I am traveling from Hanoi to HCMC then across to Cambodia in August this year (2009). I am wondering wether it is necessary to book accommodation via the internet before we go. Do places book out? Im looking at about US$10-30 price range per night. Can you get a better deal if you show up on the night?
Also, any information/ideas on things to do in Vietnam would be greatly appreciated. e.g. we are unsure which overnight junk boat Halong bay tour to do as there are so many to choose from.
Has anyone changed NZ Dollars in Vietnam, is this easy?
Thank you in advance and look forward to your reply
I was in Vietnam December last year for 5 weeks: just awesome!
accomodation: I don't know what type of traveler you are. I never made a reservation in advance, not even the first night. At all the destinations there are plenty of guesthouses, hotels and so on at affordable prices. So it doesn't make a lot of sense spending time with reservations. Anyway, it's the best thing if you show up and have a look at the room/ bath before you decide to stay.
prices are higher in Hanoi (around 9 - 14 US$ for a basic accomodation, with window, sometimes TV) and cheaper in the South. But you can pay a lot more if you want. :-) If you are traveling by two you pay the same price - so 4 -5 US$ per night.
NZ Dollars: why bother with your currency? Pay in dong in Vietnam as much as you can. It's their currency like your NZ Dollars. Nobody would show up with US$ in NZ wanting to pay for a room, I guess. There are lots of ATMs in Vietnam where you can withdraw quite an amount of dongs (actually milions of dongs - the first time I was a millionaire! :-). If you have two different types of credit cards you'll be safe.
Halong Bay: do a three days tour if you have time. There are lots of different tour operators - way too many. I went with ocean travel. No cheap but with really good food, one night on the junk, another night on their private island with 6 bungalows at the beach, time to cajak in the afternoon or swim,.. It's always the same: you never know how it will be. And I didn't wanted to be disappointed. It's not a tour I gonna do again quite soon.
Things to do: if you have time visit the dry halong bay (Tam Coq, Nim Binh or so). It's a day tour from Hanoi if you do it organised and worth it as the wet halong bay.
visit the literature temple in Hanoi and the ethnology museum, especially the outside part
Spend a lot of time just sitting outside and watching people go by.
Go to the water puppet theater in Hanoi
Go to Nha Trang and rent a motorbike. Drive up to Dalat, spend one day there and ride back to Dalat. Great adventure!
Drink lots of Vietnamese icecoffees! They are sooo good, I tell you. ;-)
Well, that's what I can tell you as first impressions. If you have any other questions just ask me.
take care, kindly
Pascal from Switzerland
Yours is not an easy ? to answer because there's always the exception to the rule, but I would say that generally you would be better off by not booking hotel rooms ahead for August. Now, if you want a specific property that is different! Generally speaking the low cost hotels in VN are an excellent value, but the really good ones can be a little hard to find. Personally (I'm pretty picky myself) I found 2 excellent places in Hanoi (March '09) and several real dumps! I would start with the recommendations of others and if they are full, then do your own search. I always like to make an initial reservation after I land and have my hotel meet my plane, but I will often move if I find that hotel lacking. I had a total of 5 hotels in Hanoi for the last trip. ALWAYS CHECK THE ROOM B4 HANDING OVER YOUR PASSPORT - beware that really cheap rooms often have no window (but not always). In Hanoi, I like these 2 very much:
Gia Thinh Hotel on Hang Bac - an excellent hotel in an excellent location - I paid $30. superior rear room
Especen Hotel on Tho Xuong - an excellent hotel and a true bargain, excellent location - I paid $25. for a huge family room
(both of those properties are in demand and I would reserve for either one)
if you'd like recs for Saigon, Hoi An or Sapa just PM me
I agree w/Pascal - use the ATM for Dong only
(this site is very useful for planning, good maps, but the hotel recs are out of date: www.reidontravel.com)
[ Edit: Edited on 23-Jun-2009, at 13:39 by Daawgon ]
Any large bank will change your money into VND or US $s. Many pay in USD for large purchases, say a 3 day tour of HaLong Bay. HaLong should be on your agenda, how many days depends on your time and budget.
I vote that you do not book anything until you are there. Click on 'accommodation', left panel and do a bit of research. Find several in your price range, old quarter. This is close to Hoan Kiem Lake. Heaps of hotels, restaurants, attractions walking distance from the lake.
I suggest you use the open tour bus system to travel from HAN to HCMC. Cheaper and more convenient. My photos cover all of VN, my blog covers from Nha Trang to HCMC. Send me a PM if you have questions on: transport, hotels in each city, what to see, etc.
This question is always asked and it always confuses me. To me it makes total sense to book your first night at least in advance. Accomodation will be cheap anyway so what is the point of worrying over a few dong? If you are really worried about money then save up for an extra week before you go. You have 2 choices...book in advance your first night so when you arrive, jet lagged and sweating in the heat you can get straight into your room and have a rest, shower or whatever you wanna do, or option 2... spend ages walking around a city you have never been to before where no-one speaks your language, sweating like a pig in the heat with your rucksack weighing you down until you manage to find a hostel that is 1 dong cheaper than one you saw on the internet. Dont let people kid you into thinking that booking in advance is in some way "cheating", it isn't, it's just common sense.
In several trips totally about 7 months in the region, I have never booked a hotel in advance (with the exception of one hotel in Phuket on Christmas Eve). I've never found it hard to find a place in my budget and you'll find that in the $10-30 range there are countless places to stay in every town that you go to.
My name is Chinh. And now I am living and working in Ho Chi Minh city. I used to travel in England for 6 months, and I came back Vietnam in August 2008.
I think I can help you find an accommodation for you. I just rang to BEE Saigon - mini hotel. They offer price from 20 - 53 USD/per night including breakfast. They dont require you pay deposit, but it is not sure in high season, you know.
How long are you staying in Vietnam? I am willing to assist tourist, because I want the tourist come back again since they leave Vietnam.
Dont worry! You can contact me.
I think you should book a hotel for the first night you arrive just for a peace of mind. After that, just wonder around, check out other hotels and decide if you want to stay there or not. There is no discount or anything like that at last minute.
If you really confused, you can call 1080 from any land line there in Viet nam. (Ask the hotel ppl to make sure that is the current number. Sometimes you have to add the area code number in front of it. I haven't used it in a while, but I'm pretty sure that number still be used quite often.) That is an information phone number. Cost less than 50 cent to make. They can speak English, and can recommend you anything, from hotel to stay to travel agency to use.
You should change your money at the banks. It is safer, and they have better rates than smaller trade shops. They also do exchange at the jewelry stores with decent rates too, fyi. I never used my credit card/ bank card whenever I go back there, cuz I don't want any surprises with fees.
puma_1977 gave you pretty good recommendations on where to go, but I would like to add Cu Chi Tunnel in the south to your list. It was the hiding/living place for Viet Cong in the war. It's worthy to check it out.
Cool thanks everyone for the great info. Cant wait!
I booked my first hotel for 4 nights in Hanoi as it was TET Chinese new year.
I looked through tripadvisor first and read reviews. I also confirmed my booking before we arrived by email.
It was great to get a taxi and give the address of the hotel after two flights, check in and relax.
After that every where we went other travellers recommended hotels, everyone picks up cards from the hotel and passes it to the next person going in the same direction. We had no problems, all hotels cost about $20 per night for two of us with breakfast.
We booked a Halong Bay tour with the hotel, cost about $27 each, all meals included, entry to caves, kayaking etc, very good value.
You can change your money to Dong at the airport, we couldnt as it was shut (TET) but just paid in $ until we had some currency.
I bought a DK guide book and decided to work our way down from Hanoi, did not realise that everybody did the same thing.
If you purchase one you could work out what you want to see, there is too much to list.