FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Should I bargain at Ben Thanh Market?

Question: Should I bargain at Ben Thanh Market?

Answer: Yes, you should. It may be your interesting experience with Vietnamese locals. If you do it well, you can pick up a few good bargains which are less than one third of the initial asking price. For example, if a seller says it costs 90,000 VND, you can bargain to get it for more or less 30,000 VND.

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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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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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Where is a good area in HCMC to start looking for rent?

Depending on your purpose and the length of your stay in Vietnam, you can find support for renting a house or a room from different people. If you are on a business trip to Vietnam, you might have useful advice from your colleagues about where to stay. A room at a hotel near your company will be ideal for a short stay while a rental room/apartment will work for longer stay (more than 1 month).

District 2 and District 7 offer high standard rooms which are suitable for foreigners who are willing to spend more on the accommodation part. However, it is a little bit far from the city center. Some rooms are also available in District 3, Tan Binh District at a lower price.

District 1 is the most expensive to rent a room for a permanent stay. Price also varies depending upon the size and amenities of the room.   If you are backpackers to Vietnam, you can find affordable rooms along the streets wherever you go. Price should not exceed $10/person/night for a hostel or motel. Again, do not hesitate to bargain

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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 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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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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Where can I buy SIM card in Ho Chi Minh City?

There are three major places you can get a sim card in Ho Chi Minh City.

1. Post offices:

A sim card of any mobile carrier may be found at any post offices, especially, in the city center. Prices vary from $2 to $8 per sim card. A good point of buying a sim card at the post office is its availability. If you don’t care much about the numbers and just want to get one to call other people, you can get one at the post office quickly. The only drawback is its limited numbers. If you really want an easy-to-remmeber-number, you should try other options.

2. Mobile shops:

People can get a sim card at any mobile shops in Ho Chi Minh City. Price is quite the same as getting it at the post office. However, at some shops, there is a variety of numbers for customers to choose. The easier a number to be remembered, the more it costs. A good enough number may cost up to $25 to $50. If you are doing a business and need a number for customer to memorize easily, you may think of these options.

3. Mobile carrier service centers:

At any mobile carrier service centers, you can either get a pre-paid or post-paid sim. Price is a little bit higher than other places. However, if you need a post-paid sim, you need to go to a mobile carrier service center to buy a sim and fill a contract to make it through. Friendly staff is willing to answer all of your questions.

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How much does it cost to get from Saigon to Mui Ne?

Question: How much does it cost to get from Saigon to Mui Ne

Answer: How much it costs to get there depends on what kind of transfer you choose. There are a number of ways to get from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne:

- By bus: Phuong Trang runs daily bus to Mui Ne, ticket costs around $7/person

- By taxi: One way taxi costs $150. If you book return trip you will get a discount.

- By private car: Private car costs $130/way for 4-7 seater and $150 for minivan.

One way travel takes between 3.5 and 4.5 hours, depending on traffic.

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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 much should we tip a driver on a private tour?

For a private tour, $5 tip per day for the tour guide and half of it for the driver is acceptable. If you are pleased with the service provided and find the trip enjoyable, some more dollars might be a good motivation and they would be happy to receive because they are deserved to it.

Remember: 50,000 ($2.5) and 100,000 ($5) are considered big notes in Vietnam!

Read more about Tipping culture in Vietnam.

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