FAQs for traveling to Vietnam

VIETNAM VISA

1. How much I pay for my visa?

The visa fees vary greatly according to your nationality, the number of entries, the country you are applying for and whether you need an express service or not. Generally speaking, the visa fees are more expensive if the visa has more number of entries. However, the visa fees are same for American citizens no matter what number of entries they apply for.

2. What extra documents do we need to appy for the individual tourist visa?

When apply for a tourist visa, some extra documents are required sometimes besides the basic general requirements:

2.1) For individual tourist visa, a letter of confirmation of the tour arrangement made by a travel agency in Vietnam or letter of reservation of hotel in Vietnam is required.

2.2) For group tourist visas, a confirmation letter from a provincial tourist bureau or a government-authorized Vietnamese travel agency; a name list of the whole group in triplicate and one copy of the information page of each passport are required.Foreigners from countries, which have visa agreements with Vietnam, are treated in accordance with these agreements.

Tourist visas are usually valid for one months, but can be extended for an extra month at the Foreigners Section of the Public Security Bureau. Passports must be valid for at least six months before you travel to Vietnam.

3. What should I do if I lose my passport during my stay in Vietnam?

If you do lose your passport, call your guide or travel advisor for help and notify the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) immediately. The PSB will then issue you a proof of lost passport, with which (if without PSB’s proof you may not enter into  your country’s consulate or embassy, because it is softly guarded) you need to go to the nearest embassy or consulate of your own country to apply for a new passport. To have the passport replaced, you will need to know all the information previously recorded and show identification and proof of citizenship. With the new passport issued, you can get a new Visa in the PSB, so you can go on your trip or re-enter your country. Please note that in some cases, a replacement may take weeks to process, and it may be valid only for a limited time. So take special care of your passport in your journey.

4. When should I apply for visa?

The Vietnamese visa is generally valid for 1 months from the issue date to enter Vietnam. Please apply for your visa within 1 months of entry into Vietnam according to your travel itinerary, and avoid expiry of visa or extra cost of urgent fee due to lack of application process time. Please also decide the duration of stay in Vietnam. The permitted duration of stay of Vietnamese visas are generally up to 30 days. If you need to stay longer, please apply to the local public security bureau in Vietnam for visa extension.

5. How to have my visa extended?

Foreigners who want to stay in Vietnam beyond the duration of their visa need to apply for an extension. The visa extension application form should be submitted to the Local Public Security Bureau 7 days before the expiration date of the visa. Foreigners who want their visa to be extended should provide the following evidential materials:

1.  Valid passport and visa

2.  A completed application form for visa extension

3.  Reason for the extension.

The length of the extension depends on the type of visa, but the multiple entry visas cannot be extended

You are advised not to overstay the duration of your visa or fail to apply for an extension before your visa expires as you will risk being heavily fined and have your travel plans disrupted.

6. What information should we offer to get the invitation lettet?

In some of the countries, the visa office of Vietnam Embassy or Consulate might ask for a Visa Invitation Letter, usually issued by a travel agent in Vietnam. And ODC Travel will offer the Invitation Letter to the clients who booked our package tour. And in order to issue this invitation letter for your visa, we need following information:

1). Name (must be the same as those on your passport)

2). Gender

3). Date of birth

4). Passport Number

7. How to get an invitation letter from your company for my visa application?

In order to apply for a visa to our country, you may need an invitation letter from an official travel company. ODC Travel will supply this letter to our clients after they confirm the package tour booking by written form.

8. How to get visa before my visit to Vietnam?

All people of non-Vietnamese nationality need a Vietnamese Visa to enter Vietnam. To successfully apply for a Vietnames Visa, applicants should come in person or through a third party (e.g. Travel Agent or Tour Operator) to apply for the Vietnamese visa during office hours 9 -12 am in Vietnamese Embassy / Vietnamese Consulates-General in the country you live. Usually, the processing time is about 5- 7 working days.Applications by Mail: It takes 2 weeks to process the application, so there is no same day or express day service. It is advised that your passport(s) should be sent by registered post for security and proof of posting needs to be kept. Please enclose a self-addressed envelope, the visa application form and payment (visa fee and service fee—see item: visa fee).

You should send a stamped, self-addressed envelope with your application together with the appropriate fee.Single-entry Vietnam visas are usually valid for 1 months after the issue date, and will permit you to stay in Vietnam for a maximum of days. This visa will allow you to travel as a tourist or conduct general business activities. Most people need only to apply for a single-entry.

Health & Safety

1. What items are not allowed to be taken into Vietnam

Our guides will meet you upon the arrival at the airport welcome lobby just through off the Custom with a piece of welcome sign with your names printed and transfer you to the hotel accordingly.The immigration and customs are always very friendly to provide helps to foreigners when they travel to Vietnam.

The following items are not allowed to be taken into Vietnam.

1.1. Weapons, ammunition or explosives;

1.2. Forged currencies or forged valuable securities;

1.3. Printed, audio, video, computerized and other materials, which are harmful or erotic to China’s political, economic, cultural and ethnic life;

1.4. Various poisons;

1.5. Opium, heroin, marijuana and other addictive drugs;

1.6. Plants, animals or other products, which may carry diseases, viruses, parasites, etc.

1.7. Foodstuffs, medicines or other products which may cause harm to human or animals, which come from areas with epidemics or which may spread diseases or contamination.

2. Are there any health requirements? Do I need immunizations to enter Vietnam?

Immunization against smallpox and cholera is no longer required for entry into the Communist’s Republic of Vietnam.

While you travel to Vietnam with ODC Travel, we always carefully select restaurants and hotels that are clean and safe in order to provide you with a safe and healthy environment. However, we do suggest you have sorts of vaccinations 4

to 6 weeks before your trip as the following, especially if you choose to go and visit those remote and /or rural areas.Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG) Hepatitis B (We suggest 11 to 12-year-old children who did not receive it as infants have vaccination of Hepatitis B.) Rabies, if you might have possibility to be exposed to wild or domestic animals.Typhoid for visiting developing countries

Travelers are advised to check with their doctors before visiting Vietnam. A Health Declaration form must completed upon arrival. No immunizations are required for short-term travelers, unless you are coming from or through a yellow fever infected area. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, USA, recommends those who have traveled from an infected area to have vaccination records available. Anyone not having the above mentioned certificate will be detained for observation for as long as six days. You should also bring any special health remedies or medications you require, as well as over-the-counter items. For traveling into the countryside, immune globulin is also recommended to combat hepatitis A, as is typhoid immunization. Travel to high-altitude areas such as Tibet is not recommended for those with pulmonary or heart problems.

The health quarantine service has the right to prevent any foreigner suffering from AIDS, venereal disease, leprosy, mental illness, or active tuberculosis from entering Vietnam.

3. Is it safe for foreigners traveling in Vietnam?

Vietnam is a fascinating and diverse country that welcomes more than 3 million tourists a year and lays claims to being the fourth most popular destination in the world. Its economy has been booming for years and its interest to the outside world, heightened by the Sea Game and Asiad, appears to be increasing as well. While there are precautions one should take when traveling to and around Vietnam, it is generally a safe country to visit.

4. If I need medical assistance in Vietnam what should I do?

If you need to see a doctor during your travels, you should ask your travel agent or hotel concierge to help you locate one. Western medical centers are seperate from traditional Vietnamese medical centers. First-aid centers operate in most cities and counties. In Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City there are a special 24-hour first-aid center for foreigners. The phone number is 115. In addition, there is a hospital in Beijing run by foreigners.

5. What should I be careful about while traveling in Vietnam?

Vietnam is a remarkably healthy country despite its relative poverty and climatic variations. Large cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh have decent medical facilities and excellent doctors, but problems can be encountered in isolated areas such as Cat Ba, Bac Ha or Mekong. If you travel to these areas, you must be aware of potential hazards and act cautiously. Following are some tips for you during your trip in Vietnam.

Although many locals do drink the tap water, we recommend that you drink only bottled water or boiled water. Tap water in Vietnam is not safe. You may use the tap water to brush your teeth and rinse your mouth. All water consumed must be boiled or filtered unless it is bottled mineral water. Boiled water is available in all Vietnamese hotels and restaurants.

The restaurants we will take you for lunch and dinner are all designated tourist restaurants with very good sanitary conditions. But although food is prepared fresh and cooked or cleaned thoroughly, as you are not accustomed to the Vietnamese food, stomach upsets are possible so it is advisable to take some medicine with you. Don’t eat food purchased from street vendors and never eat uncooked meat, raw eggs, or unpasteurized dairy products.Ailments such as sore throats and chest colds are also possible and can occur at any time of year considering Vietnam’s climatic extremes. The summer months are brutally hot so it is imperative to combat the harmful summer heat with a sufficient supply of liquids to prevent dehydration.

Self-diagnosis and treatment can be risky, so wherever possible seek qualified help. The clinics in large hotels and restaurants offer medical and massage services to travelers. If you feel uncomfortable while on a tour, you may phone the outpatient department of the hotel, or ask your guide to take you to see the doctor as soon as possible.

6. What I shall do to ensure the safety of my personal belongings like passport, credit card, jewelry, money and other important documents?

Please watch your personal belongings such as handbags and cameras when you are out and in your resort. We would recommend you to only take the cash you will need for that day, and leave valuables in a safety deposit box. Remember to lock your door at night and when you go out during the day, as you would at home.

7. What should be done if there is any loss, theft or damage of the luggage?

If you cannot find your luggage, first of all make sure that the missing item was not misplaced. In case your luggage is really lost or stolen, ask your guide for help, if serious, report immediately to the police. ODC Travel is not responsible for any loss, theft or damage to your baggage, so better to take care of the luggage when taking the cruise. Insurance is strongly recommended. Airlines have baggage restrictions and you should check with the air carrier prior to your flight.

8. What shall I do to avoid getting lost?

1. Simply be alert to your surroundings, especially as you travel. Most of us use a variety of clues to help you know where we are. Most of these clues are visual although sounds and even smells can help. (The rotting animal carcass can provide a very memorable smell to be recognized on the way back). The person who pays attention to trees, rocks, hills, streams, etc. will have a great advantage over the guy who simply looks at the trail in front of him. Try to look at features from several different angles as you move. Try to put together in your mind how different features relate to each other and to your route. (Of course being alert to surroundings also enhances your enjoyment of the outdoors, the reason most of us are there in the first place.)

2. Try to keep track of your directions and associate them with the territory around you. For example, notice not only the odd shaped hill, but also notice that it is northeast of you and runs approximately east and west. Try to be aware of the direction the trail is going. Notice that the hill is ahead of you on the trail, then off to the right a bit as the trail turns. A compass is handy to keep track of the direction the trail runs. Again you are trying to form a mental picture of the territory and how it is oriented. Some of us are better at this than others but I think we can all improve with practice.

3. Occasionally look behind you to see how the territory will look on the return trip. Be especially diligent at all junctions or anywhere else the trail is not glaringly obvious. All those odd tree branches and readily recognizable rocks will look very different from the other direction.

4. Learn to use a compass reasonably well. You may not need to take a bearing to within 2 degrees but you should be able to figure out which way is north. This means understanding declination (unless you will only be in areas where declination is less than about 5 degrees). Learn to go back the direction you came from using your compass (see appendix).

9. How to avoid being a victim of pickpockets?

Although Vietnam is one of the safest countries for foreigners to travel in, there can still be the nuisance of pickpockets on the streets of some places in Vietnam. They often work in groups, and children are among the most effective. Pickpockets tend to seek out people who had left themselves vulnerable. So always be mindful of your property, especially in crowded places. We here provide some suggestions on how to avoid being pick pocketing.

Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t permit a stranger to move into your personal space. If you are in a crowd, be particularly aware of your valuables. Hold your bags tightly.

Be alert of some unusual bumps or jostles. Some pickpockets will slash bags with small razors and remove their contents. So be especially attentive when someone is standing unusual close to you.

If you are on a relatively long trip on train or bus, keep watch for your baggage. Never leave your belongings unattended or have them taken care of by strangers. Keep your valuables and important documents with you all the time.

Be aware of some tricks commonly used by the pickpockets. Do not pick up rolls of bills “found” on the streets. Also, avoid showing your wallet in public places.

10. What vaccine do we need for traveling to Vietnam and do you have any other medical suggestions?

While traveling with ODC Travel, we take every precaution to provide a safe and healthy environment for you. We choose restaurants and hotels that are clean, safe, and we always keep your needs and interests in mind. However, here are some precautions for you to take into consideration for your trip to Vietnam. In addition, all travelers are recommended to take their medical records when they travel.

11. Do I need to bring my medical record when traveling in Vietnam?

Yes, all travelers are recommended to take their medical records along. In the event of an emergency, your medical records will be of great assistance. The medical record should include your blood type, immunization record, allergies, and any medications you are currently taking (both prescription and non-prescription). It should also include your doctor’s name, address, phone number, emergency contact name and phone number, and your insurance company’s name, address and phone number.

12. What should I know about health, safety and insurance in Vietnam?

Medical servicesVietnam health care is excellent in all the larger cities, with internationally trained staff; communication is no problem as they have English speaking doctors and nurses at hospitals. Medical care is more limited in rural areas – medical equipment and medicines are not as extensive as in the larger cities and chances are that you may not get English-speaking staff.

Vietnam travel insurance

Don’t leave home without it! Accidents happen – and they can happen in the strangest places at the strangest times. Travel insurance can cover you for all sorts of mishaps during your travel, and even before you leave.

Cross-cultural Advice

1. I am not aware of the Vietnamese table manners; can I have some information about that?

Of course, the main difference on the Vietnamese dinner table is chopsticks instead of knife and fork, but that’s only superficial. Besides, in decent restaurants, you can always ask for a pair of knife and fork, if you find the chopsticks not helpful enough. The real difference is that in the West, you have your own plate of food, while in Vietnam the dishes are placed on the table and everyone shares. If you are being treated to a formal dinner and particularly if the host thinks you’re in the country for the first time, he will do the best to give you a taste of many different types of dishes.

The meal usually begins with a set of at least four cold dishes, to be followed by the main courses of hot meat and vegetable dishes. Soup then will be served, to be followed by staple food ranging from rice, noodles to dumplings. If you wish to have your rice to go with other dishes, you should say so in good time, for most of the Vietnamese choose to have the staple food at last or have none of them at all.

Perhaps one of the things that surprise a Western visitor most is that some of the Vietnamese hosts like to put food into the plates of their guests. In formal dinners, there are always “public” chopsticks and spoons for this purpose, but some hosts may use their own chopsticks. This is a sign of genuine friendship and politeness. It is always polite to eat the food. If you do not eat it, just leave the food in the plate.

People in Vietnam tend to over-order food, for they will find it embarrassing if all the food is consumed. When you have had enough, just say so. Or you will always overeat!

2. Things about Vietnamese people’s names

The names of Vietnamese people are usually expressed as family name first and given name second. For example, a man called Nguyen Thanh Son has a family name of “Nguyen”, and a given name of “Son.” Among closer acquaintances, the names of older people are usually prefixed with “Anh, Chi…” which literally means “old”. For instance, “Anh Son” means “Old Son.” “Anh” for male and “Chi” for female. Younger acquaintances, on the other hand, are often prefixed with “Em…” which means “small,” so “Em Son” means “Small Son.” For those who know each other very well, the given name may be used by itself. However, if one’s first name is composed of only one character, they are customarily referred by their given name only by other family members.

3. What Major Rites and Ceremonies?

Vietnamese commemorate what they call the four major rites and ceremonies of a lifetime: birth, coming of age, wedding and funeral. Anniversaries for birthdays, wedding days and departure days also observed.

Each of these four major rites follows a fixed pattern and the wedding ceremony, in particular, consists of preparatory rites and the formal ceremony proper. Altogether, the wedding ceremony includes the following steps: proposal; discussion of proposal; visiting each other; betrothal; delivery of betrothal gifts; setting the wedding date; fetching the bride; bowing to heaven and earth, parents of both sides and to each other; the wedding banquet; going into the bridal chamber; fun-making party at the bridal chamber; and returning of the bride to her parents.

4. What Mascots do the Vietnamese Believe?

Traditional Vietnamese folk legends hold dragon, phoenix, tortoise and kylin (Chinese unicorn) to be the “four mascots”. The pattern of the flying dragon and dancing phoenix, in particular, is believed to be a symbol of good luck.

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