Vietnam travel questions


Vietnam Travel Questions

Mu Cang Chai Vietnam

Vietnam Climate – What is the climate like in Vietnam ?

Vietnam has a particularly complicated climate and, like elsewhere in the world, weather patterns have been changing over recent years. The situation described below is therefore only an indication of the type of weather you can expect.
Northern Vietnam Climate

Starting in the north, autumn (September to December) is undoubtedly the most pleasant season. At this time of year it’s generally warm (average temps above 20°C), dry and sunny in the delta, though you’ll need warm clothes up in the mountains and on the waters of Ha Long Bay. Winter (December to February) can be surprisingly bitter as cold air sweeps south from China bringing fine, persistent mists and temperatures as low as 10°C. Things begin to warm up again in March, which ushers in a period of good, spring weather before the summer heat begins in earnest in May, closely followed by the rainy season in June. This combination makes for hot, sticky weather which takes many people by surprise. Temperatures, which can occasionally reach 40°C, average 30°C, while humidity hovers around 70-75%. The rain comes in heavy downpours, causing frequent flooding in Hanoi and the delta. By mid September, however, the rains are petering out, and from October onwards it’s perfect sightseeing weather.

Vietnam travel questions

Halong Bay


Central Coast Vietnam Climate

The coastal region from Hanoi south to Hué lies in the typhoon belt. Around Hué, typhoons seem most prevalent in April and May, while further north the season generally lasts from July to November. However, typhoons are incredibly difficult to predict and it really is a matter of luck – or bad luck, rather – if you are caught. Flights are usually only disrupted for a matter of hours, but in recent years the main road and rail routes heading south have been cut by floods at least once during the typhoon season. The good news is that they usually get everything moving again incredibly quickly – within four or five days, depending on the severity of the damage.

Vietnam travel questions

Rach Gia

The central region of Vietnam has a notoriously wet climate, particularly around Hué, where the annual average rainfall is a generous 3m. The so-called “dry” season lasts from February to May, though you’ll need an umbrella even then. After this it gets wetter and hotter (av temps 30°C) until the rainy season begins in earnest in September, gradually easing off from November through January. Winter temperatures average a pleasant 20°C or above.

Southern Vietnam Climate

Southern Vietnam is blessed with a more equitable – and predictable – climate. Here the dry season lasts from December to late April/May, and the rains from May through November. Most of the rain falls in brief afternoon downpours, so you can still get out and about, though flooding can be a problem in the delta. Daytime temperatures rarely fall below 20°C, occasionally reaching 40°C in the hottest months (March to May). Once the rains start, humidity climbs to an enervating 80%.

Vietnam travel questions

Saigon People

Central Highland of Vietnam Climate

The central highlands follow roughly the same weather pattern as the southern delta. In the rainy season (May-November) roads are regularly washed out, but it can also be very beautiful at this time, with tumbling rivers, waterfalls and misty landscapes. You just have to build a bit more flexibility into your schedule.

What is the time difference in Vietnam?

Vietnam is fifteen hours ahead of Los Angeles, twelve hours ahead of New York and seven hours ahead of London, one hour behind Perth and three hours behind Sydney (give or take an hour during daylight saving time).

Where can I find current exchange rates for Vietnamese money?

Current dong exchange rates are available on the internet. Please try one of the links on the page given below. Note: You can not buy or exchange dong outside Vietnam.

What do I need to know regarding visas to enter Vietnam?

The most important thing is to make sure your Vietnam visa is stamped with the correct dates and the correct entry and exit points. The standard tourist visa is valid for a period of up to 30 days. If you’re going for less than 30 days you can either specify the exact dates, but it is probably best to ask for the maximum period to give yourself more flexibility. Processing normally takes between a week and ten days (some embassies offer an express service for an extra fee), but longer for overseas Vietnamese. To be on the safe side, allow several weeks as mistakes are common and inexplicable delays often occur.

When applying for a Vietnam visa, in general you have to fill in two application forms and provide two passport photos. One of these forms, with photo attached, will be returned to you with your visa. For some odd reason many people throw this form away. Don’t, because you’ll be asked to hand it in at immigration on arrival. If you don’t have it with you, blank copies are available at immigration. If you’ve got a spare photo, all well and good. If not, you’ll have to engage the services of a handy airport photographer for the princely sum of $2-5.

If you need to extend your stay for any reason, it is relatively easy to apply for a visa renewal at present. Again this is handled by tour agents/travellers’cafés. The first renewal costs around $25-30 (including a handling fee) and takes three working days to process (please note that government offices are only open Monday to Friday). The maximum period you can ask for is 30 days and it costs the same whether you ask for 1 day or 30 days. A second 10-day extension is possible at a cost of around $35-40. For this second extension you will be asked to show an air ticket dated after the expiry of your visa.

Visas for those entering or exiting Vietnam other than the airport

The standard entry and exit point is “Noi Bai/Tan Son Nhat”, ie. you can enter and depart via either Hanoi or HCMC airports. If you plan to enter via one of the land border crossings, then you should specify the name of the crossing when you apply for your visa. Check what you eventually get because some Vietnamese embassies seem reluctant to issue anything other than the standard entry/exit points. If you can’t persuade the embassy to give you the entry point you need, you could try getting it changed in the neighbouring country. If that fails and you turn up at the border with the wrong entry point, you’ll either get sent back, or – more likely – asked to pay a “fine” of maybe $40-50.

Vietnam travel questions

Vietnam Visa Information and Service

The same applies for exit points, though this is less of a problem as it’s fairly easily to get them changed in Hanoi or HCMC. Most registered travel agents, including the popular “travellers’ cafés”, can handle this for you – you can’t go to the immigration police in person. Rates vary (US$15-25), so shop around. It should take three or four days to process.

Are there any other entry formalities for Vietnam?

On the plane you’ll be given an Arrival/Departure Card and a Baggage Declaration form.

Hand in the completed Arrival/Departure Card with your passport and duplicate visa application form at immigration in Vietnam. The Departure Card will be returned to you. Keep this safely. You usually have to show it when checking into hotels and will be asked for it in when you finally leave Vietnam.

You should list all valuable items on the Baggage Declaration form, such as video cameras, portable computers and expensive jewellery. The duty-free allowance is 200 cigarettes, 2 litres of alcohol plus perfume and jewellery for personal use. You can take up to US $7000 into Vietnam in cash or travellers’ cheques; anything in excess of this sum has to be declared.

Hand the completed Baggage Declaration form to the customs official checking your baggage, who will give you the yellow duplicate – again, keep this carefully as it is required on final departure. (NB. You have to show your baggage check when reclaiming your luggage at the airport on arrival; the stub should be attached to either your airline ticket or boarding pass.)

Finally, it’s a good idea to make photocopies of your Departure Card and Baggage Declaration form at your hotel and keep them separately, just in case you lose the originals. They won’t be accepted in place of the real thing, but may make things slightly easier.

What medical precautions do I need to take when traveling to Vietnam?

It is important to visit a doctor or specialist travel clinic as early as possible (preferably two months) before departure to allow time for the recommended courses of vaccinations. This is particularly important if you suffer from any medical condition and/or are travelling with young children.

Vietnam travel questions

Vietnam Public Health

At the time of writing, no vaccinations are required for Vietnam (with the exception of yellow fever if you are travelling directly from an area where the disease is endemic). However, typhoid and hepatitis A vaccinations are normally recommended, and it’s worth checking that you are up to date with boosters for tetanus, polio etc. Other injections to consider, depending on the season and risk of exposure, are hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, meningitis and rabies. It is best to discuss these with your doctor.

There is obviously a lot that you can do to protect yourself by taking a few common-sense precautions. In tropical climates it’s easy to get run down, so one of the keys is to keep your resistance high by getting plenty of rest and allowing time to acclimatise to the heat, humidity and unfamiliar diet. It’s important to eat well, especially peeled fresh fruits, and to keep up the intake of liquids – bottled water is readily available and hot tea is offered at the drop of a hat.

Personal hygiene is also crucial. Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating, and clean all cuts, scratches and bites carefully. Note that tapwater may be infected, especially during floods, so use an antiseptic spray on open wounds after washing.

Malaria is present in Vietnam. However, at the time of writing both Hanoi and HCMC have very low incidences, while the northern delta and coastal regions of the south and centre are also considered relatively safe. The main danger areas are the highlands and the rural areas, where Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous strain of malaria, is prevalent. Your doctor will advise on which, if any, anti-malaria tablets you should take.

Again you can help yourself considerably by not getting bitten in the first place. (Other mosquito-borne diseases include dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis.) Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, when you should wear long sleeves, trousers and socks, avoid dark colours and perfumes (which apparently attract mosquitoes), and apply repellent to any exposed skin. Sprays or lotions containing around 40% DEET (diethyltoluamide) are the most effective, but it is toxic – keep it away from the eyes and open wounds – and not recommended for young children. Other, less worrying alternatives are Mosi-Guard Natural, X-Gnat or Gurkha repellents. Most hotels provide mosquito nets where necessary; make sure you tuck the edges in well and check for holes in the mesh. Air conditioning and fans also help keep the little blighters at bay.

When it comes to eating, the most important thing is to choose places that are busy and look well-scrubbed, and to stick to fresh, thoroughly cooked foods. Despite appearances, often the small local restaurants with a high turnover of just one or two dishes are safer than expensive, Western-style places. Restaurants where the food is cooked in front of you – for example, steaming bowls of pho soup at a street stall – are usually a good bet, as well as being lots of fun. However, steer clear of shellfish, peeled fruit, salads and raw vegetables. On the other hand, yoghurt and ice cream from reputable outlets in the main cities shouldn’t cause problems.

Bottled and canned drinks, such as Coke, 7UP, Fanta and beer, are widely available even in the countryside. Bottled water is also plentiful and very cheap, though check the seal before you buy and if the water looks at all cloudy, give it a miss. It’s not a good idea to have ice in your drinks and never drink water from the tap.

If you do fall ill, pharmacies in Hanoi and HCMC stock a decent range of imported medicines (check they are not past their “use-by” date). Both these cities also now have good, international-class medical facilities. Elsewhere, local hospitals will be able to treat minor ailments, but for anything more serious head back to Hanoi or HCMC.

Finally, don’t get paranoid! By coming prepared and taking a few simple precautions, you’re unlikely to come down with anything worse than a cold or a quick dose of travellers’diarrhea.

How safe is Vietnam

Vietnam is a relatively safe country to visit. As a woman, I have travelled extensively in Vietnam on my own with absolutely no problems. Despite people’s fears, there is almost no animosity towards Americans.

That said, there are increasing instances of theft, especially in HCMC where pickpockets and snatch thieves on motorbikes are the worst menace. The best tip is to be vigilant at all times. Often cute kids or old grannies have deft fingers. Leave all valuables (expensive watches, jewellery, glasses, etc.) at home, and don’t even wear flash costume jewellery. Make sure you have a firm grip on cameras and shoulder bags at all times and never leave anything you value lying around unattended. I would also not advise taking cyclos late at night, especially in HCMC or as a female on her own.

The other problem area is on the trains, especially the night trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai. Again, make sure all your luggage is safely locked, preferably stowed out of sight or attached to an immovable object, and don’t leave things near open windows. It’s also wise not to accept food or drink from people you don’t know (there are reports of one or two people being drugged and robbed this way).

You might also have read warnings about unexploded shells, mines and other ordnance lying around. This is still the case in the DMZ, around My Son and certain border areas, particularly along the Chinese border. It is advisable to visit such areas only with an experienced local guide and never stray off well-trodden footpaths anywhere in Vietnam.

Finally, there’s the traffic. Trying to cross the street in Hanoi or HCMC is an adventure in itself! You’ll be faced with a tightly-packed stream of scooters, bikes and cyclos which looks completely chaotic at first. But don’t give up! Either walk till you find some traffic lights or just go for it. The key is to walk slowly and steadily out into the traffic. As long as you keep a steady pace and make your movements clear, the traffic will flow round you. Problems arise if you stop or move too quickly and the drivers/riders can’t anticipate your progress.

Unfortunately, driving standards are pretty poor. Vehicles are badly maintained and the roads are becoming ever more crowded, especially Highway 1. As a result the number of serious accidents on the highways is on the increase.

But don’t get paranoid! Thousands of people visit Vietnam each year without experiencing any problems whatsoever. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the situation in Vietnam is certainly no worse than many big European and American cities. Just take the same precautions you would in any unfamiliar place, and you should be fine.

Is language a problem in Vietnam, or can I get by in English?

Everyone in Vietnam seems to be learning English. Standards are relatively high considering the country has only been open for just over a decade. Most young people and many of those working in the tourist industry speak sufficient English to communicate at a basic level. You’ll find more and better English-speakers in the south – a legacy of the American presence – but even here don’t expect to find English spoken at small restaurants, in markets or anywhere off the tourist trail. For such situations it will help to have a basic pharasebook

People over 60 years old, especially in the north, speak wonderfully old-fashioned French. Other northerners might speak Russian or German, depending where they were sent to be educated or as “guest workers”.

If you’re having real difficulties communicating, it sometimes helps to write things down in English. As a last resort, someone will probably go and find an English speaker to help sort things out.

Though you will certainly be able to get by in English, it’s worth learning a few Vietnamese phrases before you go. The pronunciation is a bit tricky, but otherwise Vietnamese is not a particularly complicated language. A few standard phrases (such as hello, thank you, how much is it? and goodbye) always go down well. It will also help if you learn the numbers, though this can be circumvented by asking people to write down prices, times etc.

Should I take my money to Vietnam in cash or travellers’ cheques?

Vietnam’s official currency is the dong, which can not be purchased outside Vietnam. The main banks in Hanoi and HCMC can handle a fairly broad range of currencies nowadays, but the dollar is still the most widely accepted. I therefore recommend taking a combination of US$ cash and US$ travellers’ cheques, with the bulk in travellers’ cheques for safety. American Express, Visa and Thomas Cook cheques are the most recognised brands.

It’s a good idea to arrive with at least some small denomination dollar bills ($1s, $5s and $10s) to get you from the airport into town and to a bank. Even if they’re open, the airport exchange desks offer unfavourable rates. If you do bring dollars cash into Vietnam, make sure they are not badly tattered as they may be refused.

 

Where can I change Vietnamese money?

You can change cash and travellers’ cheques at exchange desks in big hotels and at authorised foreign exchange banks in the main cities. Among the banks, Vietcombank usually offers the best exchange rates and charges the lowest commission (around 1-2%). Note that commission rates are slightly lower if changing travellers’ cheques into dong rather than dollars. Vietcombank does not levy commission when changing dollars cash into dong, though some other banks do. It’s worth bearing in mind that you get a slightly better exchange rate for $100 and $50 notes than for smaller denominations. When cashing travellers’ cheques you may be asked for your passport, though this practice seems to be dying out.

Outside the main cities and tourist areas, authorised foreign exchange banks are few and far between. So if you’re heading off the beaten path, stock up with enough cash (dollars and dong) to last the trip. Wherever you are, you’ll always find someone willing to change dollars cash into dong, though rates will vary.

When receiving dong, you’ll be presented with a huge pile of notes. The largest bill is only 50,000d (roughly $4), so bear this in mind when changing $100! Refuse any badly torn notes (you’ll find it hard to get rid of them – the same goes for dollars) and ask for a mix of denominations so that you always have a few low-value notes in hand.

 

Is it better to use American dollars or Vietnamese dong for daily expenses in Vietnam?

Despite government attempts to outlaw the practice, the US$ still acts as an alternative currency which is almost completely interchangeable with the dong. Many prices, especially for hotels, tours and expensive restaurants, are still quoted in $, though you can pay in dong if you’d rather – just check what exchange rate they’re using.

For everyday expenses, I recommend carrying a mix of US$ cash and dong. For larger items (hotel bills, train tickets, etc.) or when the exchange rate works in your favour, use dollars. For cyclos, local food stalls and small purchases, it’s best to use dong. In either case, make sure you always have a stock of small notes so that you don’t have to worry about change.

 

How widely accepted are credit cards in Vietnam?

Major credit cards (Visa, American Express, JCB, MasterCard) are gradually becoming more widely accepted in Vietnam, particularly in Hanoi and HCMC. All top level and many mid-level hotels accept them, as do a growing number of restaurants and upmarket shops catering to the tourist trade. But watch out for the extra taxes they wap on when using a credit card – these can amount to an additional 5 percent. Outside the major cities you will have to rely on cash and travellers’ cheques.

 

Can I get cash on my credit card in Vietnam?

Cash advances on credit cards are available at the central Vietcombank in Hanoi, HCMC and other major cities, for which you will be charged around 4%.

Hanoi and HCMC also boast 24hr ATMs where you can withdraw cash on MasterCard, Visa and other cards in the Cirrus/Plus networks. In Hanoi, go to the ANZ Bank beside Hoan Kiem Lake; in HCMC both ANZ Bank and HKSB have ATMs.

 

How can I get more information?
You can tell us more about your requirement. We can provide you with comprehensive, useful and most update information by fax or email. Our friendly and professional staffs have in depth local knowledge and experience of the trips we offer and can provide helpful advice and practical travel tips. They are pleased to help you or your travel agent selects your holiday. This is one reason why most our passengers join us through personal referrals or have had a great experience with us before.

 

How do I pay for my tours?
You can use your credit cards in both ways of online or offline option, Paypal is also available, bank transfer…Please note that bank fees will be on customer’s side. See more details at our booking guide

 

How do I booking your tours?
Please click on ‘book this tour’ button on your chosen tour page. We will be back to you within 24 hours with confirmation of availability or payment mode. Please see booking guide for more details.

 

How can I make a booking?
Booking can be actually made on line. Once you are interested in the trip, you then can go ahead and sign up the tour by sending us by fax the completed reservation form so that we could process your booking. In case you won’t find any option that matches your expectation or you want to follow your own itinerary, then do not hesitate to fill the customized trip form and forward it to us. We will work it out and tailor your trip to just what you long for.

 

How often do you cancel a trip?
As a general rule, unless otherwise stated, our policy is that all cancellation must be informed in writing either by email or fax. Cancellations will be charged as follows:
* More than 60 days prior to trip departure. No charge, however 100$US deposit is non-refundable.
* 14 days before arrival: 10% charge
* 13-7 days before arrival: 60% charge
* Within 7 days before arrival: 100% charge.

 

How fit do I have to be?
Our trips are first and foremost fun, educational and engaging and can be undertaken by anyone in good shape. All our trips are graded, thus helping you to choose a suitable trip. Bear in mind that our tour products have a wide range from easy touring to physically challenges, not to mention adventure trekking, sea kayaking and mountaineering trips. For those who would prefer a less active holiday, or sign up for special interest trip, family vacation please does let us know. We take pride in tailor made holiday and able to come up with interesting program.

 

When is the best time to travel Vietnam & Cambodia ?
Vietnam
The climate in Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere in the south is hottest and most humid in March and April. The dry season runs from November to April and the rainy season from May to October. In the north, the wet season is from May to September; December to March is the driest months.

 

Cambodia
The climate is tropical with three seasons. The most pleasant being the dry season from November to February when temperatures are cooler. The hot season lasts from March to May with average temperatures in the high 90s. The monsoon season, which is both hot and humid, is from June to October. The wettest months are August to September.

Vietnam travel questions

Angkor Wat

 

What level of comfort can I expect?
It may vary from one trip to another pending on what trip you are following. On all our trekking trips we stay overnight at local family in hilly and mountainous area. All your gear will carried, your meals are prepared. Of course we will use also comfortable hotel with local quaint whenever available. On beach escape and touring holidays we stay in local hotels with fully supported staffs and amenities. All you have to do is enjoy yourself.

 

What the accommodation like?
Hotels range from budget to five-star. While deluxe properties are located only in the major cities, the charm, and quaint local family run accommodations with varying levels of private facilities can be found through out the country. Vietvision Travel constantly stays abreast of hotel developments in order to offer our clients the best available and most preferred lodging?

 

How safe is it?
Above all, your well being is of paramount importance on all our trips. Our local staff constantly reviews every aspect of your adventure and our expert guides are fully conversant with the demands of traveling in remote and isolated regions.

 

What about travel insurance?
Travel insurance is compulsory for any participant. It is advised that all travelers should have travel insurance covered before your departure. This will be really helpful in case of medical emergency evacuation. It is with go safe. The travel insurance will cover against Hospital and Medical expenses, the cover relates to expenses as a consequence of accidents occurring to the bearer during the period of Insurance and/or unforeseen illnesses which arise during that period as well.

 

Do I need to have some vaccination before the trip?
No vaccinations are officially required by the Vietnamese authorities, however immunization against cholera, hepatitis, typhoid, tetanus, polio and Japanese encephalitis is advised. Please consult your doctors for further medical advice. Also plan to bring mosquito repellent. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and slacks from dusk onward and avoiding perfume is also recommended. In addition to an ample supply of any prescription drugs you are taking (and a prescription which can be filled in case your pills go missing) bring medicines for: Headaches, diarrhea, constipation, insect bites, sore throats, eye drops, cuts, etc. Medical standards outside Hanoi and Saigon, Siemreap and Luangprabang are lower that those found in western countries.

 

What about the food?
Your good health is a top priority on all our trips. We are therefore fully aware of the healthy appetites that build up when trekking, kayaking or touring and provide tasty and varied meals with plenty of fresh ingredients. All our food is prepared by genius cooks who ensure high standards of hygiene and who serve a sensible combination of local and Western dishes. . We also cater for vegetarians, and none-seafood individuals. Whereas sometimes you have to choose your own meals, eat only the well-cooked food at decent hotels and restaurants. While snacks may be offered for sale else where, one never knows the condition under which they were prepared or the health of the food handlers. You may want to bring along dried fruits and other “comfort” for the bus ride (there is a ” dining car” on the train which serves drinks and light meals).

 

Who is my guide?
Positive feedback from our clients validates our policy of employing local people as guide. Our guides are open-minded, qualified and enthusiastic young people who can accommodate your travel needs and provide you – the traveler, with first-hand knowledge of local history and culture. They are also curious about foreign culture and are keen to engage in cultural exchange with visitors. They are there to make your trip a success.

 

What about Responsible Travel?
We are highly committed in the friendly environment operation. Our style of travel is ” environmentally, culturally and socially responsible – we call this ‘Responsible Travel’. It involves working closely with local people and, where possible, training local people as trip guide and staff about how to protect the environment and decisions that affect their future. This is our mission to conserve the areas we visit, keep them intact and unspoilt by tourism and bring positive benefits to local communities.

 

Can I organize my own group?
Our website is just the starting point. If the specified trips are not suitable, or you don’t want to follow the same itinerary, we would be happy to come up with a program to suit your travel interests. This service is available to any individual, family or group. We regularly organize tailor-made holidays for families, groups of friends, schools, clubs, societies, associations and special interest groups. We’re happy to be of any assistance in planning and making your trip, as you’ve ever wanted it to be!

 

What is included in my trip?
Pending on specific trip our inclusions may vary from trip to trip, as an indication we include accommodation in clean, friendly located hotels with local character where possible on a double/ twin shared basis with daily breakfast; all transfers & transportation including boat ride, train journey if any; experienced English speaking guide; domestic flights where specified in the itinerary; food as stated in the trip; other specific arrangement for special interest tours.

 

Are children charged the full room rate?
Rates are normally reduced for children under the age of 12 years.

 

Are there any hidden cost or extra charges?
Good question! Most of our tours include all transport, meals, accommodation and much of arrangement and service you will need in the tour the cost is a little to spend. Read though the inclusion, exclusion portion and you will find more specific about it. Compare our quality, inclusions and daily rates our holidays offer good value for money.

What is the local money called? Can I use credit cards and travelers check?

 

Vietnam travel questions

Royal Palace Phnom Penh

Currency
Vietnamese – Dong
Cambodian- Riel
Laos – Kip
Credit Cards

In Viet Nam credit cards are accepted at most hotels and better restaurants and shops. In Cambodia and Laos credit cards are accepted in major hotels.

 

Travelers Checks
In Viet Nam traveler’s cheque is accepted in the big cities but when you change it you need to bring along your passport

In Cambodia and Laos, traveler’s cheque is accepted on a limited basis and may be difficult to change.

 

ATM Machines
In Viet Nam: available in most of the major cities. In Cambodia, Laos presently is not available. US dollars, preferably crisp clean bills, are accepted almost everywhere in all of the countries listed above.

 

More Questions for  Vietnam travel questions?
Please click on Contact Us for your any other question or concern, we will get back to as soon as possible

 

How to get Visa to Vietnam,visa to Cambodia ?

Visa service faqs

Visa on arrvial

Vietnam travel questions Article Tags :