Tips when travelling to Vietnam

Jes 2 Comments

I am doing regional sales so I have to travel to Vietnam and Thailand quite often.

I love Vietnam, the people there are nice and friendly and not pretentious. They have great food that is healthy and will not make me gain weight easily- in fact, I think it is the only country that has not increased my weight so far during my travels. Pho (rice noodle) in soup, wraps, banh mi (subway in Vietnamese style) are all delicious and not so sinful!

Most average working adult there are not so rich, the average salary is around US$1000 a month for a sales manager. Everyone got to have a motorcycle which cost around $2000. Inflation rate is considered quite low this year at 7% but their Vietnamese Dong currency is declining year on year:

Taken from Google
Tips on money exchange 
Every bimonthly I head to Vietnam to change money, it seems like I am always getting more Dong out of my SGD. For travelers heading to Ho Chi Minh, the rate at the airport is better than the rate in Singapore. Please take note to go to the money exchange at the extreme left of the airport once you exit, they do not charge any commission. You can also head to the city to change, they also have good rates. The banks generally do not change money but stores selling gold and jewellery do.

Tips on taking taxi
If you are travelling on your own, you will need to take a cab. Once you exit the main doors of the airport, go to the extreme left towards Popeye's. Join the taxi queue and you will see a long line of taxi but nobody is board them. Please don't board those and only board the Mai Linh (green taxi) and Vinasun (white taxi) companies. I have heard of many horror stories of tourists who took other kinds of taxi.. they may lock you up from the inside and demand that you pay additional US$50 or more before letting you off. Taxi to District 1 which is the main tourist place is around 120,000 Dong or less amounting to less than S$8. You also do not have to pay any toll or parking charges along the way.
Mai Linh taxi
Vinasun taxi... beware that some of other taxis have similar colour scheme but not the name of the company
Tips on shopping
For things to buy, you must buy their tshirts as the material is really good... better than Thailand for their counterfeit brands. You should know that they are the second largest exporter of textiles in the world, only behind USA. You can also buy their Vietnam coffee and dry foodstuff like macademia, cashew nuts, almonds and others. Always, always ask for discounts!

Ben Thanh market will be the main market where tourists go and also near most big hotels' location. Since it is a tourist attraction, it will be more expensive, almost double the normal price compared to the locals' market like Tan Dinh located in District 3. Do take care while crossing the roads as motorcycles do not obey red lights and cross intersection would be safer for pedestrians. 

For backpackers, a 4 star hotel there is good and cheap at around $90 a night. One value for money hotel I would recommend is Saigon hotel. It is opposite Sheraton so you can always tell the taxi to drop there.

Other than that, everything is relatively cheap there. Some of my male colleagues go for a haircut + manicure + pedicure for US$3. Massage is around S$10 to $15 so you can try them too.

I always learn new things about Vietnam for every trip and will update more next time!


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  1. Hi Jes,

    Too bad I only stumbled across your blog after coming back from Ho Chi Minh.

    Some of those tips could have been handy.

    Anyway, I really doubt the exchange rate at the airport is better than those offered at Change Alley?

  2. Hi 15HWW,

    Thanks for dropping by! I can't comment about the rates at Change Alley but my colleagues and I have combed through the rates at the west area and it's not as good. Anyway, I don't think the small amount really make much difference.. convenience will be the key. I think you would have gained some insights on HCM too, do share!