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Travel Tips

Many have asked for travel tips and I will put them here as I think of them, and as others ask specific questions.

So, ask questions, point out spelling errors or things that need clarification and I will do my best to keep up.

I made these tips 15 years ago and they are way out of date. I will get to updating them as soon as I can



 

Some must sees and must dos

There are so many must sees but these are just a few. Some are obvious and others are not.

DaNang
My Khe Beach, which was called China Beach during the war is miles of beautiful white sand and crystal clear water. We went out 400 feet and the water was about 6 feet deep. We often swam out in the pre-dawn darkness and waited to see the sunrise. Just be aware that fishermen will drag nets at this time and if a rope rubs against you just push it down, swim over and don't panic.

Dalat


Visit Crazy House. It is a hotel, a museum and a piece of artwork. It is still under construction but rooms are available to rent. It is being designed, constructed, engineered, and operated by, who else, the Crazy Lady, as she is known locally. I think she is ok with that. She is an architect, designer, builder, artist and I think a romantic.

Saigon


The Water Puppets at the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater. It is a treat for children and adults alike. The theater is in the old Circle Sportif at 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Buy tickets early in the day and get a good seat. When you go early in the day you can wallk around and see where the wealthy of French Indochine went to see and be seen. This is where the officers gathered during the American War.

The Tourist Season


I have just found something new. In the past I have always traveled in Vietnam out of the Tourist Season. The tourist season is July August and September. In Vietnam the Tourist season is when Most Europeans and Americans go on vacation. And when School is out in Vietnam. This creates a problem too many people. Hotel prices are up as are Airline fares. Our tickets were up 50%. Planes, Trains and even buses are booked several days in advance. Then there is the weather. It is hotter during this time of year and it is the height of the rainy season. If you can go out side of this time you will probably be happier.

Tours To Vietnam


I travel alone, without a tour group. I like to go where events lead.

I have pen pals whom I have found on line through www.asiafriendfinder.com or www.matchdoctor.com Many of those there are looking for marriage. Since I do not wish to mislead them, in my first letter I explain that I am married and looking for a pen pal relationship to correspond about Vietnam. I mention that I hope to visit one day.

The only group I know about is a group that a friend has gone with. They are Vets With A Mission. They take tours and do humanitarian work. Their website is www.vwam.com

Passport


A passport is necessary and, for US citizens, it comes from the United States Department of State. In Bucks County Pennsylvaia we can apply through our Bucks County Courthouse. Passport information is availabel from the US State Department and Passports are now available through most Post Offices.

Visa


A visa is necessary from the government of Vietnam. Get it early and check the dates as soon as you get it. On my first trip I did not and ended up in Hong Kong with an expired visa and was told I could not fly on to Vietnam. I had to go into Hong Kong, to the Cousulate of Vietnam and pay an inflated price for the visa to have it expidited and get it the same day. Information can be found at the Embassy in Washington DC, www.vietnamembassy-usa.org

Immunization


I used to get immunization from a clinic for communicable diseases however I have not had any for many years I think I stopped the year the Avian flu was going around and I asked if there was something for that and the immunologist said there was something but it is only the flu.

Tours Within Vietnam


There are several agencies I have used to tour within Vietnam. My favorite is Saigon Tourist and Phuong Trang who also own a bus company which we use. These days most of the buses are sleeper buses especially for longer trips. They are very uncomfortable but I have found that if you book early you can get one of the 6 front row seats and they are much better. Your feet do not go under the person ahead and therefore you get more room. Also the front seats are less claustrophobic.

A group that I have used several times is "Easy Rider Vietnam" these guys can take you on a tour for an afternoon or a week or more. They are very reliable, knowledgeable and fluent in English.

Tickets


We have purchased our tickets in the Vietnamese community in Philadelphia. The prices there are the best and they take care of my 3 month Visa for me. This year the ticket was less than $800 and the visa $100.

Saigon Travel
612 - 32 Washington Ave
Philadelphia PA 19147

215-952-8741

On our 2003 trip we purchased tickets through...

P. G. TRAVEL
150 N 10th Street
Philadelphia PA 19107
Tel 215 625 9232
Fax 215 625 8951

Manners - Important


Most Vietnamese will not correct you if you do not understand their customs. Still you will make them happy to know the customs.

Touching between men and women is not appropriate. Young people are going against this and you will see it to some extent. If a woman offers her hand to shake it is ok to shake hands. Hugging is out, and touching a hand or arm is not polite. On the other hand, men touch men and women touch women. I was walking down Le Loi and a man asked if he could walk with me and practice his English. After 3 blocks we came to a busy intersection and he took my hand to cross the street.

Shorts are not proper. Many temples and Pagodas will have a sign saying No Shorts allowed. Some people will be offended, most will accept you do not know their customs.

Tea, when offered, should always be accepted, even if you take a sip and let it sit, it should be accepted with a polite thank you. It is a hospitality thing.

Things to take

Business Card

On my first trip I did not have a card and found I had to rely on scraps of paper which were not always available. Now I have a Business Card with my name, mailing address, Email address and web site. It is a great way to keep in touch with people you meet.

Snorkel and goggles

If you are going where there is water, like China Beach or Hoi An Goggles are great. We saw a few small jelly fish each with a small colorful fish swimming next to it. They are great for finding shells and we were able to look up at the boats anchored offshore. Goggles were hard to find in most places and they were not very good quality.


Things to do while you are there

Now that I am digital I got a Phanfare account. Each day I download my camera to my laptop and them download it to my Phanfare so even if I loose my camera and laptop I still have my photos.





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