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Visas for Vietnam

Residents of some countries can visit Vietnam for short periods of time without a visa. Click here for the list of Visa-Exempt Countries. Residents of most other countries can use the Vietnamese government’s e-visa service. The official Vietnam Government E-Visa website is here: https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/en_US/web/guest/khai-thi-thuc-dien-tu/cap-thi-thuc-dien-tu

This service is for foreigners (people who do not hold a Vietnamese passport). Before applying, have ready:

  1. A photo (.jpg format) of the information page in your passport
  2. A recent photo of you which meets their specifications (.jpg format)
  3. Arrival and departure dates and location, and hotel where you will stay
  4. $25 USD paid by credit card.

The visa takes about 3 work days (excluding Vietnamese holidays and weekends) to process.  When it is ready, you will receive an email with a registration code so you can search a list of those approved.  Be sure to print a copy of your visa.  This e-visa is valid for a visit of 30 days or less.  Click here for more detailed instructionsClick here to see an example of the form you will be asked to complete. 

The American Citizen Services Units of the U.S. Embassy Hanoi and the U.S. Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City publish a newsletter for Americans traveling in Vietnam.  Click here for a summary of their current cautions.

If you would like help with your visa, there are many private Vietnam Visa Services, such as:

Hotels Near RMIT University

The conference will be held at RMIT University, Saigon South Campus.  The location is marked by a circle on the map.  On the map below, from Booking.com, possible places to stay are marked with blue tags.

We recommend these hotels and apartments:

  1. Liberty Hotel Saigon South
  2. Ibis Saigon South
  3. Saigon by Night Boutique Hotel
  4. Bizu Royal Hotel
  5. Apartments Capri by Fraser

When you use an online hotel booking website, be sure to specify District 7. The center of the city, District 1, is a long taxi ride from RMIT's south campus. APCDA Officers will stay at the Ibis, and a free shuttle will pick up guests from 3 locations (near Liberty, Ibis, and Bizu) in the morning and evening.


Transportation in Ho Chi Minh City

To get around in Ho Chi Minh City, we recommend you download the Grab App and set up a payment method before you leave home at this website: https://www.grab.com/vn/en. Garb is a Singapore-based company and very popular in Vietnam.  It has both taxis and private cars for the same price. You can choose “JustGrab” to be picked up by either type of vehicle. You can set up GrabPay by Moca (Moca is a Vietnamese company that has partnered with Grab) using a debit card. You will be asked to choose a 6-digit PIN for security. You can either pre-load a specific amount in a “wallet,” or pay as you go. GrabPay can be used for rides, food delivery, payments to individuals, and at some stores.

Most international flights arrive at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport.  Before you leave the airport, make sure you have Vietnamese Dong (VND) to pay the taxi and understand the conversion rate for your currency.  The smallest bill in Vietnam is the 10,000 VND (about $0.40 USD).

The distance from the airport to District 7 is about 15 kilometers and takes between 40 minutes and 2 hours, depending on traffic.  Here are 3 options for transport:

  1. Taxis are located at the left side when you exit the main door of the terminal.  The two most reliable taxi companies in Vietnam are Mai Linh and Vinasun.  Make sure you get a metered taxi, or pay for the ride inside the terminal. 
  2. Use Grab, but be sure to match the license plate on the car with your reservation because it is common for fake drivers to approach tourists.
  3. Schedule a pickup service (a car or van and a driver).  Your hotel may offer to schedule a car to pick you up, or you can use a website to book airport pickup in advance.  Here are 4 examples of such websites:


Planning Your Visit to Vietnam

by Chien Hoang Tran

There is a lot to see and do in Vietnam while you are visiting. Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam, formerly named and still informally known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam by population. Sài Gòn may refer to the kapok (bông gòn) trees that are common around the city.

Ho Chi Minh City is famous for the role it played in the Vietnam War. It's also known for its landmarks, including Jade Emperor Pagoda, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the 19th-century Central Post Office. Food stalls line the city's streets, especially around bustling Ben Thành Market. Experience the city's culinary culture by tasting some of the local Vietnamese specialties. Enjoy a bowl of pho, traditional Vietnamese noodle soup. Walk around and try the street food of Saigon and the delectable seafoods. Fall in love with Vietnamese Coffee. Iced coffee is known locally as "ca phe sua da."

Immerse yourself into the city's rich cultural and historical heritage as you explore the different tourist attractions such as:

Cao Dai Temple. This temple was built over a 20-year period and completed in 1956. The temple is home to the Cao Dai sects who practice a unique hybrid of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Christianity. Its architecture has eastern and western influences. The building is a combination of Neo-Gothic, Baroque and Oriental design and decorated with dragon wrapped pillars, seven-headed cobras and sky-blue ceilings.

Cu Chi Tunnels. Enrich your knowledge of the Vietnam War and discover how tunnels were built by fighters as a base from which the Viet Cong could operate. Adventure into the 124 mile (200 kilometer) underground city with living areas and working areas such as: Hoang Cam field kitchen, areas to sew uniforms for the team and make sandals from rubber tires, areas where food was stored, the weapons bunker, and the ambulance.

Can Gio Mangrove Reserve. A UNESCO biosphere reserve, it is the "green lungs" of the city. The area is an important natural wetland that attracts numerous bird species like migratory spot-billed pelicans and painted storks, and acts as a nursery for many types of fish and marine life, like crabs and shrimp. Boat trips to the reserve include wildlife spotting adventures in Giant Bat Lagoon, a paddling excursion to Rung Sac Guerilla Base, and a stop at Vam Sat Eco Park, where you can visit a crocodile reserve, spot monkeys playing in the trees, and take a hike through the mangroves to spot birds and other wildlife.

Mekong Delta. The "rice bowl" of Vietnam, about four hours drive from the city, includes markets, villages and schools floating on sprawling, life sustaining estuaries. The Mekong Delta is shared by Vietnam and Cambodia, and it is possible to travel up the Mekong River to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, by boat.

Phnom Penh in Cambodia is accessible by boat, bus or plane from Ho Chi Minh City. Admire the stately columns of the Royal Palace as it stands majestically in the city center just off the riverfront area. Visit the National Museum filled with art and artifacts dating back to the pre-Angkorian era. Climb the stairs to the hilltop Wat Phnom for fabulous views of the city below. Located further into Cambodia is Angkor Wat, the world's largest religious building. Angkor is the earthly representation of Mt Meru, the Mt Olympus of the Hindu faith and the abode of ancient gods. The temples are the perfect fusion of creative ambition and spiritual devotion.

Returning to Vietnam and heading north from Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang is a popular stop. There you can find the Po Nagar temple, a Cham temple tower founded sometime before 800. Nha Trang is also appreciated for its beautiful sandy beaches, underwater life, amusement parks, mud baths, golf, and a variety of hotels and restaurants.

Continuing north to Da Nang, Vietnam's 4th largest city, you can explore the limestone caves and Buddhist grottos of the Marble Mountains, now home to artisans producing sculpture and artwork. A culinary tour in Da Nang is very popular. The ancient town of Hoi An, near Da Nang, is famous for its Old Town, the town's historic district, recognized as an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. My Son, an archaeological site dating back more than a thousand years, is about an hour by car.

Just north of Da Nang is the Imperial City of Hue, seat of the Nguyen emperors. The Forbidden Purple City on the Perfume River was open only to the emperors, concubines, and those close enough to them be granted access. Other tourist attractions in Hue include the colorful Thanh Toan Bridge and royal tombs. Spend a moment in quiet contemplation if you visit Hue Jungle Crevice, where thousands of citizens were pushed to their deaths. Day-trips are available to the Demilitarized Zone lying approximately 70 km (43 mi) north, showing various war settings like The Rockpile, Khe Sanh Combat Base or the Vinh Moc tunnels.

About 4 hours north of Hue is the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park which is famous for its caves. Visit the Son Doong Cave (the largest cave in the world), Paradise Cave (filled with beautiful stalacties and stalacmites) and the Phong Nha Caves (a series of 14 grottos used by the Cham people in the ninth and 10th centuries as Buddhist sanctuaries).

The largest city in the north of Vietnam is Hanoi. In Hanoi, be sure to include in your itinerary the Old Quarter, the Lake of the Restored Sword (Hoan Kiem Lake), the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, and the Vietnamese Women's Museum. About 4 hours east is Halong Bay with amazing limestone islands, rock formations and caves, whittled away over centuries by wind and water.

These are only a few of the many fascinating places to visit in Vietnam.

Chien Hoang Tran, Co-founder & Head of Strategic for IGo Travel, and Business Development Head for Trade Circle Vietnam, has been an advertising & business consultant for over 6 years. Through IGo Travel, his life is filled with traveling, learning, doing, thinking and living with a digital-transforming mindset. Born with a wanderlust gene in this digital-age, he filled his heart and soul with a solid understanding of marketing, user behaviors, and technology. It is his ambition is to maximize travel experiences via the upcoming breakthrough product of IGo.

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Experience Ho Chi Minh City for Yourself

by Matthew Cowan

Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's biggest city and the nation's economic powerhouse. It gets hot, wet and dirty, not to mention loud, very loud. All of which you are likely to experience when you visit here for the 2019 Asia Pacific Career Development Conference.

The excitement of it all is contagious.

So what's there to do here?

Consider picking up a guidebook or going online and researching Ho Chi Minh City's history and its multitude of must-see sights!

When you do, you'll find you'll not only want to visit, but will research the best time to visit Reunification Palace, arguably Ho Chi Minh City's most intriguing building with a special history. The palace has become an iconic symbol of victory because of its link to the end of the war in 1975. Who can forget that photo of the North Vietnamese Army tank crashing through its front gates?

Any guidebook or travel blog will suggest you slip in to your itinerary the nearby War Remnants Museum as well. It's undeniable that a visit here helps you understand why Vietnam became known as a war above a nation of stoic but friendly people with a distinct culture from the rest of its Southeast Asian neighbors.

Then you could go old school and send a postcard from the Central Post Office, constructed in the 19th century when Vietnam was part of what was known as French Indochina. Right across the street is the Notre Dame Basilica, perhaps Ho Chi Minh City's most recognizable landmark until the city's tallest building, the 262.5m Bitexco Tower, shaped like a lotus (Vietnam's national flower), was completed in 2010.

Now it's the Bitexco Tower's turn to be eclipsed by the 461.5m Landmark 81 as the highest point in town, which should be housing tenants by the time of your visit here. Ho Chi Minh City is on the move.

But as we know, often it's the road less-traveled that provides the most enriching travel experiences. A path along which you can make your own decisions, eat what you like, talk to whoever you want, and rest when you need to.

Hungry? Stop for a banh mi. Thirsty? Stop for a craft beer. Weary? Pull in to a cool cafe.

There are myriad walks that visitors to Ho Chi Minh City can undertake, and you can start one anywhere. The walk I've put together especially for you has taken into account that you probably won't have much time to spare. After all, you've really got to fit that trip in to Hoi An, right?

Any walk in Ho Chi Minh City is best done in the morning when it's cooler and there's a vibrancy about town like no other part of the day. Also, much of the city closes down between the hottest hours of the day (typically between 1pm and 3pm) when the locals take a siesta and aren't overly keen on doing business.

And trust me, you don't want to be traipsing the streets lost in the middle of the day.

With this in mind, a morning walk will allow you to taste authentic pho noodle soup typical of the southern regions of Vietnam and you'll get to wash it down with that ubiquitous of Vietnamese drinks, the ca phe sua da - iced-coffee with condensed milk.

You'll take in a bit of history and architecture, but also come to terms with how rapidly things are changing here. Fortunately, however, there are still some vestiges of the past around for you to see, particularly along Dong Khoi Street.

It's impossible to visit Vietnam and not experience its cafe culture, so in route, I recommend a few places for you to try, but keep your eyes peeled, because you might just find something else that suits you better.

Like all the great cities of the world, a river runs through them. Ho Chi Minh City is no different, so my suggested itinerary takes you on a leisurely water bus ride along the Siagon River, which will give you an insight into how life is led along the banks of Vietnam's rivers - something you can't witness ashore.

There will be opportunities to try food and then some from a legendary local bakery and the city's innermost wet market. Whether you hit the Skydeck 49 floors above the city before or after your mi hoanh thanh is up to you. About the only recommendation I can make is that you leave room for some tea and cake afterwards.

Towards the end of your walk, you'll see more of the old and the new of Ho Chi Minh City. You'll see a Cold War-era collection of vintage motorbikes in a cafe run by a local who exemplifies the vibrancy and enthusiasm of young people in Vietnam today. There's no wonder Ho Chi Minh City has become a hotspot for startup companies and digital nomads.

Finally, my itinerary will take you by one of Vietnam's most famous landmarks, Ben Thanh Market, before finishing whence you started.

Whether you follow my entire itinerary or just choose snippets from it, I'm certain you'll learn something new, taste something unusual, and come to understand why I call this city home.

Matthew Cowan has been living in Ho Chi Minh City since 2010. Previously the managing editor of a major English language travel and lifestyle magazine in Vietnam, he now curates his own website called The Bureau: A Gentleman's Guide to Southeast Asia. Matthew's website provides a wealth of information about Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam, and is a great place to start planning your trip. For Matthew's suggested itinerary, click on this link: https://thebureauasia.com/2018/03/31/experience-hochiminhcity-for-yourself/)

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