Q. Can I use a credit card to get cash in Vietnam?
A. Yes, but it gets more difficult the further you are from the cities. Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other centres have ATMs that accept the main cards, but only dispense local currency. Be warned that all credit card transactions in Vietnam are subject to a 3% surcharge (3.9% for Amex).
Q. Can I pay by credit card in Vietnam?
A. Yes, but only in a few places. In cities, large hotels, international restaurants and some souvenir shops take Visa or MasterCard, but it is not wise to rely upon it as a method of payment.
Q. What about travellers' cheques?
A. Travellers' cheques and cash in any international currency can be changed at all major banks. Some hotels will accept travellers' cheques.
Q. What are the levels of commission for changing money in Vietnam?
A. All credit card transactions in Vietnam are subject to a surcharge. Charges for other transactions vary: we will supply full details on request. There is no commission on exchanging ‘hard' currency.
Q. Where can I change my currency for local currency?
A. At the airport, in banks, or in shops licensed to sell gold - exchange rates are very similar. Steer clear of street moneychangers - the exchange rate will be no better, and being given forged notes is a risk.
Q. What if I have a lot of local currency left over when I leave?
A. You can change local currency back to the currency you entered with by showing the yellow customs slip that you were given on arrival. The amount you take out must be less than the original amount you brought in.
Q. What is the main difference in the climate of Vietnam and that of my country?
A. Vietnam is both hot and humid. Combined, they make visitors from temperate countries sweat profusely. Drinking plenty of water and good sun protection is essential. Winter in Hanoi (January to March) and the rest of the northern area can be be cold. The chilling effect is made worse by a damp, clammy atmosphere.
Q. What can I do about jet lag?
A. Not much, really. A stop-over en-route, or a rest day on arrival helps. It's important to try to sleep and wake according to local time, even on the aeroplane.
Q. What will happen if there is an emergency?
A. With Haivenu, your guide will always have a mobile ‘phone and a means of summoning immediate assistance. You will also have direct telephone access to Haivenu Head office.
Q. How will medical emergencies be dealt with?
A. You will be taken to the nearest international clinic or hospital for an immediate examination and appropriate treatment according to the terms of your insurance.
Q. What if I am hospitalised or become incapacitated?
A. If you have supplied us with the details of your insurance, we will contact the company on your behalf and assist in any way we can.
Q. What should we do about malaria?
A. We are not medical experts, so we cannot advise you. However, if you wish, we will ask a trustworthy local international medical practice to provide an up-to-date report and recommendations.
Q. Can I travel freely in Vietnam?
A. Up to a point. A few areas are closed for security reasons, and others require a permit. If you travel with Haivenu, we will complete all necessary paperwork and permission procedures on your behalf.
Q. Can I ride a motorbike in Vietnam?
A. Officially, not without a Vietnamese license. An international licence is not acceptable as a substitute. The police generally turn a blind eye to foreigners, but not always!
Q. Can I hire a motorbike?
A. Yes, easily. However, few come with official papers, which can result in an on-the-spot fine. As they are not insured, you will be liable to pay for any damage or theft.
Q. Is it safe to ride a motorcycle in Vietnam?
A. The short answer is no! 80% of the 20,000 or so serious traffic accidents per year in Vietnam are caused by, or involve, motorcyclists. Roads are bad, and regulations are often ignored.
Q. Can I get a license to drive in Vietnam?
A. Not easily. An international driving licence can be converted, but the document must be translated and notarised, a protracted procedure.
Q. Can I drive a car in Vietnam?
A. With a Vietnamese licence, or a converted international licence, yes. However, there are no car rental agencies. Advertisements for car rental mean a car and a driver.
Food and Drink
Q. I am restricted to a special diet. How will I cope in Vietnam?
A. If travel with Haivenu, and give us details of your diet, we will instruct all the hotels and restaurants in the itinerary to provide the correct food. Your guide will also be fully briefed.
Q. I am a vegetarian. What are the options for me?
A. Despite being a Buddhist country, Vietnam is short of vegetarian restaurants. However, there are a few in the larger cities, and it's quite easy to find good vegetable meals. The fruit is excellent!
Q. Can I make changes to my itinerary after I arrive?
A. Yes, as long as it's possible. We will give you a quotation and issue a receipt or refund as appropriate. We consider minor changes involving minimal or no costs as part of the service and make no charge in such circumstances.
Q. Are there any restrictions on photography in Vietnam?
A. Yes. Photography in or near military installations, airports or similar locations is prohibited. Anyone caught doing taking photographs in restricted areas will have the film, and possibly the camera or camcorder, confiscated, and may be arrested.
Q. Can I buy antiques in Vietnam?
A. A qualified yes, providing it is less than a hundred years old. However, exporting an artefact that was made within the last century is not straightforward. There are experts on hand at the airport to verify the age of antiques, but the quality of fakes is very high, so anything that looks old is liable to be confiscated.
Q. How can I take large items home with me – furniture or paintings, for example?
A. We are also registered for export and import activities. We will give you an ‘at cost' quotation, and arrange for the items to be properly crated, licensed for export, and shipped or flown to your home address.
Q. Are there Internet facilities in Vietnam?
A. Yes, there are plenty in cities and large towns, but not in rural areas. Most large hotels have internet access, and Internet cafes are commonplace and cheap.
Q. The artist you took me to was wonderful. I want to give him a present. Any ideas?
A. This is a common query. If you want to show your appreciation to someone in the form of a gift, we will try to suggest something appropriate, and even purchase and deliver it on your behalf, if necessary.
Q. I am from the United States. Will I face any hostility because of the war?
A. You will be surprised by the warmth of your reception. We Vietnamese live in the present and look forward to the future – the war is history. We warmly welcome people from all countries and races.
Q. What is the attitude towards drugs in Vietnam?
A. The law is strict in Vietnam. The use of illegal narcotics is strictly forbidden under any circumstances. Dealers and people caught trafficking, whether Vietnamese or foreigner, face execution. Don't be tempted to risk it!