First time to Vietnam - Vietnam Travel alerts

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First time to Vietnam

If this is your first time to Vietnam, there are several things that you may not have known, yet should be kept in mind. For clothes, please don’t pack few clothes and shoes. Though you can buy clothes here, none of it will fit you. Remember to bring lots of medicine, as there is some disease in Vietnam.
The Vietnamese love westerners, so be prepared for lots of questions. If you bring kids, they will be adored, especially if of fair complexion as it is so different.
The roads are in chaos and noise. Also, crossing the road you’d better take extra care as bikes do not stop; they go around you.
It will be very hot and humid especially further south, so bring hats and lots of water as it might cost more for foreigners to buy a bottle of water (around USD1).
Haggling is good fun and even water is to be haggled for. Always approach it with a smile.  Wet wipes/anti bacterial dry hand wash is always recommended and take a toilet paper roll for when you are out and about.  Bring on portable bathrooms if you are prepared.  
On road trips, ex. from Dalat to Saigon or Nha Trang to Dalat, stop by smaller city as you are on the main Highway. The markets range from Tea/Coffee to Pottery to handweaved bags. Make sure you have your camera in hand as there will be sights that may amaze you.

Suggested places to consider before you go
Halong Bay, only a few hours out from Hanoi has natural landscape but is still under development. However, a boat trip out from Halong Bay is a great thing to do and the cave exploration will thrill the kids. Bai Tho is a good outfit to hire a private boat and see the bay for 4 hours.  If your kids enjoy nature, they will love the view and appreciate its beauty.  If they enjoy sitting on boats, they will just love the experience. Rent out a junk to stay overnight for it is an experience to just enjoy the quietness and beauty of Halong Bay. 
Hue is beautiful and you can hire bikes/motorbike out to the surrounding scenery. Hue may not be as fun for young kids because it is mostly cultural and historic.
Hoi An is very safe. If you love shopping then this is the heaven. You can have shoes made, or suits and summer dresses made. All are in good quality and inexpensive. Go for a deal where you 'don't pay until happy' (or only pay small deposit). Yaly is excellent for clothes, although they are more expensive and it is more fixed pricing. There is a lovely French coffee shop by the river and the older Vietnamese here do speak French. There are also beaches nearby. In Hoi An, the Victoria or Golden Sand are right at the beach, and are convenient for families. Golden Sand has a nice, long pool where the children can play.
The overnight train to Hue from Hanoi is very cheap and has cabins of 4 drop down beds. Cyclos are nice to ride in.
Hochiminh City (HCMC) (aka Saigon) is not totally safe, so definitely stay in the tourist areas. The Cu Chi tunnels and historical tour (just out of HCMC) is well worth going on and will fire the kid's imagination. The War Museum in HCMC is not recommended for children since its photography is explicit and it is unblinking in its coverage of the Vietnam War.
For a nice beach, Mui Ne is recommended. It has a nice long stretch of beach lined with a variety of boutique hotels. A road runs parallel to the beach with plenty of restaurants and a few shops. It's not really a key resort, but absolutely lovely. There are some spectacular bright red sand dunes there then you can sled down on bits of cardboard, great fun! The wind can pick up on the beach in the afternoon, the breeze is great but you can end getting sand blasted so it's probably be best for the kids to be on the beach on a morning. Also recommend is the Sailing Club Mui Ne.
Interesting types of entertainment: Kayaking in Ha long Bay, trekking in the central highlands, mountain biking and visits to the Cu Chi tunnels.