Traveling to Vietnam: Travel Insurance and Top Tips for a Life-Changing Trip
From adventure-seeking backpackers trekking through Southeast Asia to curious civilians and aging veterans seeking peace, understanding, or closure, Vietnam has drawn millions of visitors from around the world to its mystical shores. A country with a long history of conflict, both externally and internally, Vietnam has played host to a secular pilgrimage of sorts for veterans, their families, and the curious, worldly traveler.
But there’s more to planning a trip to Vietnam than just identifying the areas you’d like to visit. Adventure, healing, peace, and closure are some of the things you might be hoping for, but there are some logistical concerns that you should also take into consideration. From travel insurance coverage to navigating the crowded streets of Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll find the best tips and must-haves below to ensure that your trip meets all your expectations.
Protect Your Investment: Travel Insurance
Travel insurance isn’t glamourous by any means, but neither is losing all your money by investing in a once-in-a-lifetime trip only to lose it and miss your vacation due to unexpected circumstances. Traveling anywhere is expensive and international travel is typically on the higher end of expensive, even if you’re going to a place like Vietnam where the costs are pretty low once you get there.
Travel Insurance can provide a means of getting your money back in case you need to cancel your trip suddenly, for a covered reason. While most places will have some sort of “refund policy,” you’ll run up against restriction after restriction, and, more likely than not, you will lose a significant portion of the money you spent on your trip—unless you purchase travel insurance and cancel for a covered reason (or any reason at all if you purchase a plan with an optional Cancel For Any Reason upgrade). Save yourself the added stress of canceling your trip and fighting for your money by getting a comprehensive travel insurance policy for your trip to Vietnam.
And even if you feel like canceling your trip will never happen or are okay with taking the chance of getting a partial refund, there’s way more to travel insurance than just insuring your trip before you leave. Many policies also include coverage for emergency medical treatment while away, which, especially in Vietnam, is more valuable than you could possibly realize.
General travel to Vietnam requires visitors to consider unpleasant situations such as getting sick from drinking unbottled water to contracting mosquito-borne diseases like Dengue Fever and malaria, both of which are pretty significant risks in the tropical, Southeast Asian climate. Being ill in a Vietnamese hospital isn’t the best way to find out that Medicare doesn’t cover medical treatment outside the United States. In fact, most domestic insurance companies don’t cover it.
Travel insurance policies provide emergency medical coverage options with varying limits that can help protect you while you’re away. Get travel insurance, get the emergency treatment you need, when you need it, and don’t worry about receiving a gigantic medical bill at discharge. It’s bad enough to lose time and money on your previously planned vacation while getting sick, so don’t add the financial stress to it too.
There’s good news, though. Travel insurance coverage is much more reasonable of an expense than paying a Vietnamese hospital bill! For basic comprehensive coverage (including trip cancellation and trip interruption), you’re looking at about 5-10% of the total cost of your trip, while premium coverage can run up to 15%. Providers’ coverage options and prices vary, so be sure to do your due diligence and check multiple providers for quotes.
But even that is made easier with our travel insurance comparison tool. Just enter your trip information and instantly receive multiple quotes for you to analyze and compare. And even better, you can purchase directly through our website and get instant confirmation of coverage with a lowest price guarantee! It’s economical and efficient to get your travel insurance sorted out quickly, and then you can concentrate on planning the perfect trip to Vietnam with total peace of mind.
Money Matters in Vietnam
The official currency in Vietnam is the dong, and it comes in a variety of denominations from 200 to 500,000. When exchanging your money, be careful, because when you’re dealing with a lot of zeros, it can get confusing, especially considering how similar in color different denomination notes are. Take time to sort your money before heading out so that you don’t inadvertently overpay. But if you do, don’t worry too much about it. Take it in stride and chalk it up to a learning experience!
If you’re thinking you can skip using cash and just use your credit card while away to avoid the confusion, you’re out of luck there. While most major credit cards are accepted at larger hotels and restaurants, cash still rules daily life in Vietnam. Fortunately, you can find ATMs pretty much anywhere in bigger cities, and currency can also be exchanged at banks.
Weather & Packing Tips
No matter where your travel takes you or when you’re planning to visit, there are definitely some things that you don’t want to leave at home. A travel pillow, sleep mask, noise-canceling earphones or earplugs will make any long road trips on buses or trains much more enjoyable for anyone planning on traveling around the country.
When deciding what clothing to bring, you’ll want to make sure that you’re prepared for the tropical climate in Southeast Asia. Most locals dress pretty conservatively, and you should make sure that your shoulders and legs are covered modestly. This is especially true if you decide to visit any of the pagodas and temples, as well as other sacred places and government buildings. Below-the-knee skirts and pants are perfect, but avoid 100% cotton and stick to lightweight rayon and polyester, as they’re more comfortable and breathable in the heat.
Visiting Vietnam does pose additional issues for folks visiting from Western countries. You’ll want to stick to bottled water as much as possible since the water isn’t treated the same way as it is in the U.S. In the probable event that you do end up ingesting regular water while in Vietnam, you’ll want to make sure you have a diarrhea aid with you. It’s also a good idea to bring bug repellent to protect you from Dengue fever and malaria, as well as Tiger Balm or Cortisone cream to prevent any bug bites from getting infected. Trust us, you don’t want to find yourself stuck in your hotel room bathroom covered in bug bites and fighting a relentless viral infection. That’d really put a damper on any itinerary!
Explore Vietnam from North to South
Vietnam has quite a robust transportation infrastructure, so it’s easy to get around the country once you get there. This makes it cheaper and gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility in exploring different parts of the country in a single trip.
Overnight buses are plentiful and are a great way to cover longer travel distances while saving on hotels if you don’t mind the lack of legroom. If you’d rather have more privacy, the top deck offers a great seat for an overnight trip, though you will be at eye level with street lights.
Trains are a great idea to get around the different areas of Vietnam, especially if you’re a railway enthusiast. In fact, the railway line runs the entire length of the country along the coast, from Ho Chi Minh City and through Hanoi, and is often considered one the most amazing train journeys in the world! If you’re looking to enjoy everything that Vietnam has to offer, make sure that train travel is part of your experience.
If the official vehicle of Texas is the pick-up truck, then for Vietnam, it’s the motorbike! Whether getting around the city or transporting live pigs, don’t be surprised when you see the vast amount of these flying through the streets in Ho Chi Minh City. To have a genuinely authentic Vietnam experience, you can rent a motorbike for about 100-dong/day. However, one look at the roadways may cause you to rethink that plan! Vietnam’s urban areas can look like a really stressful game of Frogger.
If you don’t like the idea of renting your own, but still want to enjoy the experience, jump on the back of a motorbike taxi and let the locals take you around! Not only will this fulfill your need to experience a motorbike in Saigon or Hanoi, but you can trust the locals to get you around safely.
With more than 300,000 kilometers of coastline and an easily accessible transport system, finding places to go isn’t hard in Vietnam! But if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas and specific destinations, here are some of our can’t miss favorite locales!
- Ho Chi Minh City
- Da Nang
- Phan Thiet
- Hai Phong
- Vĩnh Long
- Buon Ma Thuot
- Châu Đốc
- Mỹ Tho
For a more unique, local experience, here are some of our most loved and slightly less trafficked destinations
- Hạ Long Bay
- Sa Pa
- Ninh Binh
- Can Tho
- Mù Cang Chải