About Vietnam |
About Laos |
About Cambodia |
Is there any airport departure tax in Vietnam?
Yes, an international departure tax is payable by
all travellers leaving Vietnam. It is not included
in the price of your flight ticket and must be
purchased at the airport before departure.
In Ho Chi Minh City, the International departure tax
is USD 12.
In Hanoi, the International departure tax is USD 14.
In Danang, the International departure tax is USD
Domestic flights are not subject to airport tax. It
is already included in the price of your ticket.
NOTE: You can purchase your international
departure tax in US$ or in Vietnamese Dong.
Airport tax is subject to change without prior
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How can I get
to Vietnam by air?
Ho Chi Minh City's (Saigon) Tan Son Nhat Airport is Vietnam's busiest
international air hub, followed by Hanoi's Noi Bai Airpot. A few
international flights also serve Danang. Bangkok has emerged as the
principle embarkation point for Vietnam but it's still possible to get
direct flights from a number of major Asian cities and a few Australian
Cheap airlines are limited to Air Asia operated between Hanoi and
Bangkok, Hanoi and Kuala Lumpur, Jetstar between Ho Chi Minh City and
Sydney, Tiger Airway between Hanoi/ Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore.
It is much more expensive to buy a ticket in Vietnam than your native
country. Depending on your country of origin, ask your national carrier
- they may have convenient
flights for you. You can also consult your local travel agent for
routings, fares and availability on flights to Vietnam. Check on the
Internet: discount websites and flight
search engines may offer some good deals
Other means of
There are currently six border crossings for
travellers coming to Vietnam, but more may open soon.
It's become very popular to cross the border at Friendship Pass or Dong
Dang, 20km (12mi) north of Lang Son in northeast Vietnam, to get to/from
There is a twice-weekly international train between Beijing and Hanoi
that stops at Friendship Pass. The other popular border crossing with
China is at Lao Cai in northwest
Vietnam, which lies on the railway line between Hanoi and Kunming in
China's Yunnan Province. There's also a seldom used crossing at Mong Cai.
If you travel from Laos by road via Savannakhet and Sepon, you will get
to Vietnam by the Lao Bao (Vietnam) border crossing. This crossing links
Laos to central
Vietnam (Danang and Dong Ha). If you travel from Vientiane, you will
cross Lak Sao before entering Vietnam by Cau Treo border crossing in Ha
Tinh Province (Vietnam).
Nam Can border crossing connects Nghe An Province (Vietnam) and Xieng
Khuang Province (Laos).
If you travel from Phnom Penh by speedboat, you will enter Vietnam at
Chau Doc, in the Mekong Delta area. If you arrive from Cambodia by road
into Ho Chi Minh City, you will enter Vietnam at Moc Bai, which connects
Vietnam's Tay Ninh Province with Cambodia's Svay Rieng Province.
Each means of transportation has its pros and cons, contact the local
transport companies for more information and review them carefully
before investing your budget.
Also note that if you enter Vietnam by land, you should and must obtain
the visa before arrival. Refer to our VISA section below for more
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Do I need to
have any vaccinations to enter Vietnam?
No vaccinations are mandatory except for yellow fever if you are coming
from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be
inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A - B, tetanus and polio.
Malaria is present in most of the region and it is advisable to take
precautions, especially if travelling off the beaten track. Medical
facilities are rather limited and it is essential to take out a good
medical insurance policy before travelling in case evacuation is needed.
NOTES: Consult your doctor for up-to-date information and
prescriptions for vaccinations, anti-malarial tablets and any reasonably
foreseeable illnesses whilst travelling in Vietnam. Some vaccination
courses may need time to be completed. If you plan to take anti-malarial
tablets, you usually need to start one week before arrival. We recommend
that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical
requirements (including a spare pair of glasses).
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Money - Currency
What is the
local currency in Vietnam?
The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND) although US Dollars
and Euros are accepted in many hotels, restaurants and shops. Banks are
open Monday to Friday
and some on Saturday morning.
Vietnamese Dongs come in the following forms:
Bank notes: 200; 500; 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20.000; 50,000;
Coins: 200; 500 (silver) and 1,000; 2,000; 5,000 (gold)
- Most hotels offer the opportunity to change USD and Euros at a
reasonable exchange rate.
- Shall you want to pay a bill calculated in VND by using USD, ask for
the exchange rate.
Is it better to
use Vietnamese Dongs or US Dollars?
For everyday expenses, we recommend carrying a mix of US Dollars and VND
For larger items or when the exchange rate works in your favour, use US
For cyclos, local food stalls and small purchases, it's best to use VND.
In either case, make sure you always have a stock of small notes so that
you don't have to worry about change.
Cheques accepted in Vietnam?
Banks such as CitiBank, ANZ Bank. HSBC and Vietcombank can change your
Travellers' Cheques for VND or US Dollars but a commission applies (1%
Very few shops, hotels or restaurants accept Travellers' Cheques.
NOTE: Travellers' Cheques can be difficult to change outside of the
Can I use
credit cards in Vietnam?
Most credit cards are accepted in Vietnam. VISA and MASTERCARD are the
most widely accepted. JCB and AMERICAN EXPRESS are also accepted in some
Not all hotels,commercial centres, shops and restaurants accept credit
Check with the cashier whether card is accepted.
Bear in mind that a surcharge usually applies for credit card purchases.
VISA and Mastercard: 3% surcharge
JCB: 3% surcharge
American Express: 4% surcharge
NOTE: Surcharges can change without prior notice.
Check the percentage charged before you buy.
Where can I
ATMs for withdrawal of Vietnamese Dong are available in major airports,
hotels, towns and capitals of provinces throughout Vietnam. Most ATMs
have an English language
version. Ask your tour guide for help when you need to locate an ATM.
What is the
exchange rate for Vietnamese Dong (VND)?
Commission rates are slightly lower if changing Travellers' Cheques into
Vietnamese Dongs rather than US Dollars. Vietcombank does not charge
commission when changing
US Dollars cash into Dong, though some banks do. You receive a slightly
better exchange rate for $100 and $50 notes than for smaller
denominations. When cashing Travellers' Cheques you may be asked for
You can check real-time official exchange rates with the combination of
a currencies converter anytime.
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How safe is
Vietnam is a relatively safe country to visit. As a global rule, never
leave your belongings unattended and always maintain eye contact or a
firm grip on cameras and shoulder
bags. Avoid cyclos late at night and choose reliable metered taxi
companies. Ask your guide for advice on safety issues.
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How can I get
in touch with my family, workplace and friends?
Telephone: Most hotels now have IDD phones in rooms and it is possible
to send faxes from hotels and post offices although these services are
expensive. It may not always be possible to make international calls in
remote areas. If you have worldwide coverage, you can bring your own
mobile phone and use it to
make domestic or international calls. Check with your mobile phone
provider for the costs before using it abroad - it may be expensive.
Internet: Major hotels have Business Centres with PCs connected
to the Internet. Some of them have wireless broadband access in rooms or
public areas. Cyber cafes are
becoming popular and are easily found in major towns and cities. Prices
are reasonable, usually below US$1 per hour. In many Internet cafes, you
can buy pre-paid international phone cards to dial from a computer to a
landline or mobile phone worldwide. Most Internet cafes are equipped
with webcams, headsets and microphones.
Mail: Postcards are sold at all main tourist sites and stamps are
available from post offices and some hotel reception desks. A postcard
to Europe costs VND 9,000 to send
and takes up to two weeks to reach the country of destination.
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Can I rent a
car and drive myself?
Vietnamese law does not allow foreigners to rent and drive a car. It is
highly advisable to rent a car with a driver who knows the roads and can
speak Vietnamese in case of any problems. Traffic and roads conditions
may be very different to what you are used to.
Can the driver
speak English and act as a guide?
No, he cannot. In Vietnam, drivers are just drivers. Tour guides need to
be licensed by the National Tourism Authority. Tour guides are the only
persons legally entitled to escort tourists. Indochina Travel Service
specialises in arranging tours with private drivers and qualified
professional tour guides.
Can I rent a
bike and ride myself?
Yes, you can buy/rent bike easily and ride it yourself in Vietnam.
However, please remember the traffic and roads conditions may be very
different to what you are used to.
Only young team is recommended for bike riding in Vietnam.
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Do I need to
get a tourist visa for Vietnam?
Most visitors to Vietnam require a visa to enter the country. Since the
1st of May 2005, nationals from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland
travelling to Vietnam and staying for 15 days or less no longer need to
apply for entry visas, provided that their passports are valid for at
least three months and they can show their return ticket. Those who wish
to stay longer than 15 days will need to apply for a visa. Tourists
holding Thai, Indonesian, Lao, Malaysian and Singaporean passports do
not need a visa for a visit up to 30 days. Philippines passport holders
do not need a visa for a visit up to 21 days. Japanese and South Korean
passport holders do not need a visa for a visit up to 15 days.
- A tourist visa is a single entry visa which means that if you exit
Vietnam, you will require a new tourist visa to enter Vietnam again.
- All travellers must have a passport valid to 6 months after their
planned exit from Vietnam.
- The above information may change without prior notice. It is your
responsibility to check whether or not you are subject to a tourist visa
- For visa information, click here to contact your nearest Vietnamese
embassy or consulate.
How long is a
tourist visa to Vietnam valid?
A one-month tourist visa is usually sufficient for most visitors though
it is possible to arrange 3-month and 6-month multiple entry visas.
How do I apply
for a Vietnamese visa?
There are 2 ways to obtain a visa:
If you arrive to Vietnam by land, it is NOT possible to get a visa on
arrival. You must obtain the visa beforehand, as outlined in Case 1.
(The one exception is the Moc Bai land crossing, at the Cambodian border
â€“see Case 2)
Case1: Collect your visa before arrival from your closest
Vietnamese embassy or consulate. To apply for a visa, the requirements
are as follows:
Entry permit form (which
can vary from one Vietnamese embassies or consulate abroad to another) -
There are two categories of this form: for foreigners and for
- Two photos (4cmx6cm or 3cmx4cm)
- Original passport
- Visa fee.
You should send your
application and photos to a Vietnamese embassy or consulate abroad, which is
most convenient to you. On your requirement, the reply will be returned by post
(you must provide stamped envelopes with your name and address).
Case2: Collect your
visa on arrival at Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Danang International Airports.
- In both cases, Indochina
Travel Service can help you obtain your visa prior to arrival or upon arrival.
WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU OBTAIN YOUR VISA BEFORE ARRIVAL TO AVOID LONG DELAYS
AND POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS AT THE AIRPORT.
Indochina Travel Service
can process your visa application and obtain the necessary visa
approval from the Vietnamese Immigration Department. For this, we need the
details from all applicants:
- Full name as it appears
in your passport
- Date of birth DD/MM/YY
- Passport number
- Issue date and expiry date of your passport
- Place of issue (e.g. Paris, France)
- Entry and exit dates
In Case 1 only: Location
for you collection of visa, e.g. Vietnam embassy in Paris
In case 2 only: Arrival date in Vietnam and flight number (e.g. 24th of March
2006 by Vietnam Airlines flight VN532) and Port of entry (e.g. Ho Chi Minh City,
Tan Son Nhat
The process usually takes about 5 working days after we receive the above
information. After this, we will send you the official document approved by the
The official document in Case 1 is an "approval letter".
The official document in Case 2 is a "visa picking up upon arrival approval
Case 1: Visa before arrival
Bring the "approval letter", your passport and two recent passport-sized photos
to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate. The person collecting the visa must also
complete two application forms at the embassy or consulate. A visa stamping fee
is charged by the Vietnamese embassy or consulate. Fees vary from one country to
Case 2: Visa upon arrival
Please remember to take your passport, 2 recent passport-sized photos and the
"visa picking up upon arrival approval letter" with you to check in for your
flight to Vietnam.
NOTE: if you do not have this letter at the time of check-in, the airline
staff will not allow you to board the aircraft. Before departure, prepare some
bank notes in USD to clear visa stamping fees on arrival. On arrival at Ho Chi
Minh City, Hanoi or Danang International Airports, head to the Landing Visa
Counter. Present your "visa picking up upon arrival approval letter", passport
and 2 pictures to the officer who will charge you a Visa stamping fee. Then,
head for the Immigration desks.
- Always allow plenty of time for your visa arrangements to ensure a good start
to your trip.
- Indochina Travel Service charges a service fee to obtain your "approval
letter" from the Vietnamese Immigration Department if you do not travel with us.
What are the
immigration procedures on entering Vietnam?
On entering Vietnam, all visitors must complete an entry/exit form
including a customs declaration (white/yellow colour). It is important
that the bottom copy (yellow sheet) of this form is kept safe with your
passport while in Vietnam and is presented to the customs and
immigration officials on departure.
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What is the
weather like in Vietnam?
Hanoi and the north of Vietnam have distinct winter and summer seasons.
The mainly dry winter lasts from November to April with average
temperatures of 18-20Â°C. Summer lasts from May to October and is hot
and humid with temperatures around 30°C. Hue and Danang, in the centre
of the country, have very hot, dry weather from February to August with
temperatures reaching the mid 30's Celsius, but can experience some
heavy rainfall between September and January. Ho Chi Minh City and the
south have a hot, dry season from December till April with average
temperatures around 28Â°C and a warm rainy season from May to November.
In the rainy season, most rain comes in short, heavy bursts.
When is the
best season to travel to Vietnam?
All year round is the good season somewhere!
Vietnam stretches over 2000 km from North to South. The climate differs
all year round from one region to another. The North can be chilly
during winter months (December to March). North and Central Vietnam can
encounter tropical storms and typhoons from October to January. Overall,
the north of Vietnam experiences more marked seasons
than the rest of the country with two distinct seasons: wet and dry. The
South, including Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, benefits from
sunshine and warm weather all year round. However, the rainy season
lasts from May to November (with showers once or twice in general) and a
dry season from December to April. The Central Highlands can be chilly.
Nha Trang has warm and sometimes hot - weather all year round, with a
rainy season from the end of September until December. Unless you intend
to visit friends, relatives or your family, we do not recommend visiting
Vietnam during the Lunar New Year, Tet holidays (Vietnamese New Year
falls between late January and February). The Tet holiday is the most
important period of the year for Vietnamese people who take time off to
visit their families in the countryside. All hotels, buses, trains and
flights are full, and there is almost no activity in the markets and
shops. Some hotels and restaurants are under-staffed and in some cases
the quality of the service may suffer. This period of reduced activity
may last from a week before and a week after the Tet period. It is also
impossible to get a "visa authorization letter" processed during this
NOTE: As a reminder, the peak season lasts from October to May. To
avoid disappointment because hotel rooms or domestic flights are fully
booked, reserve your
travel arrangements early. Contact us to discuss your travel plans.
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will they understand?
English is spoken at hotels, restaurants, shops, airlines offices, and
service offices. Guides that speak English, German, French, Italian,
Spanish and Japanese are available in big cities.
Eating out is no problem at all in major cities where you can easily
find good restaurants. It is advisable to eat in hotels in remote areas
unless you have a reliable advice from your guide. You should avoid
uncooked, partially cooked or reheated meat, fish and raw vegetable,
especially when they have been left out exposed to dust and flies.
Filtered and bottled water is usually available and safe. Cameras,
precious jewelleries, cash, passport should be deposited at hotel or
carefully while you are travelling by train or walking in the streets.
Local trains have been renovated and service on trains has been improved
in the past few
years. However, the standard is still below international qualification
and therefore travel by train is not recommendable to elderly people.
What food will
Besides rice, which is a staple of every meal, Vietnam has abundant food
supplies and an elaborate cuisine. Some Vietnamese dishes have achieved
international fame, including such traditional dishes as beef or chicken
noodle (pho), pork sausage (gio lua), spring rolls (nem ran) and fish
balls (cha ca).
Should I tip?
Tipping is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and
drivers at the end of tours. Hotel porters and restaurant waiters should
also be tipped, especially in big cities like Hanoi and in Saigon. In a
top-end hotel, feel free to tip bellhops anywhere from 10,000 VND to
15,000 VND (about US$1). Most upscale restaurants throughout the
country now add a service surcharge of 5% to 10%. If they don't, or if
the service is good, you might want to leave another 5%. Taxi drivers
will be pleased if you round up the bill (again, mainly in the big
cities). Use your discretion for tour guides and others who have been