FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can you please advise me where to shop and massage / spa with good and reasonable price? So far I know the popular places to shop is Ben Thanh Market , is there any else you can advise for me?

Hi,

Some shopping venues that you should check out: Personally, I highly recommend Saigon Square (77-78 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street) which is the heaven for shopping with good prices. The shopping center is just a step away from Ben Thanh market. Yet, where to shop also depends on what you want to buy. For example, for camping facilities, you could only find at Dan Sinh market.

In terms of spa, Spa Tropic is great place that provides you the best mind-healing treatment. (http://www.spatropic.com/). Happy Ending Massage Yuan is also a good choice for travelers with tight budget (about $10-15 for food and body massage) and it is quite central ( on Le Thanh Tong street). Good luck !

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Where can I watch the latest films in Hanoi?

Most cinemas in Hanoi, like Thang Tam, Dan Chu, Sinh Vien, National Cinema Center, only show films with dubbed Vietnamese and no English subtitle. Thus far, choices for foreigners in Vietnam in term of cinemas are very limited.

In Hanoi, only 2 cinemas provide original films with Vietnamese subtitle: Megastar at 6th floor, Vincom tower (191 Ba Trieu Str.) and Platinum Cineplex, 4th floor (The Garden center, Me Tri, Tu Liem). Both cinemas provide films in 3D and 2D, but the prices are different. Megastar asks for around VND 70,000  for a normal movie ticket and VND100,000 for a 3D seat, meanwhile Platinum’s prices are just VND 50,000 and 80,000, respectively. Compared to other local cinemas, the prices are quite high, but it is worth every penny with high quality movies and comfortable seats. Megastar even provides couple seats in Valentine period and other discounts for students during the week.

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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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What is Vietnam currency and what is the exchange rate with dollars?

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.

• History of Vietnam Dong

Vietnamese bank notes images

Online currency converter

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I am intolerant of gluten products and therefore not able to eat foods containing wheat. I would appreciate your advice on whether gluten free meals are available in major cities Vietnam?

Thank you for writing to us. Gluten-free travellers will not have a hard time in Vietnam, because the main meal in Vietnam involves rice instead of wheat (see how rice is used in Vietnam). Major dishes such as "Pho" (beef noodle), "Nem" (spring rolls) are made purely from rice.

The concept of gluten allergy and gluten free meal are not popular in Vietnam at all. You may find these niche products, however, in the expat area of Hanoi (Xuan Dieu road) and Ho Chi Minh City (Pham Ngu Lao street).

The advice we have for you is to check with the hotel and restaurants to verify that the ingredients do not contain wheat (bot my in Vietnamese). If you stay at upper-scale hotels in Hanoi or in Ho Chi Minh City, check with the hotel chef or restaurant head to ensure a gluten free meal.

A few popular food that will contain gluten for sure that you should avoid (this may help with the Vietnamese vocabulary):

- Any food with a "banh" (including baguette, baked goods, ..)

- Any food with a "my" (including egg noogle, instant noodle)

- Any food with a "quay" (fried fritter dough)

- Any food with a "tam bot" (Vietnamese term for fried fish or meat with a flour coating)

We hope this is helpful to you and your family. Bon Voyage!

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Where to take a good massage in Phu Quoc?

Answer: Below are top 6 spa and wellness centers in Phu Quoc voted by world-wide travelers in TripAdvisor for your reference:

1.    Phu Quoc Day Spa - Tran Hung Dao Street, Phu Quoc Island

2.    La Veranda Spa - Tran Hung Dao Street, Phu Quoc Island

3.    Aroma Spa - Tran Hung Dao Street, Phu Quoc Island

4.    Mango Bay Wellness Center - Duong Dong Town, Phu Quoc Island

5.    Spa Linh - Tran Hung Dao Street, Phu Quoc Island (Inside Thanh Hai Guest House)

6.    Aquamarine Ngoc Hai Lam Spa - Nguyen Trung Truc Street, Phu Quoc Island

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Hello! I am planning my trip to Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh area in particular, for october and i would like to know if you had any ideas for visting the countryside out of the city for a couple of days. I w

Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry. Please take a look at out suggestions for day trip from Ho Chi Minh City.

You can also contact travel agencies on Pham Ngu Lao area for budget trip option to outside of the city.

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Where can I watch the latest movies in HCMC?

In HCMC, latest 2D and 3D movies can be seen at Galaxy Cinema or CGV Cinema (Megastar Cineplex). These are currently the only two cinemas that retain English dub or have English subtitle.

Schedules can be seen online at the website of Galaxy Cinema or CGV Cinema.  Online booking is also available. You can choose either to pay immediately or pay later. If you choose to pay later, you just need to arrive at the cinema at least 45 minutes prior to the showing time to pay for your tickets. Besides, you can check out these websites to know about concurrent promotions.  Price is a little bit higher in Megastar Cineplex (at least $6 for a 3D ticket and $4.5 for a 2D ticket at noon and $1-$2 extra in the evening and on weekends).

It is recommended that you book tickets for the latest 3D movies online because they might have run out of seat when you get there, especially on weekends.

Ho Chi Minh City Cinemas:

CGV Cinema
Address 1: Hùng Vương Plaza, 7th floor, 126 Hung Vuong, District 5,HCMC
Address 2: CT Plaza,10th floor, 60A Truong Son, Ward 2, Tân Bình District, HCMC
Address 3: Parkson Paragon, 5th floor, 03 Nguyen Luong Bang, District 7, HCMC

Website: https://www.cgv.vn/en/

Galaxy Cinema
Address 1: 116 Nguyen Du, District 1, HCMC
Address 2: 2/230 Nguyen Trai, District 1, HCMC
Address 3: 246 Nguyen Hong Dao, Tân Bình District, HCMC 

Website: https://www.galaxycine.vn/

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Where are the best places to enjoy Hanoi’s coffee?

Question: Where are the best places to enjoy Hanoi’s coffee?

Answer: If you want to enjoy Hanoi traditional coffee, Starbucks or Highlands Coffee are not the ideal choices. The coffee flavors in these cafés are pretty standard and popular all over the world, meanwhile, Hanoi traditional coffee is stronger, more condensed and tasty.

Here are some addresses for your references to enjoy the unique flavors of Hanoi Coffee:

1, Café Giang – No. 39, Nguyen Huu Huan Street or No. 109, Yen Phu Street

(Giang Café is well-known for its Traditional Egg Coffee, don’t miss it if you visit the café)

2, Café Dinh – No. 103, Dinh Tien Hoang Street

3, Café Pho Co – No. 11, Hang Gai Street

4, Cong Café – No. 152, Trieu Viet Vuong Street

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How much should we tip a driver on a private tour?

For a private tour, $5 tip per day for the tour guide and half of it for the driver is acceptable. If you are pleased with the service provided and find the trip enjoyable, some more dollars might be a good motivation and they would be happy to receive because they are deserved to it.

Remember: 50,000 ($2.5) and 100,000 ($5) are considered big notes in Vietnam!

Read more about Tipping culture in Vietnam.

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When is Vietnamese new year 2012? Will Cu Chi Tunnel be open during Tet?

Vietnamese New Year, or Tet, is the biggest festival and holiday of a year in the country. In 2012, Vietnamese New Year will fall on Monday - January 23rd. Most public offices will be closed from Saturday (January 21st) and will be reopen on Monday (January 29th). The main Tet days are January 23rd, 24th and 25th.

Many attractions will be closed, while those like Hue citadel will be open during the three days of Tet with free admission. Cu Chi Tunnel, for your information, remains open during Tet holiday from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm.

For more information about Tet and Tet travel advice, read visit our Vietnamese Tet page or take a look at the following articles:

• 5 things to know about travelling during Tet

• Tet in Ho Chi Minh City - what to do

• 7 tips for travellers in Ho Chi Minh City during Tet

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