If you have never been to Vietnam before, you are missing out on a Far Eastern treat! Travelling to Vietnam yields friendly people, great places to visit and a wealth of culture. Amazing landscapes and breathtaking vistas await you as you travel through the country. From caves to mountainous regions, golden sandy beaches and bustling towns full of markets and temples, Vietnam has it all.
Of course, the main cities and towns are busy, particularly the traffic, but it is easy to escape to more peace and tranquillity without travelling too far. Many people visiting Vietnam use motorbikes as their transport method for seeing the country. Ride past paddy fields, go up into the mountains or relax on the beach – it doesn’t matter what you choose, there is something for everyone in Vietnam. It’s vibrant, fun and will set your senses alight.
Travelling to Vietnam
If you wish to visit as a US citizen, make sure you give yourself enough time to apply and secure your visa before you plan to travel. You must have a minimum of 6 months validity on your passport and at least one blank page, so that the visa can be stamped in.
A visa for the country from the US normally takes around 2 days to process (Pre-Approval Letter), if all information supplied is correct. It is possible to obtain a visa approval within half a day in urgent cases.
How to Apply for your Vietnam Visa
Both the Vietnamese Government and the US State Department highly recommend applying for a visa directly to an embassy or consulate of Vietnam. You can either apply in person (with your passport) or apply by mail and receive your visa back by mail. The second option obviously takes a little longer.
Alternatively, and highly advisable, is to apply online for an e-Visa via the Vietnam Immigration Department, which will take 3 days. However, if you want to feel confident about your application and hate paperwork, you can utilise the services of Byevisa.com who will guide you through every step to ensure that your application is correct and to smooth out any problems.
Is There a Vietnam Embassy in the US?
Yes, there is. The main embassy address and contact numbers for the embassy are:
1233 20th Street N.W, Suite 400, Washington D.C.20036
There are also 2 Consulate General Offices, located in San Francisco and Houston, who are also able to assist you with any information you require.
More About the E-Visa for Vietnam From the US
The e-Visa for US citizens is not complicated, nor shrouded in mystery! The visa is valid for a single trip, which must not last more than 30 days. The cost of the e-visa is currently $25. The information on passport requirements and validity still applies. The application should not take you more than 5 minutes to complete.
US citizens planning on travelling to Vietnam will require the following:
- A passport with 6 months’ validity
- A photo in .jpg format of your full passport data page
- A passport photo in .jpg format (4×6, white background, without glasses)
- A valid international credit or debit card
- An email address for support purposes
- A temporary address within Vietnam
- Your entry and exit dates and entry and exit points/airports
Further Vietnam Travel Information
Vietnam is a beautiful country in South East Asia, and you have everything you could want there in terms of scenery, beaches, sites and culture. Vietnamese food is also delicious and has become increasingly popular in the last 10 years. If you have never visited before, here are some of the delights you can experience and some common questions answered:
What is Vietnam Like Today?
Statistics show that around 18m tourists visited Vietnam in 2019, an increase of 16% from the previous year. The number of US tourists travelling to Vietnam was around 750,000, which places them 6th in the table of most frequent visitors.
Vietnam is safe for travellers of all age groups, from young backpackers to cultural enthusiasts. With its proximity to Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia, travel is easy and pleasurable.
Whilst Vietnam is quite a leisurely place to visit, it still has a thriving economy, which is reflected not just in daytime living, but also a vibrant night scene. It is a fast-developing region and in the main cities and towns there can be lots of traffic, but this is all part of Vietnamese life.
Vietnam – Places to Visit
Some of the best and most popular attractions visited by US tourists are Halong Bay (a day trip from Hanoi) and the nearby island of Ti Top, accessible by a lovely boat trip. Nha Trang Beach gives you a wonderful view around the bay, but can be busy from mid-afternoon until sunset.
If you’re after peace and quiet, head along the new road from Ho Chi Minh City and visit Ho Coc Beach, where there are fewer tourists and some wonderful food shacks along the shoreline.
If you are more into physical exercise and water sports, try Con Dao for scuba diving or snorkelling. In general, those beaches towards the south are for the more adventurous.
Cultural Places to Visit in Vietnam
For city life, visitors head to the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Here you can experience the many markets on offer, selling almost everything you could imagine, along with copious street food stalls displaying some of the best of Vietnamese cuisine.
Hue is the place to visit for culture. It was once the capital of Imperial Vietnam and encompasses the old Imperial City and Citadel.
Ho Chi Minh City is where it is really at if you enjoy bustling streets and markets and want a real taste of Vietnamese life. Bartering at the markets is an art form! If you are interested in history, both the Ho Chi Minh City Museum and the Ho Chi Minh Museum give you an insight into the country’s past. The nightlife is endless, with rooftop bars, high-end restaurants and nightclubs.
If you’re travelling to Vietnam for beautiful architecture, visit the multitude of temples and shrines that allow public entry. See 500 variations of carved Buddhas at the Bah Dinh Pagoda, which is surrounded by spectacular mountains and lush green forests. It is one of the most famous sites in the country.
What to Buy on Holiday in Vietnam
You can “shop until you drop” in Vietnam! If you want lasting memories of your trip, there are certain unique items to buy.
- Traditional Ao-Dai – these are Vietnamese “dresses” for both men and women! The long, fitted dresses are accompanied by trousers in a different colour, and can be made up for you overnight in most tailor’s shops. Expect to pay around $50. Go all out and bring home the well-known conical hat!
- Bamboo items – a vast selection from tables to ornaments and the famous bamboo dragonflies, sold in every tourist shop. The dragonflies can be purchased already painted or plain, for you to take home and decorate.
- Silk – all types of silk can be purchased; from scarves to dresses, shirts and fans, embroidered pictures and postcards, from $1 upwards!
- Lacquered items – Vietnamese lacquer has been a thriving industry for hundreds of years. Purchase furniture or more suitcase friendly items such as table mats.
Most of these souvenirs are significantly lower in price than you could buy in the US. One of the best bargains are custom made shirts (and suits), which can be made within a day.
Currency – Can You Use US Dollars in Vietnam?
The Vietnamese Dong (VDN) is the national currency, but US Dollars are accepted virtually everywhere in larger venues and outlets. Market trading is generally done in VDN with the locals. ATM’s are widely available, even in smaller towns. Credit cards are accepted in hotels, most large restaurants and retail outlets. It is advisable when travelling to Vietnam, however, to carry cash with you at all times, but not too large an amount for safety reasons. You can exchange most currencies at banks and ATMs, but cash in other foreign currencies is rarely accepted.
How Long Is The Flight From the US?
Flights can take between 17 and 25 hours, depending on where you are flying from in the US and whether there are direct flights available from your departure airport.
The time difference between the US and Vietnam depends on the time zone you live in in the US, for example:
- New York is 12 hours behind Ho Chi Minh
- Los Angeles is 15 hours behind
- Chicago is 13 hours behind
- Washington is 12 hours behind
- Miami is 12 hours behind
Are Air Tickets From the US to Vietnam Expensive?
The cost of tickets for the distance travelled between the US and Vietnam can be relatively inexpensive. Once again, it depends on whether you are travelling from a main hub on a direct flight, or you must connect internally within the US.
Flight costs are also seasonal, with the highest fares during December. You can purchase air tickets for around $1k for a return trip. Once you’ve experienced the magic of Vietnam, you will be desperate to come back!