No vaccinations are mandatory except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio. Malaria is present in most of the region and it is advisable to take precautions, especially if traveling off the beaten track. Medical facilities are limited and it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before traveling in case evacuation is needed.
Consult your doctor for up-to-date information and prescriptions for vaccinations, anti-malarial tablets and any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst traveling in Vietnam. Some vaccination courses may need time to be completed. If you plan to take anti-malarial tablets, you usually need to start one week before arrival. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses).
Vietnam is a safe country to visit. As a global rule, never leave your belongings unattended and always maintain eye contact or a firm grip on cameras and shoulder bags. Avoid cyclos late at night and choose reliable metered taxi companies (they are really cheap and air-conditioned). Choose Mai Linh Taxi, Vina Taxi, Hanoi Taxi and CP Taxi’s if available, it’s best not to take unknown brands on the street.
Time difference | India +1.5 hours
Electricity | Vietnam mainly uses 220V but in some areas, 110V is also used. A mixture of flat and round 2-pin outlets are used throughout the country. It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor.
Water | It is not advisable to drink tap water but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere.
Shops | Souvenirs to look out for in Vietnam include lacquerware, silk, conical hats, woodcarvings, hill tribe fabrics and handicrafts, embroidery, marble, ceramics, silver jewelry, antique watches and paintings. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have the best choice when it comes to shopping but Hoi An in the center of Vietnam is also a very good place to hunt for bargains.
Internet | Major hotels have business centers with PCs connected to the Internet. Some of them have wireless broadband access in rooms or public areas. Cybercafés are available everywhere and are easily found in major towns and cities. Prices are reasonable; usually below US$1 per hour. Most Internet cafés are equipped with webcams, headsets and microphones. Vietnam has an exceptional amount of cafés and restaurants offering free WIFI connections. If having a meal or a drink, internet fees are waived.
Telephones | If you have worldwide coverage, you can bring your own mobile phone and use it to make domestic or international calls. Check with your mobile phone provider for the costs before using it abroad - it may be expensive. Most hotels now have IDD phones in rooms and it is possible to send faxes from hotels and post offices although these services are expensive. It may not always be possible to make international calls in remote areas.
Vietnam's beauty belies some of the tragedies of its past as years of war have taken its toll on the land and the people. Our partner in Vietnam works with charities throughout the country to help improve the lives of the Vietnamese people and help pave the way for a successful future. Through visiting craft shops providing skills and jobs to disabled or underprivileged youth, supporting efforts for wildlife conservation and donating educational materials to rural schools you are making a difference while on your Vietnam tour.
WILDLIFE AT RISK
Wildlife At Risk (WAR) is dedicated to protecting Vietnam's biodiversity by fighting illegal wildlife trade, raising environmental awareness and promoting the conservation of endangered species and their habitats. WAR's Cu Chi Rescue Center provides a rehabilitating facility for animals confiscated from illegal traders. Founded in September 2003, WAR is based in Ho Chi Minh City and active throughout the southern provinces of Vietnam.
You can make a difference by visiting their centre and buying merchandise. Ask for it to be added on the following tours: Essential Vietnam and Vietnam in Style. For more information, visit www.wildlifeatrisk.org
Standing for 'Know One, Teach One', KOTO is a registered charity supporting street and disadvantaged youth living in Vietnam. The founder and director, Jimmy Pham, aims to empower vulnerable children by providing the skills and education needed for a bright future. The KOTO Restaurant and Training Program teaches hospitality skills to young adults, integrating life skills and educational training into the curriculum.
You can make a difference by having a meal at their café near the Temple of Literature in Hanoi. Add this to your tours - Essential Vietnam, North Vietnam Exclusive or Vietnam in Style, or the Halong and Hanoi Discovery Tour. For more information, visit www.koto.com.au
BLUE DRAGON CHILDREN’S FOUNDATION
The Hanoi-based Blue Dragon Children's Foundation (BDCF) works with street children, victims of child trafficking and poor families throughout Vietnam. The foundation aims to help underprivileged youth break from the poverty cycle by offering them educational and vocational training opportunities, as well as providing support for their physical, psychological and social needs.
While in Hoi An, if you want to make a difference and help BDCF, you can do it by combining good food with a feeling of doing something good at Blue Dragon Restaurant (46 Bach Dang). The restaurant is owned and run by a former street kid and profits from the eatery support vulnerable children in Vietnam. It is affiliated with (but not owned by) the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, an Australian charity that works with disadvantaged kids. The restaurant also sells a range of items produced by the kids of Blue Dragon. Visit the restaurant while on the Essential Vietnam or Vietnam in Style tours. Visit www.bdcf.org for more information.