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General asked questions

When is the best time to travel Vietnam?

In general, the best time to come to Vietnam is from August to April of next year. But no matter when it is, each of the months will have suitable places to visit. With over 2000 miles of coastline, divided into three distinct weather patterns varying from North to South, from low-lying plains to high hills and mountains, Vietnam weather is changeable yet predictable. Seasons alter after seasons so the landscape is ever-changing and every time of the year, there is a traditional festival or holiday occurring somewhere.

From January to March

At the beginning of the year, North Vietnam is usually greeted with cool weather, light rain, and fresh air. The temperature in the flat plain ranges from 15 to 22 while in the higher area like Sapa, it can fall down to near 0 degrees. This is the only time can visitors in Sapa can behold the majestic wonder of snowfall in mountains and hills. The South is always much warmer than the North, with the temperature varies between 28 and 35.

This period is also the rising time for various festivals and holidays, including the largest festival in the year: Tet holiday or Lunar New Year Eve. As a Vietnamese saying goes: The first month is the month to relax. The aura of Tet holiday can dominate this whole country in almost two months, with the roads painted in the color of cherry-blossom and the air fragrant with Chung cake or other traditional food’s odor. Next, comes the festival of Huong Pagoda in which thousands of tourists traveling to the Huong Pagoda in Hanoi to pray the new year’s fortune.

On the 10th of March, there is a national holiday celebrated in the memorial of the first Royal Ancestors of Vietnam – the Hung Kings. Hung Kings Anniversary Day or Hung Kings Temple Festival is held nation-while but the biggest one is taken place at Phu Tho, in the Hung Kings Temple Relic Site. On this day every year, hundreds of people gather on the Phu Tho Temple to pay their respect and worshiping to their ancestors.

From April to June

This is a rather unpredictable period with the season changes from spring to summer. The air is hotter, the temperature rises and also does the humidity. In such time the people in North Vietnam can experience the direness of tropical storms. The South is hot and sunny in most days.

However, the halfway between spring and summer is the blooming season of myriad kinds of flowers. White-snow ban flowers in the high hills of Tay Bac or scarlet “do quyen” flowers in Sapa are just two examples. June is also when the long summer vacation begins. Beaches in Nha Trang, Ha Long Bay or Sam Son, Cua Lo are at their peak of beauty: bright sunshine, calm sapphire water and unspoiled limestone islands waiting to be discovered. In this early of summer, the beach is still quiet and lack of visitors, so nature is for you alone to enjoy.

From June to September

For the sea and sun lovers, this is an ideal time to pack your things and go to coastal Vietnam. Famous sight-seeing like Halong Bay, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc is crowded with tourists, both domestic and international. The good thing is, when the number of tourists arises, hotel services, tours, available activities increase as well. Beaches in Vietnam may not be suitable for surfing, but they are the optimal choice for a romantic vacation with calm waves, luxurious cruises and diverse coral systems below the sea.

However, if the sunny weather can be uncomfortable for you, then an escape in the mountainous area would deserve consideration. Da Lat city is only hours travel from Nha Trang coastal city, and it has amazing cool weather in the mid of summer. In the North, we have Tam Dao, where you can indulge in the air of autumn in every time in the year.

From September to December

Winter does not come unexpectedly. It caresses the land by the autumn’s early cool wind and the hot air of summer slowly fades away. This is a golden time to visit the North of Vietnam. Hanoi – the capital of the country is covered by gentle morning mist. Historical buildings and ancient houses rest solemnly on one side of the tree-covered roads. As the temperature drops down further, people start putting on their warm clothes. You will not even feel like being in a tropical country anymore, the city looks like a peaceful town in England or France.

October is the blooming season of the lotus flower in Dong Thap (South Vietnam). Lotus is Vietnam’s national flower and nowhere it can appear as captivating as in Dong Thap, with pale pink or white skin and delight fragrant. Then between October and December is the season of Tam Giac Mach flower in Ha Giang. A vast sea of dreamy purple flowers dominates the whole hills of Ha Giang, so immense you will feel like the garden of purple is reaching to the horizon.

December is the coolest time of the year. The weather can be dire, but it is pale in comparison to the business of people anticipating the upcoming Tet holiday. A month before Tet, the local markets are already filled with traditional cuisine

How to transport in Vietnam?

Transportation in Vietnam is more and more developt. If you want to go solo travel and set an itinerary up by yourself, you can easily find out the conversion vehicles as below:

+ Motobike: this is the most popular vehicle type in Vietnam. Because of that, it is extremely convenient for you to travel along Vietnam. Grab and traditional grab is used widely in Vietnam. The same and better-known taxi app in Europe, the US and the rest of the world is Uber. Uber was the biggest competitor of Grab is Southeast Asia, but since early 2018, Grab has taken over the entire branch of Uber in Southeast Asia. The grab is everywhere. Especially, the fee for this transport method is affordable. Of course, don’t forget to install the Grab app on your phone so that you can make it work.

+ Taxi: you can easily take a taxi anywhere in Hanoi city but it is quite difficult to find out a taxi in a small town. If you want to go anywhere in Hanoi city, you can ask the hotel receptionist to book for you instead. Kindly remember to ask the receptionist about the exact amount before taking in the taxi. Or if you worry about “ripping off”, just wait for a taxi on the pavement, it doesn’t take a long time. But trust in me, most hotels will help you to ask taxi with no fee, especially with the luxury hotels. Some of the famous and reputable taxi groups such as Mai Linh Group, Vinasun taxi,….

+ Bus:

  • Public bus: the type of vehicle also is recommended if you want to go around Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh cities central. It is so much cheaper than a taxi or motorbike (estimated 7000 vnđ/ route). Of course, it has a disadvantage as well. You should be changed a lot of bus numbers if the route is long. It will be better if you go with a native friend.
  • Shuttle bus: this type of vehicle will be very useful when you travel to Halong. The bus can be limousine D- car, so it really high qualified than the others. Just one thing which you need to make sure to use the shuttle bus service is that you need to book 2 days 1 night the cruise or 3 days 2 nights on the cruise. At least, you need to book a daily tour to have this service.

+Train: you should try this service when you come to Vietnam. The training fee is a medium between the bus and plane. Besides the cabin of the train, you can relax and enjoy the beautiful landscape along Vietnam. Why don’t you take a train to go to Sapa and come back to Hanoi by bus? I personally believe that you will never regret to take this interesting experience.

+ Plane: Of course, the plane is the highest qualified vehicle. But as you know, you get which you pay for. There are some popular airlines in Vietnam.

  • Vietnam Airline: The fee is higher than others, but the service is good. The flight time is hardly changed. Not only meals are included in the flight fee but also 20kg as well. I would recommend this airline for the clients. You just need to pay more not too much, but the service is much better than the others.
  • Vietjet Air: This is the airline for anyone who wants to take a cheap fee. It is also a good choice if you don’t have a lot of luggage. But the reality is that this airline usually is delayed. It will be a big issue if you go travel with a fixed itinerary
  • Jet Star: As the same as Vietjet air, this airline has a good rate. The quality is not really good than the two airlines above. But recently, a lot of people trust in this supplier.

+There are some other vehicle types such as cyclo, bike, ….Most of that will have available if you book through a travel agency. If you need to book biking tour or cyclo tour around the Old Quarter, choosing Go Vietnam Travel is the  best choice.

What is the prefered currency in Vietnam?

The national currency of Vietnam is Dong. This is one of the smallest denomination of currency in the world. Referred to as the Dong VND, D, or the official symbol is ₫.

The rate exchange at now for USD is 1 USD = 23.220 VND.

Please be referred this link to update information about rate exchange for other countries’ currency to Vietnam currency.

About officially all the calculations in Vietnam are conducted only in national currency. But in practice, sometimes the prices for tourists for accommodation, tours and travel in tourist transport immediately announced in dollars, although when calculating the count and take in dongs. Only rarely where you can pay directly in dollars and euros are generally accepted reluctantly. Sometimes, mainly in the markets, you can pay and mixed: in dollars and Vietnamese Dong, or pay in dollars and get change in Dong (it is sometimes convenient and profitable).

Where to change currency in Vietnam

Currency exchange in Vietnam can be anywhere: in exchange offices, banks, hotels, jewelry stores, travel agencies, airports. The difference in the rate of exchange in different places and even different cities minor. At the airports of Vietnam, unlike airports in other countries, a very good exchange rate. So you can safely on arrival at the airport to change $ 50 and then get a rate better deal. For example, in a single day in 2018, the rate at the airport in Hanoi was 23300 dongs per dollar in the exchange offices in Hanoi 23200-23400, and the official exchange rate – 23305.

Plastic cards

The use of plastic cards in Vietnam is quite common. You can use plastic cards almost all shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, travel agencies. ATMs in major cities and tourist areas are found almost at every step.

However, if you go into the details, the use of credit cards, especially cash withdrawal is not the best alternative to imported cash dollars or euros. ATMs in addition to the fee your Bank will hold your Commission, on average, about 50 000 VND per transaction, the maximum amount of cash withdrawals may be restricted (e.g. to 2 000 000 VND, about $ 100), the conversion rate will take place according to the official, plus with the rouble card will double conversion, and all this together will give not very good result. So try to find an ATM, which gives at once the sum is larger and takes a smaller Commission.

What is the visa policy in Vietnam? How to get evisa Vietnam? How much is that?

You may be a resident who is in the list 87 countries entering Vietnam without visa application. Please kindly check this link to make sure about that.

Otherwise, I would like to recommend two ways which you an apply visa as below:

–        Visa on arrival:

If you are planning a multiple-entry visit or a stay of more than 30 days, you will want to apply for a visa on arrival. To do this you’ll need:

  • A 4×6 passport photo with a white background and no glasses
  • A filled-out visa application form
  • A passport or substitute ID valid for six months from the date you plan to enter Vietnam
  • Payment (25 USD to 50 USD) for visa fees, and
  • A Letter of Approval from a Vietnamese embassy or consulate (if you are picking up your visa at the airport)

If you are near a Vietnamese embassy or consulate, you can submit your photo, application form, passport, and visa fee in person. This website will guide you through the process.

If you are unable to reach a Vietnamese embassy or are short on time, there are trusted services online who can provide you a valid Letter of Approval for a fee. Bring this letter and together with a visa application form and your other documents to the Visa on Arrival counter at the airport when you land.

–        Apply for visa online:

Step 1: Prepare the required materials:

  • One 4×6 passport photo in .jpg format with a white background, without glasses
  • One photo in .jpg format of your passport data page
  • Passport valid for at least six months
  • Your temporary address in Vietnam and points of entry and exit
  • Debit or credit card for payment

Step 2: Click this link or access www.immigration.gov.vn and go to ‘E-visa Issuance’ then click on the link for ‘Outside Vietnam foreigners’.

Step 3: Upload your .jpg images (passport data page and passport photo) and fill out the required fields on the form completely. Submit your form.

Step 4: Pay the e-Visa fee of 25 USD. Copy down the document code provided.

Step 5: Within three working days you should receive news of your e-Visa application via email. If not, you can also run a search for your e-Visa at this link.

Step 6: Use your document code to locate your e-Visa online. Download and print the e-Visa in two copies for extra safety.

Tip: Please kindly note that the visa online (visa) will ask you to make sure everything correct. If you are wrong in one of the important information, you will definitely do it again. Of course, you will have to double payment if you make a mistake. For example, if you type “T” instead of “F” in your surname, you must be rebooked it. I strongly recommend you find out a TA to help yourself. They will charge a fee for this service obviously, but it worth. The dicision is up to you.

What should we bring to Vietnam?

So here’s what clothing I normally pack for a trip:

  • 5-7 shirts (short sleeve for warm weather trips, long sleeve for cold weather trips). When you intend to go to North of Vietnam, especialy in Sapa from November to April, the weather is so cold. We even can see snow when it comes down go to 0 degree.
  • 1 pair of jeans (I might bring two for a cold weather trip longer than a week)
  • Something to sleep in (for me this means gym-style pants or shorts and a t-shirt)
  • 4-5 pairs of socks. Socks are always convienience when traveling. But please remember don’t wear too short socks when you come to some fomal places such as the churchs or the pagodars.
  • 8-10 pairs of underwear (usually 1 per day; I’ll do laundry on longer trips)
  • 2 bras

 

The toiletries’ packing are almost available in hotels. But you shouldn’t forget to bring it with you. Your belongings items will be safer. Sometimes, staying in homestays is not available standard toiletries but you will have local experiences. Here is a recommended list for you: Shampoo and conditioner (Check out my favorite solid shampoo and solid conditioner on Amazon.)

  • Shower gel or bar soap
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Contact solution and case
  • Lotion
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Nail clippers and nail file

Brush and hair elastics

What should not bring to Vietnam?

Here is the list which you can not bring to Vietnam:

  • Sharp objects or cutting tools (such as knives, cutters, letter openers, scissors, tool boxes, screwdrivers, darts, etc.)
  • Sports equipment such as baseball bats, billiards, golf clubs, hockey sticks, ski bars, armored gloves, hammers, boomerangs and didgeridoos
  • More than one matchbox or lighter (see details below)
  • Guns or weapons (including templates)
  • Flammable, corrosive or toxic items
  • Printer or cartridge weighing 16oz or 453g or more, on flights departing from, passing through or departing from, USA, Vancouver and London
  • Liquid oxygen system (see accepted oxygen cylinder regulations below)
  • Protective devices that contain irritants or neurotoxins, such as pepper spray
  • Electric shock weapons contain dangerous substances such as explosives, compressed air, or lithium batteries
  • Aerosols are not medicine or personal hygiene items
  • Security-type devices – such as briefcases, cash boxes and cash bags – contain lithium batteries, pyrotechnic materials or other dangerous items inside the device
  • Hoverboard, Mini-Segway, one wheel, airwheel, balance wheel, Lithium skateboard or personal transport device with memory and recreational vehicles Small analog run on lithium battery
  • Built-in battery or spare lithium battery with capacity more than 160Wh or 8g lithium, see details in Shipping lithium batteries
  • Battery-powered wheelchairs or mobile devices are only allowed as checked baggage and you need to notify us of these types of luggage when booking. For more information on traveling with each type of battery, see the services for people with wheelchairs.
  • Appraisal equipment to monitor air quality; Allowed to deposit under strict conditions, contact us for more details
  • It is not allowed to carry Samsung Note 7 on people, in checked or hand luggage.

Booking asked questions

What payment methods do you accept?

We can accept payment by credit cards online through VTCpay (like Paypal) which represents Master Cards in Vietnam. You can use MasterCards, Visa, Dinner Club, or American Express. We can also accept other payment methods such as bank wire transfer, Western Union or Paypal.

Do I need to pay the deposit?

The deposit is required to guarantee your reservation (tours, hotels, transfer, …etc). After received your deposit, we’re going to reserve the services for you. So the deposit is required to secure your booking.
Normally, 20% of total cost will be required for deposit at the booking time.
For some urgent cases or type of promotion, we will require full payment at the booking time.

Is there any discount for children?

Children under 12 years old may enjoy discounts in accommodation, air tickets and meals. As the discount rate for kids varies from hotels, restaurants and airline companies, you are advised to provide us with detailed information about number of kids traveling and their ages to get the exact discounts applied.

What about disabled and pregnant tourists?

Disabilities or pregnancy of tourists joining the tour should be informed to us as the booking is made. All possible assistance during your trip will be advised, and also subject to surcharge. We will not be held liable if such information is not informed in advance.

What happen if I cancel the booking?

When you want to cancel a booking, please send a cancellation request by writing an email or sending a fax to us. We do not accept a cancellation by phone. Please read carefully our cancellation policy at  (fill in later)
Notice: we ONLY accept cancellation in writing by email or fax, NOT by phone.

When will my booking be firmly confirmed?

As soon as accepting to book the services with us, you have to pay the deposit for the services in the mean time we’ll make provisional reservation for you. Once we received your deposit notification, we’ll make firm reservation for your services straightaway – this mean your reservation is firmly confirmed.

When all of the services are reserved successfully, we will update to you and send you other useful information such as travel guide, travel tips,…

If the services were fully booked (maybe booked by someone else while booking is under processed because some tour operators don’t allow blocking policy), we will inform you and suggest similar options. In case you no longer want to book these alternatives, we will refund all of the deposit amounts.

What will be happened if my passport has expired?

To apply for a visa to Vietnam, your passport must have at least 6 month’s validity. Therefore, if your passport is about to expire, please get a new one before applying for your visa in order to avoid unwanted problems at the airport.

Some Tips before go to Vietnam

Keep Your Phone and Wallet Out of Sight

Violent crime is rare, but like any large cities, both have their fair share of pickpockets. Be especially aware in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and Saigon’s Pham Ngu Lao, known as the backpackers’ district. Carry a purse with a strap that goes across your body and keep it in front of you.

Never put your passport in your backpack. Either put it in a special carrying case that fits under your clothes or leave it in the safe at your (reputable) hotel.

Get Your Hotel Details

Remember to take your hotel’s business card to make your return to the hotel much easier by handing it to your taxi, xe om, or cyclo driver.

Leave the Plastic at the Hotel

Vietnam, especially once you get out of the major cities, is still a cash-based economy. Most places won’t accept credit cards and ATMs can be scarce.

Walk Slowly when Crossing the Street

One sentence which a lot of forienger conclude about traffice Vietnam “It’scrazy”. Forget the epic colours of Halong Bay and the windy beaches of Mui Ne, the single most impressive sight in Vietnam is seeing a line of people crossing the street as a torrent of motorbikes hurtle towards them. Newcomers to Vietnam may find the practice of stepping into traffic more than a little terrifying but there is a logic to the madness.

Motorbikes are trying to anticipate your movements to avoid hitting you, so keep a slow and steady pace. It’s also advisable to hold out your arm to let the cyclists know that you are actually crossing the street. In Hanoi, people often hold hands and walk across in single file, but in HCMC where traffic lights are a bit more au courant this practice is less common. Traffic lights don’t mean traffic will stop, however. Be prepared for stragglers to still cross after the light changes and those who are turning right won’t wait for you to clear the street. Never try to test your might with the buses.

Always be aware of everything around you whether you’re crossing the street or walking on a sidewalk. Roads can be an abstract concept in Vietnam’s cities.

Motorbike Safety

If you’re going to brave the traffic on a bike, make sure you take proper precautions. Always wear a helmet, avoid dangly jewellery, flip flops and miniskirts and clip your bag to the bike to keep it safe from snatchers. Also, see if there is a storage area underneath the seat. If you have the app on your phone it is easy to hail a Grab motorbike from anywhere in the cities.

Tipping

While tipping is not always expected, especially at local restaurants, international venues have become used to the practice. Leave tip amount enough based on their salary. You should ask the salary before give them tip. Of course, it totally depends on your decision.

Cover up

When visiting temples or pagodas, make sure to bring that extra scarf to cover your shoulders. Remember that you are visiting a piece of history so show some respect and follow the rules of the place of worship. Some locations will have loose robes that you can rent and don during your visit.

Don’t Trust the Taxi Meter

Ripping off unsuspecting passengers is an art form for dishonest drivers. Most taxi drivers are not frauds but to be safe, stick with reliable companies such as Hanoi Taxi, Mai Linh and Vinasun. Get out of any taxi that refuses to turn on the meter. Or for a sure thing just book a car through Grab. You can see the price on the app ahead of time.

To resolve this issue, you should ask the guide or the hotel receptionist to book for you first. Remember to confirm the amount before take on the taxi.

It is now a law to buckle up in Vietnam, yet many taxis do not come complete with functional safety belts. Do your best by using your seatbelt whenever one is available.

If your trip costs VND17,000 dong and you only have VND20,000 the driver will often expect the extra as a tip. It’s a nice gesture to let them keep the change if you’re happy with their service.

Be a Sensitive Photographer

Get permission before taking anyone’s photograph. Most people in Vietnam love having their picture taken and will ask to have one with you, but it’s always nice to ask. Also, there are some places like Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum or military buildings where taking photos is prohibited.

If you have children don’t be surprised if people ask to take pictures with the kids. Children, especially those that look different than the local population, can be treated like superstars with the paparazzi to match.

Bargain

Remember that negotiating is not rude but expected. Haggle for the best price or risk paying well over the actual price of an item. Try ‘walking away’ to get a better price. If that doesn’t work, you can always go back to the vendor later.

Learn a Little Bit of Vietnamese

Vietnamese is a difficult language to perfect but that shouldn’t stop you from memorising a few key phrases to facilitate your voyage. Even if you don’t say something correctly you’ll often be rewarded with a smile from whoever you’re talking to. The Vietnamese are usually happy to help you out and the effort made can reward you with a new friend. Please learn some necessary words as below:

  • Hello = Xin Chào
  • Thank you = Cảm ơn
  • Goodbye, see you again = Tạm biệt, hẹn gặp lại.
  • Restroom = Phòng vệ sinh (toilet is a usefull word as well)

Enjoy some delicious foods

There is so much to do and see, but don’t forget to stop every once in a while to pull up a plastic chair, order the local coffee, ca phe sua da, and take it all in. While sights and activities hold interest, sometimes you can learn more about the culture by speaking to the locals and taking your time to adjust to the country’s pace. Remember that you are on holiday! Enjoy street food also fanstactic in Vietnam. There are some famous foods such as: Bánh mỳ, Phở, Bánh Xèo, Bún đậu, Bánh cuốn, cà phê Trứng,… If you don’t know which place you should go to eat, let Go Vietnam Travel to guide your step.