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A passport valid up to 6 months beyond your travel date and a tourist visa are required for entry into Viet Nam.  A tourist visa is valid for one month and can be extended while in-country.  Multiple-entry visas and business visas are also available.  You will need two completed and two passport photos.  Visa processing takes about 5-15 working days.

The Vietnamese currency is the Dong. US dollars, preferably crisp clean, new, unmarked US bills, are accepted almost everywhere. Use the currency converter to help you quickly calculate your exchange amount.   We recommend exchanging only a small amount at a time since Vietnamese bank notes are issued only in small denominations.  U.S.– issued VISA, Mastercard and American Express cards are accepted in major hotels, restaurants, and shops in the urban areas.  While traveler’s checks are also accepted, exchanging them for dong can be quite inconvenient.  ATM machines are available in major cities.

The climate in Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere in the south is hottest and most humid in March and April. The dry season runs from November to April and the rainy season from May to October.  In the north, the wet season is from May to September; December to March are the driest months.  Whatever time of year you travel, dress comfortably with easy-to-launder clothing.  Comfortable walking shoes that are easily removed to enter homes and temples are recommended.

Monthly Maximum Temperatures (F)
Current Weather in Viet Nam

No vaccinations are officially required to visit Viet Nam.  However, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that visitors have up–to–date inoculations for polio, meningitis, hepatitis A&B, tuberculosis, TABT (typhoid, paratyphoid A&B and tetanus), cholera, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis.  In addition, we suggest you contact your personal physician or clinic specializing in international travel.  Of course, travelers should bring any prescription medications (in the original containers) currently required.  Travelers should pack a small medical kit which includes sunscreen, insect repellent, diarrhea medication, ibuprofen or aspirin and antibacterial ointments.  For those who wear eyeglasses, it is recommended that an extra pair be taken, as the quality of local replacement services varies. It is strongly suggested that you have a dental check-up before departure.  Medical care facilities are available but are limited to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and can be expensive for emergency care. For more information visit the CDC website at


Lightweight packing is generally the best policy.  Not only will it be more convenient for you, but you will be charged for luggage over the weight limit of 44 lbs/person at the airport for in-country travel.  Most basic necessities can be obtained through your hotel.  However, some hotels may or may not provide hair dryers, so you might want to bring your own.  In that case, you will also want to bring a converter and multiple prongs as shapes of outlets will vary even within the same city. Laundry and dry cleaning service is excellent and available at most hotels. Other sundries include camera, plenty of film, batteries, flashlight, money pouch, and bug repellent.

Government officials will be on the lookout for incoming pornographic materials, anti-government literature or videos, religious articles, military paraphernalia, illegal drugs, imported cigarettes, poisons, explosives, and weapons. If you have any goods to declare, pack them within easy reach so that you will not have to unpack all your luggage for customs officials. Note: It is illegal to take any items that might be considered antiques from Viet Nam. Custom officials at Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi aiports strongly enforce this policy.

Rice is a staple throughout the country. However, traditional Vietnamese cuisine also boasts specialties that vary according to the region visited. Oven-baked French breads, seasonal fruits (including tropical fruits such as dragon fruit, rambutans, and longans), fresh vegetables, and local seafood are readily available. Vietnamese restaurants offer a broad selection of tempting international fare as well including French, Italian, American, Indian, Chinese and Japanese. All fruits and vegetables should be cooked or peeled. Drinking water or ice is NOT recommended. Bottled water is available (remember to check the seal).

Vietnamese is a tonal language with distinctive accents in three regions, North, South and Center. Much of the language is Sino/Vietnamese in origin, although influences from minority languages, French and English are also apparent. English is now the second language taught in the school system and is beginning to be spoken and understood throughout the country.

Viet Nam is home to both Western and Eastern religions and philosophies, including Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Hinduism and Caodaism. Ancestral worship, the belief that the soul lives on after death and protects its descendants, is practiced throughout Viet Nam.

The majority of the population (85%) is comprised of the Viet, or Kinh. The balance of the population is made up of over 50 minority tribes, living mainly in the mountainous areas of the country. The best–known minority hilltribes are the Tay (the most populous), H’mong, Zao, Dao, White and Black Thai (both mainly from the north), and the Hoa. Each hilltribe has its unique customs and dialect making them fascinating to visit.

The most widely celebrated public holiday is Tet, the Lunar New Year, which is the most important festival of the year. The week–long holiday is usually celebrated in late January or early February. The Liberation of Saigon (April 30) and Vietnamese National Day (September 2) are two important secular holidays.

GMT +7 hours or +12 hours for EST (subtract 1 hour for daylight savings).

Mostly 220V, 50 Hz; some 110V, 50 Hz.

Visit the US State Department website at for the most current travel advisory.

We recommend titles from Longitude Books,

   © From 1998 Global Spectrum, Inc. - Travel Specialists to Viet Nam and Beyond
   Email Global Spectrum Travel / 1.800.419.4446  3907 Laro Court, Fairfax, VA 22031 USA