FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Should I visit Sapa in late-January and early-February?

Question: Should I visit Sapa in late-January and early-February?

Answer: It depends. You are advised to check the weather forecast before starting your trip because the weather is now unpredictable. However, normally, this is the time when Sapa is getting colder and colder. Snow often falls in Sapa in these months. So, if you can adapt to the freezing cold weather and love admiring snow in Sapa, go ahead! On the other hand, choose another time to visit the town.

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Buckwheat Flower Season in Ha Giang?

Question: Hi, I’m planning to visit Ha Giang in April. Can I see Buckwheat Flower Season in this month?

Answer: Buckwheat Flower or Tam Giac Mach in Vietnamese is a special flower growing in northern mountainous provinces of Vietnam. It is noted that this flower doesn’t grow naturally, it is planted by farmers, therefore, the time of buckwheat season really depends on these farmers.

Normally, buckwheat flowers are in blossom in October & November in Ha Giang Province and in March & April in Bac Giang Province. Hence, if you want to see buckwheat flower season, you should visit Bac Giang Province in April, instead of Ha Giang as your planning. In addition to admiring the beauty of buckwheat flowers, you should try wine and cake made from them, it is very special.

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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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Which one should be chosen to travel to, Ha Long Bay or Cat Ba Island ?

It is difficult to choose the more attractive destination between Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island because each place has the unique points that the other place can have. However, Ha Long Bay is truly more worth-travelling than Cat Ba Island. The reason is that the number of attractions and tourism activities seems to be diverse than Cat Ba. In Cat Ba, the only things you can do are playing at the beaches, having a boat trip to some small islands in the area, visiting a national park and eating. There activities in Ha Long are more diverse, attractive and interesting than Cat Ba because there are more islands on the shore to visit, more beaches to play and more kinds of seafood to taste. From Ha Long you can also get around to visit other fascinating destinations in Quang Ninh province such as Yen Tu, Bai Chay beach, Van Don, Tuan Chau resort or Hoang Gia International Resort. Tourism activities in Ha Long are also more diverse with the more reasonable price than in Cat Ba Island.   

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Paintball place in Ho Chi Minh City?

Question: Is there any place I could play paintball in Ho Chi Minh City?

Answer: In the city center, you may not find a place for paintball. However, if you travel 70 km away from the center and reach Cuchi Tunnel, you can have the feeling of a gun there. Besides discovering the tunnel, they offer the paintball service. A bullet is charged at VND 4,000 each.

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I’m moving to Vietnam in a few days and I need some information about the cell phone. So which network provider should I choose?

You can use your current phone with the sim card you buy in Vietnam like other international sim card. Vietnam now has only a number of service providers on mobile phone services with different advantages and disadvantages. Among those firms, Vinaphone, Mobiphone and Viettel are the three biggest service providers.

Vinaphone is reputed with the stable and high standard of network, while Mobiphone has better customer services, and Viettel focus more on promotion and competitive price. The price for a new prepaid account and sim card is normally from VND 50,000 to 100,000 based on the type of accounts (USD 2.43 to 4.86) and the price for using services is different for each firm, with the range from around VND 1,200 to 2,500 per minute (USD 0.06 to 0.122).

Fortunately, Viettel is currently offering a special package for the foreigner tourists name “Tourist” with more benefit and easiness to them to use phone in Vietnam. More information about this package can be obtained at the branches or stores of Viettel.

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Is Halong Bay Cruise suitable for old people?

Question: Hi, I and my wife would like to take a cruise in Halong Bay. We are wondering whether Halong Bay cruise is suitable for us - both are in our late 60’s? We wouldn’t be interested in activities like kayaking, climbing, or snorkeling.

Answer: A typical program of a Halong Bay cruise consists of many activities: energizing activities like climbing, kayaking, snorkeling; sightseeing tours to well-known attractions such as Surprising Cave, Floating Fishing Village, Pearl Farm; on-board activities like cooking demonstration, spa.... This means you have many options to enjoy Halong Bay cruise at leisure. If you don’t like kayaking, swimming or something else, you can sit on the boat, sip a cup of delicious cocktails, take a massage, or enjoy beautiful vistas of the Bay yourself .

However, please kindly be reminded that you should make clear with the cruise’s company or agent to ensure that they let you stay on board because some cruises off load you to other activities so that they can return to the pier to pick up new passengers.

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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. 

Enjoy Hanoi!

Suggested Readings:
Hanoi Travel Guide
Hanoi weather in December

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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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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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Can a foreigner drive motorbike in Vietnam?

Question: I am planning to make a motorbike tour in Vietnam. I just wanna ask can I drive motorbike in the country as local people still do?

Answer: Maybe you can but please take note the following information. The international driving license is not recognized in Vietnam, hence, for legally driving a motorbike/ a car, you need to get a Vietnamese license. If you do not have Vietnam license, there is no travel insurance for you. In addition, Vietnam’s traffic law has some different rules from Western countries’. For example, you are required to drive on the right side of the road, not on the left side as in your country. If you can deal well with these problems, you can travel by motorbike in Vietnam.

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