WELCOME TO VIETNAM !
Vietnam is a charming and elegant country, rich in historical value and remarkable in beauty. Below are some basic tips to help you have a safe visit, as well as some suggestions for eating out, souvenir shopping and sightseeing. We hope you enjoy your stay!
Arrivals and departures
- Keep the entry/exit form which you were issued on arrival at the airport. It must be submitted to immigration upon departure. If you lose your form, you will be given another one at immigration upon leaving the country.
- International departure tax is included in your ticket.
- USD is the currency most easily changed at the rate of about 22,300 VND/ one USD. Cash can be changed at Jewellery shops, airports, banks and hotels. Travels’ cheques can be changed at bank only.
- Many shops and hotels do accept payments by credit card, however some may add a 4 % service fee. There are now many ATM machines throughout Vietnam, which are open 24 hours. Most ATMs accept international bank cards and credit cards. You will be able to withdraw local currency only, usually up to a maximum 2,000,000 VND per transaction.
- Many shops and restaurants quote prices in US dollars, but most shops expect to lower their prices a little, through bargaining.
- For everyday expenses in Vietnam, we highly recommend to take either US dollar cash and dong. With larger items (hotel bills, expensive purchase items, etc.) or when the exchange rate works in your favour, use dollars. For cyclos, local food stalls and small purchases, it’s best to use dong. In either case, please make sure you always have a stock of small notes so that you don’t have to worry about change.
- Taxi: There are numerous meter taxi companies in Vietnam. However, there is only some trusted taxi companies, please ask your personal tour operators or hotel receptionist for the telephone number of good taxi companies in the area.
- ‘Xe om ‘are motorbike taxis, and can be the cheapest form of transportation around the city. They can also be considered as one of the most dangerous forms of transportation, as traffic accidents involving motorbikes are a common occurrence. Wearing a helmet while riding a motorbike is therefore highly advisable. Bargaining is necessary when deciding the price of a ‘xe om’ ride.
- The cyclo is yet another common mode of transportation used in Vietnam, and offers a unique way of getting to know Hanoi. It is similar to a rickshaw, and the quoted by the driver will be three or four times the normal price.
It is advisable to take caution when choosing to travel by motorbike or cyclo at night, as one is at risk of possible pick pockets on the street.*
- Vietnam is considered as one of the safest countries in Asia. However, pick-pocketing and purse- snatching is common and tourists are a target. It is therefore advisable to leave all valuable items in a safe place, such as the hotel’s safe, before going out for the day. Avoid using purses, backpacks or wearing obvious jewellery and expensive watches. It is also recommended to keep the amount of cash you are carrying at a minimum.
- Bring your passport with you while traveling in Vietnam as hotel management are required to register all foreign guests with the local police.
- Keep a copy of your passport with you at all times, in order to prove your citizenship if need be. It is recommended to leave your original passport at the hotel (in the hotel’s safe-box) to avoid loosing it.
- Traffic is hectic and undisciplined. Be careful! Crossing the street requires slow and steady movements.
The summer monsoon falls into July and August, but affects the north of the country more than the south. The weather in the south of Vietnam is usually reasonable – hot and prone to brief thunderstorms, but not unbearable. In the north, very hot temperatures, high humidity and heavy rainfall makes life uncomfortable.
The reverse phenomenon occurs in the winter. While the south basks in comfortable sunshine during mid-January to the end of March, the north suffers from cold, clammy mists and drizzle.
Fortunately, Vietnam’s unusually complicated climate enables us to avoid much of the inclement conditions by designing an itinerary that takes the weather pattern into account.
Regarding more information about weather in Vietnam, please visit an useful weather forecast website: asiatripblog.com
Light casual clothing is suitable all year round. Business attire is needed for official meetings. No short, short sleeves, or sleeveless shirt allowed in pagoda, temple, or other solemn and sacred places.
Major credit cards (Visa, Master Card and American Express) are mostly accepted in Vietnam, particularly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. Nearly all foreign and upmarket retail outlets and restaurants accept credit cards, as do most hotels. However, If you would like to do these payments by credit cards which will incur 3% (MasterCard/ Visa) and 4% (American Express) for the bank fees. Outside the major cities and non-tourist sites, you will have to rely on cash.
International phone charges from Vietnam are among the highest in the word. Hotel telephone charges are more expensive. But using Internet protocol (VoiP) by dialling 171 or 178 before traditional IDD number would be much cheaper, about US$ 1 per minute. The central post office in Hanoi is located at 87 Dinh Tien Hoang street, across from Hoan Kiem Lake.
In Vietnam, there are three main mobile phone networks, VINAPHONE and MOBIFONE, VIETTEL, HT-MOBILE so your mobile phone can be used for roaming. These suppliers also offer VINA, MOBI and VIETTEL Pre-Paid Card service.
If your phone can’t be used abroad, the best way to use a mobile phone in Vietnam is to buy a pre-paid card. VNTS can help you rent a handset.
If you intend to bring your mobile phone, please remember to bring the charger and an international adapter.
Internet cafes with inexpensive high speed and/or wireless connection have become widespread in Hanoi, especially in the Old Quarter. Accessing the net usually costs 5,000 – 6,000 VND per hour at Internet cafe. Using internet at hotels is more convenient but it is much more expensive.
International postal rates are similar to what you pay in European countries. Domestic postal rates are cheap, it only costs 800 VND to mail a letter. Express Mail Service is available to many countries. EMS can be twice as fast as regular airmail post from Vietnam with the main advantage being the registration of your mail. Domestic express mail service between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, or Nha Trang promises next-day delivery, and rates are reasonable.
EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS
|Emergency and information telephone numbers|
|Police : 113
Fire brigade : 114
Ambulance : 115
|Directory Assistance : 116
General Information : 1080
International Operator : 110
A note to those who are keen to try that is being sold on the street: Although for some it may pose no problems, sanitation practices are not to international standards. Avoid raw vegetables and ice, and ensure that meat is well cooked.
Tap water is not safe to drink. Ensure bottled water is sealed with the original seal before drinking. Some popular brands of bottled water are Evian, La Vie, Joy and Aquafina.
As for more serious health issues, it is strongly recommended that visitors to Vietnam need to make an arrangement for medical insurance that including the provision for emergency evacuation prior to their departure, due to there is no free medical treatment available in Vietnam and the standard of local health facilities is below international standards. The cost for medical care can be very high and depending on the assistance provided, can quickly run into several thousands of dollars. Be sure to keep all your receipts (with prescription and costs itemized) for travel insurance claims upon your return.
The working week in Vietnam is from Monday to Friday. Most offices are open from 8:00 hrs to 12:00 hrs and from 13:00 hrs to 17:00 hrs. Shops usually close later in the evening. Banks are open from Monday to Friday, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Travellers should take the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival into account when planning a trip to Viet Nam. Tet usually occurs in late January or early February. At this time, travel becomes very difficult, hotels are full, and some business and services close down for about a week, as employees leave the city to spend the festival with their families in their home villages. Vietnamese public holidays are New Year’s Day (January 1), Tet holidays (4 days-mid February), King Hung’s anniversary (Mid April), Liberation Day (April 30), Labour Day (May 1), and Independence Day (September 2).
Vietnamese names are written with the family name first and the given name third, and will often have one or more middle names. Because a large number of Vietnamese share a relative handful of family names, sometimes it would be confusing to use them. Consequently, the given name is used both formally (with a courteous or professional title) and informally (by family and close friends).
For example, (Mr.) Ly Phuoc Thai, where Ly is the family name and Thai is the given name, should be addressed as Mr. Thai, and (Ms) Nguyen Thi Kim Phuong should be addressed as Ms. Phuong.
The whole name should be used after Mr./Ms/Dr./etc. to address very important people or high ranking officials.
Medical/ dental service
|The Hanoi Family Medical Practice
Van Phuc, Bldg. A-1#109-112, Kim Ma Road
Tel: 3843-0748; fax: 3846-1750
24- Hour Emergency Tel: 090-3401919
Unit A, Central Building, 31 Hai Ba Trung
Tel: 3934-0555; Fax: 3934-0556
24- Hour Emergency Tel: 3934-0555
Hanoi French Hospital
1 Phuong Mai Street
Tel: 3574-0740; Fax: 3576-4443
24- Hour Emergency Tel: 3574-1111
Ho Chi Minh
Nguyen Du, District 1
Columbia Saigon 24-Hour Clinic
08 Alexandre de Rhodes, District 1
|Cho Ray Hospital
Nguyen Chi Thanh St., District 5
Family Medical Practice
34 Le Duan St, Dist 1
|Koseikai Dental Office Saigon
Miss Ao Dai Building
Nguyen Trung Ngan, Dist. 1
Tel: 08-3823-5918 Fax: 08-3823-5916
72 Vo Thi Sau, Dist.1
Nguyen Du, District 1
Sun Wah Tower, Nguyen Hue, District 1
26 Nguyen Thai Hoc
Seasons of Hanoi
95B Quan Thanh
16 Nam Ngu
28 A Ha Hoi
36 Hang Manh
Tel: 3824 3402
15 Ngo Quyen
Tel: 3826-619 ext.8028
Café des Arts
11B Bao Khanh
48 Hang Tre
23L Hai Ba Trung
1 Ba Trieu
4th floor, Hanoi Tower
49 Hai Ba Trung
14-16 Nha Tho
|Le Tonkin – 14 Ngo Van So
Tamarind Café – 80 Ma May – Tel: 926-0580
The Press Club, 3rd floor
19 Phan Chu Trinh
Tel : 824-0926
Com Chay Nang Tam
79 A Tran Hung Dao
6 Ngo Thi Nham
11 A Dien Bien Phu
27 Quoc Tu Giam
24 Hang Be
25 Nha Tho Str.
Tel : 828-9052
Bakeries/ Ice Cream
Fanny’s (ice cream) Gourmet Corner
48 Le Thai To Daewoo Hotel
Tel :828-5656 360 Kim Ma ; Tel :831-5000 ext. 3040
Le Beaulieu Gourmand Hoa Sua (see above)
Hotel Sofitel Metropole
17 Ly Thai To Moca Cafe (see above)
Tel :826-6919 ext.8859
Cafes and Bars
Au Lac Garden Cafe & bar The Met Pub Jazz Club
57 Ly Thai To Hanoi Sofitel Metropole 31 Luong Van Can
Tel :825-7807 17 Ly Thai To Tel :828-7890
Tel :826-6919 ext.8857
Cafe des Arts de Hanoi Polite Pub Funky Monkey
(see above) 5 Bao Khanh 15B Hang Hanh Lane
Tel :825-0959 Tel :928-6113
I-box Café Puku Café Paris Deli Hanoi
32 Le Thai To 2F, 60 Hang Trong 6 Phan Chu Trinh
Press Club, Fridays
Fast Food Delivery And Groceries
Hanoi Gourmet Pepperonis
1B Ham Long 29 Ly Quoc Su
Tel : 943-1009 Tel :928-5246
Little Hanoi No Noodles
51 Luong Van Can 20 Nha Chung
Tel :928-5333 Tel :928-5969
The old quarter is where most souvenir shops, particularly Hang Gai, Hang Bon, Hang Trong, Hang Bac, Nha Tho and Ma May, are found.
Khai Silk Ha Dong Silk Kenly Silk Oriental House
96 Hang Gai 102 Hang Gai 108 Hang Gai 28 Nha Chung
Tel: 825-4237 Tel :928-5056 Tel : 826-7236 Tel : 828-5542
Many furniture/ interior shops are on Nha Tho street or others in the old quarter.
Oh La La Dome Van Loi
4A Nguyen Thai Hoc 51 Kim Ma 87 Hang Gai, Tel :828-6758
tel :934-2859 tel :734-1312 83 Ly Nam De, Tel :843-8181
Craft Link Vietnamese Craft Guild
43 Van Mieu 47 Ly Quoc Su/1-3 To Tich
Tel :843-7710 Tel : 828-9717
Craft Window Indochine House
99 Nguyen Thai Hoc 13 Nha Tho
Tel :733-5286 Tel :824-8071
Hanoi Opera House Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre Vietnam Opera Ballet
1 Trang Tien 57 Dinh Tien Hoang 18 Nui Truc
Tel :933-0131 Tel :824-5117 Tel :846-2651
Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City
East Touch Decoration
211 A Dien Bien Phu, D.3
Ms. Trang Hanh
309/1 Huynh Van Banh, Phu Nhuan
The Lost Art
50 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D.1
18 Nguyen Hue, D.1
Embroidery – Bao Nghi
127 Dong Khoi, D.1
4B2 Ngo Van Nam, D.1
77-79 Dong Khoi, D.1
Renaissance Riverside Hotel
8-15 Ton Duc Thang, D.1
Nam Phan Collection
38 Dong Khoi, D.1
76D Le Thanh Ton, D.1
41 Dong Khoi, D.1
Nam An Silk
28 Ton That Thiep, D.1
107 Dong Khoi, D.1
76 Le Lai, D.1
2A-4A Ton Duc Thang, D.1
88 Dong Khoi, D.1, Sheraton Hotel
155 Dong Khoi, D.1
177Bis Dong Khoi, D.1
40C Ly Tu Trong, D.1
Anh Nguyen Vietnam Silk
195/26 30/4 Street, Binh Thanh D.1
|Crafts / Souvenirs/ Lacquer
41 Ton That Thiep, D.1
34 Mac Thi Buoi, D.1
Living and Giving
11 Ngo Duc Ke, D.1
76C Hai Ba Trung, D.1
61 Le Thanh Ton, D.1
27-29A Dong Khoi, D.1
An Dong Plaza, Shop TA 1-18
51 Ton That Thiep, D.1
19 Lam Son, D.1
19 Lam Son, D.1
19 Lam Son, D.1
Ben Thanh, D.1, City Centre
Cho Lon, D.5, one of the City’s oldest
Bvgari – Caravelle Hotel
19 Lam Son, D.1
Cartier – Caravelle Hotel
19 Lam Son, D.1
101 Dong Khoi, D.1
The Silk Bag & Scarf – Caravelle Hotel
19 Lam Son, D.1
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