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Top 5 reasons to pick up your Vietnam visa at the airport (VOA)

Visa On Arrival

Apply a visa is never be a fun part on travel arrangement. However, it is certainly the important work you must do before your departure. While the visa exemption list of Vietnam visa is till very short, most of people still need a visa to visit this beautiful country. Someone has a difficulty on finding Vietnamese embassy or consulate nearby their locations. They may find Visa on arrival (VOA or pre-arranged visa) is a good option to obtain a legitimate visa to Vietnam. Actually, there are more season to do so, I would like to list some highlights:

Reliability

People concern the legitimate of VOA, of course, nobody wants to face Immigration problem when they travel. One more time, I want to reconfirm that VOA is totally legitimated. Visa at the airport is 100% the same as visa issued at embassy. A travel agent is allowed to obtain a visa approval letter on your behalf under the Immigration lawsuit. Follow this link to read more of legal basics of VOA (article 5).

Flexibility

You will totally control your time of travel, VOA gives a big gap of time for you if you need to change your travel plan in last minutes as the whole process can be done within couple of days or even sooner.

Economical

Even the Immigration stamping fee rose last year, VOA is still much cheaper compare to any other ways. Plus, you don’t have to put the expenses of travel, postage if you go with VOA option. You will save up at least 40% to apply directly to embassy.

Convenience

No passport post away, no queuing, no document required. All what you need is a computer and you can apply from anywhere. Resulted in 48 hours and all processes are done online. If you are busy, you can ask someone to apply it for you instead.

Emergency Service

VOA seems to be the only way to obtain your Vietnam visa if you need it in urgent. Some agencies could offer your visa arrangement within 01 hour from the time of application. It will be a best solution for someone changes travel plan in last minutes, or others uncontrolled situations.

Disclaimer: VOA is not the only way to obtain your visa. You can also apply directly to Vietnamese embassy and consulate for a valid visa before departure. especially for people travel to Vietnam by sea, border crossing or alike as VOA just works for AIR TRAVEL.

Recommended agencies to VOA online application:

My Vietnam Visa 

Vietnam Visa Booking

Vietnam E Visa

Instant Vietnam Visa 

Vietnam Visa On Arrival – Scam or Legitimate?

Vietnam Visa On Arrival Scam or Not?First of all, visitors are able to pick up their visas at Vietnam International Airports IF they are holding a document called ‘Approval Letter’ which pre – arranged by a Vietnamese tour operator. This is 100% legal. And everyday, hundreds to thousands of visitors are  picking up their visas at Vietnam airports without a problem.

So, how comes someone or even Vietnamese Embassy’s consular refers it to scam or not legitimated?  I think because of the way people call or define the ‘Visa On Arrival’ as ‘Visa On Arrival’ is NOT existed in Vietnamese Immigration Law. As I understand, Cambodia or Laos has Visa On Arrival because I just go there, show my passport, pay my fees then visa will be stamped to my passport. But in Vietnam, you can’t do that. You must make a pre – step to get a paper called ‘Approval Letter’, once you have it done, then you can pick up your visa at the airport as normal.

The conflict on defining could leads to some difficult situation for travelers. Someone just go to the airport for boarding without a visa as they understand Vietnam has ‘Visa On Arrival’ to offer. I launched a website of Instant Vietnam Visa couple of weeks ago. Guess what? the first week, we received more than 10 requests on rush visa!!!. Travelers just realized they need a valid visa OR Approval Letter to allow boarding to Vietnam. Luckily, our team served them on time to grant Approval Letter within 01 hour, just on time for boarding, one case needed to change his flight to next day as his time was too tight up.

Back to the question Visa On Arrival is a scam or legitimated in Vietnam? The answer are both Yes and No. Yes, because Vietnam does not offer Visa On Arrival (as my above definition) and No, because you can pick up your visa on your arrival if you arrange Approval Letter in advance. With current situation, I may call it as ‘Pre-arrangement Visa Permitting’. I am not too sure about it. Someone may help on how to rename this type of visa’s definition to avoid misunderstandings and problem for travelers to Vietnam. Thank you!

Our Cham Island experience

It started with a 12 hours train journey from Hanoi to Da Nang. We left Hanoi station at 11pm and slowly worked our way south stopping at Dong Hoi and Hue before arriving at Da Nang station at 1.30 pm the next day.

at Hanoi train station

We took a mini bus to Hoi An,  loaded our bags on to a fast boat and reached Cham Island at 2.30 pm.

After a brief rest we were invited to do some snorkeling to get a feel for the water and to see the natural beauty there. The water was clear, warm and we could see some fish and  coral. Back to the island, we had a swim in the beach then dinner. Our accommodation was small tents on the beach, although some of us slept on the sand with feet in the water too keep cool.

After a light breakfast and a briefing about the dive equipment we would use. We took a small boat to join other divers on the “mother-ship” where we suited up for our first SCUBA dive.

The dive instructors were profession and safety conscious and made us feel very comfortable as we began to enjoy the under water world of the reefs around Cham Island.

Our first dive was about 30 minutes. After that we had a short break on the “mother-ship” then we were invited to take another deeper dive in a more spectacular location. We saw fish, coral and amazing rock formation under water. It was an amazing experience to “fly” among the fish and the only sound was the regular in and out of your own breathing. After diving all moving, we returned to the island and had a good lunch then a swim with a game of ” ghost-ball ” …

Diving at cham island

That evening, we had a “gala dinner” and some drinks. We all slept very well after a very special day.

The next morning, we walked 2.5 km to a local fishing village, saw the market then took a boat back to our base camp. After a very good seafood, we packed and took a fast boat to Hoi An.

Hoi an ancient city

We then visited My Son ancestral home of the Cham people and back to our hotel for a swim in the pool and relax. Dinner was in a restaurant on the river and walk around Hoi An ancient city. Next morning, we left Hoi An and visited CON market at Da Nang city for shopping then caught the flight back to Hanoi at 5pm. We needed to circle Hanoi airport due to a passing thunderstorm, but we arrived safe and well at 7.30 pm.

A great experience with wonderful things to see and do. You might want to view our photo album

Written by David Whitehead

Ho Chi Minh Trail by Bob, David & Tuan

In June I took my son to see the REAL Vietnam. It’s probably not the best time of the year there because it’s Summer, but since we were going to be in the Central Highlands much of the time, it was fine. Another bonus was that it was harvest time, so we saw plenty of rural activity.
Our plan was to drive Hanoi to HCM City following the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but before leaving Hanoi we toured the more interesting sites, including the War Museum and the Temple of literature. The tiny fresh-water shrimp were great and as usual we ate well throughout the trip.
The first day was a long one – about 650km to Dong Hoi, but we took a side trip to Cam Thuy (Thanh Hoa province) to see the masses of Carp in the stream and stopped off at Dong Loc intersection, the most bombed part of Vietnam, to see the memorials. It was a long day with the roads covered in rice husks drying in the sun and harvest traffic, not to mention the condition of the road itself on occasions.
In Dong Hoi we stayed at the Sun Spa Resort, a huge complex of apartments right on the beach with an enormous swimming pool. Summer being the Vietnamese holiday time, it was filled with families relaxing and enjoying the facilities. That evening we ate local produce at a beach restaurant.
The next day’s destination was Hue and we passed through the DMZ and crossed the old border between North and South about 100km south of Dong Hoi, through Quang Tri to Hue where we stayed at the delightful and luxurious French Colonial Saigon Morin Hotel and visited the Citadel and the Forbidden City and saw the progress made with its restoration since my last visit. We heard that we had escaped the weather, Hanoi being deluged after we left with local flooding.
We were aiming for Pleiku the next day, but the car had other ideas. Everything was fine as we passed the beautiful Cau Hai lagoon, but after negotiating the Hai Van Pass (on the new road and tunnel and that fantastic road stop ‘cafe’) the engine began to lose power and finally died just south of Da Nang. This had not been a planned stop, but we spent the night there until the local Ford dealership sorted out the fuel pump and this gave us the opportunity to look at the amazing beach developments and Marble Mountain before departing.
From Da Nang we climbed up into the highlands proper so did not go south to Hoi An, through Kon Tum and into the large city of Pleiku. I saw a long concrete stretch north of the city, parallel to the road, which I am sure must have been the wartime USAAF airfield. Here we stayed at the modern Hoang Anh Gia Lai Hotel, owned by one of the city’s favourite sons, and took a walk around the local area. I’ve never seen so many motorbike showrooms before!
The trouble with the car meant we had lost a day, so we activated Plan B here and booked ourselves on a flight into Saigon from our next stop, Buon Ma Thuot. This was only a comfortable 200km away so we had a relaxed start from Pleiku, but the road was particularly nasty and narrow and I’m pretty sure we busted a shock absorber in one of the many holes. It meant we missed Da Lat but we have left plenty for David to do on his own next time.
Saigon was only 350kms away, but we were flying out of Tan Son Nhut the following evening and wanted some time in the city to look around. After almost 2000kms of driving in 4 days we had had about enough of this mode of travel anyway so we said goodbye to Tuan, our guide and driver, and he headed off for Nha Trang to put the car on the train and return to Hanoi while David and I flew to Saigon, a mere 45 minute hop away.
We visited the War Remnants Museum and did some shopping in the city centre before retiring and the next day we searched out my old haunts in Cholon from more than forty years before as David wanted to see where the stories had originated.
This was not a relaxed trip as time constraints meant we had to push on and push hard to cover the distance. We were only in the country 8 days, but the Ho Chi Minh Trail would be a great trip if 12-14 days were allocated. Most tourists stick to a well-worn path, but with a little more time than we had would allow for a relaxing trip and extra stops which would take in most of what the standard route follows.

War Museum in Hanoi

War museum in Hanoi

Hanoi Outskirt

Hanoi Outskirt

West Lake restaurant in Hanoi

West Lake restaurant in Hanoi

Hanoi temple of literature

Hanoi temple of literature

Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi

Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh Trail

Stated into Ho Chi Minh Trail

Bridge links to Holyfish Pond in Cam Thuy

Bridge links to Holyfish Pond in Cam Thuy

Fish Pond, a local tourist attraction

Fish Pond, a local tourist attraction

Holyfish

Holy fish

Tuan & David

Tuan & David

Along Ho Chi Minh Trail

Along Ho Chi Minh Trail

Dong Loc Intersection

Dong Loc Intersection

Dong Loc Intersection

Dong Loc Intersection

Dong Loc Memorials

Dong Loc War Memorials

Sunspa Resort - A local tourist relaxation in Dong Hoi

Sunspa Resort – A local tourist relaxation in Dong Hoi

Truong Son Cemetery

Truong Son Cemetery

Truong Son Cemetery

Truong Son Cemetery

Truong Son cemetery

Truong Son cemetery

Truong Son cemetery

Truong Son cemetery

Truong Son cemetery

Truong Son cemetery

Forbidden City of Hue

Forbidden City of Hue

Inside the Tomb of Tu Duc in Hue

Inside the Tomb of Tu Duc in Hue

Another adventure day in Da Nang!

Another adventure day in Da Nang!

David in HAGL Pleiku

David in HAGL Hotel Pleiku

Pleiku at night

Pleiku at night

On the way to Don village in Buon Me Thuot

On the way to Don village in Buon Me Thuot

Don Village

Don Village

Elephant ride

Elephant ride

War Museum in Saigon

War Museum in Saigon

War Museum in Saigon

War Museum in Saigon

War Museum in Saigon

Written & photo by Bob Livingstone

Saigon, Reasons To Go!

Saigon VietnamFood is better

This is much related to personal taste, as most of Northern people are not quite getting along with Saigon’s food flavors. What I like is a big range of food. Many choices for your eating, especially breakfast. It will be easy to stay a month but you don’t need to eat the same courses each day

Service is much better then elsewhere

No matter what service you use, small restaurant or 5 star service standard, you will feel comfortable and ‘be served’. That is hardly to get elsewhere in Vietnam, especially Hanoi.

Taxi is good

You will have reason to worry when you use Taxi in Hanoi, but in Saigon you will find more reliable taxi around. It is not only to reputable taxi operators like Mai Linh or Vinasun, I found others are also fine. They are helpful and honest on serving.

Things seem to be cheaper now

Depending on services you use, but lately I found cost of living in Saigon is cheaper than Hanoi.  Accommodation is 20% cheaper than Hanoi in the same standard. House renting is even lower at least about 40% which is great chance for anyone wish to stay in Saigon at the moment.

Weather is stable

It is sunny and hot year around in South of Vietnam including Saigon. I personally don’t like sun and heat but stable temperature and lower humidity would please most of people especially Northern where the weather is always hard to predict.

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