What to bring
How to get visa to Vietnam
Hotels in Hanoi
Weather in Vietnam
1/ What to bring
Personal papers: Passport/Vietnam Visa if be required/ travel assurance/ flight tickets/ all travel confirmation voucher/ photos of passport in separate place/ last updated information for your trip.
Clothing and luggage: Depend on the period time of travel above you can bring suitable clothes. Light jacket, comfortable shoes, convenient clothes are recommend since you will explore different zones with different weather and temperature. Don’t just bring shorts and too revealing clothes because they are not allowed to enter pagodas and temples.
Money: There are ATM machines available anywhere, so you do not need bring to much cash. You can withdraw cash from them with the good exchange rate. Keep lots of pence in Dong to buy small things or pay for transportation.
Personal items: Travel hair dryer/ bath towel/ shaving equipment…You can bring it from your home, or you can buy it from many shops when you get arrival in Vietnam. These things often set up in most of hotels/hostels in Vietnam. The good idea is always carry toiletries in your daypack when you have an outside day.
Electrical equipment: Smart-phone or iPad is great thing to have. Internet connection and Wi-Fi is available almost anywhere. In Vietnam, the voltage is 220V so you ought to bring electrical adapter if your equipment uses the different voltage. Chargers and pre-charged battery is very necessary when you have a long trip.
2/ How to get Visa to Vietnam
PASSPORT VALIDITY: Must have six months’ validity remaining
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: One visa page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: Yes
VACCINATIONS: Not required
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: None. However, Vietnamese Dong in excess of VND 150,000,000 or foreign currency in excess of 5,000 U.S. dollars or equivalent must be declared..
Preparing to Apply for a Visa
Step1: Obtain a passport from your home country.
If you do not already have a valid passport, you will need to get one before you apply for a visa to visit Vietnam. Most state departments will require your birth certificate, proof of residence, headshot photos, a completed application, and the appropriate fee. Some countries may require an in-person interview.
Processing time will vary, but you should allow four to six weeks.
If you already have a passport, it must have at least six months of validity past the date you expect to exit Vietnam.
Step 2: Secure computer access.
In order to apply for a visa to visit Vietnam, you must have access to a computer with reliable Internet access to fill out the application form. Once you begin the application, you must complete it within 15 minutes or it may time out and you will lose your work.
You must have an email address to receive your application confirmation and other documents
The computer must have Adobe Acrobat Reader or other PDF-compatible software to open the documents.
You will need to be able to print your visa application and other documents.
Step 3: Take your visa photo
To complete the visa application, you will need a photo that is less than one year old. The photo must have physical measurements of 4 X 6 cm [or approximately 2 X 2 1/2 inches]. This is a standard passport size.
The photo must have a white or light background and show your full face. You cannot be wearing a hat or tinted glasses. Both of your ears must be visible.
If you are having photos taken for your passport application, you can use the same photo if it meets the specifications.
Step 4: Detail your travel plans.
To complete your visa application, you will need to know your entry date and your exit date, if you will be leaving the country during your visit and the address where you will be staying. You will also need to give the name, address, phone number, and email address of an emergency contact.
If you are travelling for personal reasons, such as tourism, you can receive a visa for either 30 days or 3 months.
You can apply for a visa up to six months before your departure date. While visas can be expedited for emergencies, for a standard travel visa, apply at least 30 days before your departure to leave time for processing.
Do not finalize your travel plans until you have your visa in hand. Applications are occasionally rejected for reasons that the Vietnamese authorities will not explain. If you are rejected, there is no appeal.
If you need an emergency visa, contact the Vietnam embassy in your home country for procedures and fees.
Applying for a Visa to Visit Vietnam
Step 1: Complete the online application form.
You will apply online through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam website. You may complete the application in English, German, French, or Vietnamese.
During the application process, you will select the consulate where you will submit your application. Select the one in your country of citizenship or country of residence.
If you are an American resident, the Embassy of Vietnam in Washington D.C. has provided an English language version of the application that you can print out and fill in the blanks.
Step 2: Print out the completed application.
Once it is printed, you will sign it at the bottom in the block marked "applicant signature," in blue ink to indicate an original document and attach one copy of your passport-sized photograph, and your original passport.
Step 3: Pay the processing fee.
Fees may vary depending on the country where you are applying. The fee for applying from the United States is currently USD $100. To confirm the exact fee, including any special services, contact the consulate where you will be submitting your application.
The fee must be made payable to the "Embassy of Vietnam" and paid via money order or cashier's check in the currency of the country where you are applying.
If you do not include the correct fee, your application will be returned unprocessed or denied.
Step 4: Include a prepaid return envelope.
In order to have your passport returned safely, along with your visa, used a secure service with tracking information such as Federal Express.
The recommended envelope is either a 9X12 inch manila envelope (or equivalent) or the standard document envelope provided by the secure shipping service.
The return postage amount for the consulate to return the package to you will be the same amount as you had to pay to send it to the consulate.
Step 5: Receive your visa.
Once you submit your completed visa application to the appropriate consulate, expect the processing time of five working days. Adding in time for return mail, you should have your passport with your visa to visit Vietnam affixed to it within two weeks. You may now proceed with finalizing your travel plans.
Completing your application online will avoid the most common mistake, which is omitting required information. If you have left a required field blank, the application will ask you to fix the error.
If you have a valid passport and completed every section of the application, you should be granted a visa. If you are denied, contact the consulate where you applied for an explanation and ask if you can reapply. If the authorities refuse to give an explanation, it is likely that your visa has been denied for a political reason and will not be granted under any circumstances.
3/ Hotels in Hanoi
Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital with more than 1,000 year old capital, is a 'must see' stop on the way to Halong Bay. If you wish to visit Hanoi before or after your Halong Bay cruise, we would be very pleased to offer reasonable combo to stay at those most luxury hotels:
Meliá Hanoi, a hotel in the city centre of Hanoi and very close to the lake of Hoan Kiem, the Trang Tien Plaza shopping centre, Hanói opera and the Thang Long water puppet theatre. This hotel in Vietnam is perfect for leisure and business clients. The services and facilities at this hotel in Vietnam include luxury rooms with a contemporary design, spectacular swimming pool, Spa, a complete gym and restaurants specialising in Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and international cuisine.
The InterContinental® Hanoi Westlake is located on the peaceful waters of the largest lake in the city. Ideally situated just minutes from the Old Quarter, the hotel offers a welcome haven from the bustling city centre. With the combined comforts of the ever-tranquil West Lake, spacious accommodation, luxurious facilities and attentive Vietnamese hospitality, guests will soon discover that the InterContinental® Hanoi Westlake is the perfect place to stay, whether travelling for the purposes of business or leisure.
Pan Pacific Hanoi offers breathtaking views of West Lake, Truc Bach Lake and Red River. Just minutes from the city centre, guests can visit the vibrant Old Quarter, located just 3 km from the property, or enjoy a stroll by the lake. The rooms feature a contemporary style and are decorated with yellow, neutral tones and modern furnishings. Pan Pacific Hanoi is a great choice for travellers interested in sightseeing, city walks and culture.
The Lapis Hotel is a celebration of classic elegance inspired by sophisticated French architectural and interior design. Warm Vietnamese hospitality is employed to extend excellent service, and our restaurant offers premium local cuisine with a contemporary twist. Business and diplomatic travelers will also revel in the convenience of the location, as many of the city’s office headquarters, banks, embassies and ministries are within easy reach.
Mercure Hanoi la Gare is a great base for discovering Hanoi. Just 10min walk to the Old Quarter or the Temple of Literature, 15min to the 36-streets area and Hoan Kiem Lake, and 200 metres away from the Hanoi Railway station, Mercure Hanoi La Gare offers great convenience and access for your trips to Sapa and Ninh Binh by trains
4/ Weather in Vietnam
If you plan to see the whole Vietnam, deciding on the best time to visit can be complicated. Vietnam is over 1,000km (600 miles) in length and has huge regional diversity, however as a truly year-round destination, travel to any part of Vietnam during any season is possible. The weather in Vietnam can be split by region.
The North (Hanoi, Halong Bay) is monsoonal with hot and rainy season from April to September and cool dry season from October to March. October and November are the best months to visit since you avoid the domestic tourist flow and also experience a more comfortable temperature and humidity compared with other months.
The Central part of Vietnam (Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An) receives dry and hot Southwest wind which makes it strenuous for any brisk walk during the day. Closer to the beach, the level of severity reduced and the dry wind is replaced by cool ocean breeze. Because of the limited land area, central Vietnam is also most susceptible to natural disasters such as hurricane or flooding. The paradox is, it is also where most beautiful beaches lie.
The South (Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Mui Ne) is typically hot all year round with two main seasons: rainy and dry. It is also the most predictable region in terms of weather. Summer months from May to August might not be the best time to hit the road since most tourists destinations are packed with tourists and downpours happen quite frequently.
The mountain area in Northwest and South central Vietnam see little fluctuation in weather condition. It is fairly cool all year round and a great place to escape the heat from cities. The rainy season is also from May to September. At the extreme you can see snow or flurry in December or January in Sapa .
Other things to note before booking your Vietnam trip will be to avoid peak travel. July and August typically attract more tourists, when the whole country is generally hot and humid with the potential for heavy downpours. Another time of year to avoid is the Tet Festival, when the Vietnamese generally enjoy vacations causing crowded streets and peak rates at fully booked hotels.
5/ Traditional Food
5.1, Vietnamese Food
In the past few years Vietnamese food has become more and more popular around the world. Food lovers may have tried the two best known Vietnamese dishes – spring rolls and bread rolls. Rice, noodles, fresh vegetable and herbs all play big roles in Vietnamese food, making it one of the healthiest cuisines in the world.
What list of Vietnamese cuisine would be complete without pho?
It's almost impossible to walk a block in Vietnam's major cities without bumping into a crowd of hungry patrons slurping noodles at a makeshift pho stand. This simple staple, consisting of a salty broth, fresh rice noodles, a sprinkling of herbs and chicken or beef, features predominately in the local diet -- and understandably so. It's cheap, tasty and widely available at all hours.
2. Bun cha
Pho might be Vietnam's most famous dish, but bun cha is the top choice when it comes to lunchtime in the capital. Just look for the clouds of meaty smoke after 11 a.m. when street-side restaurants in Hanoi start grilling up small patties of seasoned pork and slices of marinated pork belly over a charcoal fire.
Once they're charred and crispy, the morsels are served with a bowl of a fish sauce-heavy broth, a basket of herbs and a helping of rice noodles. Bun cha sets often come with the delicious nem cua be -- fried crab spring rolls. Still not convinced? It's what Obama ate during his night out with Bourdain.
Savory sticky rice is less of an accompaniment to meals in Vietnam; it is more a meal itself. The glutinous staple comes with any number of mix-ins (from slivers of chicken or pork to fried or preserved eggs), but almost always with a scattering of dried shallots on top.
4. Banh xeo
A good banh xeo is a crispy crepe bulging with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts, plus the garnish of fresh herbs that are characteristic of most authentic Vietnamese dishes. To enjoy one like a local, cut it into manageable slices, roll it up in rice paper or lettuce leaves and dunk it in whatever special sauce the chef has mixed up for you.
5. Goi cuon
These light and fresh spring rolls are a wholesome choice when you've been indulging in too much of the fried food in Vietnam. The translucent parcels are first packed with salad greens, a sliver of meat or seafood and a layer of coriander, before being neatly rolled and dunked in Vietnam's favorite condiment -- fish sauce.
Not ready to give up on the fried ones? In the north these fried parcels go by the name nem ran, while southerners call them cha gio. The crispy shell surrounds a soft veggie and meat filling.
6. Bun bo nam bo
This bowl of vermicelli noodles -- widely popular in Hanoi -- comes sans broth, keeping the ingredients from becoming sodden and the various textures intact. The tender slices of beef mingle with crunchy peanuts and bean sprouts and are flavored with fresh herbs, crisp dried shallots and a splash of fish sauce and fiery chili pepper.
7. Cao lau
This pork noodle dish from Hoi An is a bit like the various cultures that visited the trading port at its prime. The thicker noodles are similar to Japanese udon, the crispy won-ton crackers and pork are a Chinese touch, while the broth and herbs are clearly Vietnamese. Authentic cao lau is made only with water drawn from the local Ba Le well.
8. Banh mi
The French may have brought with them the baguette, but Vietnam takes it to a different level. How, exactly, depends on what end of the country you're in.
In the north, chefs stick to the basic elements of carbohydrate, fat and protein -- bread, margarine and paté -- but head south and your banh mi may contain a more colorful combination of cheese, cold cuts, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, fresh cilantro and chili sauce.
9. Bot chien
Ho Chi Minh City's favorite street snack, bot chien is popular with both the after-school and the after-midnight crowd.
Chunks of rice flour dough are fried in a large wok until crispy, and then an egg is broken into the mix. Once cooked, it's served with slices of papaya, shallots and green onions, before more flavor is added with pickled chili sauce and rice vinegar.
10. Ca phe trung
Vietnamese "egg coffee" is technically a drink, but we prefer to put it in the dessert category. The creamy soft, meringue-like egg white foam perched on the dense Vietnamese coffee will have even those who don't normally crave a cup of joe licking their spoons with delight.
In Hanoi, follow the tiny alley between the kitschy souvenir shops at 11 Hang Gai into the clearing and up several flights of increasingly dicey stairs to pair your ca phe trung with an unbeatable view of Hoan Kiem Lake.
5.2, Halong - Quang Ninh Traditional Food
1. Cha muc (Squid Sausage):
Cha Muc is the most famous food of Quang Ninh and also in the top 50 specialties of Vietnam. The main ingredient of Cha Muc, of course, is squid. However, according to local fishermen, the high quality dishes must use squid from the Halong area. The crunchy and delicate texture of this specific variety of squid, and the juicy flavour and attractive aroma of this dish goes perfectly well with Xôi (boiled rice, sticky rice) or Bánh Cuốn (a type of thin, steamed rice cake). This beautiful piece of culinary mastery is sold at many stores and stalls around the city and especially at Halong Market.
2. Bun tom
This kind of “bun” is best served with lettuce and some slices of red chili. All flavours harmonize so well with each other that the first taste can bring out immediate temptation for more. A soft, white thread of rice vermicelli noodle harmonized with reddish shrimps and tomatoes, together with green onion, Indian taro and yellow grilled chopped fish make a colourful, attractive and lively dish that enlivens up visitors’ taste buds. While savouring the dish, you will be greatly comforted by the sweet and slightly greasy taste of the broth, fragrance of shrimps and especially the pungent smell of grilled chopped “la lot”. More special is a sour taste of tamarind broth seasoned with common spices like vinegar or lemon.
3. Banh gat gu
Banh gat gu is made from steaming rice flour mixture. When you eat it, the cake is dipped in a special sauce, along with a piece of caramelized pork. This sauce is really a star of this dish. Having an okay or amazing experience with this food all depends on the sauce. The feeling of cool, soft cake and juicy pork is an enchanting culinary experience. This would be a nice choice after devouring many seafood dishes. The origin of this cake is in Hoa Binh Street Tien Yen Town, Quang Ninh but you can easily try it in Halong.