Frequently Asked Questions
We have been creating custom made tours in Southeast Asia for more than 15 years. In that time, we have experienced every scenario imaginable. If any of your questions or concerns are not answered in the list below, please get in touch. We would love to chat with you about your aspirations to travel in Asia.
When is the best time to travel?
What Visa do I need?
What money should I take?
Always have multiple sources of income – Cash Card, Credit Card & Cash
ATMs are generally everywhere but they don’t always accept your particular card and only moderate amounts can be withdrawn per transaction and you will be charged a fee by the ATM and your own bank.
Refer specic cash requirements under each country heading.
- Take: Any currency – undamaged notes
- Local money: Dong (VND)
- ATMs: Everywhere – dispensing VND
- Exchange: Gold shops give the best rates. Avoid money changers.
- Shopping: VND
- Take: USD – in pristine condition. Old notes will be rejected.
- Local money: Riel (KHR)
- ATMs: Plenty in big cities and towns dispensing USD
- Exchange: Not necessary to exchange because USD is always used
- Shopping: USD
- Bring: USD
- Local money: Kip (LAK)
- ATMs: Plenty in big towns dispensing LAK
- Exchange: Money changers have the best rates
- Shopping: Kip is preferred but you can use Thai Baht and USD
- Bring: USD or Euro in pristine condition.
- Local money: Kyat (MMK) pronounced Chat
- ATMs: Plenty in big cities and towns dispensing MMK
- Exchange: Banks and exchange counters
- Shopping: Only large purchases can be made in foreign currency
- Bring: Any currency
- Local money: Thai Baht
- ATMs: Plenty everywhere dispensing THB
- Change: Exchange booths everywhere
- Shopping: THB
How much do I tip in Asia?
It is not mandatory to tip but it is very much appreciated. There is no hard and fast rule and it depends on how many in your group. But a general guide per person would be:
- Guide: US$6 per day
- Driver: US$3 per day
- Porter: US$1
- Rower: US$1
Medical Requirements – Vaccinations and Malaria
Always check with the Travel Doctor. People often ask if our sta take anti malarial tablets. And no they don’t. But best be mindful of mosquitos so bring some spray and cover up at night.
Should I start in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) or Hanoi?
We like starting in Hanoi because it is our hometown and it allows us to have our clients settled in quickly with our Free Entrée Tours when they arrive. Plus if they are returning to Australia or New Zealand the ight is a little shorter, always a relief at the end of a holiday.
How long in Vietnam should I go for?
The main sights can be seen in 10 days if you are time poor. Ideally it is best to spend 14 to 16 days in Vietnam.
What are the Hoi An beaches like?
An Bang Beach – 5km from Hoi An
A beautiful beach that features a string of funky bars and restaurants at the waters edge. It is also the location for our boutique villas and houses. An Bang is a shing village which is fast becoming the ‘go to’ beach and a preferred place to stay instead of being in town.
Cua Dai Beach – 4.5km from Hoi An
Some beach erosion has taken place in front of the Victoria Resort, Golden Sand Resort and Sunrise Resort. However, there are stretches of beach at either side of these resorts.
Hoi An – Stay in town or at the beach?
- 1 or 2 night stay – town is the best option.
- 3-night stay – it depends on the season and if you like shopping.
- 4+ night stay – the beach would be a better option.
All resorts have a shuttle bus into town and a taxi is inexpensive. Some people like to have a combination of 2 nights town stay and the rest at the beach.
How about the beach at Nha Trang?
We often hear Nha Trang called “Phuket meets the Gold Coast”. The bay sweeps for about 3km, similar to Phuket, with all the bigger hotels squarely in the centre of the bay. The beach is clean and the water quality good. Other than that, it is nothing like Phuket.
Tell me about Phu Quoc?
Just a one-hour ight south of Saigon, this island is a place to op and do nothing at one of the many resorts. There are some rather expensive top end resorts and some more reasonably priced boutique resorts, all with their own private beaches. It takes about 2 hours to ride around the island on a motorbike. This is a place for those wishing to do nothing but recharge the batteries.
Best to avoid it in July, August and September, when the rains are heavy, wind strong and sea is rough. However for some, this is very romantic!
Where can we get 4 plus to a room?
Very few hotels in Vietnam cater for more than 3 to a room. (Twin share and a rollaway for 1) meaning a family of 4 needs 2 rooms and that means twice the cost. Those that cater for more guests are generally the 5-star hotels, junior suites, etc. There are a few apartments in Hanoi and Saigon, but other than the 2 cities it is quite rare. However, Wide Eyed Tours can oer boutique homes and villas near Hoi An at An Bang which cater from 4 to 8 guests at very aordable prices.
Is Vietnam safe for single female travellers?
Very safe, in fact Vietnam is amongst the safest countries to travel in the world. The occasional ‘opportunistic’ theft occurs, the same as everywhere in the world, but violence is extremely rare. For ladies, a handbag with a sturdy strap that is worn across the body is essential. For men, keep your hands in your pocket on your wallet in crowded places.
What is there to do in Da Nang?
This city is a popular tourist destination for Vietnamese, Chinese and Koreans who love the big noisy seafood restaurants, casino, amusement park and enormous wedding venues. There is a beautiful beach, which is as beautiful as the beaches closer to Hoi An.
Also there is the Lady Buddha on Monkey Island, a picturesque drive, and the Cham Museum, showcasing the history of the Cham Ethnic Minority people, famous for the My Son ruins.
Where can I see the key “War Attractions” and what are they?
The best museum for the American War in Vietnam (1954-1975) is in Saigon (HCMC) and is called the War Remnants Museum. It is graphic, but it needs to be, and very comprehensive. Allow a good hour to see all the exhibits.
Hanoi’s Army Museum features all the wars Vietnam has faced and they have had many foes over the centuries.
Cu Chi Tunnels
A half-day tour from Saigon (HCMC) takes you to the fascinating network of tunnels used in the French and American wars.
Vung Tau – Australian Long Tan Cross & Nui Dat
Only 3.5 hours from Saigon (HCMC), Vung Tau is located on the coast as is the base from which to take day tours to see the former Australian military base and battleelds.
DMZ – Demilitarized Zone
Located 1.5 hours north of Hue, the DMZ is where Vietnam was divided into North & South in 1954. The most erce ghting took place here in the late 1960’s and is a popular place to visit for war history enthusiasts.
Dien Bien Phu
The Battle of Dien Bien Phu was a decisive victory for the Vietnamese against the French in 1954 and ended almost 100 years of French rule. The town is in the far northeast corner of Vietnam, some 430km from Hanoi. The museum and war remnants in the town are fascinating, however the journey from Hanoi is long and only recommended for true war history enthusiasts.
Where is the best place to see the temples?
The temples of Angkor are located on the outskirts of Siem Reap and there are more than 1,000 temples here built between the 9th and 13th centuries.
How long does it take to see the temples?
Between 1 to 3 days. The ruins sprawl out over 400sqkm, so this is going to depend upon how interested the client is in archaeology and ancient history. Generally speaking, visitors can squeeze all of the highlights into one day of temple touring and to see it a little more in detail, then a second day is recommended. A third day would give the visitors a treat, with time to see some of the more remote temples, devoid of large crowds. Some enthusiastic visitors like to spend a week in the temples.
How long do you need in Siem Reap?
At least 3 nights. There is far more to this funky little town than the temples and it would be a shame not to spend at least 3 nights here, and even a week. The shopping is plentiful and creative, Tonle Sap lake has fascinating stilt homes on the water, the acrobatic circus will delight all ages and there are thrilling activities such as zip lining and quad bike riding. The town is full of outstanding restaurants and lively bars and many spas for a relaxing massage.
How much does it cost to enter Angkor?
A one day ticket costs US$37, a three day ticket that can be used over a period of seven days US$62. The temple pass cost will be included in the tour costs.
Do I need a guide to visit the temples?
To truly appreciate the fascinating history behind these breathtaking monoliths, a guided tour is essential. Not only will a visitor learn the history, they will also gain an insight into the Cambodian life, culture, customs and politics. The best way to know a country is through a local.
What should I wear at the Temples & Royal Palace?
Revealing clothing is not allowed in the temple grounds. Visitors must avoid short shorts and skirts as well as tank tops. If visitors want to climb to the top of Angkor Wat they MUST wear long pants or skirt to their ankles and wear a shirt covering their shoulders. A shawl around a tank top is not permitted. Wear sturdy shoes suitable for climbing steep stairs.
At the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh they are very strict. Visitors MUST wear a shirt covering shoulders, denitely not a tank top with shawl.
Where do I y into Cambodia?
Either Siem Reap or the capital, Phnom Penh, where the international airports are surprisingly stylish and modern. Connections to the major Asian hubs of Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Saigon, Bangkok, Da Nang and Hanoi are convenient. Sihanoukville, on the coast, has a domestic airport.
Is Cambodia safe to travel?
Like Vietnam, it is extremely safe. There is very little chance of terrorism or violence, however you need to be careful of opportunist thieves who snatch bags and pick pockets, particularly in Phnom Penh. For ladies, a handbag with a sturdy strap that is worn across the body is essential. For men, keep your hands in your pocket on your wallet in crowded places. And be careful of your camera and phone, these have been known to have been snatched whilst in use.
What is the best way to get around Laos?
Private vehicle transfers are the best option as well as domestic ights. There are airports in Luang Prabang, Vientiane and Phonsavan.
How long should I spend there?
Laos is often tacked on to the end or the beginning of a trip to Vietnam and/or Cambodia. So visits can range from 3 days to 10 or even 14 days if you want to really get off the beaten track. It is a super laid back place to visit, life moves very slowly here and it can be a great way to drop out for a week.
What is the highlight of Laos?
Luang Prabang is denitely the most popular destination and is where you can see one of the most sacred Lao traditions, the Buddhist Alms Giving Ceremony. It takes place daily as the sun rises and is a magnicent sight to see the slow procession of orange robed monks collecting alms. There is also a fantastic night market, the scenic Kuang Si Falls and the Pak Ou Caves to see here.
Myanmar Hot Air Ballooning – How much and when to book?
Prices start at USD $330 per person and bookings MUST be made AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. The demand for this activity is high so it is important to book early.
Is Myanmar safe to travel?
Myanmar is an exceedingly safe country to travel within; in fact it is one of the safest in the world. There are no pickpockets, bag snatching or violence.
How long do I need in Myanmar?
You could see the highlights in 8 days, however to be more fully immersed we recommend 11 to 14 days.
Is there any nightlife in Myanmar?
Most shops close at 9pm and restaurants at 10pm. The major hotels often have in-house entertainment and bars where you can relax.
Are there any dress restrictions?
Myanmar is a very conservative country, which has only recently begun opening up to tourism. You will feel more comfortable and be more respected wearing modest clothing and avoiding short shorts and tank tops.
What things should I avoid doing?
Do not disrespect the Monarchy, this includes speaking or acting disrespectfully in any way, including standing on money that bears the king’s image. Do not touch any Thais with your feet or put your feet up on anything. This is particularly rude.
Dress respectfully when visiting temples with your shoulders and knees covered. Also avoid renting a jet ski in Thailand, there are many who wish to scam with you claims you have damaged the jet ski and the demand high fees.
Phuket or Koh Samui
- Phuket September – October
- Koh Samui October – December
- Phuket March – May
- Koh Samui April
Phuket is almost twice as big as Phuket.
Phuket’s beach is lined with high-rises like Honolulu and Koh Samui has strict regulations that no building can be higher than a coconut tree.
Samui offers a great balance of convenience and seclusion and caters for quiet and active holidays alike. Phuket is more glitzy.