Our first two nights, we will stay in a hotel in the picturesque area called the Old Quarter. This is the area in Hanoi where you will find a lot of tourists and be surrounded by a range of colors, tastes, smells, noises, and hidden shops where you least expect to see them. For the remainder of the trip, we will stay in a hotel in the rural province of Ba Vi, not far from the disability centre.
All accommodation has western-style toilets, hot water, electricity, mosquito nets, running and drinking water available. Rooms will be shared between two to three participants of the same gender.
In both locations, there will be free wi-fi available but please keep in mind that this is a basic hotel and there may be times where the wi-fi will run slower than what you may be used to back home so patience and respect to the hotel staff is key!
Important: In Vietnam, accommodation providers are asked to take passports of foreigners/tourists to the Local Authority so that all foreigner movements are registered. This means when you arrive at accommodation, you will be requested to hand in your passport. We will manage this process as a group. You should have a copy of your passports to carry with you throughout your travels.
Food is at the very heart of the Vietnamese culture and you'll have the opportunity to try this delicious cuisine for the duration of your trip! Meals are included during the trip, and will mostly be Vietnamese dishes (noodle, rice or soup based). While in Hanoi, you will find that every small decorative alley you walk along, there are a countless numbers of places to sit and eat at.
Our team will accommodate for any dietary preferences and requirements you may have (vegetarian, vegan, gluten intolerance, etc.)
You may hear Vietnamese food requires eating with chopsticks and there won't be forks available, don't fear! If you don't know how to use these - you will soon master the art! (And forks will always be available.
All transportation is provided while you are in Vietnam. Pick up and drop off from the airport will be by private car or bus and you will be escorted by a member of the GYAP team.
During our stay in Vietnam, we have a private bus that takes us between Hanoi and Ba Vi, and to the Disability Center each day. Our driver has driven with us for many trips and has all the certifications and paperwork required by the Vietnamese government for both himself and his vehicle.
Health and Safety
In Vietnam you should be meticulous about looking after yourself to avoid sickness. To avoid viral infections, avoid sharing drinks and utensils of any form. Keep your hands clean by washing them often, particularly before eating and after using the toilet.
Only drink water from containers with a seal. Take care with fruit juice, which may have had water added to it, and ice. Tea and coffee should be fine, since the water will have been boiled.
In general people are extremely friendly in Vietnam and you will be humbled by their hospitality.
Basic Safety Rules for Travelers:
- Make a copy of your passport and any credit/debit cards and keep it in your luggage.
- Don't carry too much cash with you at one time. It is best to carry what you need for one day.
- If you are carrying expensive items, such as camera equipment, then keep it covered at all times.
what to wear
When deciding what to wear in Vietnam you must consider the temperature and environment you will be working in. Light, cotton clothing that covers most of the body is not only more acceptable in Vietnamese culture, but it also helps to protect against sun and getting bitten by mosquitoes. Also, avoid taking perfume or aftershave as this can attract mosquitoes. Volunteers can wear old clothing while working as it's likely that clothing will get quite dirty.
Because you are there in the capacity of a volunteer it is important to be modest in your dress. Avoid exposing too much skin like wearing 'short' shorts. However, since it can be very hot, you can wear singlets (string tops) and shorts when at the Centre. As for footwear, sandals and a pair of running shoes is probably all you will need. Don't forget sunglasses and a hat!
Phones and electronics
If you'd like to bring a cellphone, we will instruct you how to get a Vietnam sim-card to use for your phone in Vietnam. Many Ambassadors use Vietnam sim-cards to receive international calls or send text messages, but keep in mind we have WiFi throughout our trip so a sim is not needed. You trip leaders will also have a Vietnamese phone you may use to contact home.
It is your choice whether to bring larger electronics. You are welcome to bring cameras, but we do not recommend bringing laptops. You will not need them during your week. If you do bring more expensive electronic devices, make sure they are covered in your travel insurance.
In terms of electricity, the most commonly found socket is a two-round prong socket, or the two flat prong socket. The picture above can be used for reference.
The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong.
The large cities are the best places to change money or use an ATM as there are plenty of money changers, banks and ATMs around, particularly in the tourist areas.
You shouldn't have any difficulties getting cash from an ATM with a regular debit card, or with a Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card.
The US dollar is the most common of foreign currencies and can be exchanged and used pretty much everywhere. Make sure any bills you take with you are in good condition, and when you receive change, check for the same thing - you'll have a hard time getting someone to take a ripped bill.
USD $1 = VND $22,000