AFP correspondent, Marybeth Bond recommends that foreign visitors to Vietnam should learn some special local words like “thit cho” (dog meat), “thit meo” or “tieu ho” (cat meat) in order not to eat the things they don’t want to.
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1. Cross the street
Many foreign visitors find it interesting and a little bit frightening at the same time to cross the street in Vietnam. All you have to do is walk slowly, keep a stable speed, don’t hesitate, don’t stop and never text on the mobile phone or see the map while getting to the other side. The others will direct their means of transport to give way for you.
2. Be aware of “thit cho, thit meo” (dog and cat meat)
If you don’t pay attention to which dish you are going to order, you may eat your pet friends by mistake. That is the reason why you should keep in mind these 2 Vietnamese words. Since in 1997, although cat meat has been banned in Vietnam, it is still publicly sold in market and food stalls. Many cats are smuggled from China, Laos into Vietnam. In the menu, dog meat is called “thit cho” or “thit cay”; cat meat is called “thit meo” or “tieu ho”.
3. Vietnam Dong (VND)
1 USD equals about 22,734 VND. Remember this exchange rate is useful. A trick to avoid any mistake in spending money is to know each denomination’s color.
4. Pronounce “pho” exactly
This famous dish appears everywhere in Vietnam. Try to know how to pronounce it so that Vietnamese will figure out immediately what you order.
5. Prepare clothes by seasons
In summer, Vietnam weather is hot and humid, so you’d better leave jeans at home. In winter, the North of Vietnam is extremely cold and a warm jacket is very necessary. Always see the weather forecast before starting your trip and remember to bring an umbrella in case of rain.
6. Ask to know the taxi fare
If you go in a group of 3, it will be cheaper to hire self-drive car and guide. Independent tours to decide everything. When to leave the hotel, where to eat, where to visit and what time to come back to the hotel are up to you. If going on a tour, you have a fixed schedule and have to listen to the guide.
7. Be aware of taxi scam
There are some illegal taxis in the airport. You should book for a taxi at the hotel to avoid being charged too much money. You don’t have to pay the tolls, so decline if asked. Vietnamese drivers are likely to disobey the traffic regulations. Feel free to remind them of not using the phones while driving. Because maybe they will drive the longer ways and you will have to pay more money, not to mention this is very dangerous.
8. Passport valid for at least 6 months
Make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the time you set your foot in Vietnam. A passenger next to me got declined to entry because his passport is only valid for 5 months. Customs officers in Vietnam are very strict at this point.
9. Many ways to get visa
For example, you can send your passport to Vietnamese embassy in Washington DC by mail. It takes you a month to get your visa by this way. Another way is to get your visa on arrival, but it is necessary to have a visa approval letter via the entry service with about 50 USD.
10. Buy a SIM card in Vietnam
It is easy to buy a SIM card right at the airport. When running out of money, you can buy a mobile phone card in any department stores on the streets. Another way to keep contact is using free service to call and text via Wi-Fi. Remember to turn off the roaming mode before using Wi-Fi.