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Travel scams and ripoffs? Check your telco and bank

Vietnam’s scams are real and serious, and definitely shouldn’t be trivialised. But while many travellers will escape the local scammer, only an exceptional traveller escapes another kind of scam — telecommunication company and bank ripoffs. And they’ll hit your wallet a lot more than most of the stuff you’ll encounter in-country.

Apps that could save your life

Okay, so there really is an app for everything. But we don’t want to share with you just any app, we want to look at the most useful right through to the most ridiculously high-tech and multifunctional because you never know when that next emergency situation might occur. Whether it’s finding out where the nearest pizza takeaway is to giving CPR on the street side, we’ve got you covered.

The Bean Bag District

So it’s not really a district, but a rough designation stretching through the alleyways of Phu Nhuan, Binh Thanh and Tan Binh. The sellers we found lived in alley houses, with at least one room piled high with bean bag chairs, huge pillows, neck pillows and absurd bean bag-esque couches. These aren’t the VND1.6 million types from Index Living, which aren’t hard to come by. These are pick-your-pattern types that retail for pretty much a million or less, and have transformed many a living room into a ’chill zone’.

Fitness Advice

One of the best aspects of living in Asia is the availability of fresh coconuts. This delicious drink is fantastic for improving hydration and preventing disease. Coconut water is not the solution to all your problems but it does convey some excellent therapeutic benefits. Research shows coconut water supports hydration, helps fight the aging process, can lower cholesterol (to the same degree as prescription drugs), improves insulin sensitivity, and lowers blood pressure.

Job Search

For many years Vietnam has not only been known as the country of bia hoi, difficult to pronounce tones and insane traffic, but also as an Asian Economic Tiger. At one time its robust economy seemed to offer limitless employment opportunities for expat workers.

The 8th edition of the International Travel Expo was held in Ho Chi Minh City last month, bringing together more than 500 participating companies from more than 30 countries. If you weren’t able to get to the show, here’s a taste of what you missed, indicating that 2012-13 will be an exciting time to travel.

Because I work in the tourism industry, people often ask me if I can get them good hotel/resort deals. I usually can, but establishing whether they are the best deals available is becoming increasingly complicated given the huge number of booking channels now in existence.

Reading the Vietnam forums on popular travel review site Tripadvisor, one theme immediately becomes apparent — the ripping off of tourists by taxi drivers, shoeshine boys, street traders, unscrupulous travel agents, etc. Not a day goes by without some unfortunate visitor telling tales of US$50 airport taxi rides, US$5 bananas or ‘luxury’ Halong Bay cruises that turn out to be anything but.

Vietnam recently announced that it had received its six millionth tourist visitor in 2011, conveniently just in time before the end of the year. How many of these visitors were actual tourists, and how many were business travellers, people visiting their family or expats doing visa runs will probably never be known now that the landing card has been scrapped, but if the figure is accurate, it represents a near 20 percent increase on 2010’s figures.


Here’s my list of 30 fun & non-touristy things to do

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