Packing Pack light leaving enough room for the stuff you buy. Even better buy another bag there. Line your bags with bubble wrap and bring tape for wrapping stuff that might break. Laundry service is cheap and fast at most hotels. Your guide Most are male but some females also guide. Most, but not all speak english well. All have been to guide school. They know a lot about the history of many places in Vietnam. Sometimes they give me an overload of information and I turn off the volume and wander away to enjoy the site on my own. This makes the guide crazy. His or her ducks are not in a row! You start as strangers with your guide but soon get to know and like each other. You peek into their lives and they into yours. The real money they earn is the tip you pay at the end of the trip. They work many hours a day for you and earn every penny. Salesmen They are everywhere! It would seem they are there every minute of the trip. You must tell yourself that they are only trying to support a family and keep your smile turned even when they don't take "no" for an answer. There is always going to that little boy or girl that you have to buy from. You will not be without postcards! The haggle - You will haggle for most things. It is a game to the seller and must be one for you. Keep your smile on. A trick I do is at the end, when we settle on a price, I always pay a little more. The shop keeper will be happy and I will be too. Things are cheap in Vietnam and if the shop keeper makes half a dollar more, who cares. Language Learn a few Vietnamese words it will bring a lot of good will. Some people will come up to you and talk in english. They don't always tell you but they just want to pratice speaking and hearing english. I love this! I learn so much about Vietnam and it's people this way. Sometimes I buy them a beer and sit and talk a long time. Like any country, the people outside the cities seem more open and friendly. The kids will follow as you walk around. You seem very strange to them and they just want to watch you and listen. Picture taking If you want to take a close up picture of a person, please ask first. You don't have to speak Vietnamese. Just point at your camera and at them. Most will say O.K. but some will say no. If they say no, please walk away. They may not want their picture taken for many reasons. Film is cheap in Vietnam. Also develope film in Hanoi or Saigon. Very cheap and well done. Video cameras are great but you need a converter for battery charger. Crime? Vietnam is safe but you do have to have a little a little street smarts. Customs Very easy in and out. Flying Flying in Vietnam is modern and safe. Food It is cheap and very good. Breakfast comes with hotel room. It is not safe to buy food from street vendors. Drink only bottled water and lots of Tiger Beer. Enjoy! Vietnam is a happy place. Relax, come with an open mind and bring your smile. You will get a smile back and you will want to come back!
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