What do I need to do before travelling?
We suggest that all our customers review foreign office advice for Vietnam before travelling. Click here for the latest information from the foreign office.
What are the Visa requirements?
British passport holders require a tourist visa to visit Vietnam. A free 15 Day Tourist visas allow visitors to enter and exit Vietnam at Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang airports or at any of its land borders with Cambodia and Laos.
30 Day Tourist visas can be arranged in advance of travel at the Embassy of Vietnam in London either by post or in person. You will need at least one passport-sized photograph to accompany the visa application. The visa costs $45 per person. More information can be found online: http://vietnamembassy.org.uk/
Alternatively, Western & Oriental can arrange advanced registration for a 30 Day visa on arrival through our ground agents in Vietnam for a small fee. We will need passport details in advance. On arrival in Vietnam you will need to join the relevant queue and pay the $45 visa stamping fee then in US Dollars cash. You will also need to present a passport photo. This is not currently possible at land border crossings.
What is the currency in Vietnam?
The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). US Dollars and Euros are accepted in many hotels, although less so in restaurants, bars and shops. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 05:00 and some on Saturday morning. In the major cities there are some exchange offices open long hours near places frequented by tourists and most hotels will change US Dollars and Euros at very reasonable rates. Most hotels accept international credit cards such as Visa and Master Card and travellers cheques can be easily cashed. There is an extensive network of ATMs all over the country.
What is the language in Vietnam?
Vietnamese is the national language in Vietnam. Chinese (urban areas), Khmer (Mekong Delta) and minority languages are also spoken in certain parts of the country. English is the first language among young students, and basic English is spoken by most people in the big cities and tourist areas, while French is spoken by some of the older generation.
Are there any customs I should be aware of?
You should show due respect to local customs when entering religious or cultural sites in Vietnam. Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other revealing clothing when visiting pagodas and monasteries. Shoes must be removed before entering some religious building or a private home. It is forbidden to take photos of military sites or installations, and tourists are generally not permitted to invite Vietnamese locals up to their hotel rooms.
Is Vietnam safe?
Vietnam is a generally safe country to visit. As a global rule, never leave your belongings unattended and always maintain eye contact or a firm grip on cameras and shoulder bags. Beware of scams and touts that are becoming increasingly common in popular tourist destinations. Pickpocketing is also increasingly prevalent in the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Avoid cyclos late at night and choose reliable metered taxi companies (they are really cheap and air-conditioned).
What is the cuisine like?
Vietnamese cuisine is well-known for its delicate flavours and huge variety of traditional regional dishes. Fish and seafood dishes are particularly popular thanks to the huge coastline. Chinese and other Asian cuisine is also common throughout Vietnam, as is a variety of western cuisine in tourist centres. Dining out is a highlight of any visit to Vietnam.
Vietnam is famous for its coffee and is one of the world’s largest exporters. The Vietnamese like it strong and sweet with condensed milk. Beer is another popular drink and includes unpasteurized draft beer in Hanoi, probably the cheapest beer in the world.
It is not advisable to drink tap water but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere. Ice cubes in drinks is generally okay in good standard hotels and restaurants but it is best to avoid it on street stalls or in country areas.
What can I expect to pay for eating out locally and in resorts?
Trying out the local Vietnamese cuisine should play a large part in your Vietnam holiday experience.
For an authentic experience, street stalls serve freshly produced local dishes for as little as 50p a dish. Or dine in a local restaurant, in relative comfort and you can expect to eat well for around £5 per person including a bottle of local beer! Gourmet restaurants are popping up in the main cities and tourist regions, especially in the food-obsessed town of Hoi An, and in these restaurants you can expect to pay more in the region of £20 / £25 per person for a 3-course dinner.
If you choose to dine within your hotel, the cost will of course be more expensive. Generally, expect to pay in the region of £1.50 for a soft drink, £2 for a beer and £5 for a glass of wine. A Club Sandwich or Caesar Salad for lunch will be around £7. A two course evening meal between £10 & £20 per person, depending on the hotel.
(Prices are simply a guideline and subject to change)
Will I need to bring an adaptor?
All urban areas have minimum electricity, which is usually 220 volts, but can be 110 volts. Rather confusingly, sockets are never marked. Most plug sockets are French two-pin. We recommend taking a universal adaptor.