Vietnam Basic Information
While you may be an expert when it comes to Vietnamese food, that doesn't make you an expert on travelling in Vietnam. Before you go, you're going to need to do a bit of homework, starting with the following basic information.
Australian passport holders must obtain a visa or a visa on arrival approval letter prior to entering Vietnam, which can only be obtained from your local Embassy or Consulate of Vietnam. All foreigners are required to register their place of residence with the police within 24 hours of arrival. Most hotels will do this for you, but if you are staying at a private residence you'll need to do this yourself. Please be aware this visa information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute visa information, contact your nearest Embassy or Consulate of Vietnam.
The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and Vietnamese Dong can change regularly, so in order to get the best exchange rate, aim to monitor the rate in the lead up to your trip.
Vietnam is practically the holy land of cheap eats. Where a AU$1 bowl of noodle soup called pho will rock your world and not even register on your bank account. As the national dish of Vietnam, pho is the perfect example of what makes this country's cuisine so tasty; fresh basil, coriander, mint and lime, crunchy bean sprouts, sweet and spicy sauces and a simple meat broth. Vietnamese cuisine is all about the combination of flavours; spicy, sweet, salty and fresh produce. Some standout dishes to try include fresh pork baguettes known as banh mi (with a nod to the French influence), spicy fishcakes and the crab noodle soup called banh da cua. If you're on a budget you won't have any problem finding these dishes on the cheap with street stalls offering freshly cooked meals at incredible prices. Another must-try is Vietnamese iced coffee (ca phe da) - a strong dark roast coffee served black with sweetened condensed milk over ice.
For all its tribal villages and tranquil rice paddies. Vietnam is also a country that knows how to party. Cheap beer is one way to get things started. And then, of course, there are the karaoke bars of Ho Chi Minh City and the beer gardens and pubs of Hanoi. Besides some of the tourist towns along the coastline, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is where you'll find most of the after-hours action. Out of the two cities, Hanoi is considered to have the better nightlife with the city's Old Quarter the most popular place to be when the sun goes down. Check out the karaoke scene at a bar in Hanoi, have a cheap as chips pale lager at a beer hoi drinking den that spills onto the streets in Ho Chi Minh, and hang with other expats in a bar with a view in Ha Long Bay.