Most Frequently Asked Questions
PLEASE PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO THIS AS IT ANSWERS MANY BASIC QUESTIONS
Prescription and OTC (Over the Counter) Drugs: There is a lot available in Vietnam (Vn) to
Westerners. So far many prescription drugs in America are available over the counter here.
(Sometimes things are extremely cheap here or at least our prices.) You still will want to bring your
favorite cold and headache stuff along with any specific medications you have to cover at least a one
year period. Decongestants are difficult to find here. Otherwise you can get things here (antibiotics,
amoeba medicine, worm medicine and malaria medicine), and we have people traveling in to Vn
occasionally who are happy to do “luggage ministry” and bring things we/you need if you send $$$ to
cover. (Women should bring a couple months supply of feminine products until you can try and get
used to several things available here – they have name brands, just not all the choice). There are 2
international foreigner clinics here that are prepared with a wide variety of medications.
Transportation & Visas TO here: You can get a visa application off the Vn Embassy Website (do a
search in any search engine to find it) which will cover your “tourist” visa if that is how you come.
We will work with you and the institution which is “providing” your visa if you come to study
language first. Transportation and visas are ALWAYS a sticky issue but we will work with your team
to get them.
Clothing: Hats and raincoats are available here. As well as many types of clothing (but it is not often
high quality). Cottons are difficult to find here. Sandals are especially ideal during the rainy season.
Sneakers take too long to dry out. Cool clothing is the norm. Pack away all but one light coat for
when you travel out of Vn (or live in the north). If you will live or travel a lot in the countryside -
bring a few long sleeve shirts for night time wear (mosquitoes) as well as a pair of socks.
Clearance at the Airport: Many folks bring numerous bags these days. They rarely care about books,
CD’s electronics or computers. The one thing they may stop you for is videos – or things which look
interesting (or they don’t understand) on the x-ray machine that you put your bags in as you clear
customs. Usually they only ask you to show things to them. If you take many videos, then they may
ask you to leave some/all of them to be looked through and you will pick them up about a week later
downtown. They may charge a small fee. If they raise any questions, then just answer with the best of
your ability to act “no problem”, and be respectful and willing to take their directions.
Mosquitoes: Bring one or two kinds of mosquito repellant, and, when you are in the countryside or
small cities, plan to wear long sleeve pants at night when possible. We found at a camping store this
great stuff that is 100% DEET (the active ingredient in “Off”, etc. It is cheaper and you only have to
dot yourself. We never have to use it much actually because we are in the city. You will be advised to
buy “Mefloquine” (spelling?) for Vn, but you make that call. At least get a prescription and bring
some for times you will travel out of Hanoi and Saigon. In the cities no one takes it and so far no
problems. (Don’t tell the doctor I told you all this! -- If you are conservative about healthcare then by
all means buy it.)
Batteries and film you can get here. To develop one roll of film 24 exp. Costs about $7.00 AUD
Theft Don’t be over anxious about it -- but you do want to take certain precautions. Put locks on all
suitcases. Do not use waist packs that have easily accessed zippers. Keep wallets and money in safe
pockets or under your clothes when possible and purses should not be carried by ladies with anything
important. Keep passports and most of your money locked in a suitcase in your hotel room. A few
photocopy of your passport and visa should be taken in case it is stolen. It is quicker to process!
Voltage/Hertz: Power here is 220 volts and 50 hertz. CD players, radios, battery chargers, etc., will
probably work even though it says 60 hertz. You do not need to buy voltage adapters from travel
stores. They have neat plugs here which accept US/Aus plugs as well as theirs.
News: You can buy a variety of newspapers and magazines here but they are expensive. About $1.00 -
$3.00 for newspapers (Bangkok Post, Hong Kong and Singapore newspapers arrive that day or next
Housing: You will be staying in various hotels -- usually very adequate and most with air conditioning
(but in some travels outside of Saigon, there may not be air-con). Most will cost $12-16 per day (and
that will be split among room-mates when sharing a room).
Food: So many foods are available here – but sometimes only part of the year. Vietnamese food is
nothing to be scared of. There is some exotic stuff but you will rarely “have” to eat it. There are many
things almost all foreigners like. Also there are NUMEROUS restaurants which serve mainly
European style dishes. But the non-Vietnamese food is much more expensive than the Vietnamese.
Internet: Internet café are everywhere in Vn and are incredibly cheap to use.
Medical: There is a good “foreigner’s clinic” here in Saigon and at least one in Hanoi. Prices there are
similar to overseas. Long-termers should have medical insurance which will cover you overseas -- and
for evacuation if necessary.
Money: It is hard to get money in the country so you will need to bring almost all that you expect to
use during your trip. It is best to bring money in either $50 or $100 dollar bills. (Australian or US
dollars) Travelers checks are okay -- but will get a slightly lower exchange rate (but it is worth it for
some to have less worry). You need to plan on exchanging at least one week’s money at a time so that
you are not needing to exchange money very often. You also have to plan on taking all the cash you
will need on any trips outside Saigon -- so exchange before you leave Saigon.
Anything else? Contact me on email (firstname.lastname@example.org)