Everything you should know before your trip to Vietnam

Heading to Vietnam but feeling a bit overwhelmed with planning? We’re here to help! In this post, we’ve gathered all our tips and tales from our Vietnam trip. Whether it’s finding the perfect stay, navigating transportation, or discovering the tastiest bites, you’ll find everything you should know before your trip to Vietnam right here. Our goal is to ensure you’re well-prepared for your Vietnam adventure.

Everything you should know before your trip to Vietnam

1. Food and cuisine
2. Accommodation
3. Transportation
4. Local culture
5. Public holidays and festivals
6. Language and communication
7. Safety and health
8. Money and budgeting
9. Apps and technology
10. Sightseeing
11. Connectivity
12. Visa and entry requirements

1. Food and cuisine

Vietnamese cuisine is a true symphony of flavors. Who could say no to a steaming bowl of pho, or biting into a crispy banh mi filled with savory goodness? Not us! Not to mention the delicious drinks you can find in Vietnam. Every single dish and drink on our list will leave you craving for more, so let’s go.

Banh mi

Everything you should know before your trip to Vietnam: Banh mi

We’ll start with our absolute favorite Vietnamese dish: banh mi. In fact, we love banh mi so much that we dedicated a whole separate blog post to it. Check out this article to find out about the best places to eat banh mi in Vietnam. Just thinking back of all these yummy sandwiches full of flavor is enough to make our mouths water. We tried all kinds of banh mi, from vegan and vegetarian to BBQ chicken and pork sausage, and also a lot filled with different types of egg. Let us tell you, they’re all so good!

Bun cha

Another absolutely delicious dish is bun cha, a Hanoi classic. The dish consists of grilled pork and noodles, and can be eaten in two ways. One way is to eat it as a soup, and the other way is to take all the ingredients and make your own spring rolls. Since the latter is the more fun way, we recommend you try it that way of course. 😉 The seared grilled pork is so juicy and tender, delish!


If you never tried pho, the national dish, have you really been to Vietnam? This soup dish is an absolute classic, and is usually made of broth, rice noodles, tons of herbs, and meat (either beef or chicken). The beef variant is normally eaten early in the day, because Vietnamese people believe that beef will give them the most power to get through the rest of the day! And if soup in the hot Vietnamese weather doesn’t sound appealing, you can also opt for pho cuon, the rolled version with the same ingredients. We tried both and actually prefer the rolled version with a nice dipping sauce!

Egg coffee

We had heard and read a lot about egg coffee before our trip to Vietnam, but we really didn’t know what to expect. All the more reasons to try it! Well, it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. We tried egg coffee in every single city we visited, which should tell you how amazing they are because we usually don’t drink any coffee at all! It’s the perfect blend of very strong coffee taste, with a nice (usually sweet) mixture of condensed milk and whipped egg whites. Sounds weird at first, but once you try it you’ll be hooked. And if you’re after the best egg coffee recommendation in all of Vietnam, we recommend you head over to our one-day Ninh Binh itinerary.

Salt coffee

At first, salt coffee was a weird one for us. When we drink coffee, we usually try to make it as sweet as possible (to hide the strong flavor, mostly). Adding something salty to it did not make a lot of sense to us. That was, until we tried it! Admitted, Thysia isn’t the biggest fan, but for Kelvin it’s the second best type of coffee you can find in Vietnam. It’s just so different from all the other flavors, and because it’s so salty you’re not going to be chugging them down all the time. This means you can enjoy this specialty even more!

Coconut coffee

A very nice and sweet type of coffee is Vietnamese coconut coffee. It’s usually ice blended, very strong coffee mixed with sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk or cream. We really liked it, both iced and hot (although we prefer hot with some cold cream on top). It’s definitely a must try when in Vietnam!

Sugarcane juice

On to the surprise of this category: sugarcane juice! Sure, this can be found in other countries other than Vietnam, but the sugarcane juice we drank in Vietnam was miles better than in any other country we’ve been to. We don’t know why this is the case, maybe because they usually press the canes right in front of your eyes? It definitely makes for a great spectacle, both for your taste buds as well as your eyes!

Since Vietname’s cuisine is heavily based around meat, it was not always easy to find dishes that were okay for Thysia to eat. This means that we tried a lot less local dishes compared to our time in Thailand for instance, because there weren’t as many vegetarian options available. We also had lots of different kinds of fried rice during our time in Vietnam, but that’s not worthy of a mention we feel.

2. Accommodation

General information

You have a wide variety of options when it comes to accommodation in Vietnam. You can go the local route and opt for homestays or guesthouses, try to keep it wallet-friendly by opting for hostels or budget hotels, or get a taste of luxury by going for high end hotels and resorts. Check in is usually around 2 PM, sometimes earlier, and checking out was around noon for us (sometimes 11 AM).

Cash is king! This will be a common occurrence in this article, but (credit) card payments are not widespread (yet) in the whole country. Even if you entered your card info online to confirm your booking, the accommodation will most likely still ask for cash payments on the day of check in.

We’ve found that WiFi is pretty reliable, even if you opt for the more budget-friendly accommodations in Vietnam. Do know that if you happen to stay in a hotel that has spotty WiFi, coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants in Vietnam almost always have pretty good WiFi – more on that later.

We always had air conditioning in the room, and highly recommend checking your room prior to your stay. Vietnam is pretty hot all year round, A/C is a must! When we visited Ho Chi Minh City temperatures rose to over 35 degrees Celsius. You don’t want to be sleeping in a non-A/C room when this happens to you!

Most hotels offer tons of services “on the side”, like bike rental or laundry. We heavily used these services all the time because of how convenient it was. Instead of scouring Google Maps reviews for the best rental shop or laundry place with the cheapest prices and then taking a Grab there (and back), we just handed our dirty laundry to the hotel clerk and asked whatever else we needed. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we didn’t check reviews or prices beforehand! We always did this, but in our opinion the convenience of choosing to go with the place you’re staying at outweighs the difference in cost (if there even was any). On two occasions we opted for a different laundry place over our hotel because the reviews of our accommodation weren’t the best, but that’s that.

Budget accommodation options

Like we mentioned in our Vietnam budget breakdown, we mostly opted for budget accommodations. We’re pleasantly surprised by how high the quality of these budget hotels in Vietnam are! Oftentimes they’re cheaper than hostels, more often than not breakfast is included, and the room usually came with all amenities we could ask for. We heard from fellow backpackers that hostels in Vietnam can be hit or miss, especially the social aspect can sometimes be lacking. While we don’t want to dismiss the hostel scene entirely, we strongly suggest comparing prices with budget hotels. We mainly booked our accommodations in Vietnam on and Agoda.

Special accommodation options

Because accommodation in Vietnam can be very affordable, it doesn’t hurt to spoil yourself from time to time, too. 😉 We did this on two occasions. Once by having an overnight stay on a cruise ship, and once by going to a very fancy hotel in Sapa called Viettrekking Sapa. We’ve already dedicated a whole blogpost about our time in Viettrekking Sapa, and can highly recommend taking the cruise we went on, too. It was the highlight of our Vietnam trip.

Since accommodation in Vietnam can be very affordable, you can stay in amazing hotels for a fraction of what it would cost back home. This also means that you can live like royalty if you decide to pay just a tad bit more than what you’d usually spent. We’ve curated a list of 3 must-try hotels if you do decide to take it up a notch!

3. Transportation

Getting around by bus

The type of transportation that we took the most in Vietnam, buses. We want to warn you right away, buses in Vietnam are… inconsistent to say the least. We’ve had some of the best bus rides of our world trip in Vietnam, yes, but also definitely some of the worst. Overall, we highly recommend you either read tons of reviews about the bus operator prior to buying the ticket, or you book through your accommodation (if you trust them). Added bonus if you let your hotel in Vietnam buy tickets for the bus, is that the bus will pick you up there. You won’t have to make your way to the bus stop!

We’ll start off with what most of you already know: buses in Vietnam are never on time. Of the dozens of buses we took, one bus departed 5 minutes before the agreed departure time, all the others at least one hour after the agreed time. If you rely on a bus to take you to the airport or another important destination, allow sufficient time to get to your next appointment. The recommended time is 5 (!) hours. This means that a scheduled arrival at 5 PM may very well become 10 PM, late at night!

Rule of thumb when it comes to taking the bus in Vietnam is: you get what you pay for. Most bus companies work with different types of tickets. You can have a local bus, VIP bus, sleeper bus, cabin bus, express bus,… and most of the time there’s a number on your ticket, too. This number indicates the total seats on the bus, the lower this number the higher your chances of enjoying the ride. Our recommendation is to go for the most expensive buses and/or the one with the lowest amount of seats, all the time. The additional 5 or 10 euros you pay extra are in our opinion worth it – trust us.

If you go for the local bus, be prepared for no (toilet) breaks. Kelvin’s asked multiple bus drivers to stop for a toilet break on our many bus rides, but they always refused. The times we went for the VIP tickets, there were toilets on the bus so we didn’t have this problem. If you have a small bladder, at least consider buying tickets for a bus that has a toilet on board.

We also heard from other travelers that bus drivers and conductors will try to put people from the same party (couples, friends,…) in the same cabin, even if they paid for separate tickets. They do this when they overbooked the bus, but you can (and should) always refuse. If you paid for multiple tickets, you should get multiple seats! Luckily this didn’t happen to us.

If you’re taller than 1m80 (6 feet), we highly recommend going for something other than a local bus. Vietnamese people are rather short, which means the seats on (sleeper) buses are not made for tall people. To give you an idea, the average person in Vietnam is 1m60 (5 feet 3 inches) tall.

Traffic in Vietnam is crazy, and (night)buses are no exception. These buses drive like they’re the biggest and meanest things on the road, and honestly, they’re right. Be prepared to be swung around a lot, motion sickness pills are maybe not a bad idea.

We booked most of our buses in Vietnam via This was pretty convenient, and has the added advantage that you can “shop around” to see available tickets and bus operators.

Getting around by minivan

A slightly more expensive, but also slightly more comfortable option is taking a minivan in Vietnam. We’ve done this a couple of times, especially when we wanted a more comfortable ride. We really recommend a minivan for shorter distances (less than 4 hours). In particular if you don’t have/want to sleep on the way to your next stop. Some minivans are really well equipped, with reclining seats and WiFi on board! Others can be pretty basic with the A/C blazing just a bit too hard, though. 

Similar to bus rides, don’t expect to be dropped off at the agreed end station. Although we must say that your chances are a bit higher to convince the driver to do it anyway!

Overall, minivans are the best combination of being pretty affordable and still somewhat comfortable – a great option for families or vacationers. 

Getting around by taxi

We only took taxis in bigger cities, not between locations or in towns where we rented a scooter. All taxis we hailed were through a rideshare app (more on that later). We found taxi prices in Vietnam super affordable! They’re the most economical in all of Southeast Asia, we think.

We already noticed it on arrival when we ordered a taxi from Hanoi airport to the Old Quarter. The total fare came to 300,000 VND (€ 10,85) for a 50 minute ride to our hotel. A steal! To give you an idea, the starting fare for a taxi ride is between 15,000 and 20,000 VND. Each additional kilometer then adds another 15,000 VND on average.

Getting around by plane

We’ve taken one domestic flight on our Vietnam itinerary, from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City. The main reason we did this was because we didn’t want to spend 20 hours on a bus. But the fact it only cost us € 80 for both of us didn’t hurt either! If you’re strapped for time or the prospect of spending hours and hours on a bus does appeal to you, flying is the way to go!

We booked our flights with Vietnam Airlines, a low-cost carrier. Other budget airlines in Vietnam are VietJet Air and Bamboo Airlines. Affordable flight tickets to Vietnam can be found with AirAsia, especially if you depart from another Southeast Asian country.

Getting around by train

We didn’t take the train in Vietnam because we heard some horror stories from people that did. That being said, we’ve experienced similar things when taking (night)buses in Vietnam so next time we might hop on a train! We hear the scenery is absolutely breathtaking, similar to Sri Lanka.

The easiest way to book train tickets in Vietnam is through The official website is an option too, but they don’t accept foreign cards and the user experience is much less pleasant. If you insist on using the official channel, you can choose the option to pay later at the counters of Vietnam Railways (eg. convenience stores or stations).

There are also private, luxury trains that you can take but these are harder to book. An example of a luxury train operator in Vietnam is Violet Express Train.

Good to know
Vietnam, unlike most other countries in Southeast Asia, does not have tuktuks. The vehicle that comes closest to tuk tuks are cyclos, a three-wheeler bicycle taxi (non-motorized). You’ll most likely see some of these around the major tourist attractions.

4. Local culture

Our food tour guide in Hanoi told us that over 70% of Vietnamese people are non-religious, something that surprised us a lot! This is very unlike other countries in Southeast Asia. The two main religions in Vietnam are Buddhism and Christianity, although you’ll see a lot less temples and churches compared to Thailand or Sri Lanka. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t dress modestly! In important places like the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh you still should wear appropriate clothing.

We’ve heard from other people that haggling is not possible in Vietnam, to which we say: not true! You can still very much haggle in Vietnam. Whether it’s for (knockoff) clothing, an unmetered taxi, or anything else that doesn’t have its price indicated. If you’re haggling over a taxi ride, make sure to inform yourself of the price prior to the negotiation. You can do so by asking your accommodation or by looking up prices via a rideshare app. For clothing or buying from street vendors, we recommend shopping around to see what the usual prices are.

Something you should definitely know is that Vietnam has been occupied for hundreds of years. China, France, the US, and even Japan during WWII have all had their say in Vietnam’s history. This means you can still find tons of remnants of these countries all over Vietnam. Take banh mi for instance, where the way of baking bread stems from the French. For an interesting trip through Vietnam’s history, we recommend reading the part about the Hoa Lo Prison in this article about 12 unique things to do in Hanoi.

Vietnam was the only country of our world trip (so far) where people in public played TikToks and other videos on the highest volume imaginable, or talked (loudly) on the phone for hours. This happened on the bus, in restaurants, in waiting areas (like the airport), … everywhere. We are not used to this at all and really don’t like it, but it is so common that you just have to come to terms with it. Of course, it’s always the “vocal” minority you notice most often, but we really wished more Vietnamese people learned about earphones. 😂

Lastly, don’t expect locals to be able to break your bill or give change for (what is considered) a lot of money. We usually tried to get rid of our 500,000 VND bills as fast as possible so that we could pay taxi drivers or convenience stores with smaller denominations. Bigger chains (like Circle K) will accept any bill, even for smaller amounts, so you can get rid of the larger bills there.

5. Public holidays and festivals

Hung Kings Commemoration Day (10th day of the 3rd lunar month)

We experienced one holiday during our trip to Vietnam, namely Hung Kings Commemoration Day. This holiday takes place on the 10th day of the 3rd lunar month, in our case this was April 18th. On this day, all banks were closed (even the ATM cabins right next to the bank). Even worse, since this holiday took place on a Thursday, banks were closed on the following Friday, too. Other than that, we didn’t experience any issues or annoyances. Hung Kings Commemoration Day celebrates the mythical Hùng Kings, who are considered the founders of Vietnam. The festival is held from the 8th to the 11th day of the third lunar month, with the 10th day being the most important one.

Tết Nguyên Đán (end of January/beginning of February)

Or shorter, Tết, is the most important holiday in Vietnam. It marks the beginning of the lunar new year and is a time for family reunions, feasting, and honoring ancestors. We almost planned our Vietnam itinerary so that we could experience Tết, but luckily we decided against it. The reason for this is that all Vietnamese people go back to their hometown (or village), which means that the bigger (touristy) cities are usually… empty. Our food tour guide in Hanoi confirmed this and said that cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City are usually not the place to be during Tết. The countryside however, is where it’s at!

Reunification Day (April 30th)

This holiday marks the fall of Saigon in 1975, which led to the reunification of North and South Vietnam. It is a day of national pride with parades, fireworks, and various celebratory events.

National Day (September 2nd)

This holiday commemorates the declaration of independence from French colonial rule in 1945 by President Ho Chi Minh. It is celebrated with patriotic events, parades, and public festivities. All Vietnamese people get the day off, so expect some impact when it comes to opening times or public transportation.

6. Language and communication

Useful phrases

We’ll be honest, the Vietnamese language was way too difficult for us. The different tones and intonations did not make it easy for us to learn some useful phrases. Even though they use (almost) the same alphabet like we do, none of the words we saw looked even remotely similar to our words. That being said, a friendly “Xin chào” (hello) or “Cảm ơn” (thank you) will definitely get a smile out of the locals. Other than that, we’ve mainly used Google Translate to communicate if English wasn’t sufficient.

Language barriers

We’ve said it before, but don’t expect Vietnamese people to be fluent in English. People who work in tourism, like hotel clerks or waiters in restaurants, are usually able to express themselves and answer questions just fine. However, if you stray a bit more off the beaten track or ask non-standard questions, then expect to rely on Google Translate a lot. Buying things in local convenience stores, communicating with conductors on the bus, or even buying medicine for food poisoning all required us to use Google Translate. What also helped was making a lot of gestures, can’t go wrong with 👌 or 🫰!

7. Safety and health

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is crucial. Choose a plan or credit card that covers medical expenses and offers emergency assistance. Consider insurance for potential trip delays or cancellations, as these are common. Don’t forget to protect your belongings from loss or theft. We opted for a Mastercard that provides all these benefits, plus car rental insurance.

If you’re looking for a reliable travel insurance company, we suggest checking out Visitors Coverage. They partner with leading insurance underwriters and providers, and offer a wide range of customized policies.

Health precautions, safety tips, and vaccinations

Traffic in Vietnam is crazy! As a pedestrian, but also when riding a motorbike for instance, we recommend you to be on high alert all the time. We really needed some time when we arrived in Hanoi to adjust to this madness. Crossing the road is not fun and adds a lot of stress. On top of all this, Thysia got hit by a motorcycle on our first day in Hanoi which meant we didn’t trust Vietnamese drivers at all! Luckily she didn’t get injured, but we were still pretty scared. Also, get used to walking on the road since most of the sidewalk is either full of vendors, or… there just isn’t any.

To ensure we were properly vaccinated for our trip, we scheduled an appointment at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp. After discussing our plans with the doctor, several vaccinations were recommended based on our itinerary. While shots like rabies or typhoid might not be necessary if you stick to resorts and avoid street food, we chose to be cautious and received all 13 recommended vaccinations. Yes, 13!

For those seeking vaccination information without a doctor’s visit, the Belgian website offers a comprehensive overview of required and recommended vaccinations by country. For our trip to Vietnam, we received vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis, polio, measles-mumps-rubella, typhoid fever, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis. We didn’t need malaria pills but did get a high-DEET mosquito repellent. If you run out of mosquito repellent in Vietnam, you can always get some at any pharmacy. We highly recommend the Thai brand Soffell (available in Vietnam and most other countries in Asia). It’s the one with the pink cap. 😉

8. Money and budgeting

Currency and exchange rates

Vietnam uses the Vietnamese Dong (VND), with a current exchange rate of 100,000 VND being € 3,61. We always used 100k VND ≈ € 4 for quick calculations. The nice thing is that this applies to USD, too, with 100k VND being $3,91 at the moment. This made it easy for us to get a quick idea whether an item was expensive or not. 25k for a banh mi? Oh that’s only 1 euro, nice!

More importantly, get used to large denominations. The first time you withdraw money from an ATM, you’ll most likely become a Vietnamese millionaire! The largest note is the 500k one, approximately € 18 ($19,65). Like we said before, try to get rid of these big notes as fast as possible by using them in Circle K, a fancier restaurant, or at a gas station.

The nice thing about Vietnamese money is that they do not have coins. The smallest denomination that’s still being used is the paper note of 1,000 VND. Your wallet will be so light, awesome!

Another great tip is to always check your change, as well as what bills you’re handing over. The 500,000 and 20,000 VND notes look very similar, some kind of light blue, which made this sometimes more difficult than we wanted. You absolutely don’t want to pay 25 times more for an item than you should! The 50,000 and 200,000 VND bills also looked quite similar, so bear that in mind.

Card payments are not widespread, at all. Prior to our world trip, we applied for a Mastercard where every euro we spend gets us some miles. This means we try to pay with this credit card as often as possible, but unfortunately Vietnam hasn’t transformed to digital payments yet. Also, places that do offer card payments will almost always add a handling fee (ranging between 2 to 5%) to your total. The only exception to this we found, is the amazing chain of Highlands Coffee.

Since you want to be carrying around cash, you will have to rely on ATMs a lot. Almost all ATMs in Vietnam add a significant transaction and/or exchange fee to your total. On top of that, the limits for withdrawing money are pretty low (between 2M and 3M VND, around € 100). However, we found 2 banks that did not add any fees (other than your own bank’s exchange fee) and had way higher limits. These banks are VPBank and TPBank, where we were able to withdraw up to 5 million VND with no fees. Locals told us that you could withdraw up to 10 million VND at HSBC, but we never came across them. We also don’t know if they add fees or not.

Budgeting tips

For budgeting tips, we forward you to our extensive budget breakdown for 26 days in Vietnam. But if it’s a sneak peak you’re after: go local! Eat street food and rent a scooter.

9. Apps and technology

Navigation apps

We only used Google Maps in Vietnam, which was sufficient for our needs. When riding a scooter, though, we noticed that Google Maps sometimes has a mind of its own. This is not specific to Vietnam, however, because we’ve had this happen to us in Sri Lanka and Thailand too! When this happens, don’t be afraid to ask a local for directions.

ATM fee saver

We highly recommend the ATM Fee Saver app for your trip! Most ATMs in Vietnam, except for TPBank and VPBank, add additional fees for each transaction. To minimize these fees, we typically withdrew larger sums of money each time and used the ATM Fee Saver app to locate the best ATM nearby. The app also displays the maximum withdrawal amount per bank. Alternatively, consider using a card that reimburses ATM fees, such as Charles Schwab, or carrying a Wise card. And always remember to decline the conversion to avoid extra charges. By the way, this app does not sponsor us or anything, we just find it really useful!

Ridesharing apps

You’ll all probably know about Grab, Asia’s most important ridesharing app. We used this app all the time to order either a GrabCar or GrabTaxi, the metered taxi version. What we realized halfway through our trip was that Grab accepts foreign credit cards! You better believe we added our card to our account, which made ordering rides even more pleasant. Other alternatives to Grab are Gojek and BE.

It is possible that Grab doesn’t operate in more remote areas. In that case you’ll have to resort to walking, renting a scooter, or haggling with local taxi drivers.

Food delivery apps

We sometimes ordered food instead of eating out, for this food delivery apps in Vietnam are so useful. The restaurant we ordered food from the most was Pizza 4P’s. Their pizzas (and pastas) are just too good! We ordered food with the Grab app and paid with our credit card. Other popular food delivery apps are GoFood and Shopee. We suggest downloading them all because not all restaurants can be found on one app alone.

10. Sightseeing

Must-see attractions

Where do we begin? Vietnam has so much to offer, it’d be impossible to list all the must-see attractions. If you’re looking for inspiration on what to do in Hanoi, make sure explore 12 unique things to do in Hanoi. Heading to Cat Ba? We’ve got you covered with 5 best things to do on Cat Ba Island! And let’s not forget about Hoi An, our favorite spot in Vietnam where we found 9 great things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Local tours and activities

The tours and activities that stuck with us the most are the Paradise Cave & Dark Cave tour in Phong Nha, the Trang An boat ride in Ninh Binh, and the overnight stay on a cruise in Halong Bay

Recommended itineraries

We’d get it if doing your own research is overwhelming. That’s why we created the ultimate Vietnam itinerary for 2 to 3 weeks. Looking for city-specific itineraries? We’ve created the ultimate one-day Ho Chi Minh City itinerary, as well as a one-day Ninh Binh itinerary. Just for you!

11. Connectivity

Sim cards and data

For our trip to Vietnam, a new eSIM company called eSIMX reached out to us. They provided us with an amazing and easy to use eSIM that had 50GB of data for 30 days. It was our first time trying out an eSIM and we were amazed at how simple the installation and activation process was! If you’re looking for a reliable and affordable eSIM, make sure to check them out.

The general consensus is that Viettel is the best provider and most reputable option. Checking their website shows that you can get 2GB/day for 30 days for as little as 120,000 VND (€ 4). If you need more data, the 8GB/day option costs around 200,000 VND (€ 7). 

If you don’t want to mess around with physical sim cards, and don’t trust a new company like eSIMX, then we highly recommend Airalo. It’s the most reputable and well-known eSIM company, the most convenient option if you want to be connected from the moment you set foot in Vietnam! And what’s even better is that you can use the code TastingSunsets for a $3 discount on your first order. How cool is that? 😉

Internet availability

What surprised us the most was how fast and reliable internet access at coffee shops was! Literally every coffee shop, cafe, or restaurant we entered had WiFi. Sometimes this was indicated on the menu or via a poster on the wall, other times we just asked for the password (which they always gave). This was so nice, because then we didn’t have to use our (limited) mobile connection! Every penny (and megabyte) counts, right? 

The connectivity in hotels was also more than reliable. We thought it’d be way worse, but we managed to do everything we wanted (and more) whilst connected to hotel WiFi. Things we did were making video calls to family back home, streaming movies and TV shows, and doing remote work. Awesome!

12. Visa and entry requirements

Entry requirements

Vietnam doesn’t have any strange entry requirements. Make sure your passport is valid for 6 months after your planned stay, and has at least one empty page.

There are around 25 countries that are visa-exempt, all ranging from 14 days of no visa to even 90 days. The most notable countries that do not require a visa are France, Germany, the UK, and Japan (45 days visa exempt). Nationals of Chile and Panama are even exempt for a whopping 90 days!

You can get either an eVisa, or a Visa on Arrival (VoA). We’ll go more in depth on this topic in the next section.

Make sure to get your name exactly right like on your passport! Do not make mistakes, not even a small dot (.) or hyphen (-) can be forgotten. They almost didn’t let Kelvin board the plane because we didn’t add a (.) to one of his middle names. Vietnamese customs do not mess about!

Visa application process

Like we said before, people that require a visa can either get an eVisa or VoA. We highly recommend getting an eVisa prior to your trip from the official website. Not only is it cheaper to do so, it’s also way more straightforward. The process itself takes around 15 minutes, just fill in the required information and upload a recent picture. The only downside of the process is that you cannot apply as a group. This means that you have to use different accounts for each person that’s traveling to Vietnam. You can opt for a single entry visa at $25, or a multi-entry visa at $50 per person. You can get visas for 30 or 90 days. We applied for our visas during the Lunar New Year (Tet) and got our results 10 days later. Normally it should take around 3 to 5 days.

The Visa on Arrival procedure is a bit more complicated. You first have to get a visa approval letter (before traveling to Vietnam), which you can obtain through a sponsor company online. All these companies are private companies, which means you will have to pay them a fee to obtain the letter. After you’ve received your letter, you can then get it stamped at the office in an international airport and pay the $25 entry fee. This also means that only air travel is allowed if you want to use Visa on Arrival.

On top of that, Visa on Arrival will only grant you a visa for 30 days (90 days is not possible). You also run the added risk that they will not allow you to board the plane, because some airlines do not know this is a viable option. This can cause tons of extra stress! All these things considered, we don’t recommend going the Visa on Arrival route. It might be a viable option if you’re traveling unprepared and are strapped for time, but do know that this comes at an extra cost.

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