FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Do I need a visa to go to Ho Chi Minh City

Yes and no - it really depends on where you are from. The same rule for a Vietnam visa applies for travelers to Ho Chi Minh City. Most Southeast Asian nationals such as Singaporeans, Malaysians, Thai, Filippinos, ... and some other nationalities such as Japanese, Korean, Swedish, Dannish, .. do not need a visa for Vietnam for stay of one month or less. All other else will require a visa. 

To see whether you need a visa to visit Vietnam, check our visa guide section

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What is the climate like in Vietnam?

Located in both a tropical and a temperate zone, Vietnam's Climate is characterized by strong monsoon influences, but has a considerable amount of sun, a high rate of rainfall, and high humidity. It can be devided into three different parts, which are Northern Vietnam, Central Vietnam and Southern Vietnam. Temperatures are fairly constant throughout, with the exception of Hanoi and the far north (which can be very cold in December and January) and the Central Highlands (which can be slightly cooler than the rest of the country year-round).

Hanoi and northern Vietnam have two main distinct seasons: a cool to cold season (courtesy of the northeast monsoon from November to March) and a warm to hot wet season (from April to October). December and January in particular are the driest months in Hanoi and can get quite frosty in the far north of Vietnam with heavy mists that can run for days and snow on occasion. On the other hand, with June and July being the wettest months, Hanoi and coastal provinces around the Red River Delta generally experience high humidity and heavy rain by this time.

Hue and Danang, in the center of the country, have a very hot, dry weather from February to August with temperatures reaching over 35ºC. The region can experience quite heavy rainfall between September and January and can also be affected by typhoon season in the Western Pacific, which can see severe storms lashing the coast from August to November -- Hoi An in particular often floods in October or November. Further south though, the southern coastal strip from around Nha Trang to Mui Ne is less affected by the rain and sees a longer dry and sunny season.

Ho Chi Minh City and the south have a hot, dry season from December till April with average temperatures around 28ºC and is said to be the best time to hit this region while the rainy season lasts from May through till November, which are likely resulted in flooding in HCMC.

Recommended clothing:

You are strongly advised to pack some lightweight cotton clothing as well as an umbrella or raincoat for sudden cloudbursts when visiting Vietnam. Also, sweaters and warmer clothing will be much needed if you plan to visit the Northern Vietnam, especially mountainous areas, on winter.

For more information regarding the climate and weather in Vietnam, please refer to the link below:

http://www.vietnamonline.com/weather.html

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Is there any airport departure tax in Vietnam?

Q: Is there any airport departure tax in Vietnam?

A: Yes, an international departure tax is payable by all travellers leaving Vietnam. It is not included in the price of your flight ticket and must be purchased at the airport before departure.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the International departure tax is USD 12.

In Hanoi, the International departure tax is USD 14.

In Danang, the International departure tax is USD 12.

Domestic flights are not subject to airport tax. It is already included in the price of your ticket.Is there any airport departure tax in Vietnam?

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How to get from Hanoi to Sapa?

Question: How to get from Hanoi to Sapa?

Answer: There is no nearby airport in Sapa or Lao Cai, therefore, the only way to get from Hanoi to Sapa is by road or by rail. For a safe and convenient journey, tourists should book overnight train, bus, or private car to arrive at the destination.

For those who want to enjoy the privacy, booking private car is the best choice for an ideal trip from Hanoi to Sapa. Of course, private car will cost you more than other public vehicles like bus or train.

As the service industry has begun to flourish in Vietnam, there are many options of overnight trains to meet foreigner’s requirements such as Orient Express, Sapaly Express, King Express, Victoria Express, and so forth. Generally, most of these trains are beautifully decorated and well-appointed with modern amenities to ensure guest’s comfort. The price fluctuates from US$ 35 to 180 depending on how luxury the train is.

In addition to overnight trains, buses are ideal options for budget travelers. The time of bus schedule is flexible and the price are more reasonable, more or less than US$15. Some reputable buses highly recommended for you are Bus Hung Thanh Sort Berth – WC, Sapa Express Bus, and Good Morning Sapa Bus.

For detailed information about bus and train services, you can visit https://www.hanoisapatrain.com/ticket.html

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I’m moving to Vietnam in a few days and I need some information about the cell phone. So which network provider should I choose?

You can use your current phone with the sim card you buy in Vietnam like other international sim card. Vietnam now has only a number of service providers on mobile phone services with different advantages and disadvantages. Among those firms, Vinaphone, Mobiphone and Viettel are the three biggest service providers.

Vinaphone is reputed with the stable and high standard of network, while Mobiphone has better customer services, and Viettel focus more on promotion and competitive price. The price for a new prepaid account and sim card is normally from VND 50,000 to 100,000 based on the type of accounts (USD 2.43 to 4.86) and the price for using services is different for each firm, with the range from around VND 1,200 to 2,500 per minute (USD 0.06 to 0.122).

Fortunately, Viettel is currently offering a special package for the foreigner tourists name “Tourist” with more benefit and easiness to them to use phone in Vietnam. More information about this package can be obtained at the branches or stores of Viettel.

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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!

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Where should I go to when I feel sick?

Vietnam has public, semi-public and private medical care facility. However, most of the quality ones concentrate in major cities such as Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Public hospitals are large but often heavily cramped with patients and the staffs do not speak English well. You can visit other healthcare services as listed in our city pages, many of which have foreign doctors. Normally you do not have to book an appointment in advance unless otherwise noted.

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Train ticket from HCM to Nha Trang?

Question: Is it possible to book a train ticket from HCM to Nha Trang?

Answer: Yes, it is possible. Currently, there are 6 train routes running from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, namely, SE2, SE4, SE6, SE8, SNT2, and SE22. All of these routes are operated by Reunification Express Train. Normally, each train has 3 or 4 types of seat including hard seat, soft seat, hard berth (6 berths), and soft berth (4 berths). All are equipped with air-conditioner.

For your information, the railway from Saigon to Nha Trang is about 411 kilometers and it will take passengers approximately 8 hours. Ho Chi Minh Railway Station is located at No. 1, Nguyen Thong Street, Ward 9, District 3, meanwhile, Nha Trang Railway Station’s address is at No. 17, Thai Nguyen Street, Phuoc Tan District.

Please see the following table for your reference and be kindly noted that the information was taken in January 2016. It may change anytime by service’s providers.

Train No. Time Price (US$)
Hard Seat Soft Seat Hard Berth Soft Berth
SE2 19:30 - 03:13 n/a 33 41 43
SE4 22:00 - 04:52 n/a 35 42 45
SE6 09.00 - 16:21 30 33 41 43
SE8 06:00 - 13:18 30 33 41 43
SNT2 20:30 - 05:30 30 32 44 47
SE22 12:05 - 19:46 30 31 39 N/A
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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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How much does airport taxi cost from Noi Bai airport to Hanoi Old Quarter?

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 345,000 - 375,000 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.


We offer airport pick up from Noi Bai Airport to your selected location in Hanoi: classic service for only $20 and premium car service for $27. Contact us for booking or view Transfer page for further option.

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Where can I find dog food in HCMC?

There are two options to get food for your pet in Ho Chi Minh City: Supermarkets and street stores

In Supermarkets:

You can easily find dog food at supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City. There are a variety of brands you can choose from. Unlike Walmarts or other franchising stores, every supermarket in Vietnam has different ways to arrange their products. Therefore, if you are unsure where to get dog food and don’t want to spend time walking around, just ask a cashier or any supermarket staff for direction.

One advantage when buying dog food at the supermarket is fixed price and guaranteed quality. A drawback is there will be a long queue of people checking out at the cashiers during peak hours or the weekends. If you don’t want to wait for long, you can go to the supermarket in the morning or in the afternoon on weekdays. Some recommended supermarkets are Citimart, Coopmart, Lottemart and Maximark

In Street Stores:

Dog food can also be found outside of supermarkets in some pet shops or pet clinics. Unless you are familiar with roads in HCMC, it might be a little hard to find these shops. An advantage about buying dog food at street stores rather than supermarket is being free of queuing and waiting. These shops are small and the sellers often handle a customer each time so you can have advice or recommendations from the sellers.

A drawback is that its quality is not guaranteed. Some stores are just stocked with low quality pet food made in China because it is cheap and more profitable than other brands.  Some recommended pet stores are Saigon Pet clinic (33 street 41 Thao Dien, District 2), KC Pets (6 Hoa Su, Phu Nhuan district), Petit Ange (out in D7. 23 My Hoang, Phu My Hung , Tan Phong ward, District 7).  You may find other stores while walking around also! 

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