Vibrant, exciting, crazy and chaotic Vietnam is heaven for budget backpackers and luxury travellers alike.
Vietnam is long and thin so it's a country best experienced North to South (or vice versa) and from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh there is loads to pack in. Trek with hill tribes in Sapa and sail in a junk on awe inspiring Halong Bay. Imperial Hue is ancient capital of Vietnam and is just a hop skip and a jump from the gorgeous port city of Hoi An where a multitude of tailors churn out sharp suits at rock bottom prices! Head south to the beach destinations of Nha Trang and Mui Ne, there are some upmarket options but resort development is still chaotic and Vietnamese enough to ensure its still charming. Don't forget to hire a board from the local kids in Mui Ne and sledge the massive sand dunes! The ride isn't over when you hit bustling Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) you can keep heading south to the Mekong Delta and Phu Quoc Island.
Despite Vietnam's troubled history of war and occupation, the welcoming smile of the locals remains resilient. In recent history Vietnam has been occupied 4 times by the Chinese, twice by the French and once by the Japanese and Americans. Final independence came at a price with 3 – 4 million Vietnamese dead and large parts of the country polluted with deadly Agent Orange. The people of Vietnam are still suffering the effects of Agent Orange and children are still being born with birth defects linked to the chemical.
Haggling remains a way of life in Vietnam with few prices being fixed, for some this can be a sure-fire recipe to ruin their trip. Don't assume that starting prices are unfairly high because you are a westerner, prices start high and are open to negotiation and it works in the same way for locals. Don't lose your temper when bartering, enter into negotiations with a friendly attitude as a smile will get you a long way. Be prepared to walk away if you don't get the price you want as you will find someone else selling the same thing nearby, often traders will call you back and agree your price anyway. Remember when bartering that no matter how poor you think you are, these people are a lot worse off than you. Sometimes if you are arguing over 50p its time to cut your losses and pay the price! Also, if you really don't want to enter into a long negotiation every time you buy a bottle of water, just pay the asking price; it will be a lot cheaper than at home anyway.
Last Edit by HT Helper on 14/03/2012 EDIT NOW >>