FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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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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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What is Vietnam currency and what is the exchange rate with dollars?

Vietnam's sole currency is Vietnam Dong - VND, which comes in notes and coins though the latter is barely seen today. Vietnam Dong notes come in denominations of: 

VND 500; 1,000; 2,000;

VND 5,000; 10;000; 20,000;

VND 50,000; 100,000; 200,000; 500,000

At present the exchange rate is about VND 21,000 for 1 USD.

US dollars can also be used for your purchase while you are in larger cities' tourist areas but try to avoid doing so. Since late 2011, Vietnamese government has banned all price listing in dollars. Adding to that, Vietnamese sellers will charge you unfavourable rate if you pay in dollars.

Vietnamese currency is not common beyond Vietnam and Asia, so your banks will not have them in stocks if you are in North America or Europe. You can always get some as you land at one of the Vietnam's airport.

• History of Vietnam Dong

Vietnamese bank notes images

Online currency converter

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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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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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What to do on the long plane trip to Vietnam?

The long plan trip across the ocean can be a nightmare for many travellers, including those experienced ones. A plane trip to Vietnam, unless departing from Hong Kong or Southeast Asia, will be a great pain for some. For example, from Toronto or New York to Hanoi, it takes 17 hours onboard, excluding the transiting time. Here is what you can do to alleviate the long trip pain:

1. Read your travel guide book: Sections in the Lonely Planet such as History and Geography are often scantily skimmed when you arrive. The time on the plane, however, can be an ideal period to know more about Vietnam. Imagine when you talk to the locals, you can be proud to think of yourself as "just-not-another-tourist".

2. Start your travel dairy: the boring landscape inside an airplane, with neither internet nor your favourite baseball match, can be an ideal environment for reflection. Think about where you are now, what you have prepared for the trip and what you are expecting. You will have fun revisiting these pages upon returning to your home country.

3. Make your to-do list: what food do you want to try, where do you want to visit, what do you want to learn, whom will you be telling your story along the way. Making to-do list can be a great way to make yourself satisfied after the trip to Vietnam.

4. Talk to your seat-mate: you never know whom you are sitting next to, until you TRY. Break the ice and make a new friend. Why not? You are going to Vietnam, a most-likely-totally-foreign place anyway.

5. Sleep: Sleeping is the best way to kill time and to help you avoid jetlag later when you land. Avoid caffeinated drinks whenever possible.

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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 much money should I bring to travel to Ho Chi Minh City?

Hi,

As you do not mention clearly about your travel time as well as your budget condition, so we can only give some general advices.

To travel to Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon, you need to have enough money for these main spendings: transportation, food, accommodation and entrance tickets to tourism destinations, not to mention your spending on shopping and other unexpected fees.

Saigon is such a big city that in order to visit all of the most well-known tourism destinations, you need at least two or three days.

Normally, the minimum budget spent for accommodation will range from VND 150,000 to VND 300,000/day, depending on the quality of the hotel and its location. Public transportation is quite cheap, which will cost you about VND 50,000 to VND 70,000/day if you move around inside the city. However, if you choose taxi as a means of transportation, the fare will be about VND 11,000/ km so each journey will cost you VND 50,000 on average.

As every other city and province in Vietnam, Saigon is a heaven of street food. If you do not mind eating like the locals at street vendors, you will only need to spend about VND 100,000 each day to have very good meals. The ticket for museums will take you about VND 10,000- VND 30,000; while most of other tourism destinations like Notre-Dame Church or Central Post Office have free entrance.

In sum, if you want to travel on a shoe string, you can do so with only VND 1.5 million (or $75) for 3 days in Saigon. $120 will probably give you mid-range hotel and more flexibility with travelling. For top hotels and sit-down restaurants, expect your budget to start from $500 for 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City. You can also refer to our guide to cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City for further information.

We hope this helps!

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What theme park should we go to in Ho Chi Minh city?

Theme parks in Ho Chi Minh City differ by games, decorating themes and services offered to their guests. Hence, the “should go” theme park varies from this to that based on your interest or time of traveling.

Dam Sen Water Park, located at no.3 Hoa Binh Street, District 11 is a “should go” theme park for any one who loves swimming and other exciting water-based activities like twisting in spiral pipe, jumping in the wave pool, or floating along the “wandering river” and so on. This is an ideal place for family tourists, especially who travel in summer time. Parents can relax themselves in massage pool, while children playing in the pool for kids. The advantage of Dam Sen Water Park is its easy reach - it takes only half an hour to get there from Ben Thanh market.

Suoi Tien Theme Park is also a popular choice, about 1 hour away from the city center. Suoi Tien is popular among international tourists for it paints the picture of Vietnam's history. Characters from fairy tales to legends are sculptured after and displayed all through the park. Game facilities are also of better quality than Dam Sen Park.

Lac Canh Dai Nam Van Hien or often called Dai Nam is a huge theme park located at 1765A Binh Duong Boulevard, just 1.5 hour’s drive from Ho Chi Minh City. This 500 ha site consists of an amusement section with modern games and exciting sports, a zoo with more than 1000 kinds of birds and animals, a spacious spiritual area with great temples, towers, statues and accommodation area with hotels in traditional architecture. The grandiose spiritual area on can be seen as the highlight for the park and makes Dai Nam become a destination for cultural tourism also.

Decide on your own how far you want to go and how much fun you want to get!

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Are there any restrictions on photography in Vietnam?

Yes. Vietnam is a country with full of photographic opportunities with such diverse landscape, beautiful coastline and mountain. However, please do note that photography in or near military installations, airports or similar locations is strictly prohibited. Anyone caught doing so will have the film, and possibly the camera or camcorder, confiscated and may be arrested.

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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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