Vietnam has a wealth of cultural, historic, and natural attractions, making it one of the most exciting countries to travel to in Asia in addition to being one of the most welcoming.

Vietnam has no end of cultural attractions including the old Imperial capital of Hue, the ancient trading port of Hoi An and the fertile Mekong Delta plus the two major cities, Saigon and Hanoi.

Those looking for spectacular scenery should head to the far north of Vietnam or to Halong Bay for an overnight cruise on a traditional Vietnamese Junk.

With over 3,000 km of coastline, it's also no wonder that more and more people are heading to Vietnam to combine some touring with a beach holiday in Vietnam, staying in a luxury or boutique hotel.

Entry Requirements

Visas & Passports

Please note that visa requirements can change at any time, and it is your responsibility to check you have the correct documentation for travel.

Your passport will need to be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date of your arrival in Vietnam. You'll need two free pages for any visa.

New Zealand passport holders require visa for Vietnam.

You will need to apply online and it is by far preferable to do this on the official government portal below.

Please note that you will need a multi-entry visa if you are entering Vietnam twice (or more) on the same trip.

Banking and Currency


The Vietnamese currency is the Dông (VND; symbol ₫). Notes are in denominations of ₫500,000, 200,000, 100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500.

Be careful as the 500,000 note looks very similar to 20,000 and 200,000's look like 10,000 so watch your change and what you hand over.

At the time of writing the exchange rate is around £1 = ₫30,000. A million Dong is around £33.

The US Dollar is the most favoured foreign currency although not normally accepted in everyday transactions.

Australian, British, Japanese, Singaporean and Thai currency, as well as the Euro, can usually be changed in the larger cities; great difficulty may be encountered in trying to exchange any other currencies. There is a commission charge for changing money in banks.

Banking & Exchanging Money

Our recommendation is to use ATMs for cash withdrawals as they are widely available and most will accept UK bank card. Citibank, ANZ and HSBC are ones that will normally allow you to withdraw 5 million Dong in one transaction (about £180).

There are ATMs in many major towns, but not in rural areas.

Most hotels will accept credit cards.

If you want to have some Dong on arrival, it's probably best to exchange some at the airport on arrival. The exchange rates are normally reasonable, and you'll have some cash straight away.

Banking hours vary from bank to bank but are generally open from Monday-Friday 08h30-16h00; some may close for lunch. Many banks are also open on Saturday morning; all banks are closed on Sunday.

An increasing number of outlets accept MasterCard and Visa credit cards. However, outside main towns and cities, it is wise to carry cash.

Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Domestic Flights

Vietnam has some of the busiest skies in Southeast Asia and domestic flights are very good.

Vietnam Airlines is the national carrier and operates a very modern fleet of aircraft serving destinations throughout the country.

Vietjet is a more recent arrival, but a very large airline now, serving domestic and an increasing number of international routes.

Jetstar Pacific are part owned by Qantas and offer great value domestic flights between the main centres.

Bamboo Airlines began operations in 2019 and have expanded beyond domestic flights.

Travel by Road

The road network throughout Vietnam is reasonable but the standard of the roads varies dramatically from good to appalling.

If you have booked an overland transfer through us, you'll have a vehicle with a trained and experienced driver very familiar with road conditions. Seatbelts are not compulsory but should always be used.


Self-drive car rental is not a sensible option in Vietnam because of the road and driving conditions.

Scooter Rental

It's possible to rent scooters locally in many locations. If you choose to do this, you should check the condition of the vehicle carefully (breaks and tyres in particular). You should drive with caution, as Vietnamese roads can be full of hazards - potholes, obstacles, sand and so on. Road rules are treated with abandon, and you will find any and all normal rules violated (driving on the pavement, on the wrong side of the road, the wrong way round roundabouts) - more or less anything goes.


Taxis are plentiful, cheap. and reliable They can be flagged down on the street or arranged through your hotel or the restaurant where you are eating. Always make sure the driver has set the meter before starting the journey.

Motorbike Taxis

Grab and Uber are the common motorbike taxis services. You'll see the green uniforms of Grab drivers everywhere in the main cities. You take your chances on the back of a motorbike taxi though - drivers often use their phones whilst driving and they are among the worst drivers on the roads.

If you want to experience Saigon or Hanoi traffic on the back of a scooter it's much better to book one of the professionally organised Vespa Tours.


Bicycles can be hired for a day or longer from shops in the main towns and cities. Many Vietnamese people still have a bicycle as their main form of transport. It's a good option in Hoi An or the Mekong Delta.

Particular care should be taken when cycling in towns and on main roads outside the towns as drivers do not always observe road rules and are not cyclist aware.


There are local bus services in Ho Chi Minh City and in Hanoi but you're unlikely to use these - grab a taxi instead.

Train Travel in Vietnam

If you've booked a rail journey in Vietnam, you should be aware that standards are well below those in Europe and even China. Although a few carriages now have air conditioning, facilities are still short of international standards.

The main rail route connects Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and the journey can take between 30 and 40 hours. On any train service in Vietnam other than the private rail service, expect facilities to be basic. Toilets are likely to be in a poor state and trains can be overcrowded and noisy.

Health and Medical Information

Medical Facilities

Health and medical facilities in Vietnam are very good in the main cities and poor in remoter areas. Medical costs in Vietnam can be expensive so it is essential for you to have some travel insurance in place.

We are not medical professionals, so we highly recommend consulting a medical professional well in advance of your trip, to ensure you are prepared.

You can find up-to-date health advice relating to Vietnam on the NZ Government website here:

You may find the link below also useful.


We recommend consulting a specialist travel medical centre prior to travel.

Your GP and a Health clinic will almost certainly recommend having Hepatitis and Typhoid inoculations. These are standard and routine.

Safety Notices


Vietnam is generally a very safe country for travel, however there are some precautions you should take.

For the latest NZ Government advice, please consult the website below:

One thing we advise is to be careful in the big cities and busy tourist areas with your belongings. Bag and phone snatching are relatively common, usually by scooter riders, working in pairs.

Don't carry your phone in your hand on the street and make sure bags are secured on your person, with the strap over your shoulder. It's good to be aware that these incidents happen. This is especially a problem in the centre of Saigon, so please be careful with your possessions around District 1 in particular.

Use your hotel safe to avoid temptation. It's easy to become complacent about your personal belongings, but using the hotel safe is always recommended for looking after any valuables.

When out on tour, don't leave valuables or cash unattended in your car. Although it's very unlikely that a driver will take anything, remember that the cash casually left in your bag could well be the equivalent of a month's salary for a driver, so it's better to avoid any potential problems. This advice applies to anywhere, not specifically to Vietnam.

You should generally feel very comfortable in Vietnam as violent crime is extremely rare and local people invariably polite and helpful.

Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Vietnamese Cuisine

Vietnamese cooking is varied and usually superb, as the profusion of Vietnamese restaurants in New York, London and Berlin contest.

It is a mixture of Vietnamese, Chinese and French traditions, with a plethora of regional variations. As in all countries of the region, rice or noodles usually provide the basis of a meal.

Not surprisingly, fish is plentiful. Pride is taken in the fact that the freshest of vegetables are used and the vegetables and fruit served is seasonal. Fish sauce is the staple ingredient of Vietnamese cooking.

You'll probably be familiar with Spring Rolls, but Pho (pronounced 'fur') is the national dish - a beef noodle broth eaten at any time of the day.

Tipping is now quite customary, especially in tourist areas, and is much appreciated in a country where salaries are still low. Upscale restaurants and hotels may add a 5-10% service charge to the bill.

Drinking Water

Water used for drinking, brushing teeth, or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilised. However, bottled water is widely available and cheap; make sure the seal is unbroken before drinking.

Food safety

Unpasteurised milk should be boiled. However, pasteurised milk is widely available now.

Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked, and fruit should be peeled.

Vietnam has a great street food culture but be careful where you choose to eat as hygiene standards are very mixed.

Climate and Weather


Because of its geography, the climate in Vietnam varies greatly from north to south with three distinct climatic zones.

Tropical monsoons can occur from October to April in central Vietnam and from May to September in the north and south.

It is almost totally dry throughout the rest of the year. It can get exceptionally hot, however, all year round, but the north has a cooler time between October and April.

Temperatures around the country can reach up to 40C in the height of the hot and rainy season (May to September), but the northern highlands and Hanoi can often seem chilly and damp in the winter.

There is no one ideal time to visit Vietnam, but at any time of year there will be sun somewhere.

The high season is generally from September to March, but bad weather can disrupt travel in the centre of the country during this period, particularly from September to December.

For the beaches in the centre of Vietnam, Danang, Hoi An and Nha Trang, it is best to go between May and August. The autumn is the best time to visit Halong Bay when there should be clear skies.

If you're travelling to Halong Bay on a cruise you should be prepared for chilly mornings at any time of year. If you're up before the sun has burned through the mist and clouds, you're going to find it very cold in Halong Bay on the winter mornings - hat and jackets required.

In Central Vietnam it can be in the low to mid 20's over the wintertime, heating up into the high 20's and 30's come late February / early March.

Clothing and Dress Recommendations

Dress Code

Casual, comfortable clothing is fine in Vietnam. You'll probably feel comfortable in sandals in the main cities (especially if you're going into temples or places you need to take footwear on and off).

Shorts and skirts are fine - there is no requirement to be covered up other than when visiting temples, where shoulders should be covered.

Vietnamese dress conservatively so you'll feel most comfortable dressing conservatively in the cities. In the beach areas you're fine wearing beachwear of most descriptions, but topless bathing is not the done thing in Vietnam.

Loose, natural fabrics are suitable all year, but warmer clothing is required in the highlands, and in the winter in north Vietnam. You'll need warm clothing in Hanoi and the north in the winter.

Consider taking an umbrella during the rainy season.


Internet Availability


Wi-Fi is everywhere in Vietnam and usually a good speed.

Internet cafés are widely available throughout the country, and they are good value. High-speed connections are available in major towns and cities.

Electricity and Plug Standards

Electrical Supply

The standard household (hotel) electrical supply in Vietnam is 220-volt, 50 Hertz, but you may find that 110-volt, 50 Hertz outlets are still in use in some places.

Electrical Sockets

In Vietnam, the standard socket accepts two round pin plugs without a ground pin (Type A), but non-standard two flat blade (Type B) or two rectangular blade sockets and plugs are still in use.

Some modern hotels and office blocks have three pin round (Type D) or UK three pin square sockets (Type C).

Before traveling to Vietnam, it is wise to survey your various items that you will need and that require electricity to operate. Verify you have the proper adapters, converters, or transformers to get electricity in Vietnam.

General Guidance


Tipping is not expected in Vietnam and although it's becoming more common, it's not something you'll be expected to do in restaurants. Round the bill up if you wish or leave a small tip if you have been happy with the service - it will always be appreciated. Rounding up a taxi fare is common.

Tipping guides is another matter and it's certainly polite to tip your driver and guide if they've looked after you.

You can consider tipping a guide $10 and upwards per day in total and a driver half of that. Tip in Vietnamese Dong if you can. If you have the same guide for a few days, wait until the end of your trip before you give any tips over.


Vietnam is very open towards LGBT travellers. There are no specific laws against same-sex relationships and although the country overall is quite conservative you do see local same-sex couples.

Public displays of affections are not common in Vietnam though, whatever sexuality.

Checking into hotels as a gay couple should present no problems in Vietnam.

The New Zealand Embassy Ha Noi, Viet Nam

Street Address Level 5, 63 Ly Thai To Street, Ha Noi, Viet Nam

Telephone +84 24 3824 1481 Fax +84 24 3824 1480


Web Site

Hours Mon - Fri 0830 - 1200, 1300 - 1700 hrs

New Zealand Consulate-General Saigon , Viet Nam

Street Address Suite 804, Level 8, The Metropolitan, 235 Dong Khoi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

Telephone +84 901 80 7770 Fax +84 28 3822 6905


Hours Mon - Fri 0830 - 1130, 1300 - 1700hrs

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