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Vietnam Guide

1. Visas

Visitors must obtain visa approval prior to entry. Vietnam Excursions can arrange visas at reduced cost for visitors who book one of our tours. The procedure is as follows: Passport details and arrival and departure dates are faxed to Vietnam Excursions no later than 14 days before passengers' departure to Vietnam. Vietnam Excursions submits details to the Immigration Department. The Immigration Department notifies Vietnam Excursions of visa approval and sends a fax/telex approval to the Embassy or Consulate in the country of visitors' residence. Vietnam Excursions sends a fax copy of the approval to the agent or individual concerned.
  • Visitors cannot get a visa on arrival at the airport unless they have a visa approval letter.
  • Your passport with a validity of at least 6 months.
  • Bring the approval letter and two most recent photos to have your visa stamped at any international airports in Vietnam
  • The stamping fee you pay is US$25 (cash only) and submitted directly to the Immigration office at the airport.

2. Arrival in Vietnam

All visitors must complete an arrival card. This should be submitted together with passport and visa to the Immigration Department officials, as well as the Customs officers. The Exit portion will be torn off and returned to the visitor, who should retain this for presentation upon departure.

If you have not arranged a Vietnam Excursions representative to meet you at the airport, here’s what you should do:

In Saigon:
Tan Son Nhat airport is about 7km northwest of the city center. The best way to get into the city is to take a taxi. Pick a metered taxi outside the terminal and the journey should cost between US$10 and US$15.

In Hanoi:
Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport is approximately 35km north of the city. A taxi into the city center is usually set around US$16 (VND250,000). This figure is arranged in advance and therefore no meter is necessary. Do agree the price before setting foot inside the taxi.
The official currency is Dong. The Dong is non-convertible and at the time of writing trades at approximately 16700 to US$1. The US dollar, preferably crisp clean bills, is widely accepted among major shops and restaurants. Travelers checks can be cashed at authorized foreign exchange outlets and banks and require presentation of passport. There is normally a 2 to 5 percent transaction fee for cashing Travelers checks. Visa and Master card are becoming more accepted in many of the bigger hotels and restaurants, especially in the larger cities.
Make sure that the Vietnamese notes you receive are not torn, this because many shops and restaurants will not accept them. Also try not to change too much money at one time, as you will end up with a large wad of notes. The largest denomination is currently 500,000 dong (approx. US$ 33). The government introduced new 500,000 and 50,000 notes made from plastic (like Australian dollars), rather than the regular paper notes. In 2004 Vietnam introduced coins for smaller transactions. These are in the form of 200; 1,000 and 5,000 Dong. Other paper denominations include 2,000; 5,000; 10,000 20,000 and 100,000. Most are clearly identifiable by color.
There are a number of international banks operating in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with 24hour cash withdrawal facilities, including ANZ Bank in Hanoi and the HSBC in Ho Chi Minh City. Here cash can be withdrawn on Visa and Master cards as well as other cards such as Cirrus but smaller towns may not have them so its best to take cash in advance.
Please note that the Vietnamese Dong is non-convertible outside Vietnam.

Vietnam's elongated shape includes tropical and subtropical zone and is responsible for the varied climate in the country. Generally speaking the best time to travel in Vietnam is when there is a reduced chance of rain; that is during April/May and October/November.

The South (from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet)
The south is hot year round and has two seasons: one wet the other dry. The wet season lasts from May to October and you can expect daily downpours. These are usually brief and easy to predict. The dry season from November to April is generally sunny and humid.

The Center (from Nha Trang to Hue)
For most of the year Nha Trang is bathed in beautiful sunshine but between November and December the area has heavy rain. Dalat, at an altitude of 1,500m is cooler than the coastal area, particularly from November through to March. Danang and Hue both experience typhoon activity from mid October to mid December when the climate becomes cooler, more overcast and wet.

The North (from Hanoi to Sapa)
Summer in the north lasts from May to October where temperatures range between 30-35 degrees Celsius with the occasional burst of heavy rain. The temperature varies from 10-15 degrees in winter (December to March). February and March can be damp with drizzle and overcast skies.


Vietnam Guide

Vietnam Excursions - Vietnam Guide