Vietnam traveler's tips
Viet Nam: Lying on the eastern part of the Indochinese peninsula, Vietnam is a strip of land shaped like the letter “S”. China borders it to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, the East Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the east and south.
The country’s total length from north to south is 1,650km. Its width, stretching from east to west, is 600km at the widest point in the north, 400km in the south, and 50km at the narrowest part, in the centre, in Quang Binh Province. The coastline is 3,260km long and the inland border is 4,510km.
- Latitude: 102º 08' - 109º 28' east
- Longitude: 8º 02' - 23º 23' north
Vietnam is also a transport junction from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
- Air access
- Entry Formalities
- Customs Regulations
- Health equipment
- What to take with you
- What to wear
- Film & Developing
Vietnam has three international airports: Hanoi (Noi Bai), Danang (Danang) and Saigon (Tan Son Nhat). Noi Bai Airport is 34 km from the downtown of Hanoi whilst Danang Airport and Tan Son Nhat Airport are almost in the centre of the cities.
Cities with directs flight to Hanoi/Noi Bai Airport are Bangkok, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow, Nanzningz, Paris, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo and Vientiane.
Airline Companies currently serving in Hanoi are Aeroflot, Air France, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Laos Aviation, Malaysian Airlines, Pacific Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines.
Cities with directs flight to Saigon /Tan Son Nhat Airport are Bangkok, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow, Melbourne, Osaka, Paris, Phnom Penh, Seoul, Siem Reap, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo, Vienna, Vientiane and Zurich.
Airline Companies currently serving in Saigon are Aeroflot, Air France, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Southern Airlines, Korean Air, Lauda Air, Laos Aviation, Lufthansa German Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Pacific Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Swissair, Thai Airways, Royal Air Cambodge, and of course Vietnam Airlines.
Since November 1, 1999, Thai Airways has opened the direct flights from Bangkok to Danang on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Domestic flights are served by Pacific Airlines and Vietnam Airlines (mostly).
Hanoi: 1 Quang Trung St., Hanoi, Tel: (84) 4-8320 320
Saigon: 116-118 Nguyen Hue Blvd., Tel: (84) 8-8292 118
Hanoi: 152 Le Duan St., tel: (84) 4-5181 503
Saigon: 77 Le Thanh Ton St., District 1, tel: (84) 8-8231 285
Airport tax: US$ 14 (international flight) and US$ 1.5 (domestic fight) for every passenger on every departure.
You can also get into Vietnam by land from China, Laos and Cambodia but the Visa must be indicated clearly by Vietnamese Embassies with one or two of the below Entry Points. Tourists can pass the border at the following Entry Points:
- From China: Huu Nghi, Lao Cai
- From Laos: Cau Treo, Lao Bao.
- From Cambodia: Moc Bai, Vinh Xuong.
Entry visas are obtainable at Vietnamese diplomatic missions and required for all visitors with valid passports irrespective of nationality. Please allow ten days for processing. Travel permits are only required for trips to off-limit areas such as border provinces, military bases and remote islands.
In case visa approval is arranged by VTO, we would like to offer you two ways to obtain visa: through Embassies & General Consulates of Vietnam abroad or Foreign embassies and Consulates general in Vietnam
Arriving in Vietnam, all visitors must fill in Declaration Forms and show their luggage to Customs Officials upon request. There are no limited amounts of foreign currency, objects made of gold, silver, precious metals and gemstones or plated with silver or gold but visitors must declare these in detail on the customs forms.
Entry: Tourists are authorized to bring in the following items duty-free: Cigarettes: 400 pieces; Cigars: 50-100; Tobacco: 100 gram; Liquor: 1.5l.
Personal effects of a reasonable quantity. Small gift items valued at not more than US$ 500.
Note: There is no limit to the amounts of cash, precious metals and gems people can bring in, but amounts of over US$ 7,000 must be declared.
It is prohibited for any visitor to bring into Vietnam the followings:
- Weapons, explosives and inflammable objects.
- Opium and other narcotics.
- Cultural materials unsuitable to Vietnamese society.
Exit: Goods of commercial nature and articles of high value require export permits issued by the Customs Office. Antiques, some precious stones and animals listed in Vietnam's red-book may not be brought out of the country.
|City / Town||Humidity (%)||Rainy Season||Dry Season||Annual Rainfall(mm)||Hottest Month( oC)||Coldest Month(oc)|
|Can Tho||82||May-Nov||Dec-Apr||1560||Apr: 33.9||Jan: 21.9|
|Dalat||84||Apr-Nov||Dec-Mar||1820||Apr: 26.8||Feb: 10.0|
|Danang||83||Jul-Jan||Feb-Jun||1974||Jun: 34.2||Jan: 19.0|
|Dien Bien||84||Apr-Sep||Oct-Mar||1567||May: 32.2||Jan: 11.0|
|Hanoi||83||May-Oct||Nov-Apr||1680||Jun: 32.8||Jan: 13.8|
|Halong||82||May-Oct||Nov-Apr||1994||Jul: 31.6||Jan: 13.5|
|Hue||88||Jul-Jan||Feb-Jun||2890||Aug : 34.5||Jan: 17.2|
|Nha Trang||82||Sep-Dec||Jan-Aug||1441||Aug: 33.2||Jan: 20.5|
|Pleiku||85||May-Oct||Nov-Apr||2684||Apr: 30.7||Jan: 14.0|
|Qui Nhon||81||Sep-Dec||Jan-Aug||1647||Aug: 34.5||Jan: 20.6|
|Saigon||82||May-Nov||Dec-Apr||1979||Apr: 34.8||Jan: 21.0|
|Sapa||87||Mar-Nov||Dec-Feb||2769||Aug: 23.2||Jan: 06.2|
No actual vaccinations are officially required. Malaria prophylaxis is no longer recommended but visitors are advised to check with their doctors or travel immunization clinics regarding the advisability of inoculation against typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A & B.
What to take with you?
There are a few things you should not travel without:
- A map, certainly
- Photocopies of your passport and visa.
- Cash in US$ 20’s and $ 100’s.
- A folding umbrella if you plan to visit during the rainy season. The wettest months are July and August.
- Zip lock bags. They are cheap, disposable, and keep all kinds of things fresh and dry.
- Hotel cards: You should keep your hotel cards or brochures to show people to get guidance in case of missing way back home.
- Business Cards. You will discover that practically everyone in Vietnam has a calling card of some kinds. The proper way to offer your card is to hold it by the corners with both hands.
What to wear ?
Appropriate dress differs from North to South. Southern Vietnam is tropical year round and people dress comfortably and casually. Lightweight cotton and wool fabrics will be comfortable at any time of year. While they may resist wrinkles, synthetics and are blends miserably hot. Generally, short pants are inappropriate anywhere but a beach resort or a farm and you will look like a foolish tourist on the streets of most cities. Jeans are almost always fashionable except for business occasions.
Winter (November through April) can be cool in Hanoi, and a coat may be necessary. Dress here is a bit more formal and somber than the fashionable South. If traveling on business, jackets and ties are usually appropriate, regardless of the weather. Saigon’s business community is very image oriented. It’s alright to ask your business partners here what kind of attire is appropriate and expected.
Remember that Vietnam is a tropical country. Most of the year it is warm and humid. If you are not used to tropical weather, be prepared to shower and change your clothes two or three times a day. During rainy season in Saigon the rain is often short (20-30 minutes) and some times quite sudden. Practically every hotel in Vietnam has laundry service, which is usually quite inexpensive.
The currency of Vietnam is "Dong" (abbreviated "d" or VND). Bank notes are 500d; 1,000d; 2,000d; 5,000d; 10,000d; 20,000d; 50,000d and 100,000d. Unlike most of Vietnam's neighboring countries, the US Dollar is widely accepted. At this the official rate of exchange is approximately VND 15,300 to USD 01.
Credit Cards and Travellers' Cheques are accepted at most of hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops but in major cities only. Visitors are recommended to carry US Dollar in small notes. Travelers can change their money for Vietnamese Dong (VND) at banks, hotels and jewelry shops throughout the country.
In big cities, do not bring along anything valuable as you go shopping or sightseeing on the street.
It is dispensable to give aims to beggars and to buy souvenirs from street vendors.
Foreign currencies should be exchanged at banks, or authorized exchange bureaus. Never exchange money on street.
Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam but there are various dialects spoken by hill tribe people in remote areas. Learning foreign languages, particularly English and French, is currently in vogue among young people in Hanoi, Saigon, Hue, Da Nang and other cities. Guides and interpreters speaking English, French, Japanese, German, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Russian etc. are available from us.
Bottled water and mineral water are obtainable at any shops in most cities. It is advisable to drink boiled water and not to drink ice and tap water. The most reliable local brand is LA VIE (Don’t confuse them with the imitations such as La Ville or La Vierge). Aquafina of Pepsi and real Evian also available at many shops.
Film and developing
Fresh negative film is widely available. Popular brands are Kodak, Fuji, Agfa and Konica. Positive colour print film is only obtainable in Saigon and Hanoi. The tourists say that the negative film is cheaper than abroad.
One-hour service photo shops have become ubiquitous in places where tourists abound. Positive film can be developed only in Saigon and Hanoi. Most reliable and centered-located Film developing shops are 19 Nguyen Cau – Ba Trieu St. and Photocen – 77 Ly Thuong Kiet in Hanoi and Shops on Nguyen Hue Blvd., District 1 in Saigon.
The following items are quite unique and have good quality:
- Carved wooden furniture, fine lacquer ware (these can be shipped home upon request).
- Traditional Vietnamese hand-made silk, linen and cotton dresses, kimonos, embroideries, etc.
- Simulated antiques, ceramics, old watches or Zippo lighters, etc.
- Copies of famous paintings.
If you intend to visit only a few cities in Vietnam, flying is the most convenient way to travel. Vietnam Airlines flies to places like Phu Quoc Island and Rach Gia that are difficult to reach by other means. The major problem with flying is reserving a seat. It is essential to book flights early especially on popular routes. Internal flights are reliable but can be infrequent to the less popular destinations. Vietnam Airlines and Pacific Airlines are the two carriers that operate domestic routes. Prices are fixed by the National aviation Authority. Foreigners pay approximately double the price locals pay for the same tickets.
There is a regular train service between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and most cities in between. Many people like to travel the length of the country by this means. Tickets allow passengers to break their journey at the major regional cities like Hue, Da Nang and Nha Trang. The trip from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City takes between 36 and 48 hours non-stop, depending on which service is used. Passengers can book a sleeping compartment, soft seat, or economy class.
Vietnam has a regular bus service that connects even the remotest areas of the country. it is very cheap but the emphasis is on economy not comfort with people having to squeeze into seats comparable to those found in kindergartens. No point in buying two tickets to secure extra space. as seating is allocated to all available space. Nevertheless, buses are a great way to meet the locals.
In the major cities the easiest method of transport are taxis. Most are relatively new models of car and are air-conditioned. Prices are very cheap and most trips within a city cost between USD2 and USD%. Contrast this with the price of a cyclo trip (about the same), and except for the novelty of the transport, taxis provide a better service. Tourism authorities advise tourists not to take cyclos at night.
On any street corner in Vietnam, we can find men with motorcycles willing to carry you anywhere. This mode of transport it known as "Honda Om" or Honda embrace. It is usually cheap and reliable although the fare should be negotiated before commencing the journey. The biggest problem is explaining the destination to the driver because pronunciation is everything in Vietnamese. Carry a pen and paper or a map
2. Time and working hours in Vietnam (GMT + 7)
Governmental agencies work 8 hours/day from 7.30am to 4.30pm (excluding one-hour lunch). Saturday and Sunday are close.
Banks are open from 7.30am or 8am to 11.30am and from 1pm to 4pm. Saturday and Sunday are close.
Private shops are open from 8am or 8.30am to 9pm or 10pm.
3. Public Holidays
- January 1: New Year's Day (one-day holiday)
- April (on the 10 of 3rd Lunar month): Ancestor Worshipping Anniversary (one-day holiday)
- April 30: Saigon Liberation Day (one-day holiday)
- May 1: International Labor Day (one-day holiday)
- September 2: National Day of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (one-day holiday)
- Vietnam Traditional Lunar New Year Festival - Tet Nguyen Dan (four-day holiday). Tet holiday usually falls at the end of January or middle of February by solar calendar. The holiday begins on the last day of the last lunar month and lasts through the first three days of the Lunar New Year (Tet Nguyen Dan)
4. Electrical current
110-220 volts A.C.
It is very easy to telephone inside Vietnam. All hotels will let you make local phone calls, many don't even charge you. International phone calls are possible from many post offices. At some places, international direct dialing (IDD) has become commonplace. There is a telephone card, the UniphoneKad. Cell phones are popular. If you have one you can buy a prepaid phone-card and own your private contact number while traveling in Vietnam. The system in Vietnam is GSM.
Below are important phone numbers you should always have with you:
|00||International Direct Dialing Access Code1|
|0||National Domestic Direct Dialing Access Code1|
|101||Long Distance Domestic telephone service1|
|102||Directory assistance for long distance domestic telephone service1|
|103||Operator-assisted long distance domestic telephone service1|
|110||International telephone service1|
|112||International telephone service rate1|
|113||International telephone service inquiries1|
|116||Phone number inquiries1|
|118||Ring back test1|
|119||Advice on telephone repairs11|
|1080||Information about society, economy, culture.|
|1088||Consultation in areas of employment, health, law, informatics, psychology, living skills...11|
|178/171||Discount international phone charges, at US$1.30 per minute|
6. Internet access
The Internet was officially permitted in Vietnam in 1997. Access to online services is now available through cyber-cafes and computer terminals in the lobbies of guest houses and business centers in hotels. If you have an established Email account with a non-Vietnamese service provider, accessing your mail from Vietnam will require you to download your mail through a Web-based service such as Yahoo or Hotmail. This is easily done at cafes in cities like Hanoi, Saigon, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Danang and Hue. The Internet access fee is about 4-5 thousand dong per hour.
A tip for good service might be about 5% of the bill.
8. Vietnam Government
- Government of Vietnam (Vietnamese)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Ministry of Finance
- Ministry of Trade
- Ministry of Transport
- Ministry of Fisheries
- Ministry of Culture and Information
- Ministry of Education and Training
- Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
- Ministry of Industry
- Ministry of Planning and Investment
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Science and Technology
- Population, Family and Children Committee
- Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- General Department of Customs
- Directorate for Standards and Quality
9. Newspaper and sources of information in Vietnam
Vietnam News Agency Viet Nam News
Vietnam Television Labor Newspaper
Radio The Voice of Vietnam Vietnam Investment Review
Nhan Dan Daily A window to Vietnam
People's Army Daily Que huong Magazine
OTHER SOURCES OF NEWS
Lao Dong (Labor) Newspaper Tien Phong Dien tu Newspaper
Tuoi Tre (Youth) Newspaper Nguoi Lao Dong Newspaper
Thanh Nien Newspaper Tin nhanh Vietnam Newspaper
Cong An Nhan Dan Newspaper Vietnam Television
Nhan Dan (People) Newspaper Dan Tri Newspaper
Bao anh Vietnam Newspaper Thoi bao Kinh te Vietnam
Saigon Giai phong Newspaper Hanoi moi Newspaper
Cong an TP Ho Chi Minh Newspaper Giao duc thoi dai Newspaper
Suc khoe va doi song Newspaper Bao anh Vietnam Newspaper
Sinh vien Vietnam Newspaper Tap chi Cong san
Saigon tiep thi Newspaper Tin hoc & Doi song Newspaper
Dien dan doanh nghiep Newspaper Kinh te & Do thi Newspaper
General Newspaper Ban tin Thi truong