Customs: Free import of 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 500 grams tobacco; 1.5 liters of alcoholic beverages or 3 liters of beer; a reasonable quantity of perfume.

Visa: Is required for all visitors and may be applied for in advance or issued on arrival at major airports and points of entry. Most tourists opt for "Visa On Arrival", an official Vietnam Visa Apprioval Letter is required for this option. Vietnam tour packages booked through Ampac Tours will include a complimentary Approval Letter.

Currency: The unit of currency is the Dong, currently circulates in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 30, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 notes. But the US Dollar is also widely used. Travelers checks in US dollars can be changed at state banks and hotels but travelers checks are not readily accepted elsewhere. Credit cards have limited acceptance in Vietnam so don’t count on them.

Banking: Banking hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with 11:30-1:30 as lunch break. Closed Sundays and public holidays.

Health: All travelers to Vietnam should consult their doctor or a travel medicine clinic regarding recommended inoculations prior to travel.

Language: Vietnamese, French and some English.

Electricity: 110/220/240 volts, 50 cycles.

Tipping: Hotels add on a 10% service charge. Tipping is officially prohibited though common, especially in the South. Tip 5%-10% for taxi drivers and waiters unless a service charge has already been added to the restaurant bill.

Water: Do NOT drink tap water! Bottled water is readily available everywhere. Avoid ice even at the hotels. In local restaurants, it is best to order only canned soft drinks and beer. Avoid freshly made juices!

Time Zone: GMT + 7 hours / Pacific Time + 15 hours.

Security: All visitors to Vietnam are required to fill out a very detailed customs declaration in duplicate upon arrival. Customs officials are thorough and will probably inspect your luggage to verify you have made a correct declaration. Any amount of foreign currency can be brought into the country but officially must be declared. The same applies to cameras, radios and recorders, video tape, unexposed film, jewelry, personal effects and medicine in reasonable quantity. You will be given a copy of your declaration which you must keep with you during your stay and the items you declare as temporary imports will be expected to accompany you on your departure from Vietnam. You will be required to fill out a declaration form on your departure for any purchases made while in the country. On both arrival and departure your luggage will be exposed to an X-Ray examination by antiquated equipment, so keep all cameras, film, and any sensitive equipment well clear of it. Gently ignore any customs official who tries to tell you otherwise.

What To Wear: For Ho Chi Minh City, light casual clothing is suitable all year round. Warmer clothes are needed if you are visiting the north during the winter months from December to April. During the rainy season, May to September, an umbrella and good footwear are essential.

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