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Vietnam Information – Travel and Local Information Guide

1.     Currency

The currency of Vietnam is the dong (VND), US dollars ($), Euros (€) and travelers’ cheques are accepted in hotels and banks. Credit cards (Visa Card/ Master Card) will allow making ATM withdrawals in all major cities and tourist centers.

Current exchange rate of VietcomBank Viet Nam on payment day.

2.     Time

Vietnam is seven hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time / Universal Time Coordinated (GMT/UTC+7). Because it is so close to the equator, Vietnam does not have daylight saving time. When it is 12:00 pm or noon in Vietnam, it is 05:00 am in London for example.

3.     Geography

Area: 329.566 square km.

Population: over 90 millions inhabitant (in 2014).

Vietnam stretches 1,650 km from the northernmost point to the southernmost point. It has 3,260 km running from Mong Cai in the North to Ha Tien in the Southwest and It has a long land border of 4,550 km, bordering China to the North, Laos and Cambodia to the West, and the Eastern Sea (South China Sea) of Pacific Ocean to the East. Three quarters of the country consists of mountains and hills except for the two main cultivated areas: The Red River Delta in the North and the Mekong Delta in the South.

4.     Climate

There is not really a good or bad season for visiting Vietnam. When one region is wet or cold, there is always somewhere else that is sunny and pleasant warm.

Vietnam is located in a tropical and temperate zone. The climate is characterized by a strong monsoon influence, a considerable amount of sunny days, and a high rate of rainfall and humidity. Its weather is determined by two monsoons that set the rhythm of rural life. The annual average temperature is 23°C in Hanoi, 25°C in Hue, and 26°C in Ho Chi Minh City.

The climate is divided into two distinguished seasons:

–          The cold season (from November to April): from around 8-10degree

–          The hot season (from May to October): 35-40degree

5.     Religion

Four great philosophies and religions have shaped the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people: Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity. Over the centuries, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism have fused with popular Chinese beliefs and ancient Vietnamese animism to form what is known as the Triple Religion or Tam Giao. Catholics represent about 10% of the population but are increasing. Caodaist, Protestant, Muslim and Hindu are a small minority.

6.     Language

Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam. Dialectical differences are marked between the north, central and southern regions.

Much of Vietnam’s elder generation still speaks French, while many middle-aged people speak Russian and other Eastern European languages. English becomes the business language.

7.     Telephone, Fax, Internet, Email

Telephone and fax work normally. Internet is widely available in most urban areas throughout the country. International and long-distance domestic calls cost less if you dial the numbers 171, 177 or 178 first, and then followed by your digits.

8.     Business hours

Offices, museums and government offices open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm from Monday to Friday, and Saturday until noon. Museums are closed on Monday.

Banks are generally closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Most of shops, restaurants and street stalls stays open 7 days a week, often until late at night.

9.     Shopping

Vietnam offers great choices with handicrafts, lacquer ware, ceramics, embroidered items, silk, wooden products and fine arts.

10.   Airport – Airport tax

International airport taxes must be paid when leaving Vietnam:

  • USD 16 per person         at Hanoi – Noi Bai airport.
  • USD 12 per person         at Danang airport.
  • USD 20 per person         at Ho Chi Minh City – Tan Son Nhat airport.

Domestic airport taxes are already included in the airlines ticket.

11.   Public Holidays

There are 8 public holidays a year:

  • January 1st (1 day):        International New Year Day
  • Mid-February (4 days):   Tet, Vietnamese Lunar New Year
  • April 30 (1 day):             Liberation Day
  • May 1st (1 day):              Labor Day
  • September 2nd (1 day): National Day

12.   Photographs & Video

Color print films, slides and Batteries are widely available at official photo shops at reasonable prices in main cities. Most of the shops are equipped with the latest one-hour, color printing equipment. The quality is quite good. Cameras are fairly expensive in Vietnam and the selection is limited-bring one from aboard.

13.   Health

Make sure you are healthy before you start traveling. If you require a particular medication, take adequate supply because it may not be available locally.

A medical kit is always useful containing multivitamins, stomachache, and headache). Tap water and ice are not recommended for travelers. Reputable brands of bottled water or soft drinks are the best choices. In case of emergency, international medical centers with expatriate doctors provide the best cares in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang. Make sure you have adequate international travel insurance if needed

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