Luggage and bags:
During my stay on Saigon, I took up the most day trip & overnight trips. If I’m not checking into hotels in those days away for trips, I normally deposit my luggage with the hotel which I intend to stay after the day trip.
I am glad to have one of this PacSafe where i can rest assure my luggage will be alright.
Miscellaneous: Land, sea or air, you're wired for travel. No more sleepless train or bus rides, Pacsafe guards your gear for times when you just have to . . . go. The Backpacker series has been specially designed for easy harness access when you are on the move, or complete protection for safe air travel.
Tagline extracted from pacsafe.com
Luggage and bags:
I just recently retired my old Karrimor backpack. This is a new Karrimor Global 50-70liters.
It come with a removable day sack which is very useful for camera storage, guide books & etc.
I didn't mean to say that only expensive backpack fit for long travel, but you definitely don't want your inner secrets pouring out at airport checking points because the zipper give way.
Miscellaneous: The Karrimor Global, is one of the 'world traveler' rucksacks with so many features i may need extra columns to write about it.
The Karrimor Global is aimed at serious travelers, capable of conversion from a suitcase to a proper rucksack. The Global can cope with airlines and trekking porters all in one go.
The Karrimor Global also comes with the Karrimor Gold Star guarantee which puts in the true 'lifetime' category. The carrying system is hidden behind a zipped panel which rolls away into a small storage pocket to reveal the SA Super Cool back system, within a few seconds your suitcase becomes a rucksack.
1. Rain Coat
A rain coat is advisable during the monsoon season. The very thin plastic type disposable rain coat is sold everywhere in HCMC. During my trip to Mekong tour, bought 1 piece (cost less than 1 USD) to cover my fiancee's camera.
The sun may be too hot for you. Good to have one if you plan to be on foot going around the city. Otherwise you can opt for Vietnamese raw hat. Dont forget your sun glass to go with it!
You need this to bargain when you go for shopping. Its easier rather than saying/arguing out loud for the price you want. It will also help u in converting the Viet Dong quoted to your home currency so that u can know whether the price is reasonable or not.
Luggage and bags:
When traveling and am out and about in a city I always carry the following necessary items.
A small backpack that has my necessities and camera gear out of sight..
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: As you will be doing a lot of walking around make sure that you have a good pair of walking shoes or boots
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: MOST IMPORTANT..Always carry AND USE an effective Mosquito and Insect repellant when travelling in the tropics as Malaria and Dengue fever are prevelant.
A small tube of sunscreen
A small tube of Moisturiser
A tube lip Balm
A packet of wet ones (always good when its hot)
a small packet of tissues..(in case the roll is empty)
Photo Equipment: I make a point of charging my digital camera batteries at night for the next day out.
I always carry my digital battery charger with an international power adaptor
A spare memory card
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: I always carry a small poncho in case of tropical rain (which is anytime) this also covers me and my small backpack.
NEVER be without a small torch..preferably a self charging type..without batteries
Take as little as possible. Just buy what you need or have your hings laundered. There really wasn't a need for anything "dressy."
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Don’t worry about getting medicine if you become sick while you’re in Vietnam. I took along Cipro with me in case I ate something that didn’t agree. Not only did I have no problem with the food/water I found I could get what I needed at the local pharmacy far cheaper than what I pay in the U.S.
I managed to come down with a fever/cough/sore throat while I was in Vietnam. I stopped by a pharmacy and had no trouble conveying to the woman behind the counter what my symptoms were despite the language barrier. She offered me a selection of medications for my problem and let me read the English inserts that came with the medications to be sure I was getting the right thing. I bought just the amount I needed and the price was only a few dollars.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: I took along a gel neck pack to help me stay cool and it was a great help! They work better in dry enviroments where there is more evaporation but it still helped so much! You should be able to find them a at good outdoors/hiking store.
Just pack light (cotton T-shirts, bermudas, etc). The weather was hot and humid (although we were there in June, which was supposedly the monsoon and rainy season, the weather was HOT, averaging 34 deg Celsius per day). For footwear, bring something comfortable. I always wear my old, battered Birkenstock sandals when travelling (they've accompanied me to places like Bali, Hong Kong, US, Beijing, etc).
You should also bring some raincoats or disposable ponchos, you might be caught in a sudden downpour.
Miscellaneous: I think all seasoned travellers should know that it is best to leave your valuables (jewellery, branded bags, etc) at home. We were especially careful with our cameras and money, after reading the tips from other travellers. Lucky for us, we did not have any unfortunate encounter with pickpockets and snatch thieves...but my friend did lose a wallet to a pickpocket (in Hanoi).
For the airport departure tax, prepare USD12 per person.
US Dollar are widely acceptable in Vietnam. Bankers will give better exchange rate on bigger note ($50 & $100).
If you happen to run out of VND for small purchase, small dollar note will be assumed as VND15.000 per dollar.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies:
Take enough sun lotion with you for your whole trip. It was the one thing that we didn't take with us, assuming it would be on sale everywhere - how wrong we were! A few places sell miniture bottles of factor 30 Nivea suncream, otherwise you will be left to burn. Also take aftersun lotion or moisturiser if yoou are trying to get a tan - all the moisturiser we saw on sale was skin whitening - not so helpful for us!
Also take some strong deet with you as we didn't see much available.
Vietnamese Dong is the currency of the country and is the means of payment for some supermarket and some local businesses. The US dollars serves as an alternate currency for most small local businesses thriving on tourist trade.
Dongs are in thousands and millions with (.) as the separator.
200.000 would be translated to two hundred thousand dong.
Seems to be following the European Euro format.
Luggage and bags: Perhaps this is what you should pack before you leave Saigon. Just around the tourist area, there are 4 or 5 shops mainly selling immitation paintings of famous painters like, Van Gogh, Monet, Dali, Picasso and etc. What they do is, hiring a local cheap painter and let him copy whatever he can and sell it as a piece painting but hey! That's their culture anyway. So pack it with you.
Luggage and bags:
Small body bag that contains your wallet and passport/copy of passport.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Comfy slip-ons, crocs, that are non-slip. Brick pavements are great for walking around but sometimes they are crooked/bent and therefore needs extra caution when navigating thru. Summer clothes a must because temps can go as high as 33 degrees.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bring your stash of Betadine, band-aid, Bactroban oinment (anti-bacterial), Diatabs, Kremil-S/Tums, Advil, Calpol, Plasil in a Ziploc bag. We toured several hospitals as part of our Relocation Preview trip and found even the pharmacies of hospitals are lacking basic anti-bacterial antibiotics. You'll see that most street drugstores are ill-stocked.
A local K (their equivalent of 7-11) does not carry sanitary napkins. I was shown a panty liner when I asked for napkins. I found one in the nearby grocery at VND8000 for 3 pieces or PHP23.
Photo Equipment: Lots of SD, CF cards but beware of fake ones. The small 5inch tall tripod cost PHP500 here as against PHP150 in Bangkok or Manila.
Luggage and bags:
Don't waste space bringing lots of clothes, basic toiletries or medicines.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: In Saigon, sunglasses, summer clothes and winter jackets (made for export) are sold cheaply at the Old Saigon Square, corner of Le Loi & Nam Ky Khoi Nghia. Bring a pair of sandals/flip flops and walking shoes. Bring a hat. If you don't want to wear a cheap rain poncho (sold all over VN), bring a very light rain jacket. If you're going to be in Danang or anywhere north of Danang between November and March, bring a jacket, sweater and scarf. Yes - it gets cold and is very damp!
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Tampons are hard to find & expensive. Bring some. Sunscreen is pricey here too, but available in pharmacies and Citimarts in SGN & Hanoi. Bring swim nappies if your toddler needs them. Medicines are sold without prescription at pharmacies all over VN. Check the expiry dates!
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: A shop selling tents, air beds & camping gear has just opened in the Crescent Mall, Phu My Hung, D.7.
Miscellaneous: Photocopied novels/guidebooks about VN are sold in the backpacker areas but most of these are old. Most VN novels focus on the war and are depressing. Published in 2011, Hanoi Jane by Elka Ray is an entertaining and funny novel about a young American woman's misadventures in Hanoi. It has lots of great details about what it's like to be a foreigner living/traveling in VN. Communion: A Culinary Journey by Kim Fay, also published in 2011, provides fascinating insight into Vietnam's food, culture and cities. You can find them on amazon.com
Hanoi Jane - http://www.amazon.com/Hanoi-Jane-Elka-Ray/dp/9814328162
Communion: A Culinary Journey through Vietnam - http://www.amazon.com/Communion-Culinary-Journey-Through-Vietnam/dp/193415914X
Elka Ray also has a fun blog about Vietnam at http://elkaray.com/?cat=13 & Kim Fay has a site at http://www.kimfay.net/
the best way to enjoy walking and hiking around Saigon and the Mekong Delta is to really have powerful compact ultra zoom cameras like the Nikon cool Pix 810 which has a 42X optical zoom or a Canon Powershot SX 40 with a 35X Optical zoom (Best for taking pictures at the Saigon Sky Deck) plus having an extra camera that is water proof and drop proof like an Olypus Tough 810 Series of a Panasonic Lumix Series and you better have 32 gigabyte SD and/ or Mini SD cards ready or the current 64 Gigabyte SD Cards if you are prolific at shooting pictures and videos like me hehehe plus bring extra SD or Mini SD cards at with waterproof covers and extra camera batteries as you would never know when you would run out of juice or memory space.
I don't use a Digital SLR because they are bulky and you cannot do any ultra zooming of places for the videos and pictures and you need to change the lens to be able to get an ultra zoom shot and the ultra zoom lens of DSLR's are very heavy!
If you are going to do a cross country trip in Vietnam utilizing the different modes of transportation available, I suggest that you pack a silk sleeping bag liner with you. It is a practical thing to have specially if you are going on an overnight trip via Camel Bus or train. :) It will keep a barrier between you and the scratchy wool blanket they provide on those rides.
You can buy silk sleeping bag liner online or get one when you land in VN.
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