The purpose of my episode one of Vietnam series will be to give you all the necessary details and some advice (take them) if you are planning for a vacation in Vietnam, so that you don't get lost or confused while gathering information on the internet.
1. PASSPORT AND VISA
PASSPORT should be valid for more than 6months i.e. your expiry date of passport should be more than 6months away. In order to stay safe it is good if it is 8months away else renew it. If somebody has made his/her passport when he/she was a teen but now have turned adult please check once with your respective country's passport validity rules and regulations.
VISA for major countries are on arrival (kindly do check for your country). But you have to do an online processing and permission request before leaving for Vietnam. There are many websites which does this but better to do it from here https://vietnamvisa.govt.vn/apply-online/. There is a processing fee for this so better have a Paypal account. The difference between multiple entry and single entry visa is, the previous allows you to exit and enter Vietnam multiple times till the visa expires while the later expires as soon as you leave Vietnam even before the visa expiry date. The processing fee depends on country and how fast one wants it.
After the request processing is done you will be sent a confirmation via mail.Kindly keep a print of it as it serves as a proof during immigration proceduers.
At Vietnam aiport you have to pay the VISA fee which starts from 25USD but again varies accross countries and period of your visa validity. You need to wait for around 20min to get the visa. Or you can speed it up by spending some extra dollars (not recommended).
The order will be from most to least neccessary. But my advise to you will be to carry a copy of all if by chance it comes handy.
Return/Exit ticket, Vietnam's permission letter and list (received via email), passport size photographs, photocopy of passport, accomodation invoice, 3 months bank account statement.
Carry around 500USD (more than enough but recommendes). 1 usd is around 23.100 Dong (Twenty Three Thousand and hundred) as of the day. No, its not a mistake. I have used '.' instead of a ',' purposely keeping in line with the Vietnamesse notation. So when you convert USDs you will get dongs in millions. Now... hold it!! As far I have explored the mimimum denomination that I have seen is 1.000 dong (Thousand). When they say it they say 1 dong. Keep in mind to append a thousand to it. Some will explicitly mention the thousand. Convert as less as possible at the Airport and at local converters. Find a bank (which is available) and convert from there as you will get a better conversion rate. It is advised to have USDs also in smaller denomination. You can also have your money on a FOREX card but the transactions are majorly cash based and limited swipe based.
COMMUTE AND COMMUNICATION:-
At the airport kindly take a local sim with Internet service which you can use around entire Vietnam for a month and it costs around 10USD. If you take call + internet then might cost you more according to the plan you take. From airport you will get very good Bus and Minibus services. For local commute you can avail buses but you need to figure out the bus numbers and routes. Or you can download the GRAB app which is similar to UBER.
Try to book your accomodation in or around a market place as it will give you a direct visibility to the local culture.
Carry an umbrella as you will get both heat and rain if you are exploring the entire stretch of Vietnam.
English pro-efficiency among locals is almost none. So better if you learn a bit of conversational Vietnamesse.
Book your flights in a way so that you arrive at night or early morning.
Carry a bit of dry snacks.
Be light and carry light. Will save you energy, time and money.
The country is a right-side drive country so carefull while crossing.