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Vietnam In Seven Days: Preparing For The Trip

August 6th, 2010 by

I have always wanted to go to Vietnam.  There was a time last year when I thought I would finally go but in the end, the trip didn’t happen. No complaints however – my partner and I ended up visiting Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia in a span of ten days instead. We did promise ourselves to visit Vietnam this year however.

Halong Bay – Photo credit

For this post, I would like to share a simple checklist of what I took into consideration to make my “Vietnam in 7 Days” adventure hassle-free, within budget and a lot more fun.

AIRLINE TICKETS – The first major task that I needed to accomplish was to book flights from Manila to Ho Chi Minh City.  Good thing it’s so much more convenient and affordable to schedule trips these days because of the influx of budget airlines and tour packages. Thanks to Cebu Pacific, a budget airline in the Philippines, I got round-trip tickets to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) for only 85 USD each.  In addition to Ho Chi Minh City, we also decided to visit Hanoi to see the spectacular rock formations of Halong Bay. For this leg, I booked plane tickets from Ho Chi Minh City to Ha Noi with another budget airline – Jetstar.  The round trip tickets were about 140 USD each.

HOTEL – Booking accommodations in a new and strange place is a bit tricky. It’s important to do a bit of research first online or read travel guidebooks for reliable hotel recommendations. There are a lot of factors to consider when booking hotels like the location, amenities, services, reviews and the price. For this trip, it was important for me to stay in a hotel near important landmarks and top shopping areas.

For Hanoi, I chose to stay at the Hanoi Capital Hotel because of their positive reviews online and affordable room rates.

Photo by: kitci

LUGGAGE – For me, another important step to prepare a list for my luggage. In order to complete a reliable list and make sure I pack the right items, I research my destination well.

It’s imperative, for example, to consider factors like weather and local culture. Both can dictate the type of clothes you pack for a trip. For Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, I brought a small foldaway umbrella as well as a light jacket. Out of respect for the local culture as well, I made a conscious effort to pack clothes that would not be considered too revealing. There are quite a number of tourist landmarks that require visitors to be dressed properly so I made sure to pack long pants, long skirts, shirts with sleeves and closed shoes.  Plus, a complete set of swimwear for our Halong Bay Tour.

I did not bother too much with toiletries since I can purchase these in Vietnam. I definitely wanted to allocate as much space as possible for traditional Vietnamese crafts like lacquer, sewn paintings, and wood carvings.

TRAVEL MATERIALS – When I travel, I usually go out of my way to prepare an itinerary outlining the different places to visit, foods to try, local products to buy and even a list of tourist traps to watch out for.  Of course, there are people who prefer to be spontaneous and not follow any particular schedule.

Photo by: kitci

Another helpful tip is to pack a mini conversion table of the local currency in order to have a clear picture of your expenses. Of course, if you have a smart phone, there’s an app for that.

The latest mobile devices are well-equipped with detailed city maps and GPS functions but if you’re a low-tech traveler, you might want to consider borrowing maps from friends who’ve visited your chosen destination. This was something I thought about for both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. I can also search online for free maps of course and consult public transportation websites to familiarize myself with any given city.

Of course, the most important thing that I make sure to have whenever planning and preparing for a trip is a SENSE OF ADVENTURE!  The thought of visiting and exploring a new country never fails to send tingles up my spine. I always know that I’ll return a better person – with priceless experiences and most importantly, a bunch of new friends!

Tune in soon for an update of my 7-day Vietnam adventure!

2 Responses to “Vietnam In Seven Days: Preparing For The Trip”

  1. Valerie Says:

    Hi Im from Msia, just wonder do i need to buy different adapters or converter to Hanoi? How cold is Hanoi?

  2. maree giddings Says:

    Am going to vietnam on 6th april, have booked a few hotels on line, seems the visa card comes up different, could i chat to someone who has more experience on internet than i, also to be advised of hotels in nha trang, hoi ann beach etc.

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