FROM visiting Vietnam with kids to getting married in Fiji, Doc Holiday has the answers to your travel questions.
WE ARE planning a trip to Vietnam with our children (aged 15 and 10) but have been advised that it is not suitable for children. Do you agree? We are not regular travellers.
DOC: No, I do not agree. Vietnam is a lovely country with beautiful scenery, friendly people, delicious food and a cultural scene sure to provide your children with invaluable memories.
As with any large city, there is the need to be aware of your surroundings, take care with your personal items and be sure of the details relating to agreements you make for transport.
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are huge bustling cities with ample opportunists keen for your tourist dollar. If you exercise caution and keep your smarts about you, your children will learn so much about the culture and traditions of a different part of our world.
Avoid hiring cyclos (pedal-powered transport) in the cities; the drivers are known to significantly underquote the price of the ride and you may find yourself being considerably ripped off.
Crossing the road in the cities is an art form in itself – be sure the children are prepared. My tip – walk in a straight line across the road and once you have committed to the crossing, keep going. If you hesitate, it becomes confusing to the hundreds of motorbikes heading your way.
Be sure to head out of the cities.
I particularly like the north of the country and places such as Hoi An and Halong Bay. The countryside is amazing, full of culture and tiny villages with so much going on. Your children will enjoy interacting with the locals, plus the many unusual sights and experiences so far removed from life here in Australia. It will open their eyes as to just how much we have in first-world countries compared with those in underdeveloped ones.
Children wearing traditional Vietnamese costumes.
Don’t be afraid to eat the food in the markets or restaurants. If it is well cooked, you should be fine. Just stick to the golden rule of travel: Eat where you see others eating.
You should only drink unopened bottled water, not tap, and this includes for brushing your teeth.
Importantly, you must visit a travel-health doctor at least eight weeks before your visit. They will ensure you and your family are up to date with any vaccinations or medications required for this part of the world. I always travel with my own medical kit, which includes anti-diarrhoea and nausea tablets, painkillers, antibacterial cream, a general antibiotic – things that may save you from needing to find a local doctor during the night.
You will encounter many unusual sights and odours as you travel through Vietnam, particularly if you head to or past some of the seafood and meat markets. Have some ginger tablets on hand for everyone, these help with mild nausea. It will be hot and steamy, so plan your holiday to avoid rushing, allow for a couple of relaxation afternoons and pre-plan your transport to avoid overpaying. Only use taxis with a working meter.
Register with and monitor the Smart Traveller website (smartraveller.gov.au) and take out
a proper travel insurance policy.
Hone your bargaining skills and enjoy the negotiations, I promise your children will thoroughly enjoy the whole adventure.
Vietnam is a great place to explore with the family.
MARRIAGE IN FIJI
IS IT true that if we, two Australians, get married in Fiji, the marriage isn’t actually legal and we would still need to have an official civil service at home for everything to be legal and binding?
DOC: If you get married in Fiji, it will be legally binding and recognised worldwide as long as you follow the correct procedure.
Certain documents are required including a marriage licence. This can be obtained and signed at a registry or district office before your ceremony. Copies of your birth certificates, passports and other documents will be required and there are fees. A standard marriage certificate will cost about $3 and for the licence about $12.
The marriage will need to be witnessed by at least two adults over the age of 21 and the paperwork endorsed by a minister or celebrant.
You will then forward this to the registry office within seven days for your registered Marriage Certificate to be issued.
If you are eloping, the staff at the resort can act as witnesses, plus, under Fijian law only local celebrants are allowed to officiate your marriage.
If you want your own celebrant involved, they can participate in the vows and blessings but not the signing or solemnisation.
You will find that most resorts in Fiji have on-hand wedding co-ordinators. They will assist in arranging all your paperwork and legal requirements.
DRIVING AGE LIMITS
MY WIFE and I plan to visit some relatives in Britain in July or August. My wife will be aged 78, I will be 79 and we both hold Australian driving licences. Are there any restrictions because of our age in hiring a car and driving in Britain?
Doc: Some car hire companies do impose age restrictions and/or extra fees for those over the age of 70.
Have a look at companies such as Hertz (hertz.co.uk), National Car Rental (nationalcar.co.uk) and Avis (avis.co.uk), all of which allow for older drivers. According to your date of birth, they will suggest a suitable class of vehicle.