(Frequently Asked Questions) and Answers
Food and Drink
Q. Can I use a credit card to get cash in Vietnam?
A. Yes, but it gets more difficult the further you are from the
cities. Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other centres have ATMs that
accept the main cards, but only dispense local currency. Be warned
that all credit card transactions in Vietnam are subject to a 3%
surcharge (3.9% for Amex).
Q. Can I pay by credit card in Vietnam?
A. Yes, but only in a few places. In cities, large hotels, international
restaurants and some souvenir shops take Visa or MasterCard, but
it is not wise to rely upon it as a method of payment.
Q. What about travellers’ cheques?
A. Travellers’ cheques and cash in any international currency can
be changed at all major banks. Some hotels will accept travellers’
Q. What are the levels of commission for changing
money in Vietnam?
A. All credit card transactions in Vietnam are subject to a surcharge.
Charges for other transactions vary: we will supply full details
on request. There is no commission on excanging ‘hard’ currency.
Q. Where can I change my currency for local currency?
A. At the airport, in banks, or in shops licensed to sell gold -
exchange rates are very similar. Steer clear of street moneychangers
- the exchange rate will be no better, and being given forged notes
is a risk.
Q. What if I have a lot of local currency left over
when I leave?
A. You can change local currency back to the currency you entered
with by showing the yellow customs slip that you were given on arrival.
The amount you take out must be less than the original amount you
Q. What is the main difference in the climate of Vietnam and that
of my country?
A. Vietnam is both hot and humid. Combined, they make visitors from
temperate countries sweat profusely. Drinking plenty of water and
good sun protection is essential. Winter in Hanoi (January to March)
and the rest of the northern area can be be cold. The chilling effect
is made worse by a damp, clammy atmosphere.
Q. What can I do about jet lag?
A. Not much, really. A stop-over en-route, or a rest day on arrival
helps. It’s important to try to sleep and wake according to local
time, even on the aeroplane.
Q. What will happen if there is an
A. With Haivenu, your guide will always have a mobile ‘phone and
a means of summoning immediate assistance. You will also have direct
telephone access to Haivenu Head office.
Q. How will medical emergencies be
A. You will be taken to the nearest international clinic or hospital
for an immediate examination and appropriate treatment according
to the terms of your insurance.
Q. What if I am hospitalised or become
A. If you have supplied us with the details of your insurance, we
will contact the company on your behalf and assist in any way we
Q. What should we do about malaria?
A. We are not medical experts, so we cannot advise you. However,
if you wish, we will ask a trustworthy local international medical
practice to provide an up-to-date report and recommendations.
Q. Can I travel freely in Vietnam?
A. Up to a point. A few areas are closed for security reasons, and
others require a permit. If you travel with Haivenu, we will complete
all necessary paperwork and permission procedures on your behalf.
Q. Can I ride a motorbike in Vietnam?
A. Officially, not without a Vietnamese license. An international
licence is not acceptable as a substitute. The police generally
turn a blind eye to foreigners, but not always!
Q. Can I hire a motorbike?
A. Yes, easily. However, few come with official papers, which can
result in an on-the-spot fine. As they are not insured, you will
be liable to pay for any damage or theft.
Q. Is it safe to ride a motorcycle
A. The short answer is no! 80% of the 20,000 or so serious traffic
accidents per year in Vietnam are caused by, or involve, motorcyclists.
Roads are bad, and regulations are often ignored.
Q. Can I get a license to drive in
A. Not easily. An international driving licence can be converted,
but the document must be translated and notarised, a protracted
Q. Can I drive a car in Vietnam?
A. With a Vietnamese licence, or a converted international licence,
yes. However, there are no car rental agencies. Advertisements for
car rental mean a car and a driver.
Food and Drink
Q. I am restricted to a special diet. How will I cope in Vietnam?
A. If travel with Haivenu, and give us details of your diet, we
will instruct all the hotels and restaurants in the itinerary to
provide the correct food. Your guide will also be fully briefed.
Q. I am a vegetarian. What are the
options for me?
A. Despite being a Buddhist country, Vietnam is short of vegetarian
restaurants. However, there are a few in the larger cities, and
it’s quite easy to find good vegetable meals. The fruit is excellent!
Q. Can I make changes to my itinerary after I arrive?
A. Yes, as long as it’s possible. We will give you a quotation and
issue a receipt or refund as appropriate. We consider minor changes
involving minimal or no costs as part of the service and make no
charge in such circumstances.
Q. Are there any restrictions on photography
A. Yes. Photography in or near military installations, airports
or similar locations is prohibited. Anyone caught doing taking photographs
in restricted areas will have the film, and possibly the camera
or camcorder, confiscated, and may be arrested.
Q. Can I buy antiques in Vietnam?
A. A qualified yes, providing it is less than a hundred years old.
However, exporting an artefact that was made within the last century
is not straightforward. There are experts on hand at the airport
to verify the age of antiques, but the quality of fakes is very
high, so anything that looks old is liable to be confiscated.
Q. How can I take large items home
with me – furniture or paintings, for example?
A. We are also registered for export and import activities. We will
give you an ‘at cost’ quotation, and arrange for the items to be
properly crated, licensed for export, and shipped or flown to your
Q. Are there Internet facilities in
A. Yes, there are plenty in cities and large towns, but not in rural
areas. Most large hotels have internet access, and Internet cafes
are commonplace and cheap.
Q. The artist you took me to was wonderful.
I want to give him a present. Any ideas?
A. This is a common query. If you want to show your appreciation
to someone in the form of a gift, we will try to suggest something
appropriate, and even purchase and deliver it on your behalf, if
Q. I am from the United States. Will
I face any hostility because of the war?
A. You will be surprised by the warmth of your reception. We Vietnamese
live in the present and look forward to the future – the war is
history. We warmly welcome people from all countries and races.
Q. What is the attitude towards drugs
A. The law is strict in Vietnam. The use of illegal narcotics is
strictly forbidden under any circumstances. Dealers and people caught
trafficking, whether Vietnamese or foreigner, face execution. Don't
be tempted to risk it!