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152

According to Fodor's Guide to Vietnam, 4th Edition, published 2016, under Introduction to Ho Chi Minh City on page 38: Still called Saigon by most residents, According to National Geographic Vietnam, 3rd Edition, published 2014, under To Say or Not to Say on page 197: ... The river still remains Saigon. Buses still flash "Saigon" as their destination. ...


70

Check-in staff go by Timatic, which is based on information provided to IATA by local immigration authorities. They won't change their mind even if you call an embassy in front of them. Unfortunately there is a misunderstanding on your part: it is not the 3-month passport validity requirement in and of itself that was new, but the 15-day visa exemption ...


65

My wife is Vietnamese, and her entire family. I also visited Vietnam with them previously. They all spent most of their life in Vietnam prior to moving to another country. When I inquired (while visiting) they explained the name change, nothing was mentioned about it being offensive. Also while visiting I saw a large number of shops/etc that referenced ...


55

I was born and grew up in Saigon. Saigon has always been and will forever be Saigon. Don't call it by any other name! A historical allusion to these naming is Leningrad, which, similar to most authoritarian states tendencies, was imposed upon the people through violence, bloodshed, oppression. After almost 70 years, Leningrad (Stalingrad as well) has ...


30

My wife is Vietnamese, I speak the language at a relative fluency, have visited multiple times and am moving to Saigon in the near future. HCM City is the official government imposed name. Saigon is still the popular informal name. If you say "Saigon" while in the country of Vietnam you MIGHT irritate some of the ones wearing pea-green uniforms if you're ...


22

Three unalterable facts: Yes, you need a Vietnamese DL to lawfully operate a scooter in Vietnam No, a tourist cannot get a Vietnamese DL Nobody, nobody, in Vietnam cares about the above two unalterable facts I rented a scooter in Danang last month. The rental process consisted of me handing over 100,000 đồng (just under $5 USD) and the clerk giving me the ...


19

Yes, it WILL be an issue, unless you're very, very lucky. The whole point of a visa is that the government of that country has taken into account who you are and where you are from, and issued a set of days that it's happy for you to be in its country for. Flouting those, due to ignorance, accident, or even (some would say unfairly) conditions out of your ...


19

Little Bikes are Simple No license is necessary for motorcycles under 50cc, or electric bikes (e.g. Australian Embassy). You may, however, struggle to find such a bike for rental; electric bikes might be possible to get hold of in the big cities, but you're not going to be going on a road trip on one. The Law on Bigger Bikes For bigger bikes, or cars, it'...


19

No. Everyone will be fine with it. Ho Chi Minh City is the official name of the city, you need to use it in all paper work. No exception. The Vietnamese who stays in Ho Chi Minh City and its outskirt call the whole city as "Thành phố" or "The city". Sài Gòn is used to call its District 1 area, or more specific, the Bến Thành market area. In 2012, the city ...


14

Generally tipping is not required or expected in Vietnam. However, any extra money is appreciated. Tipping bellmen is always appreciated, even a token amount. Round up to the nearest 5,000 Dong (or greater) when paying cabbies (you don't want a lot of 1,000 Dong notes since they're almost worthless) There are some some locations where people actively ...


14

Extended my visa in Da Nang. Costed me 70 USD and took 1 day :-) I am pretty sure you can just take the fine, but there is cases where you are sent back to the city to "fix it". So I didn't take the chance. And obviously @ptityeti was correct - it was actually 16 days and 5 minutes :-)


14

Most typical Thai food is very flavorful. There is certainly a fare share of spicy dishes but there are also plenty of other flavors, herbal, fragrant, salty and sweet. Obviously, the difficult part is knowing which is which! Many of the dishes are not so spicy or salty themselves. Instead, restaurant tables come with small bowls of Nam Pla with chopped ...


13

For such broad flight searches, a matrix flight search engine is the optimal solution. You could use for example Google's Matrix Airfare Search. I did a simple search for you: For that search query I used Berlin, Germany and all surrounding airports within 1000 miles as origin and all major airports in Vietnam as destination. The screenshots shows the ...


13

If you leave after your visa has expired, you will be "fined" but allowed to leave the country. Depending on the situation and where you are leaving the country (eg, airport v's overland) the "fine" may be an actual fine, or it could just be a border official taking the money for themselves. In general, expect somewhere around US$5-20/day as the "fine". ...


12

Vietnamese Pho (most variants anyway- iirc Hue type is already spicy) noodle soup have the spice optionally added by the end user. Similarly the rice and vermicelli dishes are not inherently spicy (the fish sauce may not be to their liking but again that's typically on the side). The little baguettes (banh mi) are typically a bit spicy and include stuff like ...


11

NO IT IS NOT OPEN TO FOREIGNERS! My suspicions this time turned out to be warranted. I arrived at the Chrey Thum border checkpoint at 5.30pm yesterday afternoon. Even though I intended to spend a night in a guesthouse and cross today I thought it prudent to wander down and talk to the guards. There was a language barrier but they nonetheless made it quite ...


11

No, there isn't. More generally, as far as I'm aware there are no scheduled international ferry services from Vietnam to anywhere. The easiest (but not the cheapest) option for getting to Brunei is the direct flight from HCMC to Bandar Seri Begawan on Royal Brunei. Alternatively, and much more cheaply, you can fly to any number of towns in Borneo on Air ...


10

I did feel that major cities in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh, Ha Noi) felt touristy, but considerably less compared to Thailand. Bag-snatching is somewhat common in the nightlife areas in Ho Chi Minh City but otherwise I didn't feel unsafe in any cities I visited. While I haven't been there, Ha Long Bay is particularly well-known for its beauty and there are enough ...


10

The ferries between Koh Kong and Sihanoukville ended a few years ago, and the service seems unlikely to return. Between the paving of the southern road, the rise in fuel prices, and the fall in foreign tourism it is no longer economically feasible, and despite the election of the Shinawatra government, tensions between the two countries are high due to ...


10

TL;DR: Give money, wear regular formal attire. Of course, if you know the groom very well, just ask him what will be expected of you. He will understand that you're not familiar with Vietnamese tradition. Vietnamese wedding ceremony Wikipedia actually has an article about Vietnamese wedding traditions, which should give you a good idea. But I can add ...


9

The Minibus from the Oasisbar in Ha Tien to Kampot via Kep leaves at noon as I mention in this answer. Though the motorbike taxis leave whenever you want. And yes it is not as safe as in a car. Though the driver can take your backpack between his legs in front of him like shown in the picture. So you either take a little risk or get the minivan at noon. :-)...


9

How often do cameras get stolen? Every. Single. Day. You should always guard your camera, and any other valuables, as if they were expensive, and could walk off at any time because, well, they are expensive, and could walk off at any time. Certainly the degree to which you guard your belongings can be very region-dependent, but will generally be a lot more ...


9

Since you're not using an agency, you'll need a credit card with a big enough limit. In order to get the confirmation in order, they will need to get the charge approved and posted to your account. When you cancel, you'll get a credit from them. Time it so that the debit and credit fall within the same billing cycle to avoid having to make a payment or ...


9

The travel desk at my hotel has made some calls so I'll share the information. Three days left is no problem. It will be ready tomorrow afternoon much faster than my hotel in MCMC! It will cost USD $40 $20 cheaper than both my initial visa and the price I was quoted by my hotel in HCMC. Actually there was a misunderstanding about when I should pay so my ...


9

Writing this sat in Da Nang airport. You're going to find the heat and sun difficult. Plenty of water (take some cash and you'll be able to buy bottles along your route) and sun cream required. In terms of risk of being attacked you'll be fine I think, but the road often lack footpaths and where they do exist they are often filled with scooters/chairs/food ...


9

There are mainly 3 mobile network operators in Vietnam. Viettel is currently the biggest one and also the only one that invests in other countries (Cambodia, Laos, Haiti, Peru...). It has very good coverage in rural areas. In remote islands or highland areas the only operator is Viettel. Reason for those? It's operated by the Ministry of Defence so they must ...


9

Thailand-specific advice here from someone who doesn’t tolerate any spice at all. In my experience, in Thailand there’s a huge number of small low-key local shops serving basic meals like rice/noodles + chicken/beef 100% bland by default, with spices available on tables. My go-to option in an unfamiliar location would be a chicken rice. It’d generally be a ...


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