First before anything you need a letter of approval if you’re coming from the USA, can take a couple weeks to get processed unless you find a good website or pay extra you can have it within minutes for maybe 50$, can have it in 8hours for 40$, but normal processes is 20$
Some visas you might have a hard time with if you are crossing by land. I was told I couldn’t get my 3 month working visa unless I flew in…. stilll not sure about that, but have heard others say weird things about having to fly in as well.
And in that case give yourself a lot. And I mean a lot of time if you have a connecting domestic flight or bus or any schedule after landing in Vietnam.
The process to give them your letter of approval along with your visa application is one step, and that can easily take an hour, depending on how full the room is. And then once you give them all this plus your passport, they will take it all and ask you to sit down until your name is called. This can take another hour easily.
AND THEN you can go through immigration to get your passport stamped ! Lol
So that’s a good 3 hours, and can be worse if your in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh.
Hanoi there are two public buses #7 and 17 cost 5vnd to get you into town. 5am-10pm
Ban mi sandwich (Pork sandwiches) 10k-20k-30k vnd
Pho (noodle soup) 20k-30k vnd
Oh yeah the coffee ☕
Vietnamese coffee is (my opinion) the strongest brewed in the world. It is not for drinking it is for sipping with large amounts of condensed milk. (10-25kvnd)
If you can order the egg coffee (25-35k vnd) is Vietnamese specialty, something like fresh merengue on top of coffee
Ugh. And yes there are dog and cat restaurants throughout Vietnam.
It’s more of a poor mans dish from what I can tell, but don’t go thinking that all Vietnamese love eating dogs and cats ! Some are just as weirded out by it as we are!
If you ask around about it many people must keep their dogs locked up, because of dog and cat kidnappers. Families on the street commonly raise puppies to sell them when they are big enough…
Yeah not the widest selection of food in Vietnam. And not the most recomendable place for vegetarians…. I’m personally to a big fan of how they flavor tofu, and the pork sausage looks quite similar to tofu here as well.
Funky jungle hostel was my choice super cheap and amazing choices of breakfast, good location as well !
2-5$ a night in most hostels avg 3$ (most places I stayed in Vietnam came with very impressive breakfasts as well)
If you book your bus with your hostel, ask about getting one free night in their sister hostel in the town you go to next.
I always got bus with full moon party hostel,
Along with my comfortable and cheap bus ticket, was included one free night accommodation. (Some places were nice hotels with fancy lounges and optional buffet breakfast. While others were.. giant rooms with 30 beds and a bathroom
Outside of Hanoi
Foreigners are always welcome no matter where you end up in this country. Which makes it such a great country to drive a scooter through. It would not be uncommon to be invited inside for a meal or even a place to stay (especially if you get rained out).
Hanoi traffic is real.
It’s chaotic, with no rules once-so-ever. Some streets are large and some just alleyways, but all take courage to cross!
You will become a professional daredevil crossing the streets of Hanoi.
And a certified madman if you ever try to to ride a motorbike through the center !
Certain times a day are much worse, and it’s common to find locals getting drunk till midnight waiting for traffic to lessen.
Outside of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh
In slower smaller towns/cities laws are much more strict. Police don’t get bribed if your heading anywhere off the tourist trail. Most Vietnamese citizens are very law abiding. Drive safe and wear a helmet. Even get licensed (but most police don’t give foreigners a hard time because of communication and respect)
If you ever have any problems on the road…
most everyone knows how to fix or at least get you to a place to help you fix your motorbike, or help you find directions. Vietnamese people are very thoughtful and rarely pass anyone who may look like they need help. It’s always exciting to speak to foreigners and possibly learn or practice a word or so of English as well.
Drivers don’t look both ways.
It’s true that anywhere in Asia they just aren’t taught to look both ways….
it’s just not a thing, they can react quickly and if they aren’t going with the flow, they are squeezing ahead of traffic through every imaginable crack. Overall do everyone a favor, and drive carefully. Drivers, dogs, and kids commonly pop out of nowhere running and not looking at what’s coming around the corner.
Extra driving tips
Do use your horn, it’s just a way of communicating here. It is loud and you’ll never get used to it in the cities especially but never take your finger off that horn man! use it every corner and intersection, and every time you pass someone etc.. It’s very common that people don’t drive on the correct side of the road out of convenience.
Do wear a helmet and only use your lights at night, otherwise you are likely to get pulled over quickly. You may pay a very legal fine, or you may pay a policemans salary.
Beware of any sandy patches on the road, even going straight motorbikes have a chance of loosing control no matter how cautiously you pass them.
Water puppet show
Free walking tours
Temples here are worth checking out!
Center morning and night and weekend markets
Hoan Kiem Lake (center of Hanoi) also known as turtle lake
20k dong to see Ngoc Son Temple on the small island in the center of the lake, great to get there early morning and see people doing yoga and meditating before it gets too crowded with tourist. Ask around about the legend of the giant turtle that used to live in the lake!
Hulu Tiep Lake in residencial neighborhood. B-52 bomber wreckage, trophy of war, shot down dec 1972
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (his final resting place) very important part of history
You can also visit the Ho Chi Minh museum and his home. With much information about his work, philosophy and timeline along the Ho Chi Minh trail.
Hanoi west lake
-Sugarcane roll or coconut ice cream sandwich on the stairs watching sunset on the larger lake
Eat food! See something that looks different! Eat it!
Hoa Lo Prison museum (highly recommend) aka “Hanoi Hilton”
Free police museum, how the Vietnamese police put the people first
Free women’s museum, roles and contributions women have made in politics, culture, society
Army museum… maybe if that’s your thang
St. Joseph’s cathedral, fucking beautiful
Lang Toi- my village at the Hanoi opera house “60 minute journey to Vietnamese culture”
Hanoi Night life
Whatever happens don’t miss going out at night in Hanoi, it’s a totally different version of the city once the sun comes down.
5k draft beers and happy gas balloons galore
Bird cage rave style club
…..side note didn’t really see myself worrying too much about police officers in this whole country, and Hanoi is a place I get the vibe anything goes… but hey always best to be careful….but don’t hold back from having a good time in this city
My favorite style of going out in Hanoi (being i don’t like to drink too much) is to go to The center, just walk around and I sware you will find entertainment!
Very common to run into large crowds of both young and older generations dancing to any and every type of music that can be danced to.
groups playing with hacky sacks, or bottles
jump rope groups
And more professional street performers from light shows to puppet shows.
Magic shows and clowns, etc.
Hanoi is a crazy place, certain surprises await us all in this insane city that makes Bangkok seem like beginner shit.