Ways & How

How to Travel to Vietnam

How to Travel to Vietnam

Although travel to Vietnam can be a little more difficult and tiring, many tourists who have paid a visit say that the experience is very much worth the effort. Vietnam certainly has elements that cannot be found in its neighboring countries. Vietnam shares its north and west borders with China, Laos, and Cambodia. Its south and east sides are all coastal. Notable sights include the Cuc Phuong National Park, where some of the rarest wildlife in Asia can be found; the ancient Hindu ruins at My Son, which have been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site; the caves at Phong Nha-Ke Bang; and of course, the many beautiful beaches. Compared to other Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, the Vietnamese government has not been as successful at marketing their country as a prime tourist spot. However, it does manage to attract its share of visitors. Here’s how to travel to Vietnam:

  1. There are some nationals who do not need to apply for a visa in order to travel to Vietnam. Nationals from Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, and Russia can stay up to 15 days without a visa, while nationals from the Philippines can stay for up to 21 days.

    Citizens from Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand can stay up to 30 days without a visa. All other visitors will need to apply for a visa in advance.

  2. Single-entry tourist visas that are valid for 30 days cost $90 when applied for through the Vietnamese embassy in Washington D.C. If you need a multiple entry visa that is valid for three months, the fee is S170. Regular processing time is around four to seven days. You can choose to add $30 to expedite the processing to two to three days.

  3. Visas can also be purchased from the Vietnamese embassy or consulate closest to the country where you are presently staying. The processing fees will differ, especially since courier fees and diplomatic posts add to the cost. Most Vietnamese embassies do not publicly publish the fees for visitor visas, as the relatively high cost can sometimes deter tourists from wanting to visit.

  4. Unlike other countries, there is no option for visa on arrival in Vietnam. Although the actual visa itself will only be stamped as you go through immigration at your chosen entry point, you will have to obtain a letter of approval prior to your arrival. There are many travel agencies that can handle this for you, but be careful of fraudulent ones that will simply pocket your fee and provide you with a bogus letter. There have been reports of companies that claim to be able to arrange for a visa on arrival, but of course, this is not possible.

  5. You can fly into Vietnam from a number of international locations. Most direct flights are served by Vietnam Airlines; long-haul flights via Bangkok, Doha, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Taipei are viable options too.

  6. From Nanning or Beijing in China, you can choose to ride a train that goes directly to Hanoi.

  7. From Cambodia, there are several bus lines that travel between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City. Beware of bus operators who try to scam foreigners by charging an extra $5 for a Cambodian visa on arrival. All you need to obtain a Cambodian visa is a recent passport photo. Some bus operators, like Kumbo Samco, will have no compunctions about stranding you at the border without your belongings should you refuse to pay. To play it safe, look for buses run by the Mekong Express and Mai Linh Bus companies; these are the most reliable ones plying this route.

A word to the wise: while most people in Vietnam are hardworking and honest, it pays to be on the lookout for dishonest locals who try to rip off naïve tourists. Once you have succeeded in finding out how to travel to Vietnam, your next step is to find out how to be street smart once you get there. It is mostly just a matter of common sense, like avoiding being out too late and not flashing your valuables in public. Making sure that you are prepared and informed are the keys to spending an enjoyable and relaxing time in this beautiful country.


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