Hanoi and the north of Vietnam have a distinct winter and summer
season with the mainly dry winter lasting from November through to
April with average temperatures of 18-20ºC. Summer lasts from May to
October and is hot and humid with temperatures around 30ºC. Hue and Danang in the center of the country have very hot, dry weather from
February to August with temperatures reaching the mid 30s-Celsius, but
can experience some quite heavy rainfall between September and
January. Ho Chi Minh City and the south have a hot, dry season from
December till April with average temperatures around 28ºC and a rainy
season lasting from May through till November. It rarely rains for
long periods even in the rainy season with most rain coming in short,
What to bring
It is best to travel light in Vietnam. One medium sized bag and a day
pack will provide more than enough room to carry everything you'll
need to survive, and enough space for the things you'll buy in
There is extensive black market for smuggled consumer goods in Hanoi
and Ho Chi Minh City, so do not worry about running out of something.
Before you leave home complete the following checklist:
• Lightweight and quick dry clothing is most appropriate for the
summer months and warmer clothing for the winter months; sun hat;
• Travel Documents: Passport, visa, Travel Insurance, Air Tickets.
• Health requirements and travel insurance arranged.
• Flashlight/Torch, alarm clock, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect
repellent, personal first aid kit, personal toiletries.
• Money: Us dollars or travelers cheques and/or credit card.
• Raincoat or umbrella, good hiking shoes.
• Cable locks or padlock for luggage.
Obtaining a single entry, 30-day tourist visa is easy. For a business
visa it is a little more complex. (more expensive!) but you'll have
the advantage of a longer stay, either 3 or 6 months, and multiple
entries. Both visas can usually be extended once in Vietnam. Just ring
up Vietnam Embassy and request a visa application.
To obtain a business visa you must also include a visa authorization
letter with your application. Your Vietnamese sponsor will submit a
request to the Ministry of the Interior on your behalf. You must
provide your sponsor with your full name, profession, expected date of
arrival and passport information, including passport number, date of
issue and expiration, date and place of birth. Upon approval, your
sponsor will send a visa authorization letter to you.
You will receive your passport back with a visa stamped inside as well
as one copy of your application and photo stapled to the page. When
you enter the country the immigration officer will take this copy.
Some travelers have been told they need to have additional pictures
and copies of their visa application. You're directed to a person with
a Polaroid camera who snaps the needed photos for US$2. You then get
back in the immigration line.
Visa extensions can usually be obtained once in Vietnam. You'll see
numerous travel agencies and hotels offering this service in Hanoi and
Ho Chi Minh City. Rates vary, as does the official policy regarding