Voyage to Vietnam
Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
For the most up to date entry requirements for this tour, please visit this page.
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 617-619-1411. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
A visa is required for U.S. citizens traveling to Vietnam. You can apply online for the E-Visa, which is good for stays of up to 30 days. It can take a few days for this to process.
- Talk with your doctor: It is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
- Traveling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals.
- Request a roommate: Double-check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan for your mobile device so you can stay connected while on the road. Free Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
- Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, though charges may apply and it may be slower than in the U.S.
- Get the EF Ultimate Break app: Your trip's group will be able to connect on the app before you meet IRL. Don't miss out! Meet other travelers, get updates from your Tour Director, see flights and accommodations, and more. If you're having trouble, give us a call at 617-619-1411.
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. You can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
- If your flight is canceled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancelations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
- If you slept in and missed your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
- Travel from the U.S. to Asia is a lengthy process (20 – 30+ hours travel time total), so prepare for your long flight. Download movies ahead of time, bring that book you’ve been meaning to read, and get some sleep! When flying, we suggest occasionally getting up to stretch, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated!
Arriving in Hanoi
Welcome to Vietnam! Your Tour Director will communicate through the EF Ultimate Break app, WhatsApp, or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is an important reason to make sure you have the EF Ultimate Break app!
If you have booked your own flight arrangements or have extended your travels before the tour dates, you will need to make your own way to the first hotel. Accommodation details will be available in your online account 30 days prior to departure.
Getting from A to B
Transfers between cities are via private bus or internal flights, and these transfers can take anywhere between 2-6 hours. Prepare to walk between 4-8 miles per day, especially when sightseeing.
There’s a difference between maximizing your time and spreading yourself too thin. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy on tour:
- Sleep: Flying across the globe, changing time zones, and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon siesta, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Stay hydrated: It’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, we recommend bringing a refillable water bottle!
- Be prepared: We recommend bringing a small first aid kit including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
- Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
- Insight Timer: Meditation apps are very in right now. This one is especially amazing because there are 80,000 free daily meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, and stress.
- What’s Up: If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed, What’s Up can help you manage these feelings with interactive games, forums, and a thought tracking diary.
- Talkspace: No need to make appointments or commute to a therapist’s office. Talkspace gives you 24/7 access to real, licensed therapists. You can talk, text, or video chat with them right from your phone.
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Vietnam. However, we recommend you consult your physician or local travel clinic, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) at lease 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and vaccine / entry requirements.
While you're in Vietnam, keep these additional tips in mind to stay healthy:
- Consult your doctor or healthcare provider at least 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and entry / vaccine requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov.
- Drink bottled water only. Avoid tap water, even when brushing your teeth.
- Take proper care with sun exposure. The sun is very strong in some of the areas you are visiting.
- Public restrooms in some parts of Vietnam can be quite bare. We suggest carrying bathroom tissue and hand sanitizer with you.
- Mosquitoes in Vietnam can carry diseases. Though getting bitten is less likely in major cities, be sure to pack DEET-based insect repellant and apply it in the hours around sunrise and sunset.
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- 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. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Petty theft is fairly common in major cities. Keep a close eye on your belongings, especially alongside busy roads where thieves on motorbikes could attempt to snatch your bag.
- Cross streets carefully, but confidently. Traffic in Vietnam is notorious, making crosswalks chaotic and intimidating. However, drivers are used to swerving around pedestrians, so it's best to walk consistently for them to be able to predict your movement instead of trying to dodge them yourself.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. 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.
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi and always have cash on hand. Be sure to negotiate the fare price before starting the drive, or use a ride-hailing app like Grab .
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411.
For weight and size restrictions please refer to your airline’s website. Flight information will be available 30 days prior to departure in your online account. Below you'll find some critical packing information and suggestions.
- The most important piece of advice we can give you: Pack light! Your international airline ticket does include a checked bag, but years of customer feedback tells us a carry-on is the way to go. You may need to carry your suitcase where buses and elevators cannot, so make sure you are comfortable carrying everything you bring yourself.
- You've probably heard the hacks about rolling clothes and using packing cubes a million times, but there's a reason for that! It really does help.
- If you choose to pack all of your toiletries, don't bring your regular-sized bottles from home. Offload some of that into travel-sized containers.
- Choose your luggage wisely. We recommend a roller carry-on bag and a backpack as your personal item.
- Choose shoes carefully as well. They're some of the bulkiest items you can pack, so we recommend a good pair of walking shoes and a pair of climate-appropriate shoes (boots or sandals depending on the destination and time of year). We also recommend a pair of closed-toe water shoes if your itinerary has any water activities.
- Make a packing list of must-haves and stick to it. If you have a little extra space in your bags once all your must-haves are packed, then consider adding in a few nice extras.
- Unfortunately, luggage can get lost. It’s a painful situation no matter what, but here are tips to ease some of the hassle:
- DO NOT put important medications in a checked bag. If your luggage is lost, this could become a dangerous issue.
- Even if you put most of your clothes in a checked bag, put a couple outfits in your carry-on along with your toiletries.
- If you are forced to check you carry-on at the gate, be sure to remove essentials and valuables before handing it over.
- Carefully review TSA restrictions when packing. There are a number of items not allowed in your carry-on and liquids have certain restrictions.
- Check out the local weather; we haven't figured out how to control the weather yet so best to be prepared and plan accordingly.
- Don't forget: Outlets overseas can differ from the US, so be sure to pack the right power adapters/converters!
Budget around $60-$80 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities.
Remember that you know your spending habits best and not everyone’s spending habits are the same. These recommendations are based on a traveler who says yes to any and all activities while on tour.
The local currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese dong. Read on for more must-knows about money and tipping on your trip!
- When exchanging money before the trip, better rates are usually found overseas, but it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.
- Cash is king in Vietnam, but you should take debit and credit cards with you to withdraw cash at local banks as needed.
- Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
- We recommend tipping your Tour Director $48 - $72 at the end of the trip.
- For local guides, we recommend tipping $3-$5 at the end of each experience.
- Tipping is only customary in high-end restaurants, which oftentimes add a 10-15% service charge to your bill. While tipping is not expected elsewhere, you can tip around 10% for exceptional service if you'd like.
The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. While it may feel awkward at first, attempting the local language goes a long way when navigating a city and interacting with people. Practice these basic phrases to get started:
- Hello: Xin chào (Sin chow)
- Goodbye: Tạm biệt (Tam biet)
- Please: Làm ơn (Lom on)
- Thank you: Cảm ơn (Cam on)
- Yes: Dạ (Dza)
- No: Không (Kong)
- Cheers!: Dzô! (Yo!)
Download Duolingo or some language-learning podcasts to practice your skills, and use Google Translate to help you while on the road!
Vietnamese people as a whole are humble and optimistic, making it easy to want to immerse yourself deeper into their way of life. Here are some expert tips to help you understand the ins and outs, and feel like a true local:
- GrabTaxi is basically Vietnam's version of Uber. You can use this app to order a taxi, and it’s a safe and reliable way to get around!
- Vietnamese people are very modest. Even though some things may be very cheap to you in comparison to what you're used to, be careful not to flaunt money.
- Shouting for your server at a restaurant isn't considered rude. If you need to get their attention, simply call out, "Em ơi!"
- Haggling over prices in markets is the norm. But don't bargain too aggressively, as saving face is important. A good rule of thumb is to start at 40-50% of the asking price.
- Try your best to finish the food on your plate, it's considered disrespectful not to finish a meal.
- Chopsticks are a staple of Asian cuisine and culture. Attempting to use chopsticks instead of western cutlery will earn you some respect with the locals, but be wary of using chopsticks to point at someone, poke at food, or play them like musical instruments - these are all signs of disrespect.
- If you need to put down your chopsticks while eating, put them on the table or lie them horizontally across the rim of your bowl. Avoid sticking them upright into the bowl.
- When out in a group, people often drink in unison, particularly if there's something to be excited about. It's initiated with a call od, "Mot, hai, ba, dzo!" Meaning, "One, two, three, cheers!"
From vibrant colors to herbal aromas, Vietnamese cuisine strives to appeal to all of the senses. Read on for tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try.
- Phở: If there's only one Vietnamese dish people know, it's almost always pho. And with good reason; it's a classic rice noodle dish with an herbaceous broth.
- Mi quang: Additionally, you could try Hanoi's specialty noodle soup based around a turmeric-infused bone broth.
- Bánh mì: This sandwich often comprised of pate, pork, pickled veggies, coriander, and chilis is a staple of Vietnamese street food.
- Gỏi cuốn : Spring rolls of shrimp, pork, and fresh veggies wrapped up in a rice paper package.
- Bánh xèo: Rice batter cooked like a crepe, but folded like a taco, and loaded with pork belly, shrimp, bean sprouts, and mung beans. Not to mention the fish sauce with garlic and red pepper to dip it in.
- Cha ca: With so much coastline, it's no surprise that there are plenty of fabulous seafood options on offer. This white fish seasoned with turmeric, dill, garlic, and ginger is pan-fried in butter.
- Tea: You'll have no shortage of tea options (usually iced), infused with everything from kumquats to artichokes.
- Rice wine: Not to be imbibed like glasses of wine, this liquor is proofed around 40%.
If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time.
Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add-ons.
Overnight trains are a quintessential part of journeying through Southeast Asia. Take this opportunity to mingle with your fellow travelers, rest up to the best of your ability, and watch lush scenery of Northern Vietnam roll by as the sun rises. See below for tips and information to help you get the most out of this unique experience.
- The cabins will have two beds in each room and there is a shared bathroom in each train car that has a sink and toilet.
- Even if you purchased a single-room upgrade, you may have to share your cabin with another traveler from your group for this night due to capacity restrictions on the train.
- We suggest always carrying some toilet paper and hand sanitizer in Vietnam just in case, but this is especially true for an overnight train.
- The train can rock a bit, so consider packing some motion-sickness medication if you're prone to that.
- If you're a light sleeper, consider bringing an eye mask and some ear plugs.
- Be prepared for an early-morning wakeup call. About an hour before the train is set to reach the station, music will start playing and staff will come by knocking on doors and offering coffee or tea for purchase. But don't worry; when you arrive at your hotel in Sapa you will have some downtime to eat breakfast, shower, and take a nap.
- Though you'll have dinner beforehand, refreshments on the train are minimal, so you may want to bring some along. This also means stocking up on water.
- The train is equipped with Wi-Fi, but the connection can be poor and shouldn't be relied upon.
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.