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FAQs » 10 faqs

1. Airport tax

Is there any airport departure tax in Vietnam?

Yes, an international departure tax is payable by all travellers leaving Vietnam. It is not included in the price of your flight ticket and must be purchased at the airport before departure.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the International departure tax is USD 12.
In Hanoi, the International departure tax is USD 14.
In Danang, the International departure tax is USD 12.

Domestic flights are not subject to airport tax. It is already included in the price of your ticket.

NOTE: You can purchase your international departure tax in US$ or in Vietnamese Dong.
Airport tax is subject to change without prior notice.

2. Transportation

How can I get to Vietnam by air?

Ho Chi Minh City's (Saigon) Tan Son Nhat Airport is Vietnam's busiest international air hub, followed by Hanoi's Noi Bai Airpot. A few international flights also serve Danang. Bangkok has emerged as the principle embarkation point for Vietnam but it's still possible to get direct flights from a number of major Asian cities and a few Australian cities including: Cheap airlines are limited to Air Asia operated between Hanoi and Bangkok, Hanoi and Kuala Lumpur, Jetstar between Ho Chi Minh City and Sydney, Tiger Airway between Hanoi/ Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore.

It is much more expensive to buy a ticket in Vietnam than your native country. Depending on your country of origin, ask your national carrier - they may have convenient flights for you. You can also consult your local travel agent for routings, fares and availability on flights to Vietnam. Check on the Internet: discount websites and flight search engines may offer some good deals

Other means of transportation?

There are currently six border crossings for travelers coming to Vietnam, but more may open soon.

From China: It's become very popular to cross the border at Friendship Pass or Dong Dang, 20km (12mi) north of Lang Son in northeast Vietnam, to get to/from Nanning. There is a twice-weekly international train between Beijing and Hanoi that stops at Friendship Pass. The other popular border crossing with China is at Lao Cai in northwest Vietnam, which lies on the railway line between Hanoi and Kunming in China's Yunnan Province. There's also a seldom used crossing at Mong Cai.

From Laos: If you travel from Laos by road via Savannakhet and Sepon, you will get to Vietnam by the Lao Bao (Vietnam) border crossing. This crossing links Laos to central Vietnam (Danang and Dong Ha). If you travel from Vientiane, you will cross Lak Sao before entering Vietnam by Cau Treo border crossing in Ha Tinh Province (Vietnam). Nam Can border crossing connects Nghe An Province (Vietnam) and Xieng Khuang Province (Laos).

From Cambodia: If you travel from Phnom Penh by speedboat, you will enter Vietnam at Chau Doc, in the Mekong Delta area. If you arrive from Cambodia by road into Ho Chi Minh City, you will enter Vietnam at Moc Bai, which connects Vietnam’s Tay Ninh Province with Cambodia’s Svay Rieng Province by Bus.

Each means of transportation has its pros and cons, contact the local transport companies for more information and review them carefully before investing your budget. Also note that if you enter Vietnam by land, you should and must obtain the visa before arrival. Refer to our VISA section below for more information.

Can I rent a car and drive myself?

Vietnamese law does not allow foreigners to rent and drive a car. It is highly advisable to rent a car with a driver who knows the roads and can speak Vietnamese in case of any problems. Traffic and roads conditions may be very different to what you are used to.

Can the driver speak English and act as a guide?

No, he cannot. In Vietnam, drivers are just drivers. Tour guides need to be licensed by the National Tourism Authority. Tour guides are the only persons legally entitled to escort tourists. V-Family Travel specialists in arranging tours with private drivers and qualified professional tour guides.

Can I rent a bike and ride myself?

Yes, you can buy/rent bike easily and ride it yourself in Vietnam. However, please remember the traffic and roads conditions may be very different to what you are used to. Only young team is recommended for bike riding in Vietnam.


3. VISAS & Customs


Do I need to get a tourist visa for Vietnam?  

Individuals entitled to visa exemptions:

* Not more than 15 days: citizens of Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Brunei Darussalam and Cambodia (14 days)

Not more than 30 days: Bilateral visa exemption agreement

- Citizens of Thailand, Philippines (21 days), Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Laos (holding valid ordinary passports)

- Diplomatic and official passports holders from Myanmar; Iran (Diplomatic passport)

- Officials of the ASEAN secretariat holding different kinds of passports.

* Not more than 90 days: 

- Vietnamese residing overseas and foreigners who are husbands, wives and children of Vietnamese citizens or Vietnamese residing overseas are entitled to visa exemption, so long as they meet the following requirements:

+ Foreign-issued permanent residence certificate (PRC) with the validity of at least six months since the date of entrance.

+ Visa exemption paper (VEP) is granted by Vietnamese appropriate    authorities.

Those who expect to stay more than 90 days must apply for visa according to current stipulations before their entrance.

- Bilateral visa exemption agreement

Diplomatic and official passport holders from Argentine, Algeria, India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, South Korean, Hungary, Iraq, Morocco, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, South Africa, Russia, Romania, Japan, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, France (diplomatic passport), Czech Republic (diplomatic passport), Serbia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, Singapore, Slovakia (diplomatic passport), Uruguay, Paraguay, Mozambique.


* No limit for temporarily residence:

+ Diplomatic and official passport holders from Albania, Afghanistan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cuba, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Japan (holding valid diplomatic or official passports for the purpose of diplomatic or consular missions or  official Government tasks), Nicaragua, DPR of Korea, and China.

+ Valid ordinary passport holders from China, Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, Cuba, DPR of Korea and Romania traveling on official missions.


Others who want to enter Vietnam must be provided with a visa

- Tourist visa is valid in 30 days.

- Visa is issued at the Vietnamese diplomatic offices or consulates in foreign countries. Visa is possibly issued at the border gates to those who have written invitations by a Vietnamese competent agencies or tourists in the tours organized by Vietnamese international travel companies.

- Application files for visa: the entrance application (printed form); two 4x6 cm photos; passport and fee for the visa issuance.

 Visa extension: Served by all Tour Operators

• A tourist visa is a single entry visa which means that if you exit Vietnam, you will require a new tourist visa to enter Vietnam again.
• All travelers must have a passport valid to 6 months after their planned exit from
• The above information may change without prior notice. It is your responsibility to check whether or not you are subject to a tourist visa for Vietnam.

How long is a tourist visa to Vietnam valid?
A one-month tourist visa is usually sufficient for most visitors though it is possible to arrange 3-month and 6-month multiple entry visas. 

How do I apply for a Vietnamese visa?

There are 2 ways to obtain a visa:  

If you arrive to Vietnam by land, it is NOT possible to get a visa on arrival. You must obtain the visa beforehand, as outlined in Case 1. (The one exception is the Moc Bai land crossing, at the Cambodian border –see Case 2)

Case 1: Collect your visa before arrival from your closest Vietnamese embassy or consulate. To apply for a visa, the requirements are as follows:

• Entry permit form (which can vary from one Vietnamese embassies or consulate abroad to another) - There are two categories of this form: for foreigners and for Vietnamese overseas.
• Two photos (4cmx6cm or 3cmx4cm)
• Original passport
• Visa fee.

You should send your application and photos to a Vietnamese embassy or consulate abroad, which is most convenient to you. On your requirement, the reply will be returned by post (you must provide stamped envelopes with your name and address).

Case2: Collect your visa on arrival at Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Danang International Airports.

• In both cases, V-Family Travel can help you obtain your visa prior to arrival or upon arrival. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU OBTAIN YOUR VISA BEFORE ARRIVAL TO AVOID LONG DELAYS AND POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS AT THE AIRPORT.
V-Family Travel
can process your visa application and obtain the necessary visa approval from the Vietnamese Immigration Department. For this, we need the following details from all applicants:

• Full name as it appears in your passport
• Gender
• Date of birth DD/MM/YY
• Nationality
• Job
• Passport number
• Issue date and expiry date of your passport
• Place of issue (e.g. Paris, France)
• Entry and exit dates

In Case 1 only: Location for you collection of visa, e.g. Vietnam embassy in Paris
In case 2 only: Arrival date in Vietnam and flight number (e.g. 24th of March 2006 by Vietnam Airlines flight VN532) and Port of entry (e.g. Ho Chi Minh City, Tan Son Nhat airport)
The process usually takes about 5 working days after we receive the above information.
After this, we will send you the official document approved by the Vietnamese Immigration department.

The official document in Case 1 is an “approval letter”.

The official document in Case 2 is a “visa picking up upon arrival approval letter”.

Case 1: Visa before arrival

Bring the “approval letter”, your passport and two recent passport-sized photos to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate. The person collecting the visa must also complete two application forms at the embassy or consulate. A visa stamping fee is charged by the Vietnamese embassy or consulate. Fees vary from one country to another. 

Case 2: Visa upon arrival

Please remember to take your passport, 2 recent passport-sized photos and the “visa picking up upon arrival approval letter” with you to check in for your flight to Vietnam.

NOTE: If you do not have this letter at the time of check-in, the airline staff will not allow you to board the aircraft. Before departure, prepare some bank notes in USD to clear visa stamping fees on arrival. On arrival at Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi or Danang International Airports, head to the Landing Visa Counter. Present your “visa picking up upon arrival approval letter”, passport and 2 pictures to the officer who will charge you a Visa stamping fee. Then, head for the Immigration desks. 

• Always allow plenty of time for your visa arrangements to ensure a good start to your trip.
• V-Family Travel charges a service fee to obtain your “approval letter” from the Vietnamese Immigration Department if you do not travel with us.

What are the immigration procedures on entering Vietnam?
On entering Vietnam, all visitors must complete an entry/exit form including a customs
declaration (white/yellow color). It is important that the bottom copy (yellow sheet) of this form is kept safe with your passport while in Vietnam and is presented to the customs and immigration officials on departure.


Customs procedures in Vietnam are quick and simple. To enter and exit Vietnam, visitors are required to fulfill the entrance and exit procedures in the form (in Vietnamese or in English languages). Luggage of people on entry (including clothes, personal belongings with reasonable quantity in service of the trip’s purpose) must be declared in case as follow:

·         Luggage exceeds duty free concessions

·         Luggage sent before or after trips

·         Professional equipment temporarily imported and re – exported or vice versa;

·         Addictive medicines

·         Other medicines exceed 30 USD in value

·         Foreign currency exceeds 7,000 USD (seven thousand US dollars) or its equivalence other foreign currency, or over 15,000,000 VND (fifteen million Viet Nam Dong) in cash.

* Goods prohibited to import: weapons, ammunition, explosives, military technical equipment, drugs, toxic chemicals, debauched and reactionary products, firecrackers of all kinds, toys with negative impacts on the dignity education, social security and safety, cigarettes beyond the stipulated quantity, etc.

* Goods prohibited to export: weapons, ammunition, explosives, military technical equipment, antiques, drugs, toxic chemicals, wild animals, rare and precious animals and plants, documents related to the national security, etc. A quantity over 300g of gold must be declared and be permitted by the State Bank.

* Duty free concessions for the baggage of arriving passengers:

- For liquor: Liquor at 22º and above: 1.5 litres; Liquor below 22º: 2.0 litres; Alcoholic beverage: 3.0 litres.

- For cigarettes and cigars: - Cigarettes: 400 pieces; - Cigar: 100 pieces; - Tobacco: 500g

- For tea, coffee: - Tea: 5kg; Coffee: 3kg

- For Clothes, personal belongings: With reasonable quantity in service of the trip’s purpose

- Articles other than those mentioned at items above (outside the list of goods banned from import or subject to conditional import): Total value not exceeds 5,000,000 VND.

* Note:  Foreigners on entry carry luggage, which exceeds the duty-free quotas, presents and gifts with the total value not exceeding VND 1,000,000 (one million) shall be exempt from taxes. 

4. Telecommunications

How can I get in touch with my family, workplace and friends?


- Most hotels now have IDD phones in rooms and it is possible to send faxes
from hotels and post offices although these services are expensive. It may not always be
possible to make international calls in remote areas.

- If you have worldwide coverage, you can bring your own mobile phone and use it to
make domestic or international calls. Check with your mobile phone provider for the
costs before using it abroad - it may be expensive.

- Dialing code: 84

- Phone calls or fax to foreign countries can be directly made at post offices or hotels.

Internet: Major hotels have Business Centers with PCs connected to the Internet. Some of them have wireless broadband access in rooms or public areas. Cyber cafes are becoming popular and are easily found in major towns and cities. Prices are reasonable, usually below US$1 per hour. In many Internet cafes, you can buy pre-paid international phone cards to dial from a computer to a landline or mobile phone worldwide. Most Internet cafes are equipped with webcams, headsets and microphones.

Mail: Postcards are sold at all main tourist sites and stamps are available from post offices and some hotel reception desks. A postcard to Europe costs VND 9,000 to send and takes up to two weeks to reach the country of destination.

- Internet and emails are popular in almost provinces and cities.

- Mobile network is used in different forms: subscribe, monthly- or daily-payment in advance.

5. Money – Currency

What is the local currency in Vietnam?

The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND) although US Dollars and Euros are accepted in many hotels, restaurants and shops. Banks are open Monday to Friday and some on Saturday morning. Vietnamese Dongs come in the following forms:
Bank notes: 200; 500; 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20.000; 50,000; 100,000; 500,000. Coins: 200; 500 (silver) and 1,000; 2,000; 5,000 (gold)

• Most hotels offer the opportunity to change USD and Euros at a reasonable exchange rate.
• Shall you want to pay a bill calculated in VND by using USD, ask for the exchange rate.

Is it better to use Vietnamese Dongs or US Dollars?

For everyday expenses, we recommend carrying a mix of US Dollars and VND in cash.
For larger items or when the exchange rate works in your favor, use US Dollars.
For cyclos, local food stalls and small purchases, it’s best to use VND.
In either case, make sure you always have a stock of small notes so that you don’t have to
worry about change.

Are Travellers’ Cheques accepted in Vietnam?

Banks such as CitiBank, ANZ Bank, HSBC and Vietcombank can change your  Travellers’ Cheques for VND or US Dollars but a commission applies (1% to 2%).
Very few shops, hotels or restaurants accept Travellers’ Cheques.

NOTE: Travellers’ Cheques can be difficult to change outside of the major cities. 

Can I use credit cards in Vietnam?

Most credit cards are accepted in Vietnam. VISA and MASTERCARD are the most widely accepted. JCB and AMERICAN EXPRESS are also accepted in some outlets. Not all hotels, commercial centres, travel agencies, shops and restaurants accept credit cards. Check with the cashier whether card is accepted. Bear in mind that a surcharge usually applies for credit card purchases. VISA and Mastercard: 3% surcharge, JCB: 3% surcharge, American Express: 4% surcharge

NOTE: Surcharges can change without prior notice. Check the percentage charged before you buy.

Where can I withdraw cash?

ATMs for withdrawal of Vietnamese Dong are available in major airports, hotels, towns and capitals of provinces throughout Vietnam. Most ATMs have an English language version. Ask your tour guide for help when you need to locate an ATM.

What is the exchange rate for Vietnamese Dong (VND)?

Commission rates are slightly lower if changing Travellers’ Cheques into Vietnamese Dongs rather than US Dollars. Vietcombank does not charge commission when changing US Dollars cash into Dong, though some banks do. You receive 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. You can check real-time official exchange rates with the combination of a currencies converter anytime.

6. Security and advice

How safe is Vietnam?

Vietnam is by and large a very safe country; violent crime is extremely rare. Unfortunately you cannot expect hospitality at every turn and you may experience problems with petty theft and pick pockets.

- As with any big city, do not bring items of value as you go shopping or sightseeing on city streets.    

- It is customary to give alms to beggars and to buy souvenirs from street vendors.

- Foreign currencies should be exchanged at banks, or authorized exchange facilities. Do not exchange money in the street.

- Store your cash, credit cards, airline tickets and other valuables in a safe place. Most 4-star hotels have in-room safes, otherwise ask the reception to keep your valuable things in their deposit facility.

- Don't wear singlet, shorts, dresses or skirts, or tops with low-neck lines and bare shoulders to Temples and Pagodas. To do this is considered extremely rude and offensive.

- Do not try to take photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security. Never take video cameras into the ethnic minority villages. They are considered to be too intrusive by the local people.

- It is advisable NOT to take pedicabs or "honda-om" on your own.

- Avoid cyclos late at night and choose reliable metered taxi companies. Ask your
guide for advice on safety issues.




7. Health

Do I need to have any vaccinations to enter Vietnam?

No vaccinations are mandatory except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A - B, tetanus and polio. Malaria is present in most of the region and it is advisable to take precautions, especially if traveling off the beaten track. Medical facilities are rather limited and it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before traveling in case evacuation is needed.

Medical care facilities are available in the largest cities, but are limited outside of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. It's wise for each traveller to consult with each insurance company to see whether coverage is included for Vietnam, because care is expensive, and often requires evacuation to nearby countries.


Consult your doctor for up-to-date information and prescriptions for vaccinations, anti-malarial tablets and any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst traveling in Vietnam. Some vaccination courses may need time to be completed. If you plan to take anti-malarial tablets, you usually need to start one week before arrival. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses).

8. Time

What is the time difference in Vietnam?
It is GMT + 7

What is the working hours in Vietnam?

- Governmental agencies work 8 hours/day from 7.30am to 4.30pm (excluding one-hour lunch). Saturday and Sunday are close.

- Banks are open from 7.30 or 8.00 to 11.30am and from 1.00pm to 4.00pm. Saturday and Sunday are close.

- Shops are open from 8.00am or 8.30 to 8pm or 9pm 

9. Weather

From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh is some 1700km which gives some indication of the size of the country. As a result the weather in Vietnam varies according to distinct climate zones. Due to regional climate differences there are no good or bad seasons to visit Vietnam. When one climate zone is wet and cold another is dry and warm.

For the purpose of this summary of Vietnam weather we'll consider the country as three separate areas:

North Vietnam

The North of Vietnam experiences cool, damp winters between November and April with temperatures in Hanoi falling to around 15°C. The summer months from May to October are hot and dry.

A pleasant time to visit is spring (March-April) or autumn (October-December). There are extremes in the Highlands as snow sometimes falls in the winter whilst the summer can see temperatures up around 40ºC. There is the possibility of typhoons between July and November.

Hanoi weather is very changeable. Although the city experiences four distinct seasons it would be fair to summarize the year in terms of summer (from May to September) when it is very hot and wet and winter (November to March) when it is cold and dry.

What about October and April I hear you ask? Well in this humid, tropical climate in which monsoons are common pretty much any conditions can occur in these most unpredictable of months.

We visited in November/December when the skies were clear most of the time and the air quite fresh. Very pleasant for tourism purposes.

When to Go?

The best time to visit the north of Vietnam is from September to December when it isn't so humid. The weather turns quite cold and wet in January and this continues until March. The humidity can prove oppressive from May to the start of September and there's a danger of flooding.

South Vietnam

The South of Vietnam has a tropical climate with hot, humid conditions which makes sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City very tiring for much of the year. The wet season is from May to November with June to August registering the highest rainfall figures. December to April tends to be very dry. Temperatures average around 25-30°C all year round with the hottest and most humid period from the end of February to May.

Ho Chi Minh City weather has just two seasons and experiences a tropical climate with hot, humid conditions all year round.

The rainy season (May to November) is the best time to avoid for tourism purposes though the showers tend to be short and sudden rather than prolonged. The dry season (December to April) tends to be a little cooler though average annual temperatures still hover around the 28ºC mark. Typhoons are common between July and November.

When to Go?

December to April is the best time to visit the south of Vietnam. There are short downpours during the wet season from May to November but they tend to only last a short time so you can still enjoy a visit during these months (just go for lunch when you see the black clouds developing). The Mekong Delta can experience severe flooding during this period making travel very difficult.

Central Vietnam

The Central Part of Vietnam experiences something in between the weather patterns of the north and south with the rainy season in summer. The central coast area is usually quite dry from May to October and wet from December to February. Highland areas can experience freezing conditions in winter. There is the possibility of typhoons between July and November.

When to Go?

December to March is a good time to visit the Central Highlands when conditions are usually dry and cool. We visited the region in late November when the weather was beautiful with fine, warm days and pleasant evenings. We had a few light showers as we headed north towards Hoi An. Along the central coast there is a rainy season from December to February. June to October tends to be very dry and hot.


If you're planning a trip to cover all of Vietnam the best time to visit is from September to December or from March to April.

Note:  As a reminder, the peak season lasts from October to May. To avoid disappointment because hotel rooms or domestic flights are fully booked, reserve your travel arrangements early. Contact us to discuss your travel plans.

10. Others

Which language will they understand?

-  Vietnamese is the official language.  
English is spoken at hotels, restaurants, shops, airlines offices, and service offices. Guides that speak English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Japanese are available in big cities.
Do's and Don'ts?
Eating out is no problem at all in major cities where you can easily find good restaurants. It is advisable to eat in hotels in remote areas unless you have a reliable advice from your guide. You should avoid uncooked, partially cooked or reheated meat, fish and raw vegetable, especially when they have been left out exposed to dust and flies. Filtered and bottled water is usually available and safe.
Cameras, precious jewelleries, cash, passport should be deposited at hotel or taken care carefully while you are travelling by train or walking in the streets.
Local trains have been renovated and service on trains has been improved in the past few years. However, the standard is still below international qualification and therefore travel by train is not recommendable to elderly people.

What food fruit and drink will I find?
Eating while in Vietnam is a delight for visitors, because many of the local specialties come straight from the imperial kitchens that served the emperors of Vietnam.

Besides rice, which is a staple of every meal, Vietnam has abundant food supplies and an elaborate cuisine. Some Vietnamese dishes have achieved international fame, including such traditional dishes as beef or chicken noodle (pho), pork sausage (gio lua), spring rolls (nem ran) and fish balls (cha ca).

Seasonal fruits such as dragon fruit, rambutans and longans, can be enjoyed, though all fruits and vegetables should be cooked or peeled before eaten. Drinking water or ice is generally not recommended, even in the cities. Bottled water is cheap and readily available, so we recommend clients not to take the risk. Vietnam is a beer culture, and there are plenty of local as well as imported brands. 333, Carlsberg, Hanoi, Tiger, Saigon, La Rue, San Miguel and Heineken are some common brands.



Bargaining is customary at roadside stalls and at open markets.

The following items are preferred by foreign travelers:

- Carved wooden furniture, fine lacquer ware (these can be shipped home upon request).

- Traditional Vietnamese hand-made silk dresses, kimonos, embroideries, etc.

- Simulated antiques, fine ceramics, old watches or Zippo lighters, etc.

- Copies of famous artist paintings


Should I tip?

Tipping is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of tours. Hotel porters and restaurant waiters should also be tipped, especially in big cities like Hanoi and in Saigon. In a top-end hotel, feel free to tip bellhops anywhere from 20,000 VND to 25,000 VND (about US$1). Most upscale restaurants throughout the country now add a service surcharge of 5% to 10%. If they don't, or if the service is good, you might want to leave another 5%. Taxi drivers will be pleased if you round up the bill (again, mainly in the big cities). Use your discretion for tour guides and others who have
been particularly helpful.