FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Where can I find dog food in HCMC?

There are two options to get food for your pet in Ho Chi Minh City: Supermarkets and street stores

In Supermarkets:

You can easily find dog food at supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City. There are a variety of brands you can choose from. Unlike Walmarts or other franchising stores, every supermarket in Vietnam has different ways to arrange their products. Therefore, if you are unsure where to get dog food and don’t want to spend time walking around, just ask a cashier or any supermarket staff for direction.

One advantage when buying dog food at the supermarket is fixed price and guaranteed quality. A drawback is there will be a long queue of people checking out at the cashiers during peak hours or the weekends. If you don’t want to wait for long, you can go to the supermarket in the morning or in the afternoon on weekdays. Some recommended supermarkets are Citimart, Coopmart, Lottemart and Maximark

In Street Stores:

Dog food can also be found outside of supermarkets in some pet shops or pet clinics. Unless you are familiar with roads in HCMC, it might be a little hard to find these shops. An advantage about buying dog food at street stores rather than supermarket is being free of queuing and waiting. These shops are small and the sellers often handle a customer each time so you can have advice or recommendations from the sellers.

A drawback is that its quality is not guaranteed. Some stores are just stocked with low quality pet food made in China because it is cheap and more profitable than other brands.  Some recommended pet stores are Saigon Pet clinic (33 street 41 Thao Dien, District 2), KC Pets (6 Hoa Su, Phu Nhuan district), Petit Ange (out in D7. 23 My Hoang, Phu My Hung , Tan Phong ward, District 7).  You may find other stores while walking around also! 

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Independent travel in Mekong Delta?

Question: Why are tours to Mekong Delta packaged tours? Can we travel on our own?

Answer: Because traveling around islands in Mekong Delta requires using the boat. If you travel on your own, booking a private boat might result in higher cost. Moreover, the package tour offer a complimentary service with an English speaking guide and many stop-overs in between so that travelers can get chances to see how they manufacture coconut candy, pop rice and other handicraft products. Traveling alone might be troublesome because the local people are not really good at communicating in English. If you are native to Vietnamese language, you can try, though!

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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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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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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 can I find the visa exemption form for Vietnamese overseas? What is the process?

Greetings,

Please visit our page on visa exemption for Vietnamese American where we explain in details the process of obtaining a visa exemption for Vietnamese overseas. You can follow the link next to the Application form to fill out an e-form and make a hard copy of the completed form. The rest of the process is also fully explained on the page.

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What is the most popular food in Vietnam?

Pho is arguably the most popular food in Vietnam. It is served both at restaurants and in families, eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This famous dish is basically rice noodle soup but the broth is seasoned in a very unique way that appeals to almost everyone.

You can try pho in one of the street corners where every local gather or at more upscale restaurants such as Pho Vuong or Pho 24. Pho 24 also has a vegetarian option for pho, replacing beef and chicken with a variety of mushrooms.

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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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I’m going to travel to Hanoi and want to taste some street food here. Can you please give me some suggestions?

Welcome to Hanoi.

There are variety of street food here which is offered by both vendors and small shops that utilize the pavement to accommodate customers.

Just walking around the Sword Lake or Hanoi Old Quarter for a while, tourists easily meet a number of vendors selling “bánh rán” (deep-fried glutinous rice donut), spiced fruit, “tào phớ” (tofu pudding), “cốm” (green young rice), boiled corn on the cob, or grilled sweet potatoes. Besides, one can enjoy “Phở” and other kinds of noodle for breakfast or lunch in various small shops. Some streets which is famous for its typical food located in Hanoi Old Quarter hat you should drop by is To Tich (selling sweetened mixed fruits), Ho Hoan Kiem (selling sweet, chilli and sour grated salad), Tam Thuong lane (selling deep-fried fermented pork roll).

Read The 5 street vendors you cannot miss in Hanoi for information.

Enjoy!

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Where can I rent a motorbike in Hanoi? And how much does it cost for a whole day rental?

Hi,

Motor rental service is available in Hanoi and you can easily find the shops which offer this service on main streets like Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tran Hung Dao, and especially small streets in Hanoi Old Quarter like Hang Be, Ta Hien, Luong Ngoc Quyen, Dinh Liet.

There are many kinds of motorbikes from the most popular ones in Vietnam like Wave, Dream, Viva… to favorite transportation means of backpackers like Simson, Minsk. The cost ranges from $6 to $50 per day depending on motor type.

Foreign tourists just has to leave one hard copy of his/her passport and one kind of identity papers like driving license or passport in the shop, then take the motor and begin a joyful trip. These rented motor taxi is usually empty of gas so you will need to find a gas station to fill it up (see How much fuel costs in Vietnam).

Monthly motorcycle rent is also available with Rentabike (www.rentabikehanoi.com/) starting from $50 a month. If you plan to stay long term in Hanoi, you may purchase a used motorbike from a fellow expat - such as visiting New Hanoian classifieds section.

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Train ticket from HCM to Nha Trang?

Question: Is it possible to book a train ticket from HCM to Nha Trang?

Answer: Yes, it is possible. Currently, there are 6 train routes running from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, namely, SE2, SE4, SE6, SE8, SNT2, and SE22. All of these routes are operated by Reunification Express Train. Normally, each train has 3 or 4 types of seat including hard seat, soft seat, hard berth (6 berths), and soft berth (4 berths). All are equipped with air-conditioner.

For your information, the railway from Saigon to Nha Trang is about 411 kilometers and it will take passengers approximately 8 hours. Ho Chi Minh Railway Station is located at No. 1, Nguyen Thong Street, Ward 9, District 3, meanwhile, Nha Trang Railway Station’s address is at No. 17, Thai Nguyen Street, Phuoc Tan District.

Please see the following table for your reference and be kindly noted that the information was taken in January 2016. It may change anytime by service’s providers.

Train No. Time Price (US$)
Hard Seat Soft Seat Hard Berth Soft Berth
SE2 19:30 - 03:13 n/a 33 41 43
SE4 22:00 - 04:52 n/a 35 42 45
SE6 09.00 - 16:21 30 33 41 43
SE8 06:00 - 13:18 30 33 41 43
SNT2 20:30 - 05:30 30 32 44 47
SE22 12:05 - 19:46 30 31 39 N/A
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