The climate in Vietnam is varied, that means the best time to travel to the country in terms of the weather will depend on where precisely you want to go and what you want to do. Broadly speaking, Vietnam has 3 regions: North, Central and South and climate in each region is different. The winter monsoon that runs from October to March typically makes the north of the country cool and damp, while the south is dry and warm. From April or May to October, the summer monsoon generally leads to the whole nation becoming quite humid and hot – except for around the mountains.
Travelers can visit Vietnam any time of the year, with no notable “off-season”. The best places for beach going tends to vary throughout the year based on what the weather is doing. The wet season typically spans from May to September, though visitors are still able to visit most areas. In the northern regions average temperatures range from 17-22 C (62-71 F) during the cool and dry winter time from November through April, and can get as low as 10 C in the far north mountainous regions. Temperatures range from 25 to 35 C (77 – 95 F) in the south year-round and only sees slight variation between dry season and wet season (which runs from May to November).
Vietnam has vibrant cities welcome thousands of visitors every year. This number is also a proof that Vietnam is a friendly and safe place for people to travel. The incidence rate of violent crime is quite low; therefore, Vietnam is an ideal destination for women who want to travel alone.
We are happy to say that Vietnam is one of the safest countries all over the world. This is relatively safe for both men and women to travel: no violence, no disease, no starvation.
Of course, every country has different problem. In Vietnam, tourists usually complain about over-aggressive street vendors, tour operators with a bad attitude and dangerous driving. These troubles are simple and you can avoid them with a cool head and sensible planning.
Different from the past, Vietnam is one of the poorest countries in the World with per capita income below $100 USD per year. Nowadays this country is a lower-middle income country with per capita income of $1,910 USD by the end of 2013 and nearly $3,000 USD in 2022.
Foreigners who want to enter Vietnam are required a Vietnam visa. However, Vietnam has confirmed an extension of its Vietnam visa exemption program until the end of June 2018, by which citizens from countries in this list do not need to apply Vietnam visa in a limited day. Your passport needs to be valid for at least one month from the date that your Vietnamese visa expires.
Please check the table below to know whether you need to obtain a visa or not. If yes, you can apply Vietnam visa at any Vietnam Embassy/ Consulate near your house or apply online visa Vietnam Visa on Arrival.
As of January 2019, regular passport holders from 24 COUNTRIES below DO NOT need a tourist visa for Vietnam:
The first thing you have to do is find out the Vietnam embassy or consulate address in your nation. If your current living nation doesn’t have Vietnam embassy or consulate, you need to go to the nearest nation having them to do this process. This way helps you surely to hold your visa before you come to Vietnam, but it takes a lot of time for processing (it normally takes about 5 – 7 working days to get the result) as well as it wastes your effort and time, especially in case the embassy or consulate is far away from your home.
There are lots of airplane going to Vietnam every day. Vietnam Airlines – the national airline of this country – is the only airline that offers direct flights from London to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. There are many other international carriers that operate services from continental Europe, such as Lufthansa and Air France. The average flight time on a direct service to Vietnam is around 12 hours and you usually have to transit.
In each location, we strive to use charming accommodations that are locally owned and characteristic of the area. These range from charming, family-run bed & breakfasts to luxurious, boutique hotels. Most accommodations have private baths, hot water and clean, comfortable rooms except in instances where noted, such as a homestay or village hiking trip. We strive to also find hotels in good locations, whether that be walking distance to main attractions, or out of the city if it is consistently noisy. Larger hotels are used in metropolitan areas as typically these are the only available options.
Vietnam generally uses 220 volt, 50hz electricity. They use types A, C, and G power sockets. It is recommended to bring a converter or to purchase one upon arrival. One will likely be needed to adapt the plug shape for any device you bring. Some hotels provide converters, but it is best to bring your own.
Most meals are included for yourselves as well as your guide. You will need help translating the menus, and thus the guide will typically eat with you unless you specify a different arrangement. Occasionally meals will be up to you, particularly when you are in a larger city with many restaurant options that cater to tourists. Your guide is happy to give you restaurant recommendations for those meals on your own.
Our tour leaders are exceptional! They are fluent in English and Vietnamese, and some speak other ethnic minority languages as well. Our tour leaders all hold a guide certification from the Vietnam Tourism Authority, which is required to guide tours. Also, they are all trained in First Aid. Many were born and raised in the local areas where they guide and are among the very best guides available in each region. Some specialize in specific adventure activities as well, such as hiking. All of our tour leaders treat our travelers like friends, showing visitors both the major highlights and the local treasures.
Our Vietnam tours utilize a variety of transportation including private vans/cars, internal flights, yacht, train, etc. We use a mix of private/public transportation to provide travelers with the safest and most efficient transit in each area. Occasionally, we may include non-typical transportation modes (tuk-tuk, bicycle, kayak, motorboat, etc.) for short distances to give travelers a sense of local flavor. Each tour itinerary page has a description of the transportation included on that tour. If you have additional questions, just ask!
Vietnamese cuisine is quite varied, having had many external influences over the years that have created an interesting mix of cooking methods and ingredients. Heavy Chinese influence in the north has led to a variety of stir fries and wok-based meals. In the south where a larger variety of crops are grown, grilled and fresh vegetables are more common with sauces added in. French presence in the recent past has led to the assimilation of French cuisine influence, and is often attributed with pho noodle soup’s rise to popularity. Most meals include rice, as well as fish sauce which is a popular condiment added to almost every meal throughout the country.
Yes! Many Vietnam tours are family friendly or can be changed and customized to fit a variety of interests and ages. Some tours minimize travel and drive times and maximize in-country activity that will keep younger minds engaged. Your Trip Planner can help advise you in this respect.
Typically, ages range from 25 to 65, however we have seen children as young as 6 and the “young at heart” as old as 90 on our trips!
Are these trips a good choice for solo travelers?
Absolutely! Our Vietnam tours tend to attract a great mix of solo travelers, families, friends, etc. We can often match you up with another group traveling on one of the set tours, or one with a more customized twist so long as it lines up with your dates and budget. Solo travelers should also take a look at our exclusive Solo Traveler Departures.
Tour rates do not include international flights. We find that it is usually less expensive for travelers to book these separately and this also allows you the flexibility to choose the schedule and routing that is most convenient for you. You can purchase international flights on your own, or we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in international flights.
A driver will be there to greet you at your arriving airport holding a sign with your last name on it. He will take you to your hotel the first night. You can opt to take a taxi transfer on your own, though we do not advise it. Many taxi drivers do not speak English. If you choose to take a taxi, be aware of the meter as drivers have a button, they can push to raise the price.
Absolutely! We offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our Travel Discounts page for the latest offers and on-going discounts.
Tips are not required on any of our tours. However, it is customary to offer a small tip for exceptional service. For a full day tour, we recommend $8-$10 per day for your guide and $4-$5 per day for a driver is common. Other travelers opt to bring small gifts from their home to give to service providers along the way.
You can book your Vietnam tour at any time and generally the earlier you book, the better. Booking early (3 months or more recommended, 6 months in advance for peak season dates) is especially important for travelers visiting during the height of the high season to ensure that first choice hotels are still available. Further, we usually recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that we arrange your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available. We are often able to accommodate last minute travelers as well (some even departing in less than one week!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice hotel may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip planner can recommend some other similar options that would be equally interesting!
Yes they are. Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed online. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of two travelers as long as hotels and a guide are available.
Absolutely! Give us a call for suggestions in the region. We can easily arrange for extensions to other Southeast Asia destinations such as neighboring Cambodia, Thailand or Laos. Let us know how you would like to customize your trip and we will do our best to accommodate you.
The tap water is generally NOT safe to drink anywhere in Vietnam. Bottled water is readily available at tourist sites, hotels, & restaurants, and hot water (boiled to make it safe) or tea is generally offered with a meal at a restaurant. Travelers can also use bottled water when brushing your teeth for extra precaution.
Yes, so long as your carrier has not locked your phone and it is possible to operate on their network. You should contact your phone carrier to find out if your phone will work properly. Another option is to buy a local SIM card once you are in Vietnam if you do have an unlocked phone. It is advised to also double check your international calling rates with your provider.
No immunizations are currently required for visiting Vietnam. A yellow fever vaccination is required if you are arriving from another country with risk of yellow fever. This vaccination, which is valid for 10 years, must be administered at least 10 days before your arrival in the destination with yellow fever risk. Travelers must bring along their International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) as proof of vaccination. Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended. Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Malaria, and Rabies preventatives are also loosely recommended depending on where you plan to travel in Vietnam. For the most current information, please consult your doctor and/or check out the Center for Disease Control web-site.
Vietnam is in the Indochina Time Zone, or UTC+07:00.
Absolutely!!! We work with a travel insurance company that provides reasonably priced insurance for trip cancellation, medical expenses, medical evacuation, lost bags, etc.
If you plan to do any driving while you are abroad, get an International Driving Permit (IDP) from your local Automobile Association or motor vehicle department before you leave. In many countries, these are valid for only one year, so there is no sense getting one too far in advance of your departure. However, some countries will issue IDPs that remain valid for several years – it depends on where you live. Make sure your license states that it is valid for motorcycles if you plan to ride one.
In Vietnam, you can drive. It is recommended that you rent a car, because it will be safer. Many travelers may find traffic in Vietnam difficultly.
Tipping is very much expected in Vietnam and will be greatly appreciated. Smart hotels and restaurants nowadays add a 10-15% service charge (which should be indicated on the bill) but else where it’s up to you. It’s a good idea to tip guides, drivers and anyone else that has provided excellent service.
Everyone in Vietnam seems to be learning English. Standards are relatively high considering the country has only been open for just over a decade. Most young people and many of those working in the tourist industry speak sufficient English to communicate at a basic level. You’ll find more English-speakers in the south – a legacy of the American presence– but even here don’t expect to find English spoken at small restaurants, in markets or anywhere off the tourist trail. For such situations it will help to have a basic phrasebook.
People over 60 years old, especially in the north speak wonderfully old-fashioned French. Other northerners might speak Russian or German, depending where they were sent to be educated or as “guest workers”.
Though you will certainly be able to get by in English, it’s worth learning a few Vietnamese phrases before you go. The pronunciation is a bit tricky, but otherwise Vietnamese is not a particularly complicated language. A few standard phrases (such as hello, thank you, how much is it? and goodbye) always help. It will also help if you learn the numbers, though this can be circumvented by asking people to write down prices, times etc.…
Despite government attempts to outlaw the practice, the US$ still acts as an alternative currency which is almost completely interchangeable with the dong. Many prices, especially for hotels, tours and expensive restaurants, are still quoted in US$, though you can pay in dong if you’d rather – just check what exchange rate they’re using.
For everyday expenses, I recommend carrying a mix of US$ cash and dong. For larger items (hotel bills, train tickets, etc.) or when the exchange rate works in your favor, use dollars. For cyclos, local food stalls and small purchases, it’s best to use dong. In either case, make sure you always have a stock of small notes so that you don’t have to worry about change.
Major credit cards (Visa, American Express, JCB, MasterCard, and Dinner’s Club) are gradually becoming more widely accepted in Vietnam, particularly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. All top level and many mid-level hotels accept them, as do a growing number of restaurants and up market shops catering to the tourist trade. But watch out for the extra taxes they wrap on when using a credit card – these can amount to an additional 5 percent. Outside the major cities you will have to rely on cash.
Cash advances on credit cards are available at the central Vietcombank in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other major cities, for which you will be charged around 3 %. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City also boast 24hr ATMs where you can withdraw cash on MasterCard, Visa and other cards in the Cirrus/Plus networks. In Hanoi, go to the ANZ Bank beside Hoan Kiem Lake; in HCMC both ANZ Bank and HKSB have ATMs.
You can exchange cash at exchange desks in big hotels and at authorized foreign exchange banks in the main cities. Among the banks, Vietcombank usually offers the best exchange rates and charges the lowest commission (around 1-2%). Vietcombank does not levy commission when changing dollars cash into Vietnam Dong, though some other banks do. It’s worth bearing in mind that you get a slightly better exchange rate for $100 and $50 notes than for smaller denominations.
Outside the main cities and tourist areas, authorized foreign exchange banks are few and far between. So, if you’re heading off the beaten path, stock up with enough cash (dollars and dong) to last the trip. Wherever you are, you’ll always find someone willing to change dollars into dong, though rates will vary.
Vietnam’s official currency is the Dong, which cannot be purchased outside Vietnam. The main banks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can handle a fairly broad range of currencies nowadays, but the dollar is still the most widely accepted. We therefore recommend taking some US$ cash. American Express, Visa and Thomas Cook checks are the most recognized brands. It’s a good idea to arrive with at least some small denomination dollar bills ($1’s, $5’s and $10’s) to get you from the airport into town and to a bank. Even if they are open, the airport exchange desks offer unfavorable rates. If you do bring cash into Vietnam, make sure they are not badly tattered as they may be refused.
Vietnam has a good variety of lightweight, transportable souvenirs. You’ll find them on sale in all the main tourist areas, though Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City probably offer the greatest variety.
Silk is probably high on most people’s list, either tailored or as uncut cloth. Hoi An, in central Vietnam, has become the place to get clothes made, but you’ll also find good tailors in Hanoi along Hang Gai and in Ho Chi Minh City. Beautifully embroidered cottons are another popular choice, as are printed T-shirts in a whole range of designs.
Traditional craft items include lacquer ware, items decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay, conical hats, carvings made of cinnamon and camphor wood, bronze Buddhist bells and musical instruments. A water puppet also makes a nice memento. Fabrics from the various ethnic minorities are either sold in lengths or made into bags, purses or skullcaps. Minority groups in the south produce wonderful basketry and bamboo pipes.
Vietnam has a thriving fine arts scene, with some artists commanding substantial sums, though you need to be wary of fakes. Galleries in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue and Hoi An also show works by lesser-known artists at more affordable prices. Look out also for lovely, hand-painted greetings cards.
Note that export restrictions apply to all items deemed to be of “cultural or historical significance”, including works of art and anything over 50 years old. To take any such item out of the country you’ll need an export license. Even if it’s a modern reproduction it might be worth getting clearance anyway, since customs officials aren’t necessarily very discriminating.