2. Know your night buses
Overnight buses are a great way to cover long distances and save on accommodation costs, but make sure you book a top bunk as far as possible from the loo (normally situated near the back). Not to put too fine a point on it, a lot of buses don’t have working bathrooms and the further back you are, the worse the smell gets.
Also, unless you have an iron bladder, don’t drink more than absolutely necessary, as rest stops seem to be purely at the whim of the driver and are skipped completely if the bus is running late. On one seven-hour bus trip – that ended up being a 16-hour voyage – I was very glad to have followed this tip. Not all of the other passengers had done so – enough said!
3. Avoid nightlife trouble
Vietnam has possibly the cheapest beer in the world but it pays not to overdo it. In Hanoi there is an official curfew on bars and nightclubs, which the police may turn up and enforce unless the owner has paid a suitable ‘fee’.
Hiding in the dark as the club pretends to be closed while a police car drives by can be amusing, but it sucks when half your group gets thrown out by the cops and can’t get back in. Meanwhile, Nha Trang leaves a sorry trail of wallet-lightened backpackers who experienced the not-uncommon misfortune of running into pickpocketing prostitutes – and attendant gangs – on their way home after a night out.
To be continued…