FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Where can I find musical instruments in Hanoi?

Hanoi has plenty of instrument providers. If you go with local people and are not afraid of bargaining, you had better go to Hao Nam Street. This street is famous for instrument trading, since it is near Vietnam National Institute of Music. Shops here offer a variety of instruments, from foreign ones such as guitar, mandolin, bass guitar, violin, cello, piano, flute to traditional instruments like bamboo flute, bau luthier (dan bau), 16 strings zither (dan tranh), Vietnamese violin (dan nhi) or even t’rung (a Ba Na ethical instrument from Tay Nguyen). The price is not too high, but you should be careful because instruments here are not always as good as what they look like.

Hang Manh Street also has instrument shops, but the range is much narrower compared to those in Hao Nam Str., and the quality is not even as good. In general, shopping at these addresses is not always safe, and moreover they do not provide any warranty service at all. In order to buy good instruments with famous brand names in Hanoi, consumers just have 3 choices: Hoang Phuc, the officially distribution center of Ibanez and Roland instrument in Vietnam, located at Vincom tower, 191 Ba Trieu Str.; Yamaha official store, 24 Ly Quoc Su Str. and SolG, 13D2A Van Phuc Str. The prices are higher than those at Hao Nam and Hang Manh Street, but customers are given full information about the suppliers, the original countries and instrument's conditions, along with certifications and warranties. Price or quality, the choice is yours. 

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We have been invited to a friend’s family home for a typical Vietnamese meal. We want to bring a gift to them. Is a bottle of wine or flowers appropriate? Or is there anything particular that we are e

Hi,

Thank you for your question.

Frankly, there is no strict rule or code for gifts and presents when you are invited to enjoy a family meal in Vietnam. Without any wine or flower, the diner guests are still warmly welcomed by hospitable Vietnamese hosts.

However, fruit is always a nice gift and seems to be well received. So, you are highly recommended to pick up some nice fruits for the dessert. Besides, one could bring something nutritious for the elder, some alcohol, pastries for the family, or candy for the kids, though these gifts may make the dinner a lot more formal than it should.

You are also recommended to ask the host if there is anything you could help, and be willing to give them a hand in preparing the meal. Remember to wait for the oldest to eat first, ask once before the meal and once after your finish.

Enjoy the meal.

Read our Article "Visiting a Vietnamese Family" for more detailed insights. 

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I and my wife intend to visit Hanoi in this summer, and we are wondering something about money. Which currency should we carry? Where to exchange?

Normally you can bring any currency that you want to Vietnam, as long as you exchange that money into Vietnam Dong but USD is the most widely accepted one. You can also use USD or Euro to make payment in Vietnam, especially in hotel, restaurants or some shops in the tourists areas. 

To exchange you currency into Vietnam Dong, there are many ways for you to choose. The first way is to do it right at the airport when you land. You can also exchange currency in any bank in Hanoi, but ANZ bank or HSBC branch are recommended  as they are international banks with better customer service.

You should never exchange currency with the street vendors as their money might be not guaranteed in quality. About international credit card, you can use it in Vietnam to make payment, but there is only limited place, mostly big supermarkets, restaurants, hotel or malls accept this kind of payment. Therefore, prepare enough cash on your purse is more suitable in Hanoi than carry an credit card.

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Where can I get custom-made silk clothes in Hanoi?

Hello,

Hang Gai Street, just some steps from Sword Lake and where many silk shops are located, is surely the place you want to go. Here, you can find a lot of eye-catching silk clothes which are diverse in color, design and size. Especially, many shops here offer guests one-day-tailoring service that provides guests with customized silk clothes within one day only.

Just come here, speak out your wish and get your dream clothes done.

On a side note, if you dare venture outside of the city for better deals, Van Phuc Silk Village may be a worthwhile option too. You can combine making your clothes into a half day trip as there are plenty to see in this hometown of silk. Read more about Van Phuc Silk to have all the information you need. 

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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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What is electricity like in Vietnam?

Vietnam uses 127/220 V, 50Hz electricity. The power plug is mostly the 2 parallel flat prongs, 2 parallel prongs- French type (round) and the 2 parallel flat prongs with an earth connector. If your appliance uses different type of power socket, you can always buy an adapter from most tourist area or at the airport.

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Where should I go to when I feel sick?

Vietnam has public, semi-public and private medical care facility. However, most of the quality ones concentrate in major cities such as Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Public hospitals are large but often heavily cramped with patients and the staffs do not speak English well. You can visit other healthcare services as listed in our city pages, many of which have foreign doctors. Normally you do not have to book an appointment in advance unless otherwise noted.

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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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Where can I renew my visa in HCMC?

There are two options to renew your visa in HCMC. You can either have a travel agency do it for you or do it on your own.  Some services charge you from $40 to $160 depending upon for how long you want to extend or renew your visa and what types of visas - multiple entry or single entry.

It often takes 5 working days to process. If you prefer to do it on your own, you first need to download the application form for visa renewal, replacement or modification, length of stay extension (Form N14/M). Then, fill in the form and attach it to your passport and bring both in person to the Immigration Office.

Vietnam Department of Immigration
Address: 161 Nguyen Du, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

In case you are sponsored or invited to stay longer in Vietnam, a certification signature from the chief of the receiving, sponsoring agency/organization of the applicant or of the Chief Police of the Ward/Commune where the sponsor resides is required. It costs you from $25 up to $100 for renewing a visa depending upon your length of stay you want to renew. If you are not clear what to choose, you can ask the officers for explanation.

Don’t forget to get a receipt when submitting your documents at the Immigration Office.  On the due date, bring your receipt and personal ID to get back your passport with the new visa. 

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I am planning on a trip to Hue with my fiance. I would like recommendations for sites and restaurants, especially Spanish and Italian ones, if possible

Thank you for writing to us.

Hue is rather limitted in terms of Italian or Spanish cuisines, though you might some great fares at major hotels. For example, Imperial Hue Hotel has a beautiful restaurant that is decorated in royal Hue style - we are sure you will both the quiet and romantic dinner there. If you really want some foreign taste, you can head to Little Italy (2A Vo Thi Sau) or in general, the Pham Ngu Lao area where most foreign restaurants are located. To be honest, Hue remains very traditional in its dining sphere so do not expect supreme pasta or pizza.

For a local experience, try Khong Gian Xua (205 Dien Bien Phu) - a Vietnamese restaurants located about 5km from Perfume River. This restaurant offers exquisite Hue food at a very affordable price.

As a break, you can take your wife to the cafe La Boulangerie Francaise (14 Nguyen Tri Phuong) for some tasty French style dessert.

Some sites that you can travel together: Hue Imperial Citadel, The Perfume River, Thien Mu Pagoda, Lang Co Beach. A biking trip to royal tombs in Hue can be extremely romantic on its own (visit our page on Hue for detailed description of attraction).

We hope you find this piece of information useful. 

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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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