You should bring a money-belt to safely carry your travel documents and cash. Bring photo-copies of your passport and visa, plus some extra passport-sized photos if you’re applying for on-arrival visas. When flying into or within the region, you will probably be given baggage claim tags (they will be stuck in to the back of your ticket or on the cover of your passport). Keep these, as you will need to show them when check out the airport.
Clothing & Laundry
If your long trip to Vietnam includes stops at beaches and mountainous areas, you will need clothes for all temperatures. A swimsuit, sunglasses, a hat, t-shirts, shorts, long trousers, some light-weight, long-sleeved tops and a light jacket like wind-breaker and rain-resistant will get you through most trips. But if you plan to visit northern Vietnam in the winter (December-Feb), you will need a warm coat. Mountainous areas can get chilly then choose clothes you can layer. If trekking is on your agenda, you will need sturdy footwear plus lots of socks. Larger cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offer upscale bars and restaurants, so be sure to pack some clothes and dress shoes for a nice evening out. Local laundry services are available, inexpensive and advisable in many towns, usually near the hotels and within a day service.
Though purveyors of beauty products are already putting their foots in major cities, you would be wise to pack travel camaraderie’s like sunscreen, contact lens solution, tampons and mosquito repellent, as well as prescribed medication. Many kinds of medicines are available in Vietnam without prescriptions, easy to reach but they might not be as of that good quality like home. If you travel with a companion or with family, should it be a nice way to cross-pack, for example, pack half of your belongings in to other’s suitcase and vice versa. Just in case any baggage delayed might happen.
Travelers may apply for a tourist or business visa from a Vietnamese embassy or consulate abroad, or obtain a visa on arrival. We often offer a complimentary Visa on Arrival Letter when client book a package tour with us.
Visa on Arrival to be handled by Vietnam Travel Online – Indochina Voyages
To arrange for a visa on arrival, please send us via e-mail the following information:
- Arrival date
- Flight number
- Full passport details (number/name/gender/nationality/issued and date expiry)
It takes three to five (3-5) working days to secure a Visa authorization letter, which Vietnam Travel Online will email to you. You must present this letter when boarding your flight. At the airport, your Visa on arrival stamping will cost US$ 25 by cash. Bring two passport photos.
When entering Vietnam you will be presented with a form that covers customs and immigration. Keep this form as you will need to present it again upon departure.
Depending on route and class of travel, Vietnam Airline offers up to 30kg (66 pounds) if you possess a Business class. Otherwise, a 23kg (50 pounds) regulation is applied in all domestic flights and for the Economy class. Carry-on bags should weigh less than fifteen pounds and have a size limit of 9 X 14 X 22 inches.
When you take the flights out or within Vietnam, locking your suitcases or the duffel bags is legal and advisable.
Except for some parts of old day Ho Chi Minh trail that sharing border with Laos, almost all other destinations in Vietnam are worry-free for malaria though the following immunizations are still recommended for travelers. Consult your doctor or local health department to discuss which shots you need:
- Diphtheria and tetanus: Combined vaccinations for these two diseases are usually given in childhood and should be boosted every ten years.
- Hepatitis A: Vaccination provides immunity for up to ten years and involves an initial injection followed by another six months to one year later.
- Typhoid: Vaccination takes the form of an injection or capsules.
- Meningococcal Meningitis: This vaccine is only recommended for travelers making extended visits to rural, northern Vietnam. Protection lasts for three years.
- Rabies: People making longer trips to remote areas should consider rabies vaccination, which involves three injections over a period of three to four weeks.
- Japanese B Encephalitis: People on trips of a month or more to areas suffering from recent outbreaks should consider getting this vaccine, which involves three shots over one month.
Vietnam currency is Vietnam Dong (VND), rate of exchange is appox 22.500 to the US Dollar. You will find moneychangers in Vietnam’s airports, banks, and various hotels. Many banks (open Monday to Friday) issue cash advances for Visa and Master Card, usually for a 3 percent commission. Credit cards and traveller’s check are widely accepted in major cities. ATMs are of every corner and issue Dong only. Familiar banks like HSBC, ANZ, Citi bank are showing their faces in all big cities also. The American dollar is welcome in most hotels and downtown restaurants, although our good advice is to get some VND for taxis and to spend in smaller shops.
Most of the electrical current in Vietnam is 220V, 50Hz. Round, two-plug pins are more common although some places use flat pins or three-pronged pins. Luxurious hotels provide multi sockets adaptor in room. Anyway, cheap adaptors are sold in local markets or can be requested at the hotel’s desk.
Mobile & Internet
I-phone and other up-to-date handhelds are very popular and convenient for connecting the internet as wireless is available everywhere. At the airport or phone shop, you can easily get a sim card and data package for your stay in Vietnam. A good package for two weeks will be ranging just from US$10 – US$15.
Shopping & Shipping
If you go shopping in Vietnam, bargaining is necessary and actually full of fun. It is also recommended to check prices of the same items in the neighborhood shops before coming to a deal. If you choose to ship items home, we highly recommend that you buy shipping insurance and check the policy details. As shops are not responsible for damages incurred en route, it is better to be safe than sorry. Beside local post offices’ services, DHL, UPS and FEDEX have their hands in every big city.
Knock off products or genuine fake i.e. Luis Vuiton… is of a variety in Hanoi, Hue and Saigon, make sure if there is any problem at your country’s customs before you purchase them home.
High-end restaurants will often add a service charge of five to ten percent to the bill. While tips are not expected in more casual restaurants and bars, they appreciated with thanks since waiters earn low wages. Vietnam Travel Online suggests tipping drivers about US$3 – US$5 per day, tour guides about US$7 -US$10 per day.
Packing for a trip to Vietnam can be a bit hard, as the climate varies so much depending on when and where you go. When the weather is not ideal in one area, it must be great in another. While Hanoi is cold enough to bring a coat from December to February, this is an excellent time to visit HoiAn, Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta.
From April to October, most of the country is affected by south-western monsoons. The rains, which tend to be concentrated in the late afternoon, provide comfort relief to the heat. Travel to very remote areas may be affected by the rains, but overall they should not interfere with your trip. The summer months and up to November are the perfect time to visit Ha Long Bay, as for the blue sky and the water is warm enough for swimming.
In terms of weather, northern Vietnam is at its loveliest from September to December, when there’s a good chance of clear skies and low humidity. The hottest months in Ho Chi Mink City are April and May, although there is generally a decent breeze. The central highland town of Dalat is moderate all year round, earning it the reputation “City of Eternal Spring”.
In Vietnam, revealing clothing is unacceptable off the beach. Shorts are generally fine, as long as they aren’t mini short. People tend to dress as well as they can afford to, local Vietnamese people and children are often astonished by the dirty and tattered clothing worn by some travelers.
When visiting pagodas, temples or Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum in Hanoi, shorts and tank-tops are unacceptable as your knees and shoulders should be covered. Footwear and socks must be removed in some pagodas. Shoes are usually removed upon entering private accommodation.
In terms of behavior, public displays of affection between men and women are considered a bit shocking. On the other hand, it’s perfectly normal for a pair of men or a pair of women to link arms or hold hands, which does not imply any signal of lesbian or gay relations. Upon meeting someone for the first time, people may simply nod to each other or may shake hands. Using both hands to shake someone’s hand while greeting “Xin chao” is a warm gesture of respect.
Beckoning someone by crooking your finger is very rude. The correct way to call someone over is to wave at them or call their name. Never mind if the locals sometime look at you and laugh or giggle, they simply curious about your ages and why you travel if you are a senior traveler. To ask for the bill in a restaurant or shop, pretend to write on your palm with the other hand.
Taking picture for a close up one should be asked prior to your click, other than that, don’t ask if you like another photo opportunity. People are normally a bit shy when a foreigner turns to them and asks something with a camera in hand and they simply turn away. That is why the trick is not to ask if it is not a personal close up picture. Be aware… never shoot your camera at a funeral.
In general, Vietnam is very safe for travelers. A violent attack is almost none, although theft is might sometime be a problem. When possible, secure your valuables in the hotel safe. Remember to record your traveler’s cheque numbers and credit card information, just in case.
Do not leave your wallet or cell phone in the back pocket of your pants or anywhere else that’s easily reached (like an outer zip-up part on a backpack). Be especially vigilant in markets and other crowded places like ports, ferries and train stations.
Pick-pocketing and purse-snatching are more of a problem in Ho Chi Minh City. Some thieves approach on motorcycles, grab your belongings and race off before you’ve realized what’s happened. If you ride in a Cyclo (pedi-cab) do not hold your bag in your lap. Sit on it or put it around your neck and do the same thing with your cam cord. Wearing valuable jewelry especially necklaces that can be easily grabbed will not be advisable.
Use common sense and don’t walk alone after dark, both for visionary and safety problems. Except for the streets in Saigon and Hanoi are well lit up in the evening and at night, some others cities might be dark to walk. You’re always better not to use Cyclo or motorbike taxis at night; ask your hotel or restaurant to call a reputable taxi firm which is always metered taxi.
Traffic is chaotic, especially at prime times when traffics seem to come from all directions. If you choose to ride a motorcycle or bike, make sure you understand the driving culture quite a bit. When crossing the street on foot, move at a slow and steady pace with eyes contact. Never stop and step back suddenly since the motorist watching your pace from a far and measure their own speed. Just walk slowly and traffics will flow around you.