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Weather

Vietnam's elongated shape from the tropics to the subtropicus zone accounts for the varied climate in this country. Vietnam is an year-round destination, when parts of Vietnam is cloudy and rainy, the other parts of country can be sunny and warm.

The Northern of Vietnam enjoys four seasons, meanwhile Central and South have only two, rain and dry seasons. Heat and humidity are typical weather of Vietnam.

Weather is often a determinant factor in travel planning. Since Vietnam covers several climatic zones, the weather can change significantly when traveling from north to south. The chart below provides average daily minimum/maximum temperatures in degrees Celsius and average rainfall in millimeters. Please refer to this chart and our suggested packing list later in this document when deciding what to pack for your trip.

Clothing

Light, comfortable, easy to launder clothing is recommended. Winter months in Hanoi and rainy season in the central region can get cool so a sweater or light jacket will come in handy. Good walking shoes and sandals that can be easily removed are recommended especially when visiting temples and people's homes. Ensure you have suitable clothing packed for visiting temples and pagodas that you can cover up with. E.g. Shirts and long pants. No dresses, shorts, singlets, string tops or revealing clothing should be worn to temples and pagodas.

What to Pack

Vietnam is generally a casual country by western standards although people do like to dress in their Sunday best whenever the opportunity arises. Therefore, simple and casual clothes are appropriate for almost any occasion.

The year round heat and humidity in the southern, especially in Ho Chi Minh City makes lightweight quick dry clothing the most appropriate. The northern and central highlands get cool enough for sweaters or light jackets for much of the year but the northern highlands will require cold weather clothes in the winter.

If you are not participating in any trekking tours sandals and lightweight shoes are sufficient. If trekking is included in your itinerary you will need trekking boots.

Food/Cuisine

Vietnamese cuisine is excellent. Rice and noodle dishes are the staple of Vietnamese food and are garnished with aromatic lemon grass and/or fresh coriander. Fish, chicken, and/or pork dishes along with cooked vegetables and rice form a typical meal.
Asian and European food are available throughout the country.

Drinks

Drinking tap water or ice is not recommended. Bottled water is readily available but remember to check the seal for possible tampering. You should be drinking a minimum of 1.5 liters of water per day. This should increase as temperature increases or you are engaging in physical activities.

Vietnamese coffee is usually very strong and has a punctuated mockup aroma and flavors. It is usually served in a small glass or cup with a drip filter and additional hot water in a thermos. As the filter empties you top it up from the thermos until you have the required amount of coffee. Condensed milk is added as a whitener and sweetener as it is usually not possible to find fresh milk away for the main cities.

Beer is available just about everywhere. Most places stock a selection of local and some imported brands. Draught beer comes in two varieties, Beer Hoi or Beer Tuoi. Beer Hoi is draught beer found on the street stalls and poured straight from keg. Vietnamese quite often add ice to their beer when drinking. Beer Tuoi is found in bars and restaurants and is chilled and served under pressure from keg in a more conventional method.

VISA REQUIREMENTS

Visitors must obtain visa approval prior to entry. A tourist visa for Vietnam can be obtained from any Vietnam Embassy or consulate office world wide. Visas are valid for 30 days and can be extended through our head office in Vietnam.

Notes: Vietnam exempts visa for Asean citizens, scandinave citizens as well as Japanese, South Korean tourists.

Visitors can obtain a visa upon arrival in Vietnam. We can apply for you to get a visa upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat Airport, Ho Chi Minh City, at Danang airport or Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi. The visa is done by us, an urgent visa on arrival (3 days before arrival) at 75 US$ and a normal 50 US$ both needs 2 passport sized photos. 

PEOPLE

The majority of our population is comprised of the Viet or Kinh (87%) people who speak the Vietnamese language. The minority population is made up of 54 ethnic hill tribes people who mainly live in the extreme southern, central and northern mountainous areas of the country. The best-known hill tribes are Tay, Hmong, Zao, White and Black Thai, Muong (both mainly from the Northern), and Hoa, Khmer in the Southern. Each hill tribe has their own unique customs and dialect; some are able to speak official Vietnamese language.

 LANGUAGE

Vietnamese, the national language is tonal and monosyllabic, which means the meanings of word change according to the pitch they are pronounced at. The accents and some words are quite distinct among three regions of North, Central, and South.

Today, English, French and Chinese have replaced Russian as the most studied and spoken languages.

HOLIDAYS

The most important and widely celebrated public holiday of the year is Tet, the Lunar Chinese New Year , which coincides with the cycle of the moon. This public holiday usually takes place in late January or early February and lasts officially for three days although many bussinesses are closed the entire week. Other important public holidays include Saigon Liberation day (30 April), International workers' Day (May 1), and Vietnamese Independence Day (September 2).

MONEY

The official currency, the dong and is non-convertible. There are coins 200, 1.000, 5.000 used in the local currency and the notes come in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 (2 notes), 100,000 (2 notes), 200,000 and 500.000 dong notes.

The US dollar, preferably crisp clean bills, is widely accepted among major shops and restaurants. Travelers checks can be cashed at authorized foreign exchange outlets and banks, and require presentation of passport. There is normally a 2 to 5 percent transaction fee for cashing travelers checks. Visa and MasterCard are accepted in all big hotels and restaurants. Prices are usually quoted in USD so if you are paying in Dong, check the exchange rate first.

ATM machines are available at major cities: Hanoi , Ha Long, Hai Phong , Hue , Da Nang, Nha Trang and Saigon .

At the time of writing, trades at approximately 22,500 dong to US$ 1 and 24,500 VND to 1 Euro. 
Last updated: 01/18/2016
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