FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How much is Vietnam's airport departure tax? Do I have to pay in cash?

Airport departure tax for domestic flight is $2 and for international departure tax is $14. The taxes are included in the air tickets, even low cost carriers like Air Asia often include the airport tax so you do not have to worry about paying extra. 

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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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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 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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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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We are a Canadian couple who want to adopt a Vietnamese child. Where do we start? What formalities do we need to complete?

Thank you for your questions. We have encountered similar inquiries from many of our audience and thus we have maintained a detailed page on Adoption matters in Vietnam. Please take a look at the following post in order to understand what procedures you will have to go through, and the tips that we have collected for adopting Vietnamese children.

- Start with learning about Step-by-step adoption process.
- Check whether you are eligible to adopt a Vietnamese child.
- Learn about Canadian law in adopting a foreign born baby.
- Find an agent who will facilitate the process.

We hope that this guide is comprehensive enough to you and please contact us if you have more questions to ask.

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How do I get a Vietnam visa from Hong Kong?

You have two options to obtain your visa to Vietnam from Hong Kong:

Option 1. Apply for a visa at the Vietnamese consulate in Hong Kong:
Address: 15/F, Great Smart Tower, 230 Van Chai Road, Wan Chai
Tel: (852) 2591 4517 or (852) 2591 4510.

Visa forms may be obtained by sending a self-addressed, pre-stamped envelope or faxing to the Number: (852) 2591 4524. 
Fee and Duration: Tourist visas cost between $30-80, depending on the length and number of entry. 

Option 2: Apply for a visa-on-arrival. Note that this type of visa applies to air travel only, and it costs $45 - 85, depending on the duration of stay ad number of entries. The process of applying online at a travel agency is very fast and you do not have to show up at the embassy to submit the application.

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Is it possible to withdraw US dollars from ATMs in big cities in Vietnam?

Question: Is it possible to withdraw US dollars from ATMs in big cities in Vietnam?

Answer: No, it isn’t, even if in the biggest cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang, and so forth. You can withdraw VND only!

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How to get a Vietnam visa from Singapore?

If you are a citizen of a Southeast Asian or Nordic countries, Japan, South Korea, you do not need a visa to enter Vietnam for tourism purpose. If your nationality is different from what was mentioned above, you can obtain your visa from the embassy or opt for visa on arrival.

The second option takes only a maximum of 2 days but it applies to air travel only.  

For the former option, the Vietnam embassy address in Singapore is:  

10 Leedon Park St., SINGAPORE 267887
Tel: (65) 6462 5936/ 6462 5938
Fax: (65) 6468 9863
Email: vnemb@singnet.com.sg

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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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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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