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.
For those with a tight budget, the ideal season to fly to Vietnam should be March and April, or September and October. That is to say, the beginning and the end of tourism reason offer you the best deals. In these months, the flight fare could decrease by 5-10%, or even a drop of 30% compared to the price in the tourism season.
In other months, you could grasp reasonable ticket fares for the flights to Vietnam, but the price in the summer or on Tet Holiday is significantly more expensive.
Summer in Vietnam lasts from late May to late August, with various tourism activities in many places and attracts a considerable number of travellers . Tourists are certain to face more challenges to reserve and purchase desired flights ticket while the ticket fare, in general, is considerably higher than the normal season.
The same situation occurs during Christmas and Tet Holiday, but to more extreme degree because not only the tourists use airplane to travel, but also the overseas Vietnamese who come back to Vietnam to have get-togethers with their family, leading to over-booking on most international flights to Vietnam.
Conversely, travelling in between September - November, February - April is advantageous thanks to the seasonal deals and discounts from the airlines to encourage people to travel.
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Question: Hi, I’m planning to visit Ha Giang in April. Can I see Buckwheat Flower Season in this month?
Answer: Buckwheat Flower or Tam Giac Mach in Vietnamese is a special flower growing in northern mountainous provinces of Vietnam. It is noted that this flower doesn’t grow naturally, it is planted by farmers, therefore, the time of buckwheat season really depends on these farmers.
Normally, buckwheat flowers are in blossom in October & November in Ha Giang Province and in March & April in Bac Giang Province. Hence, if you want to see buckwheat flower season, you should visit Bac Giang Province in April, instead of Ha Giang as your planning. In addition to admiring the beauty of buckwheat flowers, you should try wine and cake made from them, it is very special.
It is quite hard to find a decent English bookstore in Hanoi, since the demand is pretty low and not frequent. The first and only English bookstore in Hanoi until now is Bookworm, which located on 44 Chau Long Street, near Truc Bach Lake. This bookstore trades only English books and magazines, both used and new, with a limitted French collection. There are also many discounted fictions if you want a quick read for your next trip.
Another bookstore, Trang Tien bookstore (44 Trang Tien Str., Hoan Kiem Dist.) also sells many English books, though it is mostly about learning and teaching. The majority of books here are still in Vietnamese.
In order to find English books, you might need to venture out to other book stores around the city. Phuong Nam company has three bookstores in Hanoi: one inside Vincom tower (191 Ba Trieu Str.), one at 20 Ly Thai To Str and one at 87 Lang Ha Str. All of them have foreign sections, with some books, magazines, artbooks and CDs/DVDs in English.
Fahasa bookstore (338 Xa Dan Str, Dong Da Dist) might be worth visiting as well, with around 100 English books of different types. Moreover, Fahasa recently open a new book store at 39 Kim Lien Moi Str., Dong Da Dist, doubling the number of English books, which include some famous classic novels such as Frankenstein, Gone with the wind, Breakfast at Tiffany, The lords of the rings, etc.
In addition, wandering around Dinh Le Str. (the so called book street of Hanoi), you can sometimes find good English books/novels/artbooks at quite low prices. In general, to find a good English book in Hanoi, you must have patience and time but the price is pretty reasonable.
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$25).
The easiest way
Using a private transfer service offered by your local travel agent may be the easiest way. Nowadays, almost agents and hotels will include airport pick-up service in their package. Upon arrival, there will be a person waiting for you with your name written on a piece of paper and taking you to your private car.
For extra convenience and reasonable price, a great deal of travelers prefers taxi to other vehicles. There are three famous taxi operated in Noi Bai Airport, which are Viet Thanh Taxi, Noi Bai Airport Taxi, and Dai Nam Taxi. For further information about prices, please visit http://www.vietnamonline.com/transport/taxi-from-hanoi-airport-noi-bai-to-city-center.html
Note: Please be noted that these information were written in January 2016. The price and all other information may be changed any time by service's providers.
Start from 30 April 2016, Hanoi offers a new and quality express bus service that connects the airport with the city center.
R1: Hanoi Airport - International Terminal Level 1 -> Domestic Terminal Level 1 -> Nhat Tan Bridge -> Trang Tien (near Hoan Kiem Lake) -> Hanoi Train Station.
R2: Hanoi Train station -> Hanoi Old Quarter -> Nhat Tan Bridge -> Hanoi Airport Domestic Terminal Level 1-> International Terminal Level 1
Travel time: 55-60 minutes each way
Hours: bus departs hourly from bus stops listed above
Ticket fare: 30,000 VND (1.5$)
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.
Vietnam uses 127/220 V, 50Hz electricity. The power plug is mostly the 2 parallel flat prongs, 2 parallel prongs- French type (round) and the 2 parallel flat prongs with an earth connector. If your appliance uses different type of power socket, you can always buy an adapter from most tourist area or at the airport.
In HCMC, latest 2D and 3D movies can be seen at Galaxy Cinema or CGV Cinema (Megastar Cineplex). These are currently the only two cinemas that retain English dub or have English subtitle.
Schedules can be seen online at the website of Galaxy Cinema or CGV Cinema. Online booking is also available. You can choose either to pay immediately or pay later. If you choose to pay later, you just need to arrive at the cinema at least 45 minutes prior to the showing time to pay for your tickets. Besides, you can check out these websites to know about concurrent promotions. Price is a little bit higher in Megastar Cineplex (at least $6 for a 3D ticket and $4.5 for a 2D ticket at noon and $1-$2 extra in the evening and on weekends).
It is recommended that you book tickets for the latest 3D movies online because they might have run out of seat when you get there, especially on weekends.
Ho Chi Minh City Cinemas:
Address 1: Hùng Vương Plaza, 7th floor, 126 Hung Vuong, District 5,HCMC
Address 2: CT Plaza,10th floor, 60A Truong Son, Ward 2, Tân Bình District, HCMC
Address 3: Parkson Paragon, 5th floor, 03 Nguyen Luong Bang, District 7, HCMC
Address 1: 116 Nguyen Du, District 1, HCMC
Address 2: 2/230 Nguyen Trai, District 1, HCMC
Address 3: 246 Nguyen Hong Dao, Tân Bình District, HCMC
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!
There are two options to get food for your pet in Ho Chi Minh City: Supermarkets and street stores
You can easily find dog food at supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City. There are a variety of brands you can choose from. Unlike Walmarts or other franchising stores, every supermarket in Vietnam has different ways to arrange their products. Therefore, if you are unsure where to get dog food and don’t want to spend time walking around, just ask a cashier or any supermarket staff for direction.
One advantage when buying dog food at the supermarket is fixed price and guaranteed quality. A drawback is there will be a long queue of people checking out at the cashiers during peak hours or the weekends. If you don’t want to wait for long, you can go to the supermarket in the morning or in the afternoon on weekdays. Some recommended supermarkets are Citimart, Coopmart, Lottemart and Maximark
In Street Stores:
Dog food can also be found outside of supermarkets in some pet shops or pet clinics. Unless you are familiar with roads in HCMC, it might be a little hard to find these shops. An advantage about buying dog food at street stores rather than supermarket is being free of queuing and waiting. These shops are small and the sellers often handle a customer each time so you can have advice or recommendations from the sellers.
A drawback is that its quality is not guaranteed. Some stores are just stocked with low quality pet food made in China because it is cheap and more profitable than other brands. Some recommended pet stores are Saigon Pet clinic (33 street 41 Thao Dien, District 2), KC Pets (6 Hoa Su, Phu Nhuan district), Petit Ange (out in D7. 23 My Hoang, Phu My Hung , Tan Phong ward, District 7). You may find other stores while walking around also!