Safety Advice

  • Generally speaking, Vietnam is one of the safer places to travel in the current world environment but as with every where else in the world, it always pays to be cautious especially when traveling alone at night and it is advisable to stay in well lit and populated areas at all times
  • In general the people you meet will be extremely friendly and willing to help you where they can. However, be aware there is wide spread poverty among the population and petty crime is on the increase particularly in the popular tourist areas.  Small utility bags and back packs, although very handy, serve to advertise where your valuables are so if using a bag of any kind, be mindful to keep it close to you at all times. This is especially important near the time of the Tet festival and at all times in the crowded market areas where pick pockets are often active
  • In many areas and especially in Hoi An, you will find it easy to hire motor scooters at very cheap rates. However, be warned, your international drivers licence is not recognized in Vietnam and unless you have an official licence issued by the traffic authority in Vietnam you will be driving unlicenced and you could easily receive a fine up to $US1,000. If involved in an accident, the financial consequences can be very harsh and driving unlicenced may cause complications with your travel insurance. A Vietnamese driving licence can be obtained and Hotel staff should be able to provide further information regarding latest policy and procedure.

Travel Hints For Vietnam

  • Always ensure you keep your passport in a safe location. Your Hotel reception staff will be able to secure your documents in the Hotel safe if you require. However, you should keep a photo copy of your passport and visa in a separate location at all times.
  • Nearly all Hotels have business cards written in both English and Vietnamese with a location map on the back. It is a good idea to never leave the Hotel without one in your pocket. Not only can it help you find the way back to your room but if required you can contact reception for help from someone who can speak English.
  • Take some time to familiarise yourself with the currency and you will see several notes are very similar and easily confused. Eg. The colour of the 20,000 VND note is very similar to that of the 500,000 VND note and it can be very difficult to notice the difference when in a hurry at the market. Others have said it helps to place the notes in order in your wallet or purse and place them so it’s easy to see the amount on the note.
  • ATM’s are very common and in the major tourist areas you are never very far from one. The use of credit cards to make purchases can be very difficult and actually impossible in most areas. Vietnam is a Cash society and even many of the hotels will insist on you using cash at check out time. It is advisable to check payment method with reception staff well in advance of your check out time to avoid any last minute rush to an ATM.
  • In some of the market areas you may come across touts who will actively try and tempt you into their shop. Although local governments have tried to stop the practice, it still occurs from time to time and especially in and around the main tourist centres where competition for foreign customers is high. If you are not interested in what is on offer, simply say “No thank you” and keep walking, there is no need to be rude.
  • Remain calm while making purchases and keep control of your valuables to ensure your excitement doesn’t make you the unwilling victim of a thief or scam.
  • When leaving the airport, ensure you have your luggage tickets and be prepared to show them to security before being allowed to leave. Although the need to show your tickets can slow your progress it does help ensure no one else can inadvertently walk off with your possessions.
  • Crossing the road on foot can be frightening experience, especially for the first time and is best done at the traffic lights. To cross the road without traffic lights most people use the following method. Wait for a small gap and step off the curb. While continuing to watch the traffic, move slowly at a steady pace across the road. Try to avoid stopping and never take a step backwards as the traffic opens up around you for only enough time to avoid hitting you.
  • It is a good idea to bring a few basic medical items with you and a supply of any vitamins you may normally take as they may not be easily available in Vietnam. Headache tablets, band aids, mosquito repellant and sunscreen are among the items recommended to bringing.

Viet Nam Weather

Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia, affected by tropical moonsoon.The climate of Vietnam varies considerably from region to region. Although the entire country lies in the tropics and subtropics, local conditions vary from frosty winters in the far northern hills to year-round, subequatorial warmth in the Mekong Delta.
Northern Vietnam (Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hai Phong) has two distinct seasons – hot and rainy summers and cool and dry winters. Summer: May – October. Average temperature 24 – 33º C It is hot and humid, especially inland, which is not touched by cool coastal breezes. Tropical rain showers and the occasional typhoon are also possibilities – light clothes and an umbrella are recommended. Winter: November – April. Average temperature 16 – 23º C It remains fairly dry up until late February/March.Best time to visit: During winter when rainfall is minimal and temperatures are comfortable.
Central Vietnam (HueDa Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang) coastal areas are more temperate than the sticky south (although they do experience high rainfall), while the Central Highlands (Da Lat) are pleasantly cooler. Summer: May – October. Average temperature 23 – 24ºC Lowlands (HueDa Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang) The weather is warm and reasonably dry from May to September. The monsoon winds then change bringing above average rain during late September. This time is not very pleasant as it can rain constantly – there is a high probability of flooding, visibility is poor and typhoons are also a possibility. Winter: November – April. Average temperature 17 – 23º C Best time to visit: During the winter between February and April, when rainfall is low and temperatures are warm.
Highlands (Dalat) Temperatures can fall slightly below the average and rainfall is higher than at lower elevations. However,  most rain tends to fall during the summer months when it can be very wet – although these summer months do provide a respite from the often intense heat of other areas. Light cotton clothes are required, although a few warm layers are necessary throughout the year as temperatures can drop away, especially at night. Waterproofs are also a good idea as rain can fall at anytime of the year.
Best time to visit: winter days are pleasantly warm and rainfall is lower from November to March – nights can be chilly. Southern Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh, Bin Thuen, Mekong Delta) is fairly consistently hot and humid all year round. Worth Carrying lightweight jumper as it can be chillingly cold inside air-conditioned buildings during summer.
Summer: May – November. Average temperature 24 – 31º C It is hot, humid and rainy but heavy downpours are usually short lived. Winter: December – April. Average temperature 22 – 33º C Remains hot and humid, although humidity levels are more bearable between December and February. During April and May the southwest monsoon winds bring rain showers to the Mekong Delta and southern Vietnam. Best time to visit: Temperatures are not as extreme from September to February as they can be during March and April when the heat is fierce.
So, Please take Charming Indochina Travel’s advise as : The North The best time to visit the north of Vietnam is from September to December when it isn’t so humid. The weather turns quite cold and wet in January and this continues until March. The humidity can prove oppressive from May to the start of September and there’s a danger of flooding. The South December to April is the best time to visit the south of Vietnam. There are short downpours during the wet season from May to November but they tend to only last a short time so you can still enjoy a visit during these months (just go for lunch when you see the black clouds developing). The Mekong Delta can experience severe flooding during this period making travel very difficult. The Center December to March is a good time to visit the Central Highlands when conditions are usually dry and cool. We visited the region in late November when the weather was beautiful with fine, warm days and pleasant evenings. We had a few light showers as we headed north towards Hoi An. Along the central coast there is a rainy season from December to February. June to October tends to be very dry and hot. Conclusion If you’re planning a trip to cover all of Vietnam the best time to visit is from September to December or from March to April.

Vietnam Visa On Arrival


Vietnam Visa is required for most foreigners to enter and exit Vietnam at one of  3 international airports: Hanoi/ Ho Chi Minh city & Da Nang.  Travellers are advised to arrange Vietnam Visa before their departure by applying online for the Approval Letter first, receive the letter by email, then get Visa Stamped on their passports at Vietnam Airports upon arrival. This is called: VIETNAM VISA ON ARRIVAL.

Visa cost at the airport



Type of fees

Fee rate

1  Single-entry visas

USD 45

2 Multiple-entry visas

a) Valid for less than 01 month

USD 65

b) Valid for less than 06 months

USD 95

c) Valid for 6 months or more

USD 135

3 Transfer of validity of visas or temporary residence from expired passports to new passports

USD 15

4 Temporary residence cards:

a) Valid for up to 1 year

USD 80

b) Valid for between over 1 year and 2 years

USD 100

c) Valid for between over 2 year and 3 years

USD 120


Passport must have at least six months remaining validity

Application form fully completed and signed

Passport-type photograph

FOR Visiting Relatives: Information of your relatives in Vietnam such as name, address and the relationship with the visitor.

Important: Vietnam has set visa exemption for Vietnamese oversea (have 5 years exeption visa) and for Ordinary passport holders of Asian Countries as Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia,  Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and East Asia Countries as South Korean, Japan, Some countries from Europe as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia.

Vietnamese people that hold foreign passports and foreigners who are their husbands, wives and children are exempt from visa requirements to enter Vietnam and are allowed to stay for not more than 90 days. In order to be granted visa exemption certificates at Vietnamese representative offices abroad, overseas Vietnamese need conditions:

Foreign-issued permanent residence certificate (PRC) with the validity of at least six months since the date of entrance. ‘

Visa exemption paper (VEP) is granted by Vietnamese appropriate authorities.

Those who expect to stay more than 90 days must apply for visa according to current stipulations before their entrance.

Bilateral visa exemption agreement

Citizens of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Laos holding valid ordinary passports are exempt from visa requirements and are allowed to stay for not more than 30 days; Philippines is allowed to stay for not more than 21 days.

By February 2011, citizens of China, Kyrgyzstan, North Korea, and Rumaniaholding valid ordinary passports for official mission. Citizens of 60 countries holding valid diplomatic or official passports are exempt from visa requirements including:  Argentina, Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Chile, China, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominica, Ecuador, France, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela.

Unilateral visa exemption

Vietnam Visa with 30-day validity is exempted for officials from ASEAN secretariat holding different kinds of passports.

Citizens of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Japan and South Korea holding different kinds of passports are exempt from visa requirements and are allowed to stay for not more than 15 days.


Vietnamese Cuisine

Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil, and selective use of herbs and vegetables. The balance reached between fresh herbs and meats as well as the selective use of spices has earned Vietnamese food the reputation of being one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide.

Historical influences 

Due to long periods of occupation by China and France, Vietnamese cuisine now shares many of its characteristics with food from both countries. The Chinese introduced many different noodle dishes, moon cake, fried rice and many pork dishes as well as many others.

They were also responsible for introducing some of the wonderful new spices found in the “New World” such as Chili and Maize (Corn) during the period of the famous Ming dynasty.

The French introduced the iconic bread sticks or Baguettes and also introduced Vietnam to onions, cauliflower, lettuce, potatoes, tarragon, carrot, artichoke, asparagus, and coffee. Other foods introduced from France include, yogurt, butter, omelets and Beefsteak.

The use of Coconut milk and curry in cooking was introduced from Cambodia and curry chicken eaten with rice or bread is a popular dish in central and southern Vietnam.

Close ties with Eastern Europe countries has allowed the Vietnamese to also adopt dishes such as stuffed cabbage soup, sa lát Nga (Russian salad) and Czech style beer.

Over time, the Vietnamese have adapted many of the introduced foods and the cuisine now encompasses the ingredients and beverages of Vietnam, and features a combination of five fundamental taste elements in the overall meal. The ingredients are used to represent, Metal (spicy), Wood (sour), Fire (bitter), Water (salty), and Earth (sweet). Cooks try to include the colours of the five elements into each dish and are represented as; White for metal, Green for wood, Yellow for earth, Red for fire and Black for water.

Common ingredients include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, and fruits and vegetables. Vietnamese recipes often use a combination of lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird’s eye chili, lime, and basil leaves.

Yin & Yang Balance

The principle of yin and yang is applied to the ingredients of each meal and is said to provide a balance for the body. While different textures and flavors are very important to the makeup of the dish, the principal concern applies to the “heating” and “cooling” properties of the ingredients.

For example:

Duck is classed as “cool” and is often served with ginger and fish sauce which is “Hot”.

Chicken is classed as “warm” and Pork is classified as “hot” which make them ideal to be served and eaten in winter.

Seafood is considered to range from “cool” to “cold” and is often balanced with ginger as “warm” element.

Salt is used to form a connection between the spirit world and that of the living and is also used at weddings to remind new couples of the perfection and harmony of their union together.

While sharing some fundamental features, traditional Vietnamese cooking differs from region to region.

All regions use fresh ingredients daily which are either eaten uncooked, boiled or lightly stir fried and meats are only cooked briefly to preserve all the nature flavours and juices.

However, due to differences in the climate and personal tastes, food in Vietnam varies in the 3 main regions; North, Central and South.

A cooler climate in the north means there are less spices available and the food tends to be prepared with more black pepper and fish sauce which gives food in the north a subtle and gentle taste.

Due to a large number of herbs and spices being grown in the central highlands area, food in the central region is quite well known for its spicy dishes. Garlic, chili, Vietnamese mint, fish sauce and local black pepper are common ingredients and help set dishes in the centre apart from the other regions. Often a meal in the centre area will consist of many different dishes presented in small servings so you can benefit from the wide range available.

Food in the southern region contains more exotic ingredients such as coconut milk, coriander, basil and is often served with vegetables and fruit. As people in the south prefer sweeter foods, sugar is added to many of the regions specialty dishes but the Yin & Yang balance is always carefully maintained.

Due to economic reasons, it is very important to save money and ways of using all the ingredients have become a tradition in Vietnamese cooking. Even today and especially in the poorer rural areas, every part of an animal is used and nothing is wasted. The more expensive cuts of meat from larger animals (cows & pigs) will be used in stir fries, soup or other dishes, while the cheaper cuts will be used in soup. The same can be said of for vegetables where the leafy part is diced finely and used to add flavour, while the thicker stalks can be grilled with the meat and sometimes the roots are replanted.

Fish Sauce or as it is known, Nước mắm is widely used as a condiment in Vietnamese cooking throughout the country and a small amount will be found to accompany virtually every dish served.

Vietnamese food is not known for containing top quality ingredients but more for the very inexpensive and simple ways all ingredients are blended together to create dishes with unique flavours.


Vietnamese cuisine is influenced by the Asian principle of five elements and Mahābhūta.

Correspondence Elements
Wood Fire Earth Metal Water
Spices (ngũ vị) Sour Bitter Sweet Spicy Salty
Organs (ngũ tạng) Gall bladder Small intestine Stomach Large intestine Urinary bladder
Colors (ngũ sắc) Green Red Yellow White Black
Senses (ngũ giác ) Visual Taste Touch Smell Sound
Nutrients (ngũ chất) Carbohydrates Fat Protein Minerals Water
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