Here’s a quick guide to Vietnam for my startup friends and co. based on things that I would do when I’m in Vietnam. I’ll put in more commentary at a later time but for now, tl;dw. In the meantime, check out the Triip’s Vietnam highlights to know more about local places and activities.
Note: I don’t get commission for recommending these places and it’s biased towards the North as that’s where I’m from. You can find plenty of advice on how to get around Saigon through Google.
- Presidential Palace Complex including HCM’s stilt house (Hanoi)
- Independence Palace (Saigon)
- Ha Long Bay
- Yen Tu Mountains
- Perfume Pagoda
- Sa Pa
Coffee / Working
- Saigon Works (Saigon)
- The Workshop (Saigon)
- Shin Coffee (Saigon)
- L’usine Dong Khoi (Saigon)
- Cafe Nha San (Hanoi)
- Hanoi Social Club (Hanoi)
- Manzi (Hanoi)
- Cafe Giang (Hanoi)
- There are also tonnes of other cool cafes but the above are my favourite. Recommended co-working spaces include Toong, Up, and Dreamplex.
- Use Lozi.vn and Foody.vn. Use Vietnamm to order food online.
- My favourites: Banh Da Cua, Banh Xeo, Bun Rieu, Bun Ca, Banh Cuon, Mien Ga, Bun Ngan, Goi Bo Kho, Banh Goi etc.
- Hanoi Restaurants: Dan Toc Quan, Mon Ngon Hai Phong, KOTO Van Mieu, Gia Ngu, Red Bean.
- Saigon Restaurants: Cuc Gach Quan, Ciao Bella, Pizza 4Ps, Propaganda Restaurant, Bun Cha 145, Noir.
- Social Club Saigon (Saigon)
- Pasteur Street Brewery (Saigon)
- Biacraft (Saigon)
- Chill Skybar (Saigon)
- Saigon Saigon Bar (Saigon)
- Glow Skybar (Saigon)
- Rex Hotel Rooftop (Saigon)
- Acoustic (Saigon)
- Yoko Cafe (Saigon)
- Top of Hanoi (Hanoi)
- Bia Hoi Junction (Hanoi)
- Mobifone – They’re at the airport. Get the M120 for 1.5gb of data to use Uber etc. Ask the staff to add additional voice call credits. Sim card costs 50,000 dong.
- Taxi – Uber works here, is cheaper and you don’t need to pay cash. Grab and taxi are also available everywhere. People here speak better English than China so you don’t need to worry too much.
- Motorbike – You can google various places on where to rent a motorbike but what’s more important is to read these tips. I haven’t bothered because traffic here can be unnecessary crazy with people riding and driving on wrong side of roads so it’s not worth taking the risk unless you have to or live here permanently.
Organisations with international links
- Tip – They don’t understand customer service here. Save your tips for other places.
- Credit Cards – Yes, they accept Visa and sometimes Mastercard here as well as Union Pay. AMEX, not so much. ANZ ATMs are everywhere in Hanoi and Saigon including a main branch near the Ho Guom lake in Hanoi but don’t expect to sort out your home loan there.
- Bribery – There’s a lot of form of bribery here, ‘express service’ is one form. Don’t engage in them, you’ll only make things worst.
- Bargaining – Bowl of street pho costs 40,000 dong on average and a bottle of coke is 10,000 dong so negotiate everything around that.
- Products – Most things in Vietnam are fake including electronics, even the cheap products or buying at a legitimate store (this also includes alcohol) so be aware when buying things.
- ATM – They only allow you withdraw about $2m VND at a time so best to exchange money back at home before you go.