An Overview for the Visitor

Vietnam lies at the eastern end of the Southeast Asian peninsula and shares borders with Cambodia, Laos and China. The main points of entry by air are Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Cruise ships regularly call at Ho Chi Minh City, and more adventurous travelers can enter the country at Chau Doc (having previously secured a valid visa), on one of the boats from Cambodia.

The main points of entry to Vietnam, by land, are at Moc Bai, Xa Xia, Xa Mat and Le Tanh, if traveling from Cambodia. If you are entering from Laos, the main points of overland entry can be found at Tay Trang, Na Meo, Nam Phao, Na Phao and Lao Bao. From China, the main crossings are at Mong Cai, Lao Cai and Huu Nghi Quan. Be sure to get a visa before attempting to enter Vietnam by land, as visas on arrival are currently usually only issued at airports.

The Vietnamese language is usually written with the Roman script. However, westerners may still struggle to pronounce words correctly, as Vietnamese is a tonal language, which places just as much importance on tones as different sounds. English is taught widely in schools, but isn’t often used outside of the classroom, except in tourist areas. International hotels and hostels may, however, have staff who are proficient not only in English, but also in French, Chinese and Japanese.

The currency of Vietnam is the Dong, and is printed in paper denominations from 200 to 500,000 dong. In hotels, hostels and tourist areas in general, you may see prices quoted in US dollars. It is still expected, however, that you will pay in dong – where US dollars are accepted, you may find that you end up paying more for the convenience. ATMs are quite common in larger cities, but be aware that, while it is easy to change foreign currency into dong, it is not true of the reverse.

 

Travel Guide by City

  • The Cu Chi Tunnels The Cu Chi Tunnels
    No stay in Ho Chi Minh City is complete without a visit to the infamous Cu Chi tunnels – a tunnel network originally over 250km in length and up to three levels deep in places The tunnels played a...
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  • Da Lat Da Lat
    The Best of the Highlands: Dalat to Kontum Just three hours drive from Dalat is Lak Lake, a large natural lake formed by converging rivers and streams. The region is ideal for travellers wishing to...
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  • Mai Chau Mai Chau
    Discover your adventurous side in Mai Chau Mai Chau sitting to the southwest of Hanoi, Many of Vietnam’s 54 indigenous ethnic minority groups live in the region, making the local Sunday market...
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  • Cat Tien National Park Cat Tien National Park
    Just three hours from Ho Chi Minh City, on the road to the former Colonial hill station of Dalat; Cat Tien National Park (or Nam Cat Tien) is ideally located for travellers wishing to escape city...
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  • Central Highlands Central Highlands
    Vietnam’s Central Highlands stretch from the Colonial hill-station of Dalat northwards as far as Quang Nam province to the west of Danang. It’s a fascinating region that receives a far lower...
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  • Hue Hue
    Hue is situated in central Vietnam along the Huong River, a few kilometers from Bien Dong. This province was the former capital of nine previous Nguyen kingdoms. Hue has retained its cultural...
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  • Phu Quoc Island Phu Quoc Island
    Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc Island is 62 nautical miles south-west of Rach Gia, at the southern tip of Vietnam. Approximately the size of Singapore, much of the island is National Park...
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  • The Mekong Delta The Mekong Delta
    From Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong delta just a few hours by boat or car , life in the Mekong Delta often seems a thousand miles away from that bustling modern metropolis. Things here tend to move...
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  • Con Dao Con Dao
    One of Vietnam’s most promising ‘up-and-coming’ destinations in our opinion, Con Dao is actually an archipelago of 15 islands located in the South China Sea, just 45 minutes by air from Ho Chi...
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  • Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City
    After spending some time under French control, Saigon was liberated in 1975, completing the reunification of Vietnam and heralding the city’s final name change (so far) to Ho Chi Minh City. This...
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