to take with you?
To prepare for your journey, begin with things that are
critical - those that couldn't be replaced in Vietnam if
they were left behind or lost. Passports, tickets and so
on are obvious, but damaging or losing a pair of spectacles
or orthopaedic shoes can ruin your holiday if you can't
manage without them - always carry spares.
Vietnam, the dress code is casual. Unless you want to dress
for dinner in the top-end hotels and upmarket restaurants,
there's no need to bring smart outfits and accessories.
When thinking about travelling to Vietnam, don't be misled
by cinema images of hot, steamy jungle. Although the country
is located entirely between the Equator and the tropic of
Cancer, the northern part of Vietnam has a subtropical climate
and can be decidedly chilly in the winter months. However,
there's no need to stock up with clothes for all seasons.
visitors bring too much luggage, and find that much of it
returns home unused. You can buy almost anything you're likely
to need in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, so taking lots of clothes
down your baggage
Prices are generally
cheap, but bear in mind that the price of imported goods
is nearly always higher than you would pay in your own country
- international brands at cheap prices are either fakes or
goods made locally under licence and often of lower quality.
Bringing your favourite clothes and buying cheap local garments
(and regarding them as disposable) is a good way to cut down
you forget something, it isn't a disaster because you should
be able to find a substitute locally. Good quality, ready
to wear clothes are easily obtainable, although larger sizes
are difficult to find. Exceptions are shoes (Vietnamese feet
are generally a lot smaller than those of people in the West),
brassieres and women's swimsuits (for similar reasons!).
There are few problems with mosquitoes in the towns and cities
of Vietnam, so there is no need to bring large quantities
of repellent. However, a couple of tubes would be advisable
if your itinerary involves trekking or travel in forested
areas. We advise those based on natural ingredients because
'deet' based preparations sometimes cause rashes and allergic
reactions in hot, humid conditions.
sun protection is important. Bring your own, as the ratings
of locally obtainable preparations are not reliable. If you
have sensitive skin, you should also bring an anti-inflammatory
lotion in case of allergic reactions in addition to high factor
lotion or sun block. The same applies to soaps and toiletries.
who use tampons should bring an adequate supply as they can
be difficult to locate in Vietnam, even in the cities. Sanitary
towels are freely obtainable.
essential item is a good sun hat - wide-brimmed to shade both
face and the nape of the neck. There are plenty to choose
from in Vietnam, but if your head size is much above average,
bring your own. Also, if you use sunglasses, bring your own
- local ones are either genuine and exorbitant, or cheap and
fake (good fakes can also be expensive!).
cameras and whatnot
The last few years have seen the the almost total disappearance
of conventional cameras and film in Vietnam. Few shops now
stock film, so if you're thinking of bringing an old style
camera, bring film and batteries as well.
digital cameras and camcorders, there's no need to stock up
with films for conventional cameras. Unless your camera is
particularly unusual, all the necessary batteries and other
equipment are available at reasonable prices. If something
goes wrong, and you're not worried about invalidating your
warranty, camera shops can usually sort out most problems
Avoid handbags and camera bags with shoulder straps, if possible
- they're easy to snatch in places where petty crime is common,
such as the tourist areas in Ho Chi Minh City (if you're not
a hardened traveller, read the 'Safety
and Security' page).
your way around
Of course, you'll probably want a good guide book. Most of
the well-known publications have sections about practical
details as well as travel information. However, don't be surprised
if the reality is sometimes different from what the book describes.
Even a new edition is already a year out of date, and much
of it will be copied from the previous issue. If you're thinking
about travelling to Vietnam and want up-to-the-minute information
about the country and its people, e-mail us. We don't charge
for advice or information!
You'll find more advice about what to bring and what to wear
on these links. If you need advice about a particular item,
customs regulations, or whatever, we're only an e-mail away.
is for links to suitable outlets