Travel Tips for Vietnam Adoption
By Lori Fleening
1) The Baby Bjorn carrier is great! My precious little angel is teeny tiny
(8.5 lbs. at 2 months) and she loved it! I think we will use it a lot when we
2) We stayed at the Rex Hotel in a suite -- it was great! They were very attentive
to our every need and was very helpful with things for the baby. I would recommend
a suite as opposed to a regular room because you will have much more room. The
"baby cot" takes up a lot of room, but with a suite, you have plenty
of room to move around and a separate seating area. If you get a suite facing
the street, you will have to deal with the street noise, which was very loud
almost 24/7. If you get a suite on the inside of the hotel, you will have to
deal with the noise from the weddings. But the weddings end by 9:00 p.m. We're
going to try an inside suite for our next trip.
3) We used the Internet in the hotel quite a bit until we discovered the Internet
cafe in the Saigon Center, just a few blocks from the Rex. It is very nice and
very cheap. It is on the second floor of the Saigon Center.
4) We flew Continental from Houston to Tokyo and loved it! It was a Boeing
777 airplane, and the seats were very nice and the service was great. We will
be flying Eva Evergreen Deluxe for our second trip, but I would highly recommend
Continental, especially for your first trip.
5) We flew Japan Air and All Nippon for the leg from Tokyo to HCMC and then
HCMC to Tokyo. While both were good airlines, I would recommend All Nippon over
Japan Air. The plane was bigger and nicer. But I can't complain about either
6) We had about a 10-hour layover in Tokyo on the return trip home (we didn't
have the baby -- this was my first trip). The Tokyo airport has "day rooms"
that you can rent for a very reasonable price. We rented a room for $7 an hour
(for 2 people) that had two double beds and a bathroom complete with shower.
The single rooms are even cheaper. We were able to sleep a couple of hours and
clean up. Then they have a lounge area that has recliners that you can rest
in. It was a very nice way to spend a long lay over and not have to leave the
airport. I would highly recommend this if you have an extended layover in Tokyo
and don't want to leave the airport.
7) Pack light! I don't know how many times I have heard people say this, but
it is so true! I didn't take too many clothes, but took too much stuff that
I didn't use. You can buy just about anything you need in HCMC, so you don't
have to carry it over. However, I am still going to take most of my meds. with
8) Clothing -- It was so weird to go from freezing cold weather to 90+ degrees
and extreme humidity. We were so hot! :) A few suggestions for cool clothing:
I took loose cotton pants with a drawstring at the waist. These were very comfortable
to wear. I also had some Cool Max shirts from Travel Smith. They are more expensive,
but they really do make a difference. And you can wash them out overnight and
they will be dry by the next morning.
I also had a vest that was invaluable. It is a fairly plain vest that buttons
down the front with pockets on each side. In one of the pockets is an invisible
pocket with a zipper where I kept my money when I went to the market. It was
very easy to unzip it and get out what money I needed, even with a sweet little
baby strapped to my chest! :) I felt secure carrying my money there. I also
got it from Travel Smith.
I also had a split skirt that had an invisible pocket in it. It was very light-weight
and cool to wear. Again, I got it at Travel Smith. They are online at http://www.travelsmith.com.
9) I am having an ao dai made for me and my sweet baby girl at the Saigon Center.
There is a department store on the second floor and one of the ladies there
is making me an ao dai for the G&R ceremony. It was very reasonable -- $20
for me and one for my baby. And I'm a big woman -- 5'10", size 14.
10) Backpacks are great for the plane and the airport. However, don't get it
so full that it is too heavy. I think I was carrying at least 30 pounds on my
back (no joke!) and it wasn't fun running through the airport with it on my
11) We took lots of comfort foods -- cookies, crackers, etc. You can buy this
kind of stuff in the supermarket in the Saigon Center, but it was nice to have
without going to the store.
12) Long distance calling -- you can call direct from the hotel ... it's not
cheap, but it does work easily. We may try to investigate other solutions a
13) I wore a security pouch around my neck and around my waist -- I would highly
recommend this. It takes a little getting used to having something around your
neck and waist, but I felt better about carrying large amounts of cash, passport,
etc. in a more secure place.
14) Our hotel (The Rex Hotel) had a safe in the room that was great. We were
able to leave our plane tickets, passports, money, etc. in there and not worry
15) About your passport -- we were told that once we got to Vietnam and checked
into our hotel to leave our passport locked in the safe at the hotel. You need
to carry a copy of your passport with you at all times, but it is best to leave
the original in a locked safe. There will be times that you need it to do your
paperwork, but it is safer if you don't carry it around with you all of the
16) It is important to stay hydrated -- drink lots of bottled water. It is
very accessible for a very cheap price.
17) The hot tea at breakfast is wonderful! I cannot tell you how wonderful
the tea is in Vietnam! We brought some back, so I can enjoy it here back in
18) If you are craving American food (we were not very adventurous eaters)
the Paris Deli in the Saigon Center is a good place to go. You can get hamburgers,
sandwiches, etc. there. Also, the Rex Hotel restaurant serves great macaroni
and cheese! Talk about comfort food! :)
19) Don't think twice about buying something you see if you like it. Everything
is so inexpensive. You will regret it later if you see something and don't buy
it. I bought several things for my sweet baby girl as she grows up. Just remember
that you have to get it home! :) My suitcase had a "heavy" tag on
it when I got home -- it weighed 68 lbs. and I was allowed 70 lbs.!
20) Take an extra duffle bag or suitcase for all of those treasures. You can
also buy luggage fairly inexpensively over there, also.
21) Take lots of pictures and videos. The only way I am surviving right now
without my sweet baby girl is by looking at her pictures and watching the video
of her every day, sometimes more than once! :) I miss her so much ... I just
can't wait to get back to her!
22) Take warm clothes for the baby while you are in the hotel. You will definitely
want to use the air conditioning, and sometimes it is hard to control where
it is blowing. Make sure you have enough warm sleepers, blankets, etc.
Well, I guess I'll stop for now. This turned out to be a lot longer than I
meant for it to be. I hope some of this is helpful for you! :)