You will make your first trip to Vietnam, so read this article, because today we present all useful and practical advice for the first time in Vietnam! These are small things, which may seem trivial, but once in mind and especially there, can help you on your first trip to Vietnam! Vietnam has developed its tourism industry in such a way that every tourist can travel from one place to another, say from Cat Ba Island to Hanoi easily.
Traveling to Asia and especially Southeast Asia can be very confusing, especially if this is your first trip to this part of the world. Forget everything you’ve ever seen! Indeed, there are no cities or regions in the world that are comparable to Asia and even less so with large cities in Southeast Asia.
Travel to Vietnam: a complete guide by category
Depending on the type of business, the menu will not be translated. If you want to eat Vietnamese street food in particular, where menus are often not available, it might be useful to study, or at least visualize, some vocabulary words, to help you decipher different types of dishes. Don’t hesitate to download the Google Translate app (available on App Store / iOS and Google Play Store / Android). You can even download an English-Vietnamese dictionary to be able to consult offline during your trip to Vietnam.
Download the Grab mobile app for free (App Store / iOS and Google Play Store / Android). Very popular, this mobile application works exactly like Uber, except in Vietnam, you can order a scooter or car and pay your driver in cash. When ordering, you can choose a scooter or a car. If you don’t have a telephone or wifi, don’t hesitate to ask your hotel staff to order it for you. Because payments can be made in cash, there is no problem asking people to place an order through the mobile application for you. Also, some drivers like to call customers before arriving, so it’s a good idea for someone who speaks the next Vietnamese! If not, you can still use taxis from two official companies: Vinasun and Mai Linh. The latter also has their own mobile application. Note that both of these companies only offer cars and not scooters.
Note: Scooters are more recommended for foreign tourists. You don’t need to worry too much if you take the wrong route. You can switch routes easily.
Booking a hotel directly via email or telephone can prove to be more profitable. Indicatively, we pay 300 000 VND / night by sending an email directly to the hotel a few days before our arrival. At the same time, online comparison shows 320 000 VND. Small differences but can be useful for longer.
Currency is ‘Dong’ and the code is VND. Most often, you will see the symbol “₫”.
For example, for “50,000 Dong”, you can read “50,000 won.” In addition, some traders will announce prices only with “50” or “50K” menus. Sometimes you will see “50 ngan” (Ngan = thousand). Despite the presence of a large number of distributors (HSBC, etc.), banks and exchange offices, it is sometimes advisable to go to exchange your money directly into the Vietnamese currency. If your bank charges transaction fees (withdrawals / payments) abroad, we recommend that you forecast your cash and exchange once you arrive at the location. Most payments will be made in cash. However, please note that some hotels (especially large chains), or merchants (such as Starbucks or restaurants, etc.) accept international bank cards.
Wifi is widespread throughout the country. Most coffee shops and restaurants have free wifi and almost all hotels too.
I ended up like you, not knowing where to go, and especially how long I lived in this or that city to visit Vietnam. So I spent a lot of time learning about forums / sites to find out the time needed to visit a particular city / site, and even doing this, we found so many opinions that it was difficult to get an idea. So I went to visit Vietnam for 3 weeks. Because yes, if you plan to go there, don’t go because 2 weeks are too short and you will be frustrated for not taking more time, you are warned! First of all know that you will win and time and money if you arrive at Ha Noi and you return through Saigon (Ho Chi Minh). Vietnam can be visited from North to South. So I haven’t done everything, you can imagine, but here is a city to visit for your stay in Vietnam!
Hanoi (3 days including 3 or 4 nights)
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, this is where you will start your journey. If you don’t start your Vietnam tour through this city, you might have to go there to reach the city of Sa pa, Ninh Binh, or to reach Halong Bay (where the largest island of the Bay, Cat Ba).
One (2 days including 2 or 3 nights)
Sapa, a mountain town and very beautiful. On the menu: hiking, trekking, rice fields … you will like it! It takes 4 hours by bus from Hanoi.
Cat Ba (Halong Bay) (3 days including 3 or 4 nights)
You may have heard of Ha Long Bay (or Cat Ba Island), or at least saw a picture. This is a must as long as you live in Vietnam! It takes 2 hours by bus to reach Hai Phong from Hanoi, then 45 minutes by boat (and maybe 45 minutes by bus if the boat does not take you to the central port of Cat Ba). I advise you to do BoatTrip (2 days and 1 night) to Cat Ba.
Ninh Binh (2 days including 1 or 2 nights)
Very charming little town. Heart beat! Calculate 1h30 – 2h bus from Hanoi.
Hue (1 day including 1 night)
The ancient capital of Vietnam before Hanoi. 1 day is enough and lots to do, spend the night there.
Hoi An (4 days including 4 or 5 nights)
You have to pass Da Nang airport, then take a taxi or boat to reach Hoi An (count 45 minutes and 400,000 dong if you take a taxi, about $ 23 or so.
Passport & Visa
Tourists must have a valid passport at least six (06) months after the end of their visit and must have a valid visa.
At present there are 3 ways to get a Vietnam visa:
Visa through the Vietnamese Embassy
This is a traditional method, like other countries, travelers usually have to fill out a document first (you can fill out an online form), then go to the Vietnamese embassy or consulate to submit documents and pay for visa fees.
Visa on arrival
Visas on arrival are more convenient and faster than traditional methods, making it the preferred method for most passengers arriving by plane. And visas on arrival are only valid for air travel. You must register through a third-party visa officer or tour operator based in Vietnam (this service fee will depend on the length of your stay), they will give you a visa approval letter. Upon arrival at the Vietnam airport, a letter of approval will be submitted with a stamp fee (cash only) so that you can obtain a visa at the Vietnam airport. (25 USD / person cash for a single entry visa, 50 USD / person for a double entry visa)
Visa type: 1 or 3 months single / double entry
Arrival visas only apply at the following international airports in Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Danang and Nha Trang.
Visa E is valid for short-term visas (only 30 days), one-stop visits (tourists), single entry and citizens from 80 countries. You can enter Vietnam on an E-visa at any of the 8 airports in Vietnam, including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang, etc., as well as 16 land ports and 9 sea ports.
Ready to go to Vietnam and explore the cities?