Vietnam

Vietnam tours

Vietnam is a unique country in Southeast Asia - an immense geographic and cultural diversity.  The country’s varied climate and landscape range from four seasons in the mountainous north, to year-round tropical temperatures in the lush south.  Vietnam’s cultural diversity stems from its intriguing history dating back more than 4,000 years. Its historical legacy includes a century of Chinese occupation, which has left a very strong foreign cultural influence, evident in the pagodas, local cuisine, and continuing practice of Confucianism. The French colonial legacy is also evident in many parts of Vietnam, as illustrated by the distinctive yellow pastel-colored architecture of its villas and administrative buildings and cafes serving excellent coffee.

Today most of the country remains relatively unchanged although in major cities you will discover modern infrastructure and technology. Visitors can choose to travel at various levels of comfort, staying in anything from budget to deluxe accommodations, using public or private transportation, and dining local style or in the finer Vietnamese and international restaurants.

 

Travel tips
Passport & Visa
Only citizens of certain countries can visit Vietnam without an entry visa as follows
+ Citizens of Brunei can stay in Vietnam within 14 days in Vietnam without visa
+ Citizens of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia,Singapore can stay in Vietnam within 30 days without visa
+ Citizens of Philippine can stay in Vietnam within 21 days without visa
+ Citizens of Korea, Japan, France, Italy, Germany, UK, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Sweden,  Finland, Russia can stay in Vietnam within 15 days without visa
40 Countries to join Vietnam E Visa Trial from 1st Feb 2017
The New Vietnam E Visa system has now started and you can apply for an E Visa  
https://immigration.gov.vn/ 
Passport holders from the 40 countries that have been allowed to join the scheme will be able to apply online for a 30 Day Single Entry Visa, print it off, and bring it with them along with their passport. 
The present Visa on Arrival system (VOA) will stay in place for everything else except the above. Further details are expected to be released soon on the transition from one system to another.
 
Currency
What is Vietnam's currency?
The official currency in Vietnam is Dong (VND). Although there are some coins in circulation, the vast majority of currency is paper, and some traders will not accept coins at all.
Notes start from 200 VDN (which equates to a tiny 0.0089 USD). They then run upwards with additional denominations of 500, 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, 10.000, 20.000, 50.000, 100.000, 200.000 and 500.000. At today’s rates, a 500000 VND note will set you back only 22.4 USD (making you a Dong millionaire for under $45).
Although it's illegal to advertise prices, or ask for payment in currency other than VND, you will find that foreign currency is widely accepted. Crisp, clean dollar bills are a favourite - but the exchange rates imposed are selected by the vendor and will not be the most favourable around. Make sure you check before agreeing to pay in a foreign currency.
What's the best way to exchange my money in Vietnam?
Although some larger currency exchange services in Europe and the USA will offer VND, it is usually possible to get a better rate if you exchange your cash on arrival.
Cash -  particularly USD, GBP or Euro - is easily exchanged, as long as the notes you present are clean. Many exchange services will not accept bank notes if they have writing on them, are crumpled or in any way damaged.
If you need currency upon arrival, you can change a small amount at the airport - although the rates on offer are unlikely to be the best in town. You should also watch out for hidden fees. Even if an exchange claims ‘Zero Commission’, they will simply wrap up their profit into the headline rate on offer.
It is usually best to switch only a small amount, and then seek a better deal elsewhere. Otherwise, consider using an ATM to withdraw VND directly at a reasonable rate.
Once you arrive at your destination, and before you choose a currency exchange service, make sure you understand the mid market rate. This is the only real exchange rate, and should be used to compare the tourist rates on offer. Find out the mid market rate by using a currency converter so you know whether or not a deal is fair.
It is very likely that hotel exchange rates will be poor and include high fees. It is likely that you will get a better deal using your credit or debit card at an ATM (more details below).
A common scam when exchanging currency or paying for goods, is to hand over an incorrect amount of VND by a factor of ten, as foreigners tend to be dazzled by the large numbers of notes. So for example, you might be given five 2000VND notes in exchange for one 100000 note. Watch out.
Can I use traveller's cheques in Vietnam?
It can be tricky to find places to exchange Traveller’s Cheques in Vietnam. Although some banks will do it, branches might be closed at weekends, leaving you short.
If you have Traveller’s Cheques to exchange then try a Tourist Office, who will be able to advise and might be able to exchange them directly for you. However, as the rates tend not to be favourable, exchanging cash or using an ATM is usually a better plan.
Can I use my home credit and debit cards in Vietnam?
You will find that most major credit cards are accepted in Vietnam, especially in the cities and tourist areas. However, retailers will add a commission, with 3% as a standard, and 4% for Amex transactions. Having a Credit Card for use in emergencies is certainly an attractive option, but make sure you tell your bank you plan on travelling so they do not suspect suspicious activity and block your card.
If you choose to spend on a Credit or Debit Card, you might be asked if you want to be charged in your home currency. This is something called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). With DCC you can choose to see the cost of the transaction expressed in your home currency at the point of payment. However, this leaves you exposed to hidden fees, as the base rate used will not be favourable, and additional charges can be rolled into the headline number too. Always opt to pay in the local currency instead.
Carry some local cash at all times, in case you are unable to pay by card. Or if you get stuck, use one of the ATM locators below to find a nearby bank machine, and withdraw some cash directly.
What's the best way to use ATMs in Vietnam?
ATMs are commonly available in cities and tourist areas, but fees will be applied, and maximum withdrawal rates are very low. Although you can simply put your card back into the machine to take out more, you will still be subject to your home bank’s daily limits.
To find ATMs near you, try one of these global ATM locators:
Visa ATM locator
MasterCard ATM locator
Amex ATM locator Some ATMs do not tell you the fee charged when withdrawing cash - you will simply see a message saying ‘Fees will be applied’. If you have the option, avoid these and look for a bank that is transparent about their charges. At the time of writing, MB Bank is reported to be the fairest for foreign card users - but fees may change over time, so check before you withdraw.
As a result of DCC (described above), you might be asked if you would like to be charged for the withdrawal in your home currency. Always select to be charged in local currency, for the best deal when withdrawing money. By doing this, your home bank will assign you an exchange rate, which will usually be more favourable than the rate used by the ATM.
What are the major banks in Vietnam?
If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam it is worth talking to your local bank to see if they have any partnerships with banks operating in Vietnam. If they do, you may be able to use certain ATMs for reduced fees.
Vietinbank Vietinbank (Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade) is the largest bank in Vietnam. It is state owned but has joint partnerships with various other institutions.
Next largest is the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam, more snappily known as Vietcombank. Both have an extensive branch and ATM network across major towns and cities.
Below are the most common retail banks in Vietnam. Alternatively, check out this list of some of the foreign banks with branches in Vietnam:
Vaccinations & Medicines
There is no requirement of specific vaccines for international tourists. Nevertheless, The following vaccines are highly recommended by the Pasteur Institute: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Poliomyelitis, Hepatitis B, Meningitis A, C, Hepatitis A, Malaria Treatment.
Tourists should consult their family doctor or travel health clinic at least 4–6 weeks before traveling to allow time for your vaccines to take effect.
It is a good idea to take different drugs (ex: paracetamol, aspirin, allergy medications, etc.) as well as mosquito repellent on your travels to prevent you from the risk of minor illness.
Weather
In Vietnam, the climate is tropical in the north and subtropical in the center and south. It is influenced by the monsoons as well. Due to its geography, the climate in Vietnam varies considerably from north to south with three climatic zones. The northern parts of Vietnam have essentially four distinct seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. There are two distinguishable seasons in the southern areas: the dry season and rainy season. The temperatures of this region do not change much throughout the year.
The high tourism season in Vietnam takes place from November to April in which the climate will be drier and more pleasant throughout the country. For the center, wait until February to avoid the unexpected rains.
Security
Vietnam is a safe country for tourists. Possession of weapons and physical aggression against tourists are very tightly controlled. However, there are few criminal problems in this country. A fine example is pickpocketing still happening in some places in Ho Chi Minh City. Basically, you must be careful by leaving your valuables inside.
Time difference
Vietnam is seven hours ahead of UTC + 7 and there is no summer time in this time zone. The sun sets at 18h30 in summer and 16h30-17h in winter.
 
Language
Vietnamese is the national language. Besides, English is widely spoken by the major of youngsters since the globalization and the growing of tourism industrialization. It is also a compulsory subject in the educational program in the country.
Flights & Airports
In Vietnam, it has 9 international airports, the most famous of which are Noi Bai in Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City.
 
Electricity
In Vietnam, the standard voltage is 110 / 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. So you do not need a power plug adapter or a voltage transformer. Preparing a torch/flashlight will be useful in case power outages suddenly occur in some remote areas.
 
Phone & Internet Service
To call Vietnam, dial 00 + 84 + the city code without the initial 0, and finally the number of your correspondent with 7 or 8 digits. To call to a mobile phone, 00 + 84 + number of the correspondent without the initial 0.
There are three major mobile networks operated by  Viettel, Vinaphone, Mobiphone, but Viettel appears to be the most popular operators providing the large coverage and numerous forms of service. It's easy to buy SIM cards at post offices, mobile shops, or service centers. In order for you to install the SIM card in your mobile phone, your device must be unlocked.
Vietnam has a wide network coverage for mobile calls. You can call and use the 3G mobile internet almost anywhere and anytime except remote places.
Where can we take you?