LUXURY TRAVEL AGENT VIETNAM
Travel Agency Vietnam leading tours and trips for the discerning budget Travelers. We all like quality without paying to much for it so here are the best value tours in Vietnam. If you would like a one on one chat with our British staff. Please just send a request we have over 3560 tours and trips to choose from in Vietnam. All overseen by our travel experts and we mean experts they all live in Vietnam so have on the ground experience of every tour or trip sold. So we are confident we have the right tour at the right price for you. From the north to the south Here is a selection of our most popular tours in SAPA, HALONG BAY, HO CHI MINH CITY AND HANOI.
VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDE
All essential information about Vietnam that you’d need to know prior to your Vietnam tour with LUXURY TRAVEL AGENCY VIETNAM
Population: 90.5 million
Capital City: Hanoi (6.5 million)
People: 53 ethnic minorities
Currency: Vietnam Dong (VND)
Time Zone: GMT +7 Hours
International Dialing Code: +84
VIETNAM VISA AND PASSPORT
Most foreign nationals visiting Vietnam will need to apply for a Visa before arriving. Some countries do not require a visa for a limited amount of time when entering Vietnam. For nationals of Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei exemption is permitted for visits up to 30 days.
Additionally, visa exemption for visits of up to 15 days apply to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Belarus, Japan and South Korea.
All other nationalities will need to apply for a one-month tourist single or multiple entry visa when visiting Vietnam. These can be obtained in advance from a Vietnam Embassy or upon arrival, subject to pre-approval procedures. A multiple entry visa will be required for itineraries involving a visit to another country in mid-tour.
VISA IN ADVANCE
We send you a form requesting basic information (full name, passport details and so on). You fill in one for each person and email them to your tour designer. We then apply for the visas at the Immigration Office in Hanoi. After about five working days, we’ll be able to pick up the approval paper and fax it to the Vietnamese Embassy in your country. We’ll let you know so you can send your passports to the Embassy by post with a cheque to pay the visa fee.
Alternatively, after we fax the approval paper to the Embassy, you can go there to pick up your visas in person. Please ring the embassy for their opening hours, cost of visa stamps and for other arrangements.
VISA ON ARRIVAL
We can apply for visas upon arrival for you. For this, we send the approval document direct to you by fax or by scanned attached file. If you’re asked about your visa status at your departure airport, the approval document will be sufficient. When you arrive at any Vietnam airport, please ensure that you pick the visa form near the custom checkpoint and fill in the details before you queue for immigration. You need to prepare a colour passport photo and the fee for the visa stamp.
The Vietnamese currency is the Dong (VND), with note denominations of 200 VND, 500 VND, 1000 VND, 2,000 VND, 5,000 VND, 10,000 VND, 20,000 VND, 50,000 VND, 100,000 VND and 500,000 VND.
Coinage is incremented in values of 200 VND, 500 VND, 1,000 VND, 2,000 VND and 5,000 VND. Vietnamese currency is not currently available at foreign exchange facilities outside of Vietnam.
As the US dollar is also widely accepted in Vietnam, it is often the most practical currency to travel with, though it should be observed many goods can often be purchased at slightly reduced cost in local currency.
Traveller’s cheques in US dollars, and to a lesser extent Euros, and sterling are exchangeable into local currency at most major tourist destinations. The most widely recognised formats are Visa, Mastercard and American Express. Most hotels, international banks and foreign exchange agencies accept credit cards and exchange travellers cheques and cash at reasonable rates.
The Vietcombank is the major bank for foreign trade and is found throughout Vietnam in all the major destinations. Each branch provides an international ATM machine and can provide a list of ATM locations throughout the country.
Especially when travelling outwith the major tourist areas, it is recommended to carry some local currency and contingency reserve in US dollars.
Currently, no vaccinations are required by law to enter Vietnam, with the exception of visitors travelling from an area where yellow fever is endemic. However, Doctors will often recommend vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, diphtheria, tetanus, polio and Japanese encephalitis together with a course of anti-Malarials.
Although there is no requirement to prove that you have taken medical precautions as a condition of entry into Vietnam, the decision to avoid advised medical precautions should either be based on medical advice from your practitioner, or personal acceptance of risk.
If you are planning to travel without vaccinations or other medical protection, it may also be prudent to check your travel insurance policy document, to ascertain if there are prequalifying conditions with regard to such matters attached to your medical cover.
Providing visitors exercise good personal hygiene, there are minimal risks from disease in Vietnam, but if you are intending to travel well off the beaten track, particularly in the central highlands and areas south of the Mekong delta, precautions against malaria are highly recommended. As Dengue Fever and Japanese encephalitis are also borne by mosquitoes, it is advised to use repellents and wear long sleeves and trousers at vulnerable times and places.
Visitors should avoid drinking tap water, or water from the wild, and should use only bottled water, even for brushing teeth. In common with many other parts of the world, it pays to examine the bottle top seals of bottled water to ensure these have not been re-filled by unscrupulous traders.
For those unfamiliar with travel in the planet’s tropical regions, special attention should be given to the possibility of dehydration, sunstroke and sunburn. Always drink plenty of water and wear a high factor sunscreen and bear in mind that it is possible to suffer from considerable sunburn even on completely overcast days, particularly in the first few days of your trip.
Although there are plenty of pharmacies in Vietnam, and it is often possible to get medicines over the counter that would require a prescription at home, please be aware that products, including condoms, can often be poor quality, counterfeit or out of date.
If you rely on particular medication or other health related products it is better to bring an adequate supply with you when you travel. It is also recommended to have a dental check prior to travelling to avoid the unforeseen spoiling your holiday.
Always remove your shoes, socks and hat and wear conservative dress, which should wholly cover your arms and legs, prior to entering a temple or home in Vietnam. Also be aware that it is considered rude to show the bottom of your feet toward a Buddha image or your host, which can most easily be accomplished by sitting cross-legged.
Never point at a person, or touch their heads. In general the people of Vietnam are not used to being touched by strangers, so tapping, hugging or putting your arm around someone is likely to regarded as a violation and cause unintended offence.
The traditional greeting amongst the Vietnamese is to bow to each other, but in modern times handshaking is common between men. A man should only shake hands with a woman if she proffers her hand first. In general, foreign men should be very careful about touching local women, as this is not customary and can easily be misunderstood. It is not the practise in Vietnam, especially for women, to touch a monk, or even their robes.
Do not point at things, especially religious objects. If you need to attract attention, motion with the palm of your hand. It is a common gesture in many societies to affectionately ruffle the hair of children, but the head is considered sacred in Vietnamese society and such gestures will not have the intended effect.
Avoid political comment and criticism.
Visitors to Vietnam should be aware that it is highly likely that they will witness attitudes towards animals, which may distress, and prepare themselves in advance to deal with these matters with calm and sometimes considerable restraint.
Overt public displays of affection between couples is frowned upon, particularly in traditional areas, and shows disrespect to the native culture.
Tipping for services in Vietnam is in general unnecessary but will be accepted by Taxi drivers, tour guides, restaurant and hotel staff.
When dining, Chopsticks should be used only for eating and never employed as a means of gesturing, drumming or placing in your hair. When you have finished your meal place the implements together level across the top rather than leaning into the bowl, and on no account leave the chopsticks pointing straight up as this is traditionally interpreted as a curse or omen of death.
Sticky rice is often eaten with the hand, for which the right hand only should be used. Despite the instinct, you should never lick your fingers afterwards. If using a toothpick, it is polite to cover your mouth with your hand.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT VIETNAM?
Weather in Vietnam, because of its elongated topography, possesses a complex pattern, leading to a variety of conditions potentially prevailing across the country at any given time. Whilst this fact may lead to encountering significant climactic variances during a countrywide tour, it also means that there is no ‘bad time’ for visiting Vietnam. Wet periods are typified by heavy downpours, which can last for up to a few hours, but will seldom last a whole day, and are therefore not necessarily obstacles to enjoyable travel during these periods.
The dry season runs from October to April and is characterised by three phases. During October and November the weather is pleasantly warm and dry. Unlike the tropical south, the north of Vietnam experiences a distinct winter from December to February, is prone to overcast skies and spells of drizzle (known locally as Mua Bui ‘rain dust’), and can have a distinctly chilly edge (14-20º C) , particularly after nightfall during which temperatures can fall as low as 6º C in colder spells.
From March into May the weather becomes brighter and increasingly hot leading up to the arrival of the wet season, the hottest time of the year, which runs from May to September, with temperatures reaching between 25-32º C in June, and rainfall at its highest in August.
The northwest mountains are cool all year round with January and February being cold and prone to mountain fog and even, though rarely, flurries of snow. The best weather for visiting Sapa is during the periods from March to early May and September to January, when the weather is very pleasant. Heavy rainfall during the months of June, July and August leaves the area prone to flooding and landslides and travel to this area is not recommended.
The area around Hue, as with northern Vietnam, has cool winters and is the wettest area of Vietnam with the wet season extending from May through to December, peaking in October. The area is also prone to frequent showers during the dry season. Temperatures range from 17-23º C in December/January to 25-30º C during June to August.
By contrast, the rest of the central coast of Vietnam, home to most of its beach resorts, is the driest region of the country and in general, is very fine, with temperatures around the Danang/ Hoi An area ranging from 19-24º C in January 25-34º C in August, after which the wet season begins, running from September through to December, with rainfall peaking in October. Further south in Nha Trang has a similar climate. Phan Thiet (Mui Ne), Vietnam’s driest destination, with temperatures of 20-29º C in January to 24-31º C in June, with its wet season much less obvious than Nha Trang and Danang.
Inland from the coast at Dalat and the central highlands, the altitude ensures a predictable drop in general temperature levels, with a notable variance in comfort between night and daytime temperatures which range from 13-23º C during December to 17-26º C in May, though higher temperatures occur randomly in some years. The area has a long wet season, running from April through to November, with rainfall peaking during August, September and October.
Southern Vietnam has a tropical climate, and therefore much less marked variance in temperature occurs, which throughout the year range from 21-25º C at night to a daytime 30-35º C. The dry season runs from November to May and the wet season from June to October, peaking in September. Characteristically, however, the sharp heavy downpours take place in the afternoon, usually lasting only a couple of hours.
FESTIVALS AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS
The Vietnamese Lunar New Year, or Tet, is the most important time of the year in Vietnam. To celebrate, most Vietnamese return to their hometowns to visit relatives, exchange gifts and li xi, or “lucky money”, take part in family feasts and hold traditional ceremonies. For visitors, the lead up to Tet is a visual collage of vibrant traditions, exotic foods and festive markets. Locals flock to banh chung stalls for cakes made of glutinous rice, pork, fermented bean paste rolled with banana leaf. Street markets overflow with elegant lanterns and calligraphy. Brave motorcyclists can also been seen balancing pots of bright peach blossoms or ornamental kumquat trees as they zip through the traffic. Tet generally lasts three days, taking place at the end of January or the beginning of February, and usually coincides with a public holiday. Buffalo Tours can advise you on how this may affect your travel plans in Vietnam.
VIETNAM TET HOLIDAY
The Mid-Autumn Festival is another exciting and bustling time to visit Vietnam. Generally considered a festival for Vietnam’s children, it also has ties to ancient myths and legends. Large swathes of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, and popular areas in big cities throughout the country, become closed to traffic and are, instead, dedicated to lion dancing and night markets selling decorative masks and toys. Delicious moon cakes are sold in sweet and savoury varieties that can take up to 3 months to make. The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on different dates every year in September.
Other important holidays include:
Liberation of Saigon: 30 April
International Worker’s Day: 1 May
Hung King’s memorial day: 10 March (lunar calendar)
Vietnamese National Day: 2 September
TOP PLACES TO VISIT IN VIETNAM
The tale of the “Bay of Descending Dragons”, as it is also known, is legendary. According to local legend, a great emerald-spewing dragon was sent to defend Vietnam against foreign invaders. An impenetrable coastal defense was formed from these emeralds, which are now the islands of Halong Bay. The result is a breathtaking sight of thousands of limestone islets rising out of emerald green water in grand clusters. Denoted a World Heritage Site in 1994, Halong Bay’s forested slopes and naturally formed grottoes make it one of the most iconic destinations in Asia, and are predominantly accessed by multi-day cruise tours.
Ranked fourth on TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice Destination Awards, Vietnam’s vibrant capital city is a maze of hidden alleyways, tranquil parks and sprawling residential areas. It is said that Hanoi contains more street food stalls per square mile than anywhere on
earth, making it a foodie paradise. Hanoi’s bustling Old Quarter, colonial architecture and historical monuments, including the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Hoa Lo Prison, have long attracted those with a taste for the exotic.
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is an energetic collision of commerce and culture -a city hurtling into the fut
ure at such a blistering pace that visitors can’t help but go along for the ride. As Vietnam’s commercial capital, it is also a city of contrast; home to some of the country’s finest hotels, upscale restaurants and classy boutiques sandwiched in between crowded food stalls and bustling wet markets. The city is also a labyrinth of historical monuments, ranging from the chilling War Remnants Museum to the fascinating Cu Chi Tunnels.
Once a major trading hub, Hoi An is an elegant patchwork of lanterned streets, majestic architecture and a rich heritage that remains largely untouched by the heaving throngs of traffic that haunt Vietnam’s other cities. With palm-fringed beaches within a stone’s throw of most hotels, more tailors per square kilometre than any other city in Vietnam, and an eclectic culinary scene to match, it’s little wonder this place continues to be one of Vietnam’s most important tourism centres.
There are few places in the world quite like the Mekong Delta, a convergence of mighty rivers and lush farms intertwined across southern Vietnam. Despite being deeply rural, it is one Vietnam’s most densely populated areas, with millions of boats, houses, restaurants and even markets floating side-by-side in a fast-paced water world. Travellers searching for a glimpse of the type of authentic Vietnamese lifestyles immortalised in poetry and postcards will find the Mekong Delta a magical place to explore.
Set among rolling valleys of rice fields and vegetable farms, Mai Chau offers a change of pace and scenery for travellers wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. Village life is simple, and the traffic is largely limited to bicycles and just a handful of motorbikes. Mai Chau is also home to Vietnam’s White Thai ethnic minority group, who pride themselves on expert weaving and sell brightly coloured handicrafts at village markets. Visitors can also make the most of Mai Chau’s cycling, rock climbing and trekking routes through Buffalo Tours’ full-day and multi-day tour packages.
This former French outpost in the mountains of northern Vietnam offers travellers a fascinating glimpse into the life of some of Vietnam’s most colourful ethnic minority groups, including the Red Dzao and H’mong people. Elevated 1600m above sea level, it also offers visitors some of Vietnam’s best trekking routes, laden with traditional village home stays tucked amid vast rice paddies and tropical jungle.
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