Life with your Pets in Vietnam
Travelling with a dog, or cat, within Vietnam can become overwhelming. Relocating to or moving away from Vietnam with pets will present complications that need to be considered and planned for well in advance. This is the first of two articles providing advice and tips to overcome troublesome issues of travel with pets in Vietnam. This article deals with local travel.
First, Vietnam is not a pet friendly travel country, however many pet owners do travel with their pets as they consider their pets part of the family and want to include them on their travels. Rest assured that you will encounter unwillingness from people who simply do not share your love of your pet.
Getting Around the City
Getting around a city with your dog is relatively easy by Taxi or motorbike. Local taxi services will take your dog if secured in a dog carrier. For small carriers place it on the floor of the taxi. Open a few windows for ventilation to remove odours for the driver. For larger carriers, place in the back of 7-seat Taxi. Bring a couple of wet/dry towels just in case your dog has left a surprise! If you travel with a cat, do not be surprised if you are refused a ride. Many taxi drivers forbidden cats in their cars as travelling with cats is considered bad luck. Tip – fold down the flaps of your non-plastic cat carrier and place on the floor quickly, without fuss. If the driver makes an inquiry tell him it is a small dog. If there is any further trouble, tip generously for his inconvenience.
If you ride a motorbike, consider training your dog to ride along with you. For smaller dogs and cats, a secure carrier is recommended that can be nestled into the floor of the motorbike (Tip: always secure a strap to the carrier and put them under your the seat to prevent the carrier falling off or stolen). Larger dogs should be introduced to motorbike travel gradually to become acclimatized to the movement, the noise, the heat and other motorbikes in traffic. They need to learn to feel stable (center of gravity) when standing upright while the motorbike is moving.
Getting Outside the City
Creating a safe, comfortable trip with a pet always begins with considering the logistics of a trip (transportation and accommodation) and the needs of your dog: behaviour (temperament), nutrition & maintenance and security.
Transportation: Car, Train, Bus or Plane
Talk to your local travel agency and hire a private car and driver that might be pet friendly. This is highly recommended where you gain complete control over your dog’s care. By train or bus, not recommended as there are no clear rules and regulations concerning travel with pets. By plane, Vietnam Airlines has a special cargo service for pets. Go to vietnamairlines.com, look for the menu item Before You Fly > Baggage Information > Special Baggage > Pets / Animals as Checked Baggage (AVIH). Finally, It is not recommended to travel long distances with your dog on a motorbike.
Online Travel Sites with Listings of Dog Friendly Accommodations in Vietnam
There are a few online travel sites providing listings of dog friendly accommodations in Vietnam. It is best to contact them directly to verify they will allow your dog to stay, you do not want unpleasant surprises.
Use keyword phrases of your destination, for example, ‘Nha Trang, Vietnam’.
Behaviour & Temperament
Think about the temperament of your dog. The humidity, dust and noise of long trips in Vietnam can overwhelm the best of us. If you do not have a history of travelling with your pet and question the dog’s temperament it might be best to consider leaving her at home.
Nutrition & Maintenance
Bring along a supply of your dog’s regular food and treats. Maintaining your dog’s regular feeding, exercise and sleeping habits will make the trip less stressful. Bring fresh water from your home because like ourselves dogs might develop intestinal problems from new sources of water. Diarrhea is not a problem you want to deal with on the way there or in your hotel room.
Security Include a few favourite items (toys, beds, etc.) of your dog for a sense of security. It is always recommended to have your dog tethered or leashed with collar and harness, with some kind of identification. Be aware of your dog all the time, resist the temptation of letting the dog roam. There are dog thieves everywhere.
First published in the October, 2015 Issue of Oi Vietnam magazine.