7 Tips For Travel In Vietnam
Enticing, exhilarating, sometimes downright chaotic – it is easy to understand Vietnam’s appeal for the travellers. Since a first time visit to any country can be daunting, we share our tips for travel in Vietnam.
If you plan to travel to Vietnam, a visa is required. Depending on the purpose of your trip you will either have to apply for a tourist or a business visa.
Tourist visa can be valid for 30 or 90 days respectively. For Vietnam visa can be a single entry, a double entry or a multiple entry (for example we would recommend a multiple entry tourist visa if you plan to travel in the region and then re-enter Vietnam).
If the purpose of your trip is business, matters are more complicated. If you plan to travel to Vietnam in order to attend a conference or to visit a Vietnamese company, your host will have to contact the Immigration Office of Vietnam on your behalf. Once the business visa is granted, your host will receive an approval letter that enables you to collect the visa at the Vietnamese embassy prior to your trip.
To apply for visa you will need to fill out the online application form, submit your passport and one photo and pay the visa fee (if the purpose of your visit to Vietnam is business, you will also need to submit the approval letter).
Your passport should be valid for a minimum of one month from the date your visa expires.
When to visit
It depends where you plan to go. In the North you can expect warm weather from October to December and then from March until August (although bear in mind it can get very hot during the height of the summer). In the South warm and dry weather is the norm from December to May.
Once you arrive in Vietnam, it is mandatory to register your arrival with the police. You will have to hand over your passport in order to do so. This process is usually completed once you register at the hotel. If you are staying in a private accommodation, talk to the owner and ask for their help with the process. Once your presence is registered with the police, make sure your passport is returned.
How to get around
Vietnam has 3 big airports – Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi, Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang Airport. If you plan to travel around the country, you can book plane tickets via one of the low budget carriers such as Vietnam Airlines or Jetstar.
If you are on a budget, you can opt for an overnight bus or an open tour bus where the fare is calculated based on your destination. Do check the prices beforehand and find a reputable company.
Taxi scams are not a Vietnamese speciality, they happen world over. But if you are travelling to the country for the first time, arrange for a taxi pick up at the airport via the hotel you will be staying at to avoid any potential taxi scams. While out and about, look for Mai Linh taxis, as it is a reputable company.
Stay away from drugs of any kind. Even the smallest quantity of an illegal substance can land you in jail (and dealers sometimes turn over their buyers to the police). Possessing or smuggling a larger quantity of an illegal substance can result in a death sentence.
International driving licence is not accepted in Vietnam. In order to drive around on a motorbike you will need a home driving licence and bike registration paper. Do brace yourself as traffic can get crazy (especially in the big cities) and it is not something to be undertaken by novices. If you would like to get around by car, you can opt to rent a car with a driver (this service is usually available via a travel agency or a tour organiser). If you decide to go that route do shop around and ask for a contract specifying all the details (such as necessary fares, repairs, driver’s expenses, etc).
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