Vietnam has public, semi-public and private medical care facility. However, most of the quality ones concentrate in major cities such as Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Public hospitals are large but often heavily cramped with patients and the staffs do not speak English well. You can visit other healthcare services as listed in our city pages, many of which have foreign doctors. Normally you do not have to book an appointment in advance unless otherwise noted.
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.
The safest place in the world can also be the most dangerous and vice versa. It also depends what you mean by “safe”.
In general, Vietnam is safe compared with most other Southeast Asian countries in terms of political stability. There is hardly any riots and absolutely no bomb attacks. The only concern is about road safety.
Protect yourself by taking a ride with trustable bus company, though they can be more expensive. Please see “safety” section for more details.
Hang Gai Street, just some steps from Sword Lake and where many silk shops are located, is surely the place you want to go. Here, you can find a lot of eye-catching silk clothes which are diverse in color, design and size. Especially, many shops here offer guests one-day-tailoring service that provides guests with customized silk clothes within one day only.
Just come here, speak out your wish and get your dream clothes done.
On a side note, if you dare venture outside of the city for better deals, Van Phuc Silk Village may be a worthwhile option too. You can combine making your clothes into a half day trip as there are plenty to see in this hometown of silk. Read more about Van Phuc Silk to have all the information you need.
Thank you for your questions. Vietnam Tet holiday is calculated based on the Lunar Calendar, which is different from Solar Calendar. Sometimes the Lunar Calendar has 13 months (leap year) instead of 12 months so the date of Tet holiday might change. It often falls into the end of January to early February.
As for your second question, Vietnam Tet Holiday 2012 will be January 23rd, 2012 (Solar Calendar). Most offices will be closed a few days before and after this date so be prepared (for example, please apply for your visa well in advance). Many Vietnamese overseas will return home, and those from the city will come back to the countryside so the traffic volume may be quite large. We suggest you to plan your travel well and book all the necessary flight tickets and tour service to avoid delays.
It will be a delight for you to get to know Tet Holiday - the most important holiday and event of the year for Vietnamese. If you are lucky, you will be invited to a Vietnamese family to enjoy the Tet holiday with them - which will totally change your idea of travel and travelling to Vietnam.
Here are a few reads and articles on the website which might be helpful to you:
Vietnam Lunar Calendar
Vietnam Tet Holiday
What you should know when visiting a Vietnamese family
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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.
Some shopping venues that you should check out: Personally, I highly recommend Saigon Square (77-78 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street) which is the heaven for shopping with good prices. The shopping center is just a step away from Ben Thanh market. Yet, where to shop also depends on what you want to buy. For example, for camping facilities, you could only find at Dan Sinh market.
In terms of spa, Spa Tropic is great place that provides you the best mind-healing treatment. (http://www.spatropic.com/). Happy Ending Massage Yuan is also a good choice for travelers with tight budget (about $10-15 for food and body massage) and it is quite central ( on Le Thanh Tong street). Good luck !
Hanoi is not the best bet for some pedestrians, but if you really want to go for a walk, there are still some choices.
The Old quarter is supposed to be on your top list with many local shops and street vendors. Old houses with French colonial architectural style dotted along streets are all worth sightseeing. A walk in “night streets” (at weekend’s night markets) is even better with wonderful light and very local feel atmosphere. You would certainly feel the lively nightlife of Hanoi by visiting the Old Quarter at night.
Areas around Hoan Kiem Lake, Thanh Nien Road or Ly Thai To Park are better choices for people who want to contemplate the tranquility of Hanoi, or want to take photos. Another suitable place is Truc Bach Lakeside with wind blowing and the road lined with trees. The trail that curves around the lake has trees and water on the one side and many street vendors on the other. You can always stop for some ice cream or sweet treats along the way. So just off your taxi or tour bus for a while and enjoy a walk for a better health!
Most cinemas in Hanoi, like Thang Tam, Dan Chu, Sinh Vien, National Cinema Center, only show films with dubbed Vietnamese and no English subtitle. Thus far, choices for foreigners in Vietnam in term of cinemas are very limited.
In Hanoi, only 2 cinemas provide original films with Vietnamese subtitle: Megastar at 6th floor, Vincom tower (191 Ba Trieu Str.) and Platinum Cineplex, 4th floor (The Garden center, Me Tri, Tu Liem). Both cinemas provide films in 3D and 2D, but the prices are different. Megastar asks for around VND 70,000 for a normal movie ticket and VND100,000 for a 3D seat, meanwhile Platinum’s prices are just VND 50,000 and 80,000, respectively. Compared to other local cinemas, the prices are quite high, but it is worth every penny with high quality movies and comfortable seats. Megastar even provides couple seats in Valentine period and other discounts for students during the week.
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.