First timers guide to Vietnam for Indians
Vietnam is quickly becoming the new go-to place for vacationers from India and around the world. It has a charm that is unique and endearing. Sadly, Vietnam has been overshadowed by its glitzier neighbors of Thailand and Malaysia, but if you choose to make this your next destination you will not be disappointed. One of the main reasons people choose Vietnam is its amazing value for money. Let’s face it, there are only a handful of countries whose currency is weaker to our Indian Rupee. Let’s take advantage of that and plan your next vacation to Vietnam. Here in this article, I talk about the basics you need to know before you plan your vacation. I have tried to answer common questions and suggested a few helpful travel tips.
Do I need a visa?
Yes, Indian citizens do require a Visa to enter Vietnam. Although Visa on arrival is available in Vietnam you require a visa approval letter before you arrive. There are many companies that offer this service. The one we used and recommend is Vietnam Visa Pro. The prices are great and they serve all countries.
Currency and conversion.
The local currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong. The Indian Rupee is way stronger than the dong. As of today, (March 2017) the conversion rate is 1 Indian Rupee = 347 Vietnamese Dong. Given this information I would say that the costs remain at par with average costs in India. For example, if you had Pho for breakfast it would cost you anywhere between 80 -100 INR or 30,000 VND (Vietnamese Dong). So, carry adequate Dong with you always.
Also, you would need cash as most places don’t accept cards. Especially the street food stalls, which I highly recommend eating at. They have some of the best dishes in Vietnam. My husband and I ate pretty much only street food for two weeks and we did not fall sick.
Where to stay?
There are a few good international chain hotels in the bigger cities of Vietnam. We did stay at the Intercontinental Saigon when we got to Ho Chi Minh city but later we just stuck to smaller boutique hotels. They costed way less and had great service. During our two weeks, we quickly realized that it was the smaller hotels and hostels that had amazing customer service. These are the hotels we stayed at and recommend
- Intercontinental Saigon
- La Beauty de Hanoi – Hanoi
- The Orchid Hotel – Hue
- See You at Lily’s -Hostel in Hanoi
When is the best time to visit?
The best time to visit is February to April and August to October. The weather is pleasant and makes your travel more enjoyable.
What are the places to visit?
- Ho Chi Minh City – This city is always bustling with energy. It is more cosmopolitan than the other cities in Vietnam but it is worth the visit.
- Hue – the Imperial city of Vietnam. It is a must do and visit the Imperial palace.
- Hanoi – The Old quarter of Hanoi is a quintessential part of Vietnam
- Hoi An – If you want clothes to be tailored Hoi An is the place for you.
- Halong Bay – This breathtaking bay is almost unearthly! This is a must do when you are in Vietnam. There are lot of tours operating from Hanoi daily.
- Sapa – The terraced fields of Sapa are not to be missed.
Which Junk Boat company do I choose to Halong Bay?
It can get very confusing choosing a good Junk Boat to cruise through Halong Bay. They have 1 night and the 2-night option. If time permits I highly recommend doing the 2-night option, you will not regret it.
We went with Indochina sails and it was an amazing luxury boat with impeccable food and service. It was on the more expensive side but there are boats that suit all budgets. The one we recommend are:
- Indochina sails
- Bhaya cruises
- Paradise cruises
How long do I need?
If you really want to see all of Vietnam, you are realistically looking at a month. But you could do most of the places we suggested in two weeks like we did, without having to rush yourselves. If you don’t have two weeks in hand, don’t worry, you can probably do Hanoi and Halong Bay in 4 days.
- Pho – This is a noodle soup with meat. If you want chicken, you get Pho Ga and if you want beef get Pho Bo. It is widely available in all parts of Vietnam. The best place to get yourself a bowl would be to at one of the very crowded street food stalls.
- Bun Cha – This will be the most delicious pork patty you have ever tried. It is served with noodles and a dipping sauce with a side of crab spring rolls. It is more common in Hanoi Old Quarter
- Bun Bo Nam Bo – This is Noodles with beef soup. It is a specialty in Hue.
- Com tam – Broken rice with chicken.
- Spring rolls – You can get different spring rolls all over Vietnam and each are all equally good.
Hope this article helps you plan a wonderful vacation to Vietnam. Vietnamese people are very warm and welcoming. Make sure to make a few new friends on the way. What are you waiting for, let’s start planning your next vacation!
About Epicurious Passport
Meet Vrithi and Vikram and just like you, they love to travel. They are a fun-loving, adventurous foodie couple whose main ambition in life is to see and eat as much of the world as possible. One of the main factors that helps them choose a destination, apart from it being within the budget, is the local food. They take any opportunity they get to go out there and explore some more. They mostly travel with their two-year-old and sneak in a couple trips a year when she is at the grandparents’. Like them, their daughter has also evolved to become a foodie and likes to try different cuisines. Their daughter has already been on 40 flights and visited 8 countries in the last two years, if that tells you something!