Are you planning a trip to Vietnam and not sure where to start? Here is some practical advice to help you plan a trip to Vietnam.
Vietnam’s currency is Vietnam Dong (VND). Bank notes include: VND500,000; VND200,000; VND100,000; VND50,000; VND20,000; VND10,000; VND5000; VND2000; VND1000; VND500; VND200. Coins were also introduced, but are less common.
Tourists can use traveler’s checks or credit cards (American Card, VISA Card or JCB Card…) to convert foreign currencies to Dong or make transactions in large retail stores, hotels, restaurants and department stores.
Foreign currencies are converted to VND in banks, exchange kiosks, hotels or jewelry stores granted currency exchange licenses.
Local time: GMT+7. Vietnam does not apply daylight savings.
Entry procedures and visa regulations
Tourists entering Vietnam must have passport or laissez accredited by Vietnamese Government. The passport should have enough space for stamp/seal and be valid at least 6 months from the entry date. For laissez, effective re-entry confirmation is required.
Visas are granted in Vietnam’s diplomatic embassies or consulates overseas. In case there are no diplomatic embassies or consulates of Vietnam in a country, tourists can be granted a visa at the border gate but need an invitation letter from an authorized body in Vietnam or a scheduled tour operated by Vietnam’s international tourist agencies.
Visa exemption is applicable to citizens of countries that have signed mutual visa-free travel agreements with Vietnam such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos and have a maximum temporary residence of 30 days. Maximum temporary residence for Filipino citizens and Bruneian citizens are 21 days and 14 days respectively.
In order to know more information about visa exemption, please visit the website: www.mofa.gov.vn/
Tourists entering (or departing from) Vietnam who bring foreign currency of over USD5000 or equivalent foreign currency values of over VND15,000,000, professional camera/camcorder and other electronic devices not classified as personal properties, gold of 300gr and over, jewelry and gemstones not of personal properties must declare these processions at Customs.
Tourists entering Vietnam are exempt from tax on: 200 tobacco sticks, 50 cigarettes, 150gr of tobacco thread and 1.5litres of alcohol. Other items (not in banned list) are exempt from the maximum tax payable of USD300.
Banned items include: weapons, opium and other addictive and pornographic materials.
VAT refunds for visitors
The pilot implementation on Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds from July 1,2012 to June 30, 2014 is effective for items purchased in Vietnam and carried in departure from the two international airports Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat. A purchasing bill subject to tax refunds is at least VND2 million for items bought in a single store in one day (accumulated bill for items bought in a single store in one day is allowed).
Medicinal and insurance regulations
Tourists from regions affected by infectious fever or common epidemics must be vaccinated.
Local drugstores in Vietnam carry many common pharmaceuticals which are widely accessible.
Telephone and the Internet
Pre-paid phone cards that allow direct international calls are sold everywhere: airports, retail stores, department stores and branch stores of major networks such as MobiFone, VinaPhone or Viettel… Floor price is VND10,000.
Internet services are also extremely popular, particularly in cities. Internet service providers can easily be found on the streets. Most of cafés are free wifi connected.
Banks’ course of business
Banks’ opening hours are from 8.00 am to 4.30pm every weekday. Some branches are available Saturday morning from 8.00 to 11.30am. All banks are closed Sunday.
Private retail stores are available from 8.00 or 8.30am to 7.00 or 9.00pm.
The diversity and richness of Vietnamese costumes reflects the characteristics of 54 ethnic groups, of which many have their own costumes. People in mountainous regions have their costumes woven out of ethnic fabrics and adorned with flamboyant patterns.
Vietnamese people’s traditional costumes are áo dài which is applied in holidays, weddings or birthdays, important events.
Traditions and beliefs
Vietnam is a secular multi-religious country. Ethnicities in the whole national community have their own religion. Inspired by the conception that every being possessed a soul, ancient Vietnamese set up cults to deities, especially those related to farming and cultivation such as the Sky, the Sun, the Moon, Land, Forests, Rivers or Mountains… to pray for a peaceful and affluent life. Ancestor worshiping is a long standing tradition and custom of Kinh ethnicity and some other ethnic minorities. Almost every family has an ancestor altar, and tributes and homages to the departed are important values. Besides the ancestor cults practiced in each family and clan, many villages in Vietnam also have religious cults to their Patron Gods.