Language(s) - Vietnamese (official), English, French, Chinese, Khmer, minority languages
January/February - Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, is the largest and most important annual celebration in Vietnam. The festival runs from the first to the seventh day of the Lunar calendar, with families and communities starting the new year afresh, with a spring clean and a great feast. It's full name, tet nguyen dan, means the 'first morning of the new period'.
March - Taking place on the 6th day of the second lunar month, Ha Ba Trun Day celebrates and honours the two Trung sisters who led a rebellion against the occupying Chinese in 48AD.
August - Trung Nguyen, wandering Souls Day is one of the most important festivals in the Vietnamese calendar. Taking place on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, ceremonies take place in Buddhist temples and homes across Vietnam, as relatives pray to absolve the sins of the dead.
September - Tet Trung Thu, The 'mid-autumn festival' sees children parading the streets with lanterns and gorging on Moon Cakes, celebrating various legends and historical stories including one about a Chinese king who went to the moon.
November - Celebrations are held on the 28th day of the ninth lunar month to mark the birth of Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher, whose teachings continue to influence Vietnam society.
Please note that entry requirements and visa regulations can change often and at short notice. We can provide general information about the passport and visa requirements for your trip and this information may be included after the itinerary section of your quotation. Your specific passport and visa requirements and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates. Neither we nor the principal(s) or supplier(s) accept any responsibility if you cannot travel because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. Please call your WEXAS specialist if you wish to discuss entry requirements.
Your passport must be valid for one month after your visa expires. Entry into Vietnam may be refused if your passport has less than one-month validity from the date your Vietnam visa expires. We recommend six-month validity, in line with the expectations of other Asian countries.
The official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnam Dong (VND). Though US dollars are widely accepted, it is preferable to use Dong as often as possible and you may find that this is the only currency accepted in rural areas. As a guideline, exchange rates are as follows: £1 = 33,500d, US$1 = 20,000d, €1 = 27,800d. (Check the current exchange rate at www.xe.com before you travel). Coins come in denominations of 200d, 500d, 1000d, 2000d and 5000d and notes in 10,000d, 20,000d, 50,000d, 100,000d, 200,000d, 500,000d.
Two things to be aware of: firstly, Vietnamese Dong cannot legally be taken out of the country, so it is best to exchange your Dong to US$ before departure; and secondly, tatty US$ notes are generally refused in Vietnam, so it's a good idea to get your notes from the bank and check each one (especially the larger denominations) before your arrival.
Gone are the days when ATMs were exclusive to a handful of banks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Nowadays you'll find ATMs in most of the major tourist centres. That said, it's always good practice to travel with some spare cash as a backup. ATM withdrawals are limited to 2 million Dong per transaction. Credit cards - typically Visa, MasterCard, JCB and Amex - are also now widely accepted. If you are planning on using your bankcard in Vietnam, remember to notify your bank before you travel.
Allow about US$10-US$35 per day for meals. You can pick up a delicious meal from a street stall for less than US$1, and meals at local restaurants cost between US$2 and US$5. A beer can cost between US$0.20 for a glass of bia hoi, the local favourite, to US$4 for imported bottles. As with anywhere, costs can inflate/deflate dependent on location and season.