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Practical information about Vietnam

Practical information about Vietnam

Practical information about Vietnam

1. The climate in Vietnam

Vietnam is a large, elongated country with significant geographical climate differences depending on where you are. The weather is generally unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to carry an umbrella or rain jacket with you.

Vietnam has two monsoons: the south-west monsoon and the north-east monsoon, which have an impact on the weather. The south-west monsoon lasts from April to September and is characterised by wet, warm weather. The north-east monsoon lasts from October to April and is not as wet but colder.

North Vietnam (Hanoi – Sapa – Ha Long Bay):
North Vietnam is where you will find the capital Hanoi, the mountainous area of Sapa and Ha Long Bay, among other places. The area, which lies in the subtropical climate belt, generally has two seasons:

The dry season which falls roughly between November and March in Hanoi and Sapa, while in Ha Long Bay, it starts in October. December, January and February are North Vietnam’s coldest and driest months. Sapa can get quite chilly in the winter months, so it’s a good idea to bring some warm clothes with you if you’re heading there.

The rainy season falls roughly between April and October in Hanoi and Sapa, and a month shorter in Ha Long Bay. July and August are the wettest months, and Sapa is the area that gets most rain.

Weather statistics for Hanoi: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature  19 19 23 26 31 32 32 32 31 28 24 21
Average minimum temperature  15 15 18 21 24 25 26 26 25 22 19 15
Rainfall mm  10 30 50 100 150 190 210 200 160 100 60 30
Weather statistics for Sapa (Lao Cai): JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature  13 14 18 21 24 24 24 24 23 20 17 15
Average minimum temperature 7 8 11 13 16 18 18 18 16 13 11 8
Rainfall mm 14 38 56 117 219 219 301 339 243 116 59 24
Weather statistics for Ha Long Bay: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature  20 21 23 27 30 30 31 32 31 28 24 21
Average minimum temperature 14 15 18 21 24 24 25 25 24 21 18 15
Rainfall mm 3 22 53 57 175 172 201 265 190 54 12 23
Average sea temperature 19 19 20 22 27 29 31 30 29 27 25 22

Central Vietnam (Hué – Hoi An – Da Nang):
In Central Vietnam, you will find the cities of Hué, Hoi An and Da Nang. As in North Vietnam, the area generally has two seasons:

The dry season falls roughly between January and August, with May to August being the hottest months of the year.

The rainy season falls roughly between September and December, when the north-east monsoon brings a lot of rain. During the rainy season months, more than 200 mm of rain falls.

February to April are the most pleasant months to visit Central Vietnam, as the rain is at its lowest and seasonal temperatures are pleasant. However, most visitors come to the area in December and January for the Christmas holidays.

Please note that there is a risk of typhoons in the central part of Vietnam from August to November.

Average maximum temperature  19 19 23 26 31 32 32 32 31 28 24 21
Average minimum temperature  15 15 18 21 24 25 26 26 25 22 19 15
Rainfall mm  10 30 50 100 150 190 210 200 160 100 60 30
Weather statistics for Hoi An/Da Nang: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 24 26 28 31 33 35 34 33 31 29 27 25
Average minimum temperature 19 20 22 24 25 26 26 25 24 23 20 20
Rainfall mm 92 32 30 34 56 99 90 104 297 526 363 206
Average sea temperature 24 23 24 25 28 29 30 30 30 28 27 25

South Vietnam (Phan Thiet – Ho Chi Minh City – Phu Quoc:

In the southern part of Vietnam, you will find the metropolis Ho Chi Minh City, the beach resort of Phan Thiet and the island of Phu Quoc. The areas have the following seasons:

The dry season falls roughly between December and April. Temperatures are generally reasonably stable all year round, but the hottest months are April and May.

The rainy season is roughly between May and October: More rain falls during this period due to the south-west monsoon, which means wet, yet hot weather. The rain typically falls in the afternoon. Rainfall reaches its highest levels from June to September. In Ho Chi Minh City, the rain is at its peak between June and September, while Phan Thiet is wettest between September and November.

Weather statistics for Ho Chi Minh City: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 32 33 34 34 34 32 32 32 31 31 31 31
Average minimum temperature 22 23 24 26 26 25 24 25 25 24 23 22
Rainfall mm 10  10  10  40  140  180  190  170  190  160  120  40
Weather statistics for Phan Thiet: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 28 29 30 32 32 31 31 31 30 30 29 29
Average minimum temperature 21 22 23 25 25 24 24 24 24 23 23 22
Rainfall mm 40 15 27 59 153 190 192 197 223 253 202 120
Average sea temperature 25 25 26 28 29 29 29 28 28 28 27 26
Weather statistics for Phu Quoc: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 31 31 32 34 33 32 31 31 31 31 30 30
Average minimum temperature 22 22 23 24 24 24 24 24 24 24 23 22
Rainfall mm 40 36 80 130 193 266 290 398 296 276 212 104
Average sea temperature 27 28 29 30 30 30 29 29 29 29 28 28
2. Form of travel

The tour takes place in international groups of up to 14 people and with Asiatours’ own guests. All excursions and transfers mentioned are with English speaking guides.

3. When is it best to travel to Vietnam?

You can travel to Vietnam all year round, but the weather varies greatly depending on where you travel to, as the South-east Asian country extends around 1,650 km from north to south and is located in two climate zones.

So, the best time to visit the country varies, depending on where you want to go.

North Vietnam:

One of the best times to experience Hanoi is between September and November. The capital offers clear skies, sunshine and less rain, the further into the year you get, with daytime temperatures of around 20 degrees.

Ha Long Bay offers the greatest chance of clear skies and pleasant daytime temperatures when it’s spring and autumn in the UK.

If you wish to experience Sapa, the best time to do so is March and April is when the weather is dry and sunny, while October and November are colder with clearer weather.

Central Viatnam:

The best time to visit Central Vietnam is between February and April, when temperatures are pleasant, and rainfall is low. If you enjoy really hot weather, May to August are good months to visit this part of Vietnam, but you should expect more rain as the year progresses.

Southern Central Vietnam:

In this part of Vietnam, it is hot all year round. It is best to visit the Nha Trang area during the dry season between January and August.

South Vietnam:

In the southern part of Vietnam, it is hot all year round. The best time to visit the Ho Chi Minh City area and the holiday island of Phu Quoc is from December to April, when it’s dry season.

Please note that the above is a guideline only, and recommendations may change on an ongoing basis.

4. Terms & Conditions

Please read our booking terms and conditions carefully. These terms and conditions constitute the basis of your package purchased from Asiatours.co.uk. Click here to read our terms and conditions of travel.

All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate

5. Travel insurance

We are an ATOL protected agency giving you complete peace of mind. It is a condition of booking that the sole responsibility lies with the guest to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves, as well as any dependants/traveling companions for the duration of their tour.

In cooperation with our partner we can offer advantageous travel insurances. Learn more here.

6. Language

The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese, but as a tourist you can certainly make yourself understood in English.

7. Vaccinations

We always advise that you contact a specialist, your GP or an authorized vaccination clinic. You can also read more about the rules for travel & vaccinations at the central NHS Fit for Travel website: here

Please be aware of the rules about yellow fever – especially if you are entering via another country where yellow fever is present.

Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry. So be sure to bring your vaccination certificate with you in these cases.

8. Visa

As a British citizen, you must be in possession of a valid British passport. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your departure from Vietnam.

As a British citizen, you need a visa to travel to Vietnam and you must apply for an “e-visa”, which is for stays and trips of up to 30 days. The application must be processed through the official page e-visa Vietnam, where you have to upload a photo of your passport and a passport photo (max. 1024 KB). You are also required to enter a number of personal details and your address in Vietnam. Here, we suggest that you write the name of your first hotel and the name of the city.

The E-visa costs 25 USD and is payable online when you submit your application, so please ensure that you have your credit card on hand when you begin. Once you have completed the application and payment, you will receive a confirmation of your request by e-mail. This e-mail contains a unique registration code marked in bold (20 characters).

The results of your e-visa application will be received in 3 working days, and can be viewed at the following link: E-visa result. Here you must log in using the registration code you received in the confirmation e-mail, as well as your e-mail address and birth date. Your E-visa must be printed out and carried with your passport, which is shown on your arrival in Vietnam.

We recommend that you apply for your visa in good time.

The rules on visas can be checked on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

9. Currency

The unit of currency in Vietnam is the dong (VND). It is a protected currency, which means you cannot buy it in advance and will have to exchange currency in Vietnam. Visit www.xe.com/currencyconverter to see the current exchange rate in both US dollars and euros. We recommend that you take some US dollars with you in cash and exchange them for local currency at an official bureau de change on arrival. Standard credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are becoming more and more common, and cash machines (ATMs) are becoming increasingly widespread in large towns and cities. You can generally pay with a credit card at hotels and in many restaurants and shops. Once again, however, the farther out into the country you travel, the harder it may be to use your credit card.

10. Price level

The price level in Vietnam is generally lower than in Europe. The guide below applies to the cities. Prices are typically lower in rural areas, where the range of options also tends to be more limited.

  • Food:
    – Food from street kitchens: from VND 10,000
    – Restaurants serving western cuisine: from VND 100,000
    – Restaurants serving Vietnamese cuisine: VND 40,000–100,000
  • Drinks:
    – Soft drinks: VND 8,000–15,000
    – Beer: VND 8,000–20,000
    – Juice: VND 30,000
    – Water: VND 10,000
    – Spirits and cocktails: from VND 60,000
  • Other goods:
    – Shorts/t-shirts: VND 80,000–200,000 (remember to haggle over the price when buying clothes!)
    – DVDs: VND 15,000–30,000
    – SIM cards: up to VND 50,000
    – Cheap phone: VND 200,000–300,000
11. Tipping

You are welcome to give gratuities, but it is up to you whether or not to do so and you may tip as much or as little as you like. The following suggestions are indicative only:

  • Bellboy: USD 1–2 per room
  • Maid: USD 1 per day
  • Guides: USD 5–10 per person, per day; depending on the service supplied
  • Drivers: USD 2–5 per person, per day; depending on the service supplied
  • Restaurants: In modern restaurants, a service charge is sometimes included in the price so there is no need to leave an extra tip. Gratuities are seldom expected in local restaurants, but there is nothing to stop you putting some coins on the table when you leave.

Our tipping guideline is in USD, but tips should be calculated in the local currency at the destination.

12. Time difference

The difference between Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and the time in Vietnam varies, depending on UK summer and winter time.

Summer time: +4 hours. This means that when it is noon GMT, it is 16.00 in Vietnam.
Winter time: +5 hours. This means that when it is noon GMT, it is 17.00 in Vietnam.

13. Electricity

Vietnam has neither standardised power nor standard plugs. This means that you may encounter mains electricity of anywhere between 110 and 230 volts. The plugs may have two or three pins, and they may be round or flat, depending on where in the country you are. Therefore, make sure to bring a travel adapter with you if you will need to recharge your camera, phone or laptop.

14. Telephone and Internet

The international dialling code for Vietnam is +84. It can be expensive to place calls to – or receive them from – Europe while you are in Vietnam. Ask your own mobile service provider about coverage and call charges.
There are internet cafés in the big towns and cities, and Wi-Fi connections in most hotels.

15. Safety

Vietnam is generally a very safe country to travel in. Crime involving tourists is typically limited to pick-pocketing, and can usually be avoided through the application of common sense. Try not to show off expensive jewellery and large sums of cash. Always follow the advice and information provided by the guides and you can be sure of staying out of danger.

16. Food and drink

Vietnamese food is healthy, smells good and tastes delicious. It is clearly influenced by French, Thai, Chinese and – to an extent – Indian cuisine. One of the most popular dishes is called ‘pho’, and is often referred to as ‘the soul of the country’. Very simply, it is a noodle soup eaten every day, typically for breakfast. It is available in most restaurants and from most street kitchens. Don’t be afraid of eating food from street kitchens – there are often magical culinary treats in store … For example, try:

  • Nem ran or cha gio (fried spring rolls, with different fillings)
  • Banh chung (rice-flour cakes, typically steamed in banana leaves)
  • Gio lua (lean pork pâté)
  • Banh cuon (steamed spring rolls made of rice flour)
  • Banh my (bread rolls with pâté or egg)
  • Mi voi thit bo/ga (noodles with beef or chicken)

Only ever drink water from bottles. Bottled water is cheap and readily available everywhere. DO NOT drink water from the taps.

17. Public holidays

It is always special to experience the traditions and celebrations of other countries. Below is a list of public holidays, important festivals and other special occasions.

Please note that some museums and attractions may be closed on these days.

18. Flight reservations and airline tickets

We will send you your flight reservation as soon as you book your trip. You can see times and routes on the itinerary. It is important to check your name for spelling mistakes. The name on the reservation must be exactly as in your passport. If you find any mistakes in the names, please contact us immediately.

Today, there are only electronic airline tickets (e-tickets), so you do not receive a physical ticket for use at the airport check-in. When you check in at the airport, you use your passport and a booking reference. The booking reference is on your itinerary.

19. Service letter

Once you have purchased a tour through us, you will receive our service letter before your departure. The service letter contains important information about online check-in, what to do in the event of a delay, our agreed guidelines for tips, etc. In addition, you will find important telephone numbers for our local agents as well as our emergency telephone number.

So it is important that you print out the service letter and bring it with you.

20. Seat reservation, upgrades and extra legroom

The airline will assign you a seat on board the aircraft upon check-in. If you have specific wishes, you can make a seat reservation via the airline’s website. Most airlines have an area on their website named “manage my booking” or similar. Please note that most airlines require payment for a seat reservation, so it’s a good idea to have your payment card ready when starting a seat reservation. Airline seat reservations vary from company to company, but as a general rule, you can book seats from around 48 hours before departure.

Many airlines also offer upgrades with extra legroom or comfort seating, such as Economy Comfort with KLM and Premium Voyageur with Air France. You can check these details through the airline’s own website, along with payment information.

Please kindly note that airlines have full access to all seats on the aircraft and therefore always reserve the right to alter a reservation.

If you do not make a seat reservation before departure, the airline will issues your seating upon check-in at the airport.

21. Your luggage

We use many different airlines for our flights to Vietnam, so there may be variations in the amount of luggage you are allowed to bring with you as both checked luggage and hand luggage. Check the information about this on your airline ticket, and contact us if you have any questions. If your tour involves a domestic flight in Vietnam, you cannot bring more than 20 kg of luggage with you.

You should also make sure you carry all your important and indispensable things in your hand luggage. This applies to items such as passports, visas, airline tickets, insurance documents, credit cards, money and cameras, as well as information about your health and vital medicines.

You may find yourself sitting in a draught from the air conditioning in the plane, so make sure to pack a warm jumper or jacket in your hand luggage.

22. Transfers to and from airports

On arrival at the different airports in Vietnam, you will be met by our local representative who will be waiting for you in the arrival hall with a sign bearing your name. You will naturally also be driven to the airport on departure. You will be informed of your pick-up time when you arrive in Vietnam.

23. Etiquette and cultural differences

Experiencing differences in culture and etiquette is one of the delights of travelling, and it is essential to respect these differences. ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ is good advice, and the section below contains a number of useful hints and tips intended to help you make the very most of your visit to Vietnam.

  • Try not to show anger. Displaying frustration or anger by shouting or acting rudely is considered extremely impolite and disrespectful – and nothing good will come of it.
  • Do not point with your fingers, as this is considered offensive and patronising. If you have to point, use your whole hand.
  • Try to avoid public displays of affection – kissing or cuddling, for example – as this is considered offensive. It is extremely rare to see couples walking hand in hand.
  • Do not wear shorts, short skirts or tank tops, especially close to temples and churches and out in the country where few tourists travel.
  • Always remove your shoes when you enter a private home or a temple.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, go skinny-dipping or nude sunbathing, as this is considered obscene – even on beaches.
  • Remove your hat when you enter a temple or talk to elderly people or figures of authority – including monks.
  • Do not touch children on their heads, as this is considered to bring bad luck. (Vietnamese people touch their shoulders or arms instead)
  • Do not poke chopsticks into your bowl of rice, or leave them sticking up. Place them next to the bowl instead. If you leave them sticking out of the rice bowl they look like incense sticks, which are lit in temples in honour of the dead.
  • Always use your right hand or both hands when passing something to – or receiving something from – other people. Never use your left hand alone.
24. Donations and gifts

Some parts of Vietnam are very poor, and our local partner has given us the following guidelines regarding donations and gifts.

  • NEVER give money to beggars – children in particular. Giving money to beggars reinforces the impression that begging is an acceptable way of life. If children earn money from begging, their parents will be tempted to send them out onto the streets to beg rather than to school.
  • The only exception to this rule relates to disabled people and the elderly; it is OK to given them a few coins.
  • NEVER give sweets to children in the villages you visit during your tour.
  • Try to get out of the habit of giving material things. It is often better to share your time, give a smile and offer friendship.
25. Travellers with reduced mobillity

Please note, our tours are generally not suitable for persons with reduced mobility. Please contact us for information about the possibilities according any specific needs.

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