All you need to know about travelling to Vietnam

08/08/2014

Halong Bay

Vietnam is a truly beautiful destination, where you can see incredible natural landscapes, experience a vibrant and fascinating culture and enjoy the sights and sounds of some of Asia’s most exciting cities. However, travelling somewhere so exotic can be a bit daunting, so we’ve put together some helpful information to prepare you for your holiday and ensure that you’re able to make the most of your time discovering Vietnam’s varied charms.

 

Do I need a visa to travel to Vietnam?

You will need to apply for a visa before you travel to Vietnam, with standard tourist visas being issued for 30 days. The best way to do this is to go through your nearest Vietnamese embassy (in the UK that means London). You should allow at least five working days for your visa application to be processed, so do this in plenty of time before you travel.

It’s also worth pointing out that standard Vietnamese visas are single-entry, which means if you intend to leave to visit a neighbouring country and then return, you should apply for a multi-entry visa. 

Do I need any vaccinations before I travel?

There aren’t any mandatory vaccinations for travel to Vietnam (unless you’re coming from an area where Yellow Fever is present), but it’s still advisable to visit your GP around eight weeks before your trip to make sure your vaccinations are up to date. 

It’s generally recommended that you are up to date with your cholera, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, tetanus, tuberculosis and typhoid vaccines. There have also been recent measles outbreaks in Vietnam, so you should check that you’re appropriately protected from this too.

Do I need to take tablets for malaria?

There is a malaria risk in certain regions of the country, most notably Vietnam’s southern provinces (Tay Ninh, Lam Dong, Dac Lac, Gia Lai and Kon Tum), as well as in rural areas. Speaking to a health professional about your specific itinerary before you travel is the most sensible thing to do. 

What currency is used in Vietnam and can I use my credit card?

Dong, image by Thinkstock/iStock

The official currency is the Vietnam dong, although US dollars are widely accepted, particularly in the big cities. The further you go off the beaten tourist trail, though, the more you will need local currency so make sure you are prepared.

There are ATMs in all the major tourist destinations, which issue dong. There’s a single withdrawal limit of 2,000,000 dong, although you can make multiple withdrawals on the same day as long as your credit limit allows.

There is also a black market for money changing, which is technically illegal, and you often get worse exchange rates from these people than the banks.

Major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and JCB are accepted in the cities and tourist centres, but do be aware that a three per cent commission is usually charged. Away from the main hubs, don’t expect to be able to pay on plastic and come with plenty of cash.

When is the best time to travel to Vietnam?

Vietnamese mountains and rice fields, image by Thinkstock/iStock

It’s difficult to give a definitive window for travelling to Vietnam, largely because the country’s climate is so varied. There are two main seasons in the country, each dictated by monsoons - one arrives from October and March, which makes the north of the country cool and wet, but the south dry and warm, and the other starts in April or May, lasting into October and typically bringing hot, humid weather across the nation (with the exception of the mountainous areas).


Where you want to travel may, therefore, dictate when you visit, as you’ll probably want to avoid the northern regions during the first of these monsoon periods. Here at eShores we’ve got great knowledge of Vietnam across our team, so ask us if you’re in any doubt about when to book your holiday for.

Is Vietnam safe?

Vietnam is generally a safe country to travel in and most visits are trouble free, with holidaymakers coming home with fantastic memories. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be vigilant though, with theft and pickpocketing things you should be aware of.

Make sure you keep your valuables in a safe place and know where they are at all times. Keep hold of your bag when you sit down at a restaurant, for example, and make sure you’re vigilant when you’re walking in crowds.

You are also likely to encounter beggars, particularly on the streets of the larger towns and cities. Don’t give them money or anything they can sell - it’s best to buy them food or drink if you really want to help them. There are also charitable organisations that help those living on the streets, so to make sure your money really does some good, look into making a donation to them instead.

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