Lying on the eastern part of the Indochinese peninsula, Vietnam is a strip of land shaped like the letter "S". China borders it to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, the East Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the east and south.
The country's total length from north to south is 1,650km. Its width, stretching from east to west, is 600km at the widest point in the north, 400km in the south, and 50km at the narrowest part, in the centre, in Quang Binh Province. The coastline is 3,260km long and the inland border is 4,510km.
Vietnam is also a transport junction from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
Most visitors to Vietnam need a visa to enter the country. Visas are exempted for the citizens of the countries, which have signed a bilateral or unilateral visa exemption agreement with Vietnam, tourist visa may be valid for 15 to 30 days.
Tourist visa can only be obtained in Vietnamese embassies, consulates abroad. Otherwise, you can get a visa at the border gates if you are invitees of some Vietnamese competent organs or you are travelling on a package tour organized by Vietnamese travel companies.
- Not more than 30 days: for citizens of Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Laos.
- Not more than 15 days: for citizens of Japan and South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland (Vietnamese diplomatic and official passport holders are exempted from visa requirements to enter Japan).
- French citizens holding valid diplomatic passports are exempt from visa requirements when visiting Vietnam and are allowed to stay for up 3 months at one time or on several visits within six months since their first immigration dates. Vietnamese citizens holding valid diplomatic passports also enjoy similar privileges.
- Citizens of Chile and Vietnam holding valid diplomatic or official passports from one of the two countries are exempt from needing entry, exit and transit visas in the other's territory and are allowed to stay for up 60 days on each visit.
Vietnamese is the official language. Almost tourist guides speak languages: English, Chinese, French, Russian and Japanese.
Vietnamese dong (VND) is the official currency in Vietnam. Paper notes include: VND 500,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20,000; 10,000; 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500; 200 and 100. Coins include VND 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500 and 200. Cheques with value as Vietnamese dong include: VND 1,000,000 and 500,000. Foreign currencies and tourist cheques can be exchanged into Vietnamese Dong at banks or foreign exchange agencies. Before leave Vietnam, Vietnamese dong can be changed into foreign currencies at the airport.
Credit cards are popularly used, especially in cities and big tourist centers.
Governmental agencies work 8 hours/day from 7.30am to 4.30pm (excluding one-hour lunch). Saturday and Sunday are close. Banks are open from 7.30am or 8am to 11.30am and from 1pm to 4pm. Saturday and Sunday are close. Private shops are open from 8am or 8.30am to 9pm or 10pm.