Vietnam is on a very short list of the most vibrant and exciting countries in the world. And despite the potential difficulties in travel there, it is also the fastest for travelers. Vietnam remains two separate countries, with marked differences between the north and the south not only culturally, but geographically. Indeed, travel between Vietnam, many provinces can often seem like passing between countries.
Where you should go and do should at least in part be dependent on the purpose or focus of your trip and perhaps your style of travel (luxury hotel are few), such as interests in outdoors exploration, cuisine, architecture, or markets. Aside from these interests, we do typically recommend you considering visiting all four of Vietnam, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, worthy of that designation. If your trip is short, you should not miss the north, where most cultural, historical and geographic highlights are centered. The north is intriguing because it is full of unknowns; it is less commercial than the south, and the people have an entirely different mentality. The north feels like a foreign place; central Vietnam seem nebulous; and the south everything may seem a little too familiar such as the modern traffic, billboards, and high rises in Sai Gon.
Also keep in mind some places, such as Sapa, should be visited only during certain times of the year due to the weather. But mostly importantly for your travel plans – toss the guidebooks…Vietnam is exceptional for its people, and certainly not for its museums, historical sites, or other attractions that initially draw tourists to a place. Geography and cuisine notwithstanding, almost everyone of our travelers over the past sixteen years has been stuck by the Vietnamese themselves. The warmth, easy demeanor, and gregarious nature are unsurpassed and you will find a welcome smile almost everywhere you venture in the country.
We will help facilitate these many unforgettable, personal encounters, such as home and school visits, but also make sure your trip exposes you the best of Vietnam, cuisine and other attractions. Below are details on destinations/travel tips to help plan your time with us in this remarkable country. Also peruse your unique, annual trips, such as our photography and art trips. Let us plan your perfect Vietnam tours.
Mostly, there is no or little direct flights as yet from most of oversea countries to Vietnam so fly into Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi from any of the southeast Asia hubs; Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok. The most popular option is an “open jaw” ticket, flying into one city and out from other.
Best Time to Visit:
Packing for a trip to Vietnam can be difficult, as the climate varies so much depending on when and where you go. When the weather is not ideal one area, it is great in another. Vietnam is subject to two monsoon seasons: from April to October, most of the country is affected south-western monsoons. The rains, which tend to be concentrated in the late afternoons, provide welcome relief to the heat. The cooler northeast monsoon hits the central coast from October util January. North Vietnam generally warm and sunny in the autumn, cool in the winter and hot in the summer. Ha Long Bay is perfect in the summer month as the water is warm enough for swimming. The hottest months in Ho Chi Minh City are from October until January, although there is generally a decent breeze. The central highland town of Da Lat is temperate year-round.
All visitors to Vietnam must obtain a visa prior to departure. Your passport must be valid at least 6 months VN Discovery Tours can arrange a “visa authorization letter” for The Vietnamese Visa for you which enables you to obtain your visa upon arrival. For this and any other information please contact your VN Discovery Tours consultant. Tourist Visas are only valid for a period of of 30 days stay. You must specify your exact city of arrival and departure and the respective dates. You can not arrive even one day earlier and should you change your mind on arrival you will need to contact the Immigration Police or the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Hanoi or Sai Gon. The cost of visa, vary from country to country. We suggest that you contact to the Vietnamese Consulate General in your country to arrange your visa.
For information on vaccinations and health requirements, we suggest you contact your GP or a travel clinic such as Fit For Travel at least two months prior to departure for advice and to arrange immunizations. We also recommend you take anti-malarial tablets, but please consult your doctor for his/her advice.
Vietnam is 7 hours ahead of GMT.
Four great philosophies and religions have shaped the spiritual life of Vietnamese people: Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Christianity. The Vietnamese language (Kinh) belongs to the Mon-Khmer stock, which comprises Mon (spoken in Burma) and Khmer (the language of Cambodia) , as well as Khmu, Bahnar, Bru and other languages of the highlands of Vietnam. Mon-Khmer, Tai and Chinese elements with many of its basis words, derived from the monotonic Mon-Khmer languages. The most widely spoken foreign languages in Vietnam are Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), English, French and Russia, more or less in that order. Popular artistic forms include: traditional painting produced on frame-mounted silk; an electric array of theatre, puppetry, music and dance; religious sculpture; and lacquerware. Vietnamese cuisine is especially varied – there are said to be nearly 500 different traditional dishes, ranging from exotic meats such as bat, cobra and pangolin to fantastic vegetarian creations.
The currency for Vietnam is Dong. The US dollar virtually acts as second local currency and all hotels, airlines and travel agencies quote prices in US dollars. However, you should pay in Dong. Vietnamese law requires all transactions in Dong though in practice many people will accept dollars. Visa and Master Credit Cards are accepted in the major cities and towns popular with tourists. Getting cash in advance is also possible but you will be charged between 2% to 4% commission plus any charges levied by your bank. Travelers cheques in US dollars can be exchanged and only at certain banks. Most hotel and airline offices do not accept travelers cheques as payment. Lost or stolen cheques are not replaceable in Vietnam.
Domestic Air Service; All air travel within Vietnam is handled by Vietnam Airlines. All reservations can be made by your agent or airlines directly.
Buses; most foreigners do not use local buses. It is advisable to use Taxi, private buses or hired rentals with a driver. The Vietnamese drive on the right-hand side of the road. You can hire motorbike to drive yourself if you have an International Driver, Permit enclosed for motorcycles. Traveling through Vietnam by bicycle is worth considering, though the traffic is still a hazard on the highways without wide shoulders. Train and buses will carry your bike when you want a break.
Though it is practiced it is not recommended. You are expected to pay the driver for picking you up and he will negotiate the fee prior to letting you on board.
Are widely used in the Mekong Delta area and Can Tho is accessible by this method from Ho Chi Minh City.