analyticavietnam.com
Some facts for travelling to Vietnam
analyticavietnam.com

VIETNAMESE EMBASSIES
At the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Vietnam at http://www.mofa.gov.vn/en/bng_vietnam/dscqdd/ns050119142406  you can find the contact data of the Vietnamese Embassy in your country.

CLIMATE
Vietnam is located in both a tropical and a temperate zone. It is characterized by a strong monsoon influence, a considerable amount of sunny days, and a high rate of rainfall and humidity.
North (from Hanoi to Sa Pa):
Summer in the north is from May to October where temperatures are in the mid 30° with occasional heavy rains. In the winter, temperatures average in the low teens from December to March. February and March can be damp with drizzling rain and overcast sky.
Central (from Nha Trang to Hue):
Weather patterns in this region can vary due to the Truong Son mountain range situated in the north western part of the country. Nha Trang has periods of rain from November to December. While Da Lat, located in the interior, is cooler than the coastal regions from November to March. Da Nang and Hue may experience some typhoon activity from mid October to mid December when it is cooler, overcast and drizzly.
South (from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet):
The south is hot year round and has a wet and dry season. The wet season is from May to October where there are daily downpours that are brief and predictable. Considering that temperatures average in the low 30° (Celsius), rain showers can be a blessing in disguise and provide relief to the sweltering heat. The dry season from November to April is generally sunny and humid and can be uncomfortable if no precautions are taken for sun protection.

A brief weather report on all major cities in Vietnam is available at http://www.findlocalweather.com/AsiaWeather/VietNamForecastsA-Z.htm

CURRENCY / CREDIT CARDS
The official currency in Vietnam is Vietnam Dong ( VND ). At the time of writing, 1 USD is around 16,825 VND. Local VND or USD are both accepted. Banks are open Monday to Friday and some are open on Saturday morning. In the main cities, travellers’ cheques can be exchanged at banks and some exchange bureaus, but this can be very difficult in small towns. ATMs can be found in the major cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city, Hoian and Haiphong.


DOMESTIC/FOREIGN CURRENCY ACCOUNTS
Residents and non-residents are allowed to hold domestic or foreign currency accounts locally or abroad, upon submission of various documents and approval of the State Bank of Vietnam.

The current exchange rate is available here.

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. Credit cards (e.g. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club) are accepted in most international hotels and in tourist stores.

ELECTRICITY
Electricity in Vietnam is 220 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you travel to Vietnam with a device that does not accept 220 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter. There are three main types of voltage converter. Resistor-network converters will usually be advertised as supporting something like 50-1600 Watts. They are light-weight and support high-wattage electrical appliances like hair dryers and irons. However, they can only be used for short periods of time and are not ideal for digital devices.
Transformers will have a much lower maximum Watt rating, usually 50 or 100. Transformers can often be used continuously and provide better electricity for low wattage appliances like battery chargers, radios, laptop computers, cameras, mp3 players and camcorders. However, they are heavy because they contain large iron rods and lots of copper wire.
Some companies sell combination converters that include both a resistor network and a transformer in the same package. This kind of converter will usually come with a switch that switches between the two modes. If you absolutely need both types of converter, then this is the type to buy.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Most visitors still need to apply for a Vietnamese visa in advance to enter the country. Vietnamese visa is inexpensive in comparison to any other countries' visa fees ranging from US$45 - 85 if application is sent directly to the Embassy or US$25-55 if your visa has been pre-approved. A fairly convenient visa on arrival process has recently been introduced, but this requires a pre-arranged application to Hanoi Immigration Department and is generally helpful to nationals of countries without Vietnamese embassies.
Who need visa:
Only citizens of certain countries can visit Vietnam without an entry visa (valid for visit within 30 days). Those countries include: most Asean countries, Korea, Japan & Scandinavians (2005). All other citizens are required to get an entry visa before departure (visa issued prior to departure by Vietnamese consulates or embassies) or a pre-approved entry visa (visa is issued on arrival at Vietnam’s International Airports) supplied before arrival in Vietnam.

 
VISA EXEMPTION INFORMATION 

  • No visa required for travel less than 30 days: Citizens of Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Laos.
  • No visa required for travel less than 15 days: Citizens of Japan and South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland. 
  • No visa required for travel less than 90 days or several visits within 6 months: Citizens of France holding valid diplomatic or official passports
  • No visa required for travel less than 60 days: Citizens of [updating] holding valid diplomatic or official passports. 
  • No visa required for travel less than 60 days: APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) Holders from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies
  • Special Phu Quoc Exception: Foreigners and Vietnamese nationals bearing foreign passports who enter Vietnam through an international border gate and then travel to Phu Quoc Island and stay in Phu Quoc less than 15 days will also be exempt from visa application. Passports must be valid for at least 45 days. After arriving in Phu Quoc Island, if visitors want to travel other localities or stay in the island for more than 15 days, the immigration department will be responsible for issuing visas right on the spot.
  • No visa required for Japanese citizens who hold valid diplomatic or official passports

When entering Vietnam to implement diplomatic or Government’s official tasks without concerning about the time of stay. For those who entering Vietnam not for the diplomatic tasks but hold valid diplomatic or official passports can be exempted from entry visa and permitted to stay within 90 days.
Vietnam visa types

A. Tourist Visas
Tourist Visas are generally issued as one-month single entry visas. Multiple-entry tourist visas are also available, but they often require special attention and processing to receive. It is quite common to apply for a multiple entry visa and instead receive a single entry visa, so please confirm that you are getting the visa that you need. If you would like to stay longer that one month, you can extend your visa after your arrival in Vietnam.

B. Diplomatic and Official Visas
- No fees unless otherwise agreed upon between Vietnam and applicant’ s country
- On applying this visa, the applicant must submit an official letter from the concerned agencies of local government, foreign embassies or consulates accredited to the applicant’s country, international organizations, or other accredited organizations based in that country

C. Business or other types of Visas
Business visas are usually issued as 3- or 6-month multiple-entry visas, although one-year business visas are also possible with special permission. To get a business visa, you often need a letter from a business sponsor in Vietnam.
For a visa application the following documents are needed:
• passport (with a validity of min. 2 month of the end of the travel)
• completed visa application form
• 1 passport photograph
• Fee for visa (cheque for deposit only or transfer voucher in an envelope)
• Sufficiently stamped envelope for certified mail

FOREIGN EMBASSIES IN VIETNAM
At http://www.embassiesabroad.com/embassies-in/Vietnam you find the addresses of your own Embassy and Consulate in Vietnam.

HEALTH / VACCINATIONS
All travellers should visit their doctor at least 4-6 weeks before departure. There are no particular immunizations required for entry into Vietnam. All travellers should be up-to-date with routinely recommended immunisations. For children and adolescents, this includes diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b, polio, measles/mumps/rubella, meningococcal C, varicella and pneumococcal vaccines. For older adults this includes influenza and pneumococcal vaccines. All travellers should be immune to diphtheria, tetanus, measles and polio.

LANGUAGE / COMMUNICATION
Vietnamese, Vietnam's official language, is a tonal language that can be compared to Cambodia's official language, Khmer. With each syllable, there are six different tones that can be used, which change the definition and it often makes it difficult for foreigners to pick up the language.
There are other languages spoken as well such as Chinese, Khmer, Cham and other languages spoken by tribes inhabiting the mountainous regions. Although there are some similarities to Southeast Asian languages, such as Chinese, Vietnamese is thought to be a separate language group, although a member of the Austro-Asiatic language family. In written form, Vietnamese uses the Roman alphabet and accent marks to show tones. This system of writing called quoc ngu, was created by Catholic missionaries in the 17th century to translate the scriptures. Eventually this system, particularly after World War I, replaced one using Chinese characters (chu nom), which had been the unofficial written form used for centuries.

MAIL / TELEPHONE / INTERNET
Mail:
Almost all of the major hotels have internet and/or email access or you can go to an Internet Cafe. Internet access is easiest in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but also available in better hotels and a few internet cafes in smaller cities as well.
Post offices are usually open from 8.00 am to 8 or 9.00 pm. Postcards cost about VND 10 thousand for a booklet of ten from the post office. Children also sell them, but they are more expensive. Don't be too annoyed by them, if they save you a trip to the post office it's probably worth paying a few dong more. A postcard to Europe/USA costs VND 5400, a letter VND 8400 (depending on the weight). They take about 2 weeks to be delivered.
Telephone: The international country code is +84. The outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code. City/area codes are in use, e.g. Hanoi is (0)4 and Ho Chi Minh City is (0)8. All hotels will let you make local phone calls, many don't even charge you. International phone calls are possible from many post offices. At some places, international direct dialing (IDD) has become commonplace. There is a telephone card, the UniphoneKad. Cell phones are popular. If you have one you can buy a prepaid phone-card and own your private contact number while traveling in Vietnam. The system in Vietnam is GSM.
Internet cafes are available in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Internet access is often available at post offices in rural areas.

OPENING HOURS

Banks: Mo to Fr 8am – 11.30am and 1pm – 4pm
Offices:

Mo to Fr 7.30am – 11.30am and 1.30pm – 4.30pm;

Stores: Mo to Su 8am – 8pm
There is no official closing hour.
Post Offices: Mo to Su 6.30am – 9pm
Restaurants: Mo to Su 7.00am – 11pm
Sights: usually 8am - 11am and 2pm – 4pm

SAFETY
Vietnam is a very safe country to visit. Violence directed toward foreigners is recently plagued many other countries. The vast majority of the population are honest, but it is always wise to take some precautions to ensure you have a trouble free stay in Vietnam.
For Germans: Additional information in German is available at the homepage of the Federal Foreign Office at http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/ (Reiseinformationen => Länder- und Reiseinformationen => please enter Vietnam => Sicherheitshinweise).

TIME ZONE
Vietnam Standard Time is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+7).

TIPPING
Tipping:
Tipping is not customary in Vietnam, but it is enormously appreciated. A 5-10% tip for a meal is a very small amount of money, but to the average Vietnamese, it could easily equal a day's wages. Avoid tipping too much, as it will set a precedent for others.
Restaurants: Government-run restaurants catering to tourists add a 10% service charge to the bill.
Porters: Porters, if they are available, can be tipped with American coins.
Hotel maids: Government-run hotels catering to tourists charge an automatic 10% service fee.
Taxis: Generous tips are not necessary. A small gratuity, however, is expected by cab drivers.

TRANSFER FROM HO CHI MINH AIRPORT
The Saigon Exhibition & Convention Center(SECC) is located about 25 km away from Tan Son Nhat International Airport. It takes about 30 - 40 minutes (by taxi) from the Airport to SECC.
Some taxi agents are available at the airport: Mai Linh, Vinasun, Saigon Tourist,...(approx.:15 USD-17 USD).
From the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, it takes 20-30 minutes to SECC and the costs occur to about 10 USD-15 USD.

USEFUL INTERNET LINKS
The following websites provide useful information about Vietnam:

In English:
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/vietnam/  
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/vietnam/hanoi/  
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/vietnam/ho-chi-minh-city/  
http://hanoi.ixpat.com/  

In German:
http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/  (Reiseinfo => Länder- und Reiseinfo => please enter Vietnam)
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam  
http://www.vietnambotschaft.org/  

The following applies:
No responsibility is taken for the correctness of this information. The author also expressly distances himself from the material of all third party internet web sites, even if this document links to these external sites. The declaration is valid for all links given in this document.


Subject to change! As of November 2014.



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