Vietnam

Basic Facts

 

  • Vietnam is a thin and long country that borders China in the south.

 

  • This country is a one-party authoritarian state, and is the home of 85 million people.

 

  • The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. Its words have been heavily influenced by Chinese languages.

 

  • Most people learn English in school, but their proficiency is generally poor.

 

  • Prices are widely advertised in US dollars, but payment is often expected in dong only.

 

  • The main productions in the country are oil, tea, coffee and rubber.

 

  • Tipping is not expected in Vietnam, with exception of high end hotels.

 

  • 85% of people identify themselves as Buddhists.

Reasons to Visit

 

  • Beautiful clear waters – You can find clean water and coral reefs for swimming and diving in the south of Vietnam.

 

  • Amazing food – one of the most popular attractions of Vietnam! The most wanted food in Vietnam is Pho, which is made of noodles with a spicy and fragrant smell. The Vietnamese iced coffee (Cà phê sữa đá) is also a very popular drink among locals and tourists. This drink is made with coarsely ground dark roast coffee individually brewed with a small metal French drip filter called a cà phê phin. The coffee then takes it time slowly releasing drops of hot coffee into a cup filled up with a couple tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk. Once the brewing is ready it is mixed with the condensed milk.

 

  • Legendary wildlife – Some species found here include the Gibbon, the Asian Elephant, the Bengal monitor and the Green sea turtle.

Life in Vietnam

 

Vietnam’s history is based on colonization and war. It was invaded by China more than 4 times, and the Vietnamese people were able to defend their borders. This country was damaged and divided by civil wars for thousands of years by different peoples such as the Mongols or even the Americans.

 

Vietnam's last emperors were the Nguyễn Dynasty, who ruled from 1802 to 1945. In spite of this, France used the succession crisis of 1884 to de facto colonise Vietnam. The Chinese occupation and French colonization have both affected Vietnamese culture. Confucianism formed the basis of Vietnamese social customs, and the French heavily influenced Vietnamese cuisine.

 

Despite it all, Vietnamese culture is still very different from Chinese culture as it has also adopted elements from neighboring Hindu civilizations such as the Champa and the Khmer empires. The French influence has also left some traces in Vietnamese society. It is popular to see baguettes and coffee in local communities.

 

Our programs in Vietnam allow our volunteers to live and participate in the natives’ daily lives and activities, while helping the ones in need achieve a better quality of life. Our projects focus on the local people and their specific needs. We work along with locals, so you can be sure that your work will help them directly. Volunteering is about giving and receiving, and we want to make sure you have an amazing and enriching experience.

 

 

Top Destinations

 

  • Hoi An – Visit this enchanting water city!

 

  • Phong Nha-ke Bang National Park – Watch the oldest karst mountains in Asia, in this UNESCO World Heritage site!

 

  • Halong Bay – Designated a World Heritage site, this place is the heart of pure beauty.

 

  • Ho Chi Minh City – An exciting place to visit monuments, palaces, cathedrals and more!

 

Passport/visa requirements

 

E-visa

 

Citizens from 40 countries can apply for E-visa at  https://www.immigration.gov.vn or https://xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn (Azerbaijan, Argentina, Armenia, Ireland, Poland, Belarus, Bulgaria, Brunei, South Korea, Germany, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Cuba, Denmark, Timor Leste, the United States, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Myanmar, Mongolia, Japan, Panama, Peru, Finland, France, the Philippines, Romania, Spain, Sweden, China (not applicable for Chinese e-passport holders), Uruguay, Venezuela, Norway, and Slovakia).

Visa on arrival

 

This type of visa is available only for visitors coming through Air travel. The term “visa on arrival” in this case is slightly misleading, as visitors need to obtain a letter of approval before arrival. This is processed by many on-line paid agencies. Most agencies accept payment by credit card, and some accept Western Union or Paypal. You also have to bring a photo and pay a stamp fee at the airport after arrival.

 

The visa on arrival fees 2015-2016

 

  • One month – single entry USD25
  • One month – multiple entry USD50
  • Three months – single entry costs the same with one month single entry
  • Three months – multiple entry USD50
  • Six months – multiple entry USD135

 

Money/Currency

 

  • The local currency is the Dong (VND), and its value currently fluctuates around 22.500 VND per 1 USD (Early 2017). It is difficult to exchange this currency outside Vietnam, so change money on arrival and try to get rid of any leftovers before you leave the country.

 

Healthcare

 

Tap water is not safe in this country. Bottled water will always be the best option. You also need to be careful about ice in drinks; factory-made ice is generally safe, but be wary of anything else, especially in rural areas.

 

Tropical diseases such as malaria, dengue or Japanese encephalitis are endemic in rural Vietnam. Malaria is not a huge concern in the bigger cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, but ensure that you bring your mosquito liquid repellent with you. Thanks to much improved hygiene conditions in recent years, cooked food sold by street vendors and in restaurants, including blended ice drinks, are mostly safe. Just pay attention to the sources of the food you eat, and you will be fine.

 

The quality and availability of healthcare is particularly poor in rural areas, and in a few parts of the country it is impossible to access healthcare. Medical personnel working at public hospitals will generally only speak Vietnamese. However, private hospitals in Vietnam are generally excellent. These hospitals tend to address the needs of expats and accept international health insurances.

 

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