Since till 30th June 2016 there's an agreement
between Italy and Vietnam about no visa requirement for Italian
Citizens entry Vietnam if staying less than 15days and reentering
the country not before 30 days.
Be prepared to deal with huge amounts, not because
Vietnam is expensive but because for most of the countries
1 Dong will be equal to several thousand unit of your currency.
For instance 1€= 21.000 dong.
I used Lonely Planet 10th edition in Italian (Nov
We did not take any vaccination or prophilassis
neither for us nor for our 3yo daughter.
As concerns the risk of Malaria on the coast during the winter
time is negligible.
We paid attention to what we were drinking (always bottle water
and no ice) and we wash often the hands to our daughter with
At the end luckily our 3yo daughter did not have any health
- Check carefully on the net:
- the Vietnamese railway website: https://vietnam-railway.com/
- the worldwide trainschedules in http://www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm#.VuZz0PkrLIU
- Is it more convenient to fly or to take a train?
If you compare from a cost/time benefit flying will
turn out more convenient (ie: Danang- HoChimin by train
60$ in 15h, by flight 100$ in 15h).
However from the travel standpoint taking the train
you'll experience far more the country/people than on
the flight, that's why I really reccomend to experience
- How long Hanoi- Ho Chi Minh takes?
Assuming you want to do in just one shot it'll take
35-40h according to the trains you'll take
- Which is the most unconvenient leg you did as concerns
While Hanoi to Danang is very conveninent having a train
leaving Hanoi at 7.00 pm and arriving in Danang at 11.00am,
I cannot say the same for the Danang- Ho Chi Minh leg
since the trains leave late in the evening to arrive
in the middle of the day.
- How many trains are there?
Be aware that most of the trains to the full leg Hanoi-
HoChiminh, implying that:
- if you need to do get on and get off in intermediate
towns the timing might be unconvenient (ie: 4.00 am)
- trains will be easily full even if the leg you are
interested is not popular
1) First class: 2 bed berth (Livingstone train)
2) Soft bed: 4 bed berth
3) Hard bed: 6 bed berth
4) Hard seats
The best bed is the lower one (also the most expensive)
In the berth A/C is freezing so the best is to have
a tape to close the A/C slots above your bed.
On the train you won't find that much to eat so bring
your own food
About buying train tickets:
I've never tried personally but I've read several
complaints about people trying to buy them on line
unsuccessfully. It seems the Vietnamese railway websites
accept only Vietnamese credit cards.
Once in Vietnam the options are the station or the
If you are told by an agency that a train is fully
booked try at least another one.
NB: IF TRAVELLING IN HIGH SEASON BUY THE TICKET AT
LEAST 6 DAYS IN ADVANCE
- How to reach Cat Ba Island from Hanoi?
First of all DO NOT take the 15USD package offered by all
the agencies and by the hotel in Hanoi!
You'll find yourself on a bus for 3 hours to reach Haiphong
than another 1 hour bus trip to get to an harbor placed
in the middle of nothing. As third step on a shitty boat
for another hour to arrive in a rundown dock, and finally
again 1 hour by bus to be dropped in Cat Ba town. Much faster,
cheaper and comfortable is the train that takes 2.5h from
Hanoi to Haiphong; from here the speed boat that in 1h will
bring you directly in the heart of Cat Ba city. (check the
train latest schedule (Hanoi- Haiphong) in internet)
- General Tips:
- If you decide to visit in the north of Vietnam in December
and January be aware that it'll be cold and rainy. Bring
the right outfit to cope with such weather.
- In Vietnam there's a wide choice of night
buses and in particular I got surprised by a VIP sleeping
bus we took to reach the Can Tho from Saigon with a bed/seat
layout I had never seen so far. Tilting seats that becomes
beds set in a two deck lay out
The only downside is the Vietnamese length of such beds
that won't make you enjoy it if you are taller than 160cm
- Is it better Hanoi or Ho Chi Min?
I far preferred Hanoi since more traditional than the
cosmopolitan Ho Chi Min, but an expat will say exactly
the opposite. In the capital you will find more highlights
(Ho Chi Min museum and mausoleum, the water puppet show),
while his southern counterpart more night life. The thumb
rule is, as I read once, 'Hanoi is for the day, Ho Chi
Min for the night'
- About Ho Chi Min:
Ho Chi Min mausoleum in Hanoi opens only in the morning
Ho Chi Min museum (next to the mausoleum) is unremarkable
unless you have a guide; you can hire one but only in
- Don't miss the Caodaist temples: this is a sect merging
several religions as Islam, Christian, Buddhism,.. and
worshipping among others Shakespeare, Giovanna D'arco,
Victor Hugo. The main temple is 2h from Ho Chi Min, but
there are also others as the one in Danang. You can attend
the prayer as I did and it's an interesting experience.