Whether you've just begun planning your next trip to Vietnam, or you're chasing down specific info on currency regulations or visa requirements, check out Vietnam Royal Tourism Online for up-to-the minute travel information.

Getting There & Away - Getting Around

 

Visitors from the following countries do not require a visa and can stay for the following number of days.

15 days: Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Russia
21 days: Philippines
30 days: Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand

All other nationalities will require a visa in advance to visit Vietnam.

A single-entry tourist visa valid for 30 days costs US$70 (although exact fees vary depending on issuing country) and takes around 4-7 days to process; express visas take 2-3 days at twice the price. If purchasing your visa from the Vietnamese embassy in London, a 30-day single entry visa will cost you £44 (£59 for fast-track), while a 30 days multiple entry visa costs £70 (plus £8 postage if you need it posted back to you). A 30-day visa can also be obtained from the Vietnamese consulate in Battambang, Cambodia, at a cost of US$35, with visas taking 2-3 days to process, although exact entry and exit points have to be specified. A 30-day visa can also be picked up from the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh for US$45 and will be ready in 24 hours or less. In general, visas are now valid for all entry and exit points. The Vietnamese consulate in Sihanoukville offers one month visas for US$45 with delivered same day or in 10 minutes. The consulate in Vientiane, Laos, offers them for US$50 with delivery the day after (paying in local currency is more expensive).

The consulate in Luang Prabang, Laos offers visas to vietnam. Office hours 7:30 AM - 11:30 AM & 13:30 PM - 16:30 PM / Mon-Fri. 427-428 That Bosot Village, Luang Prabang.Tel:- 254748 / 254749 Fax:-254746 Email:- tlsqlpb@yahoo.com. It is better to do your visa here then going to the agents, as they charge extra USD $15. Visa price is USD $40 and takes 3 Working Days. Go to the Tourist Information for the location if your not sure, they will be able to help you. It's only a 10 Minute walk from the Tourist Information.

Jan 2011 - Vietnam Embassy in Bangkok charges 2,100 baht for a 30-day single-entry visa. They only take baht. Same day processing or 4,700 baht for a 3 month multiple entry (next day pick up). Jun 2011 - Vietnam Embassy in Bangkok charges 1,800 baht for a 30-day single-entry visa, 4 working days. February 2012 - Vietnam Embassy in Bangkok charges 2,3000 baht for 30-day single-entry visa, next day.

The Vietnamese Consulate in Khon Kaen, Thailand also offers tourist visas. A single entry tourist visa valid for 30 days costs 2,000 baht (about 63$ USD). A single entry 3-month tourist visa costs 3,500 baht (about 110$ USD). A multiple entry, 3-month visa costs 5,000 baht (about 160$ USD). The consulate only accepts Thai baht in cash (no credit cards). Visas can be picked up the same day if submitted in the morning. If submitted in the afternoon, you can pick up your visa the next morning. The consulate is closed on weekends. Some consular staff speak English. You will need passport photos (bring 2 just in case), application form (available at the consulate), and payment.

November 2010 - the Vietnamese Mission to the UN in New York City charges US$80 for a 30-day single-entry visa. Cash or money order is accepted. Processing takes 6 business days. Expedited service (4 business days) is available for US$110.

November 2010 - Vietnam Embassy in Canberra Australia charges AUD$75 for a 30 day single entry visa. Approx 3 days to process. Other consular services at this embassy have been reported as slow and costly (4 weeks for Ex-Vietnamese seeking 5 year Visa exceptions - and the passport must have 5 years of life left).

July 2010 - the Vietnamese Embassy in Singapore charges SGD$100 for a 30-day, single-entry visa. 7 days to process.

June 2011 - the Vietnamese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur charges RM200 for a 30 day single entry visa, takes 5 working days; RM260 2 working days.

October 2011 - the Vietnamese Consulate in Hong Kong charges HK$300 for a 30 day single entry visa, takes 2 days to process. You can also get a visa in 15 minutes, but it is only valid for 14 days, costing an extra HK$500.

November 2011 - the Vietnamese Consulate in Hong Kong charged about HK$1000 for a 3 month, multiple entry visa, and claimed that it would normally take three days to process. However, for HK$200 (only US$26!) extra, they process it in 30 minutes. This was using a USA passport.

Some Vietnamese Embassies offer a "While you wait service" (May 2008), where a single entry visa can be gained in 15 minutes. This service costs US$92, but is approved instantly. You are required to bring a valid passport, passport photo and cash payment (cards not accepted).

Embassies are recalcitrant in publishing a schedule of fees, as the relativity high visa cost is a source of embarrassment, revenue, and a tourism deterrent (EU and U.S.). A slowdown in tourist number arrivals has been disguised by the removal of visa fees for certain nationalities (but not former Vietnamese) resulting in neighboring countries numbers filling the vacuum.

Foreign citizens of Vietnamese origin can apply for visa exemption that allows multiple entry for 3 months at a time which is valid for the duration of the passport.

An increasingly popular alternative is to arrange a visa on arrival, which is not only considerably cheaper but also alleviates the need for passports to be posted to the Vietnamese Embassy in the country of origin.

Visa on arrival

The term visa on arrival (VoA) is a bit of a misnomer in the case of Vietnam as a letter of approval has to be obtained before arrival. This is handled by a growing number of on-line agencies for a charge of US$14-21 (in 2010), depending on the agency. Most agencies accept payment by credit card.

The agent - located in Vietnam - obtains from the Department of Immigration a letter of approval bearing the traveller's name, date of birth, date of arrival, nationality and passport number, and then forwards that letter to the traveller by email or fax, usually within three working days. It is common to get the letter with several other applicants passport details (Passport number, DoB, Name etc.). You might share your personal information with up to 10-30 other applicants on the same letter(s). For persons who are concerned about their privacy or security, it is recommend to check first if the agencies have an option for a separate or private approval letter (Private visa on arrival) on their website. Very few online agencies have this option. Another solution is to apply a regular visa through the embassies to keep your personal details private.

After landing at one of the three international airports (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang) the traveller goes to the visa on arrival counter, presents the letter, fills in an additional form (can be pre-filled before departure) and receives an official stamp (sticker) in his or her passport. A stamping fee of US$25 (US$50 for a multiple entry visa) is payable at the time - only U.S. dollars are accepted (no other currency or credit card) and the notes must be in as-new condition or they will be refused. Two passport photos are also required.

Note that visas on arrival are not valid for border crossings and the official stamp can only be obtained at the three international airports. Therefore travellers arriving by land from Cambodia, Laos or China must be in possession of a full visa when they arrive at the border.

A third alternative, 'Visa by Code' appears to be another option [More references needed] where online approval is first obtained - with a code, then you take the passport to the Embassy for the visa to be 'stamped'. However it is reported local stamping fees makes it about the same cost of a regular visa.

Air Asia passengers travelling to Vietnam from Bangkok/Malaysia must present the letter of approval letter at check-in, otherwise no check-in!

Vietnam has moved away from the arrival/departure cards.

Depending on the present level of SARS, avian flu you may be subjected to a so-called health-check. There is no examination, though, but yet another form to fill in and, of course, another fee. If you can get hold of a handful of dong it is only 2000 dong per person, but they charge US$2 for the same "service" if you only have greenbacks!

By plane

Vietnam has international airports at Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang. Non-stop flights are available from Australia, Cambodia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Brunei, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, Macau, Qatar, Turkey and the U.S. However, most direct flights are served by flag carrier Vietnam Airlines while plenty of other long-haul flights are available with transits via Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taipei.

By train

There are direct international train services from Nanning and Beijing in China to Hanoi. Most require a change of trains at the border at Pingxiang/Dong Dang, but the Chinese-operated daily Nanning express (T871/MR2) runs through, although it still spends about four hours at the border for immigration.

The Kunming-Hanoi line was shut down by landslides in 2002 and, as of 2011, remains closed. There are no train links to Laos or Cambodia.