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 Guidance for travelling to Viet Nam

Viet Nam in general
How to get a visa
Customs Information
Food, fruit and drink
Security and advice
Time zone
Electricity and water
Hotel and restaurant
Traffic services
Telephone, Fax, Internet, Email
Working hours
Credit Cards and Travellers Cheques

Viet Nam in general:
Vietnam is located in the Eastern part of the Indochina peninsula, bordering China to the North, Laos and Cambodia to the West with a long land border of 4,550 km, and facing the Eastern Sea (South China Sea) and the Pacific to the East and the South. On the map, Vietnam is an S-shaped long.
According to the national statistic, the residential of Viet Nam approximately reach the number of 87 million people for the whole country. There are 54 ethnic groups in Viet Nam. Kinh people are occupied almost in the cities and abundant areas. The others are in the mountainous areas as in the highlands, the west and northwest.
In addition to their unique cultures, 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam have different languages. 24 ethnic groups have their own scripts such as Thai, H’Mong, Banah, Ede...

How to get a visa:
Visa for tourist:
- Tourist visa is valid in 90 days. Single or multi entry based on request.
- Visa is issued at the Vietnamese diplomatic offices or consulates in foreign countries.
- Visa is possibly issued at the three International Airports Noi Bai ( Ha Noi), Da Nang and Tan Son Nhut ( Saigon) to those who have approved by Vietnam immigration through a Vietnamese competent agencies or tourists in the tours organized by Vietnamese international travel companies.
Applied for this approval letter, we need information as follows:
- Full name which is exactly as in passport.
- Nationality
- Gender
- Date of birth
- Passport number
- Issued date
- Expiry date
- Arrival date
- Recent photo 4x6
Price : Besides the arranged fee ( depends on the nationality) , client have to pay $US 25.00/person at the customs for doing their visa upon arrival. ( Current fee at July, 2011)
Viet Nam is applied visa exemption for some countries due to the open gate policy and diplomatic reasons.
Not default than 30 days: for citizens of Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Laos.
Not default than 15 days: for citizens of Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.
Not default than 14 days: It will be applied when the multilateral visa -free travel agreement takes force for citizens of Cambodia, Brunei, and Myanmar travel within the Asean region.

Customs Information:
Customs procedures in Vietnam are quick and simple. To enter and exit Vietnam, visitors are required to fulfill the arrival - departure declaration.
1. Passengers are given duty free allowance for not default than 1.5 liters of liquor with above 22 degrees of concentration of alcohol and 2 liters of liquor below 22 degrees of concentration of alcohol; 400cigarettes; 100 cigars; 500 gram of raw tobacco. If the volume exceeds the above-said limit, they must pay tax on the excess volume according to law provisions.
Under-18 people shall not be entitled to enjoy these quotas.

- Other items which are allowed in accompanying baggage are duty free with value not over VND 5,000,000.
- Passengers bringing goods exceeding the amount as above stated are required to fill in the declaration form No.HQ/2002-PMD and pay duty(ies) according to Vietnamese laws.
2. Passengers whose goods are not subject to customs declaration do not have to declare.
*Goods prohibited to import: weapons, ammunition, explosives, military technical equipment, drugs, toxic chemicals, debauched and reactionary products, firecrackers of all kinds, toys with negative impacts on the dignity education, social security and safety, cigarettes beyond the stipulated quantity, etc.
*Goods prohibited to export: weapons, ammunition, explosives, military technical equipment,antiques, drugs, toxic chemicals, wild animals, rare and precious animals and plants, documents related to the national security, etc.

Currency: Vietnamese dong (VND) is the official currency in Vietnam.
- Paper notes include: VND 500,000; 200,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20,000; 10,000; 5,000; 2,000;1,000; 500; and 200.
- Coins include VND 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500 and 200.
- Foreign currencies can be exchanged into Vietnamese dong at banks or foreign exchange counters. There are at the Airport and many other places in town.
Vietnamese dong can be changed into foreign currencies at the airport.
Exchange rate of some foreign currencies (source: Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Eximbank).

- Vietnamese is the official language.
- The most widely spoke languages: English, Chinese, French.

Food, fruit and drink
Eating while in Vietnam is a delight for visitors, because many of the local specialties come straight from the imperial kitchens that served the emperors of Vietnam. The diversity of diningoptions is tremendous, ranging from cheap street side noodle stalls to banquets of freshly caught seafood.
Street food is delicious, cheap and usually safe to eat. Good signs to look for are if the restaurant or vendor is busy with a large turnover which means they are trusted by the locals for their food’s flavor, quality and hygiene.
Seasonal fruits such as dragon fruit, rambutans and longans, can be enjoyed, though all fruits and vegetables should be cooked or peeled before eaten. Drinking water or ice is generally not recommended, even in the cities. Bottled water is cheap and readily available, so it is recommended not to take the risk. Vietnam is a beer culture, and there are plenty of local as well as imported brands. 333, Carlsberg, Hanoi, Tiger, Saigon, La Rue, San Miguel and Heineken are some common brands.

Menu Description
Pho Bo Beef noodle soup
Pho Ga Chicken noodle soup
Cha gio Spring roll. Rice paper, meat... Deep fried.
Cha gio cua Spring roll , they make from crab meat. Served with vegetable and fish sauce.
Goi cuon The famous Vietnamese “summer rolls”: shrimp or pork (sometimes both) with herbs, rolled up in rice paper and served cold with a peanut dipping sauce.
Banh cuon Made from rice, roll with meat and some other things inside, be served with fish sauce.
Banh xeo Half moon cake, made from rice, coconut milk, meat, shrimp, mushrooms…served with vegetable and fish sauce.
Bun bo Hue Hue’s food. Beef
Hue foods You will enjoy many special dishes here as “ banh beo, banh nam, banh bot loc , bun bo Hue” .
Bo kho Beef-and-vegetable stew, usually accompanied by baguettes.
Com ga rau thom Rice with chicken and mint
Ga nuong sa Grilled chicken or beef with lemon grass.
Che For dessert, try Che, a pudding made from sticky rice and beans.
……… ………………………………………

- No vaccinations are officially required to visit Vietnam, but local medical authorities recommend protection against polio, diphtheria, typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, and Japanese encephalitis. For travelers spending much time in the countryside, anti-malaria pills are recommended and you should take precautions not to get bitten. Repellents and mosquito nets are necessary.
- All travelers are advised to bring any prescription medications (in the original containers) currently required. Travelers should pack a small medical kit, which includes sunscreen, insect repellent, diarrhea medication, ibuprofen or aspirin and antibacterial ointments. For those who wear eyeglasses, it is recommended that an extra pair be taken, as the quality of local replacement services varies.
- Vietnam’s climate is hot and humid so drink plenty of bottled water to prevent dehydration. While out walking around and sightseeing bottled water is always easily accessible and can be bought from vendors and shops.
- Tap water is not safe in Viet Nam.
- Medical care facilities are available in the largest cities, but are limited outside of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. It's wise for each traveler to consult with each insurance company to see whether coverage is included for Vietnam, because care is expensive, and often requires evacuation to nearby countries.
Some International hospitals in Ha Noi and Saigon

Hospital Address
International SOS Vietnam 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St, D3, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam.
Tel: 84.8. 38298424
SIHOSPITAL 63 Bui Thi Xuan St, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
FV Hospital ( Phap – Viet) 6 Nguyen Luong Bang . District 7 . Ho Chi Minh Ciy.
Tel(08) 54 11 33 33.
L’Hôpital Francais de Hanoi No 1 Phuong Mai, Dong Da, Ha Noi
International SOS Vietnam, Ltd. Clinic Address: 1 Dang Thai Mai
Postal Address: 51 Xuan Dieu
Hanoi Vietnam
Tel: + 84 4 3934 0666
Ha Noi American International Hospital 20 Doc Ngu Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam

Bargaining is customary at roadside stalls and at open markets.

Security and advice
Vietnam is a very safe country. However , as other big cities in the world, you can’t expect hospitality at every turn and you may experience problems with petty theft and pick pockets. Do not let those troubles get involved in your great journey. Here are some advices:
- Do not bring items of value as you go shopping or sightseeing on city streets.
- If you carry a bag wear the shoulder strap of your bag across your chest and walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by bag-snatchers, the same applies for carrying a camera and it is advisable not to use a camera strap with an attention grabbing logo.
- It is customary to give alms to beggars and to buy souvenirs from street vendors. However, try do not offering money directly to beggars, street kids… It is better to donate to a local charity or orphanage.
- Foreign currencies should be exchanged at banks, or authorized exchange facilities. Do not exchange money in the street.
- Store your cash, credit cards, airline tickets and other valuables in a safe place. Most 4-star hotels have in-room safes, otherwise ask the reception to keep your valuable things in their deposit facility.
- It is not necessary to always carry your passport; usually the hotel will hold your passport when checked in or leave it in your room’s safe, it is advisable to keep a photocopy with you.
- It is considered extremely rude and offensive to wear revealing clothing. Dress modestly and when visiting Temples and Pagodas wear shirts that cover shoulders and long pants are most appropriate. Wear shorts that are knee-length and keep your shirt on unless you're at the beach where you should never tan topless or in the nude. If unsure, just follow what the locals do.
- Do not try to take photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security. Never take video cameras into the ethnic minority villages. They are considered to be too intrusive by the local people.
- Avoid pedicab (cyclo) and motorbike taxi (xe om) rides, specially after dark.

Time zone: Hours in Vietnam: GMT + 7

Electricity and water
- Electric power: 220V, frequency: 50 Hz.
- Cities, towns and townships are supplied with fresh sterilized water.

Hotel and restaurant
- Accommodation is various from one star to five star hotels that can meet the diverse demands of visitors at different levels.
- Restaurants in the major towns and cities can satisfy tourist’s gastronomic demands. Some specialize in European, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean foods, so clients can always find some food that suits their fancy. In popular tourist centers, special restaurants are available for travelers who are vegetarian, on diet or religious.

Traffic services:
- Taxis: Taxis with meters are available in big cities and in many provinces: 24/24h. Most metered taxi drivers speak little English. No matter what time of day always choose reliable metered taxi companies such as Mai Linh , Vinasun.
- Pedicabs: in Hanoi, Haiphong, Hue, Danang, Khanh Hoa, Ho Chi Minh City, Cantho, etc.
- Motor-taxis (xe om): price similar to pedicabs.
- Bicycles: for rent, daily or hourly.
- Motorbikes: for rent.
- Automobiles: tourist cars for hire, with or without drivers.

Telephone, Fax, Internet, Email
- Phone calls or fax to foreign countries can be directly made at post offices or hotels.
- Internet and emails are popular in almost provinces and cities.
- Mobile network is used in different forms: subscribe, monthly- or daily-payment in advance.

Working hours
- Governmental agencies work 8 hours/day from 7.30am to 4.30pm (excluding one-hour lunch). Saturday and Sunday are close.
- Banks are open from 7.30 or 8.00 to 11.30am and from 1.00pm to 4.00pm. Saturday afternoon and Sunday are close.
- Shops are open from 8.00am or 8.30 until 10 pm. Restaurants and coffee shops are default late.

Credit Cards and Travellers Cheques
Visa and Mastercard are accepted at Banks and most hotels. Some restaurant and most of big shopping center accept to pay by credit cards. Some of them will ask for around 3% surcharge as the Bank fee. Travellers cheques, preferably in US dollars, not popular and sometimes you need to go to the Bank.

If your bank at home is part of the Plus or Star systems, you can withdraw from your ATM account at home in either dong or Dollars. You can also get a cash advance on your Visa card at the Hong Kong Bank office in Hanoi or through the ANZ Bank's offices in HCMC and Hanoi.

Around $US 5.00/person/day for driver and guide in average.

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