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TRAVEL GUIDE TO VIETNAM

 

We’ve gathered the following information for  you in preparation for your trips which we thought were appropriate.  If you need further assistance, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-785-1233.

 

Airport Taxes
The departure tax for international passengers is already included in the ticket price.

Baggage
On Domestic flights, passengers are allowed 44 pounds of luggage per person. On International flights, passengers are allowed two pieces of checked luggage. Excess luggage fees will be charged if you check more than the stated allowances, and these charges are your responsibility.  At most major airports, baggage carts are available for your luggage, usually for a small additional fee.

Climate & Clothing
Vietnam has diversified weather and climate due to its long shape. Vietnam is located in both a tropical and a temperate zone. It is characterized by strong monsoon influences, but has a considerable amount of sun, a high rate of rainfall, and high humidity. Regions located near the tropics and in the mountainous regions are endowed with a temperate climate. The annual average temperature ranges from 22ºC to 27ºC. In Hanoi, the average temperature is 23ºC, in Ho Chi Minh City it is 26ºC, and in Hue it is 25ºC. There are two distinguishable seasons. The cold season occurs from November to April and the hot season from May to October. The difference in temperature between the two seasons in southern Vietnam is almost unnoticeable, averaging 3ºC. The most noticeable variations are found in the northern provinces where differences of 12ºC have been observed. There are essentially four distinct seasons, which are most evident in the northern provinces. Clothing requirements will depend on the time of the year you’re traveling and to which Vietnam destination.

Communications
Most hotels now have IDD phones in rooms and it is possible to send faxes from hotels and post offices although be warned these services are expensive. Away from the major cities it may not always be possible to make international calls. You may buy a SIM card at the price around 75,000-100,000 for mobile usage. Cyber cafes are becoming popular in the major cities in Vietnam., internet access is available in most of the hotels and restaurants, fees are fairly cheap from 2000-10,000 per hour.

Currency
The currency of Vietnam is the dong (VND). Notes are available in paper denominations of 500,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 1,000, 500, 200 and 100 VND, and also in metal denomination of 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500; 200 d. The current exchange rate of US$1= aprox. 21,000 (July 2013). Throughout the country, American dollars are widely accepted. However, the bills must be relatively new with no markings or tears. Several big cities are used Euro currency. Major credit cards are now accepted in most tourist destinations and many banks can organise cash advances for Visa and MasterCard, usually at a rate of 3% commission. Some travelers cafes provide this service at higher rates, but they operate daily. Banks are usually closed on weekends. 24-hr ATM’s, dispensing Dong only, are available at: ANZ Bank, Vietcombank – Most branches nationwide.

Custom Regulations
Passengers are required to fulfill entry and customs form when entering Vietnam. A new form (CHY2000) is currently used for entry and exit procedure. In cases of re-entry or re-exit without any must-be-declared items, you simply submit the copy of your entry and customs form (yellow paper) or make a new one. Cross (x) and fill the first up to the sixteenth boxes in the form. You must submit this form to customs and immigration officers. To save your time, in the entry and customs form, you should clearly note down: 1. Camera, recorder and other electric equipment not for personal use; 2. Jewelry (especially gold) and precious stones not for personal use; 3. Foreign currency (cash, coin and tourist cheques): over US$ 3,000 or other foreign currency of the same value, or over VND 5  million in cash; 4. Video-tapes will be checked and returned in several days; 5. Gold (over 300 g): If more than 300 g, you are required to deposit and re-export the surplus; 6. Other commodities out of duty-free luggage.

Electricity
Electrical appliances will require an adapter that can change the shape of the plug prongs, as well as an electrical voltage converter that will allow a normal 110-volt American appliance to take 220 Volt Vietnamese current. Throughout Vietnam 220 volt is used, although 4 & 5-star hotels are wired for use of 110-volt electrical appliances. Most hotels have a hair-dryer in each room.

Food & Water
Breakfasts are included in our tours to Vietnam. Running water is available in cities. Water from wells are common in the countryside. For drinking, bottle water is highly recommended. Ice at international hotels is safe.

Health Matters
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers arriving from infected areas.Acholera vaccination certificate is not an official condition of entry to Vietnam. However, cholera is a serious risk in this country and precautions are essential. Up-to-date advice should be sought before deciding whether these precautions should include vaccination, as medical opinion is divided over its effectiveness.  Vaccination against typhoid is advised. Malaria risk exists, predominantly in the falciparum form, throughout the year everywhere except urban areas, the Red River delta and the coastal plains of Central Vietnam. The risk is highest in the three central highlands provinces of Dak Lak, Gia Lai and Kon Tum, as well as the southern provinces of Ca Mau, Bac Lieu and Tay Ninh. The malignant falciparum form is reported to be highly resistant to chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. The recommended prophylaxis is mefloquine. Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is present in the delta of the Mekong River. Avoid swimming and paddling in fresh water; swimming pools which are chlorinated and well maintained are safe.  Japanese encephalitis is a risk in Hanoi and in rural areas. A vaccine is available and travelers are advised to consult their doctor prior to departure. Hepatitis A, B and E occur; precautions should be taken. Dengue fever can be epidemic and filariasis is endemic in some rural areas. Typhoid fever, amoebic and bacillary dysentry can occur. Trachoma and plague occur rarely. Diagnoses of avian influenza have once again increased since December 2004, although the number infected is still minimal. All visitors are advised against close contact, and under-cooked consumption of, poultry.

Holidays
New New Year’s Day – Jan 1st Vietnam Traditional Lunar New Year Festival – Tet Nguyen Dan (4 days) – January/ February Saigon Liberation Day – Apr 30th International Labour Day – May 1st Ho Chi Minh’s birthday – May 19th National Day of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – Sep 2nd

Passports & Visas
Most visitors to Vietnam need a visa to enter the country. Visas are exempted for the citizens of the countries with a bilateral visa exemption agreement with Vietnam, including Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Laos. Tourist visa can only be obtained in Vietnamese embassies, consulates abroad. To apply for a visa, the requirements are as follows: 1. Entry permit form (which can vary from one Vietnamese embassies or consulate abroad to another) – There are two categories of this form: for foreigners and for Vietnamese overseas. 2. Two photos 3. Original passport 4. Visa fee. You should send your application and photos to a Vietnamese embassy or consulate abroad, which is most convenient to you. Your visa approval and passport will be returned to you by post (you must provide stamped envelopes with your name and address). Time Difference Standard Time in Vietnam is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, USA.

Tipping
Tipping is not customary in Vietnam, but is appreciated. A 5-10% tip for a meal in a good restaurant may equal a day’s wages. On tours tipping of $10-$12 per person per day is customary.

Transportation
Arrangements for domestic air and ground transportation are included and handled by the ground operator. All ground transportation, airport transfers and sightseeing, will be provided via private car and guide. Taxis are available from major hotels. Vietnam has a wide land transport system. Transportation network of national and provincial highways as well as local roads connect the provinces, cities and towns in the country. There are inter-province and inner-province bus stations in each province with convenient passenger services, which are being improved everyday. There are taxi services in many big cities and provinces.  Taxi rate (starting meter is $0.50 USD; $0.20 USD per additional km) is declining due to competitions. In addition to public transport services, using motorbikes, cyclos, bicycles and other vehicles is common in Vietnam.

What to pack
Climate is generally warm, humid and wet in Southern Vietnam. Light cotton clothing is highly recommended and be sure to pack a light waterproof jacket. North Vietnam has Southern Mediterranean type climate; temperatures vary depending on the time of year of travel and destination. Other essential items include: Valid Passport. Travelers Checks. Copy of Your Airline Ticket. Mosquitoes repellent. Your Medicines. Departure documents. Travel alarm clock. Camera(s), batteries & films. Sunscreen/Tan lotion.  Pocket size Kleenex. Extra luggage locks/keys. First Aid kit. Soft, foldable slippers. Extra set of eyeglasses. Folding Umbrella.  Comfortable walking shoes.

 



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