SOME FACTS ON VIETNAM
Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, covers an area of 332,000
square kilometers. It shares common borders with China, Laos, and Cambodia. With
a population of more than 80 million, it is the most densely populated country
in Southeast Asia. The vast majority of the population is Vietnamese. Other
ethnic groups include Chinese, Muong, Thai, Meo, Khmer, Man and Cham.
Vietnam's topography varies from low, flat delta in the south and north to
hilly, mountainous terrain in the central, far north and northwest.
Three-quarters of Vietnam is hilly or mountainous. Hanoi is the capital, and Ho
Chi Minh City (Saigon) is the largest city in the country.
Vietnam, once a forbidden country for tourists, now attracts hundreds of
thousands of visitors (with numbers increasing) every year. Rich culture, strong
tradition, and a patriotic people characterize this fascinating country. This
exotic destination offers such wonders as magical islands set in pristine waters
as well as historic and cultural sites like temples, pagodas and churches.
Traveling to Vietnam will be an unforgettable experience and will leave visitors
Vietnam shares borders with Cambodia, Laos and China, and features 3,200 km
of coastline bordering the Eastern Sea. With an area of 332,000 square km,
Vietnam's topography varies from coastal plains to mountain ranges.
Vietnam stretches over 1,800 km from north to south; therefore weather patterns
in the principle cities are very different.
North: Winter lasts from November to April, with temperatures averaging 10 -
16C, fog and drizzle in January - March.
Summer begins in May and lasts until October, with an average temperature of
30C, heavy rainfall and the occasional violent typhoon.
Center: Central Vietnam experiences a transitional climate, with heavy rainfalls
between November and December and dry, hot summer months.
South: Temperatures are fairly constant through the year; 25C - 30C. Seasons are
determined by the rains - the dry season runs from November to April and the wet
season from May to October. The hottest period is March and April. Typhoons are
quite common in coastal areas between July and November.
Highland areas: In the hill resorts of Dalat (1,500 m), Buon Me Thuot and Sapa,
nights are cool throughout the year, and in the winter months, October to March,
it can be distinctly chilly with temperatures falling to 0C. Even in the hottest
months of March and April the temperature rarely exceeds 26C.
CUSTOMS AND FORMALITIES
All visitors to Vietnam must fill in declaration forms and show their
luggage to customs officials on request.
Visitors can bring with them unlimited amounts of foreign currency, objects made
of gold, silver, precious metals and gemstones or plated with silver or gold,
all of which must be declared in detail on the customs forms. Commercial Video
films and printed materials that are considered offensive are normally
confiscated and sent to Ministry of Culture for inspection.
Goods prohibited to import: weapons, ammunition, explosives, military technical
equipment, drugs, toxic chemicals, debauched and reactionary products,
firecrackers of all kinds, toys with negative impacts on the dignity education,
social security and safety, cigarettes beyond the stipulated quantity, etc.
Goods prohibited to export: weapons, ammunition, explosives, military technical
equipment, antiques, drugs, toxic chemicals, wild animals, rare and precious
animals and plants, documents related to the national security, etc.
CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE
The local currency is the Dong (abbreviated "d" or VND). Bank notes are
100d, 200d, 500d, 1000d, 2,000d, 5,000d, 10,000d, 20,000d, 50,000d, 100,000d &
500,000d. The exchange rate (as of July 2005) is approximately Dong 15.750 to
one US. Dollar.
Money and travelers cheques, particularly U.S. Dollars, can be exchanged at
banks, hotels and authorized money- exchangers. It is advisable to carry U.S.
Dollar bills in small denominations.
Credit cards are generally only accepted in major hotels, and in some up-market
shops and restaurants in major cities.
ATM facilities are readily available now in major cities.
No actual vaccinations are officially required. Visitors are advised to check
with their doctor or travel immunization clinic regarding the advisability of
inoculation against typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A & B and Malaria.
Those visitors taking medicine for certain conditions such as diabetes or heart
problems should make sure that they carry these medications in their hand
luggage at all times in case the main luggage should be delayed.
It is recommended that all travellers take out comprehensive Personal Travel
Insurance to cover personal belongings, in case of accident or illness etc.
Vietnam has three International Airports : Hanoi / Noi Bai, Ho Chi Minh City /
Tan Son Nhat and Danang / Danang Airport.
Cities with directs flight to Hanoi / Noi Bai Airport are Bangkok, Beijing,
Frankfurt Guang Zhou, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Kunming, Moscow, Paris, Siem
Reap, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Vientiane and Seoul.
Airlines currently serving Hanoi : Aeroflot (SU), Air France (AF), All Nippon
Airways (NH), Asiana Airlines (OZ), Cathay Pacific Airways (CX), China Airlines
(CI), China Southern Airlines (CZ), Eva Air (BR), Japan Airlines (JL), Korean
Air (KE), Malaysia Airlines (MH), Lao Airlines (QV), Singapore Airlines (SQ),
Thai Airways (TG), Tiger Airways (TR), Uni Air (B7), Vietnam Airlines (VN).
Cities with directs flight to Ho Chi Minh City / Tan Son Nhat Airport are
Bangkok, Frankfurt, Fukuoka, Guang Zhou, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Kuala Lumpur,
Manila, Melbourne, Moscow, Osaka, Paris, Phnom Penh, San Francisco, Seoul, Siem
Reap, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo, and Vientiane.
Airlines currently serving Ho Chi Minh City: Aeroflot (SU), Air France (AF), All
Nippon Airways (NH), Asiana Airlines (OZ), Cathay Pacific Airways (CX), China
Airlines (CI), China Southern Airlines (CZ), Eva Air (BR), Japan Airlines (JP),
Korean Air (KE), Lufthansa German Airlines (LH), Malaysia Airlines (MH), Pacific
Airlines (BL), Philippine Airlines (PR), Singapore Airlines (SQ), Shanghai
Airlines (FM), Thai Airways (TG), Tiger Airways (TR), United Airlines (UA),
Vietnam Airlines (VN).
Cities with directs flight to Danang/ Danang Airport are Bangkok, Singapore.
Airlines currently serving Danang: PB Air (PB); Silk Air (MI).
If flights are required in your itinerary they are in coach class, unless
specified otherwise. Flight timings quoted are local and are subject to change.
Domestic flights require a check-in, 1-hour prior to the flight departure.
Carry on luggage is limited to one piece plus a camera.
All “carry-on” hand luggage must have luggage tags which are provided by the
airlines when passengers check in at airports for their flights. Security
regulations at airports are strict. Passengers are required to identify their
checked luggage after they have passed through security check points in the
airport. This identification process is done before boarding your flight.
Appropriate announcements may or may not be made for this procedure.
In economy class air travel baggage allowance is 20kg per person. Excess
baggage may be subject to overweight charges by the airline. We cannot be held
responsible for the loss or damage to passenger’s belongings. Domestic flights
are prone to last minute schedule changes and cancellation without ANY advance
Airport departure tax is, US$15 per person, included in the airfare
The departure airport tax may be paid in local currency or in US Dollars.
Airport departure tax for domestic flights is included in the airfare.
Vietnam joined the global computer age and internet-service providers are
currently operating in most of the Cities. You can access the internet through
hotels, Cyber Cafés & Internet/Computer Service Centers. Following are internet
addresses with relevant information on Vietnam:
Vietnam Development Gateway http://www.vietnamgateway.org/
Ministry of Foreign Affairs http://www.mofa.gov.vn/en
Vietnam News http://vietnamnews.com.vn/
Vietnam National Administration of Tourism http://www.vietnamtourism.com/
Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam. Learning foreign languages,
particularly English, is currently popular among young people in Hanoi, Ho Chi
Minh City, Hue, Danang and other cities. Tourist guides are available for
English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Russian
LOCAL TIME & WORKING HOURS
Local time is GMT + 7 hours.
Governmental agencies work Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 4.30pm (excluding
one-hour lunch) and are closed Saturday and Sunday.
Banks are open Monday to Friday from 7.30am or 8am to 11.30am and from 1pm to
4pm and are closed Saturday and Sunday.
Private shops are open from 8 or 8.30am to 9 or 10pm.
OFFICIAL PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
01 - 02 JAN' 06(Sun - Mon)International New Year
17 - 18 FEB’ 06(Sat - Thu)Lunar New Year (TET)
30 APR' 06(Sun)Liberation Day
01 - 03 MAY' 06(Mon - Tue)Labor Day
02 - 04 SEP' 06(Sat - Mon)National Day
The road system in Vietnam is reasonable in the main urban cities. The
drives through the countryside can be a wonderful sightseeing experience.
However, it must be noted that the roads are narrow and some may be poorly paved
when outside the main cities, and as a consequence the drives can be rough and
difficult at times.
The journey timings described in your itinerary are based on the usual amount of
time a particular journey will take. However, please appreciate that not all
roads can be checked for their condition throughout the year.
Most cars used are manufactured locally by Toyota, Honda and Ford and are for
the most part comfortable and ideally suited to local roads. Smoking is not
permitted in any vehicle, under any conditions. There is ample opportunity to
smoke during photographic, luncheon and sightseeing stops.
If you decide to leave the hotel and go out on your own, there are various means
of transport that you may like to take such as taxis or “cyclos”. If taking a
taxi or “cyclo”, insist on the meter being switched on before you begin your
journey. Due to an effort to stop pollution, most “cyclos” are pedaled as
opposed to motor. It is suggested that you carry the name of your destination or
hotel written in local language in the event your driver does not understand
English. The staff at your hotel can assist you in this regard.
PASSPORT AND VISAS
Travellers to Vietnam are required to hold a passport valid for at least six
(06) months beyond the completion of their visit and must contain a valid visa.
If tourist visas are to be obtained via Discovery Indochina Travel, the
following personal data must be supplied to us at least 2 (two) weeks before
travel to Vietnam:
* full name as per passport
* passport number, date of issue and expiry date
* date and place of birth
* occupation and nationality
Visas are usually issued by the Vietnamese Embassy in Bangkok or in the
passengers’ home country (against the visa’s approval number), which require the
original passport, and 2 photos and for 2 (two) full working days in order to
issue a visa stamp.
Visas can also be obtained upon arrival at Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang
airports, in which case the stamping fee will be quoted separately. Apart from
required details above we further need arrival/departure date and flight
information. Discovery Indochina will send a confirmation letter to show to airport
staff at the departing airport, confirming that clients will get the visa on
arrival. Visas can only be requested via Discovery Indochina in connection with the
booking of travel arrangements to Vietnam.
Visa exemption :
* Not more than 30 days: for citizens of Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia,
Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
* Not more than 15 days: for citizens of Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway,
South Korea and Sweden.
Hotels might reserve the right to keep travel documents overnight at the
reception for registration purpose.
Vietnam has abundant food supplies and an elaborate cuisine. Cooking is seen as
an art and some Vietnamese dishes have achieved international fame, including
such traditional dishes as noodle soup (pho), pork sausage (gio lua), spring
rolls (nem ran), and fish balls (cha ca). In addition to Vietnamese food, the
larger hotels also serve a wide variety of Continental and Chinese cuisine. In
the smaller cities, when the hotels only have one restaurant, ordering
a-la-carte may involve a slight wait, consequently it is advised that you take
advantage of the large and diverse buffets available at these hotels to minimize
Never drink water from the hotel tap, no matter what category of hotel you are
staying in. Bottled mineral water is available at all hotels throughout
Vietnam. Do not have any ice in your drinks as this is often made from water
that has not been purified.
POST AND COMMUNICATIONS
A regular international post service is available. In addition Express Mail
Service (EMS) is available to more than 50 countries worldwide with a delivery
time of 2 to 10 days. Vietnam has high international telephone charges. It is
important to check the exact amount with the hotel before making a call, as
hotel surcharges are often imposed.
VOIP calls which help reduce call charges (for most of International calls from
any destination within Vietnam and for domestic calls between the main cities of
the country) are now available as well pre-paid internet & mobile card can be
bought in the major cities.
Foreign visitors to Vietnam have the opportunity to buy souvenirs made of
rattan, gold, silver and stone. There is a diverse range of products, from
woodenwares such as wooden buttons or sindora beds to lacquer paintings, bowls
and chopsticks, bamboo screens and stone tea sets. Woven tapestries, “tho cam”
handbags and other handicrafts are produced by the traditional skills of the
women of ethnic minorities in such rural regions in the north as Sapa, Mai Chau
and Dien Bien.
Tipping is widely practiced and expected
Porters : VND 5.000 - 10.000 per bag
Waiters in restaurants: 5-10% of total bill
Taxi drivers :10% of total bill
Tour guides : US$2-US$4 per person/per day
Drivers : US$1-US$2 per person/per day
All of the above information is accurate at the time of publication.