PASSPORT and VISA
All travelers must hold a current Passport. Its expiry date must extend 3 months beyond the tour return date. It is one of the most important items you will carry. You must present it at immigration when you depart Your Country, to pass through immigration at your destination, when you’re leave at completion of the tour and when you reenter Your Country. You will also need it when cashing travelers Cheques at banks or hotel cashiers or making credit card purchases at department stores. For convenience carry it in your hand luggage or money pouch. Don’t pack it in your suitcase.
HEALTH REQUIREMENTS and PRECAUTIONS
No immunization certificates are required for tourists to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Singapore. Please consult your GP for advice concerning matters relating to influenza, tetanus, encephalitis, typhoid, hepatitis and malaria. Carry an emergency supply of tablets to ward off nausea and diarrhea when their first signs appear to alleviate long-term discomfort and be able to maintain tour schedule. Be sure to pack ample supplies of special medications that you have been prescribed. Keep them packed in original containers and carry prescriptions. This will help to verify the contents if challenged by a customs officer. You are advised not to drink tap water or rinse your month with it when you are cleaning your teeth. Carry bottled water from the thermos flask that is placed in your room. Only eat fruit after it has been peeled. HOPITAL IN HANOI
MONEY and FINANCE
The $US is the most convenient and portable currency to take to the region. Traveler’s cheques offer the best security. They are available from Your Country banks and readily cashed at foreign hotel cashier desks, bank and department stores. It is recommended that they be purchased in $US 20 and $US50 denominations. For security purposes record the serial numbers and keep the list in an alternative safe place. Such a precaution will assist you to replace the uncased cheques if they are lost or stolen. It is unwise to change money with dealers who approach you on the street with an offer of inflated exchange rates. Master Card, Visa Card and American Express holders may draw cash from regional banks and use in transactions when purchasing goods at department store, hotels and restaurant.
DEPARTURES and ARRIVALS
Airlines don’t wait! Buses won’t wait! Trains can’t wait! Check your assembly times for all occasions. Try to be early or punctual and so avoid disappointment and embarrassment. Before leaving home or your hotel for an international flight, double check to see that you have the correct departure time, carry the air ticket, passport and visa (s) documentations and expect to arrive at the air terminals 2 hours before departure time to book in. Be aware of excise, customer and quarantine regulations when departing from or arriving in a country and your obligations when signing declarations. Have your luggage packed the night before a departure. Use a checklist to pack your suitcase, backpack or hand luggage. When departing has a final check of draws, cupboards and bathrooms to see that nothing is left behind. It is very difficult to recover lost property once you move on. Your tour guide will confirm assembly times and schedules for excursions. Take notes and record changes to the set itinerary. Your full co – operation and punctuality will maintain a friendly and happy spirit within the group.
Each passenger is limited to one suitcase with a maximum weight of 20kgs for transport in the aircraft cargo hold and a carry on flight bag that will be stored in the cabin overhead locker. A camera and topcoat can be carried aboard also. All items must be clearly labeled and secured; Pack any fragile items in the center of the suitcase. Airlines baggage handlers are not noted for their gentles treatment of items. All baggage must be clearly labeled. If possible take a suitcase that has attached rollers. Report any loss/damage to suitcase or contents immediately.
Accommodation is arranged in 4 star and 3 star international hotels. Front desks are well appointed and manned by staff that has a good command of English. The twin share, double and single rooms are tastefully appointed. They have air conditioning and ensuite bathrooms and toilets. The electricity is a 220-yolt 50-cycle circuit, compatible with your appliances, but you will need to take a power point adapter to plug in your hair dryer or shaver. Hotels in the major centers have excellent dining rooms, snack bars, coffee lounges, liquor stations, shopping arcades, business center, hair dressers, beauty parlors, recreational centers featuring gymnasiums, swimming pools, pool tables and karaoke bars. Laundry bags can be left at the floor service desk in the morning and collected in the afternoon. Be sure to leave your room key with the front desk each time you depart the hotel.
TET and TRADITIONAL WORSHIP IN VIETNAM
The preferred spoken languages in each country are:
1. Vietnam: Vietnamese, French, English, Cantonese and Japanese.
2. Cambodia: Khmer, French, English
3. Laos: Laos, French, and English.
4. Thailand: Thai, English
5. Malaysia: Malays, Cantonese, English
6. Singapore: Cantonese, Mandarin and English, Malay and Tamil
The Department Stores have a comprehensive range of reasonably priced merchandise. Their staffs have basic command of English. There is no bargaining in these venues but some stores will “offer” a discount. It is a different situation in the “Free Markets” so BEWARE! The stallholders are very skilful salesmen. They will bargain and haggle and even reduce their first offer to a bare minimum in order to clinch the deal. It might even be halved, but they will be satisfied.
Here is some friendly advice. Avoid overspending at the beginning of the trip. Before the tour, plan the number of items you might need to buy Understand the relationship between the $A and the local currency. Be aware of over zealous traders who want you to buy everything on show. Observe and pool marketing experiences with colleagues. However if something really catches your eye, buy it, because there may not be an opportunity to go back.
At the time be very careful of your wallet and purse. Don’t leave them lying around in open places or leave them behind in your room when you go out. Carry notes and traveler’s checques in an inside pocket or money belt.
FOOD and BEVERAGES:
The hotel provides a “western” buffet style breakfast that consists of cereal, bacon, eggs, sausages, vegetables, fruit juice, toast, tea, coffee and milk. Local fare is also on the menu. Lunch and dinners at selected restaurants will be banquet styles local fare. The choices are likely to include dishes of beef, pork, chicken, fish, vegetables and soup. Tea, coffee, mineral water and soft drinks are served with all meals.
Only in the principal centers will the hotels and leading restaurants be able to supply a “western” menu for lunch and dinner.
POSTAGE, TELEPHONES and E – MAIL:
Hotels have a business center within their officer complex. Guests can make direct telephone calls from their rooms or make arrangements for call charges to be reversed. Faxes and emails can be received and sent at the Hotel Business Center. Internet cafes are located in all the major cities.
Don’t use your country stamp to mail letters or cards. There are facilities for buying local stamps and posting mail in the foyers of the hotels. The delay for posting and receiving mail to and from your country will be about 1 week.
VIETNAM GORVENMENTAL AGENCIES
TRAVEL and HEALTH INSURANCE:
It is strongly recommended that each tourists have insurance to cover situations where you wish to protect against loss of deposits for tour and airline tickets, recover costs for medical treatment if you fall ill or have an accident and seek compensation for lose of luggage or money.
The countries of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore are situated in the northern tropical and temperate zones. The annual temperatures range between 12 – 35 degrees. The hottest months extend from April to August and the cooler months from November to February. The biggest contrast in the weather pattern occurs between the wet and dry seasons. The dry season extends from October to February and the wet seasons, torrential downpours sweep across the landscape. The last for and hour or so and then make away for a return of sunny blue skies. They rarely interfere with the travel activities.
Thing to remember
It’s in your best interests not to drink the tap water, especially after flooding!
Avoid cyclo ride after dark.
Dress midestly and appropriately when visiting local dwellings and religious sites, etc.
Leave your valuables behind before a night out on the town, or going to the beach.
When crossing the road, especially in Ho Chi Minh city, always keep looking to the left and right and walk slowly!
Don’t offer money directly to minority people – instead donate to a local charity or offer a small gift, such as pens.
However frustrated, don’t loose your temper (“loosing face”), as it won’t get you very far!
Try and sample at least once the delicious, local street food.
Alway ask permission first before taking photographs, especially in minority areas.
Thing not to miss
Sleeping out on deck on a boat in Halong Bay
Ordering custom-made clothes from the local tailor shop
Taking a slow cyclo ride through the French Quarter of old Saigon
Eat Pho ga (chicken noodle soup) at a street side noodle stalls.
Watch the traditional water – puppet performance in Hanoi.
Experience the Full-Moon festivities in the ancient town of Hoi An.
Drink rice-wine in the minority villages of the north
Take a koat along Hue’s Perfume River, taking in the Royal Mausoleums.
Overnight in a homestay in the Mekong Delta’s riverside orchards.
Barter for a bargain at Saigon’s largest merket, Ben Thanh
Take a stroll through Hanoi’s ancient old Quarter.