To be honest, when I was boarding my flight from Hong Kong to Vietnam, I was a little apprehensive. Planning Vietnam isn’t as easy as some other destinations, such as Hong Kong, Thailand, or even China. The visa process is opaque, there’s a lot of negative reviews for experiences and certain destinations, and some travel bloggers blatantly say they won’t return.

All of that being said, upon arrival in Vietnam, I knew I was going to love this place.

Arriving at the airport, we promptly rushed to the “Visa on Arrival Counter”. In our pre-reading, there was a lot of noise about the line being absurdly long, the counter being impossible to find, and the process being vary confusing. In our case, this wasn’t true. Here’s what you need to know –

  • Before coming to Vietnam, you need an “Introduction Letter”. Any hotel, cruise, or tourist/travel agency will provide you one. Most do it for free, some charge up to US$25. Just shop around.
    • Note – you can get a visa prior to arrival (and some countries aren’t required to have a visa). We found the cost for a visa prior to be significantly higher than the visa on arrival. I have no answers for why this is.
  • When arriving at the international airport, you’ll come to Immigration. On one side is a line of passport checking booths, on the other side is a smaller counter for “Visa on Arrival”. Simply provide your passport, introduction letter, and a passport size photograph (if you do not bring a photo, you’ll be charged US$2 for them to take a photo).
  • The cost is US$45 for a one time entry

I will say if there are multiple flights arriving, the process may have been different, but the airport was fairly deserted when we arrived.

Next, take a cab to the city. Outside the baggage claim, on the left hand side, is a taxi queue. The drivers will try to negotiate a flat rate. This may or may not be preferable. We agreed to VD$400,000 and at the end of our ride the meter was VD$303,000. A lot of online comments say it’s a flat rate, but I would choose the meter over a flat rate any day here.

Final notes, the traffic is crazy and our driver knew our hotel fairly well (the Sheraton), so all was good. The journey now continues in the Old Quarter.