Guides for Vietnam trips (P3)


>>Guides for Vietnam trips (P2)

Food and drink

Vietnamese food is fragrant, exciting and healthy.  Around the country, you will find a delicious variety on offer, influenced from France, Thailand and even India.

The most popular dish is called “pho” and is often referred to as the “soul of the nation”. Simpy put, it’s a noodle soup dish eaten every day, predominantly for breakfast. It is served in most Vietnamese restaurants and street food vendors. Don’t be afraid to try the street food, which is often the best food in the country. There are plenty of options, including:

  • Nem Ran or Cha Gio (fried spring roll)
  • Banh Chung (sticky rice cake)
  • Gio Lua (lean pork pie)
  • Banh Cuon (rice flour steamed rolls)
  • Banh My (pate and egg rolls)
  • Mi voi thit bo/ga (noodles with beef/chicken)

It is not advisable to drink tap water in Vietnam. Bottled water is cheap and widely available.

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Public holidays

  • TET (Vietnamese New Year): generally takes place at the end of January or early February and lasts for three days.
  • Liberation of Saigon: 30 April
  • International Worker’s Day: 1 May
  • Hung King’s memorial day: 10 March (lunar calendar)
  • Vietnamese National Day: 2 September

TET Travel Recommendation: Buffalo Tours discourages travel over the TET period. Transport is often booked or expensive. Lots of places are closed including restaurants, shops and key tourist sites.

Helpful tips

Donations and gift giving

Although there is poverty in certain areas of Vietnam, please read the following points about donations and gift giving.

  • Do not give money to people begging, especially children. This reinforces the belief that begging is an acceptable way to make a living. If children make money from begging, their parents are less likely to send them to school. Children working on the streets are also vulnerable to abuse.
  • However in many places, it is considered acceptable to give to money to disabled people or the elderly.
  • Giving money and goods to beggars can accentuate an unequal relationship between locals and visitors, with tourists being seen as purely money givers.
  • Do not give sweets to children in villages that we visit.
  • Do not feel that you necessarily have to give material things. Sometimes, giving your friendship, time and interest to locals can be the best gift of all.


Tipping is a personal matter and travellers are encouraged to tip any amount they feel is appropriate. For your convenience, we have included a suggested tipping guide below:

  • Bellboy: $1-$2 per room
  • Chambermaid: $1 per day
  • Guides: $5-$10 per day, per person (depending on group size and performance)
  • Drivers: $2-$5 per day, per person (depending on group size and performance)
  • Restaurants: in smart establishments, you may find that the tip is already included in the bill. In local restaurants, tips are not expected but you may wish to leave loose change on the table.
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Price guide

Things are generally cheap in Vietnam. Here is a rough guide of how much things cost in main cities. Bear in mind that outside of the cities, things will be much cheaper.|

Food, drinks & other items

  • Street food: from 10,000 VND
  • Restaurants: Western food: from 100,000 VND, Vietnamese dishes between 40,000 – 100,000 VN
  • Soft drinks: 8,000 – 15,000 VND, 
  • Beer: 8,000 – 20,000 VND
  • Fruit juice: 30,000 VND
  • Water: 10,000 VND
  • Spirit and mixer: 60,000 VND
  • Shorts/t-shirts: 80,000 – 200,000 (always haggle when buying clothes)
  • DVDs: 15,000 – 30,000 VND
  • SIM card – 50,000 VND
  • Cheap phone – 200,000 – 300,000 VND

Pre-departure checklist

  • Travel insurance
  • Passport with at least six months validity from date of entry
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Visa
  • Vaccinations
  • Foreign currency (US$) and/or ATM card
  • All relevant tickets
  • Reconfirmed flights
  • Light weight clothing (summer months and the south)
  • Warm clothing (mountainous regions and Hanoi in winter)
  • Appropriate shoes for trekking, cycling or walking
  • Insect repellent
  • Medication
  • First aid kit
  • Adaptor – 220V, 50Hz; 2 pin plugs
  • Small daypack (for day and overnight trips)
  • Water bottle and helmet (for cycling trips)

Please note: Domestic airlines do impose restrictions on baggage at approx 20kg maximum, so travel lightly where possible. Train cabins around the country, and boat cabins in Halong Bay have limited space so consider this when packing. 

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