An Overview for the Visitor

Vietnam lies at the eastern end of the Southeast Asian peninsula and shares borders with Cambodia, Laos and China. The main points of entry by air are Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Cruise ships regularly call at Ho Chi Minh City, and more adventurous travelers can enter the country at Chau Doc (having previously secured a valid visa), on one of the boats from Cambodia.

The main points of entry to Vietnam, by land, are at Moc Bai, Xa Xia, Xa Mat and Le Tanh, if traveling from Cambodia. If you are entering from Laos, the main points of overland entry can be found at Tay Trang, Na Meo, Nam Phao, Na Phao and Lao Bao. From China, the main crossings are at Mong Cai, Lao Cai and Huu Nghi Quan. Be sure to get a visa before attempting to enter Vietnam by land, as visas on arrival are currently usually only issued at airports.

The Vietnamese language is usually written with the Roman script. However, westerners may still struggle to pronounce words correctly, as Vietnamese is a tonal language, which places just as much importance on tones as different sounds. English is taught widely in schools, but isn’t often used outside of the classroom, except in tourist areas. International hotels and hostels may, however, have staff who are proficient not only in English, but also in French, Chinese and Japanese.

The currency of Vietnam is the Dong, and is printed in paper denominations from 200 to 500,000 dong. In hotels, hostels and tourist areas in general, you may see prices quoted in US dollars. It is still expected, however, that you will pay in dong – where US dollars are accepted, you may find that you end up paying more for the convenience. ATMs are quite common in larger cities, but be aware that, while it is easy to change foreign currency into dong, it is not true of the reverse.


Travel Guide by City

  • Mai Chau Mai Chau
    Heading east from Hanoi, through the mountains towards the Laotian border, lies the rural province of Mai Chau. Buses leave the My Dinh station in Hanoi and take up to five hours to arrive in My...
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  • Cat Tien National Park Cat Tien National Park
    Cat Tien National Park covers almost 280 square miles of primary lowland tropical forest, around 100 miles north of Ho Chi Minh City. It is one of the few places in Vietnam, where visitors can...
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  • Central Highlands Central Highlands
    Vietnam – Getting to know Vietnam’s Central Highlands One of the least visited, yet most intriguing and beautiful areas of the country is Tay Nguyen – known in English as the Central...
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  • Hue Hue
    Nestled on the banks of the Perfume River, slightly inland from the coast of Central Vietnam, lies the imperial city of Hue. Famous as the seat of the Nguyen dynasty, which dominated the country from...
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  • Phu Quoc Phu Quoc
    It may surprise visitors to learn that Vietnam’s largest island is actually in the Gulf of Thailand. Directly south of Cambodia (which disputes the ownership of the island), Phu Quoc is a densely...
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  • Mekong Delta Mekong Delta
    Heading south from Ho Chi Minh City for a few hours, we begin to approach the market garden of Vietnam, with its own monsoon climate – the delta of the mighty Mekong River. At this far point of the...
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  • Con Dao Con Dao
    Con Dao is the name given to an archipelago around 100 miles off the coast of mainland Vietnam, in the South China Sea. The group is centered around the main island of Con Son. These islands were...
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  • Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City
    Vietnam’s largest city is still commonly known by Vietnamese and foreigners by its pre-1976 name: Saigon. Once a Khmer fishing port, it was conquered by the Vietnamese towards the end of their...
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  • Nha Trang Nha Trang
    Nha Trang is one of the less commonly visited cities in Vietnam, but those visitors who do make it here, usually come in search of the beaches and the lifestyle that goes with them. Nha Trang’s...
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  • Quy Nhon Quy Nhon
    If you’re looking to really get away from the hassle of vendors, the noise and smells of the city, and just be left alone to relax and invigorate yourself, Quy Nhon is the place to go. Located on...
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