Beware of intestinal upset
Dealing with stomach issues is an unfortunate fact of life for Westerners who visit this region. Even if you’re careful to avoid street food and to brush your teeth with bottled water only, it can happen. Best to bring remedies such as loperamide (Imodium), so you can minimize discomfort and get on with your trip.
Learn how to cross the street in Vietnam
In the major burgs like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, crossing the street isn’t for sissies! Crosswalks (zebras, as they’re called here) are meaningless. Your best bet is to wait it out until there are no cars or trucks coming, and then firmly and calmly step into the street and cross it, letting the motorbikes go around you. Let them zig and zag — you keep walking! If you’re still uneasy, wait until a local family crosses, and then merge into their group.
Don’t pet the monkeys
Ditto the dogs. Cute as the animals can be, rabies is an issue — and the dogs can bite.
Plan for heat
Even in the “cool” season, the Mekong Delta has three temperatures: hot, hotter and hottest, they say. You don’t really comprehend how hot 14 days of 90-plus degree days (with full-on humidity) can be until you’ve experienced them. Bring the wicking-est fibers you’ve got, and wear loose layers; skinny jeans and leggings won’t cut it here. Plan to get sweaty no matter what, and pack extra tops or shirts since you won’t get multiple wearings out of them.
Don’t forget insect repellent
Even during the day, tiny gnats and fire ants can be bothersome (especially around temples), so the person with the bug spray is popular indeed.
Be an adventurous — but smart — eater
On several days of the tour, lunch is likely on your own, but it’s easy to find a local pho (noodle soup) shop wherever you are. If you’re not sure where to go, your program directors can offer suggestions. You’ll also find interesting “fusion” cuisine, like Khmer-Pizza and Khmer-Mexican. Prices are very reasonable, even in big cities. However, use caution when purchasing food from street vendors. It’s probably wise to stay away from dairy products, ice in drinks, salads and fruit. Rest assured that bottled water is used for cooking and food preparation aboard ship.