With a surge of Mekong River cruises and ocean cruises that stop off in Ho Chi Minh City being offered by operators, Vietnam has become very accessible and very popular in recent years. Although tourism is starting to grow, many places still have that authentic charm that you just don’t get in the western world where tourists have been influencing destinations for much longer. The culture is rich and vibrant and the people will welcome you with open arms, meaning there are so many good reasons to visit Vietnam.
We mentioned above that Vietnam has become more accessible in recent years, but as of July the 1st 2015 it has become even more welcoming to travellers. Visa restrictions have been lifted for any British passport holders that will be in the country for less than 15 days. That means that even if you embark on a full 14-night Mekong river cruise, you won’t need to go through the hassle of arranging and paying for a visa. However, if you are planning to visit Vietnam again in the following 30 days, documentation will be needed. At the moment, the changes are only temporary and will be in place until June the 30th 2016.
Cover Those Shoulders
As you venture in and out of the various temples and religious sites that you will visit on your river cruise, you will need to be aware that you are expected to cover up. Packing a shawl, cardigan or jumper (even when it’s hot) will mean that you won’t be turned away from any of the major attractions and that you will show your respect for the Vietnamese culture.
Barter, Bargain and Budget
If you spot the perfect souvenir in one of the many markets that you are likely to come across, be aware that the original price stated is likely to be considerably inflated. Bargaining is a way of life here and, if you’re not careful, the merchants will take advantage of the fact that we are all used to paying the full price in the UK. The best thing to do is to set yourself a budget of what you would be willing to pay for the item before you ask how much it costs. Then, whatever you end up paying, you won’t feel like you’ve spent more than you wanted to.
It’s natural to get a bit carried away with your photography when you are eager to create as many memories as possible, but it’s a good idea to check that it’s ok to take pictures before you get too snap-happy. Some religious buildings will ban the use of cameras, whilst some of the natives may be reluctant to be in your photographs. Respect the signs and remember to enjoy your beautiful surroundings through your eyes as well as your camera lens.
Use Your Common Sense
You may have heard stories about unlucky tourists having their belongings stolen whilst in Vietnam and this may have even put you off exploring the country. However, just like in any other country, as long you use your common sense you should be fine. This means not waving your phone around in public areas, keeping your bags close to you and generally keeping things safe as you would do anyway. You may also want to head ashore with only as much cash as you will need, leaving the rest behind on the ship, in your cabin safe.
If the recent changes to the visa restrictions have encouraged to venture into Vietnam, we have a range of Mekong River cruises available for 2015 and 2016. Call today for more details or to book.