A visa is needed for foreigners to enter Vietnam. Different types of visa - one-month or six-month - can be obtained at Vietnamese Embassies abroad. For those tourists who have a guarantee letter by a local tour operator in advance, one-month visa can be collected upon arrival at Vietnams international airports in Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang.
It is possible to get a multiple entry or single entry visa and it should be clearly requested upon your application for a visa. A multiple entry visa is usually for business people or those tourists who would like to make a visit to neighbouring countries of Vietnam and then come back to Vietnam for returning home.
The gateways for entering Vietnam by air are in Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang which are usually stated on the visa approval letter. If you travel into Vietnam by overland, make sure that you get the name of the entry point on the visa approval letter. It is easy to extend visas while you are in Vietnam.
CUSTOMS & IMMIGRATION
On arrival in Vietnam, foreigners must complete the white and blue duplicate arrival-departure forms of which the blue copy is to be finally presented on your departure from Vietnam.
White and yellow duplicate customs declaration forms must also completed and the yellow copy must not be lost as it also has to be submitted upon departure.
It is compulsory that tourists declare foreign currency in excess of 7,000 USD, gold and jewelry not for personal use and video tapes. Vietnam has strict laws on bringing in anti-government literature, pornography, firearms and weapons. CDs and tapes are often retained for screening but will be returned after a few days. It is illegal to bring antiques out of Vietnam so make sure you do not buy any items called antiques. Although the sellers provide you with receipts, these antiques will be confiscated upon your departure.
The official currency
issued by the State Bank of Vietnam is the dong
(abbreviated as VND) which is nonconvertible
outside of Vietnam and used throughout the country only
in the forms of bank notes. The current exchange rate
is around 14,000 VND to 01 USD. It is easy to change cash
at airports, banks and hotels in all cities and towns.
100USD or 50USD bills earn a higher exchange rate than
the smaller denominations.
Major credit cards (American, Visa,
MasterCard, JCB) are accepted more and more at hotels,
restaurants, shops and travel agencies in big towns. A
fee is to be imposed to the card holder on the payment
by credit cards.
GETTING TO TOWN
As Noi Bai Airport
is far from downtown, Airport Taxis charge a flat rate
of 10 USD (one-way) for a car from Noi Bai Airport to
central Ha Noi. The drive takes about 45 minutes.
In Ho Chi Minh City, a metered
taxi from Tan Son Nhat Airport to downtown costs around
50,000 VND and the drive takes about 20 minutes.
There is now a wide choice of meter
taxis in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City as well as in other
No vaccinations are
officially required for foreign tourists to enter Vietnam.
However, it is advisable that precautionary measures be
taken for diarrhea, malaria, hepatitis A & B and other
Although international medical
centres are available in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City,
it can be expensive for emergency care. Therefore, health
and emergency medical insurance prior to visiting Vietnam
is highly recommended for foreigners.
WHAT TO BRING & DRESS
The fact that Vietnam
stretches from the subtropics to the tropics makes it
rather complicated to determine what to bring. It is recommended
that light and easy clothing be brought. However, when
travelling in northern Vietnam in winter months (November
to March), a jacket or sweater would be useful.
Despite of hot and damp weather,
shorts and tank tops are considered inappropriate in sacred
places like pagodas, temples and churches and at formal
events. Guests should ask whether it is alright to wear
shoes when entering private homes.
Electric current in Vietnam is usually 220V although you can sometimes find 110V. Most plugs are two-pinned with rounded pins except in international-standard hotels.
It is possible
to make IDD calls from Vietnam by dialing the international
prefix 00 followed by the country code, area code
and telephone number. To make domestic long-distance
calls, the prefix 01 must be dialed first and is
followed by area code and telephone number.
Fax and e-mail services are
available in hotels, post offices and internet cafés.