One of the biggest hurdles of doing a foreign trip is getting a VISA. While for some countries, it is an easy process – for some countries it can be very strict. And being an Indian, we are not that privileged when it comes to Visa acceptance.
Thanks to Vietnam, the process is fairly simple. I was in Vietnam for 3 months. I had no plans what to do and where to go and where to stay and so I chose to take a longer visa which will give me ample amount of time to experiment. I was not sure if I will be able to do it or not – considering it was my first time doing a solo and that too an international trip – so I applied for a 3 months visa with the thought that if it was too hard for me, I can return in one month but if I love the place, I can just stay without planning much. And eventually I stayed there for 84 days. haha. I wasn’t even ready to leave the place.
So when it comes to Vietnam, the Visa process is simple. Everything can be done online and you don’t have to give any interviews to anyone. In brief – You apply in a certain website, get an approval letter from them along with a form. You have to fill that up and while immigration, you show that form, the approval letter, your passport size picture and a fee along with your passport. They check and they let you in. It is as simple as that. Let me get into details here –
Applying for the Visa
Applying for a Vietnam visa is easy. There are tons of websites online where you can easily apply. My friend Eléonore (from Belgium) applied through a website – https://www.visa-vietnam.org/ and she got the approval letter. As I was new to the whole process, I didn’t do any research further and applied through that website. Please note that I am in no way associated with the above mentioned website and that isn’t an affiliate link. I am just sharing the process that I followed. To add in here, there are other websites as well where the service fee will be different. I will note down the service fee that I was charged for my Vietnam visa in this blog for reference. Only the $25 stamping fee that I paid for 3 months single entry will be a fixed one. It will vary based on your Visa Type and your Country of Residence. The other charges will vary based on the platform you chose.
I liked this website because the process was fairly simple and I did not have to worry much about what step to take next. Everything was laid intuitively in front of me.
Going to the Apply Online Tab (similar options available in all the other visa websites), you will be asked a few questions. The visa-vietnam website has these following questions –
As you can see, the questions are fairly simple ones. Let me go through them in details –
- Your Citizenship – the country you belong to
- Purpose of Visit – I would guess that it is a Tourist Trip so choose that. The other option is a Business Trip. Choose that if you are doing a business trip to avoid complications.
- Visa Type – Here you can choose between a number of options – it changes based on your nationality. For Indians, we have the option of
- evisa – It is an actual visa issued electronically online by the Immigration Department of Vietnam. No need to stop at the “visa on arrival office” to pick up the visa. No extra fee on arrival. It will cost you $40 per person (pp).
- 1 month single entry – It is a visa pre-approval letter granted by the Immigration Department of Vietnam. You have to stop at the “visa on arrival” office in the International Airport of Vietnam to pay for the visa stamping fee then pick up your visa. Single entry means that once you enter the country, you have to stay inside the country for the visa to remain valid. If you leave the country within this 1 month, your visa will expire. You have to apply for a fresh visa if you want to re-enter. Service Charge is $10 pp and Visa Stamp Fee is $25 pp. So it means that you have to pay $10 pp when you apply for the visa and $25 pp cash you have to pay at the Immigration Office as a Stamp Fee.
- 1 month multiple entry – Similar to 1 month single entry but with multiple entry you can leave the country within the visa expiry date and come back without any issues at the Immigration Office. Service Charge is $15 pp and Visa Stamp Fee is $50 pp. So it means that you have to pay $15 pp when you apply for the visa and $50 pp cash you have to pay at the Immigration Office as a Stamp Fee.
- 3 months single entry – Similar to 1 month single entry but this time you get to stay for 3 months (87 days). This is what I applied for. Service Charge is $25 pp and Visa Stamp Fee is $25 pp.
- 3 months multiple entries – Similar to 3 months single entry but now you have no restrictions in leaving and entering the country multiple times within those 87 days. Service Charge is $27 pp and Visa Stamp Fee is $50 pp.
- Port of Arrival – This is the airport (city) where you are landing. If you are like me who doesn’t have any plans and want to explore the country, first book the flights to the cheapest airport you can find, confirm the tickets and then apply for the visa. Easier that way. I chose HCMC (Saigon) because the flights from Guwahati to HCMC was cheaper for me compared to a flight from Guwahati to Hanoi. I had just two airports to choose from – although there are more international airports in Vietnam because I wanted to do a North to South or South to North travel of the whole of Vietnam and that was only possible from either HCMC or Hanoi.
- Entry Date – If you have booked your flights before, it is easier for you to choose this one unless you are on a schedule and you know when you are arriving.
- Exit Date – This date need not be accurate. Just calculate 3 months from the date you are applying and give the date accordingly. I applied for my visa for 16th January and so my exit date was 15th April. So choose your dates accordingly.
- Add on Services – If you are not that rich and if you do not have any emergencies, leave these things as it is. You need not pay anything extra for the process. These services include services like – quick delivery of your approval letter and privacy protection.
What is this privacy protection by the way?
So the approval letter that you receive is issued by Immigration Department of Vietnam. It is a letter sent to you via mail that says that you are allowed to enter the country from this to that date. Here is a glimpse of the first page –
The interesting thing come on the second page – where there are names of all the people that are permitted into Vietnam – along with your name. The list contains the Name, Gender, Date of Birth, Nationality and Passport Number – something like this –
So if you are too concerned with your privacy, you can choose to pay an extra $6 pp to have just one person in one Approval Letter or $8 pp for your group in one letter. To add other members in your group, the next page has the options to do so.
The next page is the Add Applicant page.
Here you need to enter your Details and your Primary Email Id (must). You can choose from – just enter your Email Id and enter your details or enter your Email Id and upload a copy of your Passport. Being the lazy guy, I chose the easy one.
You can add your group members in this page.
The next page is the Payment page and you are done.
Once this process is done, you will get a mail from this website or any website that you apply from about the process. It took around 2 days to get my Approval Letter. They mail you in details about the remaining process. Here is the mail that I received –
In the mail, you are given the Approval Letter and one NA1 form. A glimpse of the NA1 form is shown below – if you are confused with any of the fields in this letter, please do leave a comment below so that I can help you with the best of my knowledge
So once you are done with all these, you are actually done with the formalities.
Once you are on the airport of Vietnam and reach for your process, these are the things you need to do – submit the Approval Letter, your Passport and your filled NA1 form along with the $25 cash.
Here is a big advice for you all – please take exactly $25 cash with you from your country itself. You wont find any ATM near the Immigration Office and also they might not have any change to your $30 or $50. It is better to be prepared from your side instead of creating a hassle after you land in Vietnam.
Submit them and wait there until your name is called. If your name is a tough one like mine (Pragyan), be sure to keep your ears alert even though you might have had completed a 12 hours of flight because they will mess up the pronunciation as it is totally new to them. She didn’t pronounce my name even 10% correctly but somehow I knew it was my name, went up to her and accepted the Visa. Said thank you (cam on – learn the accent to impress them – it is not ‘come on’ mind it) and walked out.
If you are in need of constant phone or internet connectivity, there are a lot of prepaid pre-activated sim stores inside the airport itself, right after the Immigration Office. Get one. I would suggest you to get Viettel – It is a state-owned enterprise wholly owned and operated by the Ministry of Defence. The best part of Viettel is that you get network even in the most interior places of Vietnam. These stores will do the process for you and so you need not worry about that. Also to talk to the locals, you will need constant data connectivity because in Vietnam, most of the locals cant even speak the basic English – best way to learn the culture because of that – so you need Google Translator if you are into saving some bucks and staying local (in villages or small alleys ) instead of going to the fancy places where everyone speaks English. But yes, Vietnam has a great Wifi connectivity – like almost all the places have free wifi for anyone who wants to use it. Just ask the password and they will readily share it with you. Just that when you are travelling, you need to use GMaps or Translator and you will need a local sim for the best experience.
So that would be it from my side.
Vietnam is an amazing country and one should really visit the place to understand the culture and the love. I returned from Vietnam in April and even now – after like 6 months – my friends in Vietnam would send me a message in Zalo or Facebook and ask me to come back because they say they miss me. That boasts up my feelings for the next few days. It makes me happy. Really happy. You need to be there to feel that love.
If you need any more information about the Visa process or anything that you think I didn’t answer here, please leave a comment below. I would be more than happy to help you with it.
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