VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDE
Country at a glance

Vietnam at a glance

General Information

Population: 90.5 million
Capital City: Hanoi (6.5 million)
People: 53 ethnic minorities
Language: Vietnamese
Currency: Vietnam Dong (VND)
Time Zone: GMT +7 Hours
International Dialing Code: +84

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. Travelmap 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. Please click here to see if you are exempted for a visa to Vietnam. 

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. 200,000VND ($10) worth of phone credit can last for up to 45 minutes to the UK.

Internet access is available in all major hotels and WiFi can be found in most cafes in developed areas.


People, Cities & Culture

Previously ravaged by war, Vietnam is now racing into the modern age. It’s major cities are rapidly transforming thanks to an influx of foreign investment and the emmergence of a market-based economy. This sprint into the modern age has lifted millions out of poverty. Vietnam now has the fastest growing middle class in Southeast Asia. Most of Vietnam’s population lives on or near the coast where many of the largest cities are located. The promise of work from burgeoning industries of Vietnam's urban centres has continued to lure families from the countryside, where agriculture is still the primary industry.


One of Vietnam's strengths as a travel destination is its people. Chatting with Vietnamese is an incredibly rewarding way to immerse yourself in the country’s diverse history and culture. By nature, Vietnamese people are energetic, direct and enjoy having a laugh, typically over a cup of Vietnamese coffee, iced tea or the locally brewed bia hoi -Vietnam’s famously inexpensive draft beer. A strong emphasis is placed on family and Confucian traditions. Most Vietnamese maintain a strong sense of obligation to spend holidays and festivals with relatives.

Journeying from north to south will give travellers fascinating insight into the subtle contrasts that exist within Vietnamese culture. Food in northern, southern and central regions also vary in flavours and style. Ho Chi Minh City is regarded as the country’s most developed city, with a noticeable Western cultural influence. In Hanoi, the capital city has a distinctly traditional feel. Communication styles between northern and southern Vietnam are vastly different. Although Hanoians are generally regarded to be more stoic on the outside, attempting a few simple Vietnamese phrases is a guaranteed way to make friends.



Transportation

At first glance, crossing the road in Vietnam may seem impossible. Newcomers can spend a considerable amount of time trying to find a gap in the stream of motorcycles, only to be led across the road by a sympathetic local. After a bit of practice, most travellers realise it is much easier than it looks. There is a rhythm to Vietnamese traffic that, with a predictable stride and a bit of bravery, will flow around you like water as you cross to the other side unscathed.




Taxis can be easily found in Vietnam’s major cities and are a popular means of transportation for visitors. The most reputable companies include Thanh Cong and Taxi Group in the north, and VinaSun in the south. 

Those wanting to explore the streets at a more relaxed pace can opt for a cyclo ride in major tourist centres.

Motorbike taxis, or “xe oms” are not recommended for tourists. Pricing is unregulated and commutes are often dangerous. This mode of transport is not recommended by Travelmap and is generally not covered under normal travel insurance policies


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