FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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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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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Names of walking streets in Hanoi Old Quarter?

Question: Names of walking streets in Hanoi Old Quarter?

Answer: From 2014, authorities in Hanoi officially opened six walking streets in its famous Hanoi Old Quarter including:

1.    Hang Buom Street

2.    Ma May Street

3.    Hang Giay Street

4.    Luong Ngoc Quyen Street

5.    Ta Hien Street

6.    Dao Duy Tu Street

All vehicles are prohibited on these streets every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 7.00pm to 12.00pm in the summer and from 6.00pm to 12.00pm in the winter.

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Can you use american dollars in Vietnam?

You can use American dollars for sure, though in major tourist cities such as Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City. When you get to Vietnam, you can change the currency to Vietnam Dong, which will help your shopping time a lot. Most shops and stores will apply very low rate when you pay in dollars so we suggest you to avoid using the dollars whenever possible.

In International airport such as Hanoi Airport or Ho Chi Minh City Airport there will be currency exchange booths for you to change the currency. Current exchange rate is 1 USD ~ 21,600 VND.

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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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Should we use travelers check? ATMs?

Question: We will visit Vietnam in February and we are wondering the best way to pay for anything. Should we use travelers check? ATMs?

Answer: You aren’t encouraged to use travelers cheques in Vietnam because it isn’t cheap and convenient at all. Perhaps the cheapest and most convenient way to get cash is to use a bank card or a certain credit card to take it out of an ATM. ATMs are now widely put everywhere in the country, so it is pretty convenient to get cash. Or, you can also bring cash along with you but please watch out pickpockets and bag snatchers.

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Opening hours

Question: What are the opening hours of the St Joseph Cathedral, One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Literature's Temple, History Museum, Hoa Lo Prison, Vietnamese Women's Museum, Keang nam Hanoi tower, Perfume Pagoda and Bamboo Wing?

Answer: Please find below the opening hours of the above tourist attractions:

• St. Joseph Cathedral: Opening hours for Catholic rituals

Weekdays: 5:30 am and 6:30 pm

Saturdays: 6:00 pm

Sundays: 5:00 am, 7:00 am, 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm

• Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum opens on Tue, Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun in the morning, from 8:00am to 11:00am

• Ho Chi Minh Museum opens every Tue, Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun and Mon + Fri morning.

• One Pillar Pagoda opens all days in week, in the morning from 6:00 am to 11:00 am, and in the afternoon from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm

• Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo prison open daily from 8am to 5pm

• Keangnam Hanoi tower opens daily from 7am to 9pm

• Perfume Pagoda opens daily, you should visit at day time by joining one tour departing from Hanoi

• Bamboo Wing opens daily, it is located in Dai Lai Resort, Vinh Phuc Province. It is around 40km away from Hanoi.

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Where can I find photographic equipment or camera stores in HCMC?

A camera store can be easily found in the city center. Just walk along Le Loi street, Nguyen Hue Street or Le Thanh Ton street, you can find what you need to shoot a perfect image such as: lenses, films, chargers, battery, tripods.  

If you use traditional cameras which use Fujifilm and need a lab to process, you can find one at 82 Nguyen Hue or 114 bis Nam Ky Khoi Nghia. Kodak process labs are more popular and easily found on these two streets also. For digital cameras, please be aware of having the adapter or outlet conversion for the chargers. These can be found on Huynh Thuc Khang Street. Some camera stores have the adapters also. 

Do not hesitate to bargain unless you want to be overcharged. Lenses cannot cost you much more than what you are supposed to pay in your home country. Charger, depending on its brands and authenticity, has various prices but cannot cost you more than $15. Adapters or outlet conversions are available at less than $5 in some stores. It costs you 15-20 cents on average to develop a 10cm*15cm (6in*9in) image at a lab.

If you are travelling away from the city center, limited camera accessories may be found at camera stores at the place you are visiting. Batteries and films can be found there but lenses might be too costly to sell at these places. 

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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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Need suggestions of cheap taxi from Ho Chi Minh Airport to District 1

Answer: The cheapest option is UberTaxi. You just need to pick up a SIM card at the airport and use Uber app to call a Uber taxi. This brand is cheaper than other normal taxis in Saigon. The airport in Viet Nam also has their own taxi branch. Besides, lots of other favorite taxi brands like Mai Linh, 3A, Vinasun are available around the airport with the affordable price of around 180,000 VND (US$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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