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About Vietnam

Vietnam is a small yet majestic country, offering travellers an exciting mix of adventure and culture. The country’s captivating natural wonders span from the mountainous north and the fertile plains of the Mekong Delta, to the spectacular coastline of central Vietnam and the magnificent Halong Bay. With an intriguing history spanning back over 4,000 years, including occupations from both the Chinese and French, the country’s architecture and cuisine is a fascinating testament to cultural diversity.

Capital City: Hanoi

Language: Vietnamese

Currency: Vietnam Dong (VND)

Time Zone: GMT +7 Hours

International Dialing Code: +84

Passport and visa

Passports should be valid for six months from the date of entry into Vietnam. We recommend you make a photocopy of your passport and keep it somewhere separate, or scan it and keep it in an accessible email account.

Visitors must have a visa before entering Vietnam, and a visa on arrival can only be obtained with a letter of approval. A visa on arrival is granted to many nationalities for stays 15 days or less. We can arrange this for you. Otherwise, you must apply online or at the embassy for all 30-90 day single or multiple entry visas.

Some nationalities are eligible for visa exemption. Please click here to see if you are exempted for a visa to Vietnam.

Currency

The official currency in Vietnam is the Dong (VND) which is a non-convertible currency. American dollars are widely accepted in larger stores and supermarkets. Visa and MasterCard are accepted in many hotels, restaurants and large stores, especially in the bigger cities. ATMs are widely available throughout the country, and there are a number of international banks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Phones & Internet service

The Vietnamese postal service is reliable and there are also courier services widely available. Do not put postcards into letter boxes; give them to your hotel to post or go to a post office.

Telephone connections to the rest of the world are widely available, however they aren’t cheap. A Vietnamese SIM card is a less expensive way of calling other countries, however your phone will need to be unlocked in order for it to work. For example, 200,000VND worth of Viettel credit ($10) can last for up to 45 minutes to the UK.

Internet access is available in all major hotels and you will find WiFi in most cafes in developed areas.

Weather
Vietnam has a diverse climate that varies significantly from region to region:
 
The North (Hanoi to Sapa)

  • April to October: temperatures between 30-35°C with occasional bursts of heavy rain.
  • December to March: temperatures between 10-15°C. February and March can be damp with drizzle and overcast skies.
The Centre (Hue to Nha Trang)
  • Nha Trang: sunshine all year round apart from November and December when the area has heavy rain.
  • Dalat: cooler than the coastal area, particularly from November to March.
  • Da Nang and Hue: typhoons from mid October to mid December
The South (Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet)
  • May to October: hot and wet
  • November to April: hot and humid
Please note: The weather can be very unpredictable so it may be a good idea to carry an umbrella or raincoat with you. You can purchase these from supermarkets and general stores. 
 
Health and Safety
Please be aware that your health can be at risk in Vietnam due to poor sanitation and lack of effective medical facilities. Rural areas may not have pharmacies and hospitals so make sure you travel with a full supply of any prescribed medicine you take. If you need medical assistance, we suggest The Family Medical Practice in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Every traveller is responsible for his or her own health.
First and foremost, make sure that you have travel insurance for your trip. You should also consult your doctor or local travel clinic for the latest information and advice on travelling to Vietnam before departure.
If you have a medical condition or allergy of which requires particular attention, carry a doctor’s letter with you that describes the nature of the condition and treatment needed. We also recommend you pack a medical kit, including Paracetamol and a diarrhea remedy.
 
Vaccinations

Before travelling, please ensure you have adequate protection against disease. Contact your doctor for the latest medical advice on the vaccinations you need, no less than two months before your departure.  Be aware that there is a malaria risk in rural parts of Vietnam.

Travel insurance

Indochina Charm Tours try out best to do everything possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. However, travel inevitably involves some risk and this should be recognised by holiday-makers. Travel insurance is a cost effective way of protecting yourself and your equipment should any problems occur such as cancelled trips, delays, medical emergencies, baggage loss or damage. It also gives you peace of mind. Please also ensure your travel insurance covers all activities planned on your trip.

 

Food and drink
Vietnamese food is fragrant, exciting and healthy.  Around the country, you will find a delicious variety on offer, influenced from France, Thailand and even India.
The most popular dish is called “pho” and is often referred to as the "soul of the nation". Simpy put, it’s a noodle soup dish eaten every day, predominantly for breakfast. It is served in most Vietnamese restaurants and street food vendors. Don’t be afraid to try the street food, which is often the best food in the country. There are plenty of options, including:
 
Nem Ran or Cha Gio (fried spring roll)
Banh Chung (sticky rice cake)
Gio Lua (lean pork pie)
Banh Cuon (rice flour steamed rolls)
Banh My (pate and egg rolls)
Mi voi thit bo/ga (noodles with beef/chicken)
 
It is not advisable to drink tap water in Vietnam. Bottled water is cheap and widely available.
 
Public holidays
TET (Vietnamese New Year): generally takes place at the end of January or early February and lasts for three days.
Liberation of Saigon: 30 April
International Worker’s Day: 1 May
Hung King’s memorial day: 10 March (lunar calendar)
Vietnamese National Day: 2 September
 
TET Travel Recommendation: we discourages travel over the TET period. Transport is often booked or expensive. Lots of places are closed including restaurants, shops and key tourist sites.
 
Pre-departure checklist
  • Travel insurance
  • Passport with at least six months validity from date of entry
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Passport-sized photo and $USD for visa on arrival
  • Vaccinations
  • Foreign currency (US$) and/or ATM card
  • All relevant tickets
  • Reconfirmed flights
  • Light weight clothing
  • Long sleeved shirts and trousers (November-February evenings)
  • Depending on the season, your activities and the region you will be visiting (e.g. mountainous areas) it may be advisable for you to bring a jacket with you.
  • Electrical adaptor: 220V, 50Hz; 2 pin plugs
  • A small bag/backpack for day and overnight trips
  • Appropriate shoes for trekking, cycling and walking
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Medication/first aid kit

 

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