Most travelers to Vietnam are attracted by the country’s wonderful natural beauty: From green rice fields dotted with the conical hats of workers in Vietnam’s north stretching to the fascinating bustle of the Mekong Delta in the south.
Viet Nam is an ideal destination all year round. In the North, the climate is divided into four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. From January to April is the change period of living beings, very suitable for festive and spiritual tourism activities, because most festivals in the North take place in the spring. From May to September is appropriate for sea tourism and leisure tourism in mountainous region. The period of October to December is an ideal time for ones who love nature and want to explore wild and majestic beauty of Northern mountainous region.
Climate of the South includes two distinct seasons (rainy and dry seasons) and mild year-round with average temperatures of 27°C. The South has diversified tourism types such as culture, eco-tourism, sea, community-based tourism…
Vietnamese Traditional Lunar New Year Festival (Tet) takes place in late January or early February. Visitors to Viet Nam this time will have opportunity to enjoy the bustling atmosphere in flower markets and explore unique traditional customs of Vietnamese people.
Vietnamese is the official language. Almost tourist guides speak languages: English, Chinese, French, Russian and Japanese.
Vietnamese dong (VND) is the official currency in Viet Nam.
– Paper notes include: VND 500,000; 200,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20,000; 10,000; 5,000; 2,000; 1,000 and 500. Coins include VND 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500 and 200, but they are nolonger used actually.
Cheques with value as Vietnamese dong include: VND 1,000,000 and 500,000.
– Foreign currencies and tourist cheques can be exchanged into Vietnamese Dong at banks or foreign exchange agencies.
– Credit cards are popularly used, especially in cities and big tourist centers.
Before leave Viet Nam, Vietnamese dong can be changed into foreign currencies at the airport.
Governmental agencies work 8 hours/day from 8h to 17h (excluding one-hour lunch). Working days are from Monday to Friday. Saturday and Sunday are close.
Banks are open from 7.30h or 8h to 16h30. Some banks are open on Saturday morning from 8h to 11h30. Sunday is close.
Almost shops are open from 8h or 8h30 to 21h or 22h.
January 1: New Year’s Day, (one day holiday)
April 30: Saigon Liberation Day, (one day holiday)
May 1: International Labour Day, (one day holiday)
September 2: National Day of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, (one day holiday)
Viet Nam Traditional Lunar New Year Festival – Tet Nguyen Dan: (Four day holiday). Tet holiday usually falls at the end of January or middle of February by solar calendar. The holiday begins on the last day of the last lunar month and lasts through the first three days of the Lunar New Year (Tet Nguyen Dan)
The 10th day of the third lunar month (in April 12, 2011; March 31, 2012; April 19, 2013; April 9, 2014; April 28, 2015)
The ancestors’ death anniversary of the whole nation (one day holiday).
Things to remember:
- It’s in your best interests not to drink the tap water, especially after flooding!
- Dress modestly and appropriately when visiting local dwellings and religious sites, etc.
- Leave your valuables behind before a night out on the town, or going to the beach.
- When crossing the road, especially in Ho Chi Minh city, always keep looking to the left and right and walk slowly!
- Do not offer money directly to minority people – instead donate to a local charity or offer a small gift, such as pens.
- Try at least once the delicious, local street food.
- Always ask permission first before taking photographs, especially in minority areas.
Things do not to miss:
- Sleeping out on deck on a boat in Ha Long Bay
- Ordering custom-made clothes from the local tailor shop
- Taking a slow cyclo ride through the French Quarter of old Saigon
- Eating pho ga (chicken noodle soup) at a street side noodle stalls.
- Watching the traditional water – puppet performance in Ha Noi.
- Experience the full moon festivities in the ancient town of Hoi An.
- Drinking rice-wine in the minority villages of the north
- Taking a boat along Hue’s Huong (Perfume) River, visiting the Royal Mausoleums.
- Overnight in a homestay in the Mekong Delta’s riverside orchards.
- Bartering for a bargain at Saigon’s largest market, Ben Thanh Market
- Taking a stroll through Ha Noi’s Old Quarters.
USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS
0 National Domestic Direct Dialing Access Code
0 International Direct Dialing Access Code
101 Domestic Long Distance Telephone Service
105 Viet Nam Paging Service (in English)
106 Paging Service Enquiries
107 Viet Nam Paging Service (in Vietnamese)
1080 Social and Cultural Information Clearing up Queries Service
1081 Talking Yellow Pages
1088 Connecting Customers to Consultants in the fields of healthcare, nutrition, drug preventive measures, law, informatics, construction, tourism, estate trading, education and training, intellectual property, love-marriage-family matters
110 International Telephone Service
114 Fire Brigade
116 Phone Number Enquiries
117 Time Inquiries
118 Ring Back Test
119 Advice on Telephone Repairs
133 / 131 Ha Noi ABC Paging Service
141 Vinaphone Paging Service
142 International Telephone Service Rate
143 International Telephone Service Enquiries
USE A MOBILE PHONE
Using a mobile phone in Vietnam is quite easy, and it is worth familiarizing yourself to the system, whether you plan to travel, do business or plan your life time here. The three most popular networks in Vietnam are MobiFone, Vinaphone and Vietel.
If you are a tourist visiting Vietnam for a short time, you can go to any mobile store on the street with the sign “Bán SIM – Thẻ” (“Selling SIM card – Mobile card”) and buy a pre-paid activated SIM card for 50.000VND – 65.000 VND. With such card, you can start using mobile network immediately with existing balance of about 50,000-150.000VND in your account. When it runs low on money, you can simply recharge by getting a pre-paid mobile card ranging from 10.000VND to 500.000VND and continue using the service.
If you stay longer terms in Vietnam, you should keep your eyes on promotional programs, especially one which doubles your recharged money on special days. There are also the post-paid options for those who have a long plan on using Vietnamese mobile service. Whichever option, Vietnam mobile is competitive both in the price and service offered.
About your phone: You have three options: bring an locked phone with you, bring an unlocked phone with you, or buy a relatively cheap phone here. If you bring a locked phone, make sure you understand the terms for international roaming; With an unlocked phone or a phone that you buy here, you can simply purchase a SIM card and have a local number. Keep in mind that the unlocked phone that you bring must be a GSM phone, but most phones are these days. Smart phones are beneficial here because you can have access to the 3G network.
Vietnam is one of the most wired countries in the world. The majority of cities have wireless internet in cafes, airports and even households while public internet computer can be found easily for as low as 20 cents per hour. In the rural area, it is less common to find internet but if such area attracts certain amount of tourists (such as Sapa), you can still manage to find a place for email or facebook.The main internet service providers in Vietnam include Vietel, VNPT and FPT. Note that using internet away from home asks for certain precautions. Don’t forget to log out of accounts and delete cookies before you leave the computer. Avoid checking banking and other important personal information at non-secure internet area.
Most cities and towns have central post offices located near tourist area. In general, it costs 50 cents to send a post card, $1 to send a letter and packages cost vary. Bring your ID if you plan to send a package abroad.
Here are some addresses of post offices in main cities:
Hanoi Post office
75 Đinh Tiên Hoàng – Hoàn Kiếm – Hà Nội.
Ho Chi Minh City Post office
125 Hai Ba Trung, Ben Nghe, District 1
Hue Post Office
8 Hoang Hoa Tham
Tel: (8454) 3820555
Fax: + (8454) 3823469
Hoi An Post Office
6 Tran Hung Dao
Fax : (84510)3862444
Hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City:
Cho Ray Hospital
Add: 201B Nguyen Chi Thanh St., Ward 12, Dist. 5, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (84-8) 3855 4138
Fax: (84-8) 3855 7267
Ho Chi Minh City Medical Hospital
Add: 179 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St., Dist. 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (84-8) 3932 6579
Fax: (84-8) 3932 6004
Hospital of Pediatrics No.1
Add: 2 Su Van Hanh St., Ward 10, Dist. 10, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (84-8) 3835 3255
Sai Gon General Hospital
Add: 125 Le Loi Str., Dis.1, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (84-8) 3829 7709
Fax: (84-8) 3822 5988
Hanoi France Hospital
Add: 6 Nguyen Luong Bang St., Tan Phu Ward, Dist. 7, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (84-8) 5411 3333
Add: 167 Pasteur St., Ward 8, Dist. 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (84-8) 3823 0352
Tropical Diseases Hospital
Add: 190 Ben Ham Tu St., Ward 1, Dist. 5, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (84-8) 3923 8704
Tu Du Maternity Hospital
Add: 284 Cong Quynh Str., Dist.1, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (84-8) 3839 1229
Fax: (84-8) 3839 6832
Hospitals in Da Nang City:
Add: 122 Hai Phong St., Da Nang City
Tel: (84-511) 3823 643
Hospital of Dermatology and Venerology
Add: 91 Dung Si Thanh Khe St., Thanh Khe Dist., Da Nang City
Tel: (84-511) 3756 951
Fax: (84-511) 3756 970
Da Nang Hospital
Add: 103 Quang Trung St., Hai Chau Dist., Da Nang City
Tel: (84-511) 3821 118 / 3821 119
Fax: (84-511) 3829 966
Hospital of Traditional Medicine
Add: 9 Tran Thu Do St.,
Cam Le Dist., Da Nang City
342 Phan Chau Trinh St.,
Hai Chau Dist., Da Nang City
Tel: (84-511) 3696 123 / 3550 989
Fax: (84-511) 3696 123
Hospitals in Ha Noi:
Bach Mai Hospital
Add: Giai Phong St., Ha Noi
Tel: (84-4) 3869 3731 / 3869 3732
Ha Noi Obstetrics Hospital
Add: De La Thanh St., Ha Noi
Tel: (84-4) 3834 3181
Hospital of Army 108
Add: 1 Tran Hung Dao St., Ha Noi
Tel: (84-4) 3825 4627
Fax: (84-4) 3821 3229
Instude of ophthalmology
Add: 85 Ba Trieu St., Ha Noi
Tel: (84-4) 3943 8004
Fax: (84-4) 3943 8004
National Hospital of Pediatrics
Add: 18/879 La Thanh St., Dong Da Dist., Ha Noi
Tel: (84-4) 3835 9638
Fax: (84-4) 3775 4448
National Hospital of Tuberculosis and Pulmonary
Add: 463 Hoang Hoa Tham St.,, Ha Noi
Tel: (84-4) 3832 6249/ 3832 5865
Hospital of Army 354
Add: 120 Doc Ngu St., Ba Dinh Dist., Ha Noi
Tel: (84-4) 3834 5595
National Cancer Institute
Add: 43 Quan Su, Ha Noi
Tel: (84-4) 3825 2143
Fax: (84-4) 3825 3757
Saint Paul Hospital
Add: 12 Chu Van An St., Ha Noi
Tel: (84-4) 3823 3071/ 3823 3075
Fax: (84-4) 3843 4792
Viet Duc University Hospital
Add: 40 Trang Thi St., Ha Noi
Tel: (84-4) 3825 3531
Fax: (84-4) 3824 8308
Viet Nam – France Hospital
Add: 1 Phuong Mai St., Dong Da Dist., Ha Noi
Tel: (84-4) 3577 1100
Fax: (84-4) 3576 4443
Source: Vietnam National Administration of Tourism & Internet