ENTRY & CUSTOMS PROCEDURE
As soon as you arrive at the airport in Vietnam, you are required to complete an entry and exit form. This form is also used for Customs declaration. Currently, the Vietnam arrival / departure card CHY2000 is used for this procedure. Fill in and mark (x) in the appropriate box from No.1 to No.16 of the declaration form before submitting it to Customs, Immigration and Public Health authorities.
In cases of re-entry or re-exit without any must-be-declared items, you simply present your declaration form fulfilled earlier or make a new one, if necessary.
PASSPORT & VISA
A passport and a visa are required for entry into Vietnam. A regular tourist visa is valid for up to 30 days. However, some Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Laos are exempted from visa when entering Vietnam. Vietnam also has a visa exemption for Japanese, South Korean, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Finnish citizens. Passport holders from these countries can travel to Vietnam up to 15 days without applying for tourist visas.
-No visa required for travel less than 90 days or several visits within 6 months: Citizens of France holding valid diplomatic or official passports
-No visa required for travel less than 60 days: Citizens of Chile holding valid diplomatic or official passports.
-No visa required for travel less than 60 days: APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) Holders from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies
-Special Phu Quoc Exception: Foreigners and Vietnamese nationals bearing foreign passports who enter Vietnam through an international border gate and then travel to Phu Quoc Island and stay in Phu Quoc less than 15 days will also be exempt from visa application. Passports must be valid for at least 45 days. After arriving in Phu Quoc Island, if visitors want to travel other localities or stay in the island for more than 15 days, the immigration department will be responsible for issuing visas right on the spot.
There are two kinds of tourist visas. The first can be obtained from the Vietnamese Embassy or the Consulate in the travelers’ native country. The second can be obtained at the international airports (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang) on arrival in Vietnam provided that it has been pre-approved by the Immigration Office. ASIA SENSES TRAVEL offers visa procurement services for individuals and groups. The procedure is as follows:
And since January 2009 the Russian Tourists can enter Vietnam visa-free for less then 15 days.
• Passport details and arrival and departure dates for each traveler are sent by e-mail or fax to ASIA SENSES TRAVEL no later than 7-10 days prior to their departure date to Vietnam.
• ASIA SENSES TRAVEL submits the details to the Immigration Office, which takes between 3 to 5 working days to process.
• The Immigration Office notifies ASIA SENSES TRAVEL of the visa approval and sends a fax/telex approval code to the Embassy or Consulate in the travelers’ native country.
• ASIA SENSES TRAVEL sends a faxed copy (or email) of the approval letter to the agent or directly to the individual concerned.
• The agent should submit the client’s passport, photographs and faxed copy of the approval to the local Vietnamese embassy or consulate of the client’s native country. The Vietnam Embassy or Consulate will then stamp / stick a Vietnam visa on the client’s passport and collect the visa stamping fee directly from the applicant. In cases where Vietnam has no diplomatic representative, agents should inform ASIA SENSES TRAVEL so that an alternative Vietnamese embassy/consulate can be located.
VISA ON ARRIVAL
• Passport details and arrival and departure dates for each individual are sent by e-mail or fax to ASIA SENSES TRAVEL no later than 4 working days prior to departure date to Vietnam.
• ASIA SENSES TRAVEL submits the details to the Immigration Office, which takes 3 working days for processing.
• The Immigration Department notifies ASIA SENSES TRAVEL of the visa approval and returns an approval number to ASIA SENSES TRAVEL.
• ASIA SENSES TRAVEL sends a faxed copy (or email) of the approval letter to the agent or directly to the individual concerned.
• The traveler or tour-group operator must show these visa approval codes at the airline check-in counter before flying to Vietnam.
• Upon arrival, the group or individual will need to go to “LANDING VISA” counter where their visa will be further processed. They need to fill in a form (a photo required) and get the visa stamped by Immigration Officer and who collects the visa stamping fee directly from the applicant.
• The visa gets stamped in the passport.
Airport tax already included in the air ticket effective from 1 November 2006.
DISEMBARKATION IN VIETNAM
On the plane, the passenger will be given the Vietnam Arrival / Departure Card to complete. This form includes customs and health declarations. (See attached A2 form.) Upon arrival the form will be checked by an immigration officer who will take one copy. The passenger retains the other. The passenger proceeds to the luggage belt, then to customs. The passenger shows the customs form to the Customs Officer who will stamp and return the form. Passengers must keep this form and use at departure.
MEET & GREET
After passing through customs, passengers will be welcomed by a ASIA SENSES TRAVEL guide holding a ASIA SENSES TRAVEL sign or a sign with your company logo. Guests will then proceed to a car for the transfer to the hotel
BORDER CROSSING TO CAMBODIA, LAOS AND CHINA
There are several main border crossings to Cambodia:
1. MOC BAI: The main overland border crossing to Cambodia is northwest of Ho Chi Minh City at Moc Bai. The trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh take around eight hours.
2. TINH BIEN 25km/1hr to Chau Doc and 55km to Takeo – 130km to Phnom Penh
3. XA XIA: 8km to Ha Tien town and 60km to Kampot
4. VINH XUONG: A new riverside border crossing is located 30kms north of Chau Doc, in the Mekong Delta at Vinh Xuong. From here you can take boat transfers up the Mekong River to Phnom Penh.
There are three border crossings over to China:
1. LAO CAI: The Hekou Bridge overland border to China is at Lao Cai, (the main train station for Sapa) in the northwest. Twice weekly trains also run from Hanoi to Kunming in China; you can also board the train at Lao Cai Train Station.
2. MONG CAI: The Mong Cai overland border crossing to China is in the northeast. To get there, you can get hydrofoils direct from Hai Phong or Ha Long.
3. HUU NGHI: Huu Nghi is an overland border 18kms north of Lang Son, in the northeast. There are also local trains from Hanoi, which stop at Dong Dang Station, 4kms away from Huu Nghi. The international train for China (Beijing) departs Hanoi’s main train station via Dong Dang Station, but you can only join the train at Hanoi.
There are several main border crossings to Laos:
1. CAU TREO: Vehicles can access this border to Vientiane. The border is near Vinh City in Vietnam’s Central Provinces.
2. LAO BAO: From Hue, this border is a good connection for traveling to Savannakhet. The border is near Dong Ha in the Central Provinces.
3. CHA LO: 142km to Thakhek – 495km to Vientiane & 180km/3hrs to Dong Hoi
4. NA MEO: 87km to Sam Neua – 265km to Phonsavan & 190km to Thanh Hoa 260km to Ninh Binh
5. TAY TRANG: From Dien Bien to Sobhoun (Muang Khoua, Phongsaly)
It’s advisable to bring your own film although film can be purchased in all major cities. Obtain permission before photographing monks or the interiors of pagodas and temples. Never photograph a military installation or anything pertaining to the military as it may be viewed as a breach of national security. At large airports, the x-rays on the safety inspection machines are now film-safe. In smaller, provincial airports, however, this is far from certain, so it’s best to carry your film through the safety check by hand. Developers for digital cameras are also widely available in the major cities (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang). Simply ask your hotel staff or your guide for instructions. Cost for a developed picture of 10 cm x 15 cm is around 3,000 – 4,000 VN Dong.
Please respect local dress standards, particularly at religious sites (avoid wearing shorts or sleeveless tops). In general, Vietnamese dress standards are conservative, especially in the countryside. Do not wear revealing clothing. Nude and topless sunbathing is inappropriate.
DRINK PLENTY OF BOTTLED WATER
During the summer months you should be drinking a minimum of 2 liters per day. If you drink tea, coffee and alcohol you should increase you water intake accordingly as these drinks can lead to dehydration.
Like the Chinese and Japanese, Vietnamese are obsessed with clean floors and it’s customary to remove shoes when entering somebody’s home. Shoes must also be removed inside most Buddhist temples, but this is not universal so look to see what others do.
We suggest these tips for successfully dealing with Vietnamese officials, airport personnel and bureaucrats:
1. Try your best to smile and be pleasant.
2. Don’t complain loudly.
3. If you want to criticize someone, do it in a joking manner to avoid confrontation.
4. Expect delays – build them into your schedule.
5. Never show anger – ever! Getting visibly upset is not only rude it will cause you to ‘lose face’.
6. Don’t be competitive. Treating your interaction as a cooperative enterprise works much better.
7. Don’t act as though you deserve service from anyone. If you do so, it’s likely that you will be delayed.
TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN
The Vietnamese simply adore western children, so expect lots of attention and pats on the head! It is perfectly safe to bring small children to Vietnam as long as sensible precautions are taken: avoid too much direct sunlight and do not experiment too much with exotic food.
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First, after googling visa on arrival, and reviewing many websites, we decided, on the recommendation, of our Hotel to contact Vietnam Senses Tours. We were…
Thank you so much Kara for the very good organized holiday.
Every 2 days you brought us to a different location so we could experience the wonderful food, people and attractions. Private tours with our own transportation, driver and very nice english speaking guides. Always on time, never we had to worry about flight tickets, arrangements, reservations! This was pure luxury!!
We have just come back from my 2th visit to Vietnam in 2 years. I was lucky enough to find Asia Senses Travel when we were planning our first trip 01 year ago, and we are still using them. Each time, we have done something different which is fabulous.
Saw some descriptions of this service from TripAdvisor. Made enquiries via email. Surprisingly someone actually replied with comprehensive itineraries and suggestions.
In Vietnam we have THE best tour guide you could imagine – “Lucky”, or Laki. He looked after us extremely well and was a wonderful source of knowledge during the 12 days we were together.