Travel Insurance for Vietnam
With one of the most exciting food cultures on the planet, imagination-defying world heritage sites, and just the right amount of English whereby you need to struggle a bit to get by, a trip to Vietnam will have you feeling like you're truly travelling and learning. Here's how you can find the travel insurance for Vietnam that suits your needs, as well as some tips for getting the most out of your trip.
Best Travel Insurance for Vietnam
So, how do we go about finding the best travel insurance for your holiday to Vietnam? There are a number of factors to take into account when booking your travel insurance to Vietnam, including: the nature of your trip (is it for business or leisure?), whether you'll be doing any extreme sports, if you'll be needing cover for gadgets and whether you have more than one trip planned this year.
Perhaps you're travelling to Vietnam strictly for business purposes? In this case, you'll need a quality travel insurance policy to match. In many cases a standard travel insurance policy won't include cover for things like business materials and gadgets, so it may be wise to take out travel insurance specifically for business travellers, or to purchase an additional business cover premium.
Backpacker & Gap Year Insurance
Vietnam is a popular destination for backpackers and those wishing to take a year about before starting University. If your plan is to make a tour of South-East Asia for an extended period, then it may be more cost-effective to take out a specialised backpacker or gap year travel insurance policy. You might even decide to do some work while you're out there, in which case you'll want travel insurance for working abroad.
Extreme sports cover
From rappelling in Hoi An to canyoneering in Delat, there's much for the adrenaline junkie to get stuck into on a trip to Vietnam. If your plan is to take part in some extreme sports, then getting travel insurance that covers these things is very important for obvious reasons. Most insurers will grade different sports according to their perceived level of risk and charge an additional premium accordingly. Before you decide to take out an additional premium, however, it's always worth checking whether the sports activities you have planned are covered under a standard level policy in the policy wording. For example, a standard level travel insurance policy with Holiday Extras covers up to 100 different sporting activities at no extra charge. Check out our extreme sports travel insurance page for more information.
While not essential, many travellers find it's worthwhile for their peace of mind to take out additional cover for their gadgets and tech. You might only be planning to bring a mobile phone, tablet and possibly a camera with you on your trip to Vietnam, yet if any or all of these items were to be lost, this could turn out to be quite a financial burden. In this case, having adequate gadget cover can save you the needless expense.
However, it's worth noting that while many insurers will state that they provide gadget cover up to X amount, in practice, this often comes to much less, as there is a limit to how much they will pay out for a single item. Bear this in mind if you plan to take some especially expensive tech with you. In some cases, it's worth taking out a separate, dedicated gadget cover insurance if you are looking to insurance bigger ticket items. As always, check out the small print first before buying!
Annual or Single trip?
There's never any harm in working out how things can be more cost-effective, and when it comes to travel insurance this is more than easily done. One factor to consider when choosing the best travel insurance policy for your needs is how many trips you have planned in the year. Will you just be needing travel insurance for Vietnam, and nowhere else? Then a single trip travel insurance policy is most likely your best option. If however, you know that you're likely to be taking more than two holidays in the year, then it is usually more cost-effective to take out an annual multi-trip policy, which has you covered for an infinite number of trips within a 365 day period (providing each trip does not exceed a 23 day period).
Visas for Vietnam
Vietnam is a country that will require you to purchase a visa before you can stay in the country for any length of time. Fortunately, visas are reasonably cheap and easy to get hold of from the Vietnam embassy. It costs around £50 for a 30-day visa, and it's possible to extend this to 60 days, for an additional £50. If you forget to purchase a visa before leaving for Vietnam, it is possible to get one at the airport, though it may cost you more this way.
Like most things in Vietnam, accommodation is extremely affordable. £10 will get you a nice hotel room for a night with all the amenities you'd expect. If you're really looking to scrimp and save, you can find hostels and dorms for as little as £3-4 per night!
Travel and transport
For travelling between cities, the main modes of transport are buses and overnight sleeper trains. It will cost you roughly £5 for a bus ticket between cities, and around £10 - £15 for an overnight sleeper train. A great means of getting around and experiencing the city is by bicycle, though you'll want to be especially careful on the roads of course...
Things to be aware of...
You'll be pestered as a Westener- If you appear to be from the west, then prepare to be pestered a lot by locals, as they'll just assume you're rich. This might mean having to fend off a large number of toutes and pushy sellers during your trip. Usually a simple but firm 'no' does the trick.
Barter for pretty much everything - Bartering is customary here, so don't be afraid to ruthlessly knock a vendor down, or walk away from a deal. When bartering over food, be sure to agree on a price before they serve the food. Even by taking this precautions, it's still possible that you'll end up being 'ripped off' by Vietnamese standards, but it's always comforting to know that you'll only be out of pocket by a few pence at the end of the day.
Be in Bed by 12!- The nightlife can be a little strange, at least in the capital Hanoi. Because of the strictly enforced curfew (whereby bars have to close by 1am) you'll find many of the locals drink quick and early. People tend to gather in the streets enjoying food and drinks, and you may see the odd musical ensemble popping up here and there, which all adds to the chaotic atmosphere.
What's with all the balloons..? - On any given Friday night in the cities clubbing area, you'll likely be struck by the number of colourful balloons floating about and just how many people are sitting on the pavement, taking long draughts out of them. If you're thinking about getting involved yourself, you should probably know that these balloons are actually filled with laughing gas which is freely sold to the youth in Vietnam. It's best to steer clear of anything at all drug-related as this could end up invalidating your travel insurance cover, should anything happen while you're under the influence.
Things to do in Vietnam
The Legendary Vietnamese cuisine
It would be entirely forgivable if your trip to Vietnam was primarily for the gastronomic experience more than anything else. A unique blend of Chinese, South-east Asian and French influences, Vietnamese cuisine is known the world over for packing a whole lot of flavour in one dish. Here are the dishes you should definitely seek out when it comes to meal time...
Perhaps the most famous Vietnamese breakfast/brunch item, the Banh Mi is a must try for visitors to Vietnam. Harking back to the days of the French occupation, the Banh Mi is a variation of the classic baguette, with a tasty South East Asian twist. The bread itself is made from a combination of rice and wheat flour, giving the baguette a texture that's soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Fill up on rotisserie pork, egg, cheese, anchovies, fish, pork belly, Vietnamese ham, whatever you fancy! Grab a Banh mi with a cup of classic Vietnamese coffee (a shot of espresso topped with a generous dollop of gooey merengue) and you have yourself a hearty breakfast, all for under £1...
Because of the heat, most Vietnamese tend to get up early, so lunch is also a little earlier, around 11:00am. It's best to go for lunch around this time, as this is when the food is at it's freshest. If you spot a place with savoury smelling smoke billowing out of it, then they're most likely grilling up some fresh pork or chicken. Popular lunchtime dishes include the classic Pho noodle soup, Com Tam (rice with marinated grilled pork and pickles) and Banh Khot (fried rice flour crackers served with fresh shrimp, spring onions and spicy fish sauce). The king of the lunchtime menu though has to be the Bun Thit Nuong a legendary noodle salad served with pork, fresh herbs and vegetables, fish sauce, marinated grilled pork, stir-fried pork and onions and fried spring roll topped with pickles, green onions, pork fat and a light drizzle of spicy fish sauce!
When it comes to dinner time, there are simply a wealth of options, all of them divinely delicious and almost criminally affordable. Night markets serve a variety of hearty dishes with meats, vegetables, rice and noodles. Seafood restaurants are also popular in the evening, Vietnam's 3260km coast yielding quality shellfish and other marine delights. There are barbecue restaurants, where they grill your favourite meat right at the table, and then there are the Beer Hoi places - comfortable spots serving cheap draft beer and tasty bar food.
Places to Visit in Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City - A popular mode of transport for most Vietnamese is the moped, and nowhere is this more evident than in Ho Chi Minh, often dubbed the "city of mopeds". Just watching the traffic can be an entertaining spectacle in itself (spot the guy carrying three passengers and a wardrobe on his little Honda 90).
Delat - If you like your extreme sports, then Delat is famous for its canyoneering and bungee jumping. Also, be sure to check out the Hundred Roofs bar, for a surreal drinking experience.
Halong Bay - Known for its emerald waters, thousands of towering limestone islets and grottos, it's small wonder that this area is the most popular tourist spot in Northern Vietnam. For a truly immerse experience in the Bay's ethereal beauty we recommend taking an overnight cruise-tour.
The established capital of Vietnam, to visit Hanoi is to glimpse the beating heart of the country. Here you'll find evidence of the countries colonial past, a rising millennial youth culture challenging traditions, and the colourful chaos you've seen from the movies. Hanoi can be split into six main areas:
The Old Quarter - Situated immediately around the Hoan Kiem lake, the Old Quarter acts as the centre of activity and is where you'll find most of the authentic street life.
West Lake - The largest lake in Hanoi, this area is home to the more affluent citizens of Hanoi, together with most of the expat community. The West Lake is a popular spot for recreation with many surrounding gardens, hotels and villas.
Ba dinh- The Political centre of Vietnam. Here you'll find most of the famous government buildings, monuments and landmarks. It's worth spending an afternoon here just for the photo opportunities.
French Quarter - A great place to experience the cultural juxtaposition that has become part of Vietnam's identity. Lined with Parisian style buildings and boulevards, a trip to the French Quarter transports you to the early colonial 1900's.
Ha Ba Trung - The most 'local' chilled neighbourhood. Here, you'll find life as it is in Hanoi.
Key places/sites to visit in Hanoi
The Temple of Literature
The Opera House
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The perfume pagoda
The Imperial Citadel
Hotel Metropole Hanoi