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Top Vietnam Hotels


Vietnam For many people Vietnam conjures up nightmarish images of combat helicopters, napalm explosions and intolerable suffering. The terrible Vietnam War was one of the great tragedies of the 20th century for all involved. The war ended in 1975 but the sad legacy still lives on in the shape of physical and mental scars. But despite everything the Vietnamese went through, visitors will find them to be a remarkably optimistic and hospitable people with the little or no animosity towards foreigners. The smiles and grace of the Vietnamese are among the most lasting impressions of this beautiful country. This patriotic nation's history of fierce resistance goes back a lot further than its battle with the United States. Before ousting the American, the Vietnamese repelled French colonial forces and before that, crowbarred out their Chinese rulers, not to mention seeing off the terrifying Mongol hordes. Having spent a good millennium under the Chinese, the Middle Kingdom's influences have been heavily absorbed and are still very tangible. Much of the culture and historic architecture have strong Chinese foundations. European expansion saw the French colonising Vietnam for a century, ultimately leaving behind a splendidly romantic Gallic footprint. The Americans were to crank up the power struggle that followed the French exit, and the subsequent division of the country into north and south led to war tearing through the region and years of devastation. Revered national hero Ho Chi Minh would lead an ultimately successful effort to reunite the land under communist rule. A landmark offensive took place during the most celebrated national holiday, Tet, the Lunar New Year. During Tet just about everything stops and it is not the best time to enjoy Vietnam. Weather may also play a part in deciding when to go if you have a particular destination in mind. This is a long gangly country straddling 30 degrees of latitude, and tucked just under the Tropic of Cancer. The climate therefore varies notably from north to south. Northern areas experience monsoons from May to September while the south basks in a typically tropical climate, although it is driest from December through April. With this see-saw of good and bad weather, generally speaking the country is accessible all year round - but be warned, it is prone to sudden and dramatic flooding, especially in the lowlands and river delta regions. The most attractive section of the capital Hanoi is the charming French Quarter complete with flaking old building with delightful decaying shutters. Hanoi also boasts some proud and opulent efforts such as the exquisite Presidential Palace. The conservative city is usually slow to adapt, however it offers an excellent combination of history and cuisine as well as a more gentle insight into Vietnam developing in the 21st century. Vietnam's narrow central regions have three sites protected by UNESCO for their heritage. The little town of Hoi An is a unique pocket of old French streets especially charming by night when gently lit by colourful lanterns. Beyond Hue's city walls the wooded environs contain dozens of imperial tombs. My Son, a little deeper into the interior, is a crumbling remnant of the fallen Cham civilization a pale shadow of the traditional Vietnamese enemy, the neighbouring Khmers. Back up north is the poetic rocky limestone outcrops of Halong Bay, another site protected by UNESCO, this time for its stunning natural beauty. The country has often been polarized into north and south and to balance Hanoi is wild and energetic Ho Chi Minh City, previously known as Saigon. Vietnam's largest city and economic powerhouse, the city has traditionally been viewed as a bit of rebel by Vietnam's frowning rulers and is certainly that today. The male of the species may have a job fending off unwanted female attentions and vice is rampant. Ho Chi Minh City also has some potent reminders of its recent troubles. Powerful war museums are grippingly absorbing and the infamous Cu Chi tunnel network is within easy day tripping reach. The infrastructure has quite a way to go and flying is the only practical mode of transport for long distances, unless you have plenty of time and buttocks of steel. It must be said though that Vietnamese hotels are improving rapidly. The industry is currently a blend of boring government hotels, average hotels that tried and rather failed to be a bit fancy, and several new additions that can certainly mix it with Asia's best. The amiable Vietnamese character ensures that service is generally a delight although there are spluttering language and efficiency issues at times. More...

Visas

All foreign nationals visiting Vietnam require a visa and this should be obtained prior to arrival from a Vietnamese Embassy, Consulate or a travel agent. The visa takes around five working days to process and once issued, you must enter the country within 90 days. Tourist visas are available on a single or multiple entry basis and there is also a business visa for frequent travellers to Vietnam (although a letter of invitation from a recognised Vietnamese company will be required). Ensure that the correct entry and exit points are entered on the visa as these tend to be strictly enforced - especially when using overland border crossings. If the visa is issued as a loose piece of paper make photocopies and keep these separate from your passport. This will save you extra hassle and a lot of time and expense should you lose the visa while in Vietnam.

Customs

Entry into Vietnam can be extremely bureaucratic; lots of forms to fill in and pieces of paper to keep. Make copies and take great care of all customs forms issued on arrival, as these must be presented upon departure. If the paperwork cannot be produced, you may be fined and it all becomes very time consuming. Keep all Foreign Exchange Certificates and receipts for goods purchased in Vietnam. In order to bring items such as electronic goods, laptops and cameras into the country you must write down the details for customs - so note these before arrival to save time and paperwork. Be aware that customs officers may wish to view videotapes. Foreign currency in excess of US$3,000 must be declared on arrival and no more than VND5,000,000 can be imported/exported.

Visitors are allowed to take the following into Vietnam duty free:

  • Alcohol - 1 litre of alcohol
  • Tobacco- 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco

Restrictions are placed on antiques being exported from the country and current information should be confirmed with a local Vietnamese Embassy.

Penalties for carrying or trafficking illegal drugs are severe, ranging from long prison sentences to the death penalty.

Time

Vietnamese time: GMT + 7

Currency

  • Dong (VND or d) - Check current exchange rates
  • Notes issued -VND50,000, VND20,000, VND10,000, VND5,000, VND2,000, VND1,000, VND500, VND200, VND100
  • No coins are issued

The government is trying to enforce a policy where all business transactions in Vietnam are carried out in VND. Certain establishments are officially licensed to trade in US$ (some hotels, travel agents and a small number of businesses) but despite the fact that it is officially illegal for other businesses, the reality is that the dollar is widely accepted. In actual fact, paying for items in VND generally gets you a better deal than the rate given for US$.

Language

The official language is Vietnamese; however French, English, Russian and Chinese are spoken to varying degrees in different parts of the country. Some English tends to be spoken in most tourist areas and is actually now taught as the second language in Vietnamese schools - local people are often keen to practice their English.

Tipping

Tipping is not expected but definitely appreciated. Some of the more expensive restaurants add 10-15%. About US$ 0.50 - US$1 is considered acceptable for a chambermaid or porter.

Banking Hours

Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 11.30 am and 1.00 pm to 4.30 pm

Telephone

The international dialling code for Vietnam is + 84

When making international telephone calls from Vietnam first dial 00 + country code + area code + telephone number

Local Telephone Codes

Bin Thuen 062
Da Lat 063
Danang 051
Ha Long Bay 033
Hai Phong 031
Hanoi 04
Ho Chi Minh 08
Hoi An 051
Hue 054
Nha Trang 058

Electricity

Mostly 220 V AC, 50 cycles, however some places still use 110V. Be aware that the current can be uneven so appliances may not perform very reliably, even with adapters. In the south, sockets tend to be for American style flat 2 pin plugs, while the north mainly uses Russian style round 2 pin plugs.

Water

Avoid using ice cubes and stick to (sealed) bottled water, as even in the cities the chlorinated tap water still needs boiling for up to 20 minutes to kill any bacteria.

Health

There are reasonably good medical services in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh but away from these major cities, medical services can be poor and comprehensive health insurance covering evacuation is recommended. Think seriously about being inoculated against hepatitis A, polio and typhoid; consider Japanese encephalitis, pre-exposure rabies vaccination and anti-malarials. The major cities and coastal areas are considered low risk for malaria but elsewhere it is best to be vigilant. Be sure that you have decided your itinerary when discussing health requirements with your doctor prior to the trip. It is essential that you check the current situation with regard to all potential health hazards and any vaccination requirements.

International Airports

  • Danang
  • Hanoi - Noi Bai
  • Ho Chi Minh - Tan Son Nhat

International Airport Departure Tax

US$10 (payable in US$ or VND)

Domestic Airports

All international airports mentioned above plus the following:

  • Bao Loc
  • Buon Me Thuot
  • Can Tho
  • Da Nang
  • Dalat
  • Dien Bien Phu
  • Haiphong
  • Hue
  • Nha Trang
  • Plei Ku
  • Qui Nhon
  • Rach Gia
  • Vinh

Domestic Airport Departure Tax

From VND15,000 to VND20,000 depending on airport

Etiquette/Dress Code

In recent years young Vietnamese have enthusiastically embraced Western fashions and culture but away from the beach revealing clothes are still considered quite shocking and disrespectful. Modest dress is recommended in Vietnam - avoid short skirts, shorts and sleeveless clothing. Dress even more respectably when visiting temples and churches ensuring that shoulders and legs are covered.

Diplomatic Missions

A number of countries have representative offices and consulates in both Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi.

Useful Sources of Information

Further information on Vietnamese culture and tourist attractions.

  • Vietnam Now travel information

Weather

Being over 1,600km long, Vietnam experiences some distinct climatic variations.

  • Northern Vietnam - has two distinct seasons - hot and wet summers and cool and dry winters.
  • Central Vietnam - coastal areas are more temperate than the sticky south (although they do experience high rainfall), while the Central Highlands are pleasantly cooler.
  • Southern Vietnam - is fairly consistently hot and humid all year round.

Carry a lightweight jumper as it can be chillingly cold inside air-conditioned buildings during summer.

North Vietnam

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Summer (May - October) 24 - 33°C 238mm
Winter (November - April) 16 - 23°C 41mm

Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hai Phong

North Vietnam has two main seasons - the hot and rainy summer and the cool and dry winter.

  • Summer - is hot and humid, especially inland, which is not touched by cool coastal breezes. Tropical rain showers and the occasional typhoon are also possibilities - light clothes and an umbrella are recommended.
  • Winter - It remains fairly dry up until late February/March, when it starts to drizzle almost constantly and waterproofs become a necessity. Warm clothes are a must during the cool months, especially when travelling in the hill areas.

Although temperatures can drop unexpectedly between December and February, it can be a good time to explore the sights as days are cool and rainfall is limited. It is also a safer time to visit the hill tribe region avoiding mosquito related problems - although temperatures can fall to freezing in these elevated areas.

Best time to visit: During winter when rainfall is minimal and temperatures are not too low.

Central Vietnam - Lowlands and Highlands

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Summer (May - October) 23 - 24°C 210mm
Winter (November - April) 17 - 23°C 95mm

Dalat, Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang

The central belt of Vietnam comprises the lowlands and the highlands. The weather is fairly similar across both, although the highlands tend to be slightly cooler with higher rainfall as the majority of rain normally falls on the mountains before arriving at the low coastal areas.

Lowlands

  • Summer - the weather is warm and reasonably dry from May to September. The monsoon winds then change bringing above average rain during late September. This time is not very pleasant as it can rain constantly - there is a high probability of flooding, visibility is poor and typhoons are also a possibility.

Best time to visit: During the winter between February and April, when rainfall is low and temperatures are warm.

Highlands

Winter temperatures can fall slightly below the average and rainfall is higher than at lower elevations. However, most rain tends to fall during the summer months when it can be very wet - although these summer months do provide a respite from the often intense heat of other areas.

Light cotton clothes are required, although a few warm layers are necessary throughout the year as temperatures can drop away, especially at night. Waterproofs are also a good idea as rain can fall at anytime of the year.

Best time to visit: winter days are pleasantly warm and rainfall is lower from November to March - nights can be chilly.

Southern Vietnam & Mekong Delta

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Summer (May - November) 24 - 31°C 265mm
Winter (December - April) 22 - 33°C 25mm

Ho Chi Minh, Bin Thuen, Mekong Delta

Sitting below the line of the equator, this area maintains a tropical climate throughout the year.

Light clothes are required all year round and an umbrella would be very useful.

  • Summer - is hot, humid and rainy but heavy downpours are usually short lived.
  • Winter - remains hot and humid, although humidity levels are more bearable between December and February. During April and May the southwest monsoon winds bring rain showers to the Mekong Delta and southern Vietnam.

Best time to visit: Temperatures are not as extreme from September to February as they can be during March and April when the heat is fierce.

Featured Vietnam Hotels

3 stars
De Syloia Hotel Hanoi

De Syloia Hotel Hanoi

City, Vietnam

Location Positioned right in the heart of the City, De Syloia Hotel is located at 17A... More...

 
35 stars
Bong Sen Hotel Saigon

Bong Sen Hotel Saigon

District 1, Vietnam

Location Strategically located on hustling Dong Khoi street, this hotel is close to... More...

 
5 stars
Rex Hotel Ho Chi Minh City

Rex Hotel Ho Chi Minh City

District 1, Vietnam

Location Located in the heart of the Ho Chi Minh City, the Rex Hotel is one of the... More...

 
5 stars
New World Hotel Saigon

New World Hotel Saigon

District 1, Vietnam

Location Perfectly located in city of Ho Chi Minh, New World Hotel offers easy access... More...

 
4 stars
Oscar Saigon Hotel Ho Chi Minh City

Oscar Saigon Hotel Ho Chi Minh City

District 1, Vietnam

Location The Oscar Saigon is located at 68A Nguyen Hue Avenue. It offers tours to... More...

 
4 stars
Hoi An Riverside Resort & Spa

Hoi An Riverside Resort & Spa

City, Vietnam

Location Located on the Cua Dai Road in the city of Hoi An and alongside the banks of... More...

 
4 stars
Saigon Morin Hotel Hue

Saigon Morin Hotel Hue

City, Vietnam

Location The hotel is located in the heart of Hue offering rooftop views of the... More...

 
2 stars
Empress Hotel Ho Chi Minh City

Empress Hotel Ho Chi Minh City

District 1, Vietnam

Location Conveniently located in District 1, Empress Hotel Ho Chi Minh City is just a... More...

 
5 stars
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel

Hoan Kiem District, Vietnam

Location Located in the heart of downtown, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel... More...

 
5 stars
Caravelle Hotel Ho Chi Minh City

Caravelle Hotel Ho Chi Minh City

District 1, Vietnam

Location Centrally located in the midst of Ho Chi Minh City's business, shopping... More...

 

Vietnam Travellers Tales

mike crowell
8/17/2005

I would recommend renting a motorbike (ask for a scooter, they are automatic and easy to drive). The thought might seem somewhat daunting to the visitor, but it really is a great way to see the town. It is also exhilarating. The town really comes alive in the afternoon and evening with everybody "cruising" the main strip. It is fun to be a part of it.


darryl babor
8/15/2005

Perhaps not the best time to travel to HCMC. Most of the time, it rained during my stay. I had to cancel my intended trip to the Mekong Delta as the weather was not compatible. Lesson learned: always be familiar with the local weather details before embarking on a trip to a foreign land.


dennis smith
8/11/2005
Stayed at:

People at the market stalls were great as were the people generally - we will visit Vietnam again for sure. The mekong delta was great fun - do that trip but watch out for the rain - it''s amazing but very heavy - buy the cheap poncho US army style macs at the American Market. The war museum is an eye opener and worth a visit - it''s smaller than I thought it would be but to the point. The cu chi tunnels were good - have a shot of an AK47 - it''s pretty cheap and well worth 10 shots. Go the the restaurant opposite the old imperial palace - the busy one not the posh looking one - its cheap and fabulous! Taxis are the way to go - cheap and good - and get a metered one from the airport - not one you are solicited for - they rip you off.


andrew gyure
8/8/2005

Do yourself a favor and attend the evening traditional Vietnamese musical concert and fashion show at SI HOANG, a tea salon located on the street just behind Saigon''s famous City Hall building. For only $15.00 US per person, you get to sample gourmet teas and snacks while hearing talented musicians play extremely rare instruments (like a unique stone xylophone and beautiful violin made out of a stalk of bamboo) and seeing professional models wearing ancient Vietnamese textiles in intimate, charming, and very atmospheric surroundings. Best of all, it is not cheesy or touristy like a lot of things in Vietnam can be. CAN''T RECOMMEND THIS ENOUGH!<br> <br> For dinner I highly recommend Luong Son Quan. I like to eat where the locals do--off the beaten track from the tourist circuit, and you won''t find any foreigners here, just really well prepared Vietnamese cuisine that is delicious and very safe. Their specialty is a wonderful marinated beef that you grill yourself on a handy table top charcoal grill, accompanied by a nice mustard sauce. For the more adventurous diner, there are also many exotic dishes like deep fried scorpion or grilled field rat! Best (cheapest) way to get around Saigon is by motorbike or cyclo (bicycle pedaled rickshaw) but BE SURE TO AGREE ON A PRICE BEFORE YOU EMBARK! Same goes for taxi cabs - most of them in Saigon don''t seem to be metered!


zoe kelly
8/1/2005

We visited the war remants museum, one sided but still very eye-opening, the Bin Tanh market - crazy busy but great bargains and all around the Dhong Khoi area is great shopping. Lemon Grass restaurant (just off Dhong Khoi St) had some lovely Vietnamese food and we ate in Camargue and Le Jardin French restaurants, the former somewhat more expensive but amazing food and setting. Also worth a look is the Fine Arts Museum, set in a beautiful building (French style) and if you go down the corridors and not just the main rooms, there is a wealth of ornaments and paintings to be seen. A find are the 2 galleries selling art at the bottom of this museum.


dr barry mason
8/1/2005
Stayed at:

Highlights of the trip, for me, were: the Water Puppet Theatre - just incredible; the Museum of the Revolution (a couple of minutes from the hotel) and the Museum of Ethnology. I was very touched by the people who I found very warm and helpful. I learnt to speak a few words of Vietnamese - the most important being ''thank you''. As in most countries people really appreciate it when you try to speak some of the language. And for visitors from wealthy countries don''t moan if you (and it''s very occasional - much worse in most western countries) get overcharged by the odd taxi driver. It will probably cost you a dollar. The average weekly wage is not high so tip generously.


goh siew kek
7/28/2005
Stayed at:

Halong bay is a must to go in Hanoi. Those not prepared to climb and sun under the hot sun, please do not go to Perfume Pagoda. No safety measures for the sampan ride to the Perfume Pagoda. Plenty of local tour agencies. No problem to move around.


leonard lipovich
7/11/2005

Street merchants in Saigon are unwilling to bargain despite there not being many tourists around. For best-priced food and souvenirs try the Pha Nga Lao area near the Sahara Bar. Some taxis have doctored meters showing absurd amounts to fool tourists -- problem easily resolved by getting the doorman or greeter at your destination to talk to the driver, though. Don''t miss the Cu Chi Tunnels daytrip and the War Remnants Museum. Beware of limited direction signs and lack of spoken English throughout the city.


fiona hau
7/3/2005
Stayed at:

Recommended restaurants: Pho Thin - excellent pho bo; Pho 24 - good pho bo in a cleaner location; Cha Ca La Vong - fried fish in turmeric spiced oil with fresh mint, dill and spring onion; Fanny - for home made french ice cream; Bobby Chin and Wild Rice - if you are looking for chic restaurants. Food does not beat what you get on the street though. Coffee shops in Hang Hanh - excellent local coffee.


desiderius watz
6/27/2005

As recommended in Lonely Planet, we went to the Old Quarter to find "Hanspan" at 116 Hang Bac, we didn''t pay enough attention and found out later that AZ Queen Cafe Tour is there at that address. We found out talking to other people on the two tours we booked that we paid about double than they did (I guess we looked richer and dumber). The Perfume Pagoda Tour should be avoided. A 2-hour van ride brings you to a river, there are flat-bottom boats with lady rowers are waiting. Four people per boat squat on 8 inch high, hard wood benches. For a cramped hour, you are rowed along the pretty river. You reach a dock and sellers of water, and everything else descend on you (same as when you got out of the van). It was very hot and we decided to only go to the lower pagoda, which was very nice. Others decided to go all the way and our guide said it was 2, then 4, then 4-5 kilometers up the hill and back. <br><br>The people that went to the "Perfume Pagoda" said it didn''t smell so nice and was not worth the effort. The worst part was our rower who shadowed us and continuosly told us "I have boat". On the row back she said "you give tip money, I''m very tired'' over and over. At the dock she said my tip "not enough". To top it off the guide, who was lousy by the way, told the group that we would all be dropped at the centrally located lake near the "Old Quarter", not our hotels. My back still hurts and is was one of the most unpleasant days we have spent. In contrast, our tour to Hai Long Bay was very good, with a good guide. One bad defect was the cabin on the junk we were to sleep in had an air conditioner that we had to pay $10 US to get turned on. The actual tour was given by APT Tours at 37 Dao Duy Tu Street in the Old Quarter. They seem OK. The "Hanoi Hilton", which is actually Hoa Lo Prison, should be visited, just take a cab. (Our 1/2 day Hanoi tour skipped it.) The Hoan Kiem Lake is very pleasant and there is a pagoda right on the lake. We also had great tasting Vietnamese ice coffee and hot coffee at Hapro cafe on the lake. (I''m spoiled now and the coffee back home tastes like water). If you want cheap eyeglasses or knockoff watches there are clusters of stores for that. Crossing streets without traffic lights is a little scary. Tons of motor bikes and guys trying to get you on their cyclo and you weave through the traffic. We would advise crossing with the natives at first to get the idea. Then pray.


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