Vietnam Map

 

 

You are planning a trip to Vietnam and are having difficulties deciding where to go and what to do, what you cannot miss and what to skip. From the feedbacks of our customers, Cheap Vietnam Holidays would like to recommend some activities considered by travellers as must-do's when you are in Vietnam....

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Vietnam travel facts

 

Vietnam is a nation of captivating diversity. From north to south you will find 'authentic' Asia - the fertile plains of the Mekong Delta, majestic mountains in the north, classical pagodas and temples, bustling cities and street markets, and the faded elegance of the French colonial era. You will also encounter a nation rich in culture, tradition and history, and people with a refreshing warmth and friendliness unequaled in Southeast Asia; a people who have put the war torn past behind them and are clearly focused on a brighter future. The travel industry in Vietnam is growing at a rapid pace. While the freshness and novelty of travel within Vietnam is still evident, major cities now offer facilities and services at Western standards. Travelling in the more remote areas of Vietnam will, however, involve travel on bumpy roads, in noisy trains, and overnight stays in clean but basic accommodation. Information herein was correct at the time of preparation, however the rapid development of tourism in Vietnam has the potential to make some of the information in this guide irrelevant. This information is intended as a guide only and Cheap Vietnam Holidays is not responsible for any inaccuracies. This document does not, in any way, alter the booking terms and conditions. Please contact us with your comments if you find during the course of your travels that the information in this guide is incorrect or out of date.

 

 

FACTFILE
PASSPORT
VISAS
HEALTH
MONEY EXCHANGE
SAFETY & SECURITY
WEATHER
POST AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
ACCOMMODATION
LOCAL FOOD AND DRINKS
LOCAL TIME
LANGUAGE, CULTURAL & ENVIRONMENTAL GUIDELINES

 

FACTFILE

Population: 80 million 
CapitalCity: Hanoi Pop.: 3.5 million 
People: 80% Ethnic Vietnamese, 53 minority groups including Hmong, Tay, Cham, 
Montaguard, Khmer, Chinese.
Language: Vietnamese 
Religion: Predominantly Buddhist, with Confucianism, Taoism & other minorities 
Currency: Dong 
Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz AC (some 110V, 50 Hz AC) 
International Dialing Code: 84 

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PASSPORT

It is a requirement for entry into Vietnam that you have a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you complete your travels. If your passport has only a few months validity or only a few pages remaining, it may be wise to apply for a new one before you set off. Bear in mind that visas, plus entry and exit stamps, can be large - some even take up a whole page. If you need to apply for a new passport, make sure you do this well in advance of your travel date. In Vietnam you will need to show your passport when checking into hotels, buying airline tickets, changing money etc. 
MAKE A COPY 
It is highly recommended that you make a note of, or better still, take a photocopy of your passport details (passport number, visa number and place and date of issue of both.) Keep this information separate from your passport. If you lose your passport you must report it at once to your Tour Leader/Tour guide, the local police and the nearest embassy or consulate of your country. 

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VISAS

Visa on arrival

Most visitors to Vietnam need a visa to enter the country. Visas are exempted for the citizens of the countries which have signed a bilateral or unilateral visa exemption agreement with Vietnam, tourist visa may be valid for 15 to 30 days. 
Tourist visa can be obtained in Vietnamese embassies, consulates abroad. Please obtain a visa before arriving on the tour. You should allow 1 week for processing. To apply for a visa, the requirements are as follows: 
- Entry permit form (which can vary from one Vietnamese embassy or consulate abroad to another) 
- Two photos (4cmx6cm or 3cmx4cm) 
- Original passport 
- Visa fee (25 US $, paid directly to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate) 
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). 
* Visa exemption: 
- Not more than 30 days: for citizens of Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Laos. 
- Not more than 15 days: for citizens of Japan and South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland. 
* Please Note: 
- All Vietnam visas are SINGLE ENTRY - unless you have specifically requested MULTIPLE ENTRY and this is stamped into your passport. Please ensure you have a multiple entry visa if you are entering Vietnam twice. 
The status of a tourist visa cannot be changed from SINGLE ENTRY to MULTIPLE ENTRY once a client has arrived in Vietnam. 
- Visitors can obtain a visa upon arrival in Vietnam. However, we recommend this option only in cases of emergency as it much more expensive than a regular visa.

* customs and immigration
To get through customs and immigration on arrival in Vietnam, you need to complete an entry / exit form, a customs declaration form and present your second visa application form (complete with photo). Immigration will be your first encounter with Vietnam's officialdom. In spite of the horror stories it is quite smooth sailing as long as you comply with their wishes. Sometimes you are required to supply 2 additional passport sized photos, so make sure you have them handy. 
Entry/Exit form (white with a green/blue duplicate) is particularly important, as most hotels in Vietnam require this form for registration. 
Customs Declaration form (white with a yellow duplicate) on this form you will be asked to declare all sorts of things such as: books, cameras, videos, jewellery, money etc, etc. There is no need to declare anything that is for personal use. The form is intended for people who wish to trade or sell their goods in Vietnam. 
Do not lose either of these forms! Keep them safely stapled in your passport. You will need them for a smooth exit from Vietnam. 
For information on the location of your nearest embassy or consulate we recommend the following website:
http://dir.yahoo.com/Government/Embassies_and_Consulates/

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HEALTH

There are no specific health requirements for entry into Vietnam. However, you should consult your doctor for up-to-date information and prescriptions for vaccinations, anti-malarial requirements and any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst travelling in Vietnam. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses). Please be aware that for legal reasons our leaders are prohibited from administering any type of drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared. Cheap Vietnam Holidays recommends the services of Family Medical Practice for all the medical requirements of our travellers and staff when travelling in Vietnam. Family Medical Practice 24 hour clinics have expatriate doctors and specialists, and can be found at the following locations:
Website:
www.vietnammedicalpractice.com
Hanoi 
Van Phuc Compound, 298 I Kim Ma Road, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam
24-hrs Emergency Tel: +84 (0) 4 843 0748, Fax: +84 (0) 4 846 1750
Email:
hanoi@vietnammedicalpractice.com
Ho Chi Minh City
Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
24-hrs Emergency Tel: +84 (0) 8 822 7848, Fax: +84 (0) 8 822 7859
Email:
hcmc@vietnammedicalpractice.com
Danang
50-52 Nguyen Van Linh Street, Nam Duong Ward, Hai Chau District, Danang, Vietnam
Tel: +84 (0) 511 582 700, Fax: +84 (511) 583 049
24-hrs Emergency Tel: +84 (0) 913 917 303
Email:
danang@vietnammedicalpractice.com

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MONEY EXCHANGE

Vietnam bank notes

Currency exchange rates often fluctuate. For the most up to date rates please refer to the following website: http://www.oanda.com/.
The official currency in Vietnam is Dong(VND). The Dong at the time of writing trades at approximately 16,000 VND to USD1. The US dollar, preferably crisp clean bills, can be used to directly purchase goods and services along with the local currency,. Travelers checks can be cashed at authorized foreign exchange outlets and banks and require presentation of passport. There is normally a 2 to 5 percent transaction fee for cashing, however it can be difficult to change traveller's checks outside the big cities. Other major international currencies may be exchanged in the main cities, where Visa and Master Cards may also be used for cash advances. ATMs are available in most large towns throughout Vietnam. Most hotels offer exchange services at a reasonable rate. It is not possible to exchange Vietnamese Dong outside the country so convert or spend all your Dong before leaving. Black markets are reemerging in Vietnam but are considered a danger and best avoided
Make sure that the Vietnamese notes you receive are not torn, this because many shops and restaurants will not accept them. Also try not to change too much money at one time, as you will end up with a large wad of notes.

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SAFETY & SECURITY

Vietnam is generally a safe country, however petty street crime is on the rise as tourist numbers increase. In Ho Chi Minh City we recommend that as little jewellery as possible is worn and that when on the street your spending money is kept close to your body in a secure place. We further recommended that you take taxis rather than cyclos at night. Taxis are metered and inexpensive. Carry a hotel card so that you can show your taxi driver where you want to go. You should leave valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes at all times and carry photocopies of your passport, credit card numbers, and airline tickets, and keep a record of your encashed travellers cheques. These papers should be kept in a safe place separate from the originals. 
Vietnam was recently voted one of the safest destinations in the world. Women and independent travelers have found it relatively hassle-free and easy to travel throughout the country. Incidents of petty theft and bag snatching are more widespread in Ho Chi Minh City and to a lesser extent Hanoi

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WEATHER

Vietnam spans several climatic zones, resulting in substantial weather condition variations between the north and the south. Average temperatures year round range from 20 to 35 degrees Celsius so there is no particularly good or bad time to visit Vietnam.
In southern Vietnam tropical conditions prevail, and there are two seasons - the wet season lasts from May to November and the dry season from December to April. The wet is characterised by high humidity levels and a refreshing afternoon downpour. Humidity in the south during the months of June and July ranges between 75% and 85%. The hottest months are from March to May.
Central Vietnam is usually dry from May to October and wet from December to February. October and November may experience unstable weather conditions and flooding.
Northern Vietnam also experiences two seasons though conditions can change dramatically throughout the day. The winter months from November to April are usually cold and humid. The months of December and January can be particularly cool with temperatures as low as 8 degrees Celsius. Temperatures can drop to 0 degrees Celsius in Sapa (in the highlands near the Chinese border) in winter. Summer, from May to October, can be quite hot and wet with regular downpours and occasional typhoons. The hottest months are July and August in Hanoi.

 

Weather Chart

 

CITY/ TOWN RAINY
SEASON
DRY
SEASON
HOTTEST
MONTH
(oC)
COLDEST
MONTH
(oC)

Can Tho

May-Nov

Dec-Apr

Apr: 33.9

Jan: 21.9

Dalat

Apr-Nov

Dec-Mar

Apr: 26.8

Feb: 10.0

Danang

Jul-Jan

Feb-Jun

Jun: 34.2

Jan: 19.0

Dien Bien

Apr-Sep

Oct-Mar

May: 32.2

Jan: 11.0

Hanoi

May-Oct

Nov-Apr

Jun: 32.8

Jan: 13.8

Halong

May-Oct

Nov-Apr

Jul: 31.6

Jan: 13.5

Hue

Jul-Jan

Feb-Jun

Aug : 34.5

Jan: 17.2

Nha Trang

Sep-Dec

Jan-Aug

Aug: 33.2

Jan: 20.5

Pleiku

May-Oct

Nov-Apr

Apr: 30.7

Jan: 14.0

Qui Nhon

Sep-Dec

Jan-Aug

Aug: 34.5

Jan: 20.6

Saigon

May-Nov

Dec-Apr

Apr: 34.8

Jan: 21.0

Sapa

Mar-Nov

Dec-Feb

Aug: 23.2

Jan: 06.2

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POST AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS

International mail generally takes 7 to 10 days to reach its destination and prices are generally equivalent to western postal charges. Reverse charge (collect) calls are not possible from Vietnam. International phone and fax charges are expensive and vary between .50 (at some post offices) and per minute (at some hotels). Email services are inexpensive and available in major tourist areas. 
The Vietnamese postal system offers you most telecommunications services. You could find herein some special services such as: EMS (Express Mail Service), DHL Worldwide Express, UPS, Freight Forwarders.
Email & Internet: 
Thanks to the technology, E-mail and Internet services are available in most hotels and posts in Vietnam. Other places where you could find the same services are in the Internet Cafes (~95% are using ADSL) located in many streets of the major cities. Normally the post will charge you from 3000 VND to 6000 VND per hour for internet service (about 0.19 to 0.38USD) but it could be more in the hotels.
Telephone Booth & Telephone Card: 
Using a telephone booth is an easy way for you to call home. You can find telephone booths at post offices or in the street of major cities. Telephone cards are on sales at GPO, shops, restaurants, book stores. However, it is getting more popular and cheaper to make phone calls over the Internet. These days many Internet Cafes offer you this option.
International calls: 
Costs for direct dialed international calls are still high. However, you can make a phone call to talk with your relatives in your country with half of the cost with 178 or 171 services. With these services, cost is about 0.60USD per minute to most of countries in the world. How to dial it? Very easy:
Dial 171 (or 178) + 00 + country code + city code + number
Kindly note if you use this service from your hotel's telephone, the charge might be a little higher as the hotel will put some service charges over it. Again, making international phone calls by Internet is another relatively cheap option.
Mobile phone: In Vietnam, GMS (Global Mobilephone System) is presently operated by three main suppliers: VINAPHONE, MOBIFONE and Viettel. Your mobile phone could be used here by roaming service. These suppliers offer also VINA and MOBI Pre-Paid Card services. The best way for you to use a mobile phone in the country is to buy a pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone. You can also rent a mobile phone at your hotel or at a Mobile Phone Service Center in the street. 

 

Below are important phone numbers you should always have with you:

 

113

Police

114

Fire Brigade

115

Ambulance

00

International Direct Dialing Access Code

0

National Domestic Direct Dialing Access Code

101

Long Distance Domestic telephone service

102

Directory assistance for long distance domestic telephone service

103

Operator-assisted long distance domestic telephone service

110

International telephone service

112

International telephone service rate

113

International telephone service inquiries

116

Phone number inquiries

117

Time inquiries

118

Ring back test

119

Advice on telephone repairs

1080

Information about society, economy, culture.

1088

Consultation in areas of employment, health, law, informatics, psychology, living skills...

178
171

Discount international phone charges, at US$1.30 per minute


Availability of Film 
Photo shops are in abundance and print film is widely available. Slide film is only available in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and Hanoi.

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ACCOMMODATION

Hotel Availability 
Vietnam is currently experiencing an extreme shortage of hotel rooms although the government and private sector are moving to resolve this shortage. This means we may need your patience and understanding when it comes to hotels in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and Hanoi. If there is a change to your starting hotel we will endeavour to notify you prior to your departure. If this is not possible our representative will be on hand to assist in any changeover. 
Check in and check out times can vary but most hotels in Vietnam require guests to check out by 11 am and do not allow check in until 12 noon. Many hotels may allow an earlier check in or later check out subject to availability on the day. However, if you are arriving early in the morning to a destination or leaving late in the evening you should consider pre-booking a guaranteed early check in/late check out. The additional cost varies from hotel to hotel but is usually between 50-100% of the nightly rate. 
Massage Services 
Many countries in Asia are deservedly renowned for their massage techniques and the quality and value for money of these services. Unfortunately, many massage parlours including some in otherwise 'reputable' hotels are also linked to the paid sex industry. We advise you to check carefully before using massage services in Asia. 
Laundry 
Most of the hotels we use in Vietnam provide a laundry service although this can be quite expensive, sometimes as much as US$1 per item. Alternatively the side streets of most towns and cities are teeming with laundries where the average cost per kilo of laundry is US$0.70. 

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LOCAL FOOD AND DRINKS

Food 
Vietnamese food often comes as a wonderful surprise! It has a very distinctive style, although it is also clearly influenced by Chinese and, to a lesser extent, French cuisine. Freshness is of paramount importance so ingredients are bought fresh from the local market on a daily basis. Meals will usually include rice or noodles as staples along with a vast array of vegetables, and meats like chicken, duck, beef, and pork. Good quality seafood (fish, calamari, prawns and crab) is widely available and you'll find that fish sauce is a condiment which accompanies almost every meal. The most famous Vietnamese dish is spring rolls either deep fried (known as cha gio in the south and nem ran in the north) or served fresh (bi cuon/bo bia) with a combination of raw vegetables and grilled prawns, crab, pork or chicken. Pho (noodle soup) served with either chicken or beef, fresh green leaves, beans sprouts, and red chillies is also found throughout the country. If you are after a snack try a banh cuon, a steamed dumpling stuffed with minced pork or prawns, black mushrooms and bean sprouts. The French colonial period has left a legacy of delicious continental food. Often street cafes have a distinctly French feel with crispy baguettes, pate, creme caramel, banana flambe and sweet pastries on the menu. 
Drinks 
Tea, similar to Chinese green tea, is one of the most common drinks in Vietnam. Coffee was introduced by the French and is usually strong, thick and served complete with drip filter, so you know it's fresh! If you ask for milk it will usually be sweet condensed milk. Home brewed rice wine is often offered to guests, but watch out - it is extremely alcoholic! Light lager style beers such as Ba Ba Ba, BGI, Tiger, Carlsberg, Fosters and Saigon Export are commonly available and you may like to try bia hoi, which is home brewed and available cheaply on the streets. Western spirit are available in most big towns and good quality (but very alcoholic!) spirits, such as nep moi (a type of vodka), are also produced locally. 
Vegetarians 
Vegetarians should not have any difficulty in finding a great selection of food in Vietnam as there is a strong Buddhist influence and Chinese and Vietnamese vegetarian dishes abound. 
Please note: Unfortunately we can give no guarantee that special requirements can always be met. 

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LOCAL TIME

Vietnam is: 
+ 7hrs ahead of GMT 
+ 3hrs behind Australian Eastern Standard Time 
+ 5hrs behind New Zealand 
+ 10hrs ahead of Canada Eastern Time 
+ 15hrs ahead of Canada Pacific Time 
+ 10hrs ahead of US Eastern Time. 
+ 15 hrs ahead of US Pacific Time 
Business hours
Most Vietnamese are early risers, so businesses and shops open early. Government offices are open from Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 4:30pm. Most businesses are open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm and on Saturdays from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. Lunch time is usually between 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.
Many businesses, shops, and all government offices are closed during this lunch period. Shops are open from about 8:00 am to 9:00 pm, with some open longer. 

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LANGUAGE, CULTURAL & ENVIRONMENTAL GUIDELINES

Toilets 
Wherever you use a western or squat style toilet remember to place your toilet paper in the rubbish bin provided - DO NOT flush it down the toilet as this may block the sewerage system. You may also want to carry your own toilet paper as not all toilets will supply it. 
Language 
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. 
Religion 
We encourage travellers to experience religious festivals and visit temples and shrines but ask that you follow religious rules such as removing your shoes. Your Tour Leader will be on hand to advise you of local sensitivities. 
Etiquette & Customs 
The Vietnamese are generally relaxed and easy going with regard to customs and you would find it difficult to unwittingly offend. In most cases your Tour Leader will brief you accordingly; however there are a couple of points which are worth noting. It is very important that you remove your shoes if you are visiting someone's house and patting someone (even a child) on the head is considered to be rude and insulting. Open displays of affection (such as kissing and holding hands) will generally draw the wrong kind of attention. Anger, such as losing your temper and yelling will lead to a loss of respect and is highly unlikely to get you what you want! 
Bargaining
Bargaining is a way of life in much of South East Asia. In Vietnam shops don't have fixed prices so the shop keeper will start with a high price which you are then expected to bargain down until you reach a fair price. Bargaining should always be relaxed and can be a lot of fun but you should remember that it is considered disrespectful to agree a price but then walk away.

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Vietnam Travel facts

 

 

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