Weather & climate

The climate in Vietnam varies greatly from north to south and can be devided into three distinct climatic zones.

The North : Tropical monsoons occur from June to September. It is also very hot and humid during this period with average temprature is around 34-36oC ( 98 – 102 oF) and humidity is around 80%. The dry season starts from October untill the next April. It cold and chilly with average temprature is 14-16 oC ( 58-62oF). It sometimes drops under 10oC and snowfalls happens occasionally on highest attitudes. Average rainfall in Hanoi is 1,65 meter ( 65 inches) a year.

The centre: Monsoons occur from October to December. The two major tourist destinations Hue and Hoian can be affected badly almost every other year. Dry season remains the rest of the time here. The tempratures rarely drop under 20oC (70oF) in this region.

In the South: Rainy season starts from May to September and dry season for the rest of the year. It is hot all year round, with its peak in March and April.

There is no one ideal time to visit Vietnam as a whole. The high season, however, for most visitors, is from September to the next April.

Required clothing: Loose, cotton clothes for all year, but warmer clothing is essential in the highlands, and in the winter in northern Vietnam. Rainwear is a must during the wet season.

Geography

Vietnam lies within the tropics and is principally agricultural with a central tropical rainforest. The 'S'-shaped country shares borders to the north with the People's Republic of China and to the west with Laos and Cambodia. The eastern and southern shores are lapped by the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

Northern Vietnam is dominated by the Red River plains that bisect Hanoi, and the Lo and Chay rivers. To the north and west of Hanoi are green hilly areas; particularly well known is the Sapa Valley. East of Hanoi, Halong Bay features a stunning natural formation of more than 3,000 limestone islands jutting sharply out of the South China Sea.

To the south, it is the Mekong River and its fertile plain that governs the geography and consequently the rice industry. Among the plains, in the middle of the thin country and to the southwest are mountainous areas, known as the highlands, where farmers grow rubber, tea and coffee.

Visa and passport requirements

Passports

A passport must be valid for at least six months to the date of arrival.

Passport note

For security reasons, it is advisable to carry copies of documents rather than originals when in Vietnam.

Visas

Visas for Vietnam are required before boarding by all nationals, except:

  • nationals of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden for stays of up to 15 days;
  • transit passengers continuing their journey within 24 hours, provided holding valid return or onward tickets but they must stay in the transit area of the airport;
  • visitors requiring business visas need to supply a letter of introduction from the sponsoring business in Vietnam.
  • All citizens from ASEAN

Visa fees vary according to the type of visas and length of stay as well as nationality. Please contact your Embassy for the most updated information. Or contact us for lastest information and advice for a faster service and prices.

Vietnam health care and vaccinations

 

Vaccination identifier Special precautions
Diphtheria

Yes

Hepatitis A

Yes

Malaria

Sometimes

Rabies

Sometimes

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

Yes

Yellow Fever

No*

* A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers over one year of age coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission.

There are excellent hospitals in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as well as easy access to famous regional hospital in Bangkok or Singapore. Health insurance, however, is essential and should include cover for emergency repatriation by air. Immediate cash payment is expected for services and you can claim it later at home.

  • French Vietnam hospital :
  • S.O.S International :

Food and drink

Tap water cannot be used directly, only for  brushing teeth or shower, even at big hotels. It is advisable to use boiled water or botted water. Nowadays, bottled waters are available and cheap everywhere along travel routes.

Local drinks

  • Café sua da: Coffee served with condensed milk and ice
  • Tra da: (Light) green tea with ice
  • Bia hoi: Draft beer, very popular in Hanoi and the north.
  • Nuoc mia: Sugar juice
  • Nuoc dua: Coconut juice

Vietnamese food is getting more attention and popularity in many countries as Vietnam is emerging as a known tourist destination . It is a mixture of Vietnamese, Chinese and French traditions, with a plethora of regional variations. Rice is staple diet and you will find most famous Vietnamese discs are made from or with rice :

  • “ Pho” : chicken or beef noodle
  • “ bun cha” : grilled pork, cold rice noodles, deep fried rolls and a big bowl of salad leaves
  • “ Nem” : Minced pork or seafood, carrot, mushroom, egg-yoke,..wrapped in rice papper and deep-fry.

Tipping

Tipping is now quite customary, especially in tourist areas, and is much appreciated in a country where salaries are still low. Upscale restaurants and hotels may add a 5-10% service charge to the bill.

Money & duty free for Vietnam

Credit cards

Major credit cards like MasterCard, Visa, American Express…. are becoming more popular in many outlets/shops/restaurants… in major tourist destinations. There are often extra charges of 3-5%, depending on types of cards. However, outside main towns and cities, cash is a better choice.

ATM

There are plenty of ATMs in major towns, but they can be scare in rural area. You can get only Vietnam Dong from ATMs and the limit of each time is often 2.000.000 VND ( rougly 100$US) and maximum 10.000.000 VND a day.

Travellers cheques

Travellers' cheques can not be used directly at shops. They must be cashed before use and you can do that at most 4 and 5 star hotels,  banks, money changers with 1-3 percent commission, depending on currency you want to get.

Currency restriction:

Export of foreign currency over US$7,000 must be declared at customs. Import over this amount should be declared but unlimited.

Currency exchange:

Vietnam has a highly dollarized economy. Most strong currencies can be changed at most hotels like EUR, British Pound, Australian/ Camnadian/Singapore dollares. No commission charge for changing money. Enchange rate vary at regularly. Please visit local bank for the lastest exchange rates

Vietnam duty free:

The following items may be freely imported into Vietnam by foreign visitors without incurring customs duty:

  • 400 cigarettes or 100 cigars or 500g of tobacco.
  • 1.5L of alcohol over 22% volume; 2L of alcohol under 22% volume.
  • A reasonable quantity of perfume and personal belongings.

Banned imports:

The importation of non-prescribed drugs, firearms, anti-government literature and pornography is prohibited. CD and tapes can be kept for screening and then returned after a few days.

Nightlife in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City is packed with bars and clubs ranging from dingy bars to some very upmarket venues. Most of the nightlife is concentrated in District 1. Hanoi's nightlife is much quieter and the streets can appear quiet after 2200 hrs. The venues tend to be small here and are concentrated in the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem lake.

Live music is mainly restricted to international acts from the Philippines and Thailand performing in international hotels, with a few bars hosting local jazz and rock bands. Elsewhere, the nightlife is generally restricted to small bars and hotels but there is a particularly good bar/café scene in Hoi An in central Vietnam. For visitors seeking out something more cultural a visit to the water puppet theatre is entertaining. The bia hois (pavement pubs) also offer a fun social experience and the friendly locals will often talk to visitors. Food and snacks such as boiled quails’ eggs are also usually available. Traditional music and dance is performed in some restaurants in the main tourist areas, particularly Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang and Hue.