Traveling to new countries with unfamiliar cultures is exciting yet often utterly, nerve-wracking. Questions of safety, health, money swirl through your head. Even when you have found the answers to most of them, you worry what question haven’t you asked. Well, ask no more, worry no more. We have compiled a list of the most Frequently Asked Questions about Hoi An and Vietnam.
Getting to Hoi An
Hoi An is around 30 minutes by car from Da Nang.
The easiest way to get from Da Nang airport to Hoi An (if you don’t have hotel pick-up) is to hire a private driver. This is how most expats do the Hoi An/Da Nang trip. The driver will pick you up at the airport and drop you at your address in Hoi An for around 250,000 VND. Green Mai Linh taxis which are prevalent at the airport will cost approximately 350,000 VND (confirm price with driver before getting in). Grab is more expensive. Other modes of transport are: Hoi An Express shuttle bus which leaves every hour between 4am and 10pm (110,000 VND); Sinh Tourist coaches. The Sinh bus leaves at 8.30am and 1.45pm, at 16 Ba thang Hai, Da Nang (79,000 VND). For more information check out their coach timetables or 12go.asia
Yes, it is safe. In the bigger cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi you will get scammers who can run the taxi meter fast or leave the last fare on so you get charged for that too. However, Hoi An and Da Nang are – at this stage – relatively free from that. Take the green Mai Linh taxis and have your hotel address and phone number written down to show them. But!! Always trust your gut – if something doesn’t feel quite right then opt for a different taxi/driver.
Is Hoi An safe?
Hoi An is one of the safest places we have lived. However, with the increase in Vietnam tourism and money being thrown around petty crime is growing so you still have to be ‘on alert’.
Always consult your doctor but generally the following is recommended: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid and Tetanus. Have them two weeks before traveling.
In our seven years here no one we know has contracted malaria. However, if you are thinking of spending time in the countryside then a course of anti-malarial tablets will not hurt. Far more prevalent is Dengue Fever. The best way to avoid ‘Dengue’ is to cover yourself in a DEET insect repellent.
Yes. You can buy a packet of Amoxocilin 500mg for around 150,000 VND over the counter.
Vietnam has come a long way. You can buy many types of medication over the counter in Hoi An. You will be surprised. It is legit and it is frequently cheaper.
Firstly, you will be okay! Vietnamese hospitals have come a long way and the general medical costs accessed through the Vietnamese system are relatively cheap. However, whilst routine medical issues can be dealt with here you would be advised to get home for anything major. Therefore, it is very important to take out health insurance!
No. Most restaurants are perfectly safe to dine at. In terms of street stalls, use your own judgement. A safe assumption would be that a stall with a high volume of customers is likely to be clean with a fresh supply of food.
No! Drink bottled water only.
Yes. In restaurants and bars, ice is usually made with boiled water. Many places will buy ice from companies rather than manufacture it themselves, a practice that is perfectly safe. Still, people with sensitive stomachs may want to avoid having ice in their drinks altogether, just to stay on the safe side.
Questions on Money
Tipping is a Western custom and not particularly expected in Vietnam. In restaurants, cafes, bars and taxis you do not need to tip but it is polite to round off small amounts i.e. 185,000 (to 200,000 VND). Staff in spas and salons often live on tips, as their salary is typically rather low. A good service here can be rewarded with 25,000 VND – 80,000 VND depending on the cost and quality of the treatment.
Credit card transactions are not the norm for most small restaurants, shops, bars or spas in Hoi An. Larger hotels, tailors and shops will normally take credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard. Remember though that when using a credit card, a processing fee will be added to your bill (approx. 3-5%).
Vietnamese dong (VND). You will feel like a millionaire very soon after changing your currency into dong. At the time of writing, 50 USD equates to over one million dong or to be precise: 1,125,000 VND.
Is it necessary to learn the Vietnamese language?
No. However, the Vietnamese really do appreciate you trying.
Do I need a Vietnam visa?
Most foreigners need a Tourist Visa to enter Vietnam. Depending on which country you are from, you get this visa online as an E-Visa or a Visa on Arrival (VOA). Both options are cheaper and easier than getting a visa from your country’s local Vietnamese Consulate.
Can I drive a motorbike in Vietnam?
As long-term residents of Hoi An, we cringe when people ask this question. Vietnam has one of the highest death rates in the world through motor-bike accidents. Indeed, it sometimes feels that everyone we know has had a motorbike accident of one kind or another – some have even been fatal. So yes, you can ride a motorbike in Vietnam but it is very dangerous and whilst the article, Rules of the Road, is very humorous it is actually spot on with how the rules work.
Motorbike rental: do I need a motorbike license to ride a motorbike in Vietnam?
Essentially: Yes. However, at this stage, anyone can hire a motorbike with or without a license in Hoi An and there are few to no police checks. However, if you have an accident and you do not have a valid license then your insurance company will not pay. Worse, due to very difficult laws on foreigners and motorbike licenses introduced a couple of years back by the Vietnamese government – most tourists can not get a Vietnamese bike license (whether they have a valid bike license from their own country or not). Please read our section on Insurance, it is really important.