FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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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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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Where are the best places to enjoy Hanoi’s coffee?

Question: Where are the best places to enjoy Hanoi’s coffee?

Answer: If you want to enjoy Hanoi traditional coffee, Starbucks or Highlands Coffee are not the ideal choices. The coffee flavors in these cafés are pretty standard and popular all over the world, meanwhile, Hanoi traditional coffee is stronger, more condensed and tasty.

Here are some addresses for your references to enjoy the unique flavors of Hanoi Coffee:

1, Café Giang – No. 39, Nguyen Huu Huan Street or No. 109, Yen Phu Street

(Giang Café is well-known for its Traditional Egg Coffee, don’t miss it if you visit the café)

2, Café Dinh – No. 103, Dinh Tien Hoang Street

3, Café Pho Co – No. 11, Hang Gai Street

4, Cong Café – No. 152, Trieu Viet Vuong Street

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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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Where can I go for a walk in Hanoi?

Hanoi is not the best bet for some pedestrians, but if you really want to go for a walk, there are still some choices.

The Old quarter is supposed to be on your top list with many local shops and street vendors. Old houses with French colonial architectural style dotted along streets are all worth sightseeing. A walk in “night streets” (at weekend’s night markets) is even better with wonderful light and very local feel atmosphere. You would certainly feel the lively nightlife of Hanoi by visiting the Old Quarter at night.

Areas around Hoan Kiem Lake, Thanh Nien Road or Ly Thai To Park are better choices for people who want to contemplate the tranquility of Hanoi, or want to take photos. Another suitable place is Truc Bach Lakeside with wind blowing and the road lined with trees. The trail that curves around the lake has trees and water on the one side and many street vendors on the other. You can always stop for some ice cream or sweet treats along the way. So just off your taxi or tour bus for a while and enjoy a walk for a better health! 

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What is the best way to travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City?

There are several methods to get from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City such as travelling by motors, cars or airplane, but the most interesting way should be travel by train. Thanks to the significant investment of the government, the Unification Trains (also called North-South Express Train) now connect Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh in one integrated route, with the direct travel time often less than 40 hours. The magnificent scenery outside of the train windows is also the attractive point of travelling by trains. Along the road from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, there are a considerable number of beautiful attractions such as mountains, valleys, oceans and forests for you to witness and enjoy. The only worth considering point of travelling by train is that the safety of the train is not totally ensured with sometimes serious accidents occurred on the route, but It is still in the acceptable level, especially in the modern trains. More information about the train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City can be found at the North – South Express Train of this site.

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Where can I get a pair of flipflops or sandals in Hanoi?

Summer is the golden time of flip flops and sandals in general. The scorching weather prevents many people from wearing shoes; moreover flip flops/sandals are so much convenient to take off before entering some café, restaurants or even pagodas. There are two biggest places for this product, one is Le Duan Street and the other is Hang Dau Street.

As Le Duan Street mainly provides working clothes, like rubber boots, rain coat, security uniforms, flip flop/sandals are not their major products. The positive features are low price and durability, but the styles are limited and the design is quite rough (imagine Birkenstock and the likes).

Hang Dau has a better diversity of styles, colors and designs, and the prices are just slightly higher. Shops here also sell bamboo flip flops, which are very stylish in this hot weather, and high quality leather sandals, sometimes imported from Korean or Japan. You really should go outside and get one pair for your own. 

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When is the best time to book cheap flights to Vietnam?

For those with a tight budget, the ideal season to fly to Vietnam should be March and April, or September and October. That is to say, the beginning and the end of tourism reason offer you the best deals. In these months, the flight fare could decrease by 5-10%, or even a drop of 30% compared to the price in the tourism season.

In other months, you could grasp reasonable ticket fares for the flights to Vietnam, but the price in the summer or on Tet Holiday is significantly more expensive.

Summer in Vietnam lasts from late May to late August, with various tourism activities in many places and attracts a considerable number of travellers . Tourists are certain to face more challenges to reserve and purchase desired flights ticket while the ticket fare, in general, is considerably higher than the normal season.

The same situation occurs during Christmas and Tet Holiday, but to more extreme degree because not only the tourists use airplane to travel, but also the overseas Vietnamese who come back to Vietnam to have get-togethers with their family, leading to over-booking on most international flights to Vietnam.

Conversely, travelling in between September - November, February - April is advantageous thanks to the seasonal deals and discounts from the airlines to encourage people to travel.

Related Readings:
Other tips to save your buck while you are in Vietnam
International Flights to Vietnam

Visit our Flight page for best flight rate and schedule of all domestic flights in Vietnam
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I’m new to Ho Chi Minh City and I want to find some reasonable hotel under USD50 per night. Could you give me some suggestions?

Here are some suggested hotels that you can consider when you come to Ho Chi Minh City:

-    Liberty 4 Hotel (265 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1): This is one of the three star hotels name Liberty in Ho Chi Minh city and the nearby area. This hotel is a proper choice with the lowest price of roughly USD42 for one night. The room is well equipped with adequate facilities like TV, private toilet, Air conditioners…

-    Empress Hotel (136 Bui Thi Xuan, District 1): This is not a huge hotel, but still attractive to the costumers with the unique and beautiful decoration inside. Also, the attitude of the staff and the service here are also the vantages of this hotel. The price for a night at this hotel is USD36 for the ROH room.

-    Kelly Hotel (42-44 Thu Hoa Khuan, District 1): The hotel is located near Ben Thanh market, one of the most attractive places in Ho Chi Minh City. This hotel has warm atmosphere with ingenious decoration that fascinate the tourists to come in. The price of this hotel is around USD 38 to 42 for a night in one good room with enough facilities.

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Where can I watch the latest films in Hanoi?

Most cinemas in Hanoi, like Thang Tam, Dan Chu, Sinh Vien, National Cinema Center, only show films with dubbed Vietnamese and no English subtitle. Thus far, choices for foreigners in Vietnam in term of cinemas are very limited.

In Hanoi, only 2 cinemas provide original films with Vietnamese subtitle: Megastar at 6th floor, Vincom tower (191 Ba Trieu Str.) and Platinum Cineplex, 4th floor (The Garden center, Me Tri, Tu Liem). Both cinemas provide films in 3D and 2D, but the prices are different. Megastar asks for around VND 70,000  for a normal movie ticket and VND100,000 for a 3D seat, meanwhile Platinum’s prices are just VND 50,000 and 80,000, respectively. Compared to other local cinemas, the prices are quite high, but it is worth every penny with high quality movies and comfortable seats. Megastar even provides couple seats in Valentine period and other discounts for students during the week.

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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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