VIETNAM TRAVEL TIPS
Vietnam is a diverse country with fertile rice growing regions and farmland, the lush waterways of the Mekong Delta in its south, and picturesque mountains in the far north. The long coastline is home to white sand beaches, vacation resorts and traditional fishing villages, and there are charming towns from historic Hue to must-see Hoi An. Saigon is a modern, bustling city with vibrant markets, a fantastic dining scene and interesting sites like the Reunification Palace, while Hanoi retains the feel of old-world Asia.
Tourism is growing at a rapid pace in Vietnam, and many facilities and services are on par with those found in Western countries. However in remote parts of the country, conditions may be more basic. Train journeys can be noisy, and road travel may feature bumpy conditions. Busy traffic in the cities may also take some getting used to, particularly in Saigon and Hanoi.
HEALTH & FITNESS
Travelers to Vietnam should take precautions as they would elsewhere in Asia. There are now a number of international standard medical care facilities available in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Danang and Hanoi. Outside these cities, medical care facilities are more basic.
Some of the diseases known to exist in Vietnam include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rabies and HIV/AIDS. We recommend you take adequate preventative measures to minimize your risk of exposure to these health risks. We strongly recommend you consult your preferred doctor for the most up-to-date health advice at least one month prior to travel.
Citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK and EU Countries require a visa to visit Vietnam. All other nationalities should check with the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in their country of residence. A visa must be obtained before departing your country of residence (unless you have gone through the official channels to obtain a visa on arrival service). It can be arranged up to 6 months before your scheduled arrival date into Vietnam.
A full passport is required, valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of your departure from Vietnam. You can acquire your tourist or business visa from your nearest Vietnamese embassy or consulate. Alternatively US residents can apply through our link: Click here
All Vietnam visas are SINGLE ENTRY unless you have specifically requested MULTIPLE ENTRY and this is stamped into your passport. Please ensure you have a multiple entry visa if you are entering Vietnam twice. The status of a tourist visa cannot be changed from SINGLE ENTRY to MULTIPLE ENTRY once you have arrived in Vietnam.
Please note Vietnamese visa regulations and arrangements are subject to change and it is your responsibility to ensure your visa is in order before you travel. We strongly suggest that you check with the relevant embassies in your country of residence that these guidelines are applicable to you.
TROPICAL STORM SONTINH
Please be advised that there is an active tropical storm internationally named as Sontinh in the east sea of Vietnam and is forecasted to make its landfall tonight or tomorrow Vietnam time to the coastal area of northern central Vietnam. At this stage all flights to and from the central cities including Hue and Danang have been cancelled today until further notice. Flights to and from Hanoi are still operated as normal however the Halong Bay overnight boats have been closed to tourists today. It is very likely the Halong bay will still closed until Tue 30th Oct 2012.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Vietnam is generally a safe destination by world standards, but usual common sense precautions apply. In recent years petty street crime has risen as tourist numbers increase. We recommend you take taxis rather than cyclos when traveling at night; taxis in Vietnam are numerous, metered and inexpensive. To assist in finding your way back to your hotel, make sure you obtain a hotel address card to show drivers.
Throughout your stay, always keep a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers, and a detailed record of your traveler's checks. These documents should be kept in a safe place separate from the originals. You should leave valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes wherever possible.
In large cities, such as Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and Hanoi, we recommend you wear as little jewelry as possible and keep your spending money close to your body in a secure place when out on the street.
- Ho Chi Minh by William J. Duiker provides insights into Ho Chi Minh, the man recognized as the modern father of Vietnam. It also touches on the roles of the Soviets and Chinese in the Vietnam War.
- A Bright Shining Lie by John Paul Vann & America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan is a historical biography of Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann, who witnessed arrogance and self-deception amongst the US military in the 1960s, and tried to convince his superiors the war should be fought another way.
- Shadows and Wind by Robert Templer looks at the problems facing modern Vietnam after a century of conflict. It examines its contradictions, secrecy and corruption, and its rampant capitalism despite its Communist government.
- Once Upon A Distant War by William Prochnau tells the stories of some of the Vietnam War's prominent correspondents, such as Neil Sheehan and Peter Arnett.
- In Retrospect - The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam by Robert McNamara is a controversial book telling the inside story of America's descent into Vietnam.
- World Food Vietnam by Lonely Planet is a definitive guide to Vietnam's fresh and fragrant cuisine, complete with tantalizing photographs.
USEFUL WORDS & PHRASES
- Sin chow
- Kwhere khom
- Toy kwhere, come on
- Come on
- Ten la zee
- Ten toy la...
- Bao new toy
- Toy ... too-ee
- ... Bao new
- Muk kwar
- Ya(south), vang (north)
- Sin loy
- Kom can
- Come ern, noong toy kom can too-ee nee long
- Hello (or hi)
- How are you?
- I’m fine, thank you
- Thank you
- What is your name?
- My name is...
- How old are you?
- I am ... years old
- How much is ...?
- It's too expensive!
- Excuse me / I’m sorry
- No need
- Thank you, but I don’t need a plastic bag
- 1 January is International New Year's Day. Banks and public offices will be closed, as will some businesses.
- January/February (last day of last Lunar month) is Lunar New Year’s Eve, the beginning of Tet or the Vietnamese New Year period. The Reunification Palace will be closed in Saigon.
- January/February (first day of the first Lunar month) is Tet, or Lunar New Year, Vietnam's major annual vacation. Banks & public offices will be closed, as will most businesses. Cao Dai temples will be closed six days before the Lunar New Year, and floating markets in the Mekong Delta will not operate.
- March/April (10th day of the 3rd lunar month) is the anniversary of Hung Kings, Vietnam's ancient rulers. Banks and public offices will be closed, as will some businesses.
- 30 April is Independence Day, commemorating the fall of Saigon and reunification of the country in 1976. Banks and public offices will be closed, as will some businesses.
- 1 May is Labor Day, marking the contribution made by workers. Banks and public offices will be closed, as will some businesses.
- 2 September is National Day, marking the day Vietnam declared its independence forming the Democratic Republic of Northern Vietnam. Banks and public offices will be closed, as will some businesses.
- 31 December is International New Year's Eve. While not a public vacation, it is celebrated in Vietnam with festive meals, parties and fireworks as it is in most parts of the world.