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Vietnam Country Travel Infomation

Travel Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Traffic in Vietnam is dangerous, chaotic, and undisciplined. Road conditions are poor; traffic accidents are the leading cause of death, severe injury, and emergency evacuation of foreigners in Vietnam. Long-distance buses and trains do not meet U.S. safety standards. Buses and trucks can often be overloaded and travel at high speeds with little regard to other modes of road transportation. 

Traffic Laws: Driving in Vietnam is not comparable to driving in other countries. Vietnamese drivers routinely ignore traffic laws, causing traffic fatalities on a daily basis. We strongly discourage you from operating a motorcycle or scooter in Vietnam. Vietnamese drivers and pedestrians may not behave in a manner to which Americans are accustomed. If you do choose to operate a motorcycle or scooter in Vietnam, wear a helmet and always yield to larger vehicles. Motor bike fatalities are a leading cause of death or serious injury among foreign nationals visiting or living in Vietnam, with several fatalities having occurred on major roads and rural routes within the past year. If you are the victim of a serious motor bike accident in Vietnam, the prognosis for full recovery and survival is low due to Vietnam?s poor medical infrastructure. A motorbike license is required to operate a motorcycle or scooter in Vietnam. Motor scooter drivers without a license can be held criminally liable for injuries to or death of a victim in an accident, and you may be held in custody for an extended period of time without the ability to speak to family or a lawyer during the investigation. 

Pedestrians should always look carefully?in both directions?before crossing streets, even when using a marked crosswalk with a green ?walk? light illuminated or when crossing what is believed to be a one-way street. When walking on sidewalks, be mindful of scooters that may be behind you. Vietnamese commonly drive their scooters on sidewalks. 

Because the United States is not a party to the Convention on Road Traffic, international driving permits and U.S. drivers? licenses are?not valid?in Vietnam. Foreigners renting vehicles risk fines, prosecution, and/or imprisonment for driving without a Vietnamese license endorsed for the appropriate vehicle. If you wish to drive in Vietnam, contact the Provincial Public Transportation Service of the Vietnamese Department of Communications and Transport to obtain a Vietnamese driver?s license. 

For more information, please refer to Vietnam?s national tourism office website.

Public transportation:

Bus system:?While Vietnam does have an extensive bus system, buses can be overcrowded and are often driven with little or no regard for passenger safety. 

For-hire vehicles:?Major taxi companies tend to be reliable. Occasionally boutique taxi companies have rigged meters, particularly on routes to and from the international airports. Exercise caution in choosing ground transportation upon arrival at the airport in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Some travelers have reported being robbed by drivers who greeted them upon arrival with a placard showing the traveler’s name. If you are expecting to be picked up, ask the company for the driver?s name, phone number, and license plate number before you travel. Areas outside of large cities typically have only rudimentary public transportation and often do not have metered taxis. Travelers are advised to use caution in these situations. 

We strongly discourage the use of motorcycle taxis (known as ?xe om?). Motorcycle taxis are unregulated and unsafe, and the helmets provided to riders offer little to no protection against injury in the case of an accident. 

Smartphone-based for-hire vehicle services:?GrabTaxi and local taxi companies are readily available, accessible via Smartphone apps, and actively utilized by foreigners and locals. 

Aviation Safety Oversight:?There is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers to Vietnam. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Vietnam?s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Vietnam?s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the?FAA?s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Vietnam should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) broadcast warnings website portal.

Health

Please visit the Embassy?s COVID-19 page or more information on COVID-19 in Vietnam. 

Medical facilities in Vietnam, including emergency response services, frequently do not meet international standards and may lack medicine and supplies. 

  • Medical personnel generally speak little or no English. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services. You may obtain lists of local English-speaking physicians from the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi or the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City from our website
  • International health clinics in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can treat minor illnesses and injuries, but more serious problems often require medical evacuation to Bangkok or Singapore. 
  • Although you can purchase many prescription and non-prescription medications at pharmacies, some common U.S. medications may not be available. You should bring adequate supplies of medications for the duration of your stay in Vietnam and ensure with the Ministry of Health that the medicine you need is allowed to enter Vietnam. You should carry a copy of your prescription if carrying medicine in a travel case or container.
  • We strongly recommend travelers purchase medical evacuation insurance before visiting Vietnam. 
  • Travelers to Vietnam are at risk of the following diseases: Tuberculosis, Dengue Fever, Zika, Avian Influenza (H5N1), and HIV. You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the?CDC website. ? 

We do not pay medical bills.?Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.? 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept upfront payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas. 

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation as it can cost many thousands of dollars. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor?s prescription. 

It is extremely important?that travelers have sufficient funds and/or insurance to cover any potential medical costs.? Frequently hospitals will hold onto a patient?s passport as collateral for payment, and patients may have difficulty getting their passport back without paying their medical bills in full.? Patients who do not pay their medical bills in full also run the risk of being barred from departing the country. 

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Air quality: Air pollution is a significant problem in Vietnam?s major cities, and you should consult your doctor prior to travel and consider the impact that seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you. To obtain information on the air quality in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, please follow the link to the Environmental Protection Agency?s AirNow website. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City?s AQI can be observed either by clicking on the Vietnam location on the map, or by selecting Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City in the ?Select a City? option on the upper right part of the page. The page provides AQI over the last 24-hour period as well as pollutant concentration and a downloadable historical document. 

Local laws and Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to Vietnamese laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.? Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Vietnam are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines, or even the death penalty. In Vietnam, you may be taken in for questioning if you do not have proper ID, such as a passport or a copy of your visa. Driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in a fatal accident could lead to immediate imprisonment. If you break local laws in Vietnam, your U.S. passport?will not?help you avoid arrest or prosecution. 

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. You can be?prosecuted in the United States?for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under the host country?s laws.

Arrest Notification in Vietnam: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. Historically, there have been delays in notification by the Vietnamese authorities to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General and the granting of access by the Vietnamese authorities for a Consular Officer to visit detained U.S. citizens. See our webpage for further information. 

Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information. 

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is accepted by the Vietnamese government in some, but not all, circumstances. However, dual nationals should be aware that Vietnam recognizes their Vietnamese citizenship as primary before others. In such cases, the U.S. Embassy and Consulate General may be limited in the consular services we are able to provide.? 

Work Authorization:?The Government of Vietnam maintains strict laws with respect to foreign workers. U.S. citizens planning to work in Vietnam should make sure that they are in full compliance with Vietnamese regulations. Penalties can be severe and include deportation, fines, or detention. 

U.S. citizens who also hold Vietnamese citizenship, and who are currently residing in Vietnam, may wish to contact local authorities and/or seek competent legal advice on how local laws may affect their status. For detailed information on Vietnamese nationality law and other legal issues visit the?Embassy of Vietnam website

Teaching English: We advise those considering accepting an English teaching job in Vietnam to carefully review the terms of the contract regarding working and living conditions and to ask for references from persons familiar with the institution, especially former U.S. citizen employees.? 
 
Hotels: ?Hotels in Vietnam require you to present your passport (and visas, if issued separately) upon check-in so that your stay can be registered with local police. Every guest in a hotel room must be registered, regardless of nationality. If you stay at a private residence (i.e. at the residence of family or friends), you must comply with registration requirements by visiting the local police station and registering your stay within 24 hours. Some provinces allow registration online.? 

Exports:?Vietnamese law prohibits the export of antiques. However, these laws are vague and unevenly enforced. Customs authorities may inspect and seize your antiques without compensating you, and the determination of what is an ?antique? can be arbitrary. If you purchase non-antique items of value, you should retain receipts and confirmation from shop owners and/or the Ministry of Culture and the Customs Department to prevent seizure when you leave the country. 
 
Imports: ?Vietnamese authorities have seized documents, audio and video tapes, compact discs, literature, and personal letters they deem to be pornographic or political in nature or intended for religious or political proselytizing. It is illegal to import weapons, ammunition, explosives, military equipment and tools (including uniforms), narcotics, drugs, toxic chemicals, pornographic and subversive materials, firecrackers, or children’s toys that have "negative effects on personality development, social order, and security." 
 
For up to date information on Vietnam Customs information, please visit the?Vietnam Customs website.

Speech:?The Government of Vietnam maintains strict control over all forms of political speech, particularly dissent or speech it deems as critical of the government and/or party. U.S. citizens have been detained, tried, and convicted for political activities (including criticizing the government or its domestic/foreign policies or advocating alternatives to Communist Party rule), possession of political material, and non-sanctioned religious activities (including proselytizing). Authorities have also detained U.S. citizens for posting messages on blogs or online chatrooms that are political or critical of the government. U.S. citizens of Vietnamese descent should be especially careful with their online postings. 

Association with Groups: ?Persons whom the Government of Vietnam perceives to be associated with dissident or political groups may be denied entry to Vietnam, prevented from departing, detained, interrogated, placed under surveillance, or even tried and convicted. Note that?if arrested, you could be subject to lengthy detention without access to an attorney or family members. U.S. citizens of Vietnamese descent should be especially careful about associating with dissident groups. U.S. citizen travelers have been summoned by immigration or local security officials for reasons that are unclear or not explicitly related to any suspected or alleged violation of law. We recommend that U.S. citizens finding themselves in this situation contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General immediately for further information and/or assistance. 

Photography: Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in questioning by authorities, fines, or delayed travel. You should be cautious when traveling near military bases and avoid photography in these areas. 
 
Disputes: The Vietnamese government has occasionally seized the passports and blocked the departure of foreigners involved in commercial disputes. U.S. citizens whose passports have been seized by Vietnamese authorities should contact the Embassy or Consulate General for assistance. 
 
Civil Procedures: ?Civil procedures in Vietnam, such as marriage, divorce, documenting the birth of a child, and issuance of death certificates, are highly bureaucratic and can be slow. Please contact the?Vietnamese Embassy in Washington, D.C., or the?Vietnamese Consulate General in San Francisco?or?Houston?concerning documentary requirements for these services. Enforcement of civil orders is frequently difficult or non-existent. 

Women Travelers:?See our travel tips for?Women Travelers

LGBTI Rights:?There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Vietnam. For more detailed information about LGBTI rights in Vietnam, you may review the State Department?s annual?Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on LGBTI travel, please read our LGBTI Travel Information page.

Accessibility: Most public places and public transportation are not accessible to persons with disabilities. Sidewalks, curb ramps, restrooms, road crossings, and tourist areas are not equipped to assist such individuals. New, modern buildings and facilities in larger urban cities are regularly built with ramps and accessible entryways. 

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Safety and Security

Vietnam?s chaotic traffic is a major safety concern.  See ?Travel and Transportation? below for additional information. 

The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens overseas always maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness while traveling internationally. Please visit? travel.state.gov?for up-to-date information. 

Messages regarding weather-related events are posted here and on the Embassy/Consulate website

Small-scale, peaceful protests occasionally occur in Vietnam?s major cities, but large-scale demonstrations are rare. You should avoid large gatherings, as they can become violent with little or no warning. 

The Government of Vietnam may not allow or authorize travel to certain areas of the country that are deemed sensitive. Check with local authorities before visiting border areas to see if you need to obtain a travel permit issued by local authorities. U.S. citizens have been detained after traveling in areas close to the Vietnamese borders with China, Cambodia, and Laos. These areas are not always marked, and there are no warnings about prohibited travel. 

Safety standards in Vietnam are not at the same level as those in the United States and vary greatly from company to company and province to province. This is especially true in regard to fire codes. Travelers should be aware that many buildings, including hotels, shops and restaurants, have limited or no safety equipment or emergency exits. Ground and water transportation also lack safety regulations. 

Crime: Crime in Vietnam is rated HIGH. However, exercising vigilance and the same commonsense security precautions you would in any major metropolitan city in the United States will greatly contribute to an incident-free visit. 

Violent crime against foreigners is rare; however, petty crimes, such as theft and pick-pocketing occur regularly, especially in crowded areas and tourist locations. Typically, there is a rise in petty crime during the Christmas and Tet holiday seasons, including during the day and in well-lit areas. Motorcyclists are known to snatch bags, cameras, cell phones, and other valuables from pedestrians or passengers riding in "cyclos" (pedicabs) or on the back of motorcycles, sometimes using a sharp weapon such as a knife to cut bag straps. In some cases, robbers will drive two motorbikes, one of which bumps the victim?s bike from the rear causing them to lose balance and look behind for damage; one perpetrator will then steal the assets hung in the front while the other drives away. Offenders might also use a knife to threaten and rob you while you are withdrawing money from an ATM.??If you are targeted by thieves, do not resist, and report the incident immediately to local police and to the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi or the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City. Sexual assaults also occur, but risks can be minimized by taking basic security precautions such as not walking alone in poorly lit areas. 

Some U.S. citizens have reported threats of death or physical injury related to personal business disputes. You should report such threats to local authorities. 

Keep your passport and other important valuables in your hotel in a safe or another secured location at all times and carry both photo and digital copies of your passport. You should immediately report the loss or theft of your U.S. passport to the local police and the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Consulate General. You must obtain a police report from the local police office in order to apply for a replacement passport and a Vietnamese exit visa. You must also report the theft to the police in the location your passport was lost or stolen or the Vietnamese may not issue a police report. 

Drugs: ?Recreational drugs available in Vietnam can be extremely dangerous and can result in death. Drugs sold in Vietnam may be fake, synthetic, or laced with toxic ingredients undetectable to the buyer. You should also avoid purchasing liquor or cigarettes from street vendors or strangers, as the authenticity of the contents cannot be assured. 

Victims of Crime:?U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General for assistance. Vietnam?s local equivalent of an emergency line is 113. Local police will issue a report of a crime, but generally will only initiate investigations for crimes they determine serious, which do not always equate with U.S. standards. Investigations can take several months to complete.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can: 

  • Help you find appropriate medical care 
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police 
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent 
  • Provide general information regarding the victim?s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion 
  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • Provide information on victim?s compensation programs in the United States. 
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited support in cases of destitution
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home 
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy or Consulate General for assistance.

Tourism:?The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more?information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Entry exit Requirementsh

Please visit the Embassy?s COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Vietnam.

Entry Requirements: You must have a valid passport and a visa (or pre-approval for a visa on arrival) to enter Vietnam. Your passport must be valid for six months beyond your planned stay, and you must have at least one blank visa page. Visit the?Embassy of Vietnam website?for the most current information. If you arrive in Vietnam without an appropriate visa (which could be an e-visa) or pre-approval for a visa on arrival, you will be denied entry. 

Visas:? When you apply for a visa to enter Vietnam, be sure to request the visa category that corresponds to your purpose of travel. Please refer to?Vietnam?s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website?for information detailing?visa categories. If you plan to work in Vietnam, you must obtain a work permit?before?applying for your visa. If you change the purpose of your visit after you have received your visa, you must obtain a new visa outside of Vietnam appropriate for your new activities before beginning those activities. Please consult the?Embassy of Vietnam website?for more information. 

If you plan to travel from Vietnam to Laos by land, you should request that an adhesive visa be affixed to your passport instead of a detachable one. Lao immigration officials require proof that travelers have departed Vietnam, something that can only be shown with an adhesive visa. Vietnamese officials remove detachable visas from passports when travelers depart Vietnam, leaving travelers with no proof of their Vietnam departure. This situation can result in Lao officials requiring travelers to return to Vietnam. 

If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen in Vietnam, you will need both a replacement passport and a replacement Vietnamese visa in order to legally remain in and depart Vietnam. The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City can usually issue you a limited validity replacement passport in as little as one business day for emergency purposes; however, the Vietnamese government requires three to five working days to issue a replacement visa. The U.S. Embassy and the Consulate General cannot expedite the replacement of your Vietnamese visa. 

Pre-approval for Visa on Arrival:?The Government of Vietnam has authorized some businesses and travel agencies to arrange for pre-approval for a ?visa on arrival? at the airport. However, some U.S. citizens have reported being charged unexpectedly high fees and additional charges upon landing in Vietnam. The Government of Vietnam and the U.S. Department of State recommend that travelers obtain a visa directly from an embassy or consulate of Vietnam prior to arrival. 

E-visa: U.S. citizens can apply online for a single entry E-visa on the?Vietnam Immigration website.?The E-visa is valid for a maximum of 30 days for the purpose of tourism. An E-visa is usually processed within three working days after the Vietnam Immigration Department receives the completed application and E-visa fee. E-visa holders must present the printed E-visa and valid passport at the port of entry. Prior to making travel arrangements with an E-visa it is advisable to review the?List of Ports?of Entry that allow for foreigners to enter and exit Vietnam by E-visa. When applying for an E-visa, carefully review and follow the E-visa application steps. 

Certificate of Visa Exemption:?Vietnamese nationals residing abroad indefinitely, their spouses, and their children may apply for a Certificate of Visa Exemption. The certificate has a maximum validity of five years, during which time the holder can enter Vietnam and stay for up to six months without applying for a visa. More information can be found on the?Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs website

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Vietnam. 

Immunization information for travelers can be found on the?Centers for Disease and Control?s website.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page

Destination Description

See the Department of State?Fact?Sheet?on Vietnam?for additional information on U.S. – Vietnam relations. 

Travel Embassy and Consulate

U.S. Embassy Hanoi – Consular Annex
170 Ngoc Khanh
Ba Dinh District
Hanoi, Vietnam
Telephone:
 
From outside Vietnam: +84-24-3850-5000
From the U.S.: 011-84-24-3850-5000
From landline within Hanoi: 3850-5000
From mobile or landline within Vietnam: 024-3850-5000

Emergency: 
From outside Vietnam: +84-24-3850-5000 or +84-24-3850-5105
From the U.S.: 011-84-24-3850-5000
From landline within Hanoi: 3850-5000 or 3850-5105
From mobile or landline within Vietnam: 024-3850-5000 or 024-3850-5105
Fax: (+84-24) 3850-5010
Email: 

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City
4 Le Duan, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Telephone:
From outside Vietnam: +84-28-3520-4200
From the U.S.: 011-84-28-3520-4200
From landline within Ho Chi Minh City: 3520-4200
From mobile or landline within Vietnam: 028-3520-4200

Emergency:
From outside Vietnam: +84-28-3520-4200
From the U.S.: 011-84-28-3520-4200
From landline within Ho Chi Minh City: 3520-4200
From mobile or landline within Vietnam: 028-3520-4200
Fax: (+84-8) 3520-4244
Email: Contact Us Here

EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS WITHIN VIETNAM

Police: 113
Fire brigade: 114
Ambulance: 115

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