I spent more than three months in Vietnam – one of the most favorite nations in my Asian trip. Vietnam’s visa regulations and procedures are different from neighboring countries such as China, Cambodia and Laos, so you should research carefully. In this article, I have collected most important information on how to apply for a Vietnam visa from my experience. You will see that this is the cheapest, simplest way to get a Vietnamese visa for your trip.
Let me be clear, I am just a tourist rather than a visa expert. So, in case you have any questions related to business visas or other complicated problems, you should contact the nearest Vietnamese Embassy or Consulates. I only have experience in tourist visa, so I cannot advise you on the registration process for business visas or work permits in Vietnam. Visa regulations are different for different nationalities, so you need to check Vietnam’s requirements for your citizenship. You can easily find this on Vietnamvisaagency.com by entering your citizenship.
When planning your trip to Vietnam, here/there are several things you should consider. Selecting the appropriate type of visa depends on at least (1) How long is your trip?, ( 2) Do you want to visit other countries during your Vietnam trip and then return to Vietnam, and (3) How do you travel to Vietnam? In this article, I will explain everything related to the visa that I have been through. First, below are some visa types that you should know:
- E-visa: A general term for a visa online order directly from Vietnam Immigration Department.
- Visa On Arrival: You buy an online approval letter and take it with you on the trip. The real visa will be issued as you arrive at any airport in Vietnam. (Note: this applies only when you travel to Vietnam by plane)
- Embassy visa : You buy a complete visa with a stamp at a Vietnamese embassy or consulate before your trip.
- Single entry visa: You are able to enter Vietnam 1 time. The visa will be invalid after you leave the country, even if the validity period has not expired.
- Multiple entry visa : You can exit/enter Vietnam many times within the validity period of the visa.
Some nationalities can use the 15-day visa exemption in Vietnam. This means that for 15-day or shorter trips, you do not need a Vietnamese visa. Therefore, you should check if your nationality is eligible visa exemption or not.
Vietnam tourist visas can be issued for the period of one or three months (particularly 1-year period for US citizens). Please keep in mind that you can’t apply for Vietnamese visas at the border like in Cambodia.
Theoretically, you should always have a return air ticket from Vietnam. But in my experience, tickets are asked mainly at airports rather than at the land borders. However, if you want to guarantee problem-free arrival at the border, book a return air ticket in advance. Your passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of entry.
Time of the trip
Less than 15 days
This section only applies to nationalities that are entitled to 15-day visa exemption. If your trip lasts less than 15 days, you will receive a stamp on your passport indicating the end day of your authorized stay. For example, if you enter Vietnam on October 1, you will receive an exit seal on October 15, which means you have to leave Vietnam on this day. The important thing to remember is that under the new visa regulations, you have 30 days of standby time after every 15-day visa exemption. This means you have to stay a month outside Vietnam before using the visa exemption again. If you want to return to Vietnam before this period, you must apply for a visa.
A 15-day visa exemption is also available when traveling to Vietnam on land. I’ve heard some stories about immigration officials requiring a visa without reasons at a land border. If you face this situation, you should not give up but ask to clarify the situation. Usually, this is not a problem.
15 days to 3 months
You can get a tourist visa for 1 month or 3 months in Vietnam. The same registration process applies for both periods. In addition, the price difference between these two visas is not significant. If there is any reason that your trip can be prolonged to more 1 month, you should buy a visa for three months!
You can choose between single-entry visa and multiple-entry one, the latter will be more expensive the one-time entry visa. If you do plan to travel around Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, you should choose a multiple-entry visa.
You will select a valid starting date at the time of visa purchase. You can enter Vietnam at any time between the first and last validity date of the visa .
How do I travel to Vietnam?
You can get an online tourist visa to Vietnam like ” Visa On Arrival” or one at the Vietnamese embassy in your country or abroad. Many travel agencies also offer visa service for a small fee .
Fly to an international airport
If you will fly to one of the international airports in Vietnam, you can use “Visa On Arrival” or embassy visa . International airports in Vietnam are Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang airport in Da Nang, Cam Ranh airport in Nha Trang and Cat Bi airport in Hai Phong. Compared to other choices, buying online “Visa On Arrival” – the electronic visa is the simplest, quick and cheapest way. So this is my recommended option to apply for a Vietnamese visa. The only downside to ” Visa On Arrival ” is that you have to queue up at the airport (for procedures and stamp fees) while the embassy visa is ready to use immediately.
There are many online Vietnamese visa websites such as vietnamvisa.org.vn, getvisavietnam.com, vietnamvisa.pro … but VietnamVisaAgency.com is a reasonable choice with a good reputation. I have not got a visa from this website, however, this is according to ratings on the company’s Facebook page, good reviews on Tripadvisor of those having used their service. While getting online visa, you have to pay the service fee depending on your visa type. Processing time is usually 2 days, but you can also do it faster by paying an extra fee to use expedited service within 4 hours or 8 hours.
Once your visa has been processed, you will receive a letter of acceptance to your email, then only have to print it out. When arriving at an airport in Vietnam, as you pay the fee for visa stamp and show your visa approval letter to immigration officials, you will get your visa and ready to start your exciting trip in Vietnam. For a single month visa, online service costs $18 and airport stamp fee costa $25, so the total charge is $43 . You can see the full price list here.
Travel by land, sea or air
If you travel to Vietnam by land (by coach), on the sea (by cruise) you cannot use “Visa On Arrival” but have to apply for a visa at the embassy.
When I first arrived in Vietnam, I flew from South Korea to Hai Phong. Because I stayed here less than two weeks, I did not need a visa at that time. The next time, I stayed longer in Vietnam and traveled on land so I applied for three-month period Vietnamese visa at the Embassy in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This type of visa costs $ 55 each. You can also get a Vietnamese visa in many other Asian countries. Besides the embassies, travel agencies, air ticket offices also offer visa service.
If you are planning a long trip to Asia, and if Vietnam is not the first country you come, I recommend getting a visa on the go. It may be cheaper in Asian countries and also allows you more flexibility. Travel plans tend to change constantly when you are already on the go. If you already buy a visa for a long time before, you may regret later.
In summary, I must say even though getting a visa for the first time seems complicated, it’s not really difficult. Regardless of the visa you need, the most important thing is to process your visa as soon as possible before your trip. Oh, and one more thing: let’s travel to Vietnam! It is a great country with warm-hearted people and affordable cost.