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Vietnam travel, tour and general info to help make your holiday even better.
 

General Information

 
Vietnam is one of the last countries in the world that hasn't been the stomping ground of tourists.  For that reason many people are making Vietnam their destination of choice.  The magnificent coastline of Vietnam is 3260 Km's long- beaches, bays & islands abound.  The jungles still have tigers, bears, panthers, elephants and even rhinoceros.  The people of Vietnam are very friendly, helpful and always keen to have a chat.  Vietnam is one of the few Asian countries that has not been a stomping ground for millions of tourists.
 

Weather

 

Vietnam has some truly remarkable weather patterns. 

In the north, regardless of what you may have read in 1 of the guide books in particular, there are 4 distinct seasons.  In the mountains up on the Chinese border it even snows sometimes.  In the south it's the typical 2 season, tropical climate with both wet and dry

CNN have a good weather forecast page as do the BBC & you can do a search for anywhere in Viet Nam that you would like a forecast for & it's a good idea especially with so much silly advice about monsoons, typhoons and the like in Viet Nam.

 

Local Currency - VND

 
The currency in Vietnam really is the "Dong" & yes we've heard all the 1 liners about it we ever want to hear !                      

Currently the VND is worth approximately;

$1.00 USD   =  21,000 VND (Approx)

$1.00 AUD   =  15,000 VND (Approx)  

What's your currency worth in Vietnam ?

Try XE.com Personal Currency Assistant

It's a great web tool, it's accurate & easy to use.

 

Foreign Exchange

 
The (State) Vietcom bank is the main bank for foreign exchange and accepts most major currencies. They have branches & even sub branches in many of the gold/jewellery shops, all over Vietnam. 

A question that's often asked is - Do I need to take USD to Vietnam ?

The simple answer is - NO YOU DON'T !

We're often surprised when we hear from people (only ever tourists & the authors of 1 particular guide book) that you need to take USD to Vietnam.  You don't & haven't needed to for over 16 years now.  An Australian/New Zealand bank (the ANZ) was, in fact, the 1st foreign bank of exchange to open in Vietnam in 1993

These days you name it, you can exchange it.  Aussie & Canadian dollars, Japanese Yen, the Euro, Singapore dollars & of course, UK Pound Sterling

Taking your own currency with you to Vietnam will definitely save you money.

There's usually a commission you have to pay your bank to change into USD & the rate your bank gives you is rarely the latest market rate so you get got at twice. Bringing your own currency to Viet Nam is much easier to deal with because it's familiar & using the local currency in Vietnam helps their economy & that's a good thing to do in any developing country.  When you're leaving Viet Nam you simply change your VND back to whatever currency you like at the airport, no fuss, no bother & you'll get the REAL, daily full market rate too.

Many younger tourists (particularly Aussies) are infatuated with having the USD & it seems to make them feel more American.  So, if you're one of those & feel like you'd just love to have some USD to carry, please be careful it's not the '90, '93, '96 or 2002 series as those series were very widely counterfeited & are often rejected at the Banks here in Vietnam.

Also, make sure the notes aren't ripped, torn, are clean & are in new or near new condition.

 

Scams & rip-offs

 

Vietnamese people are, on the whole, very decent & honest people.  There are exceptions of course & you always need to be a bit circumspect when travelling to any foreign country.  We've listed some of the most popular scams below.

Money Changers

Changing money on the street to get a better rate ?  Don't do it !!

Airport taxi & mini bus scams

The airport taxi (about $15 USD including tolls) & mini bus scam is still the most frequent & the one where they'll only take you to hotels that give the drivers a "drink". 

 

The airport taxi service is about $15 & that’s for the car NOT per person & includes all tolls etc

 

Not all of them are crooks but it's starting to look like there’s more bad than good !!!

 

If you're having trouble with one (and sadly there's plenty of them) of the cute taxi drivers, please feel free to get them to drop you over to the REAL Kangaroo Café

 

Tell them that you don’t have any money & that you’re meeting your Mum, Dad, Uncle etc at the cafe & they’ve got all your money.  Max will explain the error of their crooked ways to them in no uncertain terms on your behalf. 

The old Hotel tour & services scam

Please don't fall for the lousy tours, ticketing &/or any other services the hotels offer.  They're not licensed tour operators & they'll flog you off to any old mob that offers them a drink, regardless of what it is that the end company actually provides.  It's the same with 90% of the Travel Agent & Traveller Cafes too & it doesn't matter what kind of review you've read & the reviews are usually posted by some tout getting paid to post. 

The hotel &/or dud travel agent/cafe mob usually charge between 50% & 200% on top of what they pay for the tour voucher & it's just not fair. 

Buying it yourself from the actual tour operator will mean you'll not only save lots of money but you'll be able to get some real details on the tour you're paying for.  Ask yourself this. 

Just why are they so desperate for you to buy ? I think the reason is very obvious.

The Tailor Shop scam in Hoi An

A word of warning about the tailor shops in Hoi An.  Our guides (& luckily for all of us that they're honest enough to say something) have complained that they come under unbelievable pressure from a number of the Tailor Shop owners.

They're being offered substantial sums of money to recommend various tailor shops.

A number of the big group tour mobs, western & local have been turning a blind eye to the practise for years.  It came to our attention after a couple of tour guides we had to let go for various reasons, were bragging to some of our other staff about it. 

We're making a fortune, they claim & the tourists haven't got a clue !!!

The commissions are of course being added to the price of  everything you buy & run between 100 & 500% !

Please be careful & as always, shop around & check the prices before you buy.

Tipping, is it compulsory in Viet Nam ?

In Viet Nam tipping is not expected, not the done thing & as is the case in any other civilised country, something that you may or may not wish to do. 

Here they are again, the usual suspects, the big tour mobs & they force their customers to pay extra for tips at the start of a tour on the basis that someone is going to dole out these tips for you (secretly) along the way. The latest tipping rate is $15+ USD for the guide & $10+ USD for the driver & that's Per person & every day too no less !!!

Sure you can tip our staff but only if you want to BUT it's NEVER, EVER compulsory

Rest assured that our staff get decent living wages & all their other conditions too like annual leave, sick pay, public holidays etc.  They don't have to survive by constantly sucking up to the customer, arranging those not so secret commissions or resorting to other forms of nasty &/or demeaning behaviour.

Street kids, sick buffalos & all that stuff !

Let's not forget the old "street kids" scam.  Assisted by some very wealthy Charities/NGO's & other luxury car driving spivs, they'll tug at the old heart strings & are still doing all the old line that have definitely got whiskers on them.

The bona fide NGO's (and there's actually quite a few of them) have nothing to hide & more importantly have very, very strict guidelines about who they employ. 

We believe they genuinely try to help out the local communities in an up front, transparent way & anything else is just not on.  The Vietnamese are an extremely compassionate society & there are all kinds of Government run agencies & programs to help those in difficulty, IF & ONLY IF, they're genuine !

When you're in Ha Noi & if you're approached by anyone or any mob asking for your money, please feel free to ask us & we'll tell you what we know about them.  We've been here since 1994 & if you have any problems at all, please pop into our cafe & we'll do all we can to help.

 

ATM and Credit Card Facilities

 

Credit cards are accepted in most places, although we'd advise Master or Visa card to be on the safe side.  ANZ, Citi Bank (they still around ?), the Bank of America (they still around ?)and many other banks, now have branches in Vietnam.

The Vietcom Bank now has ATMs at most of its branches throughout the country. You'll certainly find plenty of them (approx 3,500 + nation wide) in all the bigger cities like Ha Noi, Hue, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City.   

The ANZ bank has branches in both Ha Noi & HCM City with ATM machines that accept Visa, Master & Cirrus as well as ordinary ANZ access cards.  For those with ANZ accounts it's really a great service being able to withdraw from your savings account at home while on holidays in Vietnam.  Much safer too with all the counterfeit USD in Asia these days.

 

Travellers Cheques

 

The biggest problem with travellers cheques is that various providers have yet to open offices here in Vietnam.  We've had to help a number of people who simply couldn't get replacement cheques until they went to Bangkok.  If you plan to use travellers cheques then make sure you get a Vietnam office address before you purchase them, just to be safe.

 

Electrical Appliances

 
The electricity current in Vietnam is 220 volts. Most people can use their appliances here but for our American friends, please bring an adapter if you wish to use 110 volt appliances.
 

Transport

 
We only ever recommend the safest and most comfortable forms of transport by licensed, registered operators.  We don't believe in taking silly risks just to save a few dollars. 

The mini bus rides throughout Vietnam whilst being ridiculously cheap are usually very uncomfortable & often dangerous. The trains & planes are of a very good standard & they're safe too, which is always more important than saving a few dollars.

 

Health

 
At different times we've needed medical services.  In the bigger cities like Ha Noi & Ho Chi Minh City we can put you in touch with the places we have either been to ourselves, or can highly recommend.  Services like doctors, dentists, optical, alternative medicines, massage and even cosmetic surgery.
 

Travel Insurance

 
For anyone travelling to Vietnam (or to any other country) we strongly recommend that you take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy before your departure.  The rate for Asian destinations is very reasonable when compared with Europe or the USA.

If you're going to try something out of the ordinary (windsurfing, scuba diving etc) please check with your insurance company before you purchase your policy. 

People have found out later that they weren't covered & the results have been absolutely disastrous.  When choosing your travel insurance company, please be very careful.  Some insurance companies are very nice when it comes to taking your money but have incredible difficulty remembering who you are if you need their help. 

On a recent visit to the Aussie embassy here in Ha Noi I saw a large sign that simply said this.   "If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel". Please be careful !

 

Shopping

 
It's the usual thing in Vietnam to bargain for things but please remember to keep things in perspective. In Vietnam there are "fixed price" Government run stores that are always cheaper than you'll ever get things for on the street.
 

Special Interests

 
If you have a special interest or requirement or would like to make contacts in a particular area whilst in Vietnam, let us know prior to your trip. We'll assist in any way we can.
 

Visas

 

It's necessary to have your visa issued prior to arrival in Vietnam.  Tourist visas are generally for 1 or 3 months but business and other visas can be obtained for longer stays if required.  

The best place to obtain a Viet Nam Visa is in your own country

The best person to help you with it is a licensed travel agent. 

People who get someone they've never dealt with before to do it in other countries are often very disappointed.

For Aussie customers especially, the best & cheapest way to get a visa for Viet Nam is to get a licensed travel agent to do it for you or if you really want to do it for yourself, you can arrange a visa by contacting the Vietnamese Embassy in either Sydney, NSW or Canberra in the ACT.

 

Export/Import

 
Vietnam is an exciting developing country with many opportunities.  We are happy to introduce you to reputable local companies, not some operator working out of a briefcase, who can't be found when they're needed.
 

Customer Bookings

 

Griswald's Vietnamese Vacations are licensed by the NSW Govt, Dept of Fair Trading. 

Our Licence number is - 2TA5568. 

For your airline tickets, visas & travel insurance, please contact your nearest, licensed travel agent. 

You can purchase your tour directly from us & you can contact us by e-mail, phone or with any & all enquires or if you'd prefer you can get your travel agent to contact us on your behalf. 

All our contact details are listed at the bottom of this page.

 

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The best way to receive more information about us &/or our tours, is to E-mail us.

Our Email address is: griswalds@vietnamvacations.com.au  

Griswald's Vietnamese Vacations

P.O. Box 501, Leichhardt N.S.W. 2040 Australia

& our REAL Kangaroo Café

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Only at 18 Bao Khanh St, Hanoi

To chat, person to person (always better & it only costs a $1 or $2) please phone us direct.

Our Office Number in Viet Nam - +844 382 899 31

Our Mobile Number in Viet Nam - +84 913 506 183

Australian Company Registration Number: 107 709 384 

Aust Govt Travel Agents Licence Number (your international protection): 2TA5568

Doing business with companies over the internet still makes some people, understandably, nervous. Australian Travel Agents, like us, are licensed by the NSW Government Dept of Fair Trading & all our bona fides are available online through the Department's web site.

Only REAL Travel Agents can offer you this security & protection.

 
This page was last updated on  13/09/15

Griswald's specialise in tailor made tours to Vietnam, travel in Vietnam, holidays in Vietnam and private tours to Vietnam. 

For those travelling independently to Vietnam, from our Kangaroo Cafe in Ha Noi we can assist with Tours to Halong Bay and Tours to Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island as well. 

We're well known for our signature Halong Bay Tours & our tours to Sapa & our focus is on genuine, small group travel in Vietnam.

  Sapa Tours start with our 2 nights on the train & 1 Night hotel, Tour to Sapa. We also have Sapa Home stay tours & our mixed Sapa Hotel and Home stay tours too.

For more about our tailor made Vietnam Travel, Vietnam Tours, Customised Vietnam Tours and Vietnam Holiday packages, please email us.


Griswald’s Vietnamese Vacations & our Kangaroo Café in Hanoi have been operating good quality, reasonably priced tours to Vietnam for over 20 years.

Griswald's specialise in tailor made tours to Vietnam, travel in Vietnam, holidays in Vietnam and private tours to Vietnam. 

For those travelling independently to Vietnam, from our Kangaroo Cafe in Ha Noi we can assist with Tours to Halong Bay and Tours to Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island as well. 

We're well known for our signature Halong Bay Tours & our tours to Sapa & our focus is on genuine, small group travel in Vietnam.

  Sapa Tours start with our 2 nights on the train & 1 Night hotel, Tour to Sapa. We also have Sapa Home stay tours & our mixed Sapa Hotel and Home stay tours too.

For more about our Tailor Made Tours to Vietnam, Vietnam Travel, Vietnam Tours, Customised Vietnam Tours and Vietnam Holiday packages, please email us.

For all other information on Vietnam like tours to Ba Be Lakes, Hoa Lu & Tam Coc, The Perfume Pagoda, Mai Chau & of course Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Island & Sa Pa, The Kangaroo Cafe is great.