone know the meaning of the name and the long established history of that remote country.
The name Vietnam came about when Emperor Gia Long desired to rename the country Nam Viet which was the combination of names of regions in Vietnam, including An Nam and Viet Thuong, and later change to Vietnam as seen today. There are many other assumptions about the meaning of the name and the most rational explanation is that the name is the fine combination of both geographical and ethnical factors.
In brief, Vietnam means the Viets of the South according to the second explanation or is synonymous with the reunification of different regions in Vietnam in accordance with the first explanation.
Pho is arguably the most popular food in Vietnam. It is served both at restaurants and in families, eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This famous dish is basically rice noodle soup but the broth is seasoned in a very unique way that appeals to almost everyone.
You can try pho in one of the street corners where every local gather or at more upscale restaurants such as Pho Vuong or Pho 24. Pho 24 also has a vegetarian option for pho, replacing beef and chicken with a variety of mushrooms.