Vietnam Travel Tips

Before leaving on your Vietnam tours, we suggest you to make two copies of your passport identification page. This will facilitate replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives. Bring the other one with you with a passport-size photo, but keep it in a separate place from your passport. Leave a copy of your tour itinerary and contact information with family or friends at home so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.

Visa and Passport
All foreign nationals traveling to Vietnam must obtain a valid Vietnam tourist visa prior to entering. All visitors must have passports valid at least six months after exiting Vietnam and/or the Orient.
Individuals entitled to visa exemptions:
Not more than 15 days:
+ Citizen of Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Brunei
Not more than 30 days:
+ Citizens of Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Laos
+ Diplomatic and official passports holders from Myanmar and China.
+ Diplomatic passport holders from Iran.
+ Officials of the ASEAN Secretariat

Not more than 90 days:
+ Diplomatic and official passport holders from Argentine, Algeria, India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Republic of Korea, Hungary, Iraq, Mexico, Morocco, Moldova, Mongolia, Japan, Montenegro, Russia, Panama, Peru, France and Czech Republic,  Serbia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Venezuela, Slovakia, Ecuador, Dominica, Cambodia and Romania
+ Vietnamese residing overseas and  foreigners who are spouses and offspring of Vietnamese citizens or Vietnamese residing overseas are entitled to visa exemption, so long as they meet the following requirements:
a. Foreign passports or passport-equivalent documents (referred to hereafter as passports) are valid for at least six months after the date of entry.
In lieu of a passport, Vietnamese residing overseas may have residence permit issued by foreign authorities and valid for at least six months after the date of entry;
b. Visa exemption document is issued by a Vietnamese agency.
No limit for temporarily residence
+ Diplomatic and official passport holders from Albania, Afghanistan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Japan (holding valid diplomatic or official passports for the purpose of diplomatic or consular missions or official Government tasks) Nicaragua, DPG of Korea, and Turkey.
+ Citizens of China, Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, Cuba, DPG of Korea traveling on official missions.
Individuals not entitled to visa exemption :  All others wishing to enter Viet Nam must obtain a visa.

+ Visa applications:
Visa applications must include a printed application filled in completely and accurately ; two 4cm * 6cm photos, a passport and visa fee. Visas are issued at Vietnamese diplomatic offices and consulates in foreign countries. Visas may be issued at the border gates to those who have written invitations from Vietnamese agencies or tourists participating in tours organized by Vietnamese travel companies. Tourist visas are valid for 30 days. Visa extensions are available at all travel agencies.

Customs procedures in Vietnam are quick and simple. To enter and exit Vietnam, visitors are required to complete form, available in Vietnamese and English. A reasonable amount of clothing and personal belongings for the purpose of the trip may be brought into Vietnam. Items listed below must be declared on entry.
+ Luggage exceeding duty free concessions;
+ Luggage sent before or after the traveler;
+ Professional equipment temporarily imported and re-exported or vice versa;
+ Addictive medication;
+ Foreign currency exceeding 7,000USD (seven thousand US dollars) or its equivalent in other foreign currency, or more than 15.000.000VND (fifteen millions Vietnam Dong) in cash.
+ Goods prohibited for import : weapons, ammunition, explosives, military equipment, drugs, toxic chemicals, immoral and reactionary products, firecrackers of all kinds, toys with a negative impact on education, and social security, cigarettes beyond the quantity stipulated,
+ Goods prohibited for export : weapons, ammunition, explosives, military equipment, antiques, drugs, toxic chemicals, wild animals, endangered animals and plants, documents related to national security. Gold exceeding 300g must be declared approved by the State Bank.

Duty free concessions for arriving passengers:
+ Liquor : 1.5 liters of liquor at above 22% kacigik: 2.0 liters of liquor below 22%: 3.0 liters of alcoholic beverages.
+ Cigarettes : 400 pieces ; Cigars : 100 pieces  ; Tobacco : 500g
+ Tea and coffee : 5kg of tea ; 3 kg of coffee
+ A reasonable quantity of clothes and personal belongings related to the purpose of the trip.
+ Articles other than those mentioned above (excluding the list of goods banned for import or subject to conditional import) with total a value not exceeding VND 5.000.000

It is wise to carry your currency in different forms of cash, and credit cards. Use credit cards whenever you shop in tourist stores especially when making big purchases. Use local currency wherever credit cards are not accepted. Pay in small bills or exact change for bargains from street vendors. When receiving change from vendors, never accept ripped currency.

The currency of Vietnam is the Dong (VND). Notes are available in paper denominations of 500.000; 100.000; 50.000; 20.000; 10.000; 5000; 1000; 500VND. No coins in circulation any more
Throughout the country, American dollars are widely accepted. Several major cities also accept Euros (EUR). Traveler’s checks may be easily exchanged at banks. Credit cards (MasterCard, Visa) are becoming more popular, especially at major hotels and restaurants in Ha Noi, Hue, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh.
You can change money at hotels, Vietnam arrival and departure airports, and at Viet Com Bank branches. The official exchange rate is adopted in most places so it is unnecessary to shop around for a better deal. For the sake of convenience and safety we suggest you exchange your money in your hotel.  The exchange rate fluctuates daily. Please check and confirm the current Currency Exchange Rate before exchanging your money at hotels, airports, banks and other shopping areas.

ATMs (Automated Teller Machine)
Although they are commonly used in almost modern countries, do not rely on ATMs in Vietnam.  ATMs can be found in growing cities but are still limited in terms of numbers. In addition, many of the ATM instructions are in Vietnamese only so you may have a difficult time using the ATM and there is a chance you may lose your card in the machine.

Telephone, Fax, Internet, Email
The international direct dial country code for Vietnam is +84. It is possible to make international calls and send faxes from post-offices and major hotels. E-mail and internet access is available in most urban areas throughout the country. The mobile phones network in Vietnam is highly developed with various subscription plans available including prepaid telephone cards.

Best Time For Travel
In the North, the climate is divided into four seasons: Spring, summer, autumn, and winter, so it influences to the tourism activities. Period from October to April is suitable for travel and enjoy festivals because 70% festivals are organized in spring. The lunar New Year festival (Tet ) in Ha Noi allows tourists to enjoy the bustling atmosphere at food vendors and flower markets. Tourists visiting Vietnam from November to April are advised to bring warm clothes. May to October is suitable for those who like swimming and sunbathing. Or mountaineering. In the South, the temperature is warm throughout the year, so tourism activities can operate all year round. The period from April to October the average temperature is approximately 27°C sometimes it rains. There are cultural, ecological and aquatic tours available in the Southern provinces.

Viet Nam time : GMT plus 7 hours
Business Hours:
All government offices are open from 7.30 to 16.30 (with a one hour lunch break) from Monday to Friday.
Banks are open from 7.30 to 17.30. They are closed on Saturday and Sunday. Shops typically open and close late.

There are nine public holidays in a year:
+ January 1 : New Year’s Day, One-day holiday.
+ 10 of the 3rd  lunar month: an ancestor’s death anniversary of Hung Kings, one-day holiday.
+ April 30 : Saigon Liberation Day, one-day holiday.
+ May 1 : International Labor Day, one-day holiday.
+ Sep 2 : National Day of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, one – day holiday.
+ Viet Nam Traditional Lunar New Year Festival (Tet Nguyen Dan) : four-day holiday. This holiday falls at the end of January or middle of February by solar calendar. The holiday begins on the eve of the lunar New Year and lasts through the first three days of the first lunar month.

Vietnamese electricity is rated 220 volt. Plugs and Outlets come in a variety of shapes. You are advised to bring along adapters and converters for your appliances. Travelers can borrow adapters and converters from housekeeping at most hotels. Hair dryer and iron are also available, simply contact hotel housekeeping when you need them.

Do not drink tap water anywhere while traveling, it is not considered safe to drink in Vietnam and most of South East Asia despite the fact that water is commonly chlorinated and processed. Drink only bottled water or boiled water. Bottled purified water and soft drinks can be easily obtained at reasonable prices.

There are wide varieties of accommodation for visitors to choose. Most of the hotels in larger cities meet international standards.

The extensive transport system allows visitors to conveniently cover the country by air, water, railway and road. Car, ,motorbike and bicycle rentals are widely available in tourist areas. Cyclos, or bicycle taxi, are also available for city tour. Taxis services are available 24 hours a day.

+ International airports : Noi Bai (Ha Noi), Phu Bai (Hue), Danang (Da Nang City), and Tan Son Nhat (Ho Chi Minh City)
+ Domestic airports : Gia Lam (Ha Noi), Cat Bi (Hai Phong), Dien Bien (Dien Bien), Na San (Son La), Vinh (Nghe An), Pleiku (Gia Lai), Phu Cat (Qui Nhon), Nha Trang, Cam Ranh (Khanh Hoa)Tuy Hoa (Phu Yen), Buon Ma Thuot (Dak Lak), Lien Khuong (Da Lat), Con Son (Ba Ria Vung Tau), Phu Quoc, Rach Gia (Kien Gang), Can Tho (Can Tho), and Ca Mau (Ca Mau).

Air Flights
Please double check if your name on the ticket is exactly the same as in your passport and if the departure dates are correct. Contact the airline concerned prior to leaving for the airport to confirm the flight number and any possible schedule changes. Connecting passengers should verify, at the time of check-in, that luggage can be checked through to their travel destination. For international flights, you must check in at least two (2) hours prior to the scheduled departure time. For domestic flights, you must check in at least one (1) hours prior to departure time.
For international flights, you must check-in two (2) hours ahead of departure time. It takes at least one (1) hour to clear customs and claim your checked baggage. Should you lose or misplace your tickets while traveling, notify the airline or your guide immediately.

Baggage Allowance
Baggage allowance for transpacific flights is two pieces of checked baggage per person. Total dimensions (Length + Width + Height) of the two pieces must not exceed 107 inches (273 cm); maximum dimensions of single piece shall not exceed 62 inches (158 cm). Maximum weight per piece is 50 lbs (23 kg). Each passenger may carry one standard article and one personal article, the combined dimensions of each item shall not exceed 46 inches (115 cm). The maximum weight per item is 22 lbs (10 kg). The carry-on items must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat.
Vietnam domestic flights have stringent luggage restrictions allowing one piece of checked baggage that must not exceed 44 lbs per person, plus one carry-on bag not to exceed 11 lbs (5 kg). Baggage in excess of allowances will incur excess baggage charges payable on site by the passenger. Always remember, "He who would travel happily must travel light." We strongly recommend you limit your baggage to one (1) piece of checked luggage and one (1) carry-on bag per person. The Vietnam airport security check is very strict; passengers are not allowed to bring any drinks including wine, milk, can and bottled water as carry-on. All drinks must be put in check-in luggage.

Vietnam is a country with few dress taboos. Dress for comfort. Sandals, shorts, and jeans are widely accepted. Coordinate your outfits for multi-tasking. Dress in layers to suit various weather/temperature changes. No formal dress is required. Travel in Vietnam involves a lot of walking. Comfortable walking shoes are essential. Make sure to check current weather before you decide what clothes to pack.

Shopping is always a part of the travel experience. Vietnam is known as bargain shopper’s paradise, offering a marvelous selection of arts and crafts such as jade, silk, rugs, cloisonne, ceramics, antiques, paintings, furniture and more. Purchasing an item in the area where it is "noted for" has proven to be the best value. Your local guides will be glad to assist you with detailed shopping information.

It is wise to use credit cards for large purchases. Retain all receipts. Purchase insurance for items that you have shipped. A supply of small bills is very handy when shopping with street vendors. Always keep in mind that a purchase is between the buyer and the seller. We do not recommend you purchase medicines or medicinal herbs unless prescribed by your own physician. Even in Vietnam there are no miracle cures.