FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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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How much do people generally tip in Vietnam?

Previously, Vietnamese people did not have the habit of tipping; however, a boom in tourism allows this western life style to be adapted by the local. The most common situations to give tips are eating at restaurants, taking a taxi or hiring a tour guide. It all depends on the quality of services they provide you as well as yours’ satisfaction. To a taxi driver, 50 cents to $1is greatly appreciated, but not common. In a luxury restaurant, you can leave the change or a VND 50,000 note (about $2.5) which is really generous. In some upscale spa or hotels, a service fee of 10% is often added, so tipping is not necessary.

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How much does it cost to get from Saigon to Mui Ne?

Question: How much does it cost to get from Saigon to Mui Ne

Answer: How much it costs to get there depends on what kind of transfer you choose. There are a number of ways to get from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne:

- By bus: Phuong Trang runs daily bus to Mui Ne, ticket costs around $7/person

- By taxi: One way taxi costs $150. If you book return trip you will get a discount.

- By private car: Private car costs $130/way for 4-7 seater and $150 for minivan.

One way travel takes between 3.5 and 4.5 hours, depending on traffic.

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How do I get from Sapa to Bac Ha?

Taking place every Sunday’s morning, Bac Ha is the local market where ethnic communities living in Lao Cai Province gather to exchange and trade goods. Bac Ha Market attracts tourists from all over Vietnam as well as foreigners for the original and diverse features of culture. People can visit Bac Ha Market by catching buses from Lao Cai Terminal or Sapa Terminal, as it is located 70km far from Lao Cai City and 80km from Sapa Town.
 

Every day, there are three buses departing from Lao Cai Terminal at 6 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m., with the fare around VND 70,000. In addition, passengers who travel by train can get off at Pho Lu station, which is only 50km far from the market; and then use local buses or motorbike service.
 

From Sapa, tourists have several alternatives to go to Bac Ha Market: buses or motorbike. There are direct buses from Sapa Terminal with the ticket price of VND 80,000; and it will take up to three hours to reach Bac Ha Market.
 

Tourists can also hire motorbike (Minsk is the most popular) for VND 100,000/day and enjoy the wildly picturesque sceneries on the way to Bac Ha. The route passes through Ban Phiet; then following Highway 70 for about 40-50km, turning left at the three-way crossroad leading to Bac Ha.
 

Tips: Use our Route Planner Tool (http://routeplanner.vietnamonline.com/) to find the best way to get from Sapa to Bac Ha.

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Can we bring a laptop along with our hand baggage in Vietnam Airlines?

Question: Can we bring our laptop along with our hand baggage in Vietnam Airlines?

Answer: Yes, you can. In addition to free hand baggage allowance, Vietnam Airlines allows passengers to carry the following personal object on board without additional fees:

-      A handbag, pocket book or lady's purse, i.e.;

-      An overcoat, wrap or blanket;

-      An umbrella or walking stick (except one with metal-filled sharp pointed end);

-      A laptop computer, a small camera and/or a binoculars;

-      A reasonable amount of reading materials for in-flight reading only;

-      Infant's food for consumption in flight;

-      Infant's carrying basket or bassinet;

-      A fully collapsible wheel chair;

-      A pair of crutches and/or braces or other prosthetic device for the passenger's use;

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The best budget hotel to stay in Hanoi?

Question: The best budget hotel to stay in Hanoi?

Answer: Hanoi is a well-known capital of Vietnam and a tourist hub of world-wide travelers. Due to the increasing demands of many tourists to find a good accommodation, nowadays, there are many hotel types in Hanoi to meet travelers’ expectation. Referring to the budget hotels, the average prices of these hotels fluctuate from USD23 to 95. Depending on your budget and criteria, you can see the following link and choose the most suitable for yourself.

http://www.vietnamonline.com/hotel/hanoi/more/budget.html

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Where is a good area in HCMC to start looking for rent?

Depending on your purpose and the length of your stay in Vietnam, you can find support for renting a house or a room from different people. If you are on a business trip to Vietnam, you might have useful advice from your colleagues about where to stay. A room at a hotel near your company will be ideal for a short stay while a rental room/apartment will work for longer stay (more than 1 month).

District 2 and District 7 offer high standard rooms which are suitable for foreigners who are willing to spend more on the accommodation part. However, it is a little bit far from the city center. Some rooms are also available in District 3, Tan Binh District at a lower price.

District 1 is the most expensive to rent a room for a permanent stay. Price also varies depending upon the size and amenities of the room.   If you are backpackers to Vietnam, you can find affordable rooms along the streets wherever you go. Price should not exceed $10/person/night for a hostel or motel. Again, do not hesitate to bargain

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If I fly from Australia, in particular Melbourne, to Ho Chi Minh City, which airport will I land?

There are a number of airlines operating flights from Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City daily. Whichever air carriers you choose, you will land at the international terminal of Ho Chi Minh City Airport - the official name of which is Tan Son Nhat Airport. As of January 2012, this is the only airport that receives domestic and international passengers from Vietnam and all over the world. Below are some information and tips you might be interested in:

Information about Tan Son Nhat airport 
Ho Chi Minh City airport cafes and restaurants 
> Ho Chi Minh City Airport map

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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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Should I bargain at Ben Thanh Market?

Question: Should I bargain at Ben Thanh Market?

Answer: Yes, you should. It may be your interesting experience with Vietnamese locals. If you do it well, you can pick up a few good bargains which are less than one third of the initial asking price. For example, if a seller says it costs 90,000 VND, you can bargain to get it for more or less 30,000 VND.

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How much money should I bring to travel to Ho Chi Minh City?

Hi,

As you do not mention clearly about your travel time as well as your budget condition, so we can only give some general advices.

To travel to Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon, you need to have enough money for these main spendings: transportation, food, accommodation and entrance tickets to tourism destinations, not to mention your spending on shopping and other unexpected fees.

Saigon is such a big city that in order to visit all of the most well-known tourism destinations, you need at least two or three days.

Normally, the minimum budget spent for accommodation will range from VND 150,000 to VND 300,000/day, depending on the quality of the hotel and its location. Public transportation is quite cheap, which will cost you about VND 50,000 to VND 70,000/day if you move around inside the city. However, if you choose taxi as a means of transportation, the fare will be about VND 11,000/ km so each journey will cost you VND 50,000 on average.

As every other city and province in Vietnam, Saigon is a heaven of street food. If you do not mind eating like the locals at street vendors, you will only need to spend about VND 100,000 each day to have very good meals. The ticket for museums will take you about VND 10,000- VND 30,000; while most of other tourism destinations like Notre-Dame Church or Central Post Office have free entrance.

In sum, if you want to travel on a shoe string, you can do so with only VND 1.5 million (or $75) for 3 days in Saigon. $120 will probably give you mid-range hotel and more flexibility with travelling. For top hotels and sit-down restaurants, expect your budget to start from $500 for 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City. You can also refer to our guide to cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City for further information.

We hope this helps!

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