How to Enter Vietnam
Vietnam is now more open to the world than ever before, and there are numerous ways to get in and out of the country. There are a number of international flights into the country (some direct but most of them needing a connection). You can alternatively enter by land from all of Vietnam’s neighboring countries, via cruise, or by train from China.
When flying into Vietnam there are 3 international airports to choose from. They are conveniently located in the north (Hanoi), south (Ho Chi Minh City), and center (Da Nang). Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are the most frequently used airports.
There are direct flights to Vietnam from many major cities, mainly to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. From many western cities you will need a connecting flight through Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, or Singapore.
Major airlines flying into Vietnam
- Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Ai
- Jetstar Pacific
- Air Asia
- Air China
- Air France
- Cathay Pacific
- China Eastern
- Eva Air
- Hong Kong Airlines
- Qatar Airlines
- Royal Brunei Airlines
- Tiger Airways
Hanoi: Noi Bai Airport
We recommend most travelers to start in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, and then continue their travels south. Noi Bai Airport is Vietnam’s largest airport, located 35 kilometers northeast of downtown Hanoi.
There are direct flights from the following cities to Hanoi:
- Paris – Air France
- Hong Kong – Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines
- Tokyo – Japan Airlines
- Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia
- Singapore – Singapore Airlines and Tiger Airways
- Bangkok – Thai Airways International
Requirements vary according to the place of application. Some embassies may request an online appointment before you come in person to submit your application.
Ho Chi Minh City: Tan Son Nhat Airport
Tan Son Nhat is the busiest airport in Vietnam. That’s why we recommend flying out of here, after you are already used to the hustle and bustle of Vietnam.
There are direct flights from the following cities to Ho Chi Minh City:
- Auckland – Air New Zealand
- Tokyo – Air Japan
- Seoul – Asiana Airlines and Korea Air
- Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville – Cambodia Angkor Air
- Manila – Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines
- Dubai – Emirates
- Melbourne – Sydney, with Jetstar Airways
- Singapore – Jetstar Asia Airways, Tigerar, and Singapore Airlines
- Bangkok – Thai Air Asia, Thai Airways, Thai Lion Air, and Thai Vietjet Air
- Paris – Air France
Da Nang: Da Nang Airport
This airport is the newest of the international airports and only offers a few international flights with Asian countries.
There are direct flights from the following cities to Da Nang:
- Kuala Lumpur – AirAsia
- Hong Kong – Cathay Dragon, HK Express
- Singapore – SilkAir and Jetstar Asia Airways
- Beijing – China Eastern Airlines
- Siem Reap – SilkAir and Cambodia Angkor Air
Visas for Vietnam
When entering Vietnam as a tourist, you can apply for two different visas. The first is the visa-on-arrival which you start applying for online before you arrive, and the second is by applying in person at your nearest Vietnamese Embassy. Both usually give you a 30-day single entry tourist visa.
For both visas you will need to make sure that you have at least 2 empty pages in your passport, and that your passport is valid for 6 months upon arriving in Vietnam.
Visa-on-arrival (an e-visa) can only be claimed if you are flying into one of Vietnam’s international airports. For most travelers this is a viable option to get a visa, and requires the least amount of time spent queuing in immigration. However, these visas cannot be extended.
To get a visa-on-arrival you need first to fill out a visa application online before leaving. You can find this application at https://vietnamvisa.govt.vn/. After filling out this form you will need to pay a service fee to process your application. This should be about $20 or 25 USD, the same for adults and children.
After submitting your application online the next step is to secure your approval letter. The Vietnamese embassy will process your application and then send you an approval letter to your registered email address within 1 or 2 working days. The letter should come with additional instructions about documents to bring and procedures at the airport.
The last step is to present all your documents at the visa-on-arrival counter in the airport (passport, visa approval letter, passport size photo, application form, completed entry and exit form that should be given to you on the airplane) and then pay the stamping fee in cash. The fee is $25 USD for a single entry and $50 USD for multiple entries.
Visa at Vietnamese Embassy
Getting a visa at a Vietnamese Embassy before traveling to Vietnam is essential when entering by land, boat, or train. This now traditional style of getting a visa is fairly simple and usually only takes 2 to 5 working days to complete, depending on your location.
Arriving by Land and Sea
Most people arriving in Vietnam by land come from Cambodia or China. For both places you will need a visa before arriving. You will also need cash on hand to pay for the stamping and processing fees at the border. This money needs to be in good condition with no marks, nicks, or tears.
Cambodia to Vietnam
Buses are the most common form of transport from Cambodia to Vietnam. The normal route is from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City. There are many reliable bus companies (Nai Linh, GSG, Mekong Express, Capitol Tour, and 168 Bus).
China to Vietnam
When traveling from China into Vietnam the train system is your best option. There are two main train crossings, Dong Dang (160 km from Hanoi) and Lao Cai (near Sapa in northwest Vietnam).
Arriving by Cruise Ship
International cruises stop in Vietnam at 3 ports: Can Lan Port in Ha Long Bay, Chan My Port in Hue, and Phu My Port in Ho Chi Minh City.
When arriving via a cruise you will need to make sure that you apply for a visa at a Vietnamese embassy before arrival. You cannot apply for a visa on arrival. You can also check with your tour ship company and see if they can assist you with applying for a visa to Vietnam on board.
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