Useful Information

Vietnam General Information

Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Area: 330,991 square kilometers

Population: 97 million

Geography: Vietnam lies on the eastern seaboard of the Indochina Peninsula. It borders China to the north and Laos and Cambodia to the west. To the east and south lies the South China Sea, which Vietnamese call the East Sea. Mountains and Hills covers four-fifths of Vietnam’s territory with the Truong Son range stretching over 1,400km. Mount Fansipan (3,142m) is the highest peak in Southeast Asia.

The most populated areas in Vietnam are the lowland alluvial plains: Red River Delta (15,000, with a 3,000 km-long dike network) in the north, and the Mekong Delta (39,000 sq. km) in the south. Vietnam’s two biggest rivers, the Red River and the Mekong River, respectively discharge 122,109 and 1.4 million cubic meters of water a year.

Vietnam’s 3,260km-long coastline features beautiful beaches like Tra Co, Lang Co, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, and Ha Tien. National parks include Ba Vi, Cat Ba and Cuc Phuong in the north, Bach Ma in the centre and Cat Tien in the south.

Resources: Minerals: coal, iron, aluminum, tin and oil.

Agricultural and forestry products: rice, maize, sweet potatoes, peanuts, soybeans, rubber, lacquer, coffee, tea, tobacco, cotton, coconut, sugar cane, jute, and tropical and subtropical fruits.

Climate: Vietnam is essentially a tropical country with a humid monsoon climate. The annual mean temperature is over 20 degrees Celsius throughout the country (Hanoi 23.4 C., Hue 25.1 C., Hochiminh City 26.9 C.).

In July, the average temperature in Hanoi is 28.6 C., in Hue it is 28.9 C., and in Hochiminh City, 27.6 C. Lowland areas receive around 1,500mm of rain per year, while mountainous areas receive 2,000mm to 3,000mm. Humidity can reach 90 percent in the rainy season.

Vietnam has two seasons: cool and dry from November to April and hot and rainy from May to October. The different between summer and winter temperatures is dramatic in the north (varying up to 20 or 30 degrees Celsius). The south is warm all year round, with seasonal variations in temperature average just three degrees Celsius.

Administrative Divisions: Vietnam has 64 provinces, including five municipalities (Hanoi, Hochiminh City, Haiphong, Can Tho and Danang).

History: Vietnam’s history may be divided into five periods:

  • Prehistory: There is evidence of human settlements in Northern Vietnam as far back as 500,000-300,000 BC. In the third century BC, King An Duong Vuong founded Au Viet.
  • Chinese occupation: Northern Vietnam was occupied by China from 189 BC to 939 AD.
  • Independence: Local kings ruled the area from 939 to 1860 AD.
  • French colonialism: The French colonized Vietnam from 1860 to 1945.
  • Independence: The Socialist Republic of Vietnam was founded after the 1945 revolution, when President Hochiminh declared independence.

Ethnic groups: There are 54 ethnic groups living in Vietnam. The Viet, or Kinh, people account for 88 percent of Vietnam’s population and are mostly concentrated in the lowlands. In contrast, most of the country’s 5.5 million ethnic minority people live in mountainous areas. Major groups include the Tay (960,000 people); the Nung (152,000 people); the Thai (770,000 people); the Muong (700,000 people); the H’mong (441,000 people); the Zao ( 340,000 people); the Hoa (930,000 people); the Khmer (720,000 people); the Bana (100,000 people); the Giarai (184,000 people); and the Ede (140,000 people).

Religions: The three main religious influences in Vietnam are Buddhism, Confucianism and Ancestor Worship.

Vietnamese Languages and Scripts: More than 80 percent of the population speaks Vietnamese or Kinh/Viet, the national language. Many ethnic minority people speak Kinh and their own native language.

Three scripts have influenced Vietnam’s history:

  • Han Chinese ideograms were used until the beginning of the 20th century.
  • The Nom script, created between the 11th and 14th centuries, was described from Han script to transcribe the Vietnamese language.
  • European missionaries in the 17th century developed Quoc Ngu, the Romanized transcription of the Vietnamese language used to this day.

Business Our: Government offices and museums open early, around 8am, and close between 4pm and 5pm. Avoid doing business from 11:30am to 2pm, when people are either at lunch or napping.

Currency: The currency in Vietnam is the Dong (VND), which currently trades at about VND 23,150 to the US dollar & VND 16,000 to AUD. US dollars remain widely accepted at hotels, but you should have local currency for use in taxis and shops. Credit card acceptance, especially for Visa, Master, is spreading in high-end hotels, restaurants and shops in big cities.

Electricity: Vietnam uses 220V electricity nationwide. In the South, outlets are often US-Style flat pins. In the North, many outlets fit round pins. As the electrical current varies, use a surge protector when running sensitive electronic equipment like laptops.

Hotels & Registration: There is a wide range of accommodation available, at least in Vietnam’s major cities. Hanoi and Hochiminh City feature a choice of five-star hotels, while guesthouses and mini hotels offer no-frills room for around US$ 15. As hotels and private hosts must register your presence with the police, you will be expected to hand over your passport.

Food: Eating in Vietnam ranges from cheap noodle soups on the street for about 2 USD to a banquet in one of the luxury hotels. Vietnamese restaurants offer a broad selection of international fare including French, Italian, American, Indian, Chinese and Japanese.

The most typical Vietnamese food is PHO, the noodle soup with meat in it, it is very cheap at USD 2 per bowl and usually well spiced. The main types are: PHO Bo with beef, PHO Bo Tai with rare beef fillets and PHO Ga with chicken. COM-steamed white rice is eaten for lunch and dinner. NUOC MAM is the tormented fish sauce used to spice absolutely everything in Vietnam.

Seasonal fruits such as dragon fruit, rambutan and longan, fresh vegetables and local seafood are widely available, although supply can vary by region and season. All fruits and vegetables should be cooked or peeled before eaten. Drinking water or ice is generally not recommended, even in the cities. Bottled water is cheap and readily available, so we recommend you do not take the risk. Vietnam is a bear culture. There are plenty of local as well as imported brands. 333, Carlsberg, Hanoi Beer, Huda Bear, Tiger Beer, Saigon Beer, LaRue, San Miguel and Heineken are some common brands.

Health Care: No vaccinations are officially required to visit Vietnam. However, it is prudent to have up to date inoculations for Polio, Meningitis, Hepatitis A & B, Tuberculosis, TABT (TYPHOID, paratyphoid A & B and tetanus) Cholera, Malaria, and Japanese Encephalitis. In addition, we suggest you contact your personal physician or clinic specializing in international travel. Vietnam does have a wide variety of medicines, but you may not be familiar with them. You are advised to bring any prescription medications (in the original containers) currently required. You should pack a small medical kit, which includes sunscreen, insect repellent, diarrhea medication, ibuprofen or aspirin and antibacterial ointments. For those who wear eyeglasses, it is recommended that an extra pair be taken, as the quality of local replacement services varies. It is strongly suggested that you have a dental checkup before departure. Medical care facilities are available, but are limited outside of Hochiminh City and Hanoi, and can be expensive for emergency care.


+ International SOS Hanoi

Add: 4th Floor, 72 Xuan Dieu Street, Quang An Ward, Tay Ho District, Viet Nam

Tel: +84 24 3718 6390

+ International SOS Hochiminh

Add: Unit 708, 7th Floor, Centre Point Building, 106 Nguyen Van Troi Street, Ward 8, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City

Tel: +84 28 3845 4218

Safety: While Vietnam is one of the safest countries in Asia, you should take with your possessions. Secure your valuables, document and credit cards in your hotel’s safe. Beware of pickpockets, purse-snatcher and mobile phone thieves, especially in Hochiminh City. If you choose to drive a motorbike or ride a bicycle, always wear a helmet.

Telecommunications: International phone charges are steep in Vietnam and many hotels, especially upmarket ones, add extra fees. Check the rate before dialing. One long-distance service offers a flat fee of around US$ 0.75 per minute to 50 countries; dial 171 followed by the number. Public phones require phone cards, which are available at post offices. Faxes can be sent from hotels, business centers or post offices. Again, rate vary. Hanoi and Hochiminh City offer dozens of Internet cafes.

Key contacts

Phone numbers

Exit code:       +

Police :           113

Enquiries:      116

Medical aid:   115

Operator:       110

Fire:                114

Information:   1080

Travel Tips

Airport Tax: It is already included in the air ticket

Baggage Claim: Keep your baggage claim stickers (stuck on to your tickets) in order to get your luggage out of the airport.

Business Class Lounge: Business Class passengers and Golden Lotus Plus Gold or equal members may use Lounges at all majority airports.

Customs: On the yellow and white Customs form you are expected to declare:

*Cameras, camcorders, and other electronic equipment not for personal use

*Jewelry not for private use

*Currency over US$5,000



Exemption entry visa: 30 days

  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Cambodia (Kingdom)
  • Indonesia (Republic)
  • Laos (People's Democratic Republic)
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore (Republic)
  • Thailand (Kingdom)
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines (Republic)

Exemption entry visa: 15 days

  • Japan
  • Korea (Republic)
  • Russia (Federation)
  • Denmark (Kingdom)
  • Finland (Republic)
  • Norway (Kingdom)
  • Sweden (Kingdom)
  • France
  • Spain
  • Italia
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom

How to apply a VISA?

You can get eVisa via this link:
It takes normally 3-4 working days or more if it’s in public holiday period.

Cambodia General information

Official Name: Kingdom of Cambodia.

Land Area: 181,035 Square Kilometers.

Population: Approximately 16,4 Million.


  • Rainy Season: June – October (27oC-35oC).
  • Cool Season: November – February (17oC-27oC).
  • Warm Season: March – May (29oC-38oC).


  • Official religion: Theravada Buddhism.
  • Others: Islam, Christianity.

Ethnic Group

  • Cambodian or Khmer: 95%
  • Other: Cham (Khmer Islam), Hill Tribes, Chinese and Vietnamese.


  • Official language: Khmer
  • Other languages: English, French anh Chinese.

Emergency services

  • Police: 117
  • Fire: 118
  • Ambulance: 119

Local time

  • + 7 hours, GMT
  • Business hours


0800-1500 Mon-Fri, 0800-1200 Sat


0700-1130 & 1400-1700 Mon-Fri




Riel (KHR) is the currency of Cambodia

US dollars widely accepted. Major credit cards such as Visa, Master are accepted at major hotels, restaurants, shops and banks.

Banknotes KHR: 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000, 100000


Telephone networks, including landlines and cellular are readily available and accessible in the capital city as well as most of the provinces. GSM international roaming system is operational throughout. International direct dialing can be done from hotels or via cellular phones.


Rice, fish are the basic foods enjoyed by Cambodians. Delicious noodles soups are available at cafes. Fresh seafood is plentiful at Sihanouk Ville beach. Other specialty foods are Chinese, Thai, French, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern and others.


A one-month tourist visa is available on arrival at Phnom Penh Pochetong International Airport, Siem Reap Angkor Wat Airport anh the Vietnam and Thai borders for US$ 25. Visas can also be issued at Cambodian Embassies overseas. Visitors crossing the border checkpoints from Laos are required to obtain entry visas at embassies abroad. (Visa application form and two passport photographs are required).

Customs Regulations

An unlimited amount of foreign currency can be brought into Cambodian currency must not exceed 100,000 Rielsper person. Tourists and non-resident carrying amounts over USD10,000 in cash or the equivament must declare so in order to ensure that they will be allowed to leave with the declared amount. Leaving the country, luggage will be xrayed and inspected at Phnom Penh airport as well as at Siem Reap.

Airport Tax

It is already included in the airticket. No vaccinations are presently required unless you are travelling from or through contaminated areas. It is recommended that you be immunized against polio, typhoid, tetanus, and both hepatitis A and B. It is suggested that you bring adequate supplies of any essential personal medication along, as they may not not be available in Cambodia.


There are a wide variety of items available for purchase in Cambodia. The country was once well-known for its superior silk weaving, metal work and woodcarving. After decades of neglect, many of these arts are being revived. Visitors can find silver items, jewelry, gems, colorful cloth for Sarong and Hols (variegated silks), wood carving, stone copies of ancient Khmer art, brass and bronze figurines and oil painting in the different markets and shops. Jewelry is generally not up to international standards for design and workmanship and buyers should use caution when purchasing gold and gems. The export of antiques is subject to approval of the Ministry of Culture. Bargaining is essential for all souvenirs shopping. If travelers are to obtain reasonable prices. Reductions of up to 20 percent are possible.



Laos General information

Official Name: Laos

Land Area: 236.800 Square Kilometers.

Population: Approximately 7.2 Million.


Laos enjoys a tropical climate with two distinct seasons - the rainy season from the beginning of May to the end of September and dry season from October through to April. The yearly average temperature is about 28oC, rising to a maximum of 38oC in April and May. In Vientiane minimum temperatures of 19 C are to be expected in January. In mountainous areas, however, temperatures drop to 14-15oC during the winter months, and in cold nights easily reach the freezing point.

The average precipitation is highest in southern Laos, where the Annamite mountains receive over 3000 mm annually. In Vientiane rainfall is about 1500-2000 mm, and in the northern provinces only 1000-1500 mm.


  • Official religion: Theravada Buddhism.
  • Others: Islam, Christianity.

Ethnic Group

  • Lao Loum, Lao Theung & Lao Soung: 70%
  • Other: Cham (Khmer Islam), Hill Tribes, Chinese and Vietnamese.


  • Official language: Laos
  • Other languages: French, English, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese.

Emergency services

Telephone code: +856

Police: 1191

Fire: 1190

Ambulance: 1195

Local time

+ 7 hours, GMT

Business hours

Government offices are typically open from 8am to 11.30am or noon and from 1pm to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Some offices may open for a half day on Saturday, but this custom was generally abandoned in 1998 when the official two-hour lunch break introduced by the French was reduced to one hour. Does this mean you can expect to find Lao officials back in their offices promptly at 1pm? Probably not.

Shops and private businesses open and close a bit later and usually stay open during lunch. On Saturday, some businesses are open all day, others only half a day. Most businesses, except restaurants, are closed on Sunday. For a list of standard business hours see the inside front cover. If hours vary from these, they are stated in the review.

Business hours for restaurants vary according to their client and the Food they serve. Shops selling noodles and/or rice soup are typically open from 7am to 1pm. Lao restaurants with a larger menu of dishes served with rice are often open from 10am to 10pm.

Tourist restaurants offering both Lao Western food, and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, usually open their doors around 7.30am and serve till 10pm.

Tourist restaurants that do not open for breakfast generally serve from 11am to 11pm.


Lao Kip (Lak) is the currency of Laos since 1955.

US dollars widely accepted. Major credit cards such as Visa, Master are accepted at major hotels, restaurants, shops and banks.

Banknotes: ₭ 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000.


Telephone networks, including landlines and cellular are readily available and accessible in the capital city as well as most of the provinces. GSM international roaming system is operational throughout. International direct dialing can be done from hotels or via cellular phones.

Lao food is spicy and delicious. It is served in communal dishes with meat, fish, chicken and vegetables. Glutinous rice, mostly served with other dishes, is eaten with fingers. In major cities, European, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes are also served in many restaurants


Getting Lao visa is easy and much easier than before. Apart from getting visa of Lao PDR through traditional ways at Embassy or Consulates, travelers of most nationals can now obtain Lao visa upon arrival - at International airport of Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Pakse, and at various border crossing points with the neighboring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and China.

Normal entry tourist visa is valid for 30 days. General visa fee upon arrival is US$ 30 - prepare one Passport size photos for visa application form and another for a back up. For longer stay tourist, a 60-day visa should be obtained at Embassy/Consulates before entry to Laos. Extension of stay is possible for another 30 days, but you should apply for extension before expiry at the Immigration Office. Overstay fine.

Your Passport must be valid for at least 6 months with at least 1 empty page for visa stamp. Refusal of entry to travelers who had less than 6 months validity or no empty page in Passport for visa stamp had happened before, so this should not be a surprise.

Some tourists may prefer to have visa stamp before the arrival, so visa is all set and no worry upon arrival. This could help to save time from long queue, especially during holidays when some group tours arrive Laos without visa. With visa already stamp on your Passport, you still need to fill arrival application form to the Immigration office, but procedure is shortened. To get Lao visa before arrival, contact the nearest Embassy/Consulate from your country. Visa stamp fee at Embassy/Consulate ranges from US$ 8-40 depending upon the country.

Customs Regulations

Being very much still a Communist country, what you can and can't take into Laos remains of some importance. Any traveler arriving at either an international airport or any other international land crossing can bring in free of import duties and taxes 1 liter of spirits and 2 liters of wine; 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco; and 50 grams of perfume.

A wide variety of goods are subject to prohibitions and restrictions. These goods are defined as products that affect national stability and security, public health, wildlife, endangered species, environment, archaeology, and the artistic, cultural, and historical heritage of Laos. Import and export of articles of national heritage, which include antiques and artifacts such as Buddha statues and images, bronze drums, spears, swords, and bracelets shall be made after the approval of the Ministry of Information and Culture.

The only required inoculation is for yellow fever, if you have come from a country where it ís prevalent. While not required, it is wise to get vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, cholera, rabies, and tetanus. It is also advisable to update your childhood vaccination series for polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and so on, if you are likely to be around children.

Airport Tax

No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.


When visiting Laos, shopping in Laos is also an indispensable activity in every trip. Buying souvenirs for families and relatives is a part of the culture of various tourists from many countries.

Here are some facts to help you get more experience when shopping in Laos:

  • Goods in Laos will not be comparable in terms of variety, as in Thailand or China, but you can buy some unique items that are not available in other countries around the world. Apart from items such as clothes, shampoos, cosmetics; you can buy some souvenirs in Laos such as Lao women’s skirts, silk, handicrafts, silverware … In which skirt and brocade are two souvenirs that Lao tourists buy the most. In addition, tourists can buy the specialties of Laos such as dried, sticky rice fermented meat products.
  • It is a good idea to go to the markets and duty-free shops, especially at the border, where prices are much cheaper than other places and the goods is also plentiful.
  • Shopping at the market, you should bargain because the price is not stable, each seller will settle a different price. Thoroughly check the goods before taking them to avoid counterfeit goods. You should note items that customs will not allow you to bring.
  • Do not miss to visit shopping places when traveling to Laos, such as: Talat Sao Shopping mall, Vientiane Center Lao, Chinese Market, Fresh Market, Luang Prabang night market, Kopnoi, Dao Heuang in Paske, …
  • You should prepare for being neat so that it will ensure the convenience to go shopping. Do not carry too many things, bags to avoid being stolen or lost.
  • It will be better to travel by public transport for the reason that in Laos, you will be shopping mainly at the markets. When going to market, walking to visit, shopping will be more comfortable.

International Touroperator Licence no.: 79-211

+ 84 903 36 55 14