frequently asked questions
Sapa is a popular destination in the Northwest territory of Vietnam, with beautiful scenery, fresh air and wild green hills. There are plenty of methods to go to Sapa and vice versa: by train, by car, by motorbike and by bus.
Train is the most popular way but the drawback is the long time and many people might not be into the idea of taking a night train. With car and motorbike, go with the highly experienced drivers since the road to Sapa is quite a challenge. If you are keen on taking the bus, here is some essential information.
From Hanoi: You can get on a Hanoi - Lao Cai Bus, and after that take a minu bus to Sapa from Lao Cai. There are also 2 bus companies running direct route to Sapa with a quick stop-over in Lao Cai: Vietbus (284 Giai Phong Street) and Hung Thanh (575 Nguyen Trai Street). Their offers are quite fair with a big bus (35 seats) with beds, TV, air conditioner and a free water bottle. These buses both depart from My Dinh bus station.
Schedule: Depart Hanoi at 7:30 P.M, arrive in Sapa at 5:30 A.M.
From Sapa: Vietbus and Hung Thanh also operate buses from Sapa to Hanoi daily. The buses depart from the Sapa Bus Station, just 1km Southeast of the main square, near the central lake.
Schedule: Depart Sapa at 7:30 A.M. and 6:00 P.M. daily, arrive in Hanoi at 5:30 P.M. and 4:00 A.M. respectively
How to get your Bus ticket:
Contact the Bus Company to reserve your ticket:
Address: 284 Giai Phong Street, Hanoi
Address: 57 Xuan Vien, Sapa
Most cinemas in Hanoi, like Thang Tam, Dan Chu, Sinh Vien, National Cinema Center, only show films with dubbed Vietnamese and no English subtitle. Thus far, choices for foreigners in Vietnam in term of cinemas are very limited.
In Hanoi, only 2 cinemas provide original films with Vietnamese subtitle: Megastar at 6th floor, Vincom tower (191 Ba Trieu Str.) and Platinum Cineplex, 4th floor (The Garden center, Me Tri, Tu Liem). Both cinemas provide films in 3D and 2D, but the prices are different. Megastar asks for around VND 70,000 for a normal movie ticket and VND100,000 for a 3D seat, meanwhile Platinum’s prices are just VND 50,000 and 80,000, respectively. Compared to other local cinemas, the prices are quite high, but it is worth every penny with high quality movies and comfortable seats. Megastar even provides couple seats in Valentine period and other discounts for students during the week.
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Vietnamese New Year, or Tet, is the biggest festival and holiday of a year in the country. In 2012, Vietnamese New Year will fall on Monday - January 23rd. Most public offices will be closed from Saturday (January 21st) and will be reopen on Monday (January 29th). The main Tet days are January 23rd, 24th and 25th.
Many attractions will be closed, while those like Hue citadel will be open during the three days of Tet with free admission. Cu Chi Tunnel, for your information, remains open during Tet holiday from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm.
For more information about Tet and Tet travel advice, read visit our Vietnamese Tet page or take a look at the following articles:
From Noi Bai airport to Hanoi Old Quarter, there are taxis that run at fixed rates waiting outside of the arrival hall. It costs between 315,000 - 345,000 VND depending on the type of taxi you get (or $16-18). Three official taxi brands for airport routes are: Noi Bai Taxi, Viet Thanh Taxi and Dai Nam Taxi, you can also take a look at our Guide to taking taxi at Noi Bai airport here.
In any case, do not go by the meter because the rate will be much higher than the fixed rate. You also need not pay any toll fees. Tips are not required though if the driver is really nice you can also give tips.
Vietnam Airlines has several offices in North America, including San Francisco. The address for Vietnam Airlines San Francisco office is:
Address: 88 Kearny St # 1400 San Francisco, CA 94108
Telephone: (415) 677-0888
Toll free: 1-866-677-8909
Fax: (415) 677-9788
You can also contact the office by emailing: email@example.com
The opening hours of San Francisco office is Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM. Note that the office is closed on Saturday and Sunday and major holidays.
Other useful information about Vietnam Airlines:
The safest place in the world can also be the most dangerous and vice versa. It also depends what you mean by “safe”.
In general, Vietnam is safe compared with most other Southeast Asian countries in terms of political stability. There is hardly any riots and absolutely no bomb attacks. The only concern is about road safety.
Protect yourself by taking a ride with trustable bus company, though they can be more expensive. Please see “safety” section for more details.
Hi, I have only 2 weeks in Vietnam and I want to include Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City in the trip. Is that over-ambitious? Should I just stay at some of these and if so, what would
Thank for your question. If you have only 2 weeks, it might be a bit over-ambitious to do all of those above-mentioned destinations. Instead, you can choose some of those for discovery. For example, a trip to Hanoi, Hue and Nha Trang is suitable for the 2 week length. In such an itinerary, you can have a 5 day stay in Hanoi capital to come and visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, Old Quater, Hoan Kiem Lake. You might include Halong Bay in your itinerary as well.
The rest of the time can be finished nicely with a short visit to Nha Trang, a luxury paradise for travellers. You can also take a look at our suggested travel itinerary for more information how to spend your two weeks in Vietnam!
Have a meaningful trip to Vietnam!
The most convenient way you can get from Hoi An to Hue is to by an open tour bus ticket in the ancient town. The trip lasts about 3 hours and you can request for a drop-off at your reserved hotel. Note that the route from Hoi An to Hue is one of the most mind-boggling one in Vietnam.
After passing through Da Nang, you will arrive at Hai Van pass. A new tunnel has been built to reduce traffic accidents and travel time and it is the longest tunnel in Southeast Asia.
Before and after the tunnel, you will be blown away by the breathtaking natural landscape of mountains and oceans, sky and trees so get your camera ready!
There are a number of ways to get from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc island, but the most popular way is to take a flight. Currently, Air Mekong and Vietnam Airlines operate flights daily departing for the island.
› Air Mekong flights:
* Air ticket starts at $50 one way. One way flight takes 50 minutes.
* Schedules: Air Mekong departs Ho Chi Minh City at 12:00PM and departs from Phu Quoc at 7:45 AM, 1:15 PM; 4:05 PM
› Vietnam Airlines flights:
* Air ticket starts at $50 and there are 8 flights back and forth between the two cities daily. One way flight takes $50.
* You can also travel on a high speed ferry from Rach Gia (Kien Giang) to Phu Quoc - which takes 3 hour and costs about $12. There are multiple ferries departing daily to Phu Quoc and back but it may take you a long time to travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Rach Gia.
I am intolerant of gluten products and therefore not able to eat foods containing wheat. I would appreciate your advice on whether gluten free meals are available in major cities Vietnam?
Thank you for writing to us. Gluten-free travellers will not have a hard time in Vietnam, because the main meal in Vietnam involves rice instead of wheat (see how rice is used in Vietnam). Major dishes such as "Pho" (beef noodle), "Nem" (spring rolls) are made purely from rice.
The concept of gluten allergy and gluten free meal are not popular in Vietnam at all. You may find these niche products, however, in the expat area of Hanoi (Xuan Dieu road) and Ho Chi Minh City (Pham Ngu Lao street).
The advice we have for you is to check with the hotel and restaurants to verify that the ingredients do not contain wheat (bot my in Vietnamese). If you stay at upper-scale hotels in Hanoi or in Ho Chi Minh City, check with the hotel chef or restaurant head to ensure a gluten free meal.
A few popular food that will contain gluten for sure that you should avoid (this may help with the Vietnamese vocabulary):
- Any food with a "banh" (including baguette, baked goods, ..)
- Any food with a "my" (including egg noogle, instant noodle)
- Any food with a "quay" (fried fritter dough)
- Any food with a "tam bot" (Vietnamese term for fried fish or meat with a flour coating)
We hope this is helpful to you and your family. Bon Voyage!