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Getting Rid of Packing Woes

All the excitement of your holiday could simply come undone with the tension of having to pack for it. Making sure you have all you need and not weighing yourself down with too much luggage is difficult to accomplish. A little planning and tact can help see you through all these easily.
The first and most important thing you need to have is your paper. This will include passports and visa for Vietnam if needed, addresses, maps, guides and of course, your money. This can be put together in advance. Make sure you have travelers’ cheques and don’t carry too much money unless necessary. Keep these neatly organized in a convenient organizer. It is important to have copies of your documents in case they are misplaced.
Your toiletries follow. Carry them in as compact a pouch as you can. Restrict yourself to what is absolutely necessary. Make sure you carry your stock to cater to the climate and temperament of the place you are visiting.
As far as your clothes go, try and carry what requires little maintenance. Avoid clothes that crumple easily. Take what can simply be washed and worn. Also, take clothes that are light and take up little space. If you are visiting a colder place, avoid heavy winter wear, as it will take up all your luggage space.
Try instead the option of layering your clothes. Wear multiple layers of lighter wear. Not only will this provide more insulation, you can also take of one layer at a time as it gets warmer through the day. This is easier than moving around with a heavy jacket.
Use clothes that can be worn for more than one occasion. Try carrying pants that can be casual and also used for evening dinners. The same with your tops. Take stoles and accessories that can help transform your day clothes to slightly formal attire.
While choosing your accessories, make sure you take the minimal necessities. Carry what can match all outfits, and avoid taking very expensive things. Use what is comfortable and can be worn the whole day without making you uneasy and restless. Also, make sure what you carry does not pull your clothes and fray them.

More details:

Healthy when travel to Vietnam

Air quality is not good in the larger cities like Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Haiphong, and Danang; with no emissions standards, buses, trucks, and cars belch some toxic stuff. Visitors with respiratory concerns or sensitivity should take caution. Tuberculosis is a concern in more remote areas where testing is still uncommon.

Avian Influenza-Influenza A H5N1, otherwise called the avian influenza strain or, colloquially “bird flu,” followed right on the heals of SARS. It fit neatly into the same new media template of “apocalyptic pandemic.” (Although some wonder if it really just filled a news void, I don’t agree: I think this disease is a real risk.)
Since December 2003 (and as of Aug 2005), there have been a total of 109 cases of bird flu in Southeast Asia resulting in 55 deaths. The breakdown is as follows: 1 case in Indonesia resulting in 1 death; 4 cases in Cambodia resulting in 4 deaths; 17 cases in Thailand resulting in 12 deaths; and 90 cases in Vietnam resulting in 40 deaths. In the big picture the numbers are statistically insignificant. But what’s concerning are the claims by many pundits and scientists that the disease is bound to mutate and become transmissible among humans, causing a worldwide pandemic. (Currently, the flu is only contractible from direct contact with birds.) International bodies are closely monitoring the situation.
At present the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( has issued no travel warnings for affected areas but advises that you avoid visiting poultry farms or processing facilities. Be sure that all poultry and eggs are cooked thoroughly. Neither whole nor processed poultry is believed to pose a threat; only the handling of raw meat, blood, or entrails is cause for concern. Slaughtering chickens rarely ranks high on tour agendas, but do be careful in any large, industrial marketplaces.
In any case, make sure you’re updated with all immunizations and in good health before travel in Vietnam, and, true for all disease, persistent hand washing and avoiding touching one’s face with dirty hands will go far in keeping you healthy, much less coming down with rare respiratory ills. If experiencing any symptoms of severe respiratory problems after returning from an infected area, seek medical attention immediately.

Though not yet a major public health hazard, avian influenza — as well as SARS — poses a frightening model for future disease transmission: airborne or easily contracted viral strains that originate in animals. There have been no cases of person-to-person infection of bird flu, but it looks like the disease has become endemic to the region. There are more reports of the bird flu spreading to other small animals, increasing the likelihood that the virus will mutate, but this is still only speculation.
The countries of the region, Vietnam included, have been surprisingly forthcoming with information on new and even suspected cases. At one point, Thailand even claimed a possible human-to-human transmission — a claim that would devastate their economy — but it turned out to be misreporting. For the most updated information, contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( or World Health Organization (

Dengue Fever-Dengue fever is possible to contract just about anywhere in Southeast Asia. Dengue is a viral infection spread by a the Aedes-Aegypti mosquito. Symptoms include headache, high fever, and muscle pain. Unlike malaria and Japanese encephalitis, which survive and spread mostly out in rural areas, dengue knows no bounds and urban outbreaks are common. There is no prophylaxis and no treatment - and some cases are fatal - but with dengue, it is just a matter of suffering it out with cold compresses, fever-reducing pain relievers, and lots of hydration. A real drag.

Typhoid-A bacterial illness that is transmitted through contaminated food, typhoid is life threatening, especially to children and the elderly, but early detection and a course of antibiotics is usually enough to avoid any serious complications. There are a few different vaccinations available in both oral and injectable forms. Though they are only between 55% and 70% effective, the vaccine is recommended for travelers in the region.

Sun/Elements/Extreme Weather Exposure - Sun and heatstroke are a major concern in Vietnam. Locals wear those cool conical hats and long-sleeve shirts and trousers for a reason. Limit your exposure to the sun, especially during the first few days of your trip and, thereafter, from 11am to 2pm. Use a sunscreen with a high protection factor and apply it liberally. Asian people are still big fans of parasols, so don’t be shy about using an umbrella to shade yourself (all the Buddhist monks do), but note that it is a decidedly feminine choice of accessory. Remember that children need more protection than adults.
Always be sure to drink plenty of bottled water, which is the best defense against heat exhaustion and the more serious, life-threatening heatstroke. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages should not be substituted for water; they are diuretics that dehydrate the body. In extremely hot and humid weather, try to stay out of the midday heat, and confine most of your daytime traveling to early morning and late afternoon. If you ever feel weak, fatigued, dizzy, or disoriented, get out of the sun immediately and go to a shady, cool place. To prevent sunburn, always wear a hat and apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin. Be aware of major weather patterns; many island destinations are prone to typhoon or severe storm.

What to Do if you get sick away from home
Reliable emergency service is limited to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. Any foreign consulate can help to extend Vietnam visa and provide a list of area doctors who speak English. If you get sick, consider asking your hotel concierge to recommend a local doctor or nearby pharmacist. Some larger hotels and resorts have on-call nurses and doctors available for “room calls.” Do not get involved with local hospitals, many of which have an archaic standard of care, unless in the direst situation or as a base for an evacuation.
If you suffer from a chronic illness, consult your doctor before your departure. For conditions like epilepsy, diabetes, or heart problems, wear a MedicAlert identification tag (, which will immediately alert doctors to your condition and give them access to your records through MedicAlert’s 24-hour hot line.
Pack prescription medications in your carry-on luggage, and carry prescription medications in their original containers, with pharmacy labels — otherwise they won’t make it through airport security. Also bring along copies of your prescriptions in case you lose your pills or run out. Don’t forget an extra pair of contact lenses or prescription glasses. Carry the generic name of prescription medicines, in case a local pharmacist is unfamiliar with the brand name. Whether insured at home or through a specific travel insurance package, you may have to pay all medical costs upfront and be reimbursed later.


travel to Vietnam

Da Lat city in the clouds
Dalat’s cool winds and temperate climate, its French architecture and evergreen pine trees separate this “Little Paris” from the hot and humid tropical South Vietnam surrounding. Recent urban development and opening of many new resorts and hotels in Da Lat has made Dalat become more modern and tourist-convenient in the eyes of some, yet less romantic in the view of others. Though less popular among foreign visitors, Dalat remains the natural beauty, the city of thousand flowers, and the destination for lovers in the eyes of the Vietnamese. The name derives from the language of the local ethnic group Lat and its original meaning is "Stream of the Lat”.

Prior to 1893, the Lang Biang highlands were home to various ethnic groups. The French governor of Indochina Paul Dommer, together with Doctor Alexandre Yersin, decided to establish a sanatorium on the cool highlands of Lang Biang in 1899. In 1916, emperor Duy Tan decided to form Dalat town (center urban), township of Lam Vien province. The first Viet ethnic people who settled in Dalat were prisoners sent up here to build roads and other infrastructure.
The French built two new roads leading from Saigon and Phan Thiet to Dalat, providing the right conditions to turn Dalat from a nearly wild area to a 1.500 people town in 1923. It was Emperor Khai Dinh h who decided that Dalat should be come not only a city, but a tourist center. During World War 2, many of the French could not return to their country.
They stayed in Da Lat, giving the city its French town look which it holds onto until now. In 1975, Da Lat became one of Vietnam’s four governmental cities (along with Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh city).

The city of Dalat is built on the Lang Biang highlands, North of Lam Dong province. The highlands are surrounded by continuous mountains.

Dalat weather
Surrounded by mountains and pine forests, Da Lat has many characteristics of a temperate climate. The average temperature here is 18–21°C, with highest temperature 30°C and lowest 5°C. Dalat also has the two-season climate typical of South Vietnam, with a monsoon season from May to October and a dry season from November to April. Dalat is never stormy and only has occasional heavy winds from the ocean through the mountain less East side of the city.

Best time to go
Dalat is in the temperate region and has pleasant weather year-round, even sunny during much of the rainy season. The dry season lasting from November to March, and the rainy season from April to November. During the winter months, the average temperature is 10 C while during summer it is around 20 C. Ideal weather is from November to March, when the air is fresh and cool. 

Ho Chi Minh City (Former name Saigon)
The French nickname their dear city, “Pearl of the far East”. Chinese immigrants call it “Cho Lon”, meaning “Big market”. The Communist government renamed Saigon “Ho Chi Minh city” after the nationalistic revolutionary. With many names and a population of 9 million, Ho Chi Minh city rises as the juvenile leader of all Vietnamese cities. Unlike the old dame Hanoi slow, antique, reserved lifestyle, Ho Chi Minh city goes all out in the modern lifestyle. The city is always in a hurry: bustling, noisy, singing, entertaining, the people: loud and friendly and tourists can get Vietnam visa on arrival online at Tan Son Nhat International airport easily.

The area now called Saigon once were empty marshlands belonging to Cambodia. Flux of Vietnamese migrants flooded the area (running away from the Trinh - Nguyen civil war of the 17th century. The area later became greatly Vietnamized, until later completely assimilated into the country Vietnam by the Nguyen dynasty. During French colonization, the city was a French favorite. The colonizers developed the already bustling trade area into a high class, modern, European influenced city suitable for trade, entertainment and business. After colonization, Saigon became capital of the Southern side (supported by the US) during the American/Vietnam War. After Vietnam’s unification in 1945, Saigon opened up to include Gia Dinh province and was renamed “Ho Chi Minh city” after Vietnam’s communist revolutionary. Saigon now is Vietnam’s largest, most industrial and most developed city.

Saigon is located at 10°45'N, 106°40'E in the southeastern region of Vietnam. The city is 1,760 km (1,094 miles) south of Hanoi. It borders Tay Ninh and Binh Duong provinces in the north, Dong Nai and Ba Ria Vung Tau provinces to the east, Long An Province to the west and the South China Sea to the south with a coast of 15 km in length. The city covers an area of 2,095 km² (809 sq mi) (0.63% of the surface of Vietnam), extending up to Cu Chi (12mi/20 km from the Cambodian border), and down to Can Gio on the East Sea coast.

Saigon’s population has now exceeded 9 million. Besides the Viet ethnicity, Saigon has a large proportion of Chinese descendants. The Chinese immigration population concentrated around the “Cho Lon” (Big market) areas of district 5,6,7 and 11, forming Vietnam’s “Chinatown” (though I guess it blends with the scenery here more than say, Toronto).

Ho Chi Minh weather
Located in South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City city has a tropical climate. The average humidity level is 75%, average temperature is 28 °C. The city is generally warm, and has a monsoon season from May to November and a dry season from December to April. 

Hue first assumed its role as a capital city, during the Trinh - Nguyen civil war, when it was the capital of South Vietnam. I came to Hue during Tet Doan Ngo (Doan Ngo festival, a minor Buddhist festival) and it was impossible for me to find an open restaurant or shop in town. Vietnam’s ancient capital, booming city and a world renown tourist area, yet Hue is not at all noisy, rushed or commercialized like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Hue is honest and sweet. It is tranquil like the Perfume River that flows through it, majestic like the Royal Palace and tombs that would never let its secrets out.

To be precise, Hue city is the capital of Thue Thien – Hue province. Hue lies on the banks of the Huong (Perfume) river, in the narrow central of Vietnam, only a few miles west from the sea.

Hue first assumed its role as a capital city, during the Trinh - Nguyen civil war, when it was the capital of South Vietnam. In 1802, Nguyen Anh succeeded in unifying his rule over both North and South Vietnam, forming the Nguyen dynasty. Hue remained the capital of Vietnam until the end of feudalism in 1945.
During the Vietnam War, Hue held a strategic positioning as it was near the dividing line between North and South. The city’s elegant and refined architecture witnessed and suffered from one of the most lengthy and bloody battles in the War, the Battle of Hue (during the Tet offensive 1968). Many of Hue’s palaces, tombs and temples were destroyed by American bombs and bullets, as well as by neglect in restoration by the Vietnamese government during early years of independence (they saw these historical artifacts as remains of the oppressing feudal system).
Hue has now been returned the peace, attention and protection it clearly deserves. The remains of the Inner City (where the Royal family lived), tombs and temples offer insight into Vietnam’s past and rich culture. Hue has been certified by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site. Hue royal music (nha nhac cung dinh) is also considered a UNESCO intangible heritage.

Hue is the center of Buddhist worship in Vietnam, with many temples and tombs.

Hue Weather
The coast and delta area of Hue has tropical climate and is divided into two distinguished seasons. The dry season (from March to August) has a maximum temperature of 400 C and the colder, rainy season (August to January) has temperatures that can go down to 19,70 C. In higher areas (on mountains, highlands) the temperature is generally cooler.