Government offices and museums open early, around 8am, and close between 4pm and 5pm. Avoid doing business from 11.30am to 2pm, when people are either at lunch or napping.
Vietnam uses 220V electricity nationwide. In the south, outlets are often US-style flat pins. In the north, many out-lets fit round pins. As the electrical current varies, use a surge protector when running sensitive electronic equipment like laptops.
Currency in VN:
The currency in Vietnam, the Dong (VND) which can not be purchased outside Vietnam, has coins. The current exchange rate is around VND16.000 to the US dollar. US dollars remain widely accepted at hotels, but you should have local currency tor use in taxis and shops. For exchanging into VND, go to the banks or exchange desk everywhere.
Credit Card or Traveller's Cheques in VN:
You can easily use Credit cards in big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city. Visa and MasterCard are accepted in almost hotels, restaurants and shops. ANZ and Vietcombank have automated teller machines (ATM) for cash advance (in VND). Do not accept old, faded or ripped bills (dong or dollars), as you may have trouble spending them
International phone charges are steep in Vietnam and many hotels, especially upmarket ones, add extra fees, Check the rates before dialing. One long-distance service offers a flat fee of around US$0.75 per minute to 50 countries; dial 171 followed by the country code and number
January 1 - Western New Year's Day
The Climate in Vietnam:
Vietnam has a particularly complicated climate and, like elsewhere in the world, weather patterns have been changing over recent years. The situation described below is therefore only an indication of the type of weather you can expect
Northern Vietnam Climate:
Starting in the north, autumn (September to December) is undoubtedly the most pleasant season. At this time of year it’s generally warm (average temps above 20°C), dry and sunny in the delta, though you’ll need warm clothes up in the mountains and on the waters of Ha Long Bay. Winter (December to February) can be surprisingly bitter as cold air sweeps south from China bringing fine, persistent mists and temperatures as low as 10°C. Things begin to warm up again in March, which ushers in a period of good, spring weather before the summer heat begins in earnest in May, closely followed by the rainy season in June. This combination makes for hot, sticky weather which takes many people by surprise
Central Coast Vietnam Climate:
The coastal region from Hanoi south to Hué lies in the typhoon belt. Around Hué, typhoons seem most prevalent in April and May, while further north the season generally lasts from July to November. However, typhoons are incredibly difficult to predict and it really is a matter of luck - or bad luck, rather - if you are caught. Flights are usually only disrupted for a matter of hours, but in recent years the main road and rail routes heading south have been cut by floods at least once during the typhoon season. The good news is that they usually get everything moving again incredibly quickly - within four or five days, depending on the severity of the damage
Southern Vietnam Climate:
Southern Vietnam is blessed with a more equitable - and predictable - climate. Here the dry season lasts from December to late April/May, and the rains from May through November. Most of the rain falls in brief afternoon downpours, so you can still get out and about, though flooding can be a problem in the delta. Daytime temperatures rarely fall below 20°C, occasionally reaching 40°C in the hottest months (March to May). Once the rains start, humidity climbs to an enervating 80%
Everyone in Vietnam seems to be learning English. Standards are relatively high considering the country has only been open for just over a decade. Most young people and many of those working in the tourist industry speak sufficient English to communicate at a basic level. You’ll find more and better English-speakers in the south - a legacy of the American presence - but even here don’t expect to find English spoken at small restaurants, in markets or anywhere off the tourist trail. For such situations it will help to have a basic phrasebook.