You will need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond your stay and has a blank page for the customs agents to stamp. Many nationalities must also have a tourist visa, including U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens must get a tourist visa or an approval letter in advance, and Americans who arrive without a visa or an approval letter will be denied entry.
Choose from 1-month to 3-month visas. You can also select single-entry or multi-entry visas—remember to get a multi-entry visa if you plan to make a side trip to a neighboring country like Cambodia.
There are a couple of choices for tourist visas: You can get a visa by contacting the Vietnamese embassy in your country, get an approval letter before arriving and then have the visa finalized at the airport, or get an E-visa (E-visas are only for stays up to 30 days). The E-visa is new and has gotten mixed reviews from travelers—some officials aren’t yet familiar with this type of documentation.
If you choose to get an approval letter, you will also need to arrive with two (2) passport photos. Visitors who arrive without photos may be charged an exorbitant fee to have them taken in the airport. Keep in mind that once you arrive with your letter of approval, you’ll have to wait in line to get your visa finalized, and this can be a lengthy process. There is a small processing fee for the approval letter and then a stamping fee of $25 USD. You can apply for an approval letter at the Vietnam Visa government website.
There are a few visa-exempt countries in Asia as well as Europe. The following countries are some of the visa-exempt countries, but you should always check with your country’s state department as these policies can change without notice: Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, UK. These countries can receive a visa on arrival for up to 15 days of travel in Vietnam.
No matter where you’re from, it’s a good idea to keep copies of all your personal documents, including your passport. Keep your embassy’s phone number handy in case you run into any emergencies like a lost passport.
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