Can I get by with just English in Vietnam

The short answer is: YES, you totally can.
The not-so-short answer is: Yes, you can, but it also depends on where you go in Vietnam.

To your relief, most foreigners visiting Vietnam know barely any Vietnamese words but "Xin Chao - Hello" and "Cam On - Thank you". That is quite enough vocabulary for a 2 or 3 week trip to Vietnam. English is the most popular language in Vietnam after Vietnamese, and in the cities, even when you try to communicate in Vietnamese, the local younger people will just respond to you in English.

If you plan to take a break from the metropolitan areas and all the touristy places, you will have a harder time communicating your thoughts, ideas and needs. Body languages still work but a little bit more Vietnamese will save you tons of time and frustration. The good news is that, most Vietnamese people are very friendly and even when they do not know a word of English, they will try to help you out in all circumstances. 

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Opening hours

Question: What are the opening hours of the St Joseph Cathedral, One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Literature's Temple, History Museum, Hoa Lo Prison, Vietnamese Women's Museum, Keang nam Hanoi tower, Perfume Pagoda and Bamboo Wing?

Answer: Please find below the opening hours of the above tourist attractions:

• St. Joseph Cathedral: Opening hours for Catholic rituals

Weekdays: 5:30 am and 6:30 pm

Saturdays: 6:00 pm

Sundays: 5:00 am, 7:00 am, 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm

• Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum opens on Tue, Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun in the morning, from 8:00am to 11:00am

• Ho Chi Minh Museum opens every Tue, Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun and Mon + Fri morning.

• One Pillar Pagoda opens all days in week, in the morning from 6:00 am to 11:00 am, and in the afternoon from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm

• Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo prison open daily from 8am to 5pm

• Keangnam Hanoi tower opens daily from 7am to 9pm

• Perfume Pagoda opens daily, you should visit at day time by joining one tour departing from Hanoi

• Bamboo Wing opens daily, it is located in Dai Lai Resort, Vinh Phuc Province. It is around 40km away from Hanoi.

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We have been invited to a friend’s family home for a typical Vietnamese meal. We want to bring a gift to them. Is a bottle of wine or flowers appropriate? Or is there anything particular that we are e


Thank you for your question.

Frankly, there is no strict rule or code for gifts and presents when you are invited to enjoy a family meal in Vietnam. Without any wine or flower, the diner guests are still warmly welcomed by hospitable Vietnamese hosts.

However, fruit is always a nice gift and seems to be well received. So, you are highly recommended to pick up some nice fruits for the dessert. Besides, one could bring something nutritious for the elder, some alcohol, pastries for the family, or candy for the kids, though these gifts may make the dinner a lot more formal than it should.

You are also recommended to ask the host if there is anything you could help, and be willing to give them a hand in preparing the meal. Remember to wait for the oldest to eat first, ask once before the meal and once after your finish.

Enjoy the meal.

Read our Article "Visiting a Vietnamese Family" for more detailed insights. 

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What theme park should we go to in Ho Chi Minh city?

Theme parks in Ho Chi Minh City differ by games, decorating themes and services offered to their guests. Hence, the “should go” theme park varies from this to that based on your interest or time of traveling.

Dam Sen Water Park, located at no.3 Hoa Binh Street, District 11 is a “should go” theme park for any one who loves swimming and other exciting water-based activities like twisting in spiral pipe, jumping in the wave pool, or floating along the “wandering river” and so on. This is an ideal place for family tourists, especially who travel in summer time. Parents can relax themselves in massage pool, while children playing in the pool for kids. The advantage of Dam Sen Water Park is its easy reach - it takes only half an hour to get there from Ben Thanh market.

Suoi Tien Theme Park is also a popular choice, about 1 hour away from the city center. Suoi Tien is popular among international tourists for it paints the picture of Vietnam's history. Characters from fairy tales to legends are sculptured after and displayed all through the park. Game facilities are also of better quality than Dam Sen Park.

Lac Canh Dai Nam Van Hien or often called Dai Nam is a huge theme park located at 1765A Binh Duong Boulevard, just 1.5 hour’s drive from Ho Chi Minh City. This 500 ha site consists of an amusement section with modern games and exciting sports, a zoo with more than 1000 kinds of birds and animals, a spacious spiritual area with great temples, towers, statues and accommodation area with hotels in traditional architecture. The grandiose spiritual area on can be seen as the highlight for the park and makes Dai Nam become a destination for cultural tourism also.

Decide on your own how far you want to go and how much fun you want to get!

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Can we bring a laptop along with our hand baggage in Vietnam Airlines?

Question: Can we bring our laptop along with our hand baggage in Vietnam Airlines?

Answer: Yes, you can. In addition to free hand baggage allowance, Vietnam Airlines allows passengers to carry the following personal object on board without additional fees:

-      A handbag, pocket book or lady's purse, i.e.;

-      An overcoat, wrap or blanket;

-      An umbrella or walking stick (except one with metal-filled sharp pointed end);

-      A laptop computer, a small camera and/or a binoculars;

-      A reasonable amount of reading materials for in-flight reading only;

-      Infant's food for consumption in flight;

-      Infant's carrying basket or bassinet;

-      A fully collapsible wheel chair;

-      A pair of crutches and/or braces or other prosthetic device for the passenger's use;

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Vietnam Airlines Baggage Allowance?

Question: What is carry-on baggage allowance for Vietnam Airlines?

Answer: According to Vietnam Airline’s policy, each Economy Class passenger can carry 1 piece of baggage on board, meanwhile, each Business Class passenger can carry two pieces. Each piece has a maximum weight of 7kg and the sum of three dimensions is required to not exceed 115cm (56 cm x 36 cm x 23 cm) or (22 x 14 x 9 inches). In case your hand baggage exceeds the required weights and dimensions, Vietnam Airlines has rights to refuse to carry your hand baggage and request the baggage to be transferred as checked baggage.

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Where can I find the visa exemption form for Vietnamese overseas? What is the process?


Please visit our page on visa exemption for Vietnamese American where we explain in details the process of obtaining a visa exemption for Vietnamese overseas. You can follow the link next to the Application form to fill out an e-form and make a hard copy of the completed form. The rest of the process is also fully explained on the page.

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I am planning to visit Vietnam in the next days. I know several parts are still flooded, my questions is in how far this affects tourists? Is it safe to come? Are busses still running?

Thanks for your email and your interest in visiting Vietnam in the next few days. You are right, there are several parts still flooded in Vietnam (information as of October 26th, 2011). At this time every year, the Mekong Delta area often gets flooded because it is rainy season in the South of Vietnam. However, if you travel around Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, it’s not a big deal at all. You can find more information about weather in Ho Chi Minh City here

There are foreigners visiting Vietnam and being on the Mekong Delta Tour, though. For safety reasons, booking a tour at a travel agency is recommended. Floating market is a piece of Mekong Delta culture you should experience.

Besides, there are usually some upcoming storms in the Centre of Vietnam at this time of the year which makes the weather cooler than usual and more appealing to foreigners. If you are planning to stay in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi only, weather would be calm and will not to ruin your vacation.

Buses won't be affected by the weather. You may also check out News and Events section - we have reviews about weather on the VNO Weekly articles and update them regularly.

Hope you find it helpful.

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How much do people generally tip in Vietnam?

Previously, Vietnamese people did not have the habit of tipping; however, a boom in tourism allows this western life style to be adapted by the local. The most common situations to give tips are eating at restaurants, taking a taxi or hiring a tour guide. It all depends on the quality of services they provide you as well as yours’ satisfaction. To a taxi driver, 50 cents to $1is greatly appreciated, but not common. In a luxury restaurant, you can leave the change or a VND 50,000 note (about $2.5) which is really generous. In some upscale spa or hotels, a service fee of 10% is often added, so tipping is not necessary.

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How safe is Vietnam?

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.

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Should we use travelers check? ATMs?

Question: We will visit Vietnam in February and we are wondering the best way to pay for anything. Should we use travelers check? ATMs?

Answer: You aren’t encouraged to use travelers cheques in Vietnam because it isn’t cheap and convenient at all. Perhaps the cheapest and most convenient way to get cash is to use a bank card or a certain credit card to take it out of an ATM. ATMs are now widely put everywhere in the country, so it is pretty convenient to get cash. Or, you can also bring cash along with you but please watch out pickpockets and bag snatchers.

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