Additional Information about Travel to Vietnam and Cambodia
TippingAt the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your tour guide and driver a gratuity. Your WEST tour coordinator will collect the gratuity at any point during the tour (many travelers like to pay ahead of time to get it out of the way). Although it is not required, your driver and tour guides rely on these tips, and work hard to ensure you an unforgettable experience. We recommend tipping the equivalence of $3 USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6 USD/CAD to $9 USD/CAD per person per day for your tour guide. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalency of $2 USD/CAD per local guide, payable following the local tour. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
In order to enter Vietnam and Cambodia, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of your return home and at least two blank pages. A visa is also required for U.S. and Canadian passport holders to enter both Vietnam and Cambodia. You can obtain an individual visa for Vietnam through our recommended provider VisaCentral. You may choose to obtain your Cambodia visa at the port of entry (you will need $30 USD and two passport-sized photos), or by applying directly to the Cambodian consulate, or by using a visa provider, such as our partner company, VisaCentral. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Please contact your airline directly for more information on your airline’s baggage allowance. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be select times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage. Please note: On internal flights included on tour, you may be charged for any baggage over 20 kilograms (44 pounds).
We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered to accommodate varying temperatures. A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers is also recommended. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any eventuality—a lightweight sports jacket and rainwear are advised. Waterproof shoes or sandals, a swimsuit, sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended for outdoor activities. Binoculars are handy for a closer look at local wildlife and scenery. A small bottle of hand sanitizer may be helpful when other facilities are not readily available while on the road. Also, remember that it is preferable not to visit religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and entrance may be denied on this basis).
The flights for tours beginning or ending in Vietnam or Cambodia will arrive or depart from Ho Chi Minh City. On-tour transportation is provided primarily by private motor coach, but may include planes, trains, boats, ferries, or other modes. When traveling by train there may be times when you will have to handle your own luggage, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. During free time, you may wish to explore the cities by public transportation, and your tour coordinator and tour guide will have suggestions.
Electricity and Air-Conditioning
Vietnam and Cambodia operate on 230 volts.Vietnam uses Types A, E or F plugs with two flat pins, two round pins or three round pins, respectively. Cambodia uses Types A, C or G plugs with two flat pins, two round pins or three flat pins, respectively. We recommend packing a universal adapter, as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other device without a built-in converter. The strength of the air conditioning in Asian hotels is often not as strong or as cool as what one might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel. Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.
Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches. Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.
At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov. Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications may be banned in one or all of the countries on this tour. Importing these drugs can carry severe consequences, including imprisonment. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to departure to ensure that any drugs you may want to bring with you are legal in all countries you will visit.
In order for you to stay healthy throughout your tour, we recommend the following:
- Drink bottled water. Refrain from drinking tap water, including when brushing your teeth.
- Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless they’re cooked or washed in clean water and peeled.
- Be sure to take proper care with sun exposure, as the sun can be especially strong in some of the areas you are visiting.
- There are inherent risks associated with water activities, particularly for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Discuss your planned activities with your doctor or healthcare provider for the best advice on participation.
- Bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication and any prescription medications
- If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour and any possible delays encountered.
- If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify us at least 30 days prior to your departure.
Flavorful Vietnamese cuisine relies on mint, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, lime, lemongrass and Thai basil. Foods are cooked minimally, from lightly grilled meats to blanched vegetables. Seafood is popular, usually flavored with ginger, as are chicken, duck and pork. Don’t miss dishes like spicy beef noodle soup and bahn mi, a baguette stuffed with paté, cold cuts and pickled vegetables. International influence is evident in the Khmer cuisine of Cambodia, where full flavor is created through the mix of herbs and spices such as sweet basil, Asian coriander, mint, lemongrass and pepper. The base of almost all Cambodian dishes is rice or noodles, served with a curry, soup or vegetable stir fry. Grilled freshwater fish is popular, and the fermented fish paste known as prahok is a traditional seasoning.
You will use the Vietnamese dong in Vietnam, and Cambodian riel or U.S. dollars in Cambodia. In Cambodia, U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere, though change may be given in riel. Most hotels, restaurants, shops, taxis, buses and airlines list their prices in U.S. dollars, but small transactions (less than a dollar) are usually conducted in riel. It is recommended that you carry small amounts of riel for motorcycle taxis, snacks and other small purchases. Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks as needed. You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges. International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.
Vietnam and Cambodia is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. It is 14 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST), so when it’s noon in California, it’s 2 A.M. the next day in Hanoi.