Travel guide

Vietnam is an attractive destination for tourists with a beautiful natural landscape, and a unique culture and cuisine.

Most visitors to Vietnam will need a valid visa to enter the country, though citizens of a few countries are eligible for a visa on arrival. A tourist visa is valid for about 30 days, depending on each specific case.

Customs procedures in Vietnam are quick and simple. To enter and exit Vietnam, visitors are required to fill out an arrival - departure card (available in Vietnamese and English).

Passengers also must make customs declarations in the following cases: bringing an amount of goods exceeding the duty-free limit, unaccompanied luggage, temporarily imported and re-exported or temporarily exported and re-imported professional tools, habit-forming drugs, medication worth over 30 USD, cash of over 7,000 USD or the equivalent in other foreign currencies of over 15 million VND in Vietnamese currency. Goods forbidden for import and export are also included.

Visitors can take taxis, motorbikes from the airport to downtown. They may also go by bus in major cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City.

In Vietnam, the official language is Vietnamese. Almost all tour guides can speak English, French, Russian, Japanese or Chinese.

Entering Vietnam, tourists should use Vietnamese dong for payment in daily transactions.

Traveller’s cheques and credit cards can be exchanged into Vietnamese dong at banks and at major hotels and restaurants.

Foreign currencies can be changed into Vietnamese dong and cheques at banks and foreign exchange counters. Banks are open from 7:30 or 8:00 am to 15:30 pm and closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

The forex rate changes everyday. When leaving Vietnam, visitors can change Vietnamese dong into foreign currency at forex counters at airports.

Things to keep in mind when visiting Vietnam
- Do not drink water directly from the tap, especially after flooding.
- Avoiding using “xich lo” (pedicab)  services in the evening.
- Wear tidy and suitable clothes when visiting local houses, temples and pagodas.
- Do not take along valuable things when going out at night or swimming in the sea.
- Do not give money to ethnic minority people directly. Instead, send a donation to a local charitable fund or present them a small gift such as a pen.
- Ask permission before taking photos, particularly in remote areas.

Things not to miss
- A tour of Hanoi’s old quarter.
- An overnight stay on Ha Long Bay
- A boat trip on the Huong river in Hue, visiting imperial tombs
- Sleeping in guest-house amid riverside gardens in the Mekong delta.
- A “xich lo” ride to view the colonial French-architecture quarter in Ho Chi Minh City.
- Ordering tailor-made clothes at a local tailor shop.
- Enjoying traditional “Pho” rice (noodle soup).
- Watching a traditional water puppet show in Hanoi.
- Attending the mid-lunar month festival in Hoi An ancient town.
- Drink “can” wine (sipped from a jar through long straws)./.