There have been a number of anti-China protests in 2014 but this has died down. The Tropical cyclones affect the eastern coastal regions. The season normally runs from May to November and you need to remember this if you are coming to Vietnam on holiday. Like anywhere else if you do experience problems then contact the British Embassy in Vietnam for assistance.
With more than 100,000 British nationals visiting Vietnam each year there have been very few incidents of any problems. Many expats live in Vietnam and the embassy can assist with marriage registration or a British visa such as a fiancee visa or marriage visa if you are married to a British national.
The currency for Vietnam is the Vietnam Dong (VND), but US dollars are also accepted in Vietnam. You cannot however exchange VND for USD without an onward travel ticket while in Vietnam. This has been put in place to avoid a dual currency forming like it did in Zimbabwe and Zambia. There is also a Moneygram and a Western Union in Vietnam and you can find ATM’s in all the cities and tourist areas. Gold-shops don’t give you the correct exchange rates and you need to find an official currency counter for the correct rates. Credit cards are accepted but outside of the larger cities this is more difficult as cash is king.
Healthcare is very basic especially in the rural areas. The larger cities are adequate for minor injuries and you are best advised to obtain travel insurance before your trip in the event you need to be evacuated in an emergency. If you are on prescription medication then keep it in your bag with your prescription for the medicines. Certain drugs are difficult to obtain or are pirated drugs. Drink only brand name wines as there have been deaths from the methanol in rice wine in Vietnam. In 2014 Vietnam saw a rise in measles infections so ensure you are vaccinated. There has also been reports of dengue fever so stay away from the rural areas and from live birds. You have to dial 115 and ask for an ambulance in Vietnam.
You need a visa to enter Vietnam. You can obtain this from a Vietnamese Embassy such as the Vietnam Embassy in Bangkok if you are on an East Asian tour. Most travel agents or Backpacker lodges can arrange this for you. Note that you should not leave your passport aware or as a deposit for the hotel or apartment you are renting. They do however make a copy of your passport to register your stay with the local police.
Local laws and customs
Illegal drugs and sex offenses carry very heavy sentences. There are also restrictions on internet usage and important to note that foreigners are generally not allowed to invite Vietnamese nationals to their hotel rooms.
Safety and security
Crime is low as long as you use common sense. Back-snatching and pickpockets can be a problem. Thieves have in the past used razors to cut the straps or bottoms of bags of visitors. Violent attacks against tourists have been reported and also while on a motorbike taxi. Its always best not to travel alone at night and to book your hotel online before you arrive as many holiday disputes which turn violent are from accommodation problems or the effects of liquor. If you are involved in a traffic accident you could face criminal charges and you may need to pay compensation to the injured person even if the injuries are minor. Best advice is to obtain an organised tour to Vietnam to avoid all the most common problems.
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