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Before you go

1. Visas


Make sure you organised your visa before departing your country of residence, unless you have gone through the official channels to obtain a visa on arrival service. You can arrange your visa up to six months before your scheduled arrival date into Vietnam.


All Vietnam visas are SINGLE ENTRY unless you have specifically requested MULTIPLE ENTRY and this is stamped into your passport. If you are entering Vietnam twice or more you will need to ensure you have a MULTIPLE ENTRY visa before you leave home. The status of your tourist visa cannot be changed after you arrive in Vietnam.


I addition, your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your departure from Vietnam.


Note: We highly recommend that you should make photocopies of your passport and visa and keep them separately from the original documents. In case you lose your passport and/or visa you must report it at once to your local Guide or Tour Leader, the local police and the nearest embassy or consulate of your country.


2. Travel Documents & Vouchers


When you book our tour and/or other services, you will be issued with Confirmation Voucher(s). Please ensure that all the services which you have booked and paid for are shown on your travel documents and Vouchers, and that all names have been spelled correctly.


3. Clothing


Light, comfortable, easy to launder clothing is recommended. Winter months in Hanoi and rainy season in the central region can get cool so a sweater or light jacket will come in handy. Good walking shoes and sandals that can be easily removed are recommended especially when visiting temples and people's homes. Ensure you have suitable clothing packed for visiting temples and pagodas that you can cover up with, e.g. shirts and long pants. No dresses, shorts, singlets, string tops or revealing clothing should be worn to temples and pagodas.


4. What to Pack


Vietnam is generally a casual country by western standards although people do like to dress in their Sunday best whenever the opportunity arises therefore simple and casual clothes are appropriate for almost any occasion.


The year round heat and humidity in the south, especially Ho Chi Minh City makes lightweight quick dry clothing the most appropriate. The north and central highlands get cool enough for sweaters or light jackets for much of the year but the northern highlands will require cold weather clothes in the winter.


If you are not participating in any trekking tours sandals and lightweight shoes are sufficient. If trekking is included in your itinerary you will need trekking boots.


5. Health & Fitness




Vaccinations are officially required by the Vietnamese authorities; however immunization against cholera, hepatitis, typhoid, tetanus, polio and Japanese encephalitis is advised. Please consult your doctors for further medical advice. Also plan to bring mosquito repellent. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and slacks from dusk onward and avoiding perfume is also recommended. In addition to an ample supply of any prescription drugs you are taking (and a prescription which can be filled in case your pills go missing) bring medicines for: Headaches, diarrhea, constipation, insect bites, sore throats, eye drops, cuts, etc. Medical standards outside Hanoi and Saigon, Siemreap and Luangprabang are lower than those found in western countries.


Personal Medical Kits


It is up to you to bring along a personal supply of basic medical items like plasters, aspirin, insect repellent etc. In areas of limited or suspect medical facilities, some travelers also like to take their own emergency medical kit which can be used by the local medical staff in case of accident or illness.


Existing Medical Conditions


All persons joining our tours are assumed to be in good health and to have a sufficient level of fitness to complete their chosen itinerary. If you have an existing medical condition or disability you must make this known at the time of booking. If accepted on the tour, you must also make your condition known to the Tour Operator and Guide.


6. Luggage Requirements Checklist

As a guideline we have compiled a list of things that you might need on tour. Naturally you will have your own ideas so please remember that with the exception of The Essentials these lists are only intended as a guide and you should choose which items you wish to bring.

-         Passport

-         Money

-         Travel insurance

-         Take a photocopy of your policy with you and make sure you leave a photocopy at home.

-         Airline ticket

-         Travel documents / service vouchers

-         Comfortable clothing for cycling allowing your legs to move freely

-         Helmet

-         Cycling gloves

-         Stiff soled cycling shoes

-         Insulated water bottle

-         Waterproof jacket (rain is always possible in South East Asia)

-         Spare inner tube

-         Cycling Water bottle

-         Money belt or pouch

-         Torch and batteries

-         Personal washing / shaving kit

-         Camera & Film / Memory Card

-         Sunglasses

-         Swiss Army Knife / Leatherman

-         Lightweight wind / waterproof jacket

-         Trekking Boots


Useful Note: Keep a note of the emergency contact number for your Visa or ATM card, and the serial numbers of any traveler’s cheques, if used.


Medical / Personal


-         Insect repellent

-         Sun cream or sun-block

-         Lip balm

-         Moisturizer / After Sun lotion

-         Personal medical supplies: Aspirin, paracetamol, plasters, bandage, safety pins, antiseptic cream, diarrhea tablets, etc.

-         Antihistamine / insect bite cream

-         Dehydration solution

-         Personal medication


Useful Note: If you are taking any medication or have a condition that needs specific medicines, you must take all necessary medicines with you. You must also inform your Tour Operator and Guide of your condition at the start of your tour.


7. Safety & Security


Though it Vietnam is considered safe by world standards, you should apply common sense when travelling as you would anywhere. Petty crime in Vietnam’s major cities has risen along with rising numbers of tourists.


We advise you to take a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers, and keep these in a safe place separate from the originals. In large cities, such as Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and Hanoi, it is advisable to keep valuables in your hotel safe, and wear as little jewellery as possible when you are out. Keeping your money and other valuables close to your body in a secure place is also a good idea.


We recommend you take taxis rather than cyclos when travelling at night; taxis in Vietnam are numerous, metered and inexpensive. To assist in finding your way back to your hotel, make sure you obtain a hotel address card to show drivers.


8. Suggested Reading


LONELY PLANET GUIDE BOOK, the comprehensive guide book about Vietnam.


ROUGH GUIDE, VIETNAM The Rough Guide publications are easy to read and packed full of useful information. Whether you are travelling to Vietnam on your own or as part of a group this book is an invaluable aid.


FOOTPRINT VIETNAM HANDBOOK Full of facts about Vietnamese culture, history and society in general. It provides a comprehensive background read to anybody thinking of travelling to Vietnam.


INSIGHT GUIDE VIETNAM This guidebook contains some excellent photography and good firsthand accounts of travelers' experiences as well as clear and concise information on Vietnamese culture.


VIETNAM, A HISTORY A fascinating and all-encompassing history of Vietnam that won its author, Stanley Karnow, the pullitzer prize in 1983.


DISPATCHES This is a no-nonsense account of one man's experiences during the American War. The book certainly doesn't pull any punches and at times is graphic in nature reflecting the subject matter. The author, Michael Herr was a former war correspondent during the conflict.


A RIVER'S TALE, A YEAR ON THE MEKONG An excellent travelers' story packed full of incident, humor and real life characters. This is Edward Gargan's personal travelogue of his 4,500km voyage down the mighty Mekong River.


THREE MOONS IN VIETNAM Although written nearly a decade ago, this is one of the wittiest and insightful accounts of travelling through Vietnam. The author, Maria Coffey, manages to negotiate Saigon traffic, local fishing boats and rickety bicycles whilst still retaining a sense of humor and an obvious passion for the country.


THE SORROW OF WAR A harrowing tale of the American War from the perspective of a former North Vietnamese soldier. Bao Ninh's true story is filled with emotion and highlights the futility and loss of war.


RIVER OF TIME - In the words of author J.G.Ballard: "Jon Swain's powerful and moving book goes further than anything else I have read towards explaining the appeal of Indo-China and its tragic conflicts. Part love letter to the land he so adores, part self-analysis of the most unsentimental kind, River of Time is both an eyewitness account of painful and often sickening events, and an almost poetic meditation on the mysterious appeal of war and death.