FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I’m new to Ho Chi Minh City and I want to find some reasonable hotel under USD50 per night. Could you give me some suggestions?

Here are some suggested hotels that you can consider when you come to Ho Chi Minh City:

-    Liberty 4 Hotel (265 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1): This is one of the three star hotels name Liberty in Ho Chi Minh city and the nearby area. This hotel is a proper choice with the lowest price of roughly USD42 for one night. The room is well equipped with adequate facilities like TV, private toilet, Air conditioners…

-    Empress Hotel (136 Bui Thi Xuan, District 1): This is not a huge hotel, but still attractive to the costumers with the unique and beautiful decoration inside. Also, the attitude of the staff and the service here are also the vantages of this hotel. The price for a night at this hotel is USD36 for the ROH room.

-    Kelly Hotel (42-44 Thu Hoa Khuan, District 1): The hotel is located near Ben Thanh market, one of the most attractive places in Ho Chi Minh City. This hotel has warm atmosphere with ingenious decoration that fascinate the tourists to come in. The price of this hotel is around USD 38 to 42 for a night in one good room with enough facilities.

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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 send a package abroad from Vietnam?

There are several out-standing names with which you can  such as DHL, GNN or EMS to fulfill your demand. In Hanoi, you can easily assess their services when walking around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. You can also find some trustworthy domestic deliverers such as Hanoi Post office or Viettel Express with reasonable fees. In Ho Chi Minh City, you can drop into the post nearby Ben Thanh market to send out your package abroad or some representatives of these above international express posts along Dong Khoi Street. Thanh Tin Express in Hue and Babylon Express in Da Nang are also among the most popular suppliers of delivering services across Viet Nam.

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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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Independent travel in Mekong Delta?

Question: Why are tours to Mekong Delta packaged tours? Can we travel on our own?

Answer: Because traveling around islands in Mekong Delta requires using the boat. If you travel on your own, booking a private boat might result in higher cost. Moreover, the package tour offer a complimentary service with an English speaking guide and many stop-overs in between so that travelers can get chances to see how they manufacture coconut candy, pop rice and other handicraft products. Traveling alone might be troublesome because the local people are not really good at communicating in English. If you are native to Vietnamese language, you can try, though!

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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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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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When is Vietnamese new year 2012? Will Cu Chi Tunnel be open during Tet?

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:

• 5 things to know about travelling during Tet

• Tet in Ho Chi Minh City - what to do

• 7 tips for travellers in Ho Chi Minh City during Tet

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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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Should I visit Sapa in late-January and early-February?

Question: Should I visit Sapa in late-January and early-February?

Answer: It depends. You are advised to check the weather forecast before starting your trip because the weather is now unpredictable. However, normally, this is the time when Sapa is getting colder and colder. Snow often falls in Sapa in these months. So, if you can adapt to the freezing cold weather and love admiring snow in Sapa, go ahead! On the other hand, choose another time to visit the town.

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I am from Malaysia and i will travel to Vietnam at the end of year. Do I require to apply for Vietnam Visa for Malaysia passport?

Thank you for your question. Malaysians do not require a visa to enter Vietnam, as long as they plan to stay for fewer than 21 days. If you stay longer than that, you can apply for a visa at the Vietnamese embassies or online for a visa-on-arrival.

We hope this information is helpful!

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