FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

We are an Aussie family travelling to Hanoi this August, where should I take them to? I would prefer somewhere without too much noise and traffic.

If you have a family and want to visit places with little noise and traffic, you may take your family to museums, historical relics or traditional music theaters because these places barely have local people visiting so there are not too many people around. Below are some suggested popular places that you might consider:

- Thang Long Imperial City: This is a group of various historical relics in Hanoi with from Ly Dynasty a thousand year ago. The remained parts of these relics reveal many aspects of the lives inside royal palace in the past, and also information about the development of each dynasty in the history of Vietnam. Most of these relics such as Doan Mon Gate, The Flag Tower or 18 Hoang Dieu Relic are located in the central area of the city at Hoang Dieu or Dien Bien Phu Street.

- Ho Chi Minh Complex: This destination is the attractive complex, including some of the most fascinating attractions in Hanoi like Ba Dinh Square, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum where Uncle Ho is resting, Ho Chi Minh Museum and also the famous One Pillar Pagoda. You can take a cab and arrive at the complex’s entrance at Ngoc Ha Street to register and get in.

- Vietnam Museum of Ethnology: the destination exhibits numerous information about lives, belief and culture of Vietnam’s ethnic groups. The museum is also quite interesting to children with various activities like museum tours, painting or watching movies about Vietnam ethnic communities and traditional games. The museum is truly a haven away from the noise of Hanoi, with green open space and very few people. 

Related Readings:
Family Travel Advice

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How can I travel overland from China to Hanoi?

From China to Hanoi, you have some routes. Each of them has their own advantages:

1. Kunming - Hekou - Lao Cai - Hanoi:

Chinese side has no train in this route. From Kunming to Hekou border gate, if you travel by bus, it will take almost 10 hours, including lunch time. From Hekou to Lao Cai town, it lasts 10 minutes by motorbike/taxi. The next step is to go to Lao Cai railway station and find a train ticket to Hanoi (overnight train). So, it is about 790 km (490km by bus and 300km by train) from Kunming to Hanoi.

2. Nanning - PingXiang - Lang Son - Hanoi:

By bus: Huu Nghi Quan (Friendship Pass) is about 17km from Lang Son town. It is wise to arrive at Friendship Pass (customs and immigration) before 4:30 PM, because they do not stamp foreign passports after that time. After that you can take a minibus tour to Hanoi. It costs VND 60,000 ($3) for this trip and it takes 3,5-4 hours.

By train: Beijing - Nanning – Hanoi trip takes you about 40 hours. You will need to change the train at Dong Dang border town, since the rail width in China is 1,4m, while in Vietnam it is only 1m.

3. Nanning - DongXing - MongCai - Ha Long - Hanoi:

There are direct buses from Nanning to Halong Bay, which start 8:00 am in the morning, from River South Bus Centre (Jiang Nan Ke Yun Zhong Xing). The bus passes the border at DongXing border town instead of Gate of Friendship. Total bus travel time from Nanning to Halong bay is 9 hours and it costs VND 3,000,000 ($150). You can also go by express boat from MongCai to Halong Bay then by bus to Hanoi, but it takes longer.

Related Readings:

Crossing the border between China and Vietnam
Vietnam Railway System
Tips for taking night train in Vietnam

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I and my wife intend to visit Hanoi in this summer, and we are wondering something about money. Which currency should we carry? Where to exchange?

Normally you can bring any currency that you want to Vietnam, as long as you exchange that money into Vietnam Dong but USD is the most widely accepted one. You can also use USD or Euro to make payment in Vietnam, especially in hotel, restaurants or some shops in the tourists areas. 

To exchange you currency into Vietnam Dong, there are many ways for you to choose. The first way is to do it right at the airport when you land. You can also exchange currency in any bank in Hanoi, but ANZ bank or HSBC branch are recommended  as they are international banks with better customer service.

You should never exchange currency with the street vendors as their money might be not guaranteed in quality. About international credit card, you can use it in Vietnam to make payment, but there is only limited place, mostly big supermarkets, restaurants, hotel or malls accept this kind of payment. Therefore, prepare enough cash on your purse is more suitable in Hanoi than carry an credit card.

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Where can I get a pair of flipflops or sandals in Hanoi?

Summer is the golden time of flip flops and sandals in general. The scorching weather prevents many people from wearing shoes; moreover flip flops/sandals are so much convenient to take off before entering some café, restaurants or even pagodas. There are two biggest places for this product, one is Le Duan Street and the other is Hang Dau Street.

As Le Duan Street mainly provides working clothes, like rubber boots, rain coat, security uniforms, flip flop/sandals are not their major products. The positive features are low price and durability, but the styles are limited and the design is quite rough (imagine Birkenstock and the likes).

Hang Dau has a better diversity of styles, colors and designs, and the prices are just slightly higher. Shops here also sell bamboo flip flops, which are very stylish in this hot weather, and high quality leather sandals, sometimes imported from Korean or Japan. You really should go outside and get one pair for your own. 

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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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Hello! I am planning my trip to Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh area in particular, for october and i would like to know if you had any ideas for visting the countryside out of the city for a couple of days. I w

Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry. Please take a look at out suggestions for day trip from Ho Chi Minh City.

You can also contact travel agencies on Pham Ngu Lao area for budget trip option to outside of the city.

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What is the address of Vietnam Airlines office in San Francisco?

Vietnam Airlines has several offices in North America, including San Francisco. The address for Vietnam Airlines San Francisco office is:

Address: 88 Kearny St # 1400 San Francisco, CA 94108    
Telephone: (415) 677-0888
Toll free: 1-866-677-8909
Fax: (415) 677-9788

You can also contact the office by emailing: info.us@vietnamairlines.com

The opening hours of San Francisco office is Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM  - 5:30 PM. Note that the office is closed on Saturday and Sunday and major holidays.

Other useful information about Vietnam Airlines:

Vietnam AIrlines baggage allowance
Vietnam Airlines meals

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I’m going to travel to Hanoi and want to taste some street food here. Can you please give me some suggestions?

Welcome to Hanoi.

There are variety of street food here which is offered by both vendors and small shops that utilize the pavement to accommodate customers.

Just walking around the Sword Lake or Hanoi Old Quarter for a while, tourists easily meet a number of vendors selling “bánh rán” (deep-fried glutinous rice donut), spiced fruit, “tào phớ” (tofu pudding), “cốm” (green young rice), boiled corn on the cob, or grilled sweet potatoes. Besides, one can enjoy “Phở” and other kinds of noodle for breakfast or lunch in various small shops. Some streets which is famous for its typical food located in Hanoi Old Quarter hat you should drop by is To Tich (selling sweetened mixed fruits), Ho Hoan Kiem (selling sweet, chilli and sour grated salad), Tam Thuong lane (selling deep-fried fermented pork roll).

Read The 5 street vendors you cannot miss in Hanoi for information.

Enjoy!

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Paintball place in Ho Chi Minh City?

Question: Is there any place I could play paintball in Ho Chi Minh City?

Answer: In the city center, you may not find a place for paintball. However, if you travel 70 km away from the center and reach Cuchi Tunnel, you can have the feeling of a gun there. Besides discovering the tunnel, they offer the paintball service. A bullet is charged at VND 4,000 each.

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I am planning to visit Vietnam in the next days. I know several parts are still flooded, my questions is in how far this affects tourists? Is it safe to come? Are busses still running?

Thanks for your email and your interest in visiting Vietnam in the next few days. You are right, there are several parts still flooded in Vietnam (information as of October 26th, 2011). At this time every year, the Mekong Delta area often gets flooded because it is rainy season in the South of Vietnam. However, if you travel around Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, it’s not a big deal at all. You can find more information about weather in Ho Chi Minh City here

There are foreigners visiting Vietnam and being on the Mekong Delta Tour, though. For safety reasons, booking a tour at a travel agency is recommended. Floating market is a piece of Mekong Delta culture you should experience.

Besides, there are usually some upcoming storms in the Centre of Vietnam at this time of the year which makes the weather cooler than usual and more appealing to foreigners. If you are planning to stay in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi only, weather would be calm and will not to ruin your vacation.

Buses won't be affected by the weather. You may also check out News and Events section - we have reviews about weather on the VNO Weekly articles and update them regularly.

Hope you find it helpful.

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I am planning on a trip to Hue with my fiance. I would like recommendations for sites and restaurants, especially Spanish and Italian ones, if possible

Thank you for writing to us.

Hue is rather limitted in terms of Italian or Spanish cuisines, though you might some great fares at major hotels. For example, Imperial Hue Hotel has a beautiful restaurant that is decorated in royal Hue style - we are sure you will both the quiet and romantic dinner there. If you really want some foreign taste, you can head to Little Italy (2A Vo Thi Sau) or in general, the Pham Ngu Lao area where most foreign restaurants are located. To be honest, Hue remains very traditional in its dining sphere so do not expect supreme pasta or pizza.

For a local experience, try Khong Gian Xua (205 Dien Bien Phu) - a Vietnamese restaurants located about 5km from Perfume River. This restaurant offers exquisite Hue food at a very affordable price.

As a break, you can take your wife to the cafe La Boulangerie Francaise (14 Nguyen Tri Phuong) for some tasty French style dessert.

Some sites that you can travel together: Hue Imperial Citadel, The Perfume River, Thien Mu Pagoda, Lang Co Beach. A biking trip to royal tombs in Hue can be extremely romantic on its own (visit our page on Hue for detailed description of attraction).

We hope you find this piece of information useful. 

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