Saturday, April 2, 2022

Top 7 things to bring to Viet Nam

 Vietnam is a great travel destination and, as with other travel destinations, there are certain things you should bring with you to minimize hassle during your trip. Use the following list to appropriately pack for your travels.

1. Appropriate Luggage

Soft shell bags – If you plan on taking bus or train rides in the region, soft bags are recommended as the overhead luggage compartments can be quite small.  Keep in mind that the baggage tariffs on internal flights and flights in the region can be quite high so soft shelled bags can save a lot of extra weight and therefore a lot of money.

Daypacks or backpacks – For short excursions, treks and day trips around the city, a daypack is essential for carrying a water bottle, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent, and shopping.  A secure and sturdy daypack is the perfect thing to keep all your belongings with you as you go about your day.  And, any souvenirs you buy along the way can be kept safe in your bag without having to carry extra plastic bags.  Be careful with how you choose your daypack – a bag that sits close to your body and has thick straps is advisable as thieves can cut the straps and take your bag before you even realize what has happened.

2. The Essentials

Passport and Visa!! – In addition to the originals, keep photocopies or scanned copies of your passport and visa in case you lose your passport.

Travel medical insurance information – Keep a printout with you.

Cash – Keep enough cash with you as many stores and restaurants only take cash.  Many tourist restaurants and stores take credit card but they will often add a surcharge of 2-3% on top of the international transaction fees you will incur through your credit card company.  ATMs and banks can be found throughout the city if you need to take out cash.  Money exchange booths are also plentiful, especially around tourist haunts.

Money belt – Remember, like any large city, be cautious of petty theft and use a money belt to keep your money secure.

3. Medication

Brand name medication – The medication regulations in Vietnam are different than in other countries such that over-the-counter medicines are both cheap and readily available.  Many of the brand name medicines like Pepto Bismol and Tylenol are quite expensive but their non brand name counterparts are very cheap.  If you prefer to take a certain brand of medicine, bring extra!

Special medication – Some non mainstream medications may be difficult to find here.  Bring enough for your stay.

 4. Appropriate Clothing

Moisture wicking clothing – In Ho Chi Minh City, rainy season is from June to November and dry season is during the rest of the year, although it stays between 25-35C throughout the year.  Lightweight clothing is important for this kind of weather.

Light rain jacket – For the rain, a light jacket is fine but a plastic poncho may also work well.  You will see many locals wearing ponchos while riding their bike in the rain so the poncho may be more suitable if you plan on doing cycling or motorcycling tours around the country.

5. Appropriate Shoes

Walking shoes – Ho Chi Minh City and other cities in Vietnam are very conducive to walking, once you get past the occasional motorbike driver on the sidewalk!  You may find that you end up walking several kilometres a day so good walking shoes are a must.

Activity based shoes – If you plan on doing outdoor activities or trekking, special shoes are very important.  If you forget to bring them, many hostels and hotels can provide shoes that guests have left behind but your size may not be available.  Even buying shoes here may be difficult if your shoe size is larger than that of the average Vietnamese person.

6. Electronics

Chargers and backup chargers - Remember to bring all necessary chargers for your electronics.  Pre-charged battery packs are very useful for long bus and train rides.

Shape converter - Most hostels and hotels will have outlets that accept multiple plug shapes but the voltage is still 220V.  A shape converter may come in handy for outlets that don’t accept your plug type.

Computer-like gadget – A smartphone or iPod is a great thing to have!  WiFi is readily available almost anywhere.  You can call home for free or use GoogleMaps, which works very well in Ho Chi Minh City.  A laptop might be too bulky to carry around and too expensive of an item to have stolen.  When you are using your phone on the street, make sure to do it discreetly and away from the curb.  It is all too easy for someone to grab the phone while on their motorbike.

7. Insect Protection

Insect repellent with Deet – Dengue fever and malaria are transmitted by mosquitos so an insect repellent with Deet is a good thing to have.  Although malaria is rare and is confined to the rural areas, dengue fever is more prevalent.

Cortisone cream – Bites can be highly unpleasant and the last thing you need is an infection from scratching too much!

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