For all Canadians, you are required to have a Tourist Visa to enter Vietnam. You can get a visa from an embassy nearby or you can apply for a pre-approved visa on arrival through several online websites by filling out their forms and paying a small service fee. We used http://www.myvietnamvisa.com which was fairly easy and painless. Fill out the visa forms, you can pay the fee with a credit card and they will send you an email with further instructions. Remember to bring 2 passport photos, your approval letter and your arrival form filled out. Don’t forget USD cash as they do not accept debit/credit at the airport.
Cost for Visa (2013)
45 USD for single 1 month/3 month
65 USD for Multiple 1 month
95 USD for multiple 3 month
There is a small waiting area where you line up and wait for your turn to hand in all your paperwork and pay the fee. I saw a few people get visa’s on arrival and take pictures there, but it seemed to have taken quiet a bit of time to get processed.
Arriving at the Tan Son Nhat Airport
Once your get your visa stamped and you’ve picked up your bags, you will be walking towards the exit probably looking for an ATM or Currency Exchange. They can be found right at the exit before you leave the airport. Unfortunately none of the ATM’s worked and so we changed $100 USD at a terrible rate just to get ourselves enough cash to get into town.
Once you leave the airport terminal, there is a line of legit taxis with very reasonable flat rate prices to certain areas of the city. It was around $8 – $14 depending on the zone you were traveling too. It was very easy and convenient with very little hassle directly to our hotel doorstep. The taxi drivers were very kind and efficient, a very different scenario compared to other airports I’ve been too.
Hotel and Tourist Areas
While we were in Ho Chi Minh, we stayed at the Ngoc Linh Hotel in Pham Ngu Lao street. After researching several different options in the area, this was the best bang for buck budget hotel in the area with the best ratings. The room was very simple but clean, had a private bathroom and A/C for only $23USD. It was definitely worth it and we would stay again. The guy at the desk was full of useful information and very helpful answering our questions. He also helped us book our bus tickets. The Ngoc Linh Hotel is on a tiny side street packed with other hostels and restaurants. It is also very close to another busy street with a great variety of restaurants, shopping and several booking agencies. It was very easy to find affordable food, bus tickets, ATM machines and information about tours.