Useful Tips Before You Go

A trip to Vietnam is an adventure! It will open a new window for you to see lives in the world. Whether you come for a week or a month, you will be welcomed, celebrated, and made to feel like home. Vietnam will grab hold of your heart and won’t let go.

VISA

Only citizens of certain countries can visit Vietnam without an entry visa (valid for visit within 15 to 30 days depending on the nationality). Those countries include: most ASEAN countries, Korea, Japan & Scandinavians, Germany, England, France, Italy, and Spain.

All other citizens are required to get an entry visa before departure (visa issued prior to departure by Vietnamese consulates or embassies) or a pre-approved entry visa (visa is issued on arrival at Vietnam’s International Airports) supplied before arrival in Vietnam.

Vietnam Package Travel can assist you on getting an “approval letter for visa on arrival” at very affordable rate. Please contact our team for assistance: info@vietnampackagetravel.com

Passport must be valid for at least 6 months with 3 blank pages

WHEN TO GO

There are no good or bad seasons to visit Vietnam. When one region is or cold, or steamy hot, here is always somewhere else that is sunny and warm. The south has two seasons: the wet (May to November, wettest from June to August) and the dry (December to April). The hottest and most humid time is from the end of February to May. The central coast is dry from June to October.

The north has two seasons: cool, damp winters (November to April) and hot summers (May to October). The highland areas are significantly cooler than the lowlands, and temperatures can get down to freezing in winter. There is the possibility of typhoons between July and November, affecting the north and central areas. Travelers should take the Tet new-year festival (late January or early February) into account when planning a trip. Travel (including international travel) becomes very difficult, hotels are full and many services close down for at least a week and possibly a lot longer.

WEATHER

Hanoi and the north of Vietnam have a distinct winter and summer season with the mainly dry winter lasting from November through to April with average temperatures of 18-20 degree Celsius. Summer lasts from May to October and is hot and humid with temperatures around 30 degree Celsius. Hue and Danang in the center of the country have very hot, dry weather from February to August with temperatures reaching the mid 30s Celsius, but can experience some quite heavy rainfall average temperatures around 28 degree Celsius and a rainy season lasting from May through til November. It rarely rains for long periods even in the rainy season with most rain coming in short, heavy bursts.

WHAT TO WEAR

The main thing to consider is the weather, as it can be freezing cold in the mountainous North, and at the same time hot and humid on the Central Coast. If you are traveling in the North or the Central Highlands during the winter months definitely bring jeans and a warm coat or sweater. It seems that it is always raining somewhere in Vietnam, so lightweight rain gear is essential.

In the hot months, dress cool but conservative. Many Vietnamese cannot understand why foreigners insist on wearing shorts, tank tops and sleeveless T-shirts when they have the money to dress well. For the Vietnamese, appearance is very important, so if you are dealing with an official of any rank make sure you are dressed appropriately.

WHAT TO BRING

It is best to travel light in Vietnam. One medium sized bag and a day pack will provide more than enough room to carry everything you’ll need to survive, and enough space for the things you’ll buy in Vietnam.

There are extensive market for consumer goods in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, so do not worry about running out of something.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Bring your own medicine and prescription drugs. When it comes to inoculations, be conservative and be thorough.

Water: Remember to drink a lot of non-alcoholic liquids, it’s easy to dehydrate in Vietnam’s hot climate. In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, ice is generally fine. Chlorinated tap water should be well boiled (20 minutes to kill amoebic cysts) before drinking. In other areas, stick to bottled water and avoid ice.

Food: Vegetables should be peeled, thoroughly cleaned and preferably cooked. All meats and fish should be well cooked. To be safe, peel your own fruit. Yogurt, if refrigerated, is generally fine but avoid fresh milk and be wary of other non-sealed dairy products, especially home-made ice cream. Err on the side of caution; if you are unsure, avoid it.

Malaria: Malaria is not a problem in big cities, but care should be taken in rural areas, especially in the rainy season when mosquitoes breed. If spending time in the countryside (below 1,200 meters), contact a doctor about anti-malarial drugs. Try to avoid getting bitten, cover up after dark, wear repellent, burn mosquito coils and sleep under a net.

Diarrhea: This malady is common. If it occurs, maintain a diet of bland foods of fluids only. If severe, consult a physician.

Emergency:

 

Name

Location

 

24 hr Emergency

 

Address

 

Family Medical Practice Hanoi

 

Hanoi

 

+84 .4. 38430748

 

Van Phuc Compound, 298 I Kim Road, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam.

 

French hospital

 

Hanoi

 

+84.4.3574 1111

 

No 1 Phuong Mai, Dong Da, Ha Noi

 

International SOS Hanoi

 

Hanoi

+84.4.39340666

 

International SOS Vietnam, Ltd.
51 Xuan Dieu- Hanoi-Vietnam

 

Care 1 Executive Healthcare

 

HCM City

+84.8.38227848

 

92 Nguyen Huu Canh Street, Ward 22, Binh Thanh District, HCMC, Vietnam

 

FV International Hospital

 

HCM City

+84.8.54113431

 

6 Nguyen Luong Bang Street, Saigon South, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

 

International SOS Saigon

 

HCM City

+84.8.38298424

 

International SOS Vietnam, Ltd.
167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St, D3- Ho Chi Minh City- Vietnam

 

International SOS Cambodia

 

Phnom Penh

+855.12.816 911

 

House 161, Street 51, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

 

Royal Angkor Int’l Hospital

 

Siem Reap

+855.63.761 888

 

National Route #6 (Airport Road) Phum Kasekam, Khum Sra Ngea, Siem Reap, Cambodia

 

Have immunizations updated for tetanus, diphtheria, meningitis, gamma globulin and polio. You might want insurance that provides medical evacuation in the event of a serious emergency.

BAGGAGE CLAIM

Keep your baggage claim stickers (stuck onto your tickets) in order to get your luggage out of the airport.

REGISTRATION

Hotels and private hosts must register your presence with the police. You will be expected to hand over your passport, along with your visa number. A handy tip is to photocopy your passport details several times and then hand this copy in instead of your original visa.

For overnight cruises, your passport information will be requested to supply before your departure date.

ELECTRICITY

The voltage in the cities and towns is generally 220V, 50 cycles, sometimes 110V in the rural areas. Electric sockets are standard European or American.

If you bring a computer to Vietnam, you must use a surge suppresser to protect your circuits. Large Taiwanese voltage regulators can be bought at computer stores in Vietnam to give greater protection.

It is a good idea to bring adapter plugs in case your plugs do not fit the sockets, which are sometimes two round pins, other times three pins. If you do not have the correct size plug, however, it is easy to buy one at many markets or electronics stores. Batteries are available in the major cities.

TELECOM

It is easy to buy a sim card when you arrive in Vietnam at very cheap price. You can buy top up card everywhere which is cheap. Call inside Vietnam is very cheap. Call outside Vietnam is general cheap.

Popular service provider is Vinaphone, Mobiphone, Viettel.

BUSINESS HOURS

Government offices and museums open early, around 8 am, and close around 4.30 pm. Avoid doing business from 11.30 am to 2 pm, when people are either at lunch or half asleep.

CURRENCY EXCHANGE

US dollar is the best money to bring in while travel in Vietnam. Money exchange can be done at any bank.

US$ 1 =approximately 22,200 VND

Traveler’s checks are not all that practical, they can be easily cashed at most banks but banks close at 4pm and aren’t open on weekends. Some upper scale hotels will change them but usually for guests only.

When you exchange money or cash traveler’s checks, you’ll be given a choice of whether you prefer dong or dollars. While they will gladly convert from dong to dollars, or vice-versa, you will usually lose 5-10% in the deal!

A couple years ago there were only 2 or 3 ATM’s available in each city, now they can be found in almost every corner of the cities as well as at the airport. The ANZ, Vietcombank and ACB machines all accept ‘Interact’, ‘Cirrus’, and ‘Plus’ cards, as well as Visa and MasterCard, all dispensing VND. There are now currency exchange counters at the airport in Hanoi. In HCMC, try Hong Kong Bank at 75 Pham Hong Thai or ANZ Bank at 11 Me Linh Square. In Hanoi try ANZ bank at 14 Le Thai To.

There is a black market but it is generally made up of tricksters who will try to trick travelers by confusing you with large amounts of different sized dong, better to steer clear.

TAXI

You don’t have to worry about taxis wherever you are – all those carrying a company livery will be metered.

We like the Mai Linh taxi company – they’re efficient, use good drivers and operate in nearly all the main centres. Their numbers are:

Ho Chi Minh City: +84.8. 38 222 666

Nha Trang: +84. 58. 3838383

Hue: +84.54. 389 89 89

Hoian: +84.510. 3914914

Hanoi: +84.4. 38 222 666. The Hanoi taxi company is also reliable – their telephone is 38 26 26 26.

If you want to travel by ‘xe om’ (motorbike taxi) or ‘cyclo’ (tricycle taxi), always negotiate a price in advance to save a very public row about the fare upon arrival. However, neither is significantly cheaper than taxis unless you’re travelling alone.

TIPPING

Tipping in restaurants and hotels is not necessary unless you feel moved to reward particularly good service, and even then, keep it low – no more than about 5%. In Ho Chi Minh City and other large centres, tipping is more often expected – 10% or so would be adequate.

Throughout Vietnam, it’s customary to give your guide some remuneration if he or she has done a good job – somewhere between $5.00 and $10.00 per day, with half days pro-rata, should be OK. Don’t feel obliged to tip, though – if you’re not satisfied with your guide. Tipping for driver is about half to tour guide.

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