Know Before You Go: Voyage Into Vietnam | EF Ultimate Break

Voyage into Vietnam

Know Before You Go

It's almost time to go abroad! Take a couple minutes to read up on the ins and outs of your trip before you leave. When it comes travel tricks of the trade, we're quite the experts. And with this guide, so are you.

Getting There

Flights/Checking In

Your flight information will slide into your DMs (AKA online account) 30 days before departure. This is usually when you get to choose your seat and have the age-old internal debate: window or aisle? Some airlines will make the selections for you, so be sure to talk with the gate agent at the airport if you have a preference. Like being ahead of the game? You can check in for your flight 24 hours prior to your trip using the confirmation number found in your online account. If you’re more of a “wait till the last minute” kind of person, no worries. You can always check in at the airport upon arrival.

Note: All your ticket information is online (e-ticket), so you will not receive a physical paper ticket before you depart. You’re welcome, trees.

Checking a Bag

One checked bag is included in your ticket price. It should be under 29” tall and less than 50 pounds. We recommend aiming for 40-45 pounds in case you bring back souvenirs.

Arrival Day

After getting off the plane—and probably hitting up the airport bathroom—you’ll need to meet up with your Tour Director or EF Ultimate Break representative in the Arrival Hall. (They’ll be the one with the sign that says EF Ultimate Break.) They’ll bring you to your accommodations where you’ll have free time until everyone else arrives.

Travel Documents

For U.S. citizens, no visa is necessary (except of the credit card variety). All you need to bring is your passport. And not to sound like your grandma, but make sure you double check that it’s valid for six months after your expected return date.

For non U.S. citizens, you should contact your embassy to find out what specific documentation is needed.

Adapters/Converters

Outlets on your trip are different than in the States. You’ll need an adapter and converter that can fit Vietnamese outlets (most universal adapters). We recommend bringing a universal adapter/converter to ensure it works.

Most electronics, like phones and cameras, have built-in converters which change the voltage to match your device, but consider bringing one just in case.

Packing

Pack in layers, bring the essentials, and you’re golden. Like an onion, it’s all about the layers. Keep in mind that you’ll have to carry your luggage from city to city, so the lighter the better.

You should bring the following:

  • Light jacket, windbreaker, or scarf
  • Comfortable and closed-toed walking shoes
  • Flip flops or water shoes,
  • Beach stuff: Sunscreen, swimsuit, beach towel
  • Water bottle to stay hydrated
  • Bug spray. We recommend DEET 30 or Picaridin
  • Rain jacket/umbrella

Note: We recommend bringing a cross-body bag that zips close instead of a backpack. This will help you keep track of your belongings better and will help dissuade pickpockets.

On The Ground

Money

You’re traveling throughout Vietnam, so you’ll be using the Vietnamese Dong. We suggest budgeting $50-$80 per day for your meals, shopping, free time activities, tipping, and any Tour Director-suggested excursions. The rates at ATMs are always best, and machines are everywhere. We do not recommend exchanging cash, as many exchange offices have high rates and charge commissions. Be sure to let your bank know ahead of time that you will be traveling to Thailand, and make sure your credit or debit card has an international chip.


Currency Used: Vietnamese Dong (VND)

Note: Before your trip, it’s helpful to look up the exchange rates from USD to local currencies so you can budget accordingly.

Phones & Internet

We recommend you get an international data package from your cell phone provider. This way you can use your phone to share Instaworthy moments, pull up Google maps to navigate a new city, and stay in touch with your Tour Director and fellow travelers during free time. WiFi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, but trust us—you’ll want the international data plan to stay connected.

Tour Director/Local Guides

Your full-time Tour Director, aka local rock star, will be with your group from start to finish. They are either from Thailand, or have lived there for many years. From time to time you might also have a local guide to show you around a specific attraction. For both your Tour Director and local guides it is customary to tip for a job well done.

Recommended tipping amounts in THB (Thai Baht) are:

  • 885,573 – 1,475,955 VND for the Tour Director (given at the end of the trip)
  • 22,707 VND for local guides (given after the tour)
  • 22,707-45,414 VND per day for local bus driver

Note: We know these tipping amounts look crazy, but keep local conversion rates in mind. 1 USD equals about 22,707 VND.

Transportation

You’re traveling through Vietnam, and since teleportation hasn’t been invented yet, it takes time to get to each destination. The majority of travel will be done via private motor coach, planes, and ferries. Use this time to catch up on sleep, organize and find the perfect filter for your photos, read, chat it up with friends, or invent a new bus game.

Tour Tempo

We’re not Burger King, but you can still have it your way. We lay the ground work for the must-see sights, but also include plenty of free time for you to do your own thing. Your Tour Director might schedule some additional excursions during free time (10/10 would recommend), so check with them before making any reservations in case of a schedule change. This is YOUR trip, and we want to help you make the most of it!

Local Food

Welcome to whole new world of food! You’re in Vietnam—prepare to eat adventurously. Get ready to dig into flavorful noodle soups, rice dishes, and fresh spring rolls (just to name a few). Vegetarians shouldn’t have any problem finding something to eat. However, please inform your Tour Consultant of any dietary restrictions before the trip. As for the water situation, tap water is NOT safe to drink. Be prepared to buy bottled water.

Foods to try: Pho, Cha ca, Goi cuon, Ca phe trung, Bahn mi

Note: Since the food is very different, we recommend bringing Pepto-Bismol, Tums, or another stomach-relief medication.

Accommodations

When in Vietnam, you’ll live like the Vietnamese do. That means you’ll be staying in hotels and boutique hostels that are smaller than American rooms, and they won’t typically have air conditioning. In standard rooming, you’ll have up to five other travelers of the same gender. Roommates are assigned by your Tour Director and announced at the first accommodation. If there’s an issue, talk to your Tour Director—that’s what they’re there for!

Keep In Mind

Weather

The weather in Vietnam is typically warm and humid, however, the weather can be as diverse as the regions you’ll be visiting. To get the most recent weather information, you should add the cities you’ll be visiting to your weather app.

Culture

Like many Asian countries, it’s important to be polite, punctual, and on your best manners. (Yeah, we know grandma.) Show respect for Vietnamese culture by dressing conservatively throughout your trip. Wear long shirts, skirts, and pants when visiting religious sites, and be sure to have shoulders covered. Never put your feet up on seats or tables (even on the bus) as it is very offensive in Vietnamese culture to show the bottoms of your feet/soles of your shoes.

Useful Phrases and Expressions

The national language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. We recommend brushing up on some basic phrases before leaving. Most importantly: how to toast! And no, we don’t mean your bread. Say, “Môt, hai, ba, vô!”


  • Hello = Xin chao (sin chow)
  • Goodbye = Tam biet (tarm byeet)
  • Please = Kruna (kah-roo-nah)
  • Thank you = Cam on (kahm uhn)
  • Yes = Da (zah / yah)
  • No = Không (kaumng)

Safety

Here are some important “Rules of the Road” to think about while you’re traveling. We want you to have fun during your vacation, and most of all we want you to be safe—so here are some helpful tips to #playsafe while you’re abroad & especially when you’re out at night.


  • Take care of your personal belongings. Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box, and refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
  • Don’t be a party of one. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
  • Before you go out, grab a business card at each hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
  • At the end of a night out, use transportation options you trust like a licensed taxi or rideshare app such as Uber (where available.) Have cash on hand—splitting a taxi with your fellow travelers is a good way to save money too.
  • Be smart about alcohol consumption. You know the drill: Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met. Pace yourself and know your limits. Take care of each other out there!
  • You’re going to have a blast—day & night—on this trip, and we’re here for you around the clock if you ever need anything. Save our 24/7 number in your phone now: +1–617–619–1411.

Miscellaneous

If you’re bringing a waterproof camera or GoPro, make sure to bring proper straps and accessories. When it comes to free time, think about what your interests are and research what you want to do before your trip. That way you can maximize the time in each city you visit and check a lot of things off your list. Before leaving, speak to your primary physician about any recommended vaccinations/medications you may need.

You’re traveling throughout Vietnam! (You know, in case you forgot.) Now is the time to be brave—try new foods, make new friends, and go outside your comfort zone.


Bon voyage!

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