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Facts

Population

91,500,000

Capital City

Hanoi

Language

Vietnamese

Plug types

Voltage: 127V/ 220V, Frequency: 50Hz

Religion

Buddhist

Currency

Dong (VND) exchange rates

Timezone

UTC +7 hours

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  • What to expect

    Vietnam is a nation of captivating diversity. From north to south you will find ‘authentic’ Asia - the fertile plains of the Mekong Delta, majestic mountains in the north, classical pagodas and temples, bustling cities and street markets, and the faded elegance of the French colonial era. You will also encounter a nation rich in culture, tradition and history, and people with a refreshing warmth and friendliness unequalled in Southeast Asia; a people who have put the war torn past behind them and are clearly focused on a brighter future.

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Flight times

From Los Angeles

approximately 16 hours

From New York

approximately 19 hours

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Events

Banks, public offices and some tourist sites will be closed on the vacations listed here. As major vacations are set according to the lunar calendar, dates change every year. Please check with our USA-based Asia specialists for details.

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  • 1 January is International New Year's Day

    . Banks and public offices will be closed, as will some businesses.

  • January/February (last day of last Lunar month) is Lunar New Year’s Eve

    , the beginning of Tet or the Vietnamese New Year period. The Reunification Palace will be closed in Saigon.

  • January/February (first day of the first Lunar month) is Tet, or Lunar New Year

    , Vietnam's major annual vacation. Banks & public offices will be closed, as will most businesses. Cao Dai temples will be closed six days before the Lunar New Year, and floating markets in the Mekong Delta will not operate.

  • March/April (10th day of the 3rd lunar month) is the anniversary of Hung Kings

    , Vietnam's ancient rulers. Banks and public offices will be closed, as will some businesses.

  • 30 April is Independence Day

    , commemorating the fall of Saigon and reunification of the country in 1976. Banks and public offices will be closed, as will some businesses.

  • 1 May is Labor Day

    , marking the contribution made by workers. Banks and public offices will be closed, as will some businesses.

  • 2 September is National Day

    , marking the day Vietnam declared its independence forming the Democratic Republic of Northern Vietnam. Banks and public offices will be closed, as will some businesses.

  • 31 December is International New Year's Eve

    . While not a public vacation, it is celebrated in Vietnam with festive meals, parties and fireworks as it is in most parts of the world.

  • Health & Fitness

    Travelers to Vietnam should take precautions as they would elsewhere in Asia. In remote areas medical facilities can be particularly basic. Some of the diseases known to exist in Vietnam include malaria, hepatitis A & B, typhoid, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, dengue fever, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rabies and HIV/ AIDS. We recommend you take adequate preventative measures to minimize your risk of exposure to these health risks.

    We are a travel company and we are not qualified to provide detailed medical information appropriate to your individual needs; it is recommended you consult with your local doctor or a specialist travel medical center for current health information on vaccinations and medicine for your trip at least one month prior to departure.

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  • Visa Information

    To enter Vietnam you will require a passport (with at least six months remaining validity) and a tourist visa. For most nationalities this visa must be obtained prior to arrival, unless you have gone through the official channels to obtain visa on arrival service (Insider Journeys can assist with this upon request). Some nationalities, including British passport holders, are able to enter Vietnam for up to 15 days without a visa. This is applied from 01 July 2015 to 30 June 2017. To date no further information has been received on the extension of this policy. Until further notice a visa is required for all visits after 30 June 2017. There is no entry or exit paper work which now needs to be filled out for travel in Vietnam. It is your responsibility to ensure all visa and entry requirements are met prior to your arrival in Vietnam.

    All Vietnam visas are SINGLE ENTRY unless you have specifically requested MULTIPLE ENTRY and this is stamped into your passport. If you are entering Vietnam twice or more you will need to ensure you have a MULTIPLE ENTRY visa before you leave home. The status of your tourist visa cannot be changed after you arrive in Vietnam.

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  • Safety and security

    Vietnam is a comparatively safe country by world standards, but the usual common sense health and safety precautions apply. Petty street crime levels have risen in recent years as visitor numbers have increased. We recommend you use taxis to get around at night, with the aid of a hotel address card to show drivers. Taxis are metered, inexpensive and numerous in Vietnam.

    During your time in Vietnam, always keep a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers. These copies should be kept in a safe place apart from the originals. You should keep valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes wherever possible.

    In major cities, such as Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and Hanoi, we recommend you wear minimal jewelery and keep money concealed close to your body when in public places. Read our safety guidelines for further information.

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Reading

 

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  • Ho Chi Minh by William J. Duiker

    provides insights into Ho Chi Minh, the man recognized as the modern father of Vietnam. It also touches on the roles of the Soviets and Chinese in the Vietnam War.

  • A Bright Shining Lie by John Paul Vann & America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan

    is a historical biography of Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann, who witnessed arrogance and self-deception amongst the US military in the 1960s, and tried to convince his superiors the war should be fought another way.

  • Shadows and Wind by Robert Templer

    looks at the problems facing modern Vietnam after a century of conflict. It examines its contradictions, secrecy and corruption, and its rampant capitalism despite its Communist government.

  • Once Upon A Distant War by William Prochnau

    tells the stories of some of the Vietnam War's prominent correspondents, such as Neil Sheehan and Peter Arnett.

  • In Retrospect - The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam by Robert McNamara

    is a controversial book telling the inside story of America's descent into Vietnam.

  • World Food Vietnam by Lonely Planet

    is a definitive guide to Vietnam's fresh and fragrant cuisine, complete with tantalizing photographs.

Useful words & phrases

  • Hello

    Xin chao

    (sin chow)

  • Goodbye

    Tam biet

  • What's your name

    Ban ten gi

    (ban thane zee)

  • My name is...

    Toi la

    (thoy la...)

  • Thank you

    Xin cam on

    (xin gahm un)

  • You're welcome

    Khong go gi

    (khom go zee)

  • Hello

    Xin chao

    (sin chow)

  • Goodbye

    Tam biet

  • What's your name

    Ban ten gi

    (ban thane zee)

  • My name is...

    Toi la

    (thoy la...)

  • Thank you

    Xin cam on

    (xin gahm un)

  • You're welcome

    Khong go gi

    (khom go zee)

  • Hello

    Xin chao

    (sin chow)

  • Goodbye

    Tam biet

  • What's your name

    Ban ten gi

    (ban thane zee)

  • My name is...

    Toi la

    (thoy la...)

  • Thank you

    Xin cam on

    (xin gahm un)

  • You're welcome

    Khong go gi

    (khom go zee)

  • Getting around

    Arrival and departure transfers

    On the road we generally use late model air-conditioned buses with either 26 or 30 seats for our Small Group Journeys - depending on the size of the group. Modern sedan cars and minibuses are used for transporting smaller numbers.Most tours include domestic flights. Vietnam Airlines operate relatively modern fleets, however schedules frequently change or flights can be cancelled and this can sometimes result in alterations to your tour program.

    Metered taxis can be used in the towns and cities, however it pays to be vigilant about scams and to use reputable taxi companies. if being greeted by a transfer driver, ensure they are wearing an Insider Journeys t-shirt and carrying an Insider Journeys signboard with your name to avoid scams, particularly at Hanoi's airport.

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  • Internet

    Internet: Internet services are widely available in main urban centers, and rates are usually minimal. Most of the larger cities and towns' restaurants, cafes, hotels and bars have complimentary Wi-Fi.

    Phone: Fixed line phone calls and faxes, most often found in hotels, can be the most expensive, usually from 4 USD to 6 USD per minute. It is possible to use your cell phone in Indochina, although you may need to organize roaming with your service provider prior to travel.

    Mail: It usually takes 7-10 days for international post to reach its destination, with rates similar to those in Western countries.

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  • Food & drink

    Vietnamese cuisine is diverse and tasty and one of the many highlights of a visit to the country. Most food presented is well cooked, however some optional dishes may be served cold. Travelers should note that raw, cold food presents a higher risk of stomach upsets than well cooked food. Lunch should cost around 6-12 USD and dinner approximately 10-25 USD, depending on the restaurant.

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  • Tipping

    If you are happy with the services provided by your local guides, drivers and your tour leader, a tip is appropriate and appreciated. While it may not be customary to you, tipping inspires great service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across Asia. You are free to tip as much or as little as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip.

    Should you be dissatisfied with the services provided by your Local guide, driver or Tour leader, please let us know.

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  • Swimming

    Swimming in various locations throughout Vietnam is most often considered safe. Occasionally, jellyfish can be found in the waters around Vietnam, most likely from June to August in the north, and in August and September in the south. It is still possible to swim in these months, but is best remain alert and cautious.

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  • Responsible travel

    Insider Journeys practices a thorough, realistic responsible travel policy. We believe that travel should entail an exchange of knowledge and perspectives, a sharing of wealth, and a genuine appreciation of Asia’s beautiful natural environments. This philosophy underpins the heart and soul of our style of travel. It drives all that we strive to deliver to our travelers, and shapes the contact we have with our supplier colleagues in Asia. We recognize that poorly planned itineraries or poorly informed tourists contribute less to cross-cultural understanding and less to the livelihoods of local people. We also recognize that we largely work in a developing part of the world.

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