Luggage and bags:
When out and about I carry the following items some you may find handy:
I carry a small back/pack that carries all my camera gear (out of sight) and my daily handy neccesities.
I am never without sufficient amount of fresh bottled water
A reliable mosquito and insect repellant
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: A wide brimmed hat for sun protection.
A pair of sunglasses .. .. ..
A comfortable pair of walking/ hiking shoes/boots.
A small compact pocho for sudden tropical storms..covers me and backpack.
A couple of zip lock plastic bags for item protection ie: passport and important papers
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: A small packet of wetones for the heat also for cleaning minor injuries.
A small tube of strong sunscreen
A small tube of moisturiser
A small packet of tissues (in case the roll is empty)
A small tube of lip balm.
A couple of band aid strips.
A face mask.
Photo Equipment: A digital camera with charged battery,
A digital battery charger.
An international powerpoint adaptor
A spare memory card
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: I always carry a small torch..
Luggage and bags:
Make sure you get your visa before your arrival to Vietnam. Despite the nightmare stories in the guidebooks, Visas for Vietnam are quick and easy to obtain through the Vietnamese embassy so there is no need to pay the extra charge to use a Visa Services. We overnighted our passports and forms with a self address overnight envelop and had them back within days.
Some guidebooks mention getting a letter beforehand and then a Visa at the Airport. Do NOT try this. We ran into several people who tried this and were not allowed into Vietnam. They were put on the next plane out of the country and it took them 3 days to get everything straighten out and back into Vietnam!
If your thinking of making a side trip to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat make sure you obtain a double entry Visa before you leave for Vietnam. Once again we ran into people who only got a single entry Visa and it is quite a hassle to get back into Vietnam (we also heard of people who did this and didn’t have a problem but why take the chance)
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: INFO FROM VIETNAM EMBASSY
What to submit to the Visa office
- Application form ()
- 1 passport-size picture (2x2)
- Fee (MONEY ORDER or CERTIFIED CHECK), payable to "EMBASSY OF VIETNAM."
Applicants applying together may submit the fee in one money order
- Self-addressed, pre-paid return envelope. FedEx is recommended
Applicants applying together may provide one envelope for the passports and
visas to be returned to the same address.
How to fill-out the application?
- All items must be filled-out completely in UPPER CASE letters.
- Do not use PO Box addresses.
- Item 11 (name, address of your contact in Vietnam) is required for
"BUSINESS TRIPS" only.
- Put your town/city on the line "Place" at the end of the form.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: What is the fee?
Without prior authorizations,
-Single entry, one-month:
- $65.00 (regular service - 5 business days).
- $85.00 (rush service - 2 business days).
- Single entry, three-month:
- $110 (regular service - 5 business day).
- Multiple entry:
- 1 month: $130.00 (2 business day).
- 3 month: $150.00 (5 business day).
- 6 month: $200.00 (5 business day).
- All passports without proper return envelope will be sent back via FEDEX
- Please put your name and address must be in the "From" section on the
label/airbill/envelope for safety and security of your package.
Where to submit?
Embassy of Vietnam
1233 20th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Luggage and bags:
Whatever style of baggage you choose, be sure you know the size and weight limitations on your airlines. This is available online with whatever airlines you are using. I once paid a hefty fee for my bags, both in weight and size being over the stated limit. I'll not make that mistake again. This is especially true when leaving Vietnam, as the restrictions seem to "change" with their moods. Be sure you are well within the size and weight limits before departing. It's easy to load up on purchased goodies, but difficult to leave them behind due to the overage. Luckily, I have family there that I could leave the items with and retrieve them on my next visit.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: I have to admit...I didn't listen on my first time back to Vietnam after over 30 years. I brought so many cotton shirts and only wore them once. Too hot and uncomfortable, that's for sure. Since then, I have taken several trips back to the region (my wife is from Ly Thieu (not too far from Saigon). The best material to wear is a blend of Rayon and Polyester.
You really do not have to pack much in the way of shirts and/or pants. For the most part, I only take along one pair of each. The reason being, clothes are VERY cheap to purchase in Vietnam so why lug along so much of your own? This is only my opinion, understand. There are many a fine tailor in and around downtown Saigon who will only be too happy to custom fit shirts and pants to your delight.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Anti-diarrhea medication (I use loperamide hydrochloride or diphenoxylate/atropine, available by prescription, of course), benedryl, pepto-bismol.
If you are staying for any length of time, you may want to consider anti-malaria tabs (mefloquine hcl 250 mg tabs). Check with your doc just to make sure.
Oh, and don't forget the mosquito repellant. I use "Off - Outdoor" brand. There are many others out there, so choose wisely. Lot's 'o bugs there, some are unique to that country. You'll soon discover that, so don't panic. It's not that bad in Saigon. It's when you venture out in the countryside that it gets worse. The repellant should do the trick.
Photo Equipment: Keep it small, if possible. Usually one good digital camera or recorder. I use a Sony Disk Camcorder. Works great. This takes pics as well as movies, so no need to cart along a separate camera for the still shots. You record everything on a small 3" disk within the camera. Great idea!
Miscellaneous: I usually take along a small eyeglass repair kit. Good thing I had it on my last trip. My glasses fell off while riding a cycle. We were able to retrieve the glasses and make the small repair with the kit.
Some hand sanatizer is a good idea to take with.
Luggage and bags:
I find that traveling with one small suit case with wheels and a small back pack (big enough to hold everything you need for a one to two day side trip) works best for me. Whatever you bring make sure you can carry it long distances by yourself if need be.
Many of the hotels in Vietnam only have one or two rooms per floor, so be prepared to carry your bags up 5 to 8 flights of stairs.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: If your venturing out of the major cities you’ll need to bring insect repellent. 100% Deet is recommended since the mesquites here do carry malaria.
If your sensitive to noise you may need to use ear plugs to sleep since the cities are quite noisy even late at night (I found the constant hum of motor bikes and honking horns lured me right to sleep at night), but I heard other travelers complaining that they couldn’t sleep
I also find a sleeping mask handy when trying to sleep on planes, trains and buses.
While preparing for my trip to Vietnam I had read, that the Vietnamese dress very conservatively. Women and men wear long pants and short or long sleeve tops for the most part, and I should do the same despite the heat.
Once in Vietnam I saw quite a few of the Vietnamese wearing Capri’s (cropped pants) pants and sleeveless tops. Due to the heat the tourist “uniform” for women seemed to be carpis or pedal pushers and short sleeve or sleeveless tops. Tanks with built in bras also seemed to be a favorite for the travelers in more casual settings. Frankly I lived in Capri's and tanks while I was in Vietnam and did not feel like it was inappropriate. I seldom saw anyone but children in shorts, so I wouldn’t recommend wearing short out, BUT since the AC in your hotel is turned off while you are out you may want to bring a pair of comfortable shorts for wearing around the hotel….
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Expect to get caught in the rain AT LEAST once while you're here. Rain Gear is readily available though if you forget.
Luggage and bags:
By far the best travel book for Vietnam that I saw was the Rough Guide's Vietnam. Guides on Vietnam are a bit hard to come by in the US so if can?t find the Rough Guide don?t worry, the major cities in Vietnam all have book exchanges where you can pick up a used copy of the Rough Guide for less than $10 US. Make sure you get a recent copy though, Vietnam is changing so rapidly that a guide a few years old many not be worth the paper it's printed on!
I am normally a big fan of Lonely Planet but I was very disappointed in their book on Vietnam. Bootleg copies of the Lonely Planet are available everywhere in Vietnam...(don?t worry the people selling it will find you...you won't need to hunt it down). We got ours for $6 US. Remember to bargain, they asked for $25 US at first!
While not the best travel guide in this case, it was definitely worth $6! Since the Lonely Planet is so readily available it?s also the ?Bible? travelers to Vietnam use.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Limit the amount of clothes you bring to 3 - 4 outfits. It's inexpensive to get your clothing washed and if you need anything else you can get it custom made for a fraction of the cost you will pay for off the rack clothing at home. The Vietnamese are quite tiny so unless your miniscule don't expect to be able to buy much more than T-shirts off the rack here.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: You?ll be able to get basically anything you need in the big cities within Vietnam...Make sure you bring any prescription medicine (don?t forget your malaria medication) you?ll need with you since all medication is not available. Due to language and supply issues I?d also recommend bringing your own emergency medical supply kit?aspirin, Imodium AD, Tumbs.
For traveling around I would recommend always having wet naps (or some other form of hand sanitizer) and tissue paper with you. Toilet paper and soap doesn't seem to be standard issue in many bathrooms.
The wet naps are good so you can wash your hands after buying food from the vendors on the street. Yum! (the food not the wet naps)
Due to the air pollution many of the Vietnamese wear face masks and/or bandanas around their nose and mouth when they are on or near the road. I would recommend bringing a multipurpose bandana from home if you have one.
Photo Equipment: I spent too much time researching camera equipment to cram it all into this small space...see my camera tips for more info
Film and AA batteries are readily available. Every time I saw film though it was out in the hot sun (far from ideal conditions) and I heard it was often past the expiration date
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Be sure to bring sandals with good traction and arch support, since you will be walking a lot while you're here (usually on uneven ground). The heat even in ?winter? is just too suffocating to stuff your feet in shoes. Chaco would be my number one sandal recommendation since they work well in the water (and rain) and are extremely adjustable. My other shoe recommendations would be Tevas and/or Birkenstocks. If you forget your sandals, they are readily available in Vietnam although they seemed to be mostly made of plastic and lack essential arch support and if you?re over a size 9 Forget about it.
Miscellaneous: On second thought, you may want to buy a pair on the infamous Ho Chi Mihn sandals for a souvenir. These are made out of old tires and are what the VC wore during the ?American War?. In many ways these shoes are a symbol of Vietnam overcoming oppressive governments (there words, not mine). I seriously doubt that these shoes are a comfortable sandal alternative since they all seemed to be curved up at the toes and at the heal?retaining the circular shape of the tire they once were.
Cropped pants are also nice for the local squat toilets since they are less likely to drag on the floor!
For rides on the buses you may want to bring a silk liner for the bunk. Don't bring one from home...the high quality ones are $6 here (just check to see if they are double stitched)
See my Clothing tip for more info on what to bring
Luggage and bags:
I travel light but at the end of my trips most of my clothes go out - or are donated to locals. I then buy clothes for home and my next trip. Whether you are after tailor made or ready to wear, knock-offs or the real thing you will find something for your tate in Vietnam.
HCMH, HoiAn and Hanoi are where the main markets are and where you can get your clothes made.
There are hundreds of stores selling bags and suitcases so buy a new one - just check out the quality. You do get whatt you paid for.......
Leather goods are pretty good too, purses, handbags, and you can have them made to your style.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: I loved HCMC for swim wear - lots of swimwear shops around the Ben Than market area.
HoiAn is great for tailor made and HaNoi is good for everything (though a bit more expensive).
Shoes are everywhere - take your pick. Made to measure sandals are great buys.
Photo Equipment: It's not easy to get electronic gear - you will need to do some research - not cheap either, though camera cards and batteries I found in HCMC were cheap and of good quality.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Lots of camping gear is available - tents, SILK sleeping sheets, which I love, packs etc. Just be aware of the quality. The label may look good but test the articles with a few pushes and pulls.
Miscellaneous: Enjoy the shopping experience but do your research first. Don't expect things to last if you have only paid a dollar or so. On the other hand I am still using things and wearing clothes from 3 years ago with little or not sign of wear.
Luggage and bags:
One small carry on bag is sufficient. Clothes are so cheap that you can buy them as needed.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Sandals are all one needs unless you go trekking in the mountains, the a pair of light weight hiking boots will do the job.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Nothing special as everything you need is sold in the shops.
Photo Equipment: Digital camera.
Miscellaneous: Pack diarrhea medicines. Sunglasses. Swim suit.
When Tracy and I travel, we tend to pack a bit differently to most people. For the months before we leave, we start putting aside old clothes that we will take away, wear and then throw or give to the people that clean our room usually. We feel we are doing our bit by recycling our stuff. About 3/4 of the clothes we take to a country stays there, making more room to buy new stuff. We dont like to do a lot of washing of clothes, while on holidays, so this packing method works well for us!!!
Also, we tend not to buy many clothes for ourselves while away in Asia, mainly due to the sizing! We are both not HUGE ladies, probably a size 12 or 14, however, in Asian sizing we are an XXL!!! We have been told many times that there is not clothes big enough to fit us! And so therefore our packing method works doubly well for us. We re-use, recycle and give away!
We travelled to Vietnam in April, and it was hot - especially in the south (Ho Chi Minh and the Delta). If I had my time over, I would have packed a pair of long shorts rather than just taking trousers.
Many of the locals get around in knee length shorts these days, so you won't look out of place wearing them.
That said, you can buy clothes, including shorts, easy enough at any one of the many markets you will find as you travel throughout Vietnam....
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Although we only had to use it once during our travels - my wife and daughters really appreciated us having a roll of toilet paper tucked into our day bag.....
Be sure to have a good set of maps with district tourist centers clearly marked and major routes designated. Your travel agent may be able to provide you with them or you might have to get them from a reputable seller like Barnes and Noble. Also get a good attraction guide so that you not only know where the sights are but have a little background information about them.
A translation pamphlet with common phrases and words is handy too. Mostly you just have to point to the word or sentence in your pamphlet and show one of the locals and they will understand. Pronunciation of VietNamese words is quite tricky.
Luggage and bags:
A backpack might be more useful than a suitcase, especially if you are checking several places out to find the cheapest hotel.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Clothes as needed, but you should definitely bring a warm high-collar pullover. Aircon can cause colds very quickly, and most tourist vehicles are airconned to a terrible temperature! When you go to North Vietnam in winter, make sure to bring more warm stuff and a raincoat. Hanoi's weather in January is mostly what the locals call "rain dust" - very thin rain the whole day with temperatures around 10°C. Good, firm shoes are essential for trekking (e.g. in Sapa or on Cat Ba Island), but also useful in the dusty streets of the cities.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bring an extra roll of toilet paper - in cheap hotels, you're likely to get the cheapest paper only. Mosquito repellent is useful, sunscreen absolutely necessary, especially when you plan a day at the beach.
Photo Equipment: In Hanoi and HCMC, photo equipment can be purchased easily. In other cities, you should bring everything you need yourselves.
Miscellaneous: Bringing snake wine into the U.S. is possible. I just brought snake wine into the country in January from Vietman through China. I claimed it as snake wine coming into the country and just asked for a Department of Agriculture employee when I went through customs. They looked at it, made sure it wasn't endangered, asked me why in the hell I would want to bring something like that home, and I was on my way. The key to the snake wine is strictly choosing the right species of snake. I brought home the cobra and this species is what most of the snakes wines are made with.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: After traveling to a few 3rd World Countries, I've found that even the simple remedies can be hard to find. I use a craft box that is sold to hold beads (WalMart). I take the individual bead containers and fill them with over the counter meds. Basics (Immodium (Chewables incase you can't handle a whole or want to be stopped up for 3 days), Asprin/Advil, Benydryl, Tylenol PM (Great for illness or sleep aid), cough strips, Motion Sickness med, Pepto pills (mild upsets). Any prescriptions I repackage but take the lable from the bottle and keep it in the box. It's worked for 10 countries and TSA hasn't commented since the over the counter items still have the name of the med ink on the pills and the prescriptions have the descriptions on the lables from the bottle. I always go for the pill or dissolvalbe strips for space savings and issues with TSA liquid problems.
Luggage and bags:
Travel light! Don't bring too much. Carrying luggage and bags through airports, train stations and heaving them onto buses and into taxis can be very tiring, especially when it's hot. If in need for extra bags and cases for your shoppings, they can be purchased in every city usually at a much lower cost than in your home country. Check the quality though. Some very cheap models barely survive the trip home, due to the rough treatment thru airport handling.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Some people tend to pack a full outfit for every possible weather condition and social occasion. No need to. Cotton underwear, depending on the length of your stay, 2 pairs of trousers, a long sleeved cotton shirt or blouse, maybe a short one for the first day. T-shirts, polos, shorts, caps, hats etc. can be purchased at very low costs at local markets (exception maybe XXL-sizes) Try before buying. Sometimes laundry service in hotels can be higher than the price paid for the clothes. Just leave them in the hotel: housekeeping personnel will be thankful for them.As for suits and business shirts, just have them tailored. I know that millions of people wear sandals, but on uneven sidewalks and due to hygienic reasons I prefer firm shoes or sneakers. For people returning to "cooler" countries during the winter season don't forget to pack some warm clothing.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Toiletries are available in every city, although it may be difficult to find adequate sun-blockers or tanning creams.
Medical supplies according to your personal needs (pack half of them in your hand luggage, in the event of your luggage getting lost)
If you are planning a longer stay in the countryside or the Mekong delta, a malaria prophylaxis is highly recommended. Check with your doctor at least a month before you leave, as the prophylaxis usually starts 2 weeks before and lasts about 4 weeks after your stay in Vietnam. Don't forget your international vaccination, allergy or any other health certificate.
Photo Equipment: For classic SLR cameras, films are available nearly everywhere in Vietnam. But beware!!! Many of them (sold by street vendors or on the beach) have been exposed to extreme climatic conditions. Expiration dates on boxes may be wrong too. Just to be on the safe side BYO (Bring your own)
Cell batteries may be difficult to obtain in certain places. As these little power suppliers always tend to let you down wrong time wrong place, bring a spare set along.
To avoid possible troubles at the customs on your return, it might be helpful to pack a copy of your camera purchase bill certifying the place of purchase, as well as your international warranty card.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Most gear can be obtained in Vietnam at lower costs than in your home country. Always check the quality.
For sophisticated gear such as diving computers etc. and to avoid handling problems, it's always best to bring what you're used to.
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