Now, all you’ve gotta do is worry about arriving in Vietnam, which, although a little daunting, isn’t too bad at all. To help you out, we’ve compiled a little list of the things to be wary of when stepping off that plane…(this section is relevant for those of you arriving at Vietnam’s international airports, and is based on my own experiences)
|Head to the Visa on Arrival section if you need a visa; make sure you have your visa letter and the cash for paying the stamping fee (see our visa guide for the latest fees). You should have a couple of passport photos with you too, but no worries if not, the immigration guys and gals will stand you up against the wall and shoot you. I mean shoot a photo of you…at no extra charge, bless ’em!
|If you don’t need a Visa on Arrival, head on straight to the main arrivals section, where you’ll be herded through lines until you get to decide on which immigration counter is going to be lucky today…just watch out for some of the more Vietnam-savvy tourists, who seem to have a thing for cutting you off with their little fancy trolley bags.
|If you’re in need of a SIM card immediately, watch out for the kiosk as they herd you through. There’s always a pretty young thing who will try and entice you over with promises of 4G and the fluttering of eyelashes. Frankly, I’d wait until you get through immigration first, and then decide on the type of SIM package you need (see below).
|Don’t take any pictures of the queues forming at immigration…signs are there to remind you and I don’t think you need to start off on the wrong foot with the immigration fellas.
|Be nice and smile, just remember that the immigration guys and gals are only doing their job. I doubt he or she will speak very much English either…
|Pick up your bags from the baggage carousel, but be prepared for a wait. Seems the baggage handlers love putting 3 or more flights worth of baggage on the one carousel. And then there are the locals who’ll swarm to the opening end of the carousel to collect their 23 boxes of goodies (less likely on the long-haul flights, very likely on the shorter flights, for example from Thailand). Expect to be pushed aside a tad, but it’s all in good nature. Yep, patience is very much the key to success when picking up your baggage!
|Once you’ve got your bags, head on through the green channel to exit the airport…but if you’re in immediate need of a SIM card, some currency (The Mighty Dong), or a taxi, stop by at one of the kiosks as you exit. Shop around at each of the kiosks until you get something that suits your budget – to be honest, you can get better deals once you hit the streets of Saigon, but the savings aren’t major, especially when we’re talking in dollar terms. On our last entry to Vietnam (March 2019) we picked up a 60GB data plan for 30 days at the airport, with some call minutes, for 300,000 Dong (less than $13).
|Once you’ve got your SIM sorted, download Grab and order your ride to your accommodation. This little app will save you some serious Dong over the course of your stay; seriously, Grab is an awesome way of getting around in Vietnam. And yes, the app is in English, though your driver probably won’t speak any English at all.
|DO NOT TAKE THE UNMETERED / UNLICENSED TAXIS OUTSIDE THE AIRPORT. These are the guys who will be wandering around outside the airport, waiting for tourists. I had a run-in with one (thought
I was clever enough to bluff my way through and get a cheap deal, didn’t I!) who seemed to think he’d get his hands on my wallet to show me exactly how much I needed to pay. And before we’d even set off! It was a quick escape back to the main airport area and a Vinasun taxi (probably the best of the official options) for me!