Vietnam: Trip Preparation & Destination Information

About Vietnam


Forty-five million motorbikes are in harmony with the sights and sounds of the colorful cities. The beauty and culture are unchanged from a time in history that society will remember with sadness. Vietnam is not for the faint of heart but whether it’s from the sounds and smells of its cities, the serenity of the sea or the beauty of its surrounding countryside, Vietnam will touch you. With the ever-present calmness, perhaps you too will find a balance.


Capital City: Hanoi

Population: 98.51 (2021 est.)

Currency: Vietnamese Dong

Time Zone: Indochina (GMT+7)

Emergency Number: 113

Vietnam Lantern

Packing List

Speak the Language

Language: Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam. The majority of the population speaks this language.


  • Hello - xin chào
  • Goodbye - Tạm biệt
  • Thank you - cảm ơn bạn
  • Do you speak English? - Bạn có nói tiếng Anh không?
  • I (don’t) understand - Tôi (don lồng) hiểu
  • How are you? - Bạn khỏe không?
  • I’m fine, thank you - Tôi khỏe, cám ơn
  • What’s your name? - Bạn tên là gì?
  • My name is… - Tên tôi là…
  • Where is...- Ở đâu phòng tắm


Google Translate: Download the Google Translate app or click here 




Fun Facts

  • The national dish of Vietnam is Pho, but the exact origin isn’t exactly clear. It is theorized that the word ‘Pho’ is derived from the French countryside soup/stew dish ‘Pot au Feu’ which slow cooks beef, an animal that was primarily used as a beast of burden prior to the late 1800s.
  • Another argument in the Pho debate is that the word ‘Pho’ derives from Cantonese ‘Phan,’ a flat rice noodle. Perhaps ‘Pot au Feu,’ the soupy part, mixed with ‘Phan,’ the noodle, created ‘Pho?’ Either way, despite regional differences there are 2 base broths: Pho Bo (beef) and Pho Ga (Chicken).
  • There are over 45 million registered motorbikes in Vietnam, nearly half of the population. Cars are taxed between 150% - 250%, add a high registration fee, not to mention a subpar public transportation infrastructure, hot sticky summers unideal for walking, and you have 45 million bikes on the road!
  • What’s in the flag? Designed in 1940, the yellow star in Vietnam’s flag represents its society balanced in 5 points: intellectuals, farmers, workers, business people, and the military.
  • As a communist state, Vietnam is officially an Atheist country, however, many Vietnamese are religious with the majority religions being Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Although up to 85% of the population visits Buddhist pagodas, many practice the philosophy of Tam Giao; ‘The Practice of 3’ or the balance of all 3 teachings.
  • Speaking of balance, even in culture and cuisine, we can see this yin and yang. Remember the Pho? Pho is meant to not only balance sweet, savory, and spice, but also temperature. You might notice various cold and fresh vegetables served as an accouterment to balance your hot soup.
  • Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon? Perhaps this is not the space to discuss the complicated wars between North & South, East vs. West, communism vs. democracy, but it is worth noting that Ho Chi Minh is the national hero and Saigon was renamed after him. Also good to know is that there are no longer any political or social implications between calling the city Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) or Saigon.
  • The cultural and actual capital of Vietnam is Hanoi but the economic capital is the aforementioned Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)/Saigon.
  • The surname Ngyuen (pronounced ‘win’) is the most popular surname in Vietnam and accounts for more than 40% of the population.


Tipping Suggestions: Tips for Guides, drivers and restaurants are not included. Tips provide supplemental income, and, while not mandatory, are greatly appreciated. If the local teams have added to the experience, please reward them.

Guides USD $3-5 per person/per day
Drivers USD $2-3 per person/per day
Restaurants (full service) USD %10 of total bill



Where can I find information on travel safety? Check out the US Department of State's website for the most up-to-date information on safety while traveling 


Is the water safe to drink? Tap water should be avoided by travelers. You should also avoid brushing your teeth with tap water when possible. For drinking water, make sure to drink treated water which can be found at all lodging accommodations.


Do I need a Visa? For Visa information, click here. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after you return home and has two or more blank pages. Otherwise, some countries may not let you enter.


What about vaccines? For vaccination information, click here.


Do you recommend travel insurance? While not required, we highly recommend all travelers get travel insurance for their trip to protect themselves from the unknown! Check out travel insurance options from our partner, or from a provider of your choice.


How much should I pack? As we will be using shared transfers and spaces throughout our tour we recommend all travelers pack as lightly as possible. Please review our luggage restrictions below.


What does public transportation look like? Buses are the main mode of transportation for people in cities but taxis and motorbike taxis are readily available.


Is Uber or Lyft available? The major rideshare app in South East Asia is Grab.

Luggage Restrictions

Luggage Restrictions purple
Luggage restrictions purple – mobile – 1

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