Essential guides to Vietnam

Located in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is bewitchingly compelling with its rich heritage and beauty.  Putting a cart before the horse? No one likes that. This article therefore outlines all you need to know if you are planning a trip to Vietnam.

There are only 24 countries that Vietnam gives a ‘visa-exempt’ status. If you are from Finland for example, you do not need to acquire a visa to Vietnam ahead of time for a short-term stay. It is important to inquire if you are among the countries. Doing this curbs the “when will my visa be ready?” qualms.

Whether you are planning a short-term stay in Vietnam for pleasure or business, you are required to apply for a 1 or 3 month visa. How do I obtain my visa? Easy! Visit the Vietnamese embassies or consulates in your country. For some reason you cannot get to the embassy, don’t sweat it. The visa can be mailed to you.

Another option of obtaining your Vietnam visa would be the Vietnam pre-arranged visa (visa on arrival).The name only makes sense after you make arrangements before your arrival.

You are required to fill the visa application form online after which you pay a service fee to the Vietnam travel agent who will work on your paperwork. After 2 or 3 days, you will receive a confirmation letter from Vietnam Immigration Department informing you that you can get your passport stamped together with a visa once you arrive at either of the 4 internationally recognized airports: Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Da Nang or Nha Trang.

You are done with the preliminaries, now you are wondering when to visit Vietnam.

halong tour

Best time to visit Vietnam
As most countries, Vietnam has four seasons: Spring, summer, autumn and winter. The southern andcentral regions has notably two seasons: wet and dry. It is important to know the best time to visit Vietnam for an unforgettable stay.

If you are visiting Vietnam in Spring(February to April), it is recommended that you carry light and breathable clothing as the temperatures during this time range from 20 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees.

Spring is the perfect time to visit the beaches and islands of the south: Con Dao Archipelago and attend the Hung Kings’ Temple Festival in PhuTho province an event that commemorates Vietnam’s ancient founders.

Summer (May-August) in Vietnam is notably the wettest and hottest season. Waterproof rain attire is what should be in your checklist. To avoid the monsoons, do not visit lower areas of Mekong Delta but rather go to the northern hills. With minimal showers, the northern hills are very verdant.

The Ghost Festival is a must go festival if you are in Vietnam during summer.

September to November covers the autumn season in Vietnam and it is recommended that you stick to the Northern parts of the country due to its warmth and sun. Do not miss Ooc Om Boc festival which is an event to memorialize Khmer culture.

Winter can be very cold in the northern regions of Vietnam. Sapa experiences snow between December and February. So you probably should head to the southern and central reaches of the country and visit the beach in Phu Quoc. Be sure to attend the Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival which is one of the biggest ones in Vietnam.

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In Vietnam. What now?
A lot now! There are many places to visit in Vietnam, from traditional villages to islands, you have an endless list to choose from.

Dalat is the place for you. It is beautiful and has a touch of the French colonial architecture as Vietnamese emperors and French colonials once used it as a summer retreat. The weather is cool all year round and the lush pine trees and misty valleys are scenes to marvel at.

‘My son’ is an archaeological site that is located on the central reaches of Vietnam. During ancient times, this site was very significant as it is where the Champa Kingdom kings built temples. If you are a religious fanatic, you will be impressed by ‘My son’.

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam. Looking for a touch of culture and history?This is the city to visit. With pagodas,temples and historical sites such a Cu Chi tunnels, you are assured of a memorable stay in Vietnam.

Heard of floating markets? I didn’t think so. A visit to Mekong Delta assures you that you not only hear about it but see it for yourself.This region is also characterized by fruit orchards,sugar cane groves and rice paddies.It is basically an agricultural region and it feeds close if not more than a third of Vietnam from all its plantations.

With a Vietnam travel agent, it shouldn’t be hard for you to get to Ha Long Bay.According to me, Ha Long bay is an epitome of fantasy.Who would imagine a place existed where clusters of limestone rose from the sea like dragons? This bay has aqua-green water and features close to 2000 islands.These islands have caves,sinkholes,lakes and even grottos.

Vietnam tour packages ensure that you are taken to all breath-taking sites in Vietnam. I bet this package is inclusive of the Hoi An and Hanoi tour. Hoi An is an old city and is has rich historic features with many tailor shops selling bags, clothes and souvenirs. Hanoi city features the Old Quarter which is a museum with French colonial architecture, Grand Opera house and the Presidential Palace which is a place for the historians especially. Be sure to visit the Saint Joseph Cathedral in the Hanoi.

Nha Trang is a must go place in Vietnam. Famous for its mountains, beaches and islands, this my dear, is a place to be.Resorts,water parks,scuba divers? You name it, all in Nha Trang.

Learning a few phrases like Xin chao (hello) bao nhieu (how much?) and xim cam on (thank you) should be on your list of things to do in Vietnam. This is essential as the Vietnam people will love it that you have learnt their language. Make sure to try different types of dishes with pho (noodele soup) being first on your list. Try the nom hoa chuoi too, trust me, this salad is like nothing you have tasted before.Sweet!

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