FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I get by with just English in Vietnam

The short answer is: YES, you totally can.
The not-so-short answer is: Yes, you can, but it also depends on where you go in Vietnam.

To your relief, most foreigners visiting Vietnam know barely any Vietnamese words but "Xin Chao - Hello" and "Cam On - Thank you". That is quite enough vocabulary for a 2 or 3 week trip to Vietnam. English is the most popular language in Vietnam after Vietnamese, and in the cities, even when you try to communicate in Vietnamese, the local younger people will just respond to you in English.

If you plan to take a break from the metropolitan areas and all the touristy places, you will have a harder time communicating your thoughts, ideas and needs. Body languages still work but a little bit more Vietnamese will save you tons of time and frustration. The good news is that, most Vietnamese people are very friendly and even when they do not know a word of English, they will try to help you out in all circumstances. 

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What can I do during Tet in HCMC?

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). 

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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?

Hi,

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

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How to configure smart phone for 3G in Vietnam?

Depending upon your service provider, there are different ways to adjust the Network Settings to use 3G on smart phones in Vietnam.

VinaPhone:

APN: m3-world
User name for ANP: mms
Password for ANP: mms

Mobifone:

APN: m-wap
User name for ANP: mms
Password for ANP: mms

Viettel:

APN: v-internet
User name for ANP: (blank)
Password for ANP : (blank)

Beeline & Vietnammobile :

APN: internet
User name for ANP: (blank)
Password for ANP: (blank)

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How do I book a flight ticket in Vietnam?

You can either seek assistance from a travel agency or book directly online. Travel agency sometimes has good deals for domestic and international travel. Otherwise, go to the airline website:

www.jetstars.com.vn
www.vietnamairlines.com.vn

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How safe is Vietnam?

The safest place in the world can also be the most dangerous and vice versa. It also depends what you mean by “safe”.

In general, Vietnam is safe compared with most other Southeast Asian countries in terms of political stability. There is hardly any riots and absolutely no bomb attacks. The only concern is about road safety.

Protect yourself by taking a ride with trustable bus company, though they can be more expensive. Please see “safety” section for more details.

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Where to go in Vietnam in January?

Question: Where to go in Vietnam in January?

Answer: January weather is cold and occasionally chilly in the Northern Vietnam but gradually warmer when heading southwards. The temperature in the Northern parts, typically, Hanoi, is around 150C. Meanwhile, in the Central and Southern regions like Hoi An or Saigon, the temperature fluctuates around 200C and 300C respectively. With the weather conditions like this, the best places suggested for travelers to visit Vietnam in January is in the Central and Southern cities/ provinces such as Saigon, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Hue, Hoi An, etc. Nonetheless, if you still desire to visit Hanoi or other Northern provinces, you can visit Huong Pagoda (Perfume Pagoda), Halong Bay, and Sapa. Perfume Pagoda in January is cool and windy but pretty tranquil. The main festival of Perfume Pagoda often takes place in Late-February, therefore, it is hardly crowded in this month. Besides, it is a bit chilly to visit Halong Bay and Sapa as well, however, if you want to avoid the crowd, this is the best time to go.

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I am planning to visit Vietnam in the next days. I know several parts are still flooded, my questions is in how far this affects tourists? Is it safe to come? Are busses still running?

Thanks for your email and your interest in visiting Vietnam in the next few days. You are right, there are several parts still flooded in Vietnam (information as of October 26th, 2011). At this time every year, the Mekong Delta area often gets flooded because it is rainy season in the South of Vietnam. However, if you travel around Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, it’s not a big deal at all. You can find more information about weather in Ho Chi Minh City here

There are foreigners visiting Vietnam and being on the Mekong Delta Tour, though. For safety reasons, booking a tour at a travel agency is recommended. Floating market is a piece of Mekong Delta culture you should experience.

Besides, there are usually some upcoming storms in the Centre of Vietnam at this time of the year which makes the weather cooler than usual and more appealing to foreigners. If you are planning to stay in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi only, weather would be calm and will not to ruin your vacation.

Buses won't be affected by the weather. You may also check out News and Events section - we have reviews about weather on the VNO Weekly articles and update them regularly.

Hope you find it helpful.

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How do addresses in Vietnam work?

If you are sending something to Vietnam, you can leave the address in English or ask the recipients for the Vietnamese version. In general, the number of the house comes first and followed by lane number of street names, districts and cities.

Here are some useful words:
Quận/ Huyện: District 
Phố: Street 
Đường: Road 
Ngõ: lane 
Ngách: smaller than lane unit 
Số: House number 
Khu đô thị: Apartment building complex

Example of an address:

Chu Ngoc H. 
So 4, ngo 12, pho H.H, Dong Da, Hanoi.   

Note: Vietnam does not have postal code.

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Travel to Vietnam During Tet

Question: Should I travel to Vietnam during Tet?

Answer: The answer is yes or no depending on you.

First of all, in terms of transportation, if you plan to visit Vietnam on Tet holiday, you should book transferring services (airplane, train, car…) in advance. Why? Because this is the time of Vietnamese family reunion, so airplanes, trains and coaches are often fully booked. In addition, be ready that you may have to pay more for the fare at this special occasion.

Secondly, referring to accommodation, hotels in this time are abundant. You can book any room types in any hotels you like without worrying about the overbooked condition. However, similar to the fare of transportation, the accommodation expenses may increase because companies have to pay more for staff working in the most important vacation in their country.

Having said that, the most interesting fact when visiting Vietnam on Tet Holiday is that you can see how Vietnamese people celebrate their biggest holiday in a year. Streets will be wonderful decorated with eye-catching items such as colorful flowers, national flags, lanterns, and twinkling lights. This is also a wonderful chance to see traditional trees in blossom like peach flowers, apricot flowers, or kumquat trees and try traditional cuisines which only appear in Tet such as Chung Cake, Picked Onion, and so on. The streets at this time are very quiet and peaceful because people will spend most of their time for in-house parties. No crowd, no noisy! Especially, don’t miss the countdown moments when you can listen to “Happy New Year” of ABBA and enjoy the firework show in Hoan Kiem Lake (Hanoi), Bitexco Tower (Saigon), Dragon Bridge (Da Nang)…

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I’m new to Ho Chi Minh City and I want to find some reasonable hotel under USD50 per night. Could you give me some suggestions?

Here are some suggested hotels that you can consider when you come to Ho Chi Minh City:

-    Liberty 4 Hotel (265 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1): This is one of the three star hotels name Liberty in Ho Chi Minh city and the nearby area. This hotel is a proper choice with the lowest price of roughly USD42 for one night. The room is well equipped with adequate facilities like TV, private toilet, Air conditioners…

-    Empress Hotel (136 Bui Thi Xuan, District 1): This is not a huge hotel, but still attractive to the costumers with the unique and beautiful decoration inside. Also, the attitude of the staff and the service here are also the vantages of this hotel. The price for a night at this hotel is USD36 for the ROH room.

-    Kelly Hotel (42-44 Thu Hoa Khuan, District 1): The hotel is located near Ben Thanh market, one of the most attractive places in Ho Chi Minh City. This hotel has warm atmosphere with ingenious decoration that fascinate the tourists to come in. The price of this hotel is around USD 38 to 42 for a night in one good room with enough facilities.

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