Language: The national language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. In big cities and in places with many tourists, people will speak basic English. The younger generation will be more adept at speaking English, while the older generation still speaks some French. Because Vietnamese has six different tones, it is a difficult language for most foreigners to speak despite the fact that the Roman alphabet is used in modern Vietnamese. The same word can have six different meanings depending on the tone used to pronounce it. Russian and Chinese are also spoken by some people.
Visas: Most visitors to Vietnam require a visa to enter the country and all travelers must have a passport valid for 6 months after their planned exit from Vietnam. Exceptions: Nationals from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Russia traveling to Vietnam and staying for 15 days or less do not need to apply for entry visas, provided that their passport is valid for at least three months and they can show their return ticket. Those who wish to stay longer than 15 days will need to apply for a visa. Tourists holding ASEAN passports do not need a visa for a visit up to 30 days. Philippines passport holders do not need a visa for a visit up to 21 days. Japanese and South Korean passport holders do not need a visa for a visit up to 15 days. A tourist visa is normally a single entry visa, which means that if you exit Vietnam (for example for a side trip to Cambodia), you will require a new visa to re-enter (or apply for a Multiple Entry Visa) The validity of a Tourist Visa is 30 days and normally a single entry visa is given unless a multiple entry is requested.
Health: No vaccinations are mandatory except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio. Malaria is present in most of the region and it is advisable to take precautions, especially if traveling off the beaten track. Medical facilities are limited and it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before traveling in case evacuation is needed.Consult your doctor for up-to-date information and prescriptions for vaccinations, anti-malarial tablets and any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst traveling in Vietnam. Some vaccination courses may need time to be completed. If you plan to take anti-malarial tablets, you usually need to start one week before arrival. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses).
When to go: There is good weather somewhere in Vietnam all year round! Vietnam stretches over 2000 km from North to South. The climate differs all year round from one region to another. The North can be chilly during winter months (December to March). North and Central Vietnam can encounter tropical storms and typhoons from October to January. Overall, the north of Vietnam experiences more marked seasons than the rest of the country with two distinct seasons: wet and dry.The South, including Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, benefits from sunshine and warm weather all year round. However, the rainy season lasts from May to November (with showers once or twice a day in general) and a dry season from December to April. The Central Highlands can be chilly. Nha Trang has warm – sometimes hot - weather all year round, with a rainy season from the end of September until December
Getting there: There are various direct and indirect flights form the UK to both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Your entry city will depend on your itinerary.
Time zone: GMT +7 hours