Vietnam Travel Tips and Useful Info
Do I need a visa to visit Vietnam?
Most nationalities are required to obtain tourist visa in advance to travel to Vietnam. When obtaining your visa, you should allow 3 weeks for processing with your nearest embassy or consulate, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Please check with your embassy or consulate for further requirements.
Some nationalities are exempt from visas for a stay of a maximum of 15 days, including British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam. This exemption period is currently effective until 30 June 2021, and is based upon meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. If you are planning on staying in Vietnam for longer than 15 days, you will need to obtain a visa extension in advance (please contact your relevant Consulate or Embassy).
An eVisa is available for some nationalities including passport holders from Australia (from 2018), France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America, valid for a single entry of a maximum of 30 days stay in Vietnam. For information on obtaining an eVisa visit the immigration website, https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/.
E-visas take up to 3 days to be processed. You will need a clear electronic copy of your passport data page and passport photo, and to make a non-refundable payment as outlined on the immigration website. Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure.
Do I need any vaccinations before visiting Vietnam?
You should seek medical advice from your local health practitioner before travelling to Vietnam and ensure that you receive all of the appropriate vaccinations. As a guide Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Tetanus are strongly recommended.
Can I drink the tap water in Vietnam?
As drinking tap water isn’t safe in Vietnam, only drink bottled mineral water, which is readily available in hotels, shops and restaurants. You can help the environment and try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle with filtered water. Your tour guides and your hotels can tell you where to find filtered water at hotels.
What is currency in Vietnam?
The official currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong, which is abbreviated to ‘d’.
Euro, British Pounds, US Dollars and other major currencies can be exchanged locally at the airport, bureau de changes or banks. US Dollar notes are widely accepted and shopkeepers use both currencies interchangeably. You can often pay for items in USD and receive your change in USD notes and VND coins. Make sure that your USD bills are crisp and clean and you will have no problem using or exchanging these throughout your stay.
ATM machines can be found in all major cities though it is not common to pay with credit card in restaurants, cafes or shops for purchases.
Please note, it’s nearly impossible to change the currency outside of Vietnam so make sure you exchange any leftover notes before you leave.
What do foods and drinks cost in Vietnam?
Local-style coffee at a cafe = around 15,000 VND
Bowl of pho from street stall = between 20,000-30,000 VND
Dinner at a simple restaurant = between 70,000-100,000 VND
Dinner at a up-market restaurant = 200,000+ VND
What’s the food like in Vietnam?
Traditional Vietnamese food is typified by its use of fresh herbs and vegetables and it is wide regional variance. Vietnamese food is influenced by its Chinese and Khmer neighbours and echoes of French colonisation. Some of the best things to eat in Vietnam are noodle soups (pho, bun mam, bun bo hue), bread rolls (banh mi), savoury pancakes (banh xeo) and fresh tropical fruits.
Is tipping customary in Vietnam?
Tipping isn’t mandatory or customary in Vietnam, but a tip of spare change or another small amount would be appreciated by restaurants, drivers and other service workers, especially if the service has been particularly good.
What’re the toilets like in Vietnam?
Although Western-style flushable toilets can be found in your hotels and tourist areas, squat toilets are most common in Vietnam. Please ensure that you carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer, as they are usually not provided.
Is WiFi widely available in Vietnam?
Internet can be accessed at tourist areas and most hotels, but be aware, the speed may be slower than what you are used to.
Can I use my mobile phone while in Vietnam?
You’ll be able to use your mobile phone in most tourist areas of Vietnam, although rural and remote areas may not have network coverage. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your mobile carrier before you leave home if you wish to use your mobile while in Vietnam.
What to wear in Vietnam?
While the tropical climate lends itself to layered, breathable clothing all year round, if you are taking a tour in the North, cold winters mean you might need to bring a fleece or jacket.
What sort of sockets are used in Vietnam and what is the voltage?
The standard voltage in Vietnam is 220 volts. Primary sockets generally require 2 flat prong plugs, 2 round pin plugs, and many of the new 4 and 5 star hotels use British standard 3-pin plugs. We recommend that you pack a universal travel adaptor. You will need a voltage converter and plug adaptor in order to use U.S. appliances.
While Vietnam is typically warm and humid, the country has a highly variable climate that’s best explained by dividing the country into three distinct regions – the north, central and the south.
North Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay, Cuc Phuong, Mai Chau & Ninh Binh) has a distinct winter and summer season. The cool but mostly dry winter lasts from November to April when temperatures average 17-22°C with the coldest months being January – March.
Summer lasts from May to October when it is hot and humid and the region experiences its highest rainfall. July to September are often the wettest months of the year. During these months, severe weather can prevent junks sailing in Halong Bay although such weather is rare.
Mountainous Far North (Sapa, Ha Giang, Bac Ha, Mu Cang Chai) is divided into two seasons: the dry season runs from October to late March with the wet season lasting from April to September. It can get very cold and frosty in December and January, especially at night.
The best months to travel in the north-east (Ha Giang) is during the dry season, from October to April, although December and January can get very cold. We recommend avoiding travelling in Ha Giang during the rainy season (May to September).
Trekking and adventure:
The best trekking conditions in Sapa and around Mu Cang Chai can be experienced between September & November, and from March to May. Daytime temperatures range from 15-28°C, and night-time temperatures from 10-18°C. Trekking and cycling are possible year round, however the winter time can be rather chilly, and the summer rather wet.
Central Vietnam (Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Dalat, Quy Nhon & Nha Trang) have hot and dry weather from mid-January to late August, with temperatures often reaching the mid-30’s °C. During the winter months the rainfall increases with October and November achieving peak levels, occasionally in the form of typhoons.
South Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, The Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc & Con Dao, Phan Thiet & Mui Ne, Ho Tram & Long Hai): the climate of the south is split into two simple seasons, wet and dry. The dry season begins in November and ends in April/early May with late February to May being slightly hotter and more humid. The wet season lasts from May until early November with the months from June, July & August receiving the highest rainfall of the year. Throughout much of the wet season rainfall is generally heavy but short lasting, often occurring in a mid-afternoon heavy downpour. The average temperatures in the south range between 25 – 35°C year round.