Fast Facts
  • Citizens of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and some Scandinavian countries and can travel to Vietnam visa-free for 45 days.
  • Passport holders of most ASEAN countries can stay visa-free for up to 30 days.
Tourist visas

All other visitors require a visa to visit Vietnam. Standard tourist visas can be obtained from the Vietnamese embassy or consulate at the port of departure. Visas are usually valid for up to 30 days. Fees and processing times vary.

Required documents:

  • Passport valid for at least six months with two or more blank pages;
  • Two recent passport-sized photos;
  • An Approval Letter, which can be provided by Asian Trails Vietnam;
  • On arrival in Vietnam, a visa stamping fee is payable in cash in US dollars (fees vary depending on single or multiple entry).

Note: It is recommended to check the visa stamp when collecting your passport as some travellers receive a single-entry visa despite requesting multi-entry. Multiple entry visas can also be arranged on arrival.

Visa-on-arrival (VOA) – with pre-approval letter
Before arriving in Vietnam, travellers who wish to apply for a visa-on-arrival (VOA) must first obtain a VOA Approval Letter. Contact Asian Trails Vietnam for assistance.

Asian Trails will submit the VOA pre-approval application to Vietnamese authorities on the traveller’s behalf. Once the pre-approval has been processed, the traveller will receive a VOA Approval Letter, which should be presented at the airline check-in counter when preparing to board the flight to Vietnam. Without this letter, the airline may deny boarding.

Please note:

  • It is essential that Asian Trails obtains the pre-approval documentation from the authorities prior to travel, otherwise the visa will NOT be granted;
  • Visa-on-arrival is only available at the international airports of Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City.
Documents required for VOA pre-approval
To obtain VOA pre-approval, Asian Trails requires the passport and flight details for each traveller, including:

  • Full name as it appears in the passport;
  • Date of birth DD/MM/YY;
  • Gender;
  • Passport number;
  • Date and place of issue;
  • Date of expiry;
  • Flight arrival date and flight number.

On arrival in Vietnam, travellers should present the following documents at the visa-on-arrival counter:

  • The VOA Approval Letter;
  • An additional form to be completed on arrival at the airport;
  • Two passport photos;
  • Visa stamping fee (to be paid in cash in US dollars).

All the above information may change without prior notice. It remains the traveller’s responsibility to check visa requirements before travelling.

Time zone

Official language: Vietnamese

Many people in the major tourist destinations speak some level of English and can engage in basic communication with tourists. Some Vietnamese people can also communicate in French.

What to pack
  • Light cotton clothing is recommended for Vietnam’s tropical climate;
  • Smart evening wear may be required for dining at hotels and high-end restaurants (please check the dress code for specific venues with your Asian Trails guide);
  • Clothing that covers the arms and legs are recommended to protect against mosquitos;
  • A lightweight raincoat may be useful if travelling during rainy season;
  • A fleece jacket and warm clothing is recommended if visiting Sapa and the mountains of North Vietnam during the colder months (between January and February);
  • Please note the following items of clothing are prohibited when visiting religious places: shorts, short skirts, singlets or vest tops, or similar types of clothing;
  • Sandals are recommended as it is customary to remove shoes when entering a religious building or private home;
  • An umbrella can offer shade from the strong sun and/or rain;
  • Reusable water bottle;
  • Sun hat and sunscreen;
  • Insect repellent;
  • Universal plug adaptor.
The standard voltage in Vietnam is 220V (50Hz).

Phone & internet
A local sim card is easily available at the airport or from a local service provider. An extensive 3G/4G network is in place and covers most urban areas.
  • Support local businesses and shop at fair-trade stores or social enterprises (ask Asian Trails for recommendations);
  • Choose to dine at locally-owned restaurants serving local cuisine;
  • Switch off the air-conditioning and lights when you leave your hotel room;
  • Donate to local charities and NGOs if you would like to support local people and nature (ask Asian Trails for recommendations);
  • Ask permission before taking photographs of people;
  • It is customary to remove shoes when entering a private home.
  • Avoid using single-use plastic bags or cups to minimise the problem of plastic waste;
  • Don’t buy from children selling souvenirs on the streets, and don’t give them money or sweets, as this encourages them to stay out of school;
  • Don’t take home religious objects such as Buddha images or other sacred items;
  • Don’t buy wildlife products or items made from animal skins;
  • Don’t point the soles of your feet at others and avoid touching people on the head as this is considered bad manners;
  • Avoid wearing sleeveless shirts and short skirts or clothing that is too revealing as Vietnam is a conservative country; make sure shoulders and knees are covered, especially when visiting temples;
  • Avoid overt public displays of affection;
  • Don’t take photos of people or places related to the military as this is a breach of national security.

Official currency of Vietnam: Vietnamese dong (VND)

US dollars are commonly accepted in larger shops, restaurants and hotels throughout the country. Cash can be exchanged at banks, exchange bureaus and some hotels. ATMs that accept foreign cards are widely available.

Banking hours

Usual banking hours are:

  • Monday to Friday: 8 am to 5 pm;
  • Some branches are open on Saturday morning.
Credit cards
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in the major cities. If travelling to more remote areas, it is recommended to carry cash in the local currency.
While not compulsory, gratuities are expected in Vietnam. Many in the travel and service industry are accustomed to receiving a small amount for good service. Please consider the following as a guide to common practice, although tipping and the amount to tip is always at the discretion of the individual.

Guides and drivers Tipping is entirely up to the individual and depends on the level of satisfaction with the service.
Hotel porters It is typical to tip hotel porters for carrying bags to the room.
Restaurants Some restaurants add a service charge of 5-15% to the bill. In cases where service charge is not included, a tip of up to 10% is appreciated.
Taxi drivers Tipping taxi drivers is not expected, but it is customary to round up the fare.
Domestic flights

This is often the fastest and most convenient way to travel between the major cities, such as from Hanoi to Hue; from Da Nang to Nha Trang; and from Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City.

The Reunification Express

The national railway system spans the entire length of Vietnam’s coast and connects many of Vietnam’s major cities. The entire journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City takes more than 30 hours. Options range from third-class hard seat to air-conditioned cushioned seat or sleeper. It is recommended to book train tickets several weeks in advance, especially for weekend travel and in the summer. Asian Trails can help with arrangements.


In the major cities, it is usually easy to find a metered taxi. They can be flagged down on the street or booked through hotels or restaurants. Rides can also be booked via the Grab mobile app or the local equivalent known as Xanh SM, which offers environmentally friendly rides in electric vehicles.


This slow travel mode is one of the best ways to explore the Mekong Delta region in the South or North Vietnam’s Halong Bay.

Public bicycles

In Ho Chi Minh City, public bicycles can be rented on an hourly basis, offering an eco-friendly mode of exploration and an interesting perspective of the city’s quieter roads and lanes.


Buddhism is the dominant religion in Vietnam usually combined with elements of Confucianism and Taoism. About 10 per cent of the country’s population is Catholic and there are also communities of Protestants and Muslims. Vietnam is also home to a unique religion called Cao Dai – a religious cocktail of all the world’s major faiths.

One of the greatest delights in Vietnam is dining out and enjoying a cuisine that is rapidly gaining recognition on a global scale. Profoundly influenced by the national cuisines of France, China, and Thailand, Vietnamese cooking is highly innovative and makes extensive use of fresh herbs, including basil, coriander, lemon grass, parsley and lime.

Common local dishes:

  • Pho – A fragrant soup served with chicken or beef, noodles and crunchy bean sprouts;
  • Banh mi – French colonial influence has led to these crusty baguettes generously filled with a selection of grilled meats and vegetables;
  • Nuoc mam – A piquant fermented fish sauce that is served with every meal.
The big cities Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have the best choice when it comes to shopping. Shops open from 8 am or 9 am and close any time between 6 pm and 10 pm. Most shops are open seven days a week and many are open later on weekends.

Most towns and cities have one or more markets that are worth visiting for a cultural retail experience. It is common to bargain when buying items from a market stall. Remember to keep the conversation light-hearted and fun (a smile really does help!)

What to buy:

  • Lacquerware;
  • Silk and hill tribe fabrics;
  • Conical hats;
  • Wood carvings;
  • Embroidery;
  • Silver jewellery;
  • Water puppets;
  • Ceramics;
  • Tailored clothes.
There are currently no vaccine requirements, although it is advisable to be up-to-date with standard inoculations, such as:

  • Typhoid;
  • Cholera;
  • Hepatitis A and B;
  • Polio, diphtheria and tetanus;
  • Malaria and dengue (especially if travelling to remote areas).

Consult your doctor for the most appropriate medical advice. If you require a particular medication, ensure that you pack an adequate supply, as it may not be available locally.

Drinking water

Avoid drinking tap water in Vietnam. Bottled mineral water is easy to find at convenience stores around the country. Ice cubes are typically safe if served at a hotel or restaurant, but best avoided at street stalls and in remote parts of the country.

Vietnam is a safe country to visit. However, it is advisable to take some precautions to safeguard your belongings:

  • Never leave items unattended;
  • Maintain a firm grip on bags and wallets, especially in crowded places and on busy streets;
  • Leave expensive jewellery at home and store valuables in the hotel safety deposit box or in-room safe;
  • Avoid engaging with touts who approach you in the street.
Travellers are advised to obtain appropriate insurance to cover any accidents or medical emergencies while travelling. In some cases, treatment will not be administered without proof of travel insurance. Ensure that your plan covers motor vehicle accidents if you plan to hire a car or motorbike. Emergency evacuation cover is highly recommended as you may have to fly out of the country for treatment.
Emergency numbers
  • Police (area code) + 113
  • Emergency Medical Services (area code) + 115
  • Fire service (area code) + 114


This information was valid at the time of publication and it is subject to change at any time. We cannot be held responsible for any external links. You acknowledge, by your use of this site, that you use it at your own risk and that Asian Trails shall not be liable for any damages of any kind related to your use of this site, or the information contained within. We reserve the right to correct any errors, inaccuracies or omissions and to change or update information at any time without prior notice.

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