FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can you use american dollars in Vietnam?

You can use American dollars for sure, though in major tourist cities such as Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City. When you get to Vietnam, you can change the currency to Vietnam Dong, which will help your shopping time a lot. Most shops and stores will apply very low rate when you pay in dollars so we suggest you to avoid using the dollars whenever possible.

In International airport such as Hanoi Airport or Ho Chi Minh City Airport there will be currency exchange booths for you to change the currency. Current exchange rate is 1 USD ~ 21,600 VND.

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Paintball place in Ho Chi Minh City?

Question: Is there any place I could play paintball in Ho Chi Minh City?

Answer: In the city center, you may not find a place for paintball. However, if you travel 70 km away from the center and reach Cuchi Tunnel, you can have the feeling of a gun there. Besides discovering the tunnel, they offer the paintball service. A bullet is charged at VND 4,000 each.

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Where can I renew my visa in HCMC?

There are two options to renew your visa in HCMC. You can either have a travel agency do it for you or do it on your own.  Some services charge you from $40 to $160 depending upon for how long you want to extend or renew your visa and what types of visas - multiple entry or single entry.

It often takes 5 working days to process. If you prefer to do it on your own, you first need to download the application form for visa renewal, replacement or modification, length of stay extension (Form N14/M). Then, fill in the form and attach it to your passport and bring both in person to the Immigration Office.

Vietnam Department of Immigration
Address: 161 Nguyen Du, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

In case you are sponsored or invited to stay longer in Vietnam, a certification signature from the chief of the receiving, sponsoring agency/organization of the applicant or of the Chief Police of the Ward/Commune where the sponsor resides is required. It costs you from $25 up to $100 for renewing a visa depending upon your length of stay you want to renew. If you are not clear what to choose, you can ask the officers for explanation.

Don’t forget to get a receipt when submitting your documents at the Immigration Office.  On the due date, bring your receipt and personal ID to get back your passport with the new visa. 

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Where can I rent a motorbike in Hanoi? And how much does it cost for a whole day rental?

Hi,

Motor rental service is available in Hanoi and you can easily find the shops which offer this service on main streets like Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tran Hung Dao, and especially small streets in Hanoi Old Quarter like Hang Be, Ta Hien, Luong Ngoc Quyen, Dinh Liet.

There are many kinds of motorbikes from the most popular ones in Vietnam like Wave, Dream, Viva… to favorite transportation means of backpackers like Simson, Minsk. The cost ranges from $6 to $50 per day depending on motor type.

Foreign tourists just has to leave one hard copy of his/her passport and one kind of identity papers like driving license or passport in the shop, then take the motor and begin a joyful trip. These rented motor taxi is usually empty of gas so you will need to find a gas station to fill it up (see How much fuel costs in Vietnam).

Monthly motorcycle rent is also available with Rentabike (www.rentabikehanoi.com/) starting from $50 a month. If you plan to stay long term in Hanoi, you may purchase a used motorbike from a fellow expat - such as visiting New Hanoian classifieds section.

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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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Is Halong Bay Cruise suitable for old people?

Question: Hi, I and my wife would like to take a cruise in Halong Bay. We are wondering whether Halong Bay cruise is suitable for us - both are in our late 60’s? We wouldn’t be interested in activities like kayaking, climbing, or snorkeling.

Answer: A typical program of a Halong Bay cruise consists of many activities: energizing activities like climbing, kayaking, snorkeling; sightseeing tours to well-known attractions such as Surprising Cave, Floating Fishing Village, Pearl Farm; on-board activities like cooking demonstration, spa.... This means you have many options to enjoy Halong Bay cruise at leisure. If you don’t like kayaking, swimming or something else, you can sit on the boat, sip a cup of delicious cocktails, take a massage, or enjoy beautiful vistas of the Bay yourself .

However, please kindly be reminded that you should make clear with the cruise’s company or agent to ensure that they let you stay on board because some cruises off load you to other activities so that they can return to the pier to pick up new passengers.

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If I fly from Australia, in particular Melbourne, to Ho Chi Minh City, which airport will I land?

There are a number of airlines operating flights from Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City daily. Whichever air carriers you choose, you will land at the international terminal of Ho Chi Minh City Airport - the official name of which is Tan Son Nhat Airport. As of January 2012, this is the only airport that receives domestic and international passengers from Vietnam and all over the world. Below are some information and tips you might be interested in:

Information about Tan Son Nhat airport 
Ho Chi Minh City airport cafes and restaurants 
> Ho Chi Minh City Airport map

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What is the weather of Hanoi like in January?

January is undoubtedly the coldest month in Hanoi (see Hanoi monthly average temperature). Though the idea of having 7-12 Celsius degree seems to be associated with a nice, cool and no-sweat atmosphere, the reality is rather dark and ugly. The drizzle that goes on days and nights - though not all the time - make the air wet, humid and chilly beyond imagination. The worst part is probably strong cold wind AND no central heating system available indoors!  

The average temperature in Hanoi in January falls between 13 and 19 degree, not to mention the colder days which can make your trip rather miserable without warm clothing. The good news is that if you cannot afford to take them in your luggage from home, Hanoi has plenty to offer when it comes to shopping for clothes.

Tips: Essential things for Hanoi in January: scarf, mitten, thin layers of warm sweaters, socks and long-johns if you are from a tropical country.

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The easiest and cheapest way to travel from Noi Bai Airport to Hanoi City Center?

Question: The easiest and cheapest way to travel from Noi Bai Airport to Hanoi City Center?

Answer: Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) is round about 35 km north of the city. It takes tourists 45 – 75 minutes to move from the airport to the downtown depending on which vehicle you will choose (taxi, mini bus, public bus, or private car) and how heavy the traffic is.

The cheapest way

The cheapest way travelling to Hanoi City Center is to catch a public bus. Currently, there are two bus routes connecting HAN with the downtown, namely, bus 07 and 17. The price for a one-way ticket is 9,000 VND for bus 07 and 7,000 VND for bus 17. Despite of the extremely reasonable price (less than 0.5 USD dollar), many foreign tourists don’t like choosing this way because the public bus is often teeming with local people. In addition, it will take a very long time (about 60 minutes or more) to reach the destination.

Beside public bus, you can choose mini bus which is less crowded and more comfortable. Airport Minibus will cost 50,000 VND (US$2.5) for one way trip from the airport to Vietnam Airlines Office on Quang Trung Street. Fares to other destinations are higher, around US$4. Please make clear about your destination and fares before getting on minibus. Minibuses will leave the airport when they are full. You can also hire a whole minibus for 500,000 VND (US$25).

The easiest way

Using a private transfer service offered by your local travel agent may be the easiest way. Nowadays, almost agents and hotels will include airport pick-up service in their package. Upon arrival, there will be a person waiting for you with your name written on a piece of paper and taking you to your private car.

The commonest

For extra convenience and reasonable price, a great deal of travelers prefers taxi to other vehicles. There are three famous taxi operated in Noi Bai Airport, which are Viet Thanh Taxi, Noi Bai Airport Taxi, and Dai Nam Taxi. For further information about prices, please visit http://www.vietnamonline.com/transport/taxi-from-hanoi-airport-noi-bai-to-city-center.html

Note: Please be noted that these information were written in January 2016. The price and all other information may be changed any time by service's providers.

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How can I travel overland from China to Hanoi?

From China to Hanoi, you have some routes. Each of them has their own advantages:

1. Kunming - Hekou - Lao Cai - Hanoi:

Chinese side has no train in this route. From Kunming to Hekou border gate, if you travel by bus, it will take almost 10 hours, including lunch time. From Hekou to Lao Cai town, it lasts 10 minutes by motorbike/taxi. The next step is to go to Lao Cai railway station and find a train ticket to Hanoi (overnight train). So, it is about 790 km (490km by bus and 300km by train) from Kunming to Hanoi.

2. Nanning - PingXiang - Lang Son - Hanoi:

By bus: Huu Nghi Quan (Friendship Pass) is about 17km from Lang Son town. It is wise to arrive at Friendship Pass (customs and immigration) before 4:30 PM, because they do not stamp foreign passports after that time. After that you can take a minibus tour to Hanoi. It costs VND 60,000 ($3) for this trip and it takes 3,5-4 hours.

By train: Beijing - Nanning – Hanoi trip takes you about 40 hours. You will need to change the train at Dong Dang border town, since the rail width in China is 1,4m, while in Vietnam it is only 1m.

3. Nanning - DongXing - MongCai - Ha Long - Hanoi:

There are direct buses from Nanning to Halong Bay, which start 8:00 am in the morning, from River South Bus Centre (Jiang Nan Ke Yun Zhong Xing). The bus passes the border at DongXing border town instead of Gate of Friendship. Total bus travel time from Nanning to Halong bay is 9 hours and it costs VND 3,000,000 ($150). You can also go by express boat from MongCai to Halong Bay then by bus to Hanoi, but it takes longer.

Related Readings:

Crossing the border between China and Vietnam
Vietnam Railway System
Tips for taking night train in Vietnam

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What is the best way to travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City?

There are several methods to get from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City such as travelling by motors, cars or airplane, but the most interesting way should be travel by train. Thanks to the significant investment of the government, the Unification Trains (also called North-South Express Train) now connect Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh in one integrated route, with the direct travel time often less than 40 hours. The magnificent scenery outside of the train windows is also the attractive point of travelling by trains. Along the road from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, there are a considerable number of beautiful attractions such as mountains, valleys, oceans and forests for you to witness and enjoy. The only worth considering point of travelling by train is that the safety of the train is not totally ensured with sometimes serious accidents occurred on the route, but It is still in the acceptable level, especially in the modern trains. More information about the train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City can be found at the North – South Express Train of this site.

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