Vietnam travel tips
From the exciting pace of the cities to breathtaking rural landscapes and villages, Vietnam’s diversity is astounding. In the capital Hanoi, you will find peaceful lakes, wide tree-lined boulevards, and a fascinating Old Quarter. From Hanoi you can take an overnight boat trip on Halong Bay, with its thousands of limestone islands, or head to the mountains of Sapa.
With its modern vibe and frenetic energy, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) makes for a complete contrast, and is a great jumping off point for an exploration of the Mekong Delta, a mountain getaway to Dalat or a beach holiday in Nha Trang. And don’t forget the Central Vietnam towns of Hue and Hoi An. Here you will find history, culture, cuisine, beaches and some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in all Asia. If you have already booked your trip to Vietnam click here to download our pre-departure guide.
Health & fitness
Travellers to Vietnam should take precautions as they would elsewhere in Asia. There are now a number of international standard medical care facilities available in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Danang and Hanoi. Outside these cities, medical care facilities are more basic.
Some of the diseases known to exist in Vietnam include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rabies and HIV/AIDS. We recommend you take adequate preventative measures to minimise your risk of exposure to these health risks. We strongly recommend you consult your preferred doctor for the most up-to-date health advice at least one month prior to travel.
UK citizens (and almost all EU nationals) require a visa to visit Vietnam. Your visa can be arranged up to 6 months before your scheduled arrival date. A full UK passport is required, which must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry into Vietnam. You can acquire your tourist visa from the Vietnamese embassy in London. For residents of other EU Countries, please contact us for details of your nearest Embassy or Consulate.
Travel Indochina visa service: If you have booked a small group tour or tailor-made holiday to Vietnam with us then we can assist UK residents with their Visa applications through our in house service, which costs £95 for a 30 day single entry standard Visa, to include all embassy fees. We currently advise our customers to allow three weeks to get their passports back, although it is normally faster than this. You will need to complete the form we send you and return it to us, with your passport, passport photos, voucher and payment. The passport photos should be the standard 45mm x 35mm size.
We have other visa services available, including express and multiple entry Visas, please contact us for details.
Tropical Storm Sontinh - Updated 27/10/2012
Please be advised that there is an active tropical storm internationally named as Sontinh in the east sea of Vietnam and is forecasted to make its landfall tonight or tomorrow Vietnam time to the coastal area of northern central Vietnam. At this stage all flights to and from the central cities including Hue and Danang have been cancelled today until further notice. Flights to and from Hanoi are still operated as normal however the Halong Bay overnight boats have been closed to tourists today. It is very likely the Halong bay will still closed until Tue 30th Oct 2012. more info
Safety & security
Vietnam is generally a safe destination by world standards, but usual common sense precautions apply. In recent years petty street crime has risen as tourist numbers increase. We recommend you take taxis rather than cyclos when travelling at night; taxis in Vietnam are numerous, metered and inexpensive. To assist in finding your way back to your hotel, make sure you obtain a hotel address card to show drivers.
Throughout your stay, always keep a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers. These documents should be kept in a safe place separate from the originals. You should leave valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes wherever possible.
In large cities, such as Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and Hanoi, we recommend you wear as little jewellery as possible and keep your spending money close to your body in a secure place when out on the street. Read our safety guidelines for further information.
- Ho Chi Minh by William J. Duiker provides insights into Ho Chi Minh, the man recognised as the modern father of Vietnam. It also touches on the roles of the Soviets and Chinese in the Vietnam War.
- A Bright Shining Lie by John Paul Vann & America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan is a historical biography of Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann, who witnessed arrogance and self-deception amongst the US military in the 1960s, and tried to convince his superiors the war should be fought another way.
- Shadows and Wind by Robert Templer looks at the problems facing modern Vietnam after a century of conflict. It examines its contradictions, secrecy and corruption, and its rampant capitalism despite its Communist government.
- Once Upon A Distant War by William Prochnau tells the stories of some of the Vietnam War's prominent correspondents, such as Neil Sheehan and Peter Arnett.
- In Retrospect - The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam by Robert McNamara is a controversial book telling the inside story of America's descent into Vietnam.
- World Food Vietnam by Lonely Planet is a definitive guide to Vietnam's fresh and fragrant cuisine, complete with tantalising photographs.
Useful words & phrases
What to take
- Flat walking shoes & sandals
- Hat & sunglasses
- Swimming attire
- Lightweight travel towel
- Money belt
- Lightweight waterproof coat or umbrella
- Basic first aid kit
- Alarm clock
- Small torch (flashlight)
- Travel plug/international adapter
- Women’s sanitary products
- Ear plugs/eye mask
- Day pack and/or small backpack
- Clothes for temples