One of the most annoying things about traveling around the world is visas. Some visas are really easy to get but others can be a pain in the ass. There are countries I still have not been because of the visa restrictions. Although lately it was my 4th trip to Vietnam the hassle to get a visa on arrival in Vietnam still annoys me. Although over the last years it got easier and easier.
To help you get your Vietnam visa sorted I wrote this blog post to help you out. Because when you google for information about getting a visa for Vietnam, it is like a jungle of information and mostly everyone ranking on Google are travel agencies to lure you into buying their visa approval letter, one of the requirements you need for a visa on arrival in Vietnam.
Getting a Vietnam tourist visa is just as much a jungle to get through as finding the best sim card for Vietnam . Read all about it in my article.
How to go around Vietnam
Unfortunately I only found out about 12Go Asia on my 3th trip to Vietnam. Here you can find the best domestic flight deals, bus schedules, train tickets and more. When you use the search engine below they list you all the available options including prices, trip durations and reviews of the companies.
On my first trip to Vietnam getting a visa was rather complicated, but luckily things changed a lot over time. Nowadays there are even about 40 countries that don’t even need a visa anymore, included are countries like: UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Spain, Italy. These countries can travel to Vietnam visa free for up to 15 days, see the infographic below.
Note that with this visa you must be able to present on onward ticket out of Vietnam upon arrival!
Unfortunately Dutch passport holders still need a visa in 2019. But the policy to get one got much easier because of the introduction of the e-visa for Vietnam.
When traveling to Vietnam don’t forget to visit Phong Nha-Ke Bang in the Quang Binh Province, one of the best things to do in Vietnam. Only discovered about 15 years ago in the thick jungle, including the biggest cave in the world!
Almost all major Western countries can apply for an e-visa on arrival for Vietnam in 2019 (see the above map). All of Europe, except Belgium and Portugal, Australia, India, USA, Canada and many Eastern European countries.
Applying for a Vietnam e-visa is pretty straight forward and easy to arrange online. Click here for the official government website .
On their website you simply follow the instructions, upload your passport page, pay the Vietnam visa fee of $25 and within 3 working days your application will be processed. Easy right?
Note: they will ask for a entry gate and exit gate, but from experience I know that this is not really important. In 2015 I traveled over land and my exit gate was not as stated in my visa application, but no one cared. Still be as accurate as possible.
The same for the requirement of having a flight out of Vietnam. Not needed when you apply for an e-visa, only for those that can can enter Vietnam visa free for 15 days.
Looking for tips for visiting Mekong Delta ? Click here to see if it is worth going!
If you are eligible for getting an e-visa for Vietnam, then I would suggest you to do so and not go for a visa on arrival. The e-visa is cheaper and less hassle!
Anyway if you opt for a visa on arrival in Vietnam you can do so at the VOA counter at all the major international airports. Basically you need a Vietnam visa approval letter and this you will have to buy either online or get send to you by the hosting party in Vietnam.
On my last trip to Vietnam I was invited to ITE HCMC 2018, a Travel Trade Show . They arranged the visa approval letter for me. But you can also apply for one online. Prices range from $8 up to $25. Please note that with this Visa on arrival approval letter you are able to board a plane to Vietnam, but not enter Vietnam. When arriving at the airport you still have to get your Vietnam visa and pay for it.
When arriving at the airport you will have to follow the signs VOA and get to the counter. For example in Ho Chi Minh City Airport this look like this.
Once you get there you will have to fill out the Vietnam visa application form and attach a proper passport photo. There is no need to arrange this application form before your trip. There is a counter with many blank forms and pens for your waiting at the airport.
Fill out this form, get in line and hand I your passport with the visa application form, the passport photo and the visa approval letter. The officer will then tell you to take a seat and within 10 minutes your name will be called.
You then walk up to the cashier counter and pay the visa stamping fees and you will get your passport including visa back.
This all sounds simple as well, right? It actually is really simple, but it is just the hassle and the time it takes after a long flight. The whole process can go as fast as 15 minutes, but when it is busy expect this to take at least 30 minutes. And then get in line for immigration to get you stamped into Vietnam.
You can opt for different Vietnam visas on arrival, but that depends on the Visa approval letter you have. Here is the price list for all the Vietnam visas on arrival.
Please bring US dollars to pay the visa on arrival. If you bring Euro’s you will be charged the same as in Dollars and if you bring Vietnamese Dong you will be charged more. This is Vietnam, welcome! :)
Summerising what to bring for a visa on arrival in Vietnam
Your passport, must be valid for more than 6 months upon arrival). Printed visa approval letter. A passport photo Money for stamping fee: $25 (exact in dollars is best)
Back in 2009 on my first trip around the world I was visiting Cambodia on my way to travel to Vietnam for the first time. Back then there was no proper internet yet for information about a Vietnam visa and visa on arrival did not exist yet. I needed to visit the Vietnam embassy in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The day I got there the embassy was closed because of a Vietnamese national holiday. One of the guards offered to keep the passport for the next days and hand it in for me. Of course I thought, why not, lazy as I was. He only asked $2 for this anyway. I returned back to my hostel and in the evening told other travelers about this. They were shocked! What did you do? You gave it to someone on the streets? Uhm oh yeah didn’t think about that haha f*ck my life! That was stupid Tom. We jumped on a scooter and drove to the embassy. Luckily the same old man was still sitting/sleeping in his booth. I asked him to give me my passport back and without asking a question he gave it back to me. I told him to keep the $2! :)
ever give your passport to a random stranger, how convincing they may seem, never do this!