On the Indochinese Peninsula sits the hilly, verdant, and densely forested country of Vietnam. It is a country of luscious forest, dramatic karst landscapes of hills and valleys, giving rise to caves of twisting and surreal natural architecture. Cities here bustle with life as diverse and beautiful as it’s history is complex. Everywhere, you will see the way traditions mesh and meld with the recently arrived outside world.
Head out of the cities to a countryside of breathtaking beauty. Here, you will find terraces overflowing with rice and gardens suffuse with flowers and fruit trees. The hill tribes continue their traditional ways of life and stilt houses enchant visitors as they always have.
The local currency is Vietnam Dong (VND). The exchange rate is around £1 = 30,000 VND so you’ll feel pretty rich when you get there!
Credit cards are widely accepted but, if you’re travelling to rural areas, cash should be carried as a back-up. It may be difficult to cash travellers’ cheques. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas.
Until 2021, British Citizen passport holders travelling for tourism or business can enter Vietnam for up to a maximum of 15 days without a visa. For up to 30 days, you can get an online e-visa before travel for use at certain entrance and exit points. If you don’t have fixed travel plans, consider applying for a regular single entry visa from the nearest Vietnamese Embassy, which allows more flexibility.
For visits of longer than 30 days, you must get a visa from the nearest Vietnamese embassy before travelling to Vietnam.
North and South
There is said to be a cultural divide between northern and southern Vietnamese. The north is said to be more reserved, reticent, thrifty, and law-abiding while lacking some of the enterprise of the south. It may be unsurprising then, that the economy of the south is the one which booms. Ho Chi Minh City is becoming an increasingly glitzy place, more reminiscent of Bangkok and Singapore than Hanoi. To get a good sense of the diversity of the country’s cities, visit Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and the more traditional Hue.
On Wednesday, we will bring you a post all about the incredible wildlife of the country and some of our favourite trips.