The Lunar New Year

Tết Nguyên Đán, literally the ‘Festival of the First Day’ is the Lunar New Year period in Vietnam. Lasting 4-5 days, the vast majority of people simply refer to it as ‘Tet’.

Steeped in myth, legend, ritual and tradition, Tet is a symbolic period of rebirth and renewal; of joy and merriment; a time for homecoming family reunions and fulfillment of filial piety duties. Houses are spring-cleaned and spruced up with a lick of paint or whitewash. Ancestral graves are cleaned and repaired. New clothes are purchased. Friends are visited with token gifts and warm wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous and successful new year. Debts are repaid and outstanding matters are finalized in preparation for a fresh, new beginning for the coming year.

Vietnamese people enjoy a very close spiritual relationship with their ancestors. On New Year’s Eve, the head of the family will make offerings to the ancestors and invite them to return and join the family for Tet.

Tet Lunar New Year 2015: Feb 19 - Feb 21

Tet Lunar New Year 2016: Feb 8 - Feb 10

Read more at Wikipedia...

Ao Dai

Clothing of Vietnam is unique. One of the most popular Vietnamese traditional dress is the “Aó Dài” or “long tunic”, worn often for special occasions such as weddings or festivals.

Gastronomy

Cuisine of Vietnam is an integral part of its cultural heritage. Its cuisine is also influenced with practices of various religions and beliefs. The Vietnamese cuisine is often considered the richest food in the world.

Markets

In the Vietnamese countryside, there are three broad types of markets: a fair; an early morning market and an afternoon market. Rural towns will also usually have an all-day market. In the hamlets and villages, with available space always at a premium and for convenience sake, the early morning and afternoon markets may share the same location, differing only in the time of day and produce or goods purveyed. Most commonly, fresh produce in the morning and durable goods, household items, clothing, etc. in the afternoon.

Vietnam Quick Facts

Population: 87.8 million

Capital City: Hanoi, pop. 6.7 million

Language: Vietnamese

Religion: Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity.

Currency: Vietnamese Dong (VND). Throughout the country, American dollars are widely accepted. Traveler's cheques are exchangeable in banks and credit cards are becoming more readily acceptable, especially in the major hotels and restaurants of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. ATMs (Automated Teller Machine) are widely available in most cities.

Time: GMT + 7 hours

Electricity: 220V with two round or flat-pin plugs.

International Dialling Code: +84

Medical Facilities

Over the counter prescription drugs are widely available in major cities, but it is best to bring frequently used medicines from home. It is also recommended that visitors bring a basic travel first-aid kit with band-aids, anti-infection creams, mosquito repellant, and the like. There are several medical clinics in Hanoi and Saigon staffed by foreign medical personnel.

Safety

Vietnam is widely acknowledged to be one of the safest destinations in the world. In almost all cases the Vietnamese people regard tourists with the highest level of respect as guests in their country. However petty theft and pick pockets do exist in the larger cities. In other areas reports of these activities are almost unheard of. It is certainly not something to be concerned about but you should be aware of your surroundings.

You should therefore ensure that all bags have sturdy locks. Place all valuables, including passport and air tickets in the in-room safe at hotels or at the front desk. It is best not to bring expensive jewelry or watches to Vietnam. Do not carry unnecessarily large amounts of cash with you at any time.

Emergency Numbers

0 National Domestic Direct Dialing Access Code
00 International Direct Dialing Access Code
113 Police
114 Fire Brigade
115 Ambulance
1080 Directory enquiries

Visa

A visa is required for entry into Vietnam. A regular tourist visa is valid for up to 30 days. However, some Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Laos are exempted from visa when entering Vietnam. Vietnam also has a visa exemption for Japanese, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Finnish citizens. Passport holders from these countries can travel to Vietnam up to 15 days without applying for tourist visas.

There are two kinds of tourist visas. The first can be obtained from the Vietnamese Embassy or the Consulate in the travelers' home country. The second can be obtained at the international airports (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang) on arrival in Vietnam provided that it has been pre-approved by the Immigration Office. ROSE TRAVEL SERVICE CO. LTD offers visa procurement services for individuals and groups. Please contact us for the procedure.

Customs

The basic principle of customs policy in Vietnam is that visitors should enter and exit with the same goods and personal possessions with the following exceptions:

Cash amounts greater than US$ 7,000 (formerly US$ 3,000) should be declared upon entry or exit.

1. Souvenirs: Visitors are free to buy products in Vietnam for personal use. The exception to this principle is antiques. Antiques considered of "national interest" will be confiscated without refund or recourse. In general this applies to articles of ancient (over 50 years old) or religious nature. "National interest" is interpreted by an expert at the airport. In cases where a visitor is unsure of the acceptability of the export of any goods purchased, they can check with the Customs Office in either Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi for prior ruling without risk of confiscation.

2. To avoid confiscation of goods not purchased, visitors must be sure an accurate description appears on the Customs Declaration form upon arrival. Particular note should be taken of antiques purchased in other countries in the region which might possibly be deemed of Vietnamese origin. Also, extra care should be taken to declare loose gemstones and jewelry.

3. Firearms, narcotics and other internationally prohibited goods are banned and those found in possession of such items are liable to prosecution. Items that you cannot bring into Vietnam include weapons, munitions, explosives and inflammables, firecracker of all kinds, opium and drugs, toxic chemicals, and cultural materials unsuitable to Vietnamese society (pornographic seditious publications, films and photos), harmful child toys. If you break these rules you will be subject to Vietnamese law.

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