Socialist Republic of Vietnam
International hotels and resorts are available in the main destinations
throughout the country. In more remote areas, accommodation is in
simple hotels or even basic guesthouses.
Please note that the following Airport Taxes are payable for any
US$ 14 net per person in Hanoi
US$ 8 net per person in Danang
US$ 12 net per person in Ho Chi Minh City.
Above mentioned charges are current and subject
to change without prior notice.
The Airport tax for domestic flights is included in the ticket price.
ARRIVAL FORMALITIES - IMMIGRATION
During your flight to Vietnam or upon arrival at the Border checkpoint,
an Arrival/Departure Form will be handed to you. Please fill this
in and proceed then to the Immigration desk.
If you are obtaining your visa upon arrival, please
fill in the appropriate form and obtain first your visa at the visa
counter. Then proceeding to the Immigration desk (please see details
Overland border crossings are possible at various points to China,
Laos & Cambodia. This changes regularly and please contact us
to get the latest information. Please note that for overland arrival,
visas have to be obtained in advance.
Vietnam has a very diverse climate and as there are 3 different
climate zones there is no good or bad season for visiting Vietnam.
When it rains in one part of the country, it will be sunny and hot
in another part.
The south of Vietnam has the typical South East Asian Climate, as
we know it from Thailand and Cambodia. November - February is the
nice and cool season, March - April is very hot and during the summer
months is the rainy season.
This part of Vietnam is also tropical with a wet season and a dry
season. The rainy season however is from September to January with
the lowest temperatures from November to February.
The north has a summer and winter as known in Europe. The summer
lasts from May - October and is quite hot and beautiful. The winter
is from November to April and can be rather cold and wet. It normally
does not rain very hard but there is a persistent drizzle and a
good raincoat is necessary at all times!
If hotels, restaurant or vehicle hire companies charge Insight Vietnam
a penalty for cancellations received less than 30 days prior to
arrival, these cancellation fees will be invoiced to clients.
The colonial cities may remind you of the glorious past but it is
not necessary to dress up! Comfortable cloth and walking shoes are
most suitable for travelling through Vietnam.
Sunscreen lotion and a hat are strongly recommended.
Due to the big climate differences throughout the country (please
see under climate) we recommend to always bring a jumper and a windbreaker
/ rain coat with you to be prepared for all occasions.
Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and shops. In the big
cities international ATM machines are now available where you can
withdraw cash with your overseas credit card. It is of course also
possible to withdraw cash on your credit card at the major banks
and money changers throughout the country.
CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE
The local currency is the Dong. The exchange rate in October 2002
was approximately 15,000 Dong to one US Dollar. Money and Travelers'
cheques can be changed at major hotels, banks and moneychangers.
Prices in the big hotels, shops and restaurants
are given in US$ and in Dong and payment is accepted in either currency.
We recommend to bring some US$ in cash, including small denominations.
International rules apply for importing goods into Vietnam. Customs
might however check your luggage carefully upon departure to ensure
that you are not exporting antiques.
Vietnam Airlines operates most of the domestic flights in Vietnam.
The main routes are between Hanoi, Hue, Danang and Saigon but there
are also flights to more remote areas. Vietnam Airlines has a very
modern fleet and operates Airbus, Boeing, Fokker and ATR Aircrafts.
Do NOT drink tap water bottled water is readily available everywhere.
Ice is safe in the hotels but not recommended elsewhere. In local
restaurants it is best to order only canned soft drinks and beer
- avoid freshly made juices.
Standard current used is 220 volts (or 50 Hz). Electricity supply
in the bigger cities is regular, although most hotels and restaurants
still have their own generators. However, power cuts should be expected
in other parts of the country. It is a good idea to carry a torch
Vietnam is well known for it's rich and divers cuisine. It is a
unique cuisine with some colonial influences from the French and
Chinese but has kept it's own character. There is an abundance of
fresh vegetables and herbs that give the Vietnamese kitchen its
unique taste and there is plenty of fresh fish and seafood that
can be found in many of the dishes. It is not a spicy kitchen but
tickles your taste buts with all it's different flavors.
There are no compulsory vaccinations but we advise you to seek the
advice of your doctor. Whilst the main areas are malaria-free, we
recommend being careful. The best way to escape malaria is to avoid
being bitten by mosquitoes - in the evenings, wear trousers, socks
and long sleeved shirts, and use insect repellent.
All visitors to Vietnam should have adequate health insurance, in
particular covering evacuation in the event of a medical emergency.
Although there are good doctors, hospitals are in general not up
to Western Standards.
Internet access is available in all the major hotels and there are
also plenty of Internet cafes in the main tourist areas with reliable
connections at very reasonable prices.
We strongly advise you to buy comprehensive travel insurance before
traveling to Vietnam, covering medical treatment and medical evacuation.
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City both have international airports with
daily international flight arrivals from all over Asia as well as
from Europe and the United States. Airlines currently flying from
/ to Vietnam are Vietnam Airlines, Thai Airways International, Bangkok
Airways, Pacific Airlines, Air France, Eva Air, China Airlines,
Cathay Pacific, China Southern Airline, Emirates, Siem Reap Airways,
Korean Air, JAL, Silk Air, Malaysian Airlines.
Most international flight tickets need to be reconfirmed
- your tour guide will collect your tickets in order to reconfirm
seats for you.
Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam. English is widely
spoken and the first Foreign Language learned by the Vietnamese.
Vietnam is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich time (same time zone as Thailand).
MEET AND GREET
Your Insight Vietnam guide will be waiting for you with a signboard
stating your name after you have completed Immigration formalities,
collected your luggage and passed through Customs.
Please use your discretion when taking photographs - it is polite
to ask people before taking their picture. Vietnam is an exceptionally
photogenic place don't underestimate how much film you will use
in one day! Film (for colour prints) is readily available, however,
if you need specialist equipment, please bring it with you.
Vietnam has an estimated population of 80 million, making it the
13th most populous country in the world.
POST & TELECOMMUNICATIONS
It is normally easy to make international calls from international
hotels, although it is expensive. In the major cities and places
telephone cabins are available for domestic and overseas calls.
Phone cards can be purchased at shops nearby in the street. International
roaming is also available for Mobile Phones in the major cities.
The postal system is fairly reliable and efficient.
Vietnam is a shoppers paradise and is famous for it's variety of
handicrafts such as pottery, ceramics, colorful embroidered items,
tissues, paintings, jewelry etc. A wide selection of Antiques can
be found all over the country and they are also well known for their
Tailor skills. Bargaining is customary for souvenirs shops. Buyers
should use caution when purchasing antiques, an official export
certificate has to be given to you by the shop at the time of purchase.
Tipping is not obligatory but a small tip is always welcome. Porters
would expect at least 5000 Dong per bag.
Government offices and most businesses are open from 0800 to 1130
hours and from 1330 to 1700 hours, Monday to Friday.
Visas are required by all nationalities and your passport needs
to be valid for at least 6 month. A tourist visa is valid for 30
days and can be extended an additional 15 days once you are in Vietnam.
Visa on arrival
If you arrive by international flight in Hanoi, Danang or Ho Chi
Minh you can obtain your visa upon arrival. This however needs to
be approved in advance and we will have to obtain the necessary
authorizations for you prior to your departure. We require your
full personal and passport details and will then apply for your
visa authorization. The documents required and the charges are as
US$ 20 net per person, payable to GPS Resources.
FOC as this is issued by Insight Vietnam. You require these two
documents to be able to check into your flight to Vietnam and then
to obtain your visa once you arrived at one of the international
Airports. Upon arrival a visa fee of US$ 20 net per person is payable.
If you plan to enter Vietnam overland or prefer to obtain your visa
in advance, you will have to apply for your Visa at any Vietnamese
Mission close to you. The visa fees vary. For easy handling we can
issue a Visa Approval Letter in advance (we require your full personal
and passport details). The price is US$ 10 net per person and with
that approval you will be able to obtain your visa very quickly.
In most Embassies / Consulates you can also obtain
your visa without the Visa Approval Letter. It will then however
take longer until the visa is issued and the fee will also be higher.