Some Basic Questions When Traveling To Vietnam
IS VIETNAM EXPENSIVE?
If you are coming from western countries like the US or Europe, then you will find Vietnam very affordable. However, if you are earning standard Vietnamese wages, or likewise, it is not as affordable. Food usually costs from $0.75 to $2.00 (street vendors and local restaurants) and on up to the sky (luxury restaurants catering to well-heeled tourists). Private rooms usually run about $7 on up.
TIPPING IN VIETNAMS
Not expected but appreciated. If you really want to tip: Taxi: round up if good service. Restaurants: up to 5% if good service. Bartenders: 5% if good service.
DO I NEED TO HAVE A VISA BEFORE TRAVELLING TO VIETNAM?
Generally yes. If you are on the list of qualifying countries, you can use the e-visa system from the Vietnamese Government. It avoids the extra fees and is straightforward. You can freely research that service at our official site – a recommended Government Registered Firm: https://greenvisa.io But if you aren’t interested in that, there is another option for you. You could get a visa from the Embassy of Vietnamese nearest your home. However, if you are arriving by air into HAN (Hanoi) or DAD (Da Nang), SGN (Tan Son Nhat / Ho Chi Minh Airport), you can apply for a Visa on Arrival (“VOA”). Here is how this works:
- Step 1: Ensure your passport has more than six months validity from the time you plan to leave Vietnam. It is not a wise decision to travel on a less than 6-month passport.
- Step 2: Find a travel agency or company in Vietnam that deals with VOA. I have successfully used and recommended Greenvisa.io. I suggest using Green visa company because you can select to have a private letter. This means that other travelers will not know your passport details.
- Step 3: Decide what kind of visa you want and pay the travel agency the processing fee.
- Step 4: Wait several days, and you will receive an authorization letter. You need to print it out and carry it with you to the airport. Remember, you cannot board the plane or get into Vietnam without this.
- Step 5: You are required to bring two of your latest photo in passport size (4x6cm), and some money in cash to pay for the visa stamping fee. As of early 2017, the stamping fee at the airport is currently $25 for single entry.
Upon arrival, please look for the signs for “Landing Visa”. In SGN Airport, if you walk towards passport control, it is on your left. You then go up to the glass window and submit a Vietnamese Entry Exit Form. After going through many changes, the form is now the NA1 (please check with your visa letter agency as they hopefully have the most current form), Visa Application Form NA1, your passport, your photo and the visa approval letter. They will then ask you to wait. Please keep an eye on the window and/or the hard to understand name announcements. When you are called, go up and pay the visa stamping fee in USD or VND. Then you go to the passport control with your passport (which now has the visa in it) and your flight number (or airline ticket stub). That is it. The entire process can take five minutes or more than an hour if crowded. (You can also get your photo taken at the airport, but it is not going to be cheap) As it relates to the NA1, a few tips. First, the kind of passport for most will be “Ordinary”. It could also be “Diplomatic” or “Official/Service”. Second, you aren’t obliged to answer the strange questions like “Religion”. And when you sign, you can write SGN next to the “Done At”. Just need to make sure that you use the correct date format.
DO I NEED VACCINES TO VISIT VIETNAM? MEDICAL CONCERNS?
Usually no. The CDC advises to be up to date on the routine vaccines and suggests you consider vaccines for Hepatitis A and Typhoid. From a general health standpoint, there are some who definitely exert extra caution and warn others not to eat street food and so forth, and that is a personal choice that one must make. There are many people eating street food and being just fine. People can get sick no matter where and many times they do not know what really caused it. In my opinion, the Vietnamese street food is one of the major features attracting visitors to travel to the country, but I also understand avoiding street food if you are not a fan of food and extremely concern about perceived cleanliness. If I was in the latter camp, I would not even think of coming to Vietnam because, to me, one of the best things about this country is the local cuisine on the streets, and to skip that is like going to New York state and skipping New York City. As always, use common sense.
Check out other tips when travelling in Vietnam here: Vietnam Travel Guide