♥ Travel Insurance
This should be purchased the minute you book that flight! Most policies do not automatically include cover for claims involving motorcycling. If you plan on riding a motorcycle (even as a passenger), make sure you include this option on your policy.
Pay a visit to your doctor at least a month before you leave. I got an injection for Hepatitis A and Typhoid, Malaria pills that I must take everyday before I leave and during my trip, an oral Cholera immunisation that is taken twice, 2 weeks apart, and finally some antibiotics and anti-diarrhea medication “just in case”. This all came to just under AU$300 – it’s not cheap but do you want to risk it?
Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to your home country.
Australians require a visa to enter Vietnam (as do Americans, English etc – please check with the Vietnamese Embassy in your own country). There are 2 options to obtain the visa – I ended up going with the safer, more expensive option. Firstly print off and fill in this form. Get a passport photo taken (this can be done at the post office), and along with your passport, a self addressed premium express post bag and a AUD$75 money order send it to the Canberra Embassy. All up this costs around AUD$110.
The other option involves arriving at a Vietnamese airport after filling out an online form and then waiting in a queue for a loooong time. I was advised not to go down this route by Twitter friends with previous experience. Yes it is cheaper, but there have been reports of visa scams involving online Vietnamese visa applications – also who wants to stand in a long queue after a 9+ hour flight?
Stay tuned for more parts of my guide to Vietnam!