This content is also available in: Vietnamese

As with any exciting new adventure, an adequate amount of research about the new country’s culture and ways of life will prove extremely useful. The truth is that many of us don’t have the luxury of free time to do that, or to do enough of it. This travel tip column will be your travel concierge, bringing you the latest Dos and Don’ts. If you are heading to Vietnam or planning to visit soon, here are some practical tips you should know to be sure you will have a great time without running into any mishaps.

SPENDING BUDGET

Accommodations can be a bit steep in Vietnam when compared to other Asian countries, so expect to spend about $30-$50 for a relatively decent budget hotel. An average street food meal including a drink comes to about $5, depending on where you dine. Informal restaurant dining will cost around $20 per meal. Avoid eating Western foods in Vietnam for these foods will be much more expensive.

TIPPING

Most services don’t expect tips except massage or beauty parlors, in which case, a 20% tip or more is always expected. Also, it’s nice to let the taxi driver keep the change. Hotel maids will also greatly appreciate a $1 per day tip.

TAXI

Taxi is probably the safest way (but not the cheapest) to get around the cities. Choose reputable companies like Mai Linh or Vinasun. A 10-15 minute trip costs around $3 but with traffic, may be much more. So, avoid taking the taxi during rush hours. Make sure the meter is turned on before the trip or catch another one instead. Use Uber farefinder to estimate the cost of your taxi trip in advance. Learn the local bus routes (though the bus system in Vietnam is not as extensive yet). Whatever you do, don’t attempt to ride a bike while in Vietnam (unless you are in the peaceful town of Hoi An).

PACKING

Though Vietnam is famous for being a hot tropical country, the evenings are chilly; so, remember to pack your sweaters and Fall jackets. A travel-sized umbrella will come in handy because it rains unexpectedly often. A hat, insect repellent spray, and sunblock are must-have items. Don’t bring brand-name or expensive clothing and jewelry with you.

BE BOLD

If you are white, you stick out like sore thumb in Vietnam but being white also means Vietnamese are less likely to engage in conflicts with you. Be bold and be smart. If you like the nightlife, explore within the city center locations instead of going far out into smaller districts. When crossing the street, be careful but don’t be a chicken; traffic will miraculously envelop you and you will be able to cross the road without an injury.