Book Now
Exploring Vietnam Holidays

Travel Essentials

Here’s the ultimate travel essentials list for Vietnam; everything from visas and currency to dress codes and tipping can be found below. Once you book your holiday you will get the Fleewinter guide for Vietnam, with all of our top tips and favourite finds in it.


The local currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), which has an approximate exchange rate of £1 = 30,000 Dong. The US Dollar is also widely accepted by most restaurants, hotels and shops – although expect to receive your change in Dong.

There is no point in trying to obtain Dong in the UK, just take Dollars and withdraw Dong from ATM machines in Vietnam. It can also be awkward to change Dong back into Sterling in the UK so try to withdraw smaller amounts to cover your immediate needs towards the end of the holiday.

You will find ATMs all over the country that accept international VISA and Mastercard cards – common banks include Vietcombank, Agribank, Vietin Bank and Sacombank. Frustratingly, there is normally a single withdrawal limit of 2,000,000 VND (about £65). However, you can do multiple withdrawals until you hit your own account limit. To withdraw higher amounts, look out for the ANZ bank, which offers 4,000,000 VND withdrawals per transaction and Commonwealth ATMs, which offer up to 9,000,000 VND per transaction. Most banks charge 20,000 VND per transaction.


Ensure you visit your GP six weeks before travel for general advice on travel risks, vaccinations and malaria. Make sure you take out comprehensive travel insurance with a good accident policy and that you know your blood group. For more information visit & 

Visas and Passports

For British passport holders, a visa waiver scheme is in place and you can visit without a visa for up to 45 days.  For other passports a visas may be required and must be secured before arriving in the country. You can apply for a visa from the Vietnam Embassy in London either by post or in person, which normally takes five working days to process. You must contact the Embassy for the latest price and other details : 

It is recommended that you safely carry your passport at all times and ensure that it is valid for 6-months beyond the date of travel. Should you lose your passport in the country then you must contact the British Embassy in Hanoi (4th Floor, Central Building, 31 Hai Ba Trung Street, Han Kiem District, Hanoi +84 4393 60500) or in Ho Chi Minh City (25 Le Duan, District 1, Ho Chi Minh +84 8382 51380.)


Despite Vietnam attracting tourists from around the world and developing at a fast pace, the level of English in the country is often very poor, especially outside the cities. Even when English is spoken it can be very hard to understand what is being said because the Vietnamese language, which is tonal, uses completely different sounds to English, making our language a tricky one to master. This is why we almost always send English-speaking guides with all drivers – even for airport transfers.

Time Difference

Vietnam is six hours ahead of GMT in British Summer Time and seven hours ahead of the UK during the winter.


A policy to cover theft, loss and medical issues is a must. You may also wish to check out cover for activities such as diving, white water rafting, cycling and abseiling etc.. It is a good idea to photocopy all relevant documents – passport, travel, insurance policy etc., and leave one copy at home. Carry another copy with you separate from the originals.

Driving License

Vietnamese driving licenses are mandatory for all drivers of motor vehicles as well as for riders of motorcycles with a capacity of over 50cc. Despite this, you may still find many companies willing to rent you a motorbike or even a car with just your British license. We do not recommend doing this in Vietnam – it is a grey area legally, the roads are very busy and the driving conditions are extremely different to back home. If you do choose to rent a scooter your passport is likely to be kept as a form of security

Telephone, Post and Wi-fi

To dial the UK from Vietnam you must dial 0044 and then drop the first 0 of the number . The Vietnamese country code is 0084. Airmail to Europe can take up to a week but the wi-fi here is abundant – almost no matter how remote you are, you will find hotels restaurants and cafes with wi-fi


You can use the circular two-pin plug adaptors that are commonly used throughout Europe here. Voltage runs at 127/220 V

Laws, Customs and Culture

You will see plenty of skimpily-clad Vietnamese women throughout the country. It is a fairly liberal country and shorts, vest tops, bikinis and little skirts are deemed OK in coastal areas and cities. However, rural areas are more conservative and you are encouraged to dress appropriately.

Few foreigners experience much hassle from the police and demands for bribes occur very rarely – but it does happen. If something goes wrong or is stolen the police may charge you a ‘fee’ for a police report – we recommend taking an English-speaking guide with you.


Tipping is not expected in Vietnam, but in a country where wages are incredibly low it is highly appreciated. High end restaurants and hotels will include a 5% service charge but for most places it is not included.

Crimes and Nuisance

Travellers should stay vigilant at all times, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), which both have their own unique problems with crime. In Hanoi pick-pocketing is a common problem, while in Ho Chi Minh City travellers must be cautious of passing motorbikes – drivers and passengers will not be afraid to try and grab your handbag or mobile phone out of your hand, especially if it is an iPhone. An increasing number of travellers have reported this crime in recent years.

We advise you to avoid taking handbags out with you at all in the evening, and during the day we would recommend you wear either a rucksack on both shoulders or an over-the shoulder handbag. Do not carry too much money on you at any time and use your safety deposit box in the hotel room to store your valuables and passports rather than carrying on them. Please also careful when taking photos on the streets.

Violent crime is not prevalent and travellers should not feel unsafe here – however, just err on the side of caution with your valuables. Theft tends to increase in the run up to Tet in late January, when the Vietnamese give money to their family to celebrate the Vietnamese New Year.

Festivals and Holidays

The Vietnamese love their festivals and holidays, which are often wonderfully bright and colourful affairs. The biggest festival of the year is Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, which follows the Lunar Calendar but normally takes place around the end of January/beginning of February. The Vietnamese tend to go to the country to visit their family homes at this time of year so the cities are surprisingly quiet, although entire streets can be transformed by colourful flowers.

Christmas and New Year are also celebrated, but to a much lesser extent than western societies.

There are various political public holidays throughout the year, including the day Saigon was liberated in 1975 and Ho Chi Minh’s birthday in May.


This vibrant capital of Vietnam has a fascinating display of street life, food and architecture in its charming Old Quarter – let us take you on a walking tour down its winding alleyways, weaving through hundreds of motorbikes and fruit sellers. It's our favourite city and we've found a selection of fabulous boutique hotels. More
Mai Chau & Pu Bin
This glorious rural corner of the country offers a mountainous landscape full of rice paddies, greenery and tribal groups. We love it because it's a bit more off the beaten track than the more popular Sapa area and have even established our very wooden stilt homestay in a local community. This is the place to head for hiking, cycling and just observing a more simple life. More
The ultimate mountain retreat in Vietnam - Sapa is a night train away from the capital, Hanoi. Those who venture here are rewarded with the image of colourful tribal groups set against a backdrop of green mountains and terraced rice paddies. Some of the most beautiful scenery of Vietnam is on offer - although the tourist traffic can be high in peak season. More
Halong Bay
The must-see attraction of Vietnam: Hundreds of islets pierce through the waters of an emerald green bay. We have a fabulous selection of one and two-night cruises on offer, which are without a doubt the best way to see this area of outstanding beauty. More
Ninh Binh
A lovely slice of rural life is on offer here. We especially love Ninh Binh during the summer butterfly and rice harvest seasons. Expect gorgeous caves, wooden boat rides and pretty cycle rides. We especially love the Emeralda Resort here. More
The old imperial capital - this is the place to head for an insight in the ancient kings and dynasties of Vietnam. Set on the banks of the idyllic Perfume River, you can explore magnificent royal tombs of Kings gone by and the old Imperial Palace (that despite suffering in the American war is still well worth a visit). And we have discovered a fabulous selection of hideaway resorts. More
Hoi An
This is the place that has it all; arguably the best architecture, cuisine, shopping (tailors aplenty) and beaches of all of Vietnam. Most who make it here never want to leave - this Unesco World Heritage town is full of fabulous old Japanese merchants homes, French colonial homes and classic Vietnamese styles. Pick up a bike and explore on two wheels. More
Nha Trang
Home to some of our favourite beach resorts in all of Vietnam, Nha Trang offers a little piece of Paradise on the coast of Vietnam. The town itself lacks a little inspiration but if you're looking for sand, sun and luxury then look no further. More
Mui Ne
Sun, surf and sand, oh my! This lovely little fishing-cum-beach town has a plethora of fabulous resorts and boutique hotels. World renowned for kite surfing and waterspouts, Mui Ne is a great beach destination. More
A popular weekend getaway for the Vietnamese, Dalat offers a cooler climate in the mountains. Lovely walks along with more adrenalin-fuelled activities like canyoning and mountain biking are on offer here. More
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
The mad, modern metropolis of Vietnam is alive with the sound of a thousand motorbikes. Officially named Ho Chi Minh City but affectionately know as Saigon by the locals, this city is fun and fast paced. It's the ideal base from which to explore the infamous tunnels of the Vietnam War where guerrillas and there families lived for many years. More
Mekong Delta
This enormous waterway of canals, streams and rivers is a lifeline for the locals - and people watching is perhaps the best activity of all on the Mekong Delta. Get up early for the floating markets or perhaps watch it lazily with a beer in hand from the sun deck on one of our cruises. More
Phu Quoc Island
Attention all beach lovers! This is the penultimate beach destination in all of Vietnam. Whether you are taken by its serenely calm waters, long sandy beach or cute cottage-like accommodation, Phu Quoc is stealing hearts across the world. We especially love it after sunset when lanterns and candles are lit on tables along the beach. In fact, we can't think of a more perfect setting for a seafood feast, while digging your toes into the sand. More
Con Dao Islands
If the budget can stretch to it, the Con Dao islands offer one of the most luxurious and beautiful beach experiences in Vietnam. Leave the rest of the world behind you when you enter Six Senses Con Dao, which feels like an ultimate private-island getaway. More

Your adventure starts here!

Do you fancy having a chat about Travel Essentials? Personally, it's one of our favourite things to talk about.

Award-winning and fully-protected holidays
Itineraries & Destinations