Vietnam is a small yet majestic country, offering travellers an exciting mix of adventure and culture. The country’s captivating natural wonders span from the mountainous north and the fertile plains of the Mekong Delta, to the spectacular coastline of central Vietnam and the magnificent Halong Bay. With an intriguing history spanning back over 4,000 years, including occupations from both the Chinese and French, the country’s architecture and cuisine is a fascinating testament to cultural diversity.
Passport and visa
Passports should be valid for six months from the date of entry into Vietnam. We recommend you make a photocopy of your passport and keep it somewhere separate, or scan it and keep it in an accessible email account.
Visitors must have a visa before entering Vietnam, and a visa on arrival can only be obtained with a letter of approval. A visa on arrival is granted to many nationalities for stays 15 days or less. Buffalo Tours can arrange this for you. Otherwise, you must apply online or at the embassy for all 30-90 day single or multiple entry visas.
Some nationalities are eligible for visa exemption.
The official currency in Vietnam is the Dong (VND) which is a non-convertible currency. American dollars are widely accepted in larger stores and supermarkets. Visa and MasterCard are accepted in many hotels, restaurants and large stores, especially in the bigger cities. ATMs are widely available throughout the country, and there are a number of international banks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Phones & Internet service
The Vietnamese postal service is reliable and there are also courier services widely available. Do not put postcards into letter boxes; give them to your hotel to post or go to a post office.
Telephone connections to the rest of the world are widely available, however they aren’t cheap. A Vietnamese SIM card is a less expensive way of calling other countries, however your phone will need to be unlocked in order for it to work. For example, 200,000VND worth of Viettel credit ($10) can last for up to 45 minutes to the UK.
Internet access is available in all major hotels and you will find WiFi in most cafes in developed areas.
Traffic & Transportation
The traffic in Vietnam is busy, but slow. It may look like chaos but don’t be frightened to cross the road. Simply make your way shaking your whole hand at waist height. You’ll soon see other people doing the same.
Taxis are a popular way of getting around Hanoi but make sure you use a reputable company such as Mai Linh, VinaSun or Thanh Cong taxis. A typical 10-minute journey should cost around 50,000 VND but prices tend to increase at night.
If you are in a developed area, a cyclo is a fun form of transport and should cost no more than 100,000 VND per journey.
Motorbike taxis: Travel by unlicensed motorbike is not safe and under no circumstances is this sanctioned or recommended by Buffalo Tours. Please note that this form of transport is not usually covered by insurance. Please check the fine print of your travel insurance policy to be sure of your cover.
Vietnam has a diverse climate that varies significantly from region to region:
The North (Hanoi to Sapa)
April to October: temperatures between 30-35°C with occasional bursts of heavy rain.
December to March: temperatures between 10-15°C. February and March can be damp with drizzle and overcast skies.
The Centre (Hue to Nha Trang)
Nha Trang: sunshine all year round apart from November and December when the area has heavy rain.
Dalat: cooler than the coastal area, particularly from November to March.
Da Nang and Hue: typhoons from mid October to mid December
The South (Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet)
May to October: hot and wet
November to April: hot and humid
Please note: The weather can be very unpredictable so it may be a good idea to carry an umbrella or raincoat with you. You can purchase these from supermarkets and general stores.
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