My husband and I have been doing some research about Vietnam to prepare for our trip next month. I have read a number of reviews on TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet, joined some forums and received some great advice from fellow travelers. Here is the information that I have collected. Hope that it will be helpful for those who are at the beginning of their planning.
Americans need a tourist visa or a business visa to enter Vietnam. It can be obtained from the Vietnamese embassy in Washington DC or in Vietnam’s neighboring countries (such as Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia). Normally, it takes 4-5 working days to get the visas. The visa fees at the Vietnamese Embassies and Consulates in different countries are not the same, so don’t be surprised if someone has paid more or less.
Arranging a visa is a MUST-DO before arrival in Vietnam, however, there is an alternative way to get our visa, which we found safer and quicker than sending our passport to the Embassy. We arranged a visa service though a travel agent – Vietnamvisa.org.vn. and it worked fine. We got what we pay for. We definitely recommend using pre-arranged visa rather than traditional method. All you need to do is find a realizable agent and things are easy.
Vietnam’s power is generally 220V and has two-pin sockets. Make sure that you bring a kit of adapter plugs.
The local currency is the Vietnamese dong (VND); one Dollar worths about VND 21,000. US dollars are widely accepted for. ATMs are easy to find in cities but these machines only issue dong notes and withdrawals are limited to VND 2 million (about USD 95). The limit may be higher if you withdraw directly at international banks ATM including HSBC and ANZ. Credit cards are accepted in major travel services such as tours, hotels, restaurants and transport tickets but cash is still the most preferred.
Weather in the North (with popular places are Sapa, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, etc) experiences four distinct seasons. Perhaps the best time to visit is during the spring, which lasts from March to April or the autumn, which lasts from October to December as the weather is dry and pleasant. The centre of the country ( Da Nang, Hoi An, etc) tends to have clear sky from March to August; however, there are still occasionally tropical storms. The South of Vietnam has only 2 seasons. Dry season lasts from October to April. It seems to be the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc or the Mekong Delta
So far this is what we have researched; I definitely will have more posts sharing our experiences in Vietnam. I am feeling so excited about our trip now.