There is good weather somewhere in Vietnam all year round! Vietnam stretches over 2000 km from North to South. The climate differs all year round from one region to another. The North can be chilly during winter months (December to March). North and Central Vietnam can encounter tropical storms and typhoons from October to January. Overall, the north of Vietnam experiences more marked seasons than the rest of the country with two distinct seasons: wet and dry.
The South, including Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, benefits from sunshine and warm weather all year round. However, the rainy season lasts from May to November (with showers once or twice a day in general) and a dry season from December to April. The Central Highlands can be chilly. Nha Trang has warm – sometimes hot - weather all year round, with a rainy season from the end of September until December.
Unless you intend to visit friends, relatives or your family, we do not recommend visiting Vietnam during the Lunar New Year, Tet holidays (Vietnamese New Year falls between late January and February). The Tet holiday is the most important period of the year for Vietnamese people who take time off to visit their families in the countryside. All hotels, buses, trains and flights are full, and there is almost no activity in the markets and shops. Some hotels and restaurants are under-staffed and in some cases the quality of the service may suffer. This period of reduced activity may last from a week before and a week after the Tet period. It is also impossible to get a “visa authorization letter” processed during this period.
As a reminder, the peak season lasts from October to May. To avoid disappointment because hotel rooms or domestic flights are fully booked, reserve your travel arrangements early. Contact us to discuss your travel plans.
Vietnam is well-connected by flights from India's major cities. The major carriers such as Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines and Thai Airways all offer connections via their capital cities to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Low-cost carrier Airasia also offers connections from Chennai via Kuala Lumpur. Call us at +91 44 24338665 to help book your Vietnam flights.
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS & MONEY
All Indian citizens need a valid passport and visa to enter Vietnam. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure from Vietnam back home. The Vietnam visa can be procured through Milesworth from the Vietnam Embassy or can be obtained online in advance through a two-step process.
Nationals from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Russia traveling to Vietnam and staying for 15 days or less do not need to apply for entry visas, provided that their passport is valid for at least three months and they can show their return ticket. Those who wish to stay longer than 15 days will need to apply for a visa.
The Government of Vietnam has announced a 12 month Visa Exemption period for British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens, which will come into effect from 1st July 2016 and run until 30 June 2017. This unilateral visa exemption is being granted by Vietnamese Authorities to citizens from these countries in order to promote tourism in Vietnam. Conditions apply, so please check first with us.
Tourists holding ASEAN passports do not need a visa for a visit up to 30 days. Philippines passport holders do not need a visa for a visit up to 21 days. Japanese and South Korean passport holders do not need a visa for a visit up to 15 days.
The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). US Dollars and Euros are accepted in many hotels, restaurants and shops. But please note that they have not been normally allowed to collect foreign currency since 2012. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 05:00 and some on Saturday morning. In the major cities there are some exchange offices open long hours near places frequented by tourists and most hotels will change US Dollars and Euros at very reasonable rates.
Current exchange rate (Jan 2017) approx. 1 USD = 22,500 VND; 1 Euro = 23,800 VND You receive a slightly better exchange rate for $100 and $50 notes than for smaller denominations.
HEALTH & SAFETY IN VIETNAM
No vaccinations are mandatory except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio. Malaria is present in most of the region and it is advisable to take precautions, especially if traveling off the beaten track. Medical facilities are limited and it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before traveling in case evacuation is needed.
Consult your doctor for up-to-date information and prescriptions for vaccinations, anti-malarial tablets and any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst traveling in Vietnam. Some vaccination courses may need time to be completed. If you plan to take anti-malarial tablets, you usually need to start one week before arrival. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses).
Vietnam is a safe country to visit. As a global rule, never leave your valuables unattended in the vehicles and always maintain eye contact and a firm grip on cameras and shoulder bags. In Saigon (HCMC) there has been a surge in drive-by snatching so keep a lookout around you and never stay close to the road’s edge with a bag, gold chains or handling a phone or camera as these are the favorite objects.
Avoid cyclos late at night and choose reliable metered taxi companies (they are really cheap and air-conditioned). Choose Mai Linh Taxi, Vinasun, Vina Taxi in Saigon (HCMC) and Hanoi Taxi and CP Taxi in Hanoi. Best to avoid other brands on the streets. Uber and Grab are available in Saigon and Hanoi.
WHILE YOU ARE THERE
Time difference | India +1.5 hours
Electricity | Vietnam mainly uses 220V but in some areas, 110V is also used. A mixture of flat and round 2-pin outlets are used throughout the country. It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor.
Water | It is not advisable to drink tap water but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere. All hotels provide a complimentary bottle of local mineral water per person in the room. Ice cubes in drinks is generally OK in good standard hotels and restaurants but it is best to avoid it on street stalls or in country areas. Some minor stomach problems are always possible when travelling in exotic countries. Bring a supply of your usual anti-diarrhoea medicine.
Shops | Souvenirs to look out for in Vietnam include lacquerware, silk, conical hats, woodcarvings, hill tribe fabrics and handicrafts, embroidery, marble, ceramics, silver jewelry, antique watches and paintings. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have the best choice when it comes to shopping but Hoi An in the center of Vietnam is also a very good place to hunt for bargains.
Internet | Major hotels have Business Centers with PCs connected to the Internet and have wireless broadband access in room or public area. Vietnam has an exceptional amount of cafés and restaurants offering free WIFI connections, if having a meal or a drink internet fees are waived.
Mobile Communications | If you are on a short break in Vietnam, and have worldwide coverage, you can bring your own mobile phone and use it to make domestic or international calls. Check with your mobile phone provider for the costs before using it abroad - it may be expensive. Otherwise the best option is to buy a pre-activated local SIM card that you can put into a GSM-compatible unlocked mobile phone. These local SIM cards allow you to make local and international calls at very affordable rates, and some even offer data plans. We can organise local SIM cards for you on arrival in Vietnam.