Viet Nam Guide (1) – Visa and Getting there

This is the beginning of the story of how Vietnam became my favorite country out of the 29 countries I had visited. It also is a guide for tips and trick, things to do, places to see and food to eat in 2 weeks of time.

  1. Visa

If your are traveling around South East Asia you might expect that you can get your visa at the border or airport as in other countries, such as Thailand or Cambodia.  However, this is not the case for Vietnam.

For Vietnam you need to apply to your Visa beforehead, there is no possibility to get a Visa once you are at the border or the airport. However, getting a Visa for Viet Nam is extremely easy. In the Lonely Planet but also other guides they tell you to go to the embassies for example in Phnom Penh in case you are coming from Cambodia. In the lonely planet it is stated that the porcedure takes around 3 days.

So our experience with this was totally different. Every hostel or hotel offers you to take care of your tourist visa for Viet Nam. Me, as someone holding a German passport, I was allowed to enter Viet Nam without a Visa and stay for 15 days. My friend holding a dutch passport had to get one. So arriving in Siem Reap Cambodia in our first hostel, we were very much surprised that the hostel could arrange visa, even for the same fee as in the embassy in Phnom Penh. The passport will be picked up by someone at the hostel and within 24 hours the passmort including the visa inside you passport would be returned. I cannot think about any more convenient way to apply for a visa. So my tip would be: do not make the effort to go to the embassy and waste 3 days in Phnom Penh.

2.  Getting there

We entered Viet Nam from Sihanoukville by mini van. Arranging a transfer to Viet Nam (almost any city you want to go to in the South of Vietnam) is very easy. All wound Sihanoukville there are shops where people sell tickets for bus drives and mini van drives. The prices do not vary much between the shops  offering those trips. From Sihanoukville to Can Tho we paid 21 dollars each. A minivan picked us up at the hostel we were staying helped us at the border and took as to Ha Tien a city just behind the border. There we had to wait 40 minutes until the public bus departured to Can Tho. And the public bus was totally unexpected to us. We had asked the people in sihanoukville around 10 times if the transportation was by mini van only and if it was until Can Tho and everyone assured us that is was. So yeah, you should not trust anyone in Cambodia (this we had learnt so many times).

Even though we war kind of disappointed, I have to admit that I enjoyed the publich transport as this is a way of getting the know locals and doing it like locals.

When we arrived in Can Tho we noticed something we werent aware of. In Viet Nam there are no tuktuks. All transportation goes via scooters and motorcycle. So you sit on the back of a motorcycle taxi, your backpack is in front of the driver between his legs, and off you go! After 15 minutes of near death experiences we arrived at the hotel in Can Tho.

Welcome to Viet Nam (Independence day, Sep 2nd)
Me on the back of a motorcycle taxi

Watch out: Those motorcycle taxis as you too much money for the ride! Do not forget to bargain!!


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